Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Leading with Spirit

Christmas is a perfect time to practice leading with spirit.  We talk about how we want the world to be... how we want our lives to be... how we want our employees and coworkers to be.  The best way to do that is to be the way you want others to be.

Like Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."  It's such a common quote, but how do we live it?

Like anything, start where you are.  We have eight sleeps until Christmas.  If you would like your workplace, employees, colleagues, leaders, suppliers, and any stakeholders to have spirit, start being the spirit.

I have a Christmas Spirit Challenge ongoing now on my Facebook page that you can take part in (and enter to win a meditation CD for your workplace).  Make a list of things you can do to spread the Christmas spirit and commit to doing one thing (or more) every day from now until Christmas Day.  Get your employees and coworkers involved.  Post photos on my Facebook page and enter to win!  Be a Leader with Spirit.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Buy a coffee/tea/hot chocolate for a coworker.
  • Leave a note on an employee's/coworker's desk about how great a job they are doing (be specific).
  • Gather a group together to sing Christmas carols at a senior's home.
  • Give your employees the day off to volunteer.
  • Smile - at everyone.
  • Give a delivery person a card with a personal note.
  • Spend an afternoon with your team identifying ways you can help each other out with work or even personal 'stuff'.
  • Commit to really listening to someone - without any need to be right or respond.  Just listen.
Add to the list... share your ideas and post your photos.  Let's have some fun and find the true meaning of Christmas in the workplace.  Be an elf!

"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."  ~ Elf, from the movie Elf

Merry Christmas... fa la la la laaaa la la la la... 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why Managing the Highs is Important for Entrepreneurs

Last year I hit a low.  I had many months of lows.  I'd experienced burn-out three years earlier and over the next three years had two international moves, a marriage, a baby, sickness in the family, personal health issues, family relationship challenges, unemployment, and a new business.  Needless to say, I didn't really have time to deal with burn-out.  Then, last year, my business transitioned from HR consulting to mindful leadership and wellness, and what one would expect to be an exciting journey turned into some of the lowest moments of my life - but they contained some of the most valuable lessons.

My mind, body, and spirit just would not allow me to take any more and I literally crashed. Strangely, I was in a very happy place in life - life was truly wonderful in all the important ways. Yet, I was struggling with getting out of bed and managing my day to day roles as a mom, wife, and business owner.  I beat myself up about not being in a 'happy place' when life was so good. Underneath it all, I was actually happy and grateful for such amazing love in my life.  I just couldn't muster up the energy to behave that way consistently.  I wanted so badly to have a 'productive' day.  I saw other business owners passing me by as my business stalled.  I observed others being happy and successful and wished I could be in that place.  I decided I had to remove myself from social situations because they made me feel worse - and I stopped almost all professional networking and declined nearly all socials.

My personal wellness journey then began, and it was necessary for business success.

Thankfully, I have progressed to a wonderful place and have begun to network again.  Business is increasing - you really do attract what you feel and what you can handle at that time.  I have moments of floating on a high again, and I'm realizing just how important it is to manage your highs both in business and life.

Through these experiences, I learned two key things:

1) It is critical to manage your highs if you want to be successful in business.

Yes, I said 'highs'.  As my energy floated around a 1-2 out of 10, it felt like everyone around me was a 12.  Interestingly, I began to observe how unmanaged some of these highs were and how distracted and absent some of these people were from the present.  Their way of being was centred around their successes and even challenges - it was self-centred.  I was honoured to be part of their journey and that they wanted to share their celebrations with me.  However, when I needed to have their attention, they were focused on their own successes and achievements and their own evolving journey.

I wondered... "Was I like that when I was on a professional high in the past?"  And I decided that, yes, I was.  But I didn't want to be like it in the future.

I knew I had to help other entrepreneurs not be like it too - because we don't know what we don't know, and an entrepreneur can't get away with behaving on this level of self-importance and be successful on a long-term basis.  An entrepreneur puts her/himself out there and needs to be able to   accept her/his imperfections and actually feel grateful when others point them out so you can then improve on them.  Perfection does not mean having no flaws.  It means not being offended when someone points out yours.

Everyone has highs and lows in life and business.  Imagine peaking in your business.... it's a celebratory time.  But there will always be people around you that are on a low or struggling in some way.  They may celebrate with you, but they may need something else from you.  Imagine if those people were your employees or your customers or your suppliers?  How do you think the relationship would evolve if they needed your attention and presence, yet you were on a high that took all of your energy to that place?

Now, how do you think the relationship would evolve if you were present with these people, regardless of where you are and what you are experiencing?  When they need you, they have your attention.

Who becomes the loyal employee that recruits other great employees?  Who becomes the cheerleader customer?  Who is the supplier that works with you to meet deadlines rather than giving excuses for not meeting them?  Yeah... it's the one who gets your attention.

And, remember, you will drop into a low again.  The highs do not last forever.  It is the ability to not cling onto the highs and accept the lows that brings true happiness in life and success in business.

Being an entrepreneur can be exhausting.  You are leader.  You are confidante.  You are representative in your industry.  You are sales person.  You are connector.  You are problem solver. You are 'financer'.  You assume the risk and give away authority.  Not to mention, and more importantly, you are partner/spouse, child, parent, and friend.  Your presence is required - all the time.

