Category Archives: CONTRIBUTORS

CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, WINE

Hungry For This Wine: Cecchetto Raboso Passito

Can you taste “hungry” in a wine?

CechettoThat is, can you taste the desire that brought the wine into being? Can you taste the passion that brought the wine to your glass?

I think you can. But only if you’re really (really) lucky.

A few weeks ago I was in northern Italy for a wine trade fair, and one night I was lured away from the usual crowds and boisterous evening activities to visit one single, quiet producer called Cecchetto, some 90 minutes away.

I was lured away, that is, because they are hungry for this wine.

They are so hungry to share this wine that I’ve received personal, thoughtful emails from them for more than a year.

They are so hungry for the mystery and the science of the winemaking process that they travel to places like Armenia and Georgia to share knowledge and experience with the winemaking community there.

They are so hungry that they experiment incessantly, from wood for barrels (oak, chestnut, mulberry…) to aging in huge casks for years and years on end. Their experimentation, and the end results, have attracted the attention of Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini, among others.

They are so hungry to preserve their heritage that they’ve committed to a grape – Roboso Piave – that long ago represented a significantly greater percentage of vineyard plantings in their region. Today the quantity of Roboso is lean, replaced by the über-popular Prosecco and Pinot Grigio. But Cecchetto plants it anyway.

And they use it to make this wine, a passito version of it, which concentrates the fruit, the process, and the intention.

It’s the kind of wine my husband loves, because he loves Port and other wines in that sweet style. It’s the kind of wine I also love, because I love the narrative and the heritage of it. It’s the kind of wine we drink together, slowly and when it’s dark outside and we are capping another day.

This is the kind of wine we, also, are hungry to drink.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Cecchetto Raboso Passito wine!

Find Cathy Huyghe’s book here:

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CONTRIBUTORS, WINE

Hungry For This Wine: 2014 Oris (Ciù Ciù Winery)

What’s hot right now when it comes to wine?

Ask that question to wine professionals anywhere in the country, and here’s what I bet most of them will answer:

“We can’t tell you.”

They aren’t being coy. They do have a good reason for not saying what’s hot, but it isn’t because of something sensible like trends not having matured yet, or because they aren’t paying close enough attention to their audience.

Wine pros can’t tell us what’s hot because “what’s hot” is unknown, or at least it’s obscure. It’s also difficult to find, and probably even more difficult to pronounce or to spell.

What’s hot, in other words, hasn’t really been identified yet. When it comes to the next big thing, wine pros want what they haven’t had yet.

It’s an attractive idea.

Of course we can go for the old reliable stand-bys and the bottles that have seen us through thick and thin.

But honestly, where’s the fun in that? This is wine! Not some old sweatshirt you’ve had since college. Let’s try something new on for size.

What’s hot now is what we haven’t heard of yet. Which explains why, at a tasting I hosted recently of wines from the Marche region of Italy, the most popular wine (by far) was made from… wait for it… Pecorino.

No, not the cheese. The grape.

And the Marche region? Haven’t heard of that either? More points for you!

The Oris wine by Ciù Ciù winery (don’t know how to pronounce it? Great!) is made from Pecorino, Passerina, and Trabbiano grapes (triple threat right there!). It’s a white wine made in the hills of eastern Italy. It was hand-harvested and can be drunk in the springtime following the harvest.

Which means it’s casual, and fun, and light, and easy. And this week, it’s exactly what I’m hungry to drink.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Ciù Ciù wines!

Find Cathy Huyghe’s book here:

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, WINE

Hungry For This Wine: 2014 Smith-Madrone Riesling

Smith-Madrone RieslingThis wine arrived just in the nick of time. 

It was a Friday night, my husband and I were home alone, our twin boys having been invited to a sleepover elsewhere. It was a long and exhilarating week of work that we both love but lordy, by that point, exhaustion had won out.

We didn’t want to cook, we didn’t even want much to think. It was an order-in night for dinner — Thai food, in our case — and it was the sustenance kind of dinner that you expect to fuel you with calories and, honestly, not much else.

But then there was this wine. 

