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Growth is a Journey

In some earlier writing, I ask a question: What opens your portal to focus? I asked this after stating the answer; authenticity. And, your authenticity–your own good process for focus in the moment–is your cycle of strengths applied to lead others, to influence others, to serve others.

To more steadily walk in the art of focus, you must allow yourself to be held by your Trueness.

The word, and act, of focus is thrown about quite a bit in the work world. Unfortunately, we have placed too much energy in a direction that has our actual action, a multitasking craziness we call focus, more aligned with the antonym of focus versus the true meaning of centering and aiming attention. To focus means to aim attention on a purpose greater than any single success.

Only through our Trueness do we find congruency with our purpose and the outcomes of our focus. In reality, you can only focus when you let go of other, not-so-important, things. Purpose will never be honored, or even found, in a long list infected with busyness.

Genuine growth is found on the path of purposeful focus.

Purpose is centered in, and flows from, your Trueness. In the concreteness of Trueness you know focus and play your part in an unfolding story. The growth you desire–consciously or unconsciously–is natural and enduring when your choices and decisions flow from the center of your authentic self. Focus then becomes how you aim your intention with the power of attention.

“Failing has been exceptionally empowering to me because it has highlighted for me those things on which I must focus my energy.”
–Ric Gonzalez, Woo Woo Leadership

Growth is a journey.
It is an unfolding process that never ends.
For this, be grateful.

The Creative Tension of growth is found right in the middle between your desire and intent as a leader. It is at this living and active intersection where others experience both what you really do and who you really are. To have the impact you desire and intend, you learn to hold the tension of attachment and detachment. Holding as such releases purposeful and focused energy.

To see, hear, and feel the impact of energy released through your Trueness:

  • Gather in support of authentic purpose. Hear the questions of your journey without the immediate urge to answer.
  • Give from your purposeful focus. Be determined in catching what you need in order to properly give, then let go.
  • Grow in purpose by trusting yourself. Know your work is valuable and, when the rare opportunity presents itself, truly hear what is said by those you serve–what they see, hear, and feel because of your impact.

A Leadership Poem: Precipice of Being

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Gifts From Santa Claus

We create ourselves as we go.” ~ Hallmark

‘Tis the season. The season of colder weather and head colds. Of decorating, cooking, and shopping for gifts. Of endless hours of wrapping presents and wrapping up the year. Each year seems to bring on more demands than the previous year and yet we continue to push ourselves through the activities.

And that’s just it. Activities.

As I prepared to finally collect my thoughts for this post, I re-read Jeff’s recent post in this series with a feeling of irony. Jeff asked the question, “What is calling for your attention?” I had to inwardly laugh when I thought of all the things I still needed to do to prepare for the holidays, my family, my home, and myself. All of these activities were calling for my attention to the point it’s been difficult to focus on any of them with any amount of the genuine care they deserved. I was feeling an overwhelming lack of inspiration and just going through the motions of trying to feel the magic of the season.

Then the magic, and the inspiration began to flow.

First, in an exchange of communication, Jeff shared a quote that seemed to wake me and spark my inspiration.

“Outwardly, at this stage of life, going off on new adventures, if those adventures do not build on what has gone before, may be a way of not taking up our destiny, of going to sleep again.” – from The Heart Aroused

Then I read a Facebook post from a long time friend I was blessed to have been stationed with when I was in the U. S. Navy. This story, shared here, was the flame of inspiration I needed. I hope you find inspiration in this story as well.

“I have been sick lately. Sick to the point that I have finally ended up at the VA.

So yesterday I am sitting in the waiting room of my local VA Hospital, someplace no one wants to be. Santa walks into the waiting room in full regalia, polished boots and belt. The beard was very real. Still, I am so lost in my own woes that when Santa offers me a candy cane and asks, “And where were you stationed, young lady?” – being called young lady shook me out of my own head, but my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth in surprise. 
Santa says “I did 3 tours in Vietnam, ’69 to ’72.” 
I finally end up gurgling out Jennifer 5B-1Diego Garcia and Santa laughed and handed me a candy cane.

Santa stopped at every chair, and asked the same question, and offered a candy cane for every reply. A few chairs down the row, a one-legged young man in a wheel chair sat angrily. When Santa asked where the young man had been stationed, he grumbled and groused and tried to push the candy cane away. Santa lifted his trouser leg and showed the young man in the wheelchair his prosthetic leg. Santa said, “You’re gonna have to get stronger than that if you gonna get your ass out that wheelchair, son.” Santa straightened his pant leg, and re-offered the candy cane, asking the same question with the same tone and smile as if that kid had never been rude.

Thanks, Santa, for a miracle of the season.”

