13 ways to be a compassionate leader

compassionate leadershipIn my “day job” I have the fortune of being able to lead people and influence the community.  I also have the privilege of  learning how to lead compassionately.  What is compassionate leadership?  For me, it is a way of leading people in a real and human way by making heart-felt and ethical decisions, which sometimes is the opposite of what they taught me in business school.  So, here’s how I do it.

How to be compassionate leader:

1. Listen to feed back

This is the most important thing you can do.  Listen to your people, listen to stakeholders, listen to your critics, listen to your fans, listen to EVERYTHING.  I’m not saying that you should take everything to heart, but have a measured idea of how you’re doing and where you stand.

2. Hire good people and let them do their jobs

This means that you must relinquish control of every little thing that happens in your domain.  You have people there to do a job, and you must let them do it.  Nothing undermines the progress of a good team like a control freak or a micromanager.

3. Be real

You’re human.  It does no one any good to pretend otherwise.  If you’re afraid you’ll look weak to your subordinates, then you need a reality check.  Trying to mask emotion or illness or stress is counterproductive and leads to overall burnout.  Be real and honest with your team.  They’ll thank you for your authenticity and this will lead to trust in your organization.

4. Don’t be afraid to make tough decisions

I hate firing people, but sometimes it must be done.  I hate walking away from losing situation because I think I can always win.  These things, whether an unproductive employee or the proverbial Kobayashi Maru, are facts of life and pursuing them is a drain on you, your team and your resources.  Know when to cut your losses.

5.  Don’t Lie and Don’t tolerate Liars on your team.

Period.

6. Lead with your Heart and not your Head

Instinctively, we know what’s right for our teams and what we need to accomplish a goal.  Sometimes this is counterintuitive to those higher on the food-chain or is contraindicated in your Ops plan.  If you know what’s right and what it takes to get to where you need to be, don’t be afraid to stick up for it.

7. Know when to say No

It is just as important to put the kabash on an idea as it is to boldly go forward with an innovative one.  So if it’s unrealistic, unethical or just plain unattainable based on current resources, know when you can tactfully say no.  Your team will thank you for sticking up for them and recognizing their workload.

8.  Say Thank You – Often

Everyone wants to be appreciated.  So recognize people for what they do and bring it back to what it means to the organization and the bigger picture.  People don’t just want to work for a pay check, they want to have what they do mean something.  Its up to you to make sure that bigger picture remains paramount and that your people feel a part of it.

9.  Have a Vision You’re Passionate About

You may be steering the ship, but your people are doing all the rowing.  You’ll get to your goal faster if they all are on board with your vision.  The easiest way to do that is to identify a vision that gets you excited.  Impassioned leaders make impassioned employees and accomplish amazing things.

10. Practice self-compassion

Hey, you’re not perfect.  And that’s ok.  Let go of the idea that you need to be and that you need to help accountable for every single bump in the road.  As much as we would all like to think we’re omnipotent, let’s be realistic: we’re not.  So don’t beat yourself if something goes sideways.  This self-flagellation leads to guilt and guilt demands punishment.  That’s no way to lead an organization.

11. Admit when you’re wrong

Sometimes you get it wrong.  Admit this when it happens and own up to your mistakes.  Don’t pass the buck, don’t dodge the issue and don’t ever carry on like you didn’t screw up.  Nothing will tear down the trust you’ve built faster than pretending to be saintly when everyone knows you totally fumbled.

12. Let go of Ego

Letting go of ego is probably the toughest thing you will try to do because normally leaders tend to be addicted to their egos.  In fact whole nations have risen and fallen on the whim of some leader’s ego (Er… North Korea… Rome, anyone?).  So, just like you need to be able to swallow your pride and admit when you’re wrong, you need to be able to let go of claiming all your victories for your own.  You may be in charge, but by no means did you do all the work.  Which leads us to….

13. Be humble, be gracious and ask  for help

You’re not an island.  And it is foolish and unrealistic to expect to be able to accomplish your goals without the help of others.  Don’t be squeamish about reaching out and building alliances with others.

