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I am not an oracle, but I feel things

 

I am not an oracle. I’m not a fortune teller, a psychic or a mind reader. I have no way to predict the future though I wish I did. I am highly sensitive, deeply intuitive and empathic. I feel A LOT.

 

If I had the answers, believe me, I’d be shouting from YouTube or my driveway to anyone who might listen and not dismiss me as a mildly unkempt woman in her bathrobe yelling into the void.

 

I feel like we’re on a big timeout, a collective, global, slow the f down. Once the world opens up again, we may begin to realize how false borders are, human to human. Timelines have changed and expectations have changed along with them. Graduations, celebrations, weddings, fundraisers, festivals, even the due date of our tax returns (in the U.S.) have shifted forward. We’re living in a TBD world.

 

While we can’t make solid plans other than washing our hands and keeping a safe and healthy distance from each other, we can, optimistically plan ahead. We can work with what we’ve got. We can get ready.

 

I’ve noticed myself saying, “let’s hope to” instead of “let’s plan on.”

 

We can learn to be comfortably uncomfortable exactly where we are.

 

I think we’re going to be okay, but I also think we’re going to be really sad, frustrated and disappointed for quite awhile and we will grieve and mourn the loss of what was.

 

I think we’re going to have to learn to deal with how much we depend on future plans for our happiness, how quickly we look outside instead of inside for a sense of joy, fulfillment or satisfaction. I think we’re going to notice how quickly we get bored and how boring we become when we can’t have what we want when we want it.

 

I think we’re going to have to accept how fragile and interdependent we are, even though we used to believe we were strong, resilient and independent (at least in the U.S.).

 

I think we will continue to be humbled by all we don’t know, how quickly and easily we are seduced into fear and panic and how much we truly need community and to care about each other deeply.

 

I think resilience will begin to look and feel different than “toughing it out” and will become more relational, more knowing “we’re all in this together,” everyone, everywhere, without exception.

 

I think we have an opportunity to be more creative and more self-aware.

 

I think as more is taken away from us, the more we will begin to focus on and acknowledge our true needs and gifts.

 

I think we’re going to step up.

People in wetsuits wading into the ocean

Leadership Philosophy

It’s time we begin to tell a new story about leadership, starting right here, right now.

You are a leader. All the time. No matter what.

Does that feel like a lot of responsibility?

It should…and you can relax because you are already leading no matter what you do. Simply by being you have an impact. You are a leader.

You don’t have to change. You are human and you are perfect. Now let’s get to work.

First, you need to know how spectacular you are. You need to see and understand your strengths. When you know yourself, you can contribute to others.

Second, you are a hero and so is everyone else. There are no victims and no one is to blame. We all come to the party of life with our great gifts in hand and offer them with love in service to the work we are here to do together.

Third, we are all connected. We need each other and we’re all here in this world together. We can do more together than alone. We make a difference.

Fourth, it’s time to stop forcing leadership on people and start helping leadership emerge from people.

It’s time to stop deflecting and start accepting.

When we undervalue our strengths, dismiss our contributions, lack the insight to acknowledge and recognize our greatness, we cheat possibility.

In doing so, we unintentionally allow people and organizations to struggle and compete when we crave collaboration.

Lacking awareness of our own innate and unique strengths breeds discontent, disengagement, resentment and a feeling of never being quite enough.

It’s enough already.

Good people leave organizations. Dreams die. Time is lost. Teams fall apart. People suffer.

It’s time to celebrate and grow.

We develop best from our strengths. Highlighting and building capacity from an understanding of who we are and what we uniquely offer makes us all better leaders and better humans.

We all do better when we each do our best.

We change the story of leadership by changing the experience of leadership.

It’s time to write a new story, and we can do this together.

a speaker holding a microphone and speaking at FEAT

Born Leader

Most six year olds spend their time going to school and playing.

When I was six, I was organizing a club of first graders who loved The Jackson 5, even though I didn’t particularly like The Jackson 5. The kids in my class had a need and I was there to help guide it.