This story is a great reminder that too often we get stuck in our own head and think ourselves into a black hole. This is not to diminish what the veteran in the story has been through and must now live with. (Either one of them! Wink!) This is more about the selfless leadership shown by Santa. He is the perfect example of Authentic Leadership and leading with Trueness. From a traditional perspective, Santa Claus always has an eye on those who need him most. Each year he manages to be fully present in the season. And he knows how and when to leverage the strengths of others. (Thanks, Rudolph!)

As Jeff shared in his previous post, “Trueness [is] a selfless method focusing you fully in the moment and on those who presently need you at your best, as you walk your path of genius.”

I’m sure that Santa in the story had to make some unexpected and unplanned mental sidesteps as he was creating who he is today. And I’m sure it wasn’t always an easy road he walked. But he found a way to pull on his strength and experience to help empower others.

This is true leadership. THIS is Santa Claus!

 So in keeping with the season, I share these gifts from Santa:

  • GATHER your GIFTS – Know that your gifts, your strengths, are always there. Enlist the help of your friends, family, reindeer and elves to make sure your gifts are ready to be shared.
  • GIVE your GIFTS – Give your candy canes freely, without any expectations of reciprocation. Your milk and cookies will come to you in time.
  • GROW your GIFTS – Embrace and share the magic! Like magic, you may not see or even know the impact of your gift. Just know someone is a better person because of it.

As I keep telling my two daughters, Santa IS real. He lives in our head and in our heart. And his Gift to us, through us, is the magic that happens when someone receives our authentic leadership in their time of need.

And so I ask, do you believe in Santa Claus? Because I do!

Jennifer 5B-2

Jennifer Rainey "Strengths Expert"

Jennifer Rainey
“Strengths Expert”

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

Sign up for her curation:
Through the Door of Possibility

 

What is Calling for Your Attention?

~ Give to Grow ~

The rhythm of your strengths is an operating model for the power of your presence. In such rhythm is how you give your gift in this world.

The gifts of the moment, when consciously received, give far into the future.

Your genius is in how you live the rhythm of your strengths–your guiding spirit. Jennifer and I chose to write this series on Gather-Give-Grow because of how this energy universally represents the resonance of Trueness. We don’t just write to you because you are a leader on paper, a position entitled by a box on an organizational chart. We write to you to encourage the leader within.

As Jennifer tells us, our growth and development may take many experiential forms, but we grow best when we consciously apply our Trueness. Such application is not a selfish preference, forcibly projected at others. Rather, it is a selfless method focusing you fully in the moment and on those who presently need you at your best, as you walk your path of genius.

What is calling for your attention?

This is a question of presence.

In a recent conversation, Jennifer summarized simply what I heard as her passionate commitment to herself and to you: Authentic Leadership. Unquestionable evidence of your authentic growth is how you’ve helped another grow. As our colleague, Ric Gonzalez, says, true giving is done without attachment: “This is true generosity. Practicing it is a skill, and it it takes a whole lot of work.”

Further, Ric says that detaching from outcomes frees our giving for actual impact of the gift given. And the most precious gift, and form of giving, I can receive from you, my leader, is your presence.

Your desire and your intent, when joined in leading from Trueness, induce creative tension. It is this intersection and tense union that Jennifer and I write about in this series, and we do so to encourage you.

The desire that drives you as a leader will join with intent that draws you forward. The spirit of this union encourages your Trueness through creative tension–suffering the attachment to desire and the detachment required by the reality of intent.

In trusting your Trueness, and holding creative tension until it teaches you in the present, you free your strengths into a large territory, calling ever more deeply on your genius.

A Leadership Poem: Present Value

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The Path of Genius

“Towering genius disdains a beaten path.
It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.

~Abraham Lincoln

As I read through Trustworthy Timbre, Jeff’s latest post in our series, there are several key words, phrases, and themes that keep calling for my attention. Not surprising, calling the loudest is Voice, supported with resonance, flow, and the metaphor of the tree. And while Jeff and I share our thoughts, our words of wisdom for Gather – Give – Grow, it’s important to understand that this is not a linear process.Jennifer 4B-1 Like the roots of the tree, the acts of gathering, giving, and growing are intricately intertwined to touch, nudge, guide, and provide energy to nurture the tree that we are as we grow strong and share our voice.

Even as we journey to explore a previously unexplored area of ourselves and engage in divergent thinking, I’ve noticed a pattern in the messages Jeff and I are sharing. We have shared messages of being intentional, disciplined, and strategic. Our journey becomes even more significant when we “deliberately disengage” and “consciously learn to apply our voice”. In moments like this we encounter resonance – that feeling of being in sync with the universe. This is when we are calling on our Genius.

So what is our Genius?

