Can You Be a Good Coach Leader without Vision and Strategy?

Clarity of Vision, Leadership, Self-awareness, Employee Engagement, Strategic Vision

Can you be an effective leader without clarity of vision and strategy for yourself and your team? Think about this a moment… Stop here a moment and focus on this question.

Did you notice that by focusing on this question, you had to give your attention to it? When you focus, you are tapping into the brain’s basic navigating tool. You had to make a decision to turn away other thoughts floating through and focus on the question at hand. “Focus” is a basic way that the brain operates to guide your choices. What you focus on expands in your awareness. What you give your attention to is sending a command to your nervous system that the object of attention is your goal—for better or for worse. When you coach and engage your team into creating a clear vision and strategy, you are increasing their focus on where the company wants to go. Of course, allowing people into the process not only increases the likelihood of ownership; innovative ideas could also be an added benefit.

If you want to engage the minds and heart of your team, you must be able to paint a clear and emotional vision and implementable strategy. Of course, just writing a vision down and putting it in the drawer or on a PDF file will not engage people’s passion, commitment and accountability. If you design an impeccable “big data” management strategy without taking into account people and their roles, skills and needs don’t be surprised when your organizational change initiative becomes a part of the 70-80% Failure Club.

Just having a design on paper remains theoretical until implementation brings it to life. The vision and strategy must be articulated and designed clearly and the stakeholders/people must be engaged in the process. This takes creativity and mental agility on the leader’s part. Otherwise vision and strategic planning is simply more busy work, unproductive meetings and mindless activity. If this were your scenario, it would be little wonder that people do not see the value of vision and strategy.

I came across Google’s 8 Rules for Effective Leadership the other day. I’m glad to see that their analytics revealed the fairly obvious list of what makes for an effective leader. It is important to many people to have objective data and research upon which to base their decisions on and it really can be useful. The one Rule though that really stood out to me that was strange however is Rule 7, “Have a clear vision and strategy for the team” which was next to last. This list was created based upon order of importance in a descending order. I’m curious, how can one…

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The Illusion of Control

Leadership Development, Emotional Intelligence, Teamwork, Communication Skills, Neuroscience of Leadership

Early on in my medical practice I was a “bossy boss.” After finishing my medical training, I immediately began plans to open my own office. During that time of my life, I was a very driven, self-centered person. I was driven to “prove myself” via achievement and goal setting, and “enough was never enough.” After achieving my medical degree and training ahead of schedule, I charged directly into opening my new medical practice—without skipping a beat.

Medical education is notorious for fostering a competitive mindset and for not helping physicians to develop people skills. The only thing that saved me in the realm of patient care is my natural tendency to care for those whom I feel responsible for with empathy and deep commitment. Back in those days, if you were not in this category, you probably would not take very long to discover my short temper or curt attitude when (easily) provoked. I not only put undue stress and pressure on myself, I had an inner critic that was perfectionistic and worked over-time.

Now imagine me as the leader of this new medical practice. When I was in college, before I became an overly assertive grouch after medical school, I was a supervisor for a major grocery store’s customer service desk. This was the extent of my professional managerial skills. Suddenly, after opening my practice, I found myself not only responsible for full-time employees, I was also responsible for what seemed like an astronomical office overhead and I had an acute need to accelerate my business development skills!

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Mindset: Ready to Change Your B.S.?

Transformational Leadership, Perform at your best, self-awareness, more focus, mindset, Neuroscience of Leadership Development, more confidence, more momentum, more passion, mental agility, executive coaching, valencia ray

News Flash: where your mind is set—mindset—is not permanent. Your brain is flexible; you can learn throughout your life. Science calls it “neuroplasticity.” I call it, “NeuroReInvention®.” The belief that:

  1. “I am stuck”
  2. “This is just the way I am”
  3. “I can’t change”
  4. “I’m not good enough”
  5. “I’m always right; this is the way life is”

…is really simply B.S. and by this I mean it is a “Belief System.” You could also say it is due to blind spots in your life’s field of vision. It is my experience that we can change our B.S. Fortunately we now also have neuroscience for our skeptical, fearful-of-change logical brain. We can stop telling ourselves self-limiting stories that keep us from performing at our best at home and at the office. We can change our perceptions that interfere with harmonious relationships, our finances and our health. We can re-create our belief systems.

