Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Living the Martyr Lifestyle

I have decided that in 2009 I will be featuring other authors on my blog. It keeps the ideas fresh and it is always good to see the synergies from one sector of business to another. Since 2008 is nearly behind us, I decided to start featuring other authors now. Since this time of year we are bombarded with requests from non profits, I decided to get a perspective from a leader in the non profit sector.

This post is by Elisa M. Ortiz. She joined the staff of the National Council of Nonprofit Associations (NCNA) in April 2007 with a background in advocacy, organizing, and grassroots movement building. As the Coordinator of Outreach & Special Initiatives, she leads the work of the Nonprofit Congress initiative, expands the base of people involved in it, and coordinates planning for Nonprofit Congress annual meetings.

In particular, she focuses on leadership and organizational effectiveness, having co-authored one of NCNA's signature publications, Work With Me: Intergenerational Conversations for Nonprofit Leadership.

Living the Martyr Lifestyle, by Elisa Ortiz

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that many of us in the nonprofit sector tend to gravitate toward the martyr lifestyle. We work long hours, we worry about work when we’re not there, sometimes, we even dream about it (http://monster.typepad.com/monsterblog/2005/08/dreaming_about_.html). To some extent, I think that it’s perfectly natural for us to be like this. You don’t work in a nonprofit if you’re not a passionate, caring individual. Sometimes though, that passion carries us too far.

In America, perhaps more than other countries, our identity is often tied to the work we do (http://www.imdiversity.com/Villages/Asian/business_finance/lam_work_identity_culture.asp). I don’t know about you, but when I meet someone, the second question I’m almost always asked is ‘where do you work?’. It helps us define ourselves and helps others define us too. Unfortunately, that’s not always a good thing.

From an internal perspective, we can often ‘live’ our jobs way too much. I speak from experience as someone who has worked jobs where my very existence, my ego, my self-esteem seemed to hinge on the work I was doing. I cared so much about my job that I stopped caring about myself. I was ill, unhappy, and had virtually no outlet since all my friends were at work.

From the external perspective, other people might think we’re nuts. Unless of course, all your friends work in nonprofits (as virtually all of mine do). If all of your friends do work in nonprofits, you probably don’t see them, because you’re all working too much. If you know people who don’t work in nonprofits, well, you might never see them either. And, you might be getting questions like “If you’re not getting paid by the hour, why the heck are you working 60+ hours a week?!?”. Umm…

It took me a few years to figure this out and I have a couple of tips and suggestions for those of you who might be newer to the sector, or who might still be martyring themselves to their jobs.

· First, you don’t have to be a superwoman [http://fromthepipeline.blogspot.com/2008/01/im-not-your-superwoman-creating-not-so.html] (or a superman for that matter). YOU ARE ONLY HUMAN. Sorry to tell you this, but no matter how much you work, you’ll never be able to single-handedly eliminate poverty, animal abuse, homelessness, etc. To think you can is foolish at best and egomaniacal at worst.
· Do what you can in a day and then go home. You’ll be better for it in the morning. I can’t emphasize that enough actually. I’ve always found putting in a hard 8 to 9 hours and then heading home to rest is much more productive than an exhausted 12 hours followed almost immediately by 12 more.
· Try to have fun with or at your job. Whether it’s taking some time to eat lunch with your coworkers or heading out for happy hour afterward, it can definitely improve things. I mean, you work with these people at least 40 hours a week, you might as well get to know them personally.
· Use your vacation and sick time. Hopefully you’ve got some paid time off. USE IT. Again, it does no one any good for you to be horribly ill and dragging yourself into the office. In fact, its worse: you can’t do much because you’re sick and you infect everyone else in the office. Here at NCNA [http://www.councilofnonprofits.org], we have 6 people. If one of us brings in a cold, we all get it. Do your coworkers a favor and stay home. Or take a vacation. Even if you can’t afford some big trip, at least take a week to go camping or go to the beach or even stay home and do nothing. Do you remember summer vacations from school? Long days with precisely nothing to do? Wasn’t it amazing? Recreate that at home!
· Let it go. I’m going to let you in on a little secret here: I seriously love my job. I’m passionate about the nonprofit sector and the opportunities to unite us into a more powerful voice. But when I go home, I let it go. I don’t worry about the work still on my desk. There will always be more work to do. You can’t eliminate it or reduce the load by worrying about it when you’re not there, so stop trying.
· After all of this, if you’re still martyring and can’t see a way out, maybe its time to look at where you’re working. The environment can be just as bad as your internal triggers.