It had arrived earlier in the week, along with bottles that this particular Napa producer is frankly better known for, namely Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. But my husband and I are both suckers for Riesling, and spicy Thai food was on the way. We pulled the cork, casually poured a few measures of the wine into our glasses, and took our seats.

To be honest, I didn’t even smell it first. I know I should have; it’s something “wine people” do, but this producer is familiar and I respect their wines and their process. They want to make wines that express their place on the earth, they say, and they also want to make wines that express themselves as people and as winemakers.

That, I get. As winemakers in Napa for more than 40 years, certainly Stu and Charles Smith are keyed into what the market wants and what their land is best suited to produce. By and large, for them on Spring Mountain, that means Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

But then there is this Riesling.

This Riesling says that they have their independent streak. It says that they listen hard enough to their land (and its steep hillsides) that they know it is suited, too, to produce the grapes for this wine. It says that they know this wine will be good.

This Riesling IS good, and refreshing, though in a way-beyond-sustenance kind of way. You get oranges and white flowers and fresh acidity. You get the desire to take another sip and then another.

It’s the kind of Riesling that reminds you to be grateful that wine, and this wine, is part of our life. It’s the kind of wine that makes you grateful that your kids have a friendly and active social life, and that you have this time alone with the person who loves you most in the all the world.

It’s the kind of wine that I’m hungry to drink, with Thai food for dinner or many other things too. It was just the right thing at just the nick of time, to pull us back from the far edge of everyday life.

CLICK HERE for additional details on this wine!

Find Cathy Huyghe’s book here:

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP

The Hazards of Business Execution, Part 4 of 4

This is the final segment of a four-part series!

I want to share with you in a series of 4 brief articles, how to overcome the obstacles to effective and predictable business execution of strategic initiatives.

There are chronic issues that exist in all organizations and far too many leaders accept them as a non-negotiable part of the business environment — things like resource disconnects, decision stalls, organizational politics, weak or passive-aggressive support, or everyone simply being too busy.

Previously I talked about the first 3 steps in the MOVE model
M = The Middle
O = Organization
V = Valor

Today I want to talk about the fourth and final step in the MOVE model: E= Everyone

Although you can lead a transformation from the top, you can’t DO a transformation from the top. Successful transformation requires that everyone participates. If they don’t move forward, you don’t move forward.

Telling does not equal communicating

You need to be ready to consider this first telling of your strategy to your organization as pretty much a throwaway effort. Yes, it’s a step in the process. Yes, you need to communicate top down. But to genuinely communicate, and to get your message internalized, and for your transformation to take hold, you need to create a fundamental shift in the way that you think about communication. You need to change your existing idea of communication to instead become conversation — that involves everyone.

Your broadcast has almost nothing to do with whether or not something has been communicated. Simply telling people your strategy does not mean they heard it.

You should not assume that just because you have told everyone your strategy (for the first time!), that they were listening carefully, internalized it, know what they need to do personally to act on it, know how to optimize it with regard to their current work, and will actively do the right things to implement their piece of it.

And in fact, it’s kind of funny, when an executive realizes that people “aren’t getting it”, typically I find there is an inverse relationship between the level of emphasis an executive will use to say, “but I was very clear” and how much has actually been internalized by their audience!

Conversation vs. communication

The right measure is never about how clearly you think you have communicated. The only right measure is about how much your audience has internalized.

You have communicated successfully when the people in your organization are talking about it amongst themselves.

For your transformation to work, the change must be part of the social fabric of the whole organization in a very real way — and that happens through conversation.

For example, when you can approach an employee at any level at random and ask, what is the most important thing for us to be doing right now, and why? — and get the same answer most of the time — then you can say that your communication has been successful.

Conversation creates forward momentum, and safety

People will only feel safe to keep doing the new thing if they hear their peers are still talking about it. If the conversation stops people will start asking, “Are we still doing this?’ and your strategy will stall.

Decorate the change
To give people confidence to keep going they need to see signs of the new strategy every single day. Through your conversations and physical modifications to the workplace you can “decorate the change” to make the new way a tangible part of the social fabric of the organization.

Listen and Share
Too many organizations treat communicating as an afterthought, and this is deadly to a successful transformation. It’s important to do not only top down conversations, but foster and environment of sharing information across groups (by making information sharing part of performance objectives!)

