Science with Soul – The Heart of Leadership and Life

Leadership development really isnt just about job performance. At the heart of leadership is personal and professional growth. They are not separated; they are inextricably linked. We are whole beings, with a spirit, emotions, an intellect/mind and a physical body. It is this tendency to artificially separate and compartmentalize ourselves that has led many professionals to a state of chronic insecurity, fear and feeling unfulfilled and separate from others and life itself.

Where does this tendency come from? To simplify it, it begins in the mind, specifically within our left-brain in general. Some of the functions of the left-brain include bringing the qualities of individualism/feeling separate, linear, logical, step-by-step thinking, a focus on physical survival and a need for predictability. Unto themselves these are useful qualities. It becomes a problem, however, when it is unbalanced and over depended upon.

Letting Go of Stuck: 3 Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way

There are new ways to accelerate your ability to embrace change and co-create the joyful life you feel is locked down inside of you. Feeling stuck? Frustrated? Too much to do? Where do you begin? How about instead of staring at your long ‘to do’ list, or ruminating on what you should have done, or worrying about the future, you take a deep breath now and listen to your gut, which is saying, ‘slow down and listen for a moment.’

How will you ever change your life or get to where you want to go if you lack the clarity to know where you want to go? If you keep doing more ‘stuff ‘on autopilot, you will keep getting what you have which is possibly quite chaotic – probably not what you desire. There really is more to life than being a ‘doing machine’ without fulfillment, enjoyment or reaching that restful place of a sense of accomplishment. This place of inner peace and a sense of satisfaction is a potential reality here on planet earth; you just need to find the map to put you on the road to getting there now.

It is only in the present, in this now moment that you can transform your self and your life – not yesterday or tomorrow.

Tomorrow, it will be now. Yet, the paradox is, as long as you ruminate, subject yourself to the busy trap and its cult(ure) of busyness, you won’t be able to slow down and know yourself. You won’t be able to pause long enough to figure out where you want to go and ‘Why’. You will stay on that downward spiral to dis-ease and isolation. Life doesn’t have to be lived this way. Take it from me; I knew this well-worn path very well at one time. We all can learn to get out of our own way. We, ourselves, are really the ones we have been waiting for to get us unstuck.

Our brain is amazing in its ability to create, self-fulfilling prophecy.

Because we have unwittingly programmed our brain to cling to sameness and what we know, initiating change and transformation can be challenging. The good news is that we can literally retrain our brain to be able to embrace change faster.

Authenticity: Casting Off the Shackles of Shame

Would it be helpful to you if you could shift your feelings toward confidence and joy ‘on demand’ like changing the cable channel? How about dialing up gratitude or self-love in a way that feels genuine, not just disingenuous platitudes? There is already objective research proving that when we change the meaning assigned to an experience, it can turn off our fear provoking amygdala area of our brain. The more we practice this, the more confident and resilient we can become.

Emotional Intelligence: Optimism Can Be Learned

Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Happiness, Work Life Balance, Neuroscience of Leadership, Mindfulness, Optimism, HIgh Performance, NeuroReInvention

Since optimism can be learned, why is pessimism so rampant? Do we have any say in our attitude or is it simply, just the way we are?

If you think you can do a thing or you think you can’t do a thing– you are right ~Henry Ford

This now aligns in general with recent research in neuroscience. Pessimists are people who tend to see through a lens of pessimism and optimists have a brain bias that is toward optimism. Reality is not objective in these types of situations in particular. Your reality is real – to you. Life contains both and sometimes we get what we want and sometimes we don’t. The question is what meaning or story line do you assign to the outcomes that you see?

Is it one of what can be learned? What can you change? Do you just let your emotions swing you wildly out of control? Do you focus on what is missing or wrong or do you look for all the other great things in your life to be thankful for that you DO have?

You see, this choice of happiness or stress and overwhelm is within our control to a huge degree. Whether pessimism was learned or genetic, you can change it. We just have not known it was possible and we are just now learning how to consciously do it with more ease and less effort.  I’m glad I had the courage to get a head start on the science…I have so much more emotional self-mastery now.  Trusting intuition can be a beautiful and powerful thing.

Enhanced self-awareness and more skillful self-management are the foundations of emotional intelligence and are building blocks for optimism and resiliency. They are essential for maintaining motivation and preventing burnout. Research has shown that optimism is associated with enhancing intrinsic motivation and performance. It has a tendency to inspire others instead of discourage them.

Personal Development: What’s the ‘Self’ in Self-actualization?

