Reinventing Myself: Finding My Executive Coaching Voice

Reinventing Myself:  Finding My True Voice“Leaders MUST reinvent ourselves all the time.

In that reinventing period, it could feel like wandering around the desert, having lost your way, doubting yourself and your decision. And we must stick it through, so that something old inside us can die, and something new is reborn.”

Whooeee, it has been a long time since I wrote something on this blog.  I have been lost, wondering and wandering, busy reinventing myself.  Last year was a very pivotal year for me, in the sense that everything came together to invite me to give it all up and reinvent myself.

And so I did, with lots of fears and relatively little resistance.

I realized that as much as I LOVED the leadership coaching world, it was too limiting to me.  Because my definition of leadership is much more encompassing that what current executive coaches talk about, and what the corporate world wants to engage in, with me.  To me, leadership is about the whole being: mental, behavioral, SPIRITUAL, SEXUAL, emotional, social, and physical.  When coaching within an organization, it is BELIEVED that it is ONLY appropriate to talk about the mental state, address the behaviors, lightly touch on the emotional and social, maybe include a little spiritual and absolutely do not address the sexual being that we all are.

It came to a point where I could no longer be happy ignoring the most important power center, our sexual energy-power-and truth.  And to be honest, I was scared.  I was scared to really believe in myself and my own wisdom.  So to play it safe, I clamped down, I tried to be good and appropriate, and I pretended like I didn’t see deeper.

Anyway, I left the corporate coaching world and went off to create two new bodies of work: The Reinvention Circle, and Sex Lies and Consciousness.  The Reinvention Circle is a place for people like me: really talented but frustrated because I was not doing EXACTLY what I wanted to do and BE, and fearful because I was afraid if I veered off my current path, I would stop making money and will end up living on the street with my daughter.  Sex Lies and Consciousness started out as a BlogTalk Radio shows of real conversations about sex and relationships, and has become a life of its own.

Today, I am coming back to this cherished work: leadership & executive coaching and integrating all of my voices and my views of how leadership should be in the world.  This time I am not attached to how it should be or what will make me money.  Just going to do it and see how it will all turn out.

Where are you in your own path?  Is there something that is calling you to reinvent yourself and your leadership voice?  Please share…

Bali Untamed: Day 3

Leadership Discussion with Prince Cokorda Krisna Dalem Agung of the Peliatan Royal Family
Leadership Discussion with Prince Cokorda Krisna Dalem Agung of the Peliatan Royal Family

The highlight of today was our visit with one of the province’s young prince. He spent a luxurious 3 hours with us, hanging out, answering questions, and having lunch with us. It was very easy, simple, humble, and special for all of us. Of course I had to ask him MY set of questions:

Me: “What’s it like to be a modern day prince?”

Prince: “”Well it’s hard to be a modern day prince. Because I have to balance being a prince and making money. Money is king in the modern day. So I do have to work.”

Me: “What do you do? and what is your main job?”

P: “My job is to MANAGE. I manage my businesses, my people, my projects, my household, etc… It is our duty to create jobs for the people. I am not allowed to do manual labor work. But I am expected to create jobs.”

Me: “So how do you manage people’s corruption, and wanting special favors from the prince, and how do you manage the distribution of wealth?

P: “I don’t come across people wanting special favors from me. (Of course I don’t believe that). And here in Bali, we have this guideline for distribution of wealth: 30, 30, 30, 10. 30% for the workers; 30% for the celebrations/temples ceremonies, 30% for the community, and 10% for me and my family. Keeping 10% is enough. And if I focus on creating large projects, 10% of a lot is plenty for us. (I do believe this and am in awe and hopeful for the people of his province).

