leadership

The Soul is Everything

Laura Novakowski  -  Apr 11, 2018  -  , , , ,  -  No Comments

Ray_Charles_quotePicture1There once was a very successful marketing executive. He had a lovely wife and four small children, fabulous home and income. But, he wasn’t happy.  He didn’t connect with his company’s soul – its culture. It was time for him to move on. His wife understood. He walked away from the home and income – moved into a small apartment and opened his own advertising agency.  He and his family lived on a shoestring budget. He had more time for his wife and his kids. Client meetings were held at the family’s dining room table. Time passed and he build his company into a multi-million dollar success with several dozen employees and large office space.  When it was time to sell, instead of selling to the highest bidder – his employees took over. That “force” continues today.

products_message_image-469-d-mp13g1ye10srxubhp2nnduigwztx0ilb16tpy73134In contrast, there was a very powerful CEO of a very large corporation.  Twice divorced, she ruled the company with an iron fist. She started early and stayed late, the bottom-line was everything. When targets weren’t met and stakeholders not happy, she swept through the organization with a broom eliminating position after position.  Then, one day and no surprise, she was escorted out. The business closed soon afterwards.

When the “soul” of the company is nurtured there are very strong forces that will hold it together. If the “soul” of the company is not nurtured there are equally strong forces to tear it apart.

The above two stories are fact not fiction. Do either of these stories resonate with you? How healthy is the soul of your life, your home, your work or your community?

 

What is Life Expecting from Us?

Laura Novakowski  -  Apr 04, 2018  -  , , , , ,  -  2 Comments

This question continues to haunt me, “What is life expecting from us?”

To learn what life is expecting of us, we need to listen with more of our senses, we need to be fully present. When we look and feel beyond what is being said,  we can more fully understand and be present. Internally, we may feel tension, connection, ambiguity.

2018 blog_graphics_landscapeThis reminds me of a story I once heard about a woman who complained every day to her husband about her neighbor’s dirty laundry hanging on a clothesline.  This went on for days, until, one morning, she was pleasantly surprised and commented to her husband, “She finally learned how to wash clothes.”

His simple response, “I washed our windows this morning.”

Love this story.  How many times have I judged someone else for a situation that I might have created? Life expects me to be more aware of myself and others When I take the time to be present and evaluate the entire situation, I might find that I contribute to the issue or conflict. I may need more information to have a different perspective.  I need to ask, “Have I washed my own windows lately?”  “Am I the cause of disruption, conflict, or confusion?” “What am I doing that leads to misunderstanding and tension?” “Am I willing to be more present in life with myself and others?

I believe life is expecting me to be more discerning, self-reflective, less judgmental, in short more mindful and loving.

I would appreciate learning from you, dear readers. “Are you present in your life?” And if so, “What is life expecting from you?”

Someday I’ll – (aka. –  the land of  Someday Isle)

Laura Novakowski  -  Jun 28, 2017  -  , , , , ,  -  No Comments

There is a strange place that I often go

It doesn’t take much imagination

In fact, it actually allows one to hold back on taking action on dreams and goals

 

Someday,  I’ll stop and play,

when I am not too busy

 

Someday, I’ll  slow down and enjoy the lovely swing on my back deck,

right now I have phone calls to make and bills to pay.

 

Someday, I’ll  visit a friend and spend sometime catching up,

right now I have more important things to do.

 

Someday, I’ll spend more time with my parents,

when I have nothing else to do.

 

Someday, I’ll take a walk in nature,

when it stops raining and I stop working

 

Someday, I’ll take time to get to know the clerks in the market,

right now I’m too important to get to know them.

 

Someday, I’ll volunteer to help veterans,

right now I need to read a book about leadership

 

Someday, I’ll pay attention on long drives with my husband,

right now I need to check my emails and return phone calls

 

As one can see, I have spent a great deal of time in the land of Someday I’ll,

And this is only a very short list – it certainly could go on for pages.

 

There are no excuses, many regrets and a new appreciation that

I can leave this land of Someday Isle for  today I am choosing to  join the land of The Present!

 

 

Laura Novakowski, A Positive Power Strategist

Practice, Practice, Practice

David  -  Sep 15, 2013  -  , ,  -  Comments Off on Practice, Practice, Practice

Athletes practice all of the time in order to improve their performance, even the great ones. Rafael Nadal, Tiger Woods, Adrian Peterson, Kobe Bryant- they all continue to hone their craft and their skills to reach their peak and stay there, and to even add new tricks to counteract the effects of aging.  Musicians rehearse on a constant basis, whether classical, jazz or rock.  The point is that to perform well, the greats have to work hard.practice

The same should and does hold true in business. Being a strong leader takes practice. It is not like “riding a bicycle”. Competencies that are not used can dissipate or disappear. Leaders should be conscious of those traits that have served them well in their careers and make sure they continue to utilize them.

