14,245 DAYS

Be Intentional, Live Life by Design

14,245 DAYS

That’s how many days I had lived before I got serious. Serious about my life…living with intentionality, discovering my purpose and my dreams and making them happen.

How many more days will you wait?

I recently wrote about core values and the process of identifying those qualities you most want to radiate through your leadership and your life. This is the beginning of living

Life by Design, rather than Life by Default.

The “Life by Design” way is one of continually crafting and shaping your life so that, day-by-day, it becomes more resonant, more in tune, more harmonious with the truth of who you are.

The Truth of Who You Are. What does that mean? I mean it as that part of you where there is deep knowing…knowing who you are and why you’re here at this time. When we live in alignment with our truth is when we experience a profound sense of peace, authenticity, and resonance.

The process of discovering the Truth of Who You Are unfolds over time. It is a journey, a big adventure. One marked with great self-awareness, relationship-awareness, and self-discovery. One of learning and skill-building. It is the process of continually becoming the next iterative (better) version of ourselves, all throughout our lives.

Life by Design does not mean that we will have control over every situation or relationship we find ourselves in. Throughout life, we may find ourselves in circumstances that we did not choose and would not wish on anyone else. Life by Design DOES MEAN that…

You have the power to choose how you will relate with the circumstances of your life.

When unwanted events occur that we cannot understand:

  • Will we relate to the event with a sense of openness, looking for the growth opportunity presented?
  • Will we choose to relate with ourselves in a compassionate and gentle way during the difficult circumstance?
  • Or will we choose to judge, criticize, blame, justify, or condemn that which we don’t understand?

When we are crystal clear about our values – the qualities that are most important for us to radiate into the world through our lives – we are more likely to choose resilient and affirming ways of relating. If you didn’t yet do the core values exercises in my earlier posts, go check them out now! Links below.

Values of Intentional Change

Part 2, Values of Intentional Change

The Big Miss

Listen and Silent

In my article about blank-mindedness, I wrote of engaging others with a blank mind, which is different from an open mind. Blank-mindedness requires a shift in my focus of attention. I must take the focus off of myself (my agenda, my outcome, my wants) and place my full focus and awareness onto the other.

We don’t do this very often, do we?

I’ll illustrate with an example. I recently overheard a conversation between two co-workers whose company is going through a re-organization and probably layoffs.

Co-worker 1: “I have to re-apply for my own job.”
Co-worker 2: “At least you have a job to apply for. My job is completely going away. I have to apply for other people’s jobs!”
Co-worker 1: Yeah, that stinks. I’m really stressing over this.
Co-worker 2: No kidding. Me too! I have no idea if I even have a job anymore.

This back and forth format is pretty typical. I say something, then you comment on what I’ve said, with your attention on your own perspective, opinion, and how what I’ve said relates to you. Not necessarily wrong, yet a BIG MISS.

What Big Miss?

Validation. Empathy. Connection. Understanding.
Four gifts that we all need to give and receive daily. When we give and receive these four gifts everyday, life feels resonant, in tune, having a sense of “rightness” and fulfillment.  But that’s for another article…

What I want to convey to you in this article is how to avoid the “Big Miss” through a shift in our focus of attention. Through, what we call in coaching, Level 2 Listening.

Contrast: Level 1 Listening vs. Level 2 Listening

Level 1 is internal listening.
My awareness is on myself. I’m listening to the words of the other person through a filter called “What does this mean to me?” My awareness is on MY thoughts, reactions or feelings.

Example Level 1 Responses:

  • I know what you mean…
  • I had a similar experience…
  • Here’s what I would do…
  • What you need to do is…
  • I hate when that happens!

Not necessarily wrong. But it misses the opportunity to validate, empathize, and connect with another.

Level 2 listening helps us take our conversations to a new level. A level that creates deeper connection, new understanding, is engaging and enlivening, and builds trust.

Level 2 is Focused Listening.
My awareness and attention is fully focused on the other. I listen not only to their words, but to their tone, expression, body language, energy, mood, emotions. I am detached from my own thoughts, opinions, agenda. How?? You’ll find a few ideas here.

The key to level 2 listening is a presupposed genuine interest in and care for the other – curiosity about him as a human being or about her experience of the situation. You are no longer trying to figure out THE answer, or your next brilliant statement. You are simply and wholeheartedly LISTENING.

