The Client Letters 2011 – Five (Deanna)


When we began our work together, you said, “I want to do some homework on what makes me feisty.” You explained that you become feisty when you cannot find a connection between what is being asked of you and your own understanding of purpose. What you and I learned together was how powerful your value of Purpose/Meaning was to your very presence.

You feel less of the collaboration you value when the disconnect between action and purpose distracts you from being in the moment; and thus, you become feisty. It was a thrill to work with you and see feisty simply become confidence. You confidently challenge others to look at things differently when you are in the moment with the business model of your brand of leadership. That model is Creative Purpose to Collaborative Challenge to Conscious Connection.

Your leadership business model is the power of your presence. It is how you give your gift in this world; creative purpose through challenge. Confidently being you, standing on a foundation of unique values, is a 21st Century style of giving.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your growth and development as a leader as you give through the flow of Purpose to Challenge to Connection. Continue to leverage that feistiness, and keep on being you.


Confident Charity

To be charitable – to act with charity – is to contribute, to furnish. One’s authentic intent connects with the act of contributing and the follow-through of furnishing.

Rhonda is not alone in describing the events of the most recent months as “craziness.” The individuals in her organization are struggling with a new understanding of the world of work in the 21st Century. It had been 3 months since Rhonda and I had talked. She needed a reminder of the power of her values, her strengths, and her voice. Rhonda realized that the uncertainty of the future, when dwelled upon, brings about fear that only serves to pull her from the power of the present; and therefore distracts her from the accountability of her presence.

You are your best you only in the present. Presently directing your energy is a gift to self and others. Practicing presence is practicing calmness. There is confidence in calmness. Your confidence is a gift to those you lead, influence, and serve. Only when you are confidently free of limiting fear can you give from individual and collective strength.

In all times, lean on your strengths to determine what to give and how to give it. Giving authentically means you contribute time and furnish energy in light of the impact you desire and intend.

Confident Sharing

Two days from this writing, I will begin with a new coaching client (I’ll call him Kevin). Thus far I’ve only met Kevin once and I have reviewed his pre-work for our first session. In his answers to that preparatory questionnaire, I believe I clearly see core values.

That first meeting left me looking forward to our work together. It also left me intently considering what it was I didn’t hear that is asking to be heard. Only after reviewing his answers did I discover the vanquished element: Voice.

Kevin is in pursuit of his voice; to know what it is and how to use it. Does he know this consciously at this point? Probably not. My job is to assist him in bringing this to consciousness as he both discovers and leverages his voice.

Kevin’s values point clearly to the core importance of collaborating toward a common goal and, in the process, growing from the resulting relationships. As we go deep in our work, he will begin to experience his own, unique voice as the power to strengthen his network; one connection and one interaction at a time.

(see Skill 4 for 21st Century Leadership)

Confident Vision

Marilyn’s gift has been with me now for more than fifteen years. I am a strong visual thinker; and she knew that. We would be in a conversation and I would begin to talk about some future desire regarding our work as leaders. Marilyn would look at me with expectation and ask, “Jeff, what does that look like?”

Without fail, her question would bring me into the present with the requested visualization. Her question settled in the present – a key step to reaching any vision. A positive visualization of our story together assures creative and sustainable present action. It is this positive seeing that drives Rob to give his gift in each and every interaction.

The day prior to writing this, I called Rob to congratulate him on the change in his role. However, he couldn’t contain himself as he passionately told me about the recent success of a peer. I happen to know how much support Rob has given this person over many months.

The voice of a larger purpose speaks to you through your core where your deepest values reside. Conscious of these purpose-giving values, Rob hears the call to a new confidence. Rob is teaching others how to stay focused on collective desire in the reality of the day-to-day.

(see Skill 3 for 21st Century Leadership)

Freedom and Confidence – Purpose

It is an offence in our collective experience when an individual feels no purpose.

We each have an accountability to purpose – to be who we are; embracing and leveraging who we are and making choices in light of this authenticity.

Before you do, there is an accountability to be.

Purpose grows confidence in the soil of your deep, liberating values. Trusting in the flow of beingliving authentically – you find assurance in the right action that is so basic to doing.