Power and Trust
As leaders we have a choice to share power or hoard power. If you share power you build trust, and trust is rocket fuel for keeping motivation and momentum in a transformation. And with trust there is no neutral. You are either building trust, or destroying it. You must invest in building trust through building conversation.

My new book MOVE is about decisively executing strategy

Get your copy of MOVE to help you truly engage people on a personal level, build trust, and increase confidence to move your strategy forward. Learn how to change communication into the kind of conversation that fuels forward momentum, and how to decorate the change so the path forward is an obvious part of the environment every single day.

###

You can find Patty Azzarello’s upcoming book here:

Download a FREE Preview of MOVE

In my years of leading business transformations and turnarounds, building highly successful management teams, and working with countless clients to implement their strategies, I have determined what factors enable faster, more decisive execution, and reduce risk.
It’s all in the book! I can’t wait to share it! Available in February.

Get a copy for your whole team!
Or if you’d like to pre-order a copy for everyone on your team, contact us for bulk-order discounts.

###

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP

The Hazards of Business Execution, Part 3 of 4

This is part three of a four-part series!

I want to share with you in a series of 4 brief articles, how to overcome the obstacles to effective and predictable business execution of strategic initiatives.

There are chronic issues that exist in all organizations and far too many leaders accept them as a non-negotiable part of the business environment — things like resource disconnects, decision stalls, organizational politics, weak or passive-aggressive support, or everyone simply being too busy.

Previously I talked about the first 2 steps in the MOVE model:
M = The Middle
O = Organization

Today I want to talk about the third step in the MOVE model, V= Valor:

Everyone is scared

If you are human, you will be scared sometimes. If you are leader you will be attacked and challenged sometimes. At times your job will feel so ugly and impossible that you think you will surely fail. In my experience, the bigger the job, the harder it gets. Because as you move higher, there is less clarity of expectations, less support from your direct manager, less feedback, and higher stakes. There is also much more competition for budget, people, and charter.

That brings us to the section on V=Valor. Because leadership is hard. That’s why you need Valor to progress through the long Middle.

Welcome to being a leader

I can remember feeling at various points in my career, that the mission just didn’t make sense, or that it was unsupported. I felt like I was out on a limb owning all of the risk, and with not enough resources to succeed. Or I felt like the corporate bureaucracy, the board, or another group or particular adversary, was blocking me (or sabotaging me) from doing the right things that I knew needed to be done. Or I would get a directive that didn’t make any sense like, “you must cut costs by 50% but you can not make any cuts to the biggest program.”

As a leader, this unreasonable, soul-crushing stuff is just part of the job description. There are always big, ugly, seemingly impossible problems, annoying people, and exhausting obstacles in the way of getting your job done. And when you are leading, by definition you are going to a place where others aren’t. You are embarking on new territory, which can be scary and lonely.

Think of Valor in this way:

Once you embrace the fact that: YOUR JOB = Your job description PLUS all the crap that gets in the way of delivering on your job description…You will feel (and BE) in a lot more in control.

I coach a lot of senior executives and with pretty much everyone we reach a point where I tell them, “You’ll be better off if you start your thinking with this:

Everything is impossible and everyone is a shark.

That’s just the way it is. And it’s your job to deal with that.” Usually that makes people feel better because they can let go of the idea that it is about them personally, and they can step back, see the problem more clearly, and treat it like any other challenge or project.

A leader needs a lot of Valor to navigate a transformation through the long Middle because people will lose faith, rebel, and there will be political attacks along the way.

Burn the ships at the beach

You need to be so unfailingly consistent in your communications and decisions that people realize the only way through is forward. As Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through hell… keep going”.

Too busy to scale

Most new strategic initiatives fail because the pressures of the current workload are so overwhelming that there is no time to do new things. You must find a way to rise above the current workload and priorities the strategic over the urgent. This is one of the hardest parts of leadership but has the biggest payoff if you are willing to do it.

Clarity and Conflict

The more clear you become about what it will take to stick to your strategic initiative, the more fire you will draw. It’s more comfortable to keep your goals at a generic level that everyone can agree to.