8 Steps to Living Guilt-Free

One of the repetitive themes that seems to play out in my sessions with clients is their struggle with guilt and how to live guilt-free.  In some cases this is guilt associated with a major life event, but often this sense of guilt is rooted in the mundane.  Things like feeling guilty of blowing your diet or saying “no” to something.  Well, I’m here to tell you that this is a rather large waste of your precious energy.  Here’s how to break out of that guilt complex once and for all:

guilt trip1. Self-forgiveness

Really.  Understand that you are perfectly imperfect and that you are a human being.  You’ve also come programmed with years and years of patterns so if you lapse back into an old thought pattern or habit that is not desirable, don’t beat yourself up.  Recognize what’s happened and resolve to make a better choice next time.

2. Self Care

This may be counter-intuitive to some people, especially those who new to setting up healthy boundaries (more on that in a sec…).  But we tend to beat ourselves up and get into unhealthy mental spaces when we are at our weakest and most vulnerable.  The easiest and most effective way to recharge and gain a better perspective is to practice self-care.  Self-care doesn’t have to be an extravagant day at the spa (although I won’t stop you), it just needs to be something that you do for yourself and solely for yourself.  And don’t you dare associate guilt with this!  After all, how can you give to others if the well is dry?

3. Internal Inventory

What is an internal inventory, you ask?  It is where you sit down and do some soul-searching and decide what is in your life in a priority and what is not.  It is helpful to remember that we simply can not be everything to everyone at all times.  While we are infinitely powerful spiritual beings, we are not omnipotent: you can’t be in the boardroom and at soccer practice at the same time.  This is where we have to choose the things that we really do value and stick to it unabashedly and unapologetically.

4. Setting Healthy Boundaries

Ah, yes.  My favorite.  Many of us are so programmed to be care-givers and nurturers that our natural tendency is to say “yes” to everything.  Is this realistic?  Of course not!  How can you be PTA president, Team Mom, Neighborhood watch captain, Realtor of the year, etc. etc. etc. without sacrificing things that are the most important like your health and time with your family?  The answer is that you can’t.  Set realistic boundaries of what’s important to you and what matches your internal inventory.  For example, one of my clients was having a hard time sticking to a work schedule that allowed time for her family.  She would feel guilty about saying no to clients and go out of her way to accommodate them.  While we all want to allow more abundance in our lives, the reality is that the feeling of loss associated with lost time with family was more disconcerting than the guilt of rescheduling a client.  And in reality, most people are accommodating and understand when someone has family commitments.

5. Self-awareness

So you “mess up” and you’re feeling guilty.  First, see #1 on this list.  Then look at the feelings that come up when you begin to feel guilty about something. What triggered it?  Can you remember when you first felt guilt associated with the trigger?  Where in your body do you feel this?  By analyzing these feelings you can begin to see patterns and identify triggers.  Over time, you will be able to erase these patterns from your life.  How great is that?

6. Conscious living

This goes hand-in-hand with self awareness.  Be conscientious about what and who you allow into your life and what you spend your time and energy on.  If that person, event or thing doesn’t thrill you, bring you closer to your divine purpose, complement your lifestyle or strengthen your bonds with the people who are the most important to you, proceed with caution.  Don’t be afraid to say no or to go your own way. Employ self-awareness to this, too.  For example, does the thought of going to The Party of The Year thrill your socks off or make you cringe?  Answer honestly and proceed accordingly.

7. Gratitude

Ok, so everyone should be doing this.  You can not simultaneously feel guilt and gratitude at the same time.  It’s impossible.  Say for example you find yourself feeling bad for not going to the aforementioned Party of The Year.  Immediately begin to think about what you are grateful for in that situation. Like how you have time to dedicate to your writing or you can call your mom or snuggle on the couch with your special someone.  These are choices that can deeply connect you with others and they should be celebrated in favor of bemoaning your lack of party-animal-ness.