Example Level 2 Responses:

  • I hear your frustration. What options do you see?
  • How did ______ impact you?
  • What do you need in this situation?
  • Where does that feel most aligned for you? Or Where does that feel most out of balance for you?
  • I sense you have a lot of energy around this idea! What’s the significance for you?
  • Where would you like to go with this now?

Level 2 Listening is a skill that comes surprisingly naturally once we’re aware of it. Listening in this way and focusing our attention completely on the other feels authentic, feels true. It reminds us what we already know about how we humans are meant to interact with each other. With understanding. With empathy. With connection.

The Art of Blanking Out

When I work with a team to define Shared Values or Guiding Principles, ‘open-mindedness’ shows up in the conversation every time. We all want it. We often feel frustrated or angry in its absence. We believe we’re doing it well, and we’re wishing others were better at it. What makes open-mindedness elusive? I postulate that we’re asking for the wrong thing. Perhaps it’s actually something else we want, not open-mindedness. Stay with me; let’s break this apart.

Definition: Open-minded – ready to entertain new ideas; receptive to new ideas; not closed or shut
Synonyms include: fair-minded, tolerant, objective, impartial, available
i.e.: I’m receptive to hearing your opinion.
i.e.: I’ll tolerate your views.

What I believe we’re wanting when we ask for ‘open-mindedness’ is:
to be listened to
to be heard
to be understood
to not be judged or criticized
to be free to see things in our individual way
to be validated

Working or living with someone who is ‘open-minded’ does not meet the above desires, though it is a good start. What people really want and need from one another is a deeper level of presence and attentiveness. I’ve been wondering how our conversations would shift if we were BLANK-minded?

Definition: Blank – Devoid of thought or impression, Containing no information, Empty, nothing filled in.

Blank-mindedness implies a complete emptying. My mind is not only open to receive YOUR viewpoint, it is also empty of MY viewpoint. Detached from personal biases, opinions, and evaluations. Having no personal agenda or pre-determined outcomes. The level of listening and conversation flowing from a blank mind cultivates fertile ground for shared understanding, growth, innovation, connection and trust.

Blank-mindedness is not an easily accessed state for many of us. And yet, with intention and practice, blanking out becomes easier and easier. A side benefit of being blank-minded is the authenticity and connection that we experience when fully present with another human being. We listen more deeply. We hear and understand more readily. Offering this quality of presence to another creates strong connection and is at the very heart of trust in relationships.

I present the three steps below as a starting place for experimenting with being blank-minded. In a follow-up post, I’ll write about how to shift our listening to a deeper level to further enable the blanking out process.

4 Steps for “Blanking Out” (who knew it could be a good thing?!)

    1. Be present. Going blank is putting your full focus and attention on only the person and conversation right in front of you. Forget what’s come before. Reel in the thoughts of what might happen next. Philosopher Martin Buber said: “In spite of all similarities, every living situation has, like a newborn child, a new face, that has never been before and will never come again. It demands of you a reaction that cannot be prepared beforehand. It demands nothing of what is past. It demands presence, responsibility; it demands you”.
    2. Listen without evaluating. Stay attentive to your inner dialogue during conversations. Notice when you find yourself evaluating the other’s words or ideas, such as “He seldom follows through on that” or “That won’t be as easy as she thinks.” This is a form of judgment, which is often based in assumption and can lead us to premature conclusions – essentially the opposite of blank-mindedness.
    3. Call on your curiosity. Curiosity is open, inviting, spacious – unattached to any outcome. Curiosity cannot co-exist where there is judgment and assumptions. One clue that we’ve shifted out of curiosity and into judgment is when we find ourselves “knowing”, as in: “I know where he’s going with this…” “I know how she feels…” “I know the way this is going to turn out…” Release your “I know” thoughts. ‘Blank’ your mind to what you know, and expect to learn something new.
    4. That leads us to the fourth step: Believe. Believe in new possibilities. Believe that there is something new for you to learn or experience in any particular conversation. I heard a scientist once talk about the limitless nature of all there is to discover in one lifetime. We could explore, seek, inquire, observe for an entire lifetime, and not come close to “knowing” a fraction of all there is to know about our world and one another. That’s what makes life a magical adventure. Look for the newness, the magic, around you – even in familiar places – and expect to be surprised.

 Print out my reminder card How to Blank Out 1-18-13   or printable picture for your desk!   Be Present Be Curious Be Authentic

Communication Recycling – 3 tips to replace complaints with personal responsibility

Make clear, specific requests. No complaints.