Once you start getting specific, “in order to do this new thing, will take these resources from the old thing, and delay the current plan on this other thing” people will disagree! But this is the only way to actually make progress.

If you never talk about what you will actually do in this concrete way, you will never actually do it!

Don’t trade a comfortable shallow agreement in the short time for a slow moving train wreck in the long term as you fail to implement your strategy.

Get your copy of MOVE to help you increase your confidence as leader to guide your team through the long Middle to implement your strategy decisively without hesitation, doubt and fear. You need Valor to stick to it and to help your team feel confident to keep doing the new stuff despite the many pressures to go back to the old way.

Check back next time for the final part of the MOVE model, E = Everyone.

###

You can find Patty Azzarello’s upcoming book here:

Download a FREE Preview of MOVE

In my years of leading business transformations and turnarounds, building highly successful management teams, and working with countless clients to implement their strategies, I have determined what factors enable faster, more decisive execution, and reduce risk.
It’s all in the book! I can’t wait to share it! Available in February.

Get a copy for your whole team!
Or if you’d like to pre-order a copy for everyone on your team, contact us for bulk-order discounts.

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP

The Hazards of Business Execution, Part 2 of 4

This is part two of a four-part series!

I want to share with you in a series of 4 brief articles, how to overcome the obstacles to effective and predictable business execution of strategic initiatives.

There are chronic issues that exist in all organizations and far too many leaders accept them as a non-negotiable part of the business environment — things like resource disconnects, decision stalls, organizational politics, weak or passive-aggressive support, or everyone simply being too busy.

Last time we talked about the first step in the model “The Middle.”

O = Organization

Today I want to talk about the second step in the MOVE model O=Organization

When you are facing the very beginning of a necessary transformation, you are thinking through all the new things that need to be done. There will be things that need to be started, stopped, fixed, invented, re-designed, and re-negotiated… And as you are cataloging all the new stuff in your mind you think about your team — your current team.

Do I have the team I need?

In these first moments of a transformation you are tying to do big new stuff, but still have the same, existing organization. You ask yourself, “Is this the right team?”

In your heart you secretly know that not everyone on your current team is the best choice to succeed in the new mission. But it’s really hard to make a change, and you probably still need them to keep working on the current plans. And you might also be feeling bad and insecure thinking, “I like these people. I brought these people in initially! Who am I to now tell them that they are not going to be part of the new business strategy? Maybe I’ll just move forward with my existing team and they will be able to evolve to be capable enough in the new job. Or maybe I really do need to change the team. I don’t know. This is hard!”

There is no effective antidote for the wrong team

There is no more important thing you can do as a business leader than to build the right team. Every time I hated my job, or felt like I was drowning or failing, a mentor would tell me, “Patty you need to build the right team.”

Every time I was in a new management position, I built a new management team. And every time, before I had the new team in place, I suffered. It was not that the individuals were particularly bad in some way. It was that the team as a whole was the wrong team to accomplish what the business needed to get done. As long as I had the old team, doing the new stuff proved virtually impossible. And I had to shoulder all the weight of thinking about the new stuff by myself.

If you find yourself working overly hard because there are too many things that you can’t delegate to anyone — you have the wrong team.

Your ideal, blank-sheet org chart

As a leader it is your job to build the team you need, not to make do with the team you have.

To build the right organization you need to think about what the ideal team would be to accomplish the transformation you need to execute. Then instead of trying to move around the people you already have, give yourself the opportunity to start with a blank sheet, and build the right organization chart from scratch.



Mobilizing the right team to execute

As a leader you need to always be asking yourself the following:

The right people

How can I attract and hire the right people and move the wrong people out in a respectful way?

The right conversations

How can I lead my team in a way that fosters the most productivity, motivation, and confidence?

Genuine engagement

How can make sure that enough people are truly engaged on a personal level, especially when they are spread throughout the world! How can I get people to truly care?

Get your copy of MOVE to help you build the right team and motivate them to personally care about implementing the new strategy throughout the long Middle.

And check back next time for the next part of the MOVE model, V = Valor.