8. Be Brave

Taking these steps will be tough at first.  Saying no will take practice.  Not going on habitual guilt-trips is going to take some un-learning. But you can do it.  Start small and work your way to bigger things.  Once you get the hang of it, this will all be second-nature to you.  Take just the first step, be brave.  It’s worth it. I promise.

love and light,

–h

Consciously Create Your Goals in 2014! – NoHoArtsDistrict.com

This is a fabulous post from NoHoArtsDistrict.com!  So powerful and so timely…. Enjoy!

 

Follow these steps to create the new year that’s waiting for you:

1. Identify what you do NOT want – this demonstrates the contrast of what feels better for you and gives you the clarity needed for step 2.

2. Identify what you DO want – focus your mind and thoughts on the ideal, the ultimate desire of your heart.

3. Find the strong feeling place of your desire – what does it feel like to have what it is that you want? What would it feel like to be standing in the appreciation of living your desire? Of fulfilling your dream? Of being your ultimate potential?

4. Expect, believe, and allow – let go and trust that the Divine Intelligence of the Universe has already delivered, or is the process of delivering the essence of what you want, for the supreme good of all.

5. See, speak, and feel only the goal of what you want – live in the already done, already accomplished feeling! Act “as if” you are living and experiencing your ideal, ultimate desire.

6. Daily and frequently visualize the ultimate, impossible you and what you desire – with a strong feeling state!

7. Daily and frequently visualize your ideal day, with the feeling!

8. Daily, frequently, visualize your ideal life, with the feeling!

9. Daily, frequently, visualize your goals as accomplished!

10. FEEL THE EXCITEMENT, GRATITUDE, APPRECIATION, AND EXHILARATION OF LIVING YOUR IDEAL LIFE! – What would you be like? How would you act and behave? How would you talk? What would you do? Make it more real in your mind than anything else!

via Consciously Create Your Goals in 2014! – NoHoArtsDistrict.com.

Love, anyway

love-anyway-shevon-johnsonFor those of you who read this column regularly, you know that I write and speak from a deeply personal place.  It is my sincerest wish that I can translate the lessons that I have been given in my life into a medium that can help you.  At least, that’s the plan.  I often make an example out myself unintentionally.  Recently, in my day job, I rescued a cat that had been stuck in a wood pile for several days.  The little creature repaid my kindness by nearly biting through my finger.  After ten days of guy-wrenching antibiotics, the lesson to the men on my team: Don’t be like me; wear thicker gloves.  (The cat’s doing fine, by the way, and has found a forever home… )

And other times, I’ll share here a particular struggle in which I find myself.  Lately, I’ve found myself in a Battle Royale with my own fear.  More specifically, with a deeply rooted fear of intimacy and of trust with another human being.  I’ve been standing on the precipice of something great and truly amazing – the chance for an exceptional life.  And yet, I can’t dive in.  I can’t accept what’s in front of me.  Of course, this relies on the participation of a partner and the trust that I will be loved and cared for unconditionally.  But therein lies the rub, I suppose.  I can’t accept that even on the outside chance this ends up hurting like hell, in the meantime, it will be extraordinary and well worth the gamble.  For you regular readers, you know that I preach that Fear is the opposite of Love.  In Fear there is no Love, and in Love there is no Fear.  Only the ones who have stood here on the edge before know that making this one particular leap is the most terrifying thing that you can ever do – that proverbial “Leap of Faith.”

Upon finding myself in this dilemma, I did what (I’m sure) everyone does: I came home, poured myself a glass of chianti and cried my eyes out.  I sobbed and begged for guidance: What do I DO?  What CAN I do?  Why the fuck am I so petrified?  As I sat there in a state of abject pain, The Voice broke through.  It’s message: “Love, anyway.”  Well, I have to say that that stopped me cold.  The Voice was right, of course (as always… it’s so smug sometimes…).  What else is there to do but love?  What other answer is there?  If I didn’t want to be scared anymore, isn’t the most obvious answer to just love what I was scared of?

I don’t have to tell you that this is easier said than done.  You probably also won’t be surprised that I haven’t made my leap of faith yet – gosh, I’m being so human.  But I’m getting closer.  And when I finally close my eyes and jump, I know that I will be safe.