The only way to not burn-out is to manage it all - the lows AND the highs.

2) The answer is here.  Now.

It is common knowledge that we must manage our lows.  I use mindfulness strategies to help clients manage them and build focus, awareness, and whole wellness.  However, it is not as common to manage the highs.  We are encouraged to celebrate the highs.  The poised leader manages his or her highs while celebrating them.  The poised leader does not even need the so-called highs in order to feel successful.

The answer for not burning out from the extremes is being in the present moment.  Regardless of where you are in business, when you are sitting across from an employee discussing a challenge or success they are having, making that the most important thing in your life right now (because it is the only thing at that moment) is how you prevent the crash.  You manage it all by managing the only thing you can - the moment.

This doesn't mean you don't celebrate and share your successes with others.

When you are on your next high, enjoy that moment.  Enjoy it for everything it is.  And then move into the next moment.  When the high is over - the good news has been told, the contract has been awarded, the financing has come through - it no longer exists.  Wishing the feeling could last forever or chasing the next high will not make you happy or any more successful.  The great high experienced is no more successful than the next moment when you are taking out the trash.

And that is the answer.  Everything... every moment... is where success lies... when you don't cling to an experience as being more or less successful or important than the previous one and you don't chase after another experience in order to feel more successful.

Simple.  But not easy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why the Law of Attraction is Important for Entrepreneurs & Business Leaders

I watched 'The Secret' when it first came out in 2006 and read the book as soon as it was released.  Ironically, the video I watched was a burned copy of the original.  Someone gave it to me before I knew what it was about.  Once I watched it, I was worried that the fact I watched a free, burned copy of the video meant I was going to attract people and situations to my life that did not value me, used me, or some other negative consequences would come my way.

Because the law of attraction is all about attracting into your life what you put out, right?

Well, over the years I have learned so much more about this stuff.  I'm not an expert on this topic, but, I know it can help entrepreneurs and business leaders.

There is a phenomenal amount of research being done on our thoughts and the impact of our thoughts on our beliefs and actions.  We know that positive thoughts attract positive beliefs and positive behaviours.  We also know that when we behave in certain ways, we attract similar people and situations to our lives.

All that seems true to date, and much of it is scientifically proven.

However, what is not yet known is how to control the original thought that enters our minds.  I have not read any research to date that states we can control this.  The Dalai Lama himself believes it is impossible to stop a thought or emotion from arising.  But what the Dalai Lama and other experts know is that we can control what we do with that thought or emotion once it arises.

So, let's get it straight.  You are not going to fail in business when you have a fear or negative thought about success.

One of the ways I have learned to deal with negativity or stress is to not feel bad about feeling bad.  That simply leads to more stress.  Many mindful leaders know about law of attraction, so they feel bad about feeling bad... because then they believe they will attract failure and negativity... and this simply exacerbates the negative feelings.  We are human and will feel bad sometimes.  We will have negative thoughts and emotions.  Period.

Being mindful and attracting the business and life you want does not mean you are free from negative thought and emotion.  However, to be successful in business, the law of attraction can be very useful.

I help my clients to shift perspective into more positive, healthier, and more motivational mindsets. It's not because I think their thoughts alone are going to change their businesses to be more successful.  And it's not because I believe the shifts will make them an overnight success.  It is because of what happens after the shifting occurs.

Here are three ways the law of attraction can help entrepreneurs and business leaders:

1. Perception

If you look at any successful entrepreneur or leader, you will see that their perception of things is positive, solution-oriented, and one of possibility.  Even when a disaster happens, they see it as a learning experience or they springboard off of it for a greater success.  Their perception allows them to see opportunities for success more clearly.  They will have just as many (or more) failures.  They will feel bad about them.  But they will perceive them differently, which will make them behave differently.  And THAT is what makes them successful.

2. Choice

When we think about failure or something negative, we are naturally inclined to seek out situations to prove what we think.  However, when we think about success, we seek out situations that may bring success.  We choose differently.  Whatever it is, we are motivated to prove ourselves right.  So as an entrepreneur or business leader, if we think a project or venture will fail, we will naturally seek out proof that it will fail... and it probably will.  So thinking of success will motivate us to choose differently - to seek out proof that it will succeed.  It doesn't mean it always will, but because you are choosing actions and making decisions to prove success, it increases the chances.

3. Awareness 

Have you ever thought about finding a parking spot in an area where it's near impossible, and there was one there - right in front of the building you were going to?  Some call this the law of attraction and feel that because they thought of it, it appeared.  That, to me, is magic.  What I think is more likely is the fact that you thought of it, therefore it was in your awareness, and when one was available, you noticed it.  You also noticed that it was near the building you were going to.  When something is put into our mind, we begin to notice it more and more.  For an entrepreneur or business leader, this can be very useful.  There are an unlimited number of opportunities that are just waiting to be discovered and created.  When an entrepreneur/leader thinks about opportunities and possibilities, they begin to appear.  It is not that they weren't there before... it is more about noticing them.  If you are not allowing positive, creative, possibility thoughts into your mind, these opportunities will go unnoticed.  Or if you are ruminating on thoughts about there not being any opportunities, well, there won't be any opportunities.