Does anyone have additional things to add to the list?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are you a "Taker" or a "Giver?"

If you are like most people, when answering this question you probably would say "I'm a giver, not a taker."

These terms are so engrained in our minds to be synonymous with bad and good, that it is hard to envision any situation where "giving" isn't always good or "taking" isn't always bad. In other words, regardless of the situation, it's bad to "take" and it's good to "give"

Well, not exactly.

The paradox of leadership means that it often requires more taking than giving. When we take, we actually allow others to give. Leadership is about receiving what others have to give and contribute, without exerting our will over them or the situation.

Our society and culture are so focused with giving at all costs that we forget to receive, or worst yet, we equate receiving with "taking," which in other words means that it is "not good."

Being able to receive is a compassionate and gracious act.

When I go for my morning runs, I often see a mentally and physically disabled young woman out walking with her caretaker. She has two different caretakers that alternate working with her and they each have two very different styles. One of the caretakers frequently has her arms around her tightly and is seemingly guiding her every step. The other is walking two to three steps ahead of her and will frequently circle back to her.

On the surface, one might "judge" these caretakers and say that the first is the "giving" one and therefore the better caretaker. The second one is perhaps not as giving, and therefore not as good.

But, the face of the young woman tells it all. She is looking downward and cringing as she walks with the smothering and giving caretaker. Yet, she is wide-eyed and visibly excited when walking on her own... steps behind the other.

The negative side of "giving" is that we can easily mask our want to control others and demand our own way, under the auspices of giving or helping others. When the real giving is in the taking or receiving of others, regardless of the outcome.

So, this holiday season, while at work and at home as you are leading others, get into the real spirit of giving and allow yourself to take and receive the gifts of others. Give space to those around you. Take in what they have to offer you. Step aside and let others be wide-eyed and excited as they bring forth their best to give you.


This is the spirit of true giving and leading.

So let me know, are you a taker or a giver?

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What’s your Leadership Bailout Plan?

What’s your Leadership Bailout Plan?

The financial markets are crashing. Big named banks are folding. Bailout and stimulus plans abound. Today, it’s more important than ever for effective leaders to show their ability to lead their teams through tough times.

No question about it, we are facing one of the worst economic situations in history. Today’s financial crisis has been compared to the Great Depression, and the outlook for the near future doesn’t look better. People are losing jobs, and those who haven’t are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

What is your “leadership bailout plan” to help motivate and inspire your team through this serious downturn?

In times like this, leaders need to assist others to reassure them that things will get better and to solidify trust. This is not the time to bury your nose in the work and disregard the hallway chats that may seem like unproductive complaining. Leaders need to be change agents and treat this situation as if your company has just been taken over, rallying the troops and moving forward with confidence. The impact of this global economic situation can not be undermined, leaders must become more like coaches and teachers than continuing on like drill sergeants and business-as-usual.

For most over-achieving leaders that are Type A’s, this can be a difficult task. You need to throw out the old adage of “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” because this assumes that everyone left standing is grounded enough to persevere forward. Usually this is not the case. Often, the ones left standing are shell-shocked and shaken to the core and have the greatest need for reassurance.