Many workplaces have become breeding grounds for complaint and blame. Behind every complaint is an unmet need or expectation. Often the person voicing the complaint does not own the conversational tools to express their need in a healthy or clear way. Complaining has become a comfort zone that is tolerated and even accepted. When nobody is willing to change the conversation, nobody wins.

Comfort zones convey the illusion of “safety”. But when complaint is allowed to continue, other negative communications sprout. To move the conversation forward requires tools to shift difficult interactions; Tools that the leader teaches and applies in order to:

  • Set clear expectations of behavior that will and will not be tolerated
  • Help team members ask for what they need in appropriate and constructive ways
  • Cultivate an environment where it is safe to ask for help and offer help; and where team members are willing to freely do so.

The first tool a leader must use is that of modeling. Others will know that the leader expects honest communication, not perfection, when he or she models the way. For example, tell your team when you’ve made a mistake or when you’re unsure of something, and then engage them in the problem-solving dialogue. It is important for employees to experience their leader as real, human – even vulnerable. What a powerful way to foster trust, respect, and commitment. And, you’ll also model personal responsibility, which is sadly missing from many workplaces today.

Below are 3 ways that you can minimize the ‘complain and blame’ game and raise the expectation of honest, clear, and accountable dialogue.


  1. Make clear requests for what you want and need

Start by raising your own awareness. Pay attention to the things you hear yourself complaining about, to yourself and others. Write down your complaint and read it aloud to yourself. Then, look underneath the complaint by asking what it is that you were expecting or hoping for that did not happen.

Example, I notice myself complaining, “I’m tired of our meetings never starting on time.” What’s really going on under my complaint is that I feel disrespected because starting late wastes my time. What I want is to feel that you value my time, and I need you to work with me to start our meetings at the designated time. My request becomes: “It’s important to me that we start our meetings at the agreed upon time. Would you be willing to work with me on that?”

I changed my complaint, “I’m tired of our meetings never starting on time”, to a more empowered statement; a statement that clearly expresses my need, is honest, and asks for buy-in from the other.

Think through ways to express your needs using clear, non-judgmental language. Take personal responsibility by using I-language, such as

“I have a request…”

“I would like…”

“I need for us to…”

Be intentional about not using You-language, which may be met with defensiveness, justification, or excuses. For example, don’t start your request with “You need to…” “You shouldn’t…” “You don’t…”


  1. Be Specific & Succinct

Practice succinctness. People tend to pay more attention to communication that is direct, succinct, and to the point. Prior to meetings, presentations, and other communication forums, spend a few minutes silently asking yourself or reminding yourself:

  • What is my point? What are the main things I want to communicate here?
  • How can I best communicate my needs, clearly and succinctly? What words will I use? What words will I be mindful NOT to use?
  • What do I want to get out of this communication? What’s the goal here?

Practice specificity. Being specific AND succinct can sometimes feel mutually exclusive. In an effort to be succinct or to use fewer words, I might say, “That was a great meeting.” However, that really doesn’t convey much about my true thoughts to my listener. Being specific AND succinct might be, “I appreciate how we bounced ideas off each other in that meeting.” This increases confidence in both the speaker and the listener.


  1. Shhhh. Listen. Shhhh.

I’m referring to hearing the other – empathic listening. Empathic listening means shedding our preconceived ideas, assumptions, and judgments. It means listening for the purpose of hearing, receiving, and understanding the human being who is speaking to you. Not for the purpose of providing “fix-it” advice, reassurance, or problem-solving. Philosopher Martin Buber describes this quality of listening:

“In spite of all similarities, every living situation has, like a newborn child, a new face, that has never been before and will never come again. It demands of you a reaction that cannot be prepared beforehand. It demands nothing of what is past. It demands presence, responsibility; it demands you.”

When we listen empathically, we notice body language (theirs & your own), we hear mood, intention, emotion, and what may be left unsaid.  The ability to momentarily set the task-at-hand aside for the sake of deepening the relationship builds trust and creates connection – required ingredients for an organization of engaged employees.

2013 Intentions

Sled dogs, with intention

At the start of each new year, my clients and I typically devote a coaching session to intentions. We’ll reflect on the year that has just closed, acknowledging successes, breakthroughs and accomplishments. Then we envision what we want more of in the new year. I thought I’d share with you the questions I use to guide the intention setting process. So grab a notebook, a cup of coffee or tea, and settle into a comfortable chair. Give yourself the gift of 30-minutes; 30-minutes that will lead you closer to living your life by design.