Of course, it is all up to you.  That is what is so great about all of this stuff... it is completely your choice.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

More Multi-tasking, Less Productivity

Have you ever written or seen a job description with the following words:

"Must be able to work in a fast-paced environment.  Must be able to multi-task."  ??

If you have ever looked for a job or promoted a job opening, you have very likely seen something like this.  I have even written it myself... it was many years ago.  These statements are problematic for two reasons.

1) Aren't all work environments 'fast-paced'?
2) Multi-tasking is actually impossible, so when asking someone to multi-task, aren't you really asking them to make more mistakes, be more stressed, and get less done?

Fast-pasted work environment

Fast-paced, hectic, busy, flat-out, crazy, chaotic, messy... the list goes on.  I have not seen a work environment that couldn't be described with one of these words.  Telling a candidate they must be able to work in that kind of environment sets the stage for stress before they even begin working.

It is true that if the culture is fast and hectic, the person working in it must be able to work in it.  However, slowing down is actually the best way to handle a fast pace.  So what if we began using words like, "must be able to slow down in order to effectively manage the work day," or "it is an asset to be able to address stressful situations in a calm manner?"

Because, really... if your employees do not have the ability to calm down in a fast-paced situation, they won't be effective at their jobs.


Our brains can't multi-task.  Our brains are actually switching from one task to another, not focusing on more than one task at a time.  This leads to lack of attention, errors, and increasing stress on the individual.  Some researchers say that productivity is reduced by about 40% when trying to multi-task!

Distractions in society and workplaces are producing a loss of the ability to pay attention.  And it's costing our organizations time and money and talent.

So what if we changed the idea of "must be able to multi-task" to "must be able to focus?"  And what if organizations implemented training programs to help their employees and managers and leaders build their focusing skills?

Mindfulness training helps people calm down and get focus.  The only two purposes of mindful meditation are in fact concentration and awareness... or attention and meta-attention (awareness of paying attention).  All of the other benefits are spin-off outcomes (and they are all pretty awesome!).

Get Started

Here are few simple tips to begin growing mindfulness amongst your employees without having to hire an outside facilitator (yes, like me:):

  1. Get educated and educate your team on the detrimental effects of always rushing and multi-tasking. Join groups on social media (join Pomroy Harmony & Wellness, Going OmSearch Inside Yourself or search for others) for free resources and information.
  2. Give your team the autonomy to create pauses throughout their day to simply sit for a few minutes and do nothing or meditate or go outside for a breath of fresh air or do a few yoga stretches.
  3. Tell your team to create a reminder for themselves to stop and breathe every hour.  This is a mindful breath and a simple deep breath in and then out calms the mind and helps bring the person to the present moment.  The breath in activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight, flight, or freeze responses, and the breath out activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for physiological responses when relaxing and calming.  So try to breathe in for 4 counts and out for 8 counts, and the net effect is relaxation and calm.
Try it on.  There is no evidence that this stuff is not good for you... and there is lots of evidence that it is good for you.  So why not?

Let me know how it goes..... 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Walk Your Dog, Not Work Like a Dog

Earlier today while on my nature walk, I passed a former colleague who's been retired for three years.  We had a lovely little catch-up and one of the topics we chatted about was that he still enjoys being actively involved in projects, but he wants to do only the work he enjoys and, more importantly, he wants to spend time with his loved ones, live the life he wants, and walk his dog... because you never know when your day is up.  His friend recently passed away.  He had just retired and was only 62 years old.  He led a healthy life, had worked like a dog his whole life, and was just about to begin enjoying his cottage.

And I said... that's why I do what I do.  

I want people to enjoy their work.  I want businesses to succeed, and I get a huge sense of satisfaction when I see an entrepreneur flourish in business or when a team leader truly inspires his or her team.  But, underlying all of that, I want people to be well and live life now and not wait for retirement to enjoy life and live their dream.  When entrepreneurs flourish and team leaders inspire, it trickles into the PEOPLE contributing, being engaged, and being well.  Because business is not a successful business without contributing, engaged, and well people.  Period.

Work is simply a part of living life.  Almost everyone needs to do it to pay the bills.  However, it does not have to be meaningless, mundane, or stressful.  And it does not have to eat up the other areas of your life.

Work can be one of the greatest contributions you give when the workplace has a culture designed to cultivate that and the individual has the mindset to live the dream now.

A workplace culture that nourishes mindfulness, mindful leadership, and individual growth and development can make even the most mundane task feel meaningful.  It can also make the present moment be the dream that you are living.  That is not to say you don't have other dreams and goals... but you can be living your 'now dream' when you live and work on purpose.