Inner Peace, Self-actualization, Personal Development, Leadership, True Potential, Mindfulness, Self-aware Leader, Emotional Intelligence

I was listening to a video by an author where he defined ‘self-actualization’ in terms of ‘ego’ or selfish individualism – a type of narcissism. This goes to show the limitations of language and how meaning can be confused. The ‘self’ in self-actualization in my mind is just the opposite. It is the freedom from the mental constructs of the ego-self. And, it’s an ancient concept.

It is the awareness that there is a ‘core’ you that is beyond the labels and judgments of the ‘autobiographical memory’ of the brain’s cellular memory that forms the ego – in neuroscience terminology. Self-actualization is another way of saying, ‘enlightenment’. It is the ‘real you’ Self. It reaches beyond the social conditioning that says, ‘you are only this or that’. Or, ‘you cannot be, do or have this or that’ – just because society holds you in an itty-bitty box of judgment.

Self-actualization is about recognizing more and more who you really are and hopefully accessing more of your true potential. It is freeing your mind from the limitations that create distraction, disease and dysfunction. So, just to be clear, my definition of self-actualization leads a person to be more collaborative with others, not more selfish.

Self-Awareness: The Great and Powerful Oz

Self-awareness, Neuroscience, Leadership, Team Dysfunction, Leadership Development, Women Leadership

Self-awareness helps us to wake up to aspects that are already present within us – we just don’t see it. The blind spots of our society’s conditioning over time can cause us to focus on what is allegedly, ‘wrong with us’. Sure, we all have shortcomings that challenge us to grow.

These behaviors are not ‘who we are’. They are ‘how we act’. We simply get it confused with our ‘Being’. We ‘do’ things that don’t serve our highest good nor others, yet we can change our behavior. And, we can do it without creating so much self-recrimination and guilt. In fact, it is easier to change our behavior when we cut the story line that ‘something is wrong with us’. This perception creates resistance to behavioral change as we run away from the conversation to change instead of facing it courageously and compassionately head on.

I saw the movie, The Great and Powerful Oz the other day. Oz had big dreams and lots of self-sabotaging behaviors – like lack of integrity, selfishness without regard for others and reactive, non-reflective thinking. Yet, ‘Goodness’ lived within him and given the right inspiration, he did tap into a part of himself that desired to help others and not simply be run by his own greed and fear. Granted, he still needed to develop more honesty by the end of the movie.

This journey of tapping our true potential and living up to our lofty ideas happens in stages. Our habits evolve easier with self-awareness and the desire to tap the courage of our heart. To do this easier, we need to understand how to, ‘optimally operate’ our amazing brain to that we can change with greater ease.

Currently we wire our brain more often than not, to:

Change Management: From Survival to Thrival

Change Management, Neuroscience of Leadership, Art and Science of Neuroreinvention, Collaborative Leadership, Women Leadership, Personal Power, Confidence, Well Being, Work Life Balance, Stress, Valencia RayManaging change effectively involves managing mindset. Where your mind is set determines if change is scary and ‘hard’ or exciting and ‘easier’. I don’t want to imply that change will be without discomfort but it doesn’t have to be down right painful.

How you see it – perception – matters. ‘Survival of the fittest’ is a pervasive perception that drive us into our ‘survival brain’. I don’t think there is anything primitive about our amazing brain, yet there are evolutionary levels of engagement that impact our behaviors in everyday life.

I look at the brain in terms of its three evolutionary levels (See image). Level 1 and 2 is in a nutshell all about our survival instinct and our mammalian need for security, love and self-esteem. Neuroscience has shown that ‘perception is reality’ and truly reality is not, ‘objective’.

‘Reality is an illusion; albeit a very persistent one’ ~Albert Einstein

It’s persistent because generally speaking, most people are stuck in Level 1 and 2 mind. It’s this mindset of how we see, ‘survival of the fittest’ that keeps us stuck in Level 1 and 2 mind of our brain. The way to thrive is to connect with your ‘thrival’ brain, which is what I like to call it. This Level 3 area, called the neo-cortex is our ‘executive functioning’ level of brain of self-awareness, higher decision-making, confidence, imagination/innovation, empathy and spiritual purpose and connection.