###

You can find Patty Azzarello’s upcoming book here:

Download a FREE Preview of MOVE

In my years of leading business transformations and turnarounds, building highly successful management teams, and working with countless clients to implement their strategies, I have determined what factors enable faster, more decisive execution, and reduce risk.
It’s all in the book! I can’t wait to share it! Available in February.

Get a copy for your whole team!
Or if you’d like to pre-order a copy for everyone on your team, contact us for bulk-order discounts.

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP

The Hazards of Business Execution, Part 1 of 4

This is part one of a four-part series!

I want to share with you in a series of 4 brief articles, how to overcome the obstacles to effective and predictable business execution of strategic initiatives

There are chronic issues that exist in all organizations and far too many leaders accept them as a non-negotiable part of the business environment — things like resource disconnects, decision stalls, organizational politics, weak or passive-aggressive support, or everyone simply being too busy.

Stalls and retreats

We tend to accept stalls and loss of momentum as an inevitable result of short-term pressures that tempt the organization to go back to the old, comfortable way of working, instead of sticking with the new work necessary to make the longer-term transformation succeed.

Many organizations have a tendency to falter shortly after the exciting kick-off of a new strategic initiative. Think about how many times in your own career you have been told about a new strategy, and how many times the organization has actually followed through. (Not so much, right?)

Pre-programmed Skepticism

So each time we hear about a new thing, our reaction is skepticism, and the opposite of personal engagement. “I don’t need to worry about this because we never follow through on these things anyway.”

We are all so jaded when hearing about big new strategies that our natural tendency is to dismiss them. As a leader, it’s important to remember that that is the natural tendency of your whole organization!

I’ve written a book (called MOVE) about changing the game to that organizations can actually implement the big, new strategies that they are so excited about in the beginning– and so that the all people in the organization can move the new strategy forward with more confidence and less suspicion — because the actually believe in it.

Over the past 25 years helping organizations execute transformations I’ve created my MOVE model for the successful implementation of any kind of strategic initiative.

Today I want to talk about the M part of my model which stands for “The Middle”.

Have you been in this meeting?

You’re at a strategic off-site meeting to clarify your new strategy. You talk about the key, long-term things your business must invent, optimize, fix, change, or create. You use the words “game changing” and “innovative” when you talk about these ideas. You may have hired expensive consultants to create your new innovative and game changing strategy. There is tremendous investment, effort, and energy that goes into the beginning of a new strategy. Reaching the point of having defined and aligned on a new strategy seems like a huge achievement in itself – and it is.
But then . . .

Everyone goes back to work.
Everyone stays busy on what they were already working on.
The new thing falls victim to the Middle.

The dangers of the Middle

The beginning is really clear and strong, with lots of investment, excitement and great intentions. And the end is really well defined. But the problem most strategies face is that there is no real plan for the Middle – which is where everything needs to happen!

It’s not the goal setting and strategy that is the problem. It’s the doing. And the doing is hard because it takes doing for a long time. Without the element of time, there is no real transformation.

It’s easy to get an organization focused on a sprint. But in a transformation, you need to keep a whole organization moving in an often unnatural direction for a long period of time. And since human nature is not really built to naturally keep people engaged and focused over a long period of time, to succeed you need to really focus on this ambiguous expanse in the Middle and do many things on purpose to keep people on point.

Some of the biggest problems in the middle:

Too busy:
Everyone is so busy on existing work to even think about doing or even planning new stuff. I often refer to this is “being too busy being a $200M company to be a $1B company”.

What exactly should I be doing?
Companies are good at articulating end goals, but less practiced at plotting a clear and concrete course through the Middle. So people are not sure exactly what is the different stuff that needs to be done – so it’s easier to just keep working on the important, current, urgent stuff.

“Are we still doing this?”
As time goes by, attention, commitment and confidence wane. People naturally revert to the old way, because the Middle is a long time. No one is sure if this new thing is still important. Original skepticism slips back in and forward momentum stalls.

Not enough resources
If you want to do new stuff, you need to resource it. Too often companies think resource shifts will happen automatically as a result of simply talking about how important the new stuff is. (This never happens.) So, people are left thinking, well, they haven’t actually assigned resources to the new stuff, so I’ll wait until that happens.