An important ingredient to this is to begin to understand that your personality and your potential are moldable. Your gender, race, creed or color doesn’t define the totality of you. In fact, whatever definitions are given are someone’s, somewhere subjective opinion and definition. Even your definition of yourself is subjective. You can stop believing it; you can change how and what you think. You can change how you feel. Perception is not objective.

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Perform at Your Best Using Your Purpose Filter

Perform at your best, self-awareness, more focus, mindset, Neuroscience of Leadership Development, more confidence, more momentum, more passion, mental agility, executive coaching,

Living with purpose – on purpose, requires clarity of values, what matters to you. To perform at your best you need to make conscious choices about what really matters to you. Without a definite purpose it is all too easy to be distracted by “the latest greatest thing.” It requires a decision to focus yet at the same time having an open mind to filter through relevant insights, information and opportunities. It requires an expanded vision to live an inspired and creative life.

This will require not only a higher level of self-awareness, but also mental agility. Adaptability. Confidence. It is not likely to be the most popular way of living as unfortunately, the masses of people live overcrowded or externally directed lives. Unfortunately, Henry David Thoreau’s words still ring true that,

“The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation”

Meaning can’t be found outside of ourselves until we go within to feel into our heart – our passion. With all the fear and noise around us, we have to find our passion, which is likely to be buried under a mound of negative feelings. We can intentionally shift from worry, anxiety and mediocrity when we make up our minds – and heart – to do so. Sometimes we can’t find our passion unless we actually acknowledge, what really makes us angry? Not in a self-righteous way, but in a way that shows concern for a cause greater than just us.

We will have to ask some questions if we want new answers, questions such as,

1. Where do I want to go, to experience? Why?
2. What do I really want?
3. Can I envision it in my mind’s eye?
4. Can I communicate it…to myself?
5. Who or to what cause do I want to serve?

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Mindset: Is Belief in Good Luck Irrational?

Brain, Neuroscience, Mindset, Perform at your Best, NeuroReInvention, Purpose, Emotional Intelligence, Personal Power, Innovation, Happiness, Leadership

I believe brain researchers (neuroscientists) have good intentions when they make blanket statements about other people’s beliefs to be “right or wrong.” Some of them probably believe their “expert status” enables them to make broad and sweeping declarations on behalf of all of humanity – I suppose. I believe, the belief that an “expert” gets to set the rules for what is “right or wrong” is a type of perceptual bias in itself. Just to be clear, there needs to be context when judging right and wrong anyway, since the situation or circumstance can make a huge difference. Life is just not black or white.

In fact, science is full of bias. Just read history…or your current online copy of a variety of current research studies. Can we just get comfortable with the facts of life? Life is not neat and predictable. Everyone, including myself, filter what he or she sees and experience through their own biased lens. The best we can ever do is to continue to raise our self-awareness so that we can be more in the moment to make our own choice as clearly as we can. Simple as that. It is not black or white, “objectivity.”

My bias is that I don’t believe a scientist, researcher or anyone else can determine objective results 100% of the time. It’s easy when we are referring to mechanistic, physical objects. For example, if we as human beings have agreed that the color red looks like…”red”… and then we see a red apple, one can argue that another is “right or wrong” if the color is called purple. That’s what standardized tests attempt to do. Teach people what to think and then test them on it.

Yet, somewhere back in time, red was “made up” and we all agreed upon it and generation after generation it was taught to children this way. It’s called, “language.”

What I have trouble with is when I see articles from scientists saying, for example, “we (people) see patterns where there are none.” Oh, “none” to whom?

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The Courage to Lead: Changing Our Story

Collaborative Leadership, Women Leadership, Innovation, Retrain Your Brain, Neuroscience of Leadership, Valencia Ray, The Efficace Group, Personal Power, Team Development, Executive Coaching, Self-Awareness

Truth is, it takes courage to change your mind. Particularly when we live in a culture that expects us to have all the answers and make no mistakes. We hold ourselves to an impossible standard and then we wonder why change is so difficult. Many if not most people, are standing like deer in the headlights when it comes to making changes in their behaviors that are no longer serving them. Why?