Now if you hear yourself saying things like “they’ll get over it,” “come on, suck it up,” “there’s no time to lose,” you will need to find some patience and compassion to get you through these challenging times. The time you spend on building rapport and reassurance will reap long term benefits. As John C. Maxwell says, “leaders walk slowly through the crowd.” They may get to their goal a bit slower, but they will have their whole team with them when they get there. These are times where you can’t afford to get to your goal alone; you need to bring every single person on your team along with you.

During times of economic upheaval, it takes time to rebuild trust within your organization. Trust will improve the speed in which results can be achieved over the long haul.
Leaders can reassure their teams and rebuild trust with transparency and vulnerability.

Transparency Rule #1:
Repeat your strategy for growth (and repeat it often). Show how, even with the changing tides, your strategy is still relevant and will get the results you and your team need. People want to succeed and bailout plans require leaders to instill confidence and trust in the plan.

Transparency Rule #2:
Hear your team’s concerns. What are the barriers and concerns holding them back? Are they right? Are there areas where the strategy and approach is not realistic? Hold back judgments about their concerns. Listen and consider their input before reacting or changing anything.

Transparency Rule #3:
Go deeper, if needed. Isolate individual needs and concerns that may be impacting the overall team. Be curious about the troubles impacting people. You don’t know what may be taking up energy in their lives…perhaps a spouse has lost a job, or an elderly parent is putting additional financial pressure on their family. Listening and caring, without solving, is usually all that is needed to get someone back on track more energized than before.

Transparency Rule #4:
Separate facts from fiction or hearsay. When times get tough, there is a lot of speculation. People create and retell stories based on interpretation and perspective. Now is the time to nip this in the bud and get the real facts out before rumors get out of hand.

Transparency Rule #5:
Own up to the bad news. Treating people as adults with frankness and respect is critical during tough times. If there is another shoe to drop, be frank and let people know what is forthcoming. Provide as much information that is possible and keep communication coming on a regular basis. Transparency of communication will help ensure trust and minimize further speculation.

While you are being transparent with the realities of the business, it is a good practice to do it in an authentic way. Authentic leaders are real and are able to build trust in a greater way than those who aren’t perceived as authentic. Be in touch with your vulnerability to ensure that you are speaking authentically. Use these three ideas to help you be more vulnerable with your teams.

Vulnerability Idea #1:
Share your views and concerns. Leaders don’t have to have all the answers. Showing teams your humane side is an important skill for gaining connection and trust with your team.

Vulnerability Idea #2:
Tell a story. Stories help people retain messages. Stories also reveal different parts of us. Tough times require better connections with others.

Vulnerability Idea #3:
Share a time when you felt concern about the future. Having a leader admit to difficult times can be reassuring to others. Highlighting your learning can help others relate to their own challenges.

These tough economic times are frightening for us all, and even the most effective leaders are feeling uncertain about the future. The key to getting through this challenging period is to demonstrate compassion, vulnerability and transparency and by reassuring your team that things will get better.

Do you speak Mumbo Jumbo?

Since stepping aside from the daily corporate world, I now have the objective distance to see things in a new light. This objective distance helps me to assist others that may be too close to things in order to get a good perspective. I find that this new light, combined with my practical experience, helps me to coach people effectively. I am grateful for this.

One of the observations this new objectivity has allowed me to see is the extensive use of corporate "speak" or what I term as "mumbo jumbo" language. It is not that I wasn't aware of the use of "mumbo jumbo" during my more than twenty years of corporate tenure, I was. But, what I failed to see before was the impact "mumbo jumbo" language has on organizations, people, and leadership.

A few weeks ago while traveling to Dallas for a speaking engagement, I overhead a business man in the Houston airport speaking about the timing of "due diligence," the need for more "right-sizing" and the importance of "informational cascading," all in one conversation! I wondered why he would choose to speak this way. Was it because he wanted to be understood more effectively? Probably not. Was it because he was trying to impress the person he was speaking with and to make himself feel like he was in-the-know? Probably.