Whether you are a team leader, a front-line worker, or an entrepreneur, don't wait for retirement to live your life.  Work is part of your life and can be used to cultivate your dreams and nurture your wellness.  Begin to shift your perspective from work is so much work to work can be the way you fulfill your dreams and aspirations.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Make Mondays Fabulous - Find Harmony & Happy at Work

Have you ever heard people talk about employees at their workplaces are happy, engaged, calm, collaborative, productive, creative... and wonder if it's true?  Really?  Are people at work really that happy and healthy?  Is that even possible in your work environment? Sometimes I hear my clients and colleagues working in industries such as oil and gas say it might be possible for that company, but not theirs.

The belief much of society has is that work must be stressful and chaotic.  Managers must be authoritative in order to make employees do what they need to do to get the job done.  Helping employees be happy and fulfilled is not the company's or manager's responsibility - do it on your own time.  Deadlines and budgets are more important than ensuring an employee is feeling OK.  Time is money.  Business is money.  This business is tough and if you can't handle that, leave.  And we have an EAP anyway, so what's the big deal?  We are helping our employees be happy and healthy.

However, we often hear employees say, "TGIF!"  Every week.  And their unhappiness is not helping business.

I believe it is absolutely possible to have a harmonious and happy workplace in any industry or workplace.  I also believe work in any industry can be messy and workplaces are dysfunctional. What I don't believe is that an employee must decide whether they want to tough it out every day, slogging through the daily pressures of messy work and potentially cranky customers or colleagues, or leave and take a 'less stressful' job in order to have a good and successful life.

Why must anyone choose between work and happy??

This, to me, is like telling a woman she must choose between work and family.  Of course you can have both!  And being happy at work is not only possible, it is what will create a more effective workplace and more fulfilling life.

Note:  Happy does not mean always elated, laughing, and smiling.  Happy means fulfilled, content, and at peace, which results in engaged, collaborative, and confident.

So the question remains... HOW can such a messy, stressful, dysfunctional workplace create a happy, healthy atmosphere and culture?

The process for culture change is looonnnnggggg.  Leadership needs to be hugely committed.  Every decision needs to be aligned with the culture you are seeking.  There will be ups and downs. Transition of culture will often mean transition of staff.  However, there is no better way to change your environment than by changing yourself.  When you begin to 'be the change you want to see in the world,' others begin to change around you.  When they begin to change, others change around them.  It's the ripple effect.

There is no quick fix for making an unhealthy or toxic culture healthy and productive.  However, you can quickly begin to change how you respond to your work.  I challenge you to begin by taking the words 'I am stressed' out of your vocabulary.  Instead, you can say, 'I am dealing with a stressful situation, and I allow myself to be in it without feeling anxious/ stressed/ overwhelmed/ angry/ agitated/ insert negative emotion here.'  Instead of reacting with feeling stressed, take a moment to breathe.  Go for a walk (walking to the bathroom helps).  Yes, count to 10.

These things all work by inducing a calming effect and are a great place to begin.  However, to truly make a change, you must understand what the trigger is and why it triggered you in the first place. Otherwise, you will continue to be triggered and will have to do a lot of counting.

This is where mindfulness can help.  Reflecting on the situation and identifying a more helpful and positive response will help change how you will respond the next time.

For true organizational culture change, I recommend going through a program of assessment, clarity, development, creation, and transformation.  The Create Your Culture program does that.  However, no matter what role you have in your organization, you can begin with you.

Make Mondays Fabulous.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Got (hate) Mail?

Recently, I received hate mail.  Someone was very upset about something I wrote.  The message threw shame, disappointment, judgement, and anger my way. My ego would like to defend my point of view, explain my situation, and justify my position.  My soul is injured.

And I would like to thank that person who sent me the message.

I was more than hurt after reading the message she had for me.  The person who sent me the message did not perceive what I wrote the way it was intended.  And that is what happens in day to day life and work over and over and over.  It results in misunderstandings, conflict, lost relationships, and lost opportunities.  It results in hurt, sadness, self-destruction, and unrest.

However, ignoring the others' perspective results in a lost opportunity to raise your self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

Have you ever received hate mail?  Or have you ever sent it?  This is no different than schoolyard bullying.  In any bullying situation, the bullying has to end with love and compassion.

This type of bullying has become so easy with email and social media.  I have seen it many times in the workplace.  Emails or messages are sent in anger and upset. Typically, it is not sent with the intention to harm.  But, what ensues is conflict, chaos, and other people getting involved and taking sides. Gossip, tension, and an unwillingness to work together results.

It can ruin an organizational culture.  Just one email.

In work and life, we automatically go to the need to win in the situation.  We must be right. We defend our behaviours and feel a sense of accomplishment when we 'win' a misunderstanding or conflict.  It brings a false sense of power and falsely raises our confidence.  Indeed, underneath it all, we are simply feeding our need to be understood and loved.  A true mindful leader does not need to win, rather is more interested in serving others.  That may mean the other person 'wins', and if that is what is good for the greater good, that is the road the mindful leader takes.

When it becomes evident that anger is being thrown around, solutions are ignored, and people are simply defending their behaviours - right or wrong, good or bad - the only way out is to stop it in its tracks.  