Great leaders are known for their communication, their decision-making, their vision, their discipline, their creation of a culture of accountability. They are known for innovation, the way they create and build strong teams and the way they develop their employees and help them achieve success. None of these ever stop being important.  When leaders get distracted or get focused on another project, they may not take the time to do everything that they used to and to catch the off notes and see the slight flaws that may be indicative of something deeper going on in the organization that needs to be addressed.

Great communicators can never believe that they have it down pat and therefore they don’t have to think about it anymore or have to work at it as hard. The troops get used to a high level of communication and any drop off from that signals a negative change.  Any slippage is noticed. Some folks will take advantage of it and others will see it as a sign of decline and will lower their own standards or seek employment elsewhere.

Talented leaders often feel they can add more to their workload without their current responsibilities suffering. Everyone has a limit and upon reaching that limit, something has to give.  Whether consciously or unconsciously, leaders may scale back their efforts in certain areas and literally fall out of practice in using the competencies that support those areas.  It may take a while, but employees will notice and then begin drawing conclusions and acting according to the conclusions reached- the boss doesn’t care as much, standards are changing, something is wrong.

When any top pro golfer practices at the driving range, he works his way through every club in his golf bag. He has to be proficient in the use of every club.  A musician doesn’t just practice some of the notes or chords. Comedians don’t just start on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. They hone their act, adding and subtracting bits, changing timing, intonations and facial expressions.  As Althea Gibson, the great tennis player, said “Most of us who aspire to be tops in our fields don’t really consider the amount of work required to stay tops.”

Try as they might, leaders may have a hard time tracking their own behavior. They are so busy getting things done or seeing that they get done, that they lose track of how they are going about it. There are ways to help them.  An organization can create a feedback committee that is regularly giving the leaders feedback on their behaviors and the use of their key competencies. Surveys or 360 degree assessments can be made a regular part of the leader’s development. This holds true even for the CEO.  Another option is an executive coach who works with the leaders on self-awareness and the application of their skills.practice2

The bottom line is that leaders, like top performers in other arenas, need to use those competencies that make them great on an ongoing basis.  It is possible to get rusty. It is possible to lose touch with what has taken someone to a high level.  And it is possible for an inflated ego to get in the way of continuous success.  Getting to the top is only part of the journey.  Staying there is another part. That takes work, practice, more work and more practice.

What is in Your Tool Kit?

David  -  Jul 22, 2013  -  , , , , ,  -  Comments Off on What is in Your Tool Kit?

It has been said that “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Put another way, if you only have one tool in your kit, you are going to approach every problem the same way, approach every issue through the bias of that single tool.  To be successful in the professional […]

Socrates – The Triple Filter Test

Laura Novakowski  -  Nov 28, 2012  -  , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

One of the greatest tests that I learn came from the wise philosopher Socrates – It’s called the Triple Filter Test. Socrates used 3 filters before he engaged in a conversation. This way he ensured that the conversation was meaningful. Now I’d like to review them with you. It’s also a great way to start a meeting or a conversation with yourself.

Filter number one – Truth

Is what you are about to say totally truthful?
If it is not – don’t say it!

Filter number two – Goodness

Is what you are about to say good, kind and positive?
If it is not – don’t say it!

Filter number three – Useful

Is what you are about to say necessary?
If it is not – don’t say it!

These filters from Socrates have saved me countless hours of grief and misunderstanding. We are not only in constant conversation with others but with ourselves as well. Reflecting on this Triple Filter Test even in our internal communication can save countless hours of internal grief and misunderstanding.

Was this Truthful, Good and Useful?

Charge Challenges and Change!

Laura Novakowski  -  Oct 29, 2012  -  , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Already thinking a typical day is starting. Too little time, money, resources and/or the wrong resources become more and more the prevalent thought with each passing day. Energies and spirits sometimes feel like an all time low. And, often times, the “What I do doesn’t matter” attitude prevails. Turning around circumstances, situations and cultures can seem and often is a daunting task.

So what the heck we might as well go back to bed or worse yet, go into the day with little or no motivation. Off to work we go.

A memo shows up on our desks…

Looking for Volunteers –
Individuals that Will Charge Challenges and Change
Need to Bring: Mind, Heart and Soul

Already feeling different – excited, scared, overwhelmed, intimidated or perhaps a little interested? Guess what? No matter what role we play changing and charging challenges is pretty much what is required of us in work and life everyday.