Level 3 brain can transcend the survival brain fears – FEAR which is ‘Fictitious Evidence Affecting Reality’ – which keeps our storytelling brain stuck on fight/flight/freeze response. It can actually break the loop of deer-in-the-headlight reactions from the Level 1 and 2 brain/mind. This belief in competition at all costs, in order to survive becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Mindfulness Meditation: Live in Peace not Pieces

Mindfulness Meditation, Peace of Mind, Happiness, Whole Brain, Neuroscience of Leadership, NeuroReInvention, Women Leadership, Leadership, Valencia RayInner peace is closer than you realize. You don’t have to ‘do’ any thing. In fact it is your tendency to need to, ‘do something’ that is driving peace of mind out of reach. We have been taught to separate our self into pieces. Be one way at home and one way at office. One way at church or temple and one way with our friends.

In fact, the one thing we don’t tend to do is to question – who is the ‘real me’? Is there a ‘real me’ buried under all those ‘shoulds, oughts and have to’s? Yes – and this center, this core self is peaceful – peace filled – by Nature. You will have to slow down and reflect to reconnect with your Self however.

This segmenting of our self is reflected in our ‘divided brain’. Are we left-brain or right-brain? Why not both? We have two hemispheres for a reason. We also don’t tend to trust our own mind and heart. We have allowed the outer world to define us – who we should be, what we can do, what we can have – and we’ve lost our Self, our inner peace in the process of chasing outer ‘stuff’. Enough already.

Ironically, we can have the outer experience and enjoy it more when we show up whole. When we allow our authenticity to come through, drawing on our whole self, our whole mind, our spirit and our physical body, we come to life integrated. The path to inner peace is to stop living in pieces and to start living with purpose.

                                          ‘The purpose of life is a life with purpose’

Self-Awareness: Life IS a Hero’s Journey

Orange and red sky at sunset

We, human beings, love stories. One of the all time favorite theme is, ‘The Hero’s Journey’. Adventure stories and the lessons from ‘fairy tales’ were, and still are, at the top of my list of favorite movies, books and conversations. This is why movies like, ‘The Hobbit’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’ and even more contemporary movie settings in the ‘adventure’ genre are so popular. Too often we only live vicariously through the movies and lives of others. We see this journey in others yet remain blind to our own personal hero or ‘shero’ journey.

A facet of ‘self-awareness’ is recognizing that we are all on this journey. Our lives are an adventure of self-discovery, other-discovery and life-on-earth discovery. This includes the work that we do in the world. Do you perceive your work as a ‘hardship’ or a place to uncover your true potential? Do you see it as stressful, or simply a challenge to expand your vision for your life? How you perceive your self and your experience will determine how you respond to it – to your life.

We are all a hero on a journey and our journey defines our message.  Take notes along the way so that you can then share your lessons.

I see a lot of unhappiness coming across the airways. I hear messages about what’s wrong with ‘us’. There are an awful lot of people at the office and generally, scrambling to ‘fix’ themselves in some way, shape or form. Here’s a novel thought – ever think about the fact that you are simply on a ‘Hero/Shero Journey?’

Leadership: Be YOU, Magnificently – Is that Arrogant?

Leaders, and people in general, are searching for new answers. New answers – innovation – requires an open mind. I hear and read much about innovation. Much is being said about ‘cutting edge’ and ’embracing change’ and leaders leading !and still many people cling to what they, ‘know’.

How do you ‘know’ something?

Did you know that our brain is remarkable at creating ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’? Also, many of the ‘social norms’ and ways of thinking had to start somewhere in time. Perhaps they served groups and the social structure at one time, but the environment changes. The difference is that now, the environment is changing a lot faster than only a decade ago.

Overwhelm has the potential to keep increasing while at the same time, we are all expected to perform at higher and higher levels. How will we do this if what we already, ‘know’ is all there is? The answer is obvious to me – we need to ‘know’ some new things and that only happens by being willing and then taking action.

For many, being willing is actually the challenge. Our ways of thinking have commonly caused many of us to ‘dumb down’ our Creator given magnificence as human beings. Each and every human being has some gift or talent that is unique in their own unique way of expressing. Each person has a potential that could, not only lead him or her to more achievement, peace, joy and confidence, but it can be used to serve the world and make it a better place.

Whether it is leadership performance at the office or within your social service or your home, we all need to grow and evolve in order to uncover the gold that is already within us. It’s time to stop, ‘Looking for love in all the wrong place’ and find it within so that we can bring it out to shine to the world. I believe it is arrogant and crude to consider our self as ‘defective’ or broken.

Humility is accepting and loving our self with compassion, cultivating our purpose and gifts, not beating our self up. Instead of seeing our limitations as something shameful or ugly, we can retrain our brain – literally – to see with new ‘mind’s eyes’. You see perception is changeable and it creates your ‘reality’.