Resistance is futile

change-I’m about to ask you to do something really, really scary.  Ready?

Ok.  I want you to, just for a minute, let go of any preconceived notions that you actually have any control over the outcome of anything in your life.  Period.  Are you terrified yet?  At minimum you’re pretty uncomfortable.  But let’s keep going and I’ll explain.

What I’m talking about here isn’t little mundane choices we make daily.  For example, I know that if I choose to eat as much chocolate and drink as much wine as I can hold, no matter how bad the day was, the next day is going to feel like hell.  This is basic causation.  But this cause and effect doesn’t necessarily extrapolate to the larger world or to cosmic rationale.  There are people we all know who, despite having it all “together” and being “good people” have suffered the greatest heartache.  And still we know others who, to our minds, may be polar opposite of what we think of as a “good person” and skate through their lives with the greatest of ease.  There is no universal equality when it comes to security.  In fact, in her book “When Things Fall Apart,” Pema Chodron says, “To think that we can finally get it all together is unrealistic.  To seek for some lasting security is futile … One has to give up hope that this way of thinking will bring us satisfaction.”

Let me give you a personal example of this.  A few years ago, I was in a terrible relationship.  And yet I clung to it for security like it would feed me and keep me and protect me.  Instead it drained me, battered me and nearly killed me.  And yet I didn’t want to see what was happening.  I had planned, you see.  I had planned on a family and a marriage and a happily ever after. I was 32.  This was it, dammit.  But it wasn’t.  It fell apart, and rather dramatically, I might add.  The more desperately I clung on to try to control the inevitable outcome, the greater the lesson built up to show me that control was a moot point and my resistance was not only futile but making things a whole hell of a lot worse.  I resisted the truth and ultimately resisted my path and my own Truth (capital T, thank you).  You see, the “good” in my life fell apart and became “bad.”  At least that’s how I saw it.  Really, though, I was shedding a lot of “bad” and made room for the FABULOUS (all caps, thankyouverymuch).  But that’s not what I saw.  I just saw what was present and resisted any change.  I had the foolish notion that I was in control of everything and that if I just clung on to it hard enough, I could manifest the “correct” outcome.  It doesn’t work like that.

Nothing is constant.  Life is always changing.  The “good” will go “bad.”  But the good news in this is that the “bad” will also go “good.”  I was talking to my friend the other day in the midst of his most desperate hour in his atrocious divorce.  He said to me, “I think this might be the worst thing.” All I could think to say to him was, “Guess what?  That means the next thing automatically has to be better.  You got to the bottom; you’re only going up now.”  The amount of resistance that we feel from something is equal to the emotional energy that we put into the response.  So, if we label divorce or losing a job or moving as “really bad,” well, we’re automatically going to think it sucks.  Likewise, if we label marriage or getting a good job or even winning the lottery as “really good,” then we’re automatically going to be really freaking terrified.  It goes like this:  Big Emotion = Big Resistance = Ridiculous attempt to control our lives.  Does any of this seem like a good use of energy to you?  Me neither.

Am I saying don’t feel big emotion or have an emotional response to change?  Absolutely not.  I’m saying take a step back and look at change (ALL change) in the larger context of your life.  What response does this trigger?  Will a “loss” usher something else in?  Will a “gain” allow you to expand your magnanimity and share with others?  When something shows up to rock your world, let go of the good/bad dichotomy and see if there is a larger message in the change.  It is all change.  Yes, everything falls apart.  But at some point it comes back together, too.  It always has, and it always will.

Love, heather.

Discounted Sessions through November

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Astrologically, this is a heavy time of clearing old patterns and finishing old cycles.  And we need some help.  Last night I had the honor of attending my friend Kathleen’s New Moon Visioning Ceremony, where I received the instruction to continue offering sessions at this current rate so that more people would feel that the guidance they require is easier to obtain.  Well, far be it fom me to argue with Angelic Instruction.  So, through the end of this month, I will continue to offer discounted sessions for those in need of a little extra guidance.