The MOVE model let’s you take control and plot a clear course through the Middle so that everyone can see the way forward (for the whole time). You eliminate resource disconnects, increase confidence, neutralize passive aggressive attacks, and overcome political conflicts by defining the Middle in such a clear and concrete way that you ensure forward momentum.

Get your copy of MOVE to help you define the Middle in a way that ensures everyone knows what to do, and they feel confident to do so.

And check back next time for the next part of the MOVE model, 0 = Organization.

###

You can find Patty Azzarello’s upcoming book here:

Download a FREE Preview of MOVE

In my years of leading business transformations and turnarounds, building highly successful management teams, and working with countless clients to implement their strategies, I have determined what factors enable faster, more decisive execution, and reduce risk.
It’s all in the book! I can’t wait to share it! Available in February.

Get a copy for your whole team!
Or if you’d like to pre-order a copy for everyone on your team, contact us for bulk-order discounts.

AUTHORS, CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, WELLNESS

Why You Should Run in the Rain

Literally. I don’t mean this as a metaphor (“Run in the rain so the shiny rainbows of life sustain you in the darkness where you light your candles as a beacon … ”) or in the completely non-literal sense of how we apparently are using the word “literally” these days.

I mean that if you’re a runner, or a cyclist, or a walker, or a hiker, you need to still do your thing when it’s raining. Or when it’s snowing. Or cold. Or dark. Or you’re tired.

If you’re building a habit in pursuit of a goal, it’s a habit in pursuit of a goal. Not a fair-weather habit that will get you started maybe on a half-assed goal. Your habit needs to literally (and I mean literally) be an all-weather, all-circumstance goal.

Just Make a Decision?

It sounds like I’m saying is that all you do is make a decision and then you do the thing. Of course it’s harder than that or we’d all have done everything we ever decided to do. There’s a strategy in changing behaviors (which is what habits are). The Fogg Behavior Model created by Dr. BJ Fogg, founder of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University, identifies three elements to creating a new behavior: motivation, ability, and trigger.

Ability is a function of whether something is easy to do or hard to do. I’m able to get up and run in the rain on a Saturday morning because it’s easy for me to do. Well, the actual running is always very hard, but one you’re out there, what are you going to do? Quit? In front of my team? Which is another way I’ve painted myself into the commitment corner, but that’s another topic for another day.

The Hardest Part

The key is to find out exactly the smallest bit that is the hard part. For most of us, getting up, getting dressed or changed when you get home, and getting started is the hard part. How many times have you struggled to get yourself up and to the gym, but then felt great once you got there and got started?

If the hardest part is starting, then find a way to make that easier. I’ve made it easier by not even having it be a decision I have to make when it is the actual time to make it. I decided long ago that I was running on Saturday mornings. And then I run in the rain because I’ve made the decision in advance. The rain becomes irrelevant.

It’s Saturday morning. I run. That’s what I’m going to do. I don’t have to spend any brain power that morning talking myself into getting up and getting out the door. I decided that yesterday. I actually decided it about two years ago – so I’ve also had some practice.

Make Fewer Decisions

If you’re trying to get an exercise or better eating or more writing habit going, the fewer decisions you make at that point of doing or not doing, the better. Deciding whether you’re going to do it is a big decision. Given the choice of running in the rain or not, my in-the-moment brain says “I’m warm and dry. Why would I even want to go out in this?”

Instead let your decision-making brain decide impartially in advance and set your schedule so it doesn’t matter what your right-now brain thinks. You’ve got a plan and now you don’t even need to think. Isn’t that what a job does for you? No, not make us stop thinking, but makes the decision for us that we’re getting up and getting started on our work. There’s no decision to make. It’s why I highly respect those who work for themselves and don’t procrastinate. Maybe they have applied this same strategy to their business and there’s no longer any question about whether or not they want to get the work done! They work “in the rain.”

Puddle-Stomping Fun

We haven’t had a lot of rain here in the last several years. Now that the Pineapple Express (the weather phenomenon not the movie or the “sativa-leaning hybrid”) is rolling through, I’m tempted to get some galoshes and just stomp through puddles. But, I do still like to pretend I’m an adult, so running in the rain is the next best thing.