2012 Reflection. Call to mind your great successes, small wins, & challenges overcome. Use these wins to deepen your awareness and understanding of yourself. Consider these questions:

  1. What did I do or experience in 2012 that I didn’t think I would/could? How did I surprise myself this year?
  2. What am I learning about my strengths? My limitations?
  3. What do I want to acknowledge or recognize about  myself?
  4. What two things am I most proud of myself for?

2013 Intention. What’s the vision you have for your 2013? What do you envision yourself doing, saying, developing, creating? Below are a series of statements for you to reflect on & complete:

  • A habit I choose to break is…
  • A new habit I will cultivate is…
  • A relationship I want to restore is…
  • A goal I will accomplish is…
  • A project I will complete is…
  • A person I will forgive is…
  • I will ask for ____________’s forgiveness of me
  • A debt I will pay is (might not be a financial debt)….
  • One way I will increase my self-care is…
  • A quality I will exude more in my daily activities is…
    • (i.e.: joy, acceptance, confidence, compassion)


Use your intentions from these statements to set time-based goals for yourselfyou’re your notebook, keep track of your activities towards your goals, the results you see happening, and any adjustments you want to make along the way.

 Remember, to be intentional is to live your life by Design, not by Default!

Go for it in 2013!



The Days are Long, but the Years are Short

Today is a gift

The days are long, but the years are short. Such an interesting paradox. When my kids were babies, I apparently wore that semi-permanent “I’m a frazzled mommy” expression. Women of grown children have a kind of special radar for detecting this expression. On countless occasions I was stopped by a kind woman who would say some version of, “This stage won’t last forever. Cherish every moment. They grow up so fast. Time flies by so quickly.”

And time does certainly fly by. Seems like I blinked my eyes and celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary. My son cooks his own eggs for breakfast. My daughter fits into my clothes & shoes. Where have the years gone? And how come any given day can seem sooooo loooong?

In my coaching work, my clients and I explore this “time paradox” using a simple perspective taking exercise called The Balcony. The setup for the exercise goes like this:

Imagine yourself standing up on an outdoor balcony. Below, a long meandering path stretches endlessly in either direction. Look down the path to the left. This is the path you’ve already traveled; the path that has led you here today. To the right is the path unfolding before you. And where you stand at this moment is the present.

Just as yesterday’s choices, thoughts, and actions have brought you here today, know that today’s choices, thoughts, and actions will determine your path forward.  (You can download the full activity here)

On those long days, when we feel caught up in a circumstance, it is tempting to allow fear and anxiety to guide our thoughts and behaviors. However, the time paradox would remind us that life is too fleeting to waste our precious days in fear, anxiety, or feeling powerless over our circumstances.

Whatever today’s circumstances may be in your life, it is precisely in today where your power lies to affect the course of your journey tomorrow. Today’s choices have the power to lead you to higher ground tomorrow. Today you can choose Hope over despair. Peace-of-mind over anxiety. Compassion over complacency. Love over indifference. Even when we cannot directly affect our circumstances, we can always choose how we allow our circumstances to affect our state-of-mind and our state-of-heart.

My wish for each of us is that we begin 2013 with intention and with mindfulness.

Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present. Here’s a printable to remind you.


Ordinary Joy

Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.

– Erich Fromm

Wintery Landscape
Here we are, mere days from Christmas. Our 2012 season of joy and hope has certainly been wrought with sadness, suffering and uncertainty. As we all prepare to “hunker down” and spend time with family and friends, it is my wish that we find solace and rest in these few thoughts:


Joy happens in the most ordinary moments.

There is a great line in a Sheryl Crow song titled Diamond Road: “So don’t miss the diamonds along the way…Every road has led us here today.”

Cherish all the ordinary moments; these are your diamonds. Any one moment – smelling “spruce” as you pass by your Christmas tree, watching the excitement on a child’s face, seeing the beauty of lighted houses as you drive home from work – is an opportunity to choose joy and peace. My Christmas wish for you and for me is that we will slow down enough to experience the joy in life’s ordinary moments.


What you appreciate appreciates.

Begin each morning by placing your awareness on that which you appreciate. What are you grateful for today? Even on the darkest days, surely we can find even one thing to appreciate. By placing our focus or awareness on that one thing, even in the midst of the ten things that may have us feeling anxious, fearful, or sad, we give ourselves a gift. That gift is validation, compassion, and peace-of-mind.