I’m not talking about the diluted definition that is used to depict intelligence.  If we look at the original Latin meaning of the word, it means “to beget, to create, to bring into being.”  In ancient Rome, the word genius often referred to a person’s “guiding spirit” and over time took on the meaning of a person’s natural, inherited abilities.  So in this sense of the word, we are all genius.  We just need to determine exactly what our specific genius is.  This is when I often wonder what else can I do?  What else can I do for my own development?  And what else can I do to help others?  So I share this last bit of information from Marcus Buckingham.

Though your genius is ingrained, the right way to channel it is not.

Knowing that you have strengths, or as Jeff has shared, a voice, isn’t enough. Even knowing what your strengths are, isn’t enough. You need to OWN them. You need to really understand them. And then you need to consciously decide how best to apply them. As leaders, we do this in support of, and in service of, those we lead.

As an example I’ll share another story of my daughter, Shannon. I clearly remember the day I received a call from her school principle. She had hit a classmate (not very hard) in the face. When I spoke with Shannon that evening about the incident and asked her why she did it. She told me that the teacher was teaching and her classmate would not stop talking. So she hit her!

Shannon was 5 years old and in kindergarten at the time.

She’s 10 now and I’ve seen many times where Shannon has “taken charge” of the situation. She definitely has a talent for being in command. Unchecked, she could grow up to be a bully. But consciously developed, I see the future leader she is.

My point is this, know that your strengths will come out no matter what. You just want to make sure that you are in control of them when they do. To help you with this, remember these three Principles from the book StandOut by Marcus Buckingham.

  1. Your Genius Is Precise – Take the time to identify when you feel resonance. This is when you see, understand, and learn much faster and more efficiently.
  2. You Can’t Respect What You Don’t Remember – Apply your Strengths consciously – every day!  Don’t sit back and wait for the world to hand you opportunities.  Make your own opportunities. 
  3. Reach Beyond Your Role – Push yourself within your strength zone.  Investigate what your strengths may be and how they show up in your role as leader. Then sharpen your edge by honing how you leverage your strengths, your voice, and be more intentional.

GatherGive – Grow

So while I still have regions yet unexplored, my own strengths journey has come a long way (Grow).  I’ve learned to recognize when I’m leveraging my strengths (Gather), and I’ve learned to recognize when I should leverage my strengths (Give).  And I hope that on our journey together, you have too.  Because the path we choose as leaders in the work of trueness will make all the difference.

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com


I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost (1874-1963

 

 

Jennifer Rainey "Strengths Expert"

Jennifer Rainey
“Strengths Expert”

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

Sign up for her curation:
Through the Door of Possibility

Trustworthy Timbre

While Jennifer and I write about the rhythm of Gather-Give-Grow, you may notice we seem to emphasize the middle, Give.

IMG_0112As I compose this, it’s autumn in the mountains where I reside. Color is the fruit of rhythm in the trees. Allow me to ask you to look upon your leader-self as a tree. With the roots of who you objectively are, you Gather. Desire originating from such authenticity drives your gathering. Intent draws your authentic self out and up to Grow and spread your limbs of reach for others. And with this image we are back to Give, depicted by the trunk, the reliable Trueness of your presence.

Finding oneself on the firm landing of the middle is what our rhythm as leaders is all about.

Jennifer reminds us that being a leader is not about position or power; it is about the presence we have that inspires another toward possibilities. Your voice is a perpetual reserve of energy for the creative tension that is the power in the atmosphere of your middle stand.

One’s voice, like water, will find its way. More joyous, however, is the journey when we more consciously learn to apply our voice in those significant middle-moments. It is a stunning moment of simplicity when you realize–in words or picture–what it looks like to stand in the moments of voice generously applied.

In a moment of attentiveness, stop, and answer this: “What is the one driver of goodness that, for you, must be present in each interaction for the possibilities to be properly honored?”

Your intuitive answer is your Voice.

Your voice is true resonance from a tense stand in the middle of your call to leave it all a bit better than you found it, and the freeing of your own rhythmic tune. Your voice is the energy core for balanced application of all your innate strengths. Your voice, freed in and through the intersection that is your stand, is the inspirational presence leading others toward their own possibilities.

From personal experience–my own journey–I can assure you that knowing and consciously applying your voice, as consistently as humanly possible, is a solid stand bringing to life your own unique, strength-filled rhythm of Gather-Give-Grow.

After all these years of working I’ve come to a conclusion about this work to which I’ve been called. When an individual thinks on our work together, they will find it difficult to explain what we did or how it was done; all they can do–must do–is tell their own Story!

And I will know my voice freely flows.

A Leadership Poem: The Privilege of Resonance

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Jennifer 3B-1

This is the motto of the Mudderella, a 5 – 7 mile obstacle course race created in 2013 byJennifer 3B-2 Christina DeVito, former Chief Strategy Officer for Tough Mudder. The Mudderella was designed by women to help women realize they are stronger, mentally and phyically, then they realize. The Tough Mudder, created in 2010, is a 10-12 mile obstacle course “designed to test physical strength and mental grit.” There’s even a Froot Shoot Mini Mudder for kids ages 7 – 12. All of these events are about teamwork and camaraderie. They are about helping the person next to you get through that obstacle, not about who finishes first. They are “about knowing what strong means for you–and owning it.”