I’ve always been a person who sees opportunities to make a difference. In fact, I see possibilities most people miss. I’m highly sensitive so I see and feel multitudes (which I’ve learned is a superhero power). It’s part of my DNA.

It would be tempting to relate my seemingly innate compulsion to create change and do things differently to make better sense of the world as direct correlation to my father’s death when I was four, but it wouldn’t be 100% true. I was shaking things up from the minute I realized I could.

I am one of the people others describe as a “born leader,” and I believe EVERYONE is a born leader.

To lead is to have an influence or impact. Simply by existing, each individual, at every age and stage, is a leader.

Here’s what leadership looks like on me.

I was a kid who ran for student government positions not because I was assured the popular vote (I most certainly was not) but because I saw a way we could change the way we built our programs, systems and communities to be more inclusive and effective. I had ideas and was willing to do the work. I’ve led more teams and projects in my lifetime than I can count. I’m a person who steps up and says yes. I see needs and look for ways to mobilize people around a shared vision.

If you want change, you are a leader. If you care for others, you are a leader. If you love, you lead. If you breathe, you lead.

You have an impact. What you choose to do who you are defines your character, quality of life and happiness.

You are a leader. All the time. No matter what.

Leadership is as individual and unique as a fingerprint; your path probably does not look like mine.

Most people don’t know what their leadership looks like and can’t comprehend their impact; imagine trying to describe and feel the beauty of a painting but you’re inside the frame.

The magical qualities that define us at the core, the essence of our awesomeness, our US-ness, what makes me me and you you, can feel elusive.

When we don’t know our contribution, we have the tendency to fall asleep at the wheel of life. Believe me, I’ve been there. We either act as if what we do and who we are doesn’t matter or that it’s the only thing that matters. We search and seek outside ourselves to find an answer that lies within.

Let that sink in a minute.

You already have the answers and you don’t need an expensive car or a plethora of advanced degrees to tell you that you are important.

You are.

I learned most about myself is a leader at a time when I didn’t feel like one.

I fell into dark days of doubt during a forced leave of absence from work during my first pregnancy. My ability to work and achieve was a HUGE part of my identity, as I’m sure you can imagine for a person who’d been getting it done since childhood.

I anticipated being gone a few months, but the break, my professional hiatus, lasted five years.

The break broke me open.

Unable to do what I’d always done before (work, succeed, achieve), I began to take apart the puzzle of the person I thought I was to discover that I was so much more.

I was used to measuring success in promotions and pay raises; I traded those metrics for the experience of living, actually feeling alive, in the day to day, even when I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going. (Parenting will do that to you). I grew richer in relationships, self-awareness, joy, and a deeply grounded sense of purpose.

Without a boss to review me, I chose to evaluate myself.

What did I love? What did I need? Where did I thrive?

I listened to the wisdom of my soul and the love of the people around me, especially my children who were not at all impressed by my resume. I began to remember myself.

I am a person who helps make dreams come true. I challenge the status quo. I question assumptions. I believe, deeply and powerfully. I connect people to themselves and to their impact. I create experiences that ignite lives on fire.

I listen. I hold space. I serve with love. I tell stories. I offer hope. I am a guide.

Transitioning back into my professional life, I had an aha moment! Struggling between carpooling, commuting, and managing a job that met my needs for flexibility but not my desire to contribute in a meaningful way, I realized that I couldn’t be the only person who felt like the puzzle pieces of my life didn’t fit together. With everything I had and a dream of making a difference, I make a choice to help.

I continue to make that choice every day and my life continues to become more and more amazing.

More importantly, I am happy. I know who I am. I know what I’m here to do. I wake up with a sense of purpose and belonging because I know.

We all have moments when we recognize that the way things have been does not predict how they will always be. Leaders make things happen.

Leaders don’t know what’s next. If we knew what was next, we’d be followers.

It’s time for us to write and tell a new story of leadership. Once upon a time, you woke up and realized who you were and decided to make a difference. We start here and now every single day, every one of us, leading all the time.

Leaders create the future. It’s what you were born to do.