The greatest gift of all is free and abundant. LOVE. Let love and compassion lead the way in all your interactions and relationships. Including your relationship with yourself. Self-love & self-compassion are truly the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and to those who count on us (i.e.: spouses, childrens, parents, employees, etc).


The lines below are from my Manifesto. You can read my entire manifesto here.

Be humble. Be appreciative. Be grateful.
Open your heart. Risk loving.
Forgive frequently.
Expect miracles. They are everywhere.
Start with compassion.
Love extravagantly.


Wishing you and yours love, light, & JOY!



A Bigger Game

Stand for something more

I recently attended a 2-day workshop called, The Bigger Game. The Bigger Game is a program or process for connecting individuals to their work & life in a compelling, purposeful way. It was developed by a tremendous coach and fabulous human being, Rick Tamlyn. In his book of the same title, Rick describes The Bigger Game in this way, “Think of the word “game” as a metaphor for whatever you are doing in life. Some games are conscious choices, like applying to college, pursuing a specific profession, joining the Peace Corps, or becoming a parent. The games we have chosen in the past helped define who we are today.…You’ve seen plenty of examples in the world. Putting the first man on the moon. Cleaning up a corporate waste site. Creating a corporate responsibility initiative. Starting a local neighborhood watch. Working to get healthier food into school cafeterias….Bigger Games are everywhere.”

I want to share a few thoughts about my Bigger Game experience.

First, my personal experience in the 2-day Bigger Game workshop has had HUGE impact on my life. Already. It’s only been 5 days. In the past few days I’ve connected more deeply with my compelling purpose, set wheels in motion, gained clarity about important relationships in my life, and am energized about my own bigger game to play in the world. My Bigger Game involves “going more public” with my message and my work. So, I put out the intention here, that 2013 will be the year that I will finish writing my book (finally!) and step “all in” to my journey as a writer and speaker. (Gulp! Did I just write that out loud?!)


Second, I am inspired by the awareness that Bigger Games are happening everywhere. Regular ole people, like you and like me, are taking game changing actions everyday. Apologizing to your child. Offering care and compassion to your neighbor. Choosing to run your business more sustainably. Saying no to something that violates your core values. Playing a Bigger Game does not mean you’re “saving the world.” It DOES means, however, that you are making conscious choices to more positively impact YOUR world. Today. And tomorrow. One small step at a time.

Sure, there are game changers who have taken huge, courageous actions, leading to positive change in whole industries, communities, even countries. And yet, it is not scale nor geographic reach that defines the ‘big’ in a bigger game.


Lastly, as you might know by now, I firmly believe in purposeful living. I believe that each of us has a unique – and monumentally important – purpose. A reason for living. I want you to find yours. And if you’ve already found it, I want to encourage you to continue to carry it out. To show up more fully in your life, look around, and choose to stand for something more. Be intentional. Don’t settle for less than all that you can be.


As 2012 comes to an end, spend a few minutes with life’s bigger game questions:

1)    What matters most to me?

2)    What’s my compelling purpose?

3)    How do I get stuck in my “comfort zones”?

4)    What’s my next bold action?

I can help you find your answers. Let’s start 2013 off in a “Bigger Game” kind of way!



The Magic Relationship Ratio

Focus on the positive

I’d like to share an important statistic with you. The extensive research of Dr. John Gottman, a psychotherapist, world reknowned for his work on relationship stability, has revealed what is coined as “the magic relationship ratio.”

5:1 ratio of positive interactions to negative interactions

In relationships that work, there are five times as many positive things going on as negative things. (You can read Gottman’s books or check out his YouTube videos to learn more about his research).

Here’s why this matters to me. There is a lot of negativity in our workplaces. Nearly every team I work with or leader I coach is dealing with the effects of negativity in their workplace, from grumbling employees to unhappy customers to even his/her own attitude or outlook. The negativity is unproductive, contagious, and literally bad for our health.

Unproductive – Negativity reduces enthusiasm, decreases creativity and disrupts communication. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that US companies lose $3 billion per year, due to the impact of negativity on performance!

Contagious – they’re called mirror neurons and we all have them. It’s the stuff in our brains that allows us to feel empathy for others or to automatically smile when we see someone else smiling or laughing. Negative emotional states are transmittable through our mirror neurons.