So why am I sharing all of this with you? What does a muddy obstacle course have to do with leadership and the work of Trueness?

Actually – quite a lot!
Let’s engage in some divergent thinking and explore…

I was introduced to these events last year by a colleague who has participated in the Tough Jennifer 3B-3Mudder for about 2 years now. The initial draw for me was to support Mike as he completed the Chicago event in May of this year. The event was close to home so I thought it would be good to cheer for him. Then he told me about the Mini Mudder and I knew my 10 year old daughter would probably love it! And she did!

In September, we traveled to Wisconsin for another Mudder. Through all of this, I watched Mike, my daughter, and my husband, challenge themselves by participating in these events. They proved to themselves that they had the physical and mental ability to succeed. Seeing this has been an inspiration!

The leadership Mike provides isn’t just about completing a muddy obstacle course. It’s even more valuable. You see he leads with “influence through presence,” as Jeff mentioned in the previous post. Mike’s strength of character, discipline, and focus on self-improvement has a way of inspiring those around him, whether he realizes it or not. As we know, being a leader isn’t about a title or power over others. It’s about the presence you have that inspires others to CHOOSE to follow. And when you make the time to invest in yourself, you GIVE to others the best of you.

Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”
–Jim Rohn

These words seem to be echoed in many ways around me. Due to a recent change, a good friend gave me a simple, yet powerful book by Patrick Lindsay, Make the Most of You – 170 ways to be the best you can. The simple advice provided on the inside jacket sings of leadership and trueness, investing in yourself so that you may give to others.

Photo courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of https://pixabay.com

“The most important changes generally don’t come from the big things that happen to us; it’s the small things that really transform our lives – small things that have surprising, powerful ripple effects that go far beyond our expectations.”
–Patrick Lindsay

In a world of constant change, embracing the small things can make all the difference. I know the ripple effects of the leadership Mike provides are still being felt. His strength inspires the strength of others. And his potential will find a way to unleash the potential of others.

So as you think about your trueness as a leader, remember the advice shared by Patrick Lindsay,

  • Leave everything a little better than you found it;
  • Wear your scars proudly;
  • Unleash your own song.

Invest in yourself – Gather. Embrace your trueness – Give.
Own Your Strong! – Grow!

Mudderella, here I come!

Jennifer Rainey "Strengths Expert"

Jennifer Rainey
“Strengths Expert”

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

Sign up for her curation:
Through the Door of Possibility

Gather to Give
A Transition into Generous Leadership

Generously, is how Trueness flows out into the world.

In the book Immortal Diamond, Richard Rohr says that expectations are just resentments waiting to happen. And as I’ve painfully learned about myself (my false, selfish, limiting side), it is my quickly scripted expectations that cause the very distress I want to blame others for causing–as they miss the mark inked by my stupid expectations.

One who sees himself “in charge” –believing he ultimately has the answers–is going to struggle with actually becoming a leader. A haughty, in-charge, must-be-right individual has nothing to give, for nothing has been gathered through experience; her hands have been too full of herself.

You truly give externally only when you know how to give internally.

Trueness is not just to be acknowledged, it is to be known and cared after. And if there is a solid definition for Trueness, then it is probably generously wrapped in freedom from expectation. This is A New Confidence.

How does all this apply to leadership, or being a leader? If leadership is influence through presence, then we give through our intentional presence. The Trueness of a leader flows into the world only as it is freed from having to be right.

There were many experiences building one on another that began to shake these things from my hands. But such release was further facilitated as I learned and practiced with the knowledge of Carl Jung’s understanding about our personalities and preferences. Each time I gave to another from practicing with this knowledge, I let go of one restriction after another to my Trueness, and therefore my leadership.

Gather flows into giving as we step into the movement that is generosity of sprit.

Go back to Parker Palmer and Jennifer Rainey as they encourage our rhythm and help us set it right and fully experience Gather-Give-Grow:

  • Slow down. Practice disengagement.
  • Do more with less. Discipline yourself to see the patterns around you.
  • Pay attention to rhythm. Deliberately look for people with opposing viewpoints to engage in conversation.

Disengagement is not shutting down all functioning systems. Rather, it is about focusing the best of who you are in order to, as a leader, Gather.

Gathering places you in the middle with learning and consequent practice. This is where you see your Trueness in the patterns, and Give.

Trueness opens you to experience and you find yourself present with others. You gather for such presence. You give in such encounter. And as it is with life-giving rhythm, we all Grow.

A Leadership Poem: In the Middle Space

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