In order to see change in your life, you have to make changes in your way of thinking and feeling – first. The fact is, who you think you are, what you think you can do, be or have is a “story.”

Our brain forms, “autobiographical memory” – the story or narrative of who we think we are. The good news is that thanks to “neuroplasticity” – the ability of our brain to rewire and change itself literally – we can change our story on demand the more self-aware we become. The bad news is, if you don’t have the courage to trust yourself, listen to your own heart and feel the need to be validated by the so-called experts, you may live and die with the greatest parts of yourself locked deep inside, never to be shared with the rest of us. Now that’s unfortunate.

I had an interesting conversation with someone recently whom I greatly admire. He’s a person of integrity and he speaks his truth, which I admire. I’ve asked him to always tell me his truth, and don’t worry about how I’ll take it. I like honesty and I can learn by listening and becoming self-aware of my blind spots. In a nutshell, because he, like probably most people, didn’t realize that an eye surgeon (an M.D. medical eye physician) has professional training in the brain and nervous system in order to do their job, he made an erroneous assumption, that I’ve come to realize is not unique to him. I took note; perhaps I need to be more explicit. The upside of this is that it made it loud and clear how important perception is, so perhaps I can help some people to get out of their own way by educating them on the fact that neuroscience is a part of my training as an eye surgeon as it relates to the message I share. I’d say most people have been conditioned to believe that nearly everything we do has to have validation by an institution.

This need for institutional validation is the point I want to focus on in this article and why we need to change our story about this constant need for external validation. There is some value to this, yet we have taken it to ridiculous proportions in many cases.

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Clarity Takes Courage

Perform at Your Best, NeuroReInvention, Neuroscience of Leadership, Collaborative Leadership, Mind Muscle, Leadership Beyond Gender, Valencia Ray, Team Building, Alpha Male, Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence, Innovation

Clarity is powerful and is a primary ingredient to performing at your best. It is poorly understood and generally not a feature of most people’s strategies. Why? Because we are too busy…being busy. We take pride in taking, “massive action.”

Yet, if you are not clear about where you want to go and why, IF you arrive at your chosen destination at all you will likely find it was not the solution you were seeking. IF you even make it to your goal, you may find that you wasted much time, energy and money and made unnecessary mistakes – a.k.a. “learning” by trial and error – along the way.

Why do this? Why do we typically do this?

1. It’s because we don’t know what we don’t know.
2. We have not been taught the energy efficient way of creating and innovating with intention.
3. We believe it takes “hard work in order to be successful.”
4. We really don’t know what we really want.
5. We don’t know who we really are and what our authentic, heart-felt vision is.

There are other reasons; these are five significant ones. We tend toward massive action without insight because we are not used to the idea of reflection, restoration and we don’t know and trust ourselves. We don’t listen to our own inner intuitive voice.

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How to Create More Time – On Purpose

Neuroscience of Leadership, NeuroReInvention, Personal Transformation, Self-Talk, Inner Critic, Confidence, Self-Esteem

Creating time at first sounds ridiculous – until you understand how we co-create our “reality”. Of course when speaking of linear time, there are only 24 hours to a day and everyone receives equal amounts. Yet if you keep talking about how fast, “time flies” and do not realize that you are the pilot that has great influence over how you experience time, you will unconsciously keep your foot on the accelerator without awareness of how to slow it down. Our perception, “how we see time” impacts our experience of time.

Hint: A part of the problem is that you keep focusing on and talking about how fast “time flies” – it becomes your “reality”.

Then there’s the added challenge that many people talk about having “too much to do and not enough time.” So is it that you have too much to do or is it that you literally need more than 24 hours to your day…will you ever get more than 24 hours to your day? Can you see how talking about “not enough time” is deadly to ever being able to feel the sensation and joy of completion? Where are you going to get more “time?” I could go on and on with a variety of scenarios of how we unwittingly are stressing ourselves out and sabotaging our true potential, productivity and peace of mind due to our conversations with our self and others…but I won’t.