Here are a few things I learned from this experience that you may find useful in a similar situation:

  • When you write, consider how the reader will perceive your words.  I did do this in my situation, however, I evidently missed a possible reaction.  This is risk management... there is still always a risk that someone will be upset by something you write.  You CAN ask yourself why you are writing about this topic, particularly if it is a sensitive issue.  If it is to harm anyone in any way, you may want to reconsider.  This was definitely not my intention... but it did hurt someone.  Next time I hope I will have a broader and wiser awareness. We make mistakes.  We are human.  The best way to deal with mistakes is to learn from them.  That said, we also can't control how others react to things. Sometimes, your words may be helpful in many ways, yet still harm someone because they live in a negative world or are simply too hurt to see things differently.  We do need to be mindful of our words, but if we speaking the truth with the intention to help or serve others, sometimes people will get hurt anyway.  And sometimes that simply isn't your issue to deal with.
  • If/when you receive hate mail, physically remove yourself from the situation.  In my situation, I read the mail, told my husband about it, began to cry, and then left to be alone for a while.  I also made a conscious effort to not re-read the message over and over.  Hatred and negativity eats us up.  We can fall into feeling completely unworthy.  If we don't shed those thoughts, we can become less and less engaged in life and at work, not to mention get physically sick.
  • Allow the emotions you feel to pass.  All emotions pass through you and then end.  As humans, we can experience every emotion from shame to love. It's when we don't allow the negative ones to come and pass that they stick around and wreak havoc on us.  Shame is one of the darkest emotions one can feel.  When you feel shame, do not allow it to sit inside you.  It can lead to depression and self destruction.  I had a lot of good cries for a few days following the mail I received.  I allowed all the feelings of shame, anger, hurt, and sadness to move through me.  I physically felt them in my heart, my throat, my belly, my head.  And they have mostly passed now.  When something hurts us to the core, it takes time for emotions to pass.  Give yourself that time.  If you need alone time, indulge in it, but don't remove yourself from life.  Take some time each day for reflection and carry on with your day.  Do the things you love to do.  Be with the people you love to be with.  Realize that the negative delivery of a message to you is not about you.  No matter what mistakes you make or what incidents lead to the receipt of hate mail, you are still human and fully deserving of love and peace and greatness.
  • Drum up some love.  Depending on the situation, this can be quite difficult. But we are all the same.  We all essentially and simply want love.  I did a loving-kindness meditation - several times.  It helped me realize that the person who sent me the message was simply hurt and angry. Her perspective was not wrong - it was far from what I consciously intended, but it was her perspective nevertheless.  Once I could see this, I could respond to her with love.  I responded to her message and thanked her for sharing her perspective.  How she receives that message is none of my business.  We cannot control others - only our own responses and feelings.  On the other hand, I also had to find love for myself.  We beat ourselves up so easily. Finding self-love will allow us to send love out.  In the workplace, this is not widely accepted - yet.  However, it is a highly successful solution to reducing conflict and fostering a culture of excellence, collaboration, and creativity.
  • Realize you do not have to be right.  What is 'right' anyway?  Sometimes you are right. Sometimes you are not.  We all believe we are right.  Being right and proving it is not the definition of success.  I wrote something.  I can't change what I did.  Was it right?  Well, several people who read it thanked me. One person sent me hate mail.  Was it right?  I don't know that answer - and it doesn't matter.  I'm OK with allowing the one(s) I angered to be right.  That allows me to see another perspective.  It also stops the negativity cycle.
  • Delete it and move on.  If you are experiencing something that has been going on for a long time, this can take more than simply deleting an email. However, it is possible to kick negative thoughts from the past out of your head whenever they arise and remove sources of hatred or negativity from your life. After responding to this lady with as much love as I could muster at that time, I deleted the correspondence.  I have had almost a week to let it dissolve, and no doubt if that message was still in my inbox, I would have read it again and the negative feelings would linger longer.
  • Find gratitude.  Yes, gratitude for the hurt, the pain... and the lesson.  When you open yourself to learning something from life, life opens up.  Learn the lesson and be grateful to the person who taught it to you.  It does not matter how they respond to your gratitude.  You do not have to be best friends.  You don't even have to say the words to them, you can be grateful silently - as long as it is authentic.
Hate mail is horrible.  It pains me to think something I wrote could hurt someone so much that they would send me a hateful and hurtful message.  However, it did.  This happens every day in the workplace.  And people are festering in their offices, feeling awful, rather than being fully engaged and contributing all that they have to offer.

It is with gratitude that I write this post. Indeed, I had a tough few hours, but I know people write and receive hate mail in the workplace and in their personal lives.  We'd like to believe we would simply not write it.  But in reality, it happens.  Work suffers and energy/time/life is wasted.  People are hurting. People get hurt.  The only way to deal with it is to stop the cycle with love.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Leadership is About You

What is leadership anyway?  A position?  A title?  Leading an organization or team or community?  Is it the senior executives or c-suite?  Does it entail having followers?

 Peter Drucker says a leader has followers.  Robin Sharma says a leader has no title.

And what about how to be a leader?  Do you need to be authoritative?  Aggressive?  Decisive?  Is leadership about ensuring your team of people are performing and providing incentives, rewards, or even discipline?  Must a leader be in command?  In charge?

Some say leaders are visionary or they empower and influence others.