We had a few more very cool exchange after that. Here’s my take away: The prince is young and entrepreneurial. He, like all of us, are pondering about his rightful place and contribution in this lifetime. Although he does have access to privilege he also has more responsibilities to think about. One of the thing that he kept saying (that I didn’t leap in to bust him on it (yet)) was “I really want to explore this and that, but don’t have enough time to get involved with it.” Doesn’t he sound like a typcial CEO? or manager? or a female leader? oh wait, how about a male leader? or any human being? So, note to the Prince and to ALL, we never have enough time. WE just do what feels good and right. AND stop saying “I don’t have enough time.” It’s not useful.

Before I leave this post, I just have to go back to the 30:30:30:10 rule, and ponder what that might be like if corporate America consider this model of doing business: 30% goes to the workers, 30% goes to reinvesting into the company, 30% goes to building our community, 10% goes to investors?

Exceptional Life

I recently was invited to be a contributing writer for an ezine, called EXCEPTIONALIFE. I represent the expert voice in leadership and executive coaching. Woohoo!!

August’s theme is FULFILLMENT. My first article is “Fulfillment, an Executive’s Reflection.” It features an interview I had with one of my client on the subject of fulfillment and some personal thoughts that I collected over the years from witnessing my clients built fulfillment into their lives, including the Top 3 Reasons for an Executive to Feel or Not Feel Fulfillment.

This is a very rewarding opportunity for me to be a contributing writer. First of all it busts up my sabotage noise in my head that I am not a good writer. But more importantly, between blogging and writing for this ezine, I am learning to develop my voice on the subject of leadership. I like what I see coming out of me. My opinion on leadership is edgy and not typical. There is something fresh, irreverent, and very important that wants to express through me. So I am responding and trusting.

As you read my work, I do hope that you are forgiving on my usage of the English language. Being English as my second language, I perceive and express it differently than a typical American does. (ps. the typos you see in the published ezine was not from me!! somehow the editor goofed it up, and didn’t catch it.)

Onward with our exceptional lives… (exceptional, not perfect)

Introverted Leaders, Read This

How does an introverted leader compete for space with other extroverts in a meeting?

Do you ever find yourself overrun by other (much more verbose) people in a meeting?

Do you rather think quietly before you speak?

Do you find it exhausting to be around people (especially ones who talk a lot) for a long time?

Most likely you are in introvert.

An introvert is one who gets his or her energy from themselves. They need space and time to think. They prefer intimate conversations over large group mingles. They can be misunderstood as aloof, awkward, or socially inept. On the contrary, I have found them to be very caring, to have lots of wonderful and meaningful things to say, and can be very easy to be with. (Here is a great article I found by a fellow introvert “Caring for Your Introvert-Jonathan Rauch“)

When I work with my introverted executives, more often than not, they will want me to help them be more successful at meetings. They think they should speak more, compete for space, be louder to get noticed. The truth is they should do NONE of these things.

So, How does an introverted leader compete for space with other extroverts in a meeting?

1. You DON’T. If you do you will loose. This is not your forte. And by nature it will exhaust you, because you are not built that way. You will then be leading from your weakness instead of your strength.

2. Learn to make space for yourself. Introverts have to learn to respect your own style. You have just as much right to ask for quiet space as the extroverts assume their rights to take up space. So when everyone is talking (and most of the time it’s giberish), invite the group to stop talking for a minute. Just to let things settle and wisdom to emerge. This will give you time and space to find what is important to say and to lead the group forward.

3. Trust your own wisdom. In my observation over the years (and I am half introvert and half extrovert by the way) extroverts talk 80% of the time, and only 20% of what they say is important and new. While the introverts talk about 20% of the time, but 80% of what they say is important and should be listened to. So trust yourself introverts. You have valuable things to say and the group need to hear it. They are just busy with their own noises. So you need to help them hear you.

When you do these three things, you will be leading from your strength. You will be commanding the space instead of running after the noise. This way of being is very powerful, and people will walk away with the impression that you are someone they can trust, listen to, and take leadership from. Isn’t that what you have always wanted?

The Trouble with Feedback…

I just read 5 Key Elements of Effective Feedback from The Leadership Type blog and it inspired me to expand on the topic of Feedback. This article covered the basic and most important aspects about giving feedback.