Let’s address how to create more time with the brain in mind within the context of these two examples. (more…)

Authentic Leadership: The Eye of the Heart Sees Everything

Art and Science of NeuroReInvention, Neuroscience of Leadership, Keynote Speaker, Team Dysfunction, Business Optimization, Emotional Intelligence, Valencia Ray

Is it, Eye, or ‘I’? – that is the question. It is interesting that they are pronounced the same. The physical eye allows you to see the physical world. The ‘I’, of ‘who you think you are’ determines the clarity of your perception – how you see the world and your life experience. Authentic leadership engages the head and the heart. The heart is the feeling nature and can either follow the lead of your ego (‘I’ in Latin by the way) or your True, Authentic Self. The real ‘I’.

Our right brain is another metaphor of the heart. Our left-brain represents our logic, or ‘head’. Truth or deception can be felt with the heart – if you are listening, that is, if you are in touch with your feeling nature. Feelings powerfully contribute to our state of ‘Being’. They deeply color our experience – even when you try to deny them.

It will behoove your leadership, your creativity, and your performance in general to make friends with your feelings instead of seeing them antagonistically. Why? They powerfully define your perception, that is, ‘how’ you see life. Your thinking triggers your feelings and your feelings strongly impact your actions.

You can think ‘success’ but if you don’t feel ‘success’, you will have a tough time obtaining and maintaining it.

It is time to realize we are a whole being and not just our thinking and a body…remember our ‘being’ is defined by how we think and especially feel, whether we ignore this or not. If you are only in your head ‘thinking’ it is a good chance you are only ‘doing’, only going through the motions.  You are not likely to feel passionate about your work or life or relationships.

You may be busy as a bee, going nowhere really fast. When you slow down and actually feel you can acquaint yourself with your Self. You can start to see life from your heart and eliminate more effectively those feelings which no longer serve you and cultivate those that make you radiate – joyful and full of life – truly productive. You can more effectively apply your emotional intelligence skills and tools.  Then you can serve from Truth instead of from deception.

Self-deception will wreck your leadership…and your life. You can run from your feelings but you can’t hide. Paradoxically, you can self-management your feelings and feel good most of the time when you pay attention to them and come from self-awareness instead of denial.

It is more courageous to strike at the root of our challenges instead of fearfully hanging out only at the surface.

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Emotional Intelligence: The Heart of Great Leadership

Emotional Intelligence, Neuroscience of Leadership, NeuroReInvention, Valencia Ray, Leadership Development

Emotion and feeling has been given a bum rap. Emotion and feeling powerfully impact our behavior, decision-making, health, quality of relationships and life experience.  To ignore them is to attempt to ignore half of our human nature.  Navigating them intelligently has a definite leadership and life advantage. I know for sure that to deny this reality is a clear sign of lack of real self-awareness. It will be a giant step forward for humanity to reconcile our fear of feeling and emotion, which is really simply rooted in perception.

“Nothing is good or bad except thinking makes it so” ~Shakespeare

Our thinking directs our choice of emotional perception – love (good) or fear (bad). How we interpret a situation creates the meaning and our response to it. Once this split second decision (left-brain) is made, a corresponding feeling (right-brain) is triggered. This feeling will wire our memory of the experience.

Hence both hemispheres are involved in autobiographical memory – it’s just that the context and meaning then gets stored in our subconscious mind and our brain’s memory banks. Much of the lack of leadership effectiveness is not due to the current predicament before us. A less than stellar behavioral pattern is typically due to the unconscious knee jerk reaction to old stored autobiographical memory.  When we change our perceptual memory within our, “storytelling brain”, we can change how we see and experience life.

Our ego – who we think we are – is a combination of our conditioning, our conscious intellect and the emotional component stored in our mostly right-brain feeling experience. Because of our lack of skillful self-management and fear of our feelings, most people are very unintelligent when it comes to emotion and feelings. This need not be so.

With a bit of courage and a willingness to grow – not fix yourself by the way as you are not broken – we can all learn these new skills sets.

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