Trust and Commitment (Committed Trust)

If our solution to our anxiety involves getting someone else to change, it is doomed to failure. -Jeffrey A. Miller in The Anxious Organization: Why Smart Companies do Dumb Things

Since ancient times we have been admonished to be the change. There are those in our midst who clearly see any given problem and intelligently point out individual fault and what they think we should do to fix the problem. If you listen carefully to these censors, you will most likely never hear them say, “For my part, I will commit to …”

While still young in the realm of leadership, Bob gave me a gift; he pulled into consciousness an unconscious competence I possessed. Bob was my boss when I was in retail. The day of the gift, I had walked into Bob’s office and presented a problem and then fluidly outlined three possible solutions. After hearing the options, he asked me which one I preferred. I told him and he said, “Go do that one.” Thanking him, I got up to leave. As I was about to clear his doorway, he called me back and asked me to sit down. He asked, “Do you know why I asked you which action strategy you preferred?” I did not. He then said, “It’s because when you bring me a problem, you always have 3 solutions ready. You are the only manager I have who does this. So, I trust your thinking and your choice.”

For more than 25 years this experience has served me. I think it was when I first began to consciously embrace the meaning of personal accountability and the power of commitment; both of which had seemingly built trust with Bob.

Just before leaving Bob’s office for the second time that day, I noticed an adage properly framed and positioned on his credenza; “Are you part of the problem, or are you part of the solution?” Seeing that maxim displayed in his office let me know that he and I shared some values. While we disagreed on some operational issues, we seemed aligned with principles that produced good decisions in the operation.

Commitment and trust are companions on the journey to right action and impact. Letting go of the need to blame, and seeking opportunity to be the change, our behavior aligns with intent and we become effective – getting the right results, living our impact, and building trust along the way.

Skill 7 – Part A: Your Story

Purpose provides direction. Your first order of purpose is to be yourself consistently as you embrace and leverage who you are and make choices in light of the authentic self. The voice of a larger purpose resonates in your core where your deepest values reside. From the discipline of these purpose-giving values, your voice has anchored you in the present with a new confidence that is as unique to you as your fingerprint. By activating your purpose and voice, you have balanced that what of the nurturing spirit with the how of the serving spirit.

In the clarity of your Desire & Intent, you stand sure in the present and extend your reach to those you lead, influence, and serve. You have your footing in a self-understanding that no longer produces judgment of self or others. Your memory is full of moments just like the one in which you stand. Our most memorable times are written on the hard drive of our core because we were intently present with the event; these can be good and not-so-good events. Upon discovering voice we are shocked into the present as if thrown into the near freezing flow of the river of consciousness. At this level of awareness, voice clears the flow of individual character.

I will never forget the torrent of the moment when I was thumped out of the small water craft into the raging drop at the turn in the river. While I remembered all the key applications for being in fast water – feet out front, etc. – I soon tired and was pulled under over and over to the point of exhaustion. The submersion became a forced conversation; a dialogue where I had to make a choice. I decided that was not my time and I was given both right and power in the decision. I was very present.

Peace and torrent are natural conditions intended to work together for balance in our story; in the highs and lows; in the hills and valleys; in the busy and blank times. To stand firm in the present and extend your reach is to embrace your impact in a manner consistently conscious of this balance. You are confident in not only the torrent but also in the time of peace (the lows, the valley, and the blank). You know that being still is an act of intention – to just stop is a selfless act and practice. It is only in the stillness that you hear the narrative right for your voice.

The voice of your teller is when focus and courage meet in the present. You are the qualified teller of the balance; experiential acts coming together to form the story of your journey. Balance is an outcome of embracing the narrative of meaning keyed for your voice. The narrative of meaning assists in the living expression of your story. You tell for the joy of telling; a joy found in the connection of hearer and meaning.

We tell our story because of the innate need to be engaged with others in the narrative journey. We find our connection in the larger story in large part because we have connected with our own story. Our story is important to each individual who can find connection in the narrative. When told where it belongs, our story has impact; and we are impacted personally from the story each time we tell it.

Love is the measure of identity because in love is the timeless and untrammeled, the presence of things, the hours illuminated and celebrated like the steeple bell across the fields, filling the hollows and the hot afternoon to the brim.” -David Whyte in Crossing the Unknown Sea

For more like this and the developing series around the 7 skills, see: 21st Century Leadership Skills