There’s a slightly naughty sense of freedom. Defying fate to give us our death of cold. When you see other people out walking or running or riding in the rain, too, you want to give them a knowing wink. As if to acknowledge that feeling of getting away with something.

Since I’m not a witch or a little girl made of sugar or spice, I’m certainly not going to melt. On the contrary, I’ll come away from the run in the rain with a pile of wet laundry, stronger legs, and a greater belief in my own mental toughness.

Here’s to another rainy run!

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CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, PERSONAL GROWTH

Your Declaration of SELFHOOD!

I have a fascination with the challenges and opportunities of life cycles. As a business women and leadership performance coach I have observed, engaged and challenged myself as well as other leaders around the dynamics and consequences that life cycles present to us. This can range from considering where we are with the launch of a business venture, a brand’s development profile or the germination of a new breakthrough idea and what needs to happen to fuel it forward, navigate its progress or manage the downside risks.

Life cycles are generally predictable when you are consciously mindful of them (start-up, growth, maturity and decline) and they are even more dangerously predictable when you are seemingly oblivious to them until they strike you between the eyes by surprise (yikes…should have seen that one coming, what a lost opportunity….maybe next time we will be more prepared).

The same, of course, is true of life stages though their impact on us is profoundly more personal and impactful. Life Stages as we know them are typically broken into 2 major categories: childhood and adulthood. Of course there are mini-stages embedded in these such as your teenage years or distinguishing between early and late adulthood that mirror what we would recognize as a more generalized life cycle as mentioned above.

What is unique in the life stage process, however, is the exciting potential for experiencing a stage few people reach. This stage simply requires a choice and a declaration for entry. It is a magical stage of life called SELFHOOD. The choice is to be undeniably conscious and certain of who you are (not what others want, hope or wish for you) and the declaration you need to make is your own personalized answer to the following “I am here to………in this life time”

Mark Twain said “the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

Let’s explore this a bit further…….

Childhood, whether a smooth ride or a confusing time for you, is heavily influenced by your surrounding adult role models (parents, teachers, friends and family) who share their views on life and while doing so are actively or passively setting up expectations for you that may or may not feel aligned with your own internal desires or natural hardwiring. Ultimately you will face how to handle these potential challenges as you mature and make your own decisions, though childhood is often the place your initial agreement or dissonance begins to surface.

The fact is that you can be and become anything you want in this lifetime. Our predetermined hardwiring for our true purpose, however, is often found in a soft voice inside of us if we can only quiet ourselves enough to listen to its clues and follow its lead. For some of us there are early and undeniable signs regarding our gifts and contributions. For others, it is the journey of self-discovery and piecing it all together that waits for us. Both paths lead can lead us to our own life stage of SELFHOOD. Unfortunately few of us arrive.

Our childhood is a toggle between safety and security on the one hand balanced against risk and adventure on the other. Parents have the challenging role of keeping us safe while also giving us space and time so we can explore what our true purpose is. How our parents and role models initially set this stage for us in childhood can dramatically affect the timing or potential opportunity for us ultimately reaching SELFHOOD. We must all come to learn however, that regardless of our obstacles, we alone always hold the power for our choices.

Enter now the challenges of adulthood. If you are mindful, reflective and brave you might discover on the brink of early adulthood who you are and where you want your passions in life to take you. If you are like most people, however, you might be overly influenced to emphasize the safety and security aspects of your journey as you now add the typical adulthood expectations and pressures of defining success in your life. Success is an illusive, variable concept that is difficult to define, but something you will nonetheless feel compelled to pursue. So whether it is a degree from an esteemed institution, a title next to your name, a role you play or a targeted monetary figure you hope to earn or save, you will seek to cross some finish line to declare your success especially if you are unsure about your purpose.

Your prize will be an affirming declaration that….I am a doctor, a lawyer, a CEO, a father or a member of the 1%. Impressive and yet, unfortunately, not the declaration required for arriving at your life stage of Selfhood.

Now don’t misunderstand me, being any one of the above is not a bad thing! In fact, many would color their lives amazing having achieved any one of them. The issue is that we are not products with titles, labels and values. We are people. Here to engage, build relationships, impact lives and make a difference for having been here.