Despite all the books and articles that have been written on giving feedback, there still are a few trouble spots for me on this subject.

1. Feedback HURTS.

First of all despite all the good intentions and the carefully cloaked “constructive criticism or feedback” lingo, in my observation, feedback usually means “you did something wrong, or I don’t agree with you and I want you to know about it, AND I want you to correct yourself (for your own good, of course).” Our ego system is very suspicious and sensitive to this kind assault. It knows bad things are coming in right away. And let’s be really honest, our ego system can NOT handle it. So the receiver of the feedback, no matter how good of a sport s/he is, will walk away from having just received “constructive feedback” feeling bruised and hurt! Therefore as a leader giving someone feedback, if we expect, think, or hope that “because we took great care to deliver it” the person should be able to handle and grow from it (immediately), we are in TOTAL DENIAL.

We must allow them time and space to “process” the feedback. That may mean they need to deny, reject, fight back, pout, sulk, get stuck in the muck, gossip, or just sit with it for a while. And then maybe, just maybe they will incorporate what we said and do something useful with it. The timing can be as short as a few minutes (which I doubt) and as long as a lifetime.

2. Usually the receiver of the feedback has NO choice but to receive. And that stinks!

Classic scenario: A manager calls an employee into his office. And with lots of effort and care says “I have some observations I would like to share with you.” Does the employee really have a choice here? but to hear it? NO!

Since I already established that feedback hurts. And now the employee has no choice but to hear it in the timing and circumstance that the giver decides. Given that, how receptive do you think the employee be? This is trouble no. 2 about feedback. It’s hard for the giver to give, and most of the time the process of giving feedback is completely disempowering to the receiver.

Give them true choices on if and how they want to receive feedback. Before you approach someone to give them feedback, ask them if they want it. IF you are lucky and have done a good job as a leader, they may say “NO, thanks, not right now.” You MUST HONOR that, and let go of the rush of judgment about them not wanting to receive the feedback that you have for them. Only when you, the leader, giver of feedback, truly honor this place, will you be able to create an empowering workplace where people can and want to honestly receive feedback.

3. “If I were Sir Richard Branson, would you still give me that feedback?”

This is my favorite trouble. Most feedback is given because the giver wants the receiver to grow in a certain direction; because the giver feels the receiver is out of line, missed the mark, (or overshot the mark); basically because the receiver did not COMPLY or FIT IN according to how the giver sees it. AND feedback is given to those who are still in the “trying to make it” place, which constitute at least 90% of the population.

I wonder what kind of “constructive feedback” do men like Sir Richard Branson, Jack Welch, or Donald Trump get? Or do we applaud them for their unconventionality? write books about how great they are? (don’t get me wrong I am a BIG fan of Sir Dick Branson (his Twitter name). I think more books should be written about him). But really, because they are “successful” (have made lots of money, and are well known), we assume they know. And that they are no longer subjected to our opinions of how they should be.

I think 80% of the feedback that we give are indications of areas that make US uncomfortable or confused about the person. It’s actually OUR problem not theirs. We are saying “you made me uncomfortable, please correct yourself, so that…” Rarely do we as givers of the feedback, stop and ask “what is this person really trying to do here?” and “how can I help them achieve it?” Or better yet “how do I empower this person to BE who they are and be powerful as is, instead of making them change so that they can fit in better?”

I can just imagine how many “constructive feedback” Richard, Jack, or Donald got when they were young and climbing the ladder. “Richard, I think you should be more conservative, take less risk, not be so unconventional in meetings. Perhaps people are seeing you as BRASS, or a LOOSE CANNON! It would jeopardize your career.”

You probably can tell by now, that I am not the easiest person to give feedback to. 😉

I do take a stand for an empowered workplace, where people get to be honored for who and how they are, instead of being made into a zombie at work. And it starts with a quality feedback.