Any of these definitions can be right.  And there are more to add.  The common thread is the leader him or herself.

Leadership is about the person.

A great leader - whether they are visionary, empowering, influential, decisive, or commanding - leads him or herself.  Leadership style is something else.

The first step in any kind of leadership is knowing yourself.  Self awareness is essential for excellence in leadership.

The next step is leading yourself to be the best you can be.  That means investigating your own thoughts and feelings.  A leader can not have focus, clarity, passion, and compassion (essentials for excellence in leadership) without knowing who they are.  How can you be clear with others when you don't know what you are feeling or why you are feeling a certain way?  Purposefully deciding to be the best you can be means making decisions that are in your best interest for your wellness and for others' wellness.  It involves compassion and empathy.

Self-investigation is key for excellent leadership.  And my definition of leadership has nothing to do with followers.  It is leading your life.  Leading your self.  Leading what you do.  Leading who you are.  This translates to leading your family, community, organization, team, or project.

You get to know yourself by getting quiet.  Slowing down.  Investigating.  Exploring.  Being open to what comes up and being with it - no matter what it is.

Every individual in an organization needs to be a leader for organizational success.

If you want leaders in your organization, give them the space to know themselves.  Allow them to develop their emotional intelligence, which includes intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.  Sure, give them the tools and knowledge to coach and manage well.  Put them through a leadership development program.  But if you are not willing to support their self-awareness and emotional intelligence growth, much of the leadership development will be lost.  Self-awareness is the foundation for good leadership.

The greatest leaders lead themselves, and people follow not because the leader makes them follow... but because the followers want to follow.  

Leaders may indeed have followers.  But influence comes from the leader's ability to be compassionate and be authentically concerned for the followers' well-being.  This ability comes from practice and a continual curiosity into who they are.  The key to learning this is to slow down, become aware of the  mind-body-spirit connection, and learn how to respond versus react.  It is not fluff... it is leadership.

Lead yourself.  The rest will follow.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Shifting a Negative Workplace

I have had so many clients talk about negative or toxic workplaces, that it's actually a little shocking to know that so many work environments are toxic - even though many of us know how that impacts business AND our health.  Changing negativity can come from a complete culture shift in the organization... or it can begin with individuals.  

What is a negative workplace?  Negativity can include (this is not an exhaustive list!):
  • complaining
  • resistance to change (or to anything, really)
  • gossip
  • criticism in the absence of the authentic desire to help
  • yelling 
  • punishment
  • blame or judgement
  • self-righteousness
  • anger
  • clinging to past or current ideas and not willing to move forward
When people are negative, it prevents a business from operating at its maximum potential. Afterall, a business or organization is simply made up of a bunch of people, so the way the people act will define how the workplace performs.  Negativity will come from many sources... beliefs and stories of each individual, jealously, lack of confidence, feelings of lacking control or not being included.... and many of these lead to good old stress... and believe it or not, being stressed is a choice.

Of course, it is accepted, and even encouraged, in our society to be 'stressed'.  So, it becomes perfectly acceptable for stress to be common in the workplace.  Changing that needs to come from you.  But awareness is needed first.

There are a ton of things you can do if you are a business owner, team leader, or HR Professional to begin to shift a negative environment or culture (including doing my Create Your Culture Program).  It can take years to accomplish a culture shift.  However, you can do something that can have a more immediate impact.  Negativity stems from each individual - in fact, it stems from each person's thoughts.  Using mindfulness and meditation (a tool to improve mindfulness) can help shift a negative word, action, or thought into a positive one.  Imagine the workplace when people begin doing this for themselves!

So now that you know this... or maybe you already knew this... what now? 

Start from the beginning.  Begin a mindful meditation group in the workplace (there are many types of meditation - I'm talking about mindful meditation).  
Novices often get the most value when they are guided.  You can find many guided meditations online, or, of course, you can check out one of my programs: Introduction to Mindful Meditation or Zen@Work.  Mindfulness is completely individual and experiential.  I can talk about it for hours or days and you will not know it until you practice it.  However, guidance and community helps to build new habits and learn what to do.

It is best if this group is voluntary.  Forcing someone to do a mindfulness program or to meditate is simply not mindful and unless the person WANTS to do it, it likely won't work and could result in even higher negativity.

People who are practicing begin to see shifts in their attitudes, language, and behaviours and others want some of what they have.  Negativity begins to shift because each person becomes aware of their own negative thoughts, words, and actions and, typically, begins to shift their responses.  Often with mindfulness comes a raised emotional intelligence.  And THAT is what will change negativity to positivity.

Clients sometimes ask me how they will measure the success of a workplace mindfulness program.  Well, the answer is quite simple.  Ask.  

Of course, you can measure productivity or absenteeism or customer complaints (with time and a high level of participation, these key performance indicators are known to improve), but the real measurement is in each individual. Evaluate how the practice has impacted them.  What shifted?  How do they now respond to a potentially stressful situation?  Do they experience more moments of presence and calm?  What about their level of happiness?  If you think these things don't matter to business, think again.  

Remember, your business operates because of the people in it.  When the people are positive, confident, courageous, and contributing, your business will be able to respond to opportunities and challenges with greater ease.