The beauty and magic of SELFHOOD is that it can be found at any time you choose. Yes, just like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ we too can declare our SELFHOOD when we realize it is all within our control. Part of this realization is that safety, security and success (our metaphysical lion, scarecrow and tin man) are already within us.

Our journey to SELFHOOD is to find our significance by being clear about our unique contributions and most importantly where we can be in and of service to others during our lifetime.

The term SELFHOOD is not about being selfish, self-absorbed and self-centered. It is about being centered-in-self so that you can be a well-tuned instrument willing, able and ready to serve your highest purpose by sharing your gifts. It is primarily about giving and not receiving, although it is impossible to not experience pure joy and fulfillment when you are living your life on purpose!

So as you ponder the start of this New Year and where you are with your own stages of life, ask yourself if you are ready to now enter SELFHOOD? It is your choice to make after all at any time you choose to declare it.

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

Are you Change-Ready for 2017?

So here it is and here we are….AGAIN! A new shiny year with great expectations for how we are going to change ourselves and the world around us. Some of us have already made the usual to-do lists and promises of lofty and inspiring goals. Finally the year we will lose weight, get a new job or overcome that behavior we don’t like in ourselves. If I can just nail this goal I will be happy and the world will be “great again.”

change-readyThere are just 2 problems with this perennial approach we all seem to take each year. The first is that we always consider the output we want more than the input or throughput it will take to get there. So we usually fail quickly or get bored when our patience for immediate gratification runs out (anywhere from 3 days to 30 days for most of us☺). The second is that we tend to think of our goals in insolation instead of in the context of a system with environmental dynamics in which they actually exist.

So how can we make this year different?

1. Getting the Sequencing Right!

Part of the challenge with realizing our goals is that we just jump into them without planning. You know the common phrase “ready, willing & able?” Well it is out of sequence! If we don’t rearrange this concept before we get started we are going to run into problems. The correct sequence is “willing, able and ready” and here is why:

Willing – means you have the mindset of discipline to do the work! Without this contextual framework and emphasis on cognitively acknowledging that you need to actually “do the work” it’s game over pretty quickly. Just writing things down does not count!

Able – means that you are aware of and have set up the environmental conditions to assist you in approaching your challenges on the way to achieving your goals. Everything works in a system so you must enable or disable the system around you to ensure success. This can range from scheduling that gym time in the calendar along with your exercise goals for the day, to getting some targeted coaching on that specific behavior you want to work on or even scoping out the homework or networking plan to explore that next career opportunity before you go to an event and start randomly meeting people.

Ready – Okay now armed with the mindset and environmental framework of what will be required, its time to get out there and start working! On what exactly you might be asking…..on being Change-Ready!

2. Being Change Ready!

Every goal we have ever reached has been over time as we have taken one step and then another. For many of us, we have most often done this unconsciously and out of need rather than want. When there is an urgent or pressing need our ability to persevere and be resilient is usually not a problem. It’s when it is more of a want without immediate consequences where we have our bigger challenges of maintaining conscious discipline.

Being Change-Ready requires that we apply conscious discipline to do 2 things over and over again to ensure traction & momentum forward:

a. Facilitate Progress
b. Facilitate Aligned Action

When we facilitate progress we are not just acknowledging that an action is required, we are in fact acting on a step forward. It can be one step or several that creates some traction toward our goal. So schedule gym time in your calendar with a note on whether today is a cardio or weight day and ensure you have enough time to get there and enjoy the experience. Or perhaps, print out your resume and start reading it over with a pen, circling those areas you know need updating and adjustment before you can start some serious networking conversations. These small steps create the energy of forward momentum. It is YOU, however, that must initiate the facilitation of progress with the first step and commit to practice taking these first steps everyday continuously!

When we facilitate aligned action we are setting up our new system to enable success or disable obstacles that can derail us. So clean out the refrigerator and pantry before your new dieting approach is scheduled to start, don’t schedule networking events when you would normally go to the gym and let others know what your goals are so they can be supportive of you vs. sabotaging you unconsciously!

Make 2017 a year of being Change-Ready! All goals can be achieved when we are willing, able and ready to “do the work” by facilitating progress and aligned action on a daily basis! Good luck this year!

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