Unhealthy – There is much evidence that negativity and a negative emotional state contribute to poor health. Probably the most common connection between negativity and health is its impact on our immune functioning. Persistent negativity reduces immune function and can leave us more susceptible to illness.

Think about Gottman’s statistic for a minute: Five positive interactions to overcome or to make up for ONE negative interaction. That’s well beyond a one-to-one ratio. Gottman says that negativity has a greater ability to inflict pain and to damage a relationship than positivity does to promote healing and closeness in a relationship. Therefore, the equation is not balanced. Couple that with what we know about the many constructive, morale-boosting impacts from affirmative interactions*, and we can see the need to take positivity more seriously. It is a leadership imperative and desperately needed now.

*Read my past articles on related topics to learn more:

Focus Forward

Optimists Make Better Leaders

So, how about we plunge in together? What would shift in our leadership (and in our lives) when we meet or exceed 5:1 in our relationships each day? Let’s give it a try and find out!

Focus Forward

I’ve professed a certain “rule” for a long time now: Put your attention on what you & your team want more of. Take your focus off the current, unwanted realities.

In other words, stop telling yourself, “we don’t trust each other”; “they are so negative”; “this project is not going well. I knew it wouldn’t.” The only purpose these thoughts serve, is to keep you right where you are – in this case, a low trust, negative, unproductive environment.

Wise people throughout the ages have understood this:

“As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.”  – James Allen, from As a Man Thinketh

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”  – Henry Ford

“What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind.”  – Buddha


Last week, I was offsite with a team and, as is often the case, current thinking patterns were holding the group “stuck” from moving forward in the way they said they wanted.

A contrast in the group dynamic presented itself, and became quite palpable.

When the group focused on what they wanted more of, there was high engagement in the room. Teammates conversed in a way that was forward looking, life-giving, and creative. There was a hopefulness in their communication that was open, energetic, and expectant of new possibilities.

When the group focused on their frustrations, the problems they were experiencing, broken processes, and what’s not working, their energy shifted dramatically. The experience of the contrast filled the room. Many felt it. A few commented on it: “feels like we just hit a wall” “feels like the energy just got sucked out of the room.”

Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience?

Let’s look at 3 TRUTHS – scientific evidence – as to why this phenomenon occurs:

  1. Our brain’s primary organizing principle is based on moving “away from threat” and moving “toward reward.” We are continuously and unconsciously categorizing EVERYTHING in our environment as either a threat or a reward.
    • When our brain tells us “threat,” that old automatic fight or flight mechanism kicks in.
    • Fight = defend, justify, counter-attack, criticize, blame, etc
    • Flight = shut down, avoid eye contact, change the subject, leave the room, etc
    • Problem-centric, disempowering language (we can’t, we never, she always, it’s not going to work, we’ve tried this before…) is threat language.  Therefore we often feel a very deep, very old, very habitual, and very stuck energy.


  2. The brain has a super-efficient habit-center, or data-bank, that tells us how to respond and behave in familiar situations, to familiar messages, to familiar tasks. The brain also has “working memory” which takes in new, unfamiliar information and works to make sense of it. The difference in capacity between these two parts of our brain is like the difference between the MILKY WAY and a CUBIC METER (respectively).
    • So what? We have limited capacity for taking in and working with new ideas, new possibilities, unfamiliar situations. In other words, for change. We must go forward very carefully and intentionally when desiring change.


  3. Begin the change dialogue in a way that moves people Toward Reward. Researchers in the fields of neuroscience, emotional intelligence, and leadership, have demonstrated that people are many times more likely to move towards change when it is anchored to something personally rewarding:
    • a compelling vision of a better future
    • a set of resonant core values
    • an environment that respects – first and foremost – our fundamental human needs for connection, positive relationship, respect, empathy, authenticity, and vulnerability. In fact, these needs are pretty much the opposite of how we behave when in “fight or flight” mode. Fight or flight has us disengage, disconnect, retreat into ourselves, hold back, self-protect, and is anchored in fear and ego.

Your interactions with others (and with YOURSELF) will be productive and satisfying when you keep intentionally focused on what IS desired, rather than on that which you no longer want.

Put your attention on what you want more of.

Take your focus off the current, unwanted realities.

These brain-based facts apply to all areas of our lives, large and small. Small shifts in our word choice, our phrasing, our focus of attention – and especially our thoughts – can lead to dramatic results, whether you’re fostering a new company culture or talking to your teenager. Keep pointed towards reward.