Tina Pomroy is a Mindful Leadership and Wellness Coach.  Connect with her at, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Do you Work for Money?

Who works because they have to in order to pay the bills?  Well... almost everyone!  Of course we work for money.  Why else would we work?

Here's the thing, though.  Wanting to make money, more money, lots of money.... is not right or wrong.  It is simply a desire or goal you have.  Being mindful about that means not attaching to it as being something that is necessary to make you feel happy or successful or complete.

What if we took money out of the equation when we decide where to work or what job to take or what business to start or why we stay in a job?  It's a no-brainer that money is necessary to live and MORE money is a nice thing to have.  Some people place a higher importance on it than others - and that's completely cool.  But are you happy?  Are you fulfilled?  Do you use money as your indicator for how successful you are?  After the excitement of the money wears off (because it always does), are you working at something you feel passionate about?  Do you feel like you are contributing to something?  Are you healthy and well?  Do you spend time doing things and being with the people you love?

You don't have to cure a terminal illness or create the solution to poverty to feel you are contributing.  One of our basic human needs is to feel we are contributing to something.  You can serve an ice cream cone on a boardwalk and smile to the customers, and you could be contributing to someone's well-being.

Being mindful doesn't mean living on the streets.  A mindful leader also has to work to pay the bills.   Being mindful means being aware, being in the moment, making conscious choices, and not attaching to the outcomes.  So a mindful leader may want to make money, and may even place it high on his or her list of goals - or not... but it's not what makes them happy or unhappy.  A mindful leader does not stress less just because they make more money.  Stresses are always there whether a collector is calling your house or your yacht just sunk.

What does your dream workplace/job/business look like?  Almost everyone will have 'make enough money to live the life I want' in the description.  But what else?  How are you contributing in your job or business?  What is REALLY important to you and how can that be incorporated into your workday and/or business?

So go ahead and work for money!  AND create meaning in your work.  If there's no meaning and you feel stressed or unwell a lot of the time, what is your money really worth?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Are you Disciplined Enough for a Meditation Practice?

I have been having a rough few months with my eating habits.  Funnily, I just developed and tested a Mind Fitness Program that helps groups make more mindful choices in their wellness! And although I have believed in choice for many years, I realized I had turned to trying to be disciplined over the last few months... and kept making unhealthy choices.

Many people that are trying to eat healthier or lose weight often use the phrase, "I should be more disciplined."  Well, I disagree.  Your discipline muscle will get tired after a while and you will give in to your cravings and old habits... UNLESS you create new habits that are meaningful for you.

You make choices in life.  You choose how to behave.  You choose what to think.  You choose to eat that chocolate bar... or not.  Being mindful means being aware of your choices... being aware of the impact they have... and not judging... yourself or others.

Practicing mindfulness is no different from eating healthy.  Your formal practice is very important for growing your mindfulness muscle, yet every single client I have had finds it difficult to meditate daily.  So do I some days!  So what is the problem?  And what is the solution?

Part of the problem is that you haven't found the reason that is meaningful for you to take on a mindfulness and meditation practice.  Is it to be healthier?  Is it so you can stop missing out on the moments in your life?  Is it so you can share it with others?  Is it so you can reduce stress?  Is it so you can be a better leader?  A calmer parent?  It doesn't matter what the reason is, you just have to have one.

Part of the problem is also that you may not truly see yourself as that kind of person.  So you try to change yourself by being disciplined.  But your discipline muscle depletes its energy and you are back to old habits because you have not truly chosen to be that kind of person.

What can you do?  Make a choice.  Choose to be a mindful person.  Choose to be that person that meditates each day.  Choose a lifestyle that works for behaving mindfully.  Choose how you design your weekly schedule and incorporate formal practice into it.  Choose to build a mindful team at work.  Choose to choose meditation.  And accept that whatever is... is.  Whatever you chose, you chose.  You can choose something different now... or tomorrow... or next month.  It's your choice!  And the outcomes from your choices are yours too.

Indeed, making the choices is not always easy - especially if you are not surrounded by like-minded people.  But guess what?  Every time you practice making the choice to be mindful, you have improved your mindfulness!  That's how it works.  Before you know it, you will believe wholeheartedly that you ARE that kind of person... the kind that meditates... or the kind that eats healthy... or the kind that rides a bike to work... or the kind that remains calm in a stressful situation.... or the kind that lives life to the fullest.... You are whatever you choose.  

So what's your choice? 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dance Through the Laundry

I work from home.  Sometimes on Fridays I take an hour or two out of my workday to do house/personal stuff…. Run errands, fix the broken screen, tidy the toys, clean the dishes… or do laundry.

I don’t really enjoy laundry.  I stick it in the washer and dryer no problem, but I end up with mounds of clean clothes and towels at the end of the week, and I’m not too fussy about folding it all.  So I blast the music and dance while I fold.  It can be one of the most enjoyable times in my day, and I’m totally pumped to get more work done afterwards (I just finished folding five loads and am finally getting to the blog!).

I have been a dancer my entire life, although I haven’t always taken classes.  I have been known to incorporate dance into my workshops and team meetings.  Yeah, I’m one of those people.  But, really… everyone is always more energized afterwards.