The choice we have today is to be the one who changes and charges those challenges as they show up. Go for it –  Charge challenges and change!

Focus – Faith – Fervor

Laura Novakowski  -  Oct 08, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

When embarking on a new endeavor or relationship, we often fail to appreciate what it will take to ensure success. In fact, quite honestly, I had not nearly often enough considered the long term effects of those quick, easy and sometimes even thoughtless decisions I have made in jobs, relationships, and life in general. Then it struck me that there are three essentials that can and will ensure the degree of our success. Focus – Faith – Fervor

Focus is the starting point

“What you choose to focus your mind on is critical because you will become what you think about most of the time…”

Noel Peebles

Finding the focus, that central theme or purpose for our actions and existence, sets the stage for a healthier, more productive and definitely more satisfied existence.

Some Focus Finding Questions:

What motivates me?

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What interests me?

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What inspires me?

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Faith is the second point.

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Finding our faith, that unshakable belief that we have the strength, resourcefulness and talent to live and work in a manner that always, always contributes. This is the midpoint for fulfillment and satisfaction.

Some Faith Finding Questions:

How do I totally support myself in my focus?

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How do I tap into that universal source of strength that holds me unshakable to my focus?

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Who can help to restore my faith in my focus?

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Fervor is the is the third essential component.

Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.

Vincent van Gogh

Some Fervor Finding Questions:

How do I get motivated?

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How do I get back on track once derailed from my focus?

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What would ignite that candle of passion when there is no fuel left?

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It’s within our power to change lives, companies, communities and the world with focus, faith and fervor.

 

Leadership is About Responding with Ability

Laura Novakowski  -  Sep 24, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

In a recent interview, an executive was discussing, although it sounded suspiciously like complaining to me, how disastrous the business had become.

The interviewer questioned if he had read a significant reform document that would have massive impacts on his business and the industry at large.

The exec’s responded, “I didn’t have time to read the document.”

He, the interviewee, then asked the interviewer what were the three or four major issues that reform was addressing. Fortunately, she knew the answers.  (She had read the reform in preparation for the meeting.) It was clearly apparent that she was much more prepared as an outsider to deal with his industry change than he was as the so-called expert.

The interview continue along the same vein, for each question, he didn’t know and then he would asked her a question. Great technique if you hold to the philosophy that you only asked questions if you already know the answer. Clearly, he didn’t have a clue regarding what his responsibilities were as the leader.

Close to the end of the interview, you could actually see the light bulb come on in this guy’s brain. “I know. I’ll tell the board that I am forming a committee to address these issues and that the committee will be meeting weekly to discuss. What do you think?” he asked of the interviewer.

She looked totally astonished and quickly ended the interview.

Great lesson from this interview, be aware of owning the role, being able to respond with ability and come across as the leader who is truly in command.

The Power of Tools

Laura Novakowski  -  Aug 29, 2012  -  , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

James Allen once wrote

“…He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.” 

There is power in finding tools that can advance your career, simplify your life, enhance your health and improve your financial outlook.  Tools will make you life easier. They help you leverage time, talent and resources.

Three easily accessible tools:

A goal, for example can be viewed as a tool to help us achieve our vision.  Writing a goal that meets the “WHYSMART” standard initiates steps towards accomplishment.  YSMART—Written, Habit-forming, Yours, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed Follow-up—     allows you to see short term results, especially if you look at the results consistently to determine if you are achieving desired results.  As with any tool, it is better to create frequently review of the progress you are making to determine its effectiveness.  Rather than making a long range goal and falling short or worse continuing to do something that really wastes your time.  It’s like trying to use a steak knife rather than a chainsaw to cut down a tree—you might get the tree down, but in whose lifetime.

Another tool is planning, is the ever popular  “to-do list.”  This plan for the day can lead to the plan for the week, the month, the year and then a lifetime.   Starting out simple and appreciating that each action on your to-do list is a short term goals helps you see how you already have a degree of mastery in the goal setting department.

Another tool is post-it notes.  Keeping a pack of post-it notes handy helps me to capture ides wherever I am.  Later, rather than recopy the idea, I pop it into my idea book (another too BTW) to reference. Saves me recopying time. I can’t tell you how much this saves me in trying to remember an idea that inspired me at the time but was lost because I failed to write it down.

This is only a short list of tools.  Whatever the tool you choose, give it the proper time and support before abandoning it.  Have fun explore and share your tools.

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