So I thought…. Why not incorporate dance breaks into your work day?  It really doesn’t matter where you are or what you do.  You just have to get a song on your phone these days and start moving.  People smile and laugh, release endorphins, get the blood flowing, and tend to get focused on the moment.  Yes… get focused on the moment…. Get mindful.

I worked with a client who had laughing breaks in their workplace daily – love that idea too!  Why not dance?  Imagine the lady holding the road sign dancing while you passed?  Imagine the customer service clerk having a little shake while he answered the phone?  Imagine getting your team together for a little boogie mid-day to remember to laugh, dance, and enjoy this moment? 

The rewards go beyond having fun, being healthy, or ramping up your energy.  Getting back to the moment through movement can also lessen stress and improve creativity.  The next time you or your team are stuck on a decision or conflict is rising... dance through the laundry.

Dance on!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Entrepreneur's Response To: 'How's Business?'

I attended a conference last week for The Newfoundland and Labrador Organization for Women Entrepreneurs.  It was a wonderful opportunity to network with other business owners and listen to some fabulous speakers share their insights on business topics.  And it was an opportunity to practice answering the question, 'How's business?'

Have you ever wondered if your answer to that question was helping or hindering you?

I recently realized I do not like that question and my answer often made me feel icky - so it was hindering me.  In my mindfulness practice, I am learning to manage the highs and lows in life and business.  One of the mindful leadership traits I practice is poise - and, let's be honest, I'm still practicing!  When someone asks the question, 'How's business?' I've struggled with the answer.

At times business is fabulous and I want to scream from the mountaintops that I'm making it!  Some big contract just came through... my week is full of clients... I exceeded a goal... etc.  And then at times business is slow, I'm marketing and developing and making connections - or sometimes not.  Maybe I didn't win a contract or maybe my week has no revenue generating activities.  At those times I'd like to tell the person asking me the question how tough everything is.

But I don't do that either.  Anymore.

Entrepreneurs, especially those in their first few years of business, often have extreme highs and lows.  The excitement of securing a large contract in an industry you've been targeting for a year is as thrilling as not having any revenue generating activity on the books for a week (or two or three) is devastating.  To be able to go home at night and live happily means being able to manage the extremes.

Most entrepreneurs consciously choose this path.  We enter it knowing the struggles and chaos facing us.  We know 80% of businesses fail in the first two years - and many of us have already been one of those statistics.  We know we likely won't have a regular salary for a year or two or three.  And we know we are passionate and want to lead the way with a concept or service or product and not follow someone else's idea.  It's part of who we are.  But it doesn't mean we know how to manage it all.

Entrepreneurs often feel alone.  They do not want to let others know they are struggling in business in fear of losing potential clients, contracts, or employees.  They feel responsible for their employees' lives.  They feel responsible for ensuring enough money comes into the family to put food on the table.  When something fails in business, they take it on as a personal failure.  Entrepreneurs feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.

When an entrepreneur can bring mindful leadership into their business and work, they can alleviate the weight.  Of course, meditation as a daily practice will help anyone feel less stressed and more energetic.  However, it's the minor adjustments of the mind throughout the day that will make a powerful impact on how an entrepreneur feels about business.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, acceptance is one of the attitudinal factors for mindfulness.  As an entrepreneur, accepting that a low in business gives you an opportunity to take care of something will allow you to see the low in a different light.  For me, I see the slow times in business as an opportunity to tweak, develop, and take care of me on a personal level.  It has taken some time to accept these slow times as, not only needed, but enjoyable.  For other businesses, the slow times can present an opportunity to implement a new process, evaluate customer service, or build team cohesiveness.  Interestingly, when diving into these development activities, sales often rise as a result.

Another attitudinal factor for mindfulness is letting go.  Entrepreneurs want to be 'successful'.  We want our businesses to thrive.  We are either passionate about what we offer or are passionate about business itself - or both.  When we are succeeding in business, we want to hold on to it.... we want it to last forever.... we want to continue to grow and thrive and have fabulous work cultures.  But it never works that way.  Things change.  The environment changes.  People change.  Demands change.  And business must go through these changes in order to thrive again.  When entrepreneurs can let go of the need to hold onto the pleasure from the high times, it is easier to flow into transition times or low times.  And this takes poise.  A mindful leader will be able to celebrate successes without needing them for validation for personal success and be mindful that today's success does not guarantee tomorrow's.  A mindful leader and entrepreneur will be as happy and content with the success as with the failure because he/she will let go of the pleasant or unpleasant feelings and know that all that really matters is this moment, and this moment is truly beautiful.

All of this takes practice - a lot of practice.  It does not mean we don't work hard to succeed or have a thriving business.  It means we can accept where we are, take action, and not cling to business success as a factor for happiness.  It means entrepreneurs can stop feeling the weight of the world and start loving the moments.  It's OK.  And it will make business even better.

So when people now ask, "How's business?"  I'm practicing the response, "I love it."  That is the truth.  And I'm just like any entrepreneur who is learning to manage the highs and lows that come with being a passionate entrepreneur.