For a moment, I pictured him as my 4 and a half year old daughter who for the last several weeks has been blurting out newly acquired and popular words from school like "fart," "idiot," "jerk," etc. Kids do it all the time, they pick up on the "cool" words and then in their attempt to be like the big kids, they use those words at home to get a reaction and on the playground to be accepted.

Yes, we are all social animals that want to be accepted into the crowd. Yet, as leaders and professionals, our main objective should be to connect with people and to be understood, not to be accepted as part of the in-the-know crowd. As leaders, we are expected to be self-confident and not searching for ways to fit in. Leaders have much to lose when they jump on the "mumbo jumbo" language train. First and foremost, they lose trust and credibility.

Becoming a leader is a lifelong journey that is very personal and requires a tremendous amount of introspection. Authenticity and being true to oneself is at the foundation of being an effective leader. When you choose to use corporate speak or "mumbo jumbo" language on a consistent basis, what it says to others is that you are like a robot: you don't have original thoughts, you don’t have original ideas and you can't be trusted because you are not real. People follow people, not scripted robots. “Mumbo jumbo” language raises our "B.S." red flag. Its impact is the opposite of the intended one.

As a writer and a speaker, I certainly know the importance of words. However, as a mom of a 4 and a half year old, I understand the implications of words and the impact they have on behavior. Clean and direct language always works best. Whether you have to deliver bad news, good news or anything in between, skip the "mumbo jumbo" language and you will be several steps ahead in becoming a more effective leader that others trust.

Management without Fear

I was recently posting a tweet on Twitter and engaged in a quick dialog with a dynamic entrepreneur Tracy Rummel (owner of The Brandsoup Agency LLC). She asked me to post her article, "Management without Fear" on my blog, which I agreed to do. Her article does use the term "management," which as a leadership expert, is a term that I define to be quite the opposite of leadership. Management, in my definition is about the non personal aspects of the business. I don't think that people need to be managed. I do believe that people need to be led. I often cringe when people use these two tems interchangably, but I know it is a common mistake. I hope that leaders of people can distinguish the behaviors needed for one versus the other. My book, The Connected and Committed Leader is geared towards helping people redefine what leadership is. It is NOT management. Regardless of this, Tracy's article posted below offers some tips on how to take manage around the economic pressures and lead people towards achieving results.

If you are interested in posting an article, please send me a tweet (ConnectedLeader) or email at laura@laura-lopez.com.

Management without Fear by Tracy Rummel, owner of The Bransoup Agency LLC

In this economic climate it's easy for an organization to dissolve into a reactive environment. Without a strong vision for the company, management and employees can get distracted by the bad news from Wall Street, for other companies' failure and general bad news that seems to surround us these days.

It is well documented that companies that invest in downtimes emerge first, fastest and strongest when the economy begins to recover. It is essential that management remain steadfast in providing a strong vision and clear direction to employees during this time. With employees becoming restless and fearful during this time of bad news at every turn, what can management do to keep everyone focused and create a healthy work environment that encourages innovation, dedication and ultimately yes, success? Here are a few tips:

1. Manage to facts, not perception. Keep a solid benchmark in front of employees about the health of the company, its clients and use key measurements to ensure everyone knows where they are today.

2. When dealing with concerns from employees, help them determine whether it's material or non-material. In other words, is this a concern that really impacts the success of the company? If so, then address it with a plan mapped out to resolve it. If it's not material, in other words it's not relevant to the success of the company, then find out what the source may be and just keep it to the facts. I have found that in times of uncertainty and stress, employees can begin to react out of fear and worry about what their colleagues are doing—management should do what it can to keep employees focused on their own job and keeping their eye on the ball.

3. Frequently do an "environment check." Is there "noise" in the system? What are the internal conversations—again, are they material to the success of the company or are they simply distracting? It's important for managment to keep their finger on the pulse of the organization.

4. Keep things clear. One certain way to help alleviate fears is to clearly define what success looks like. Does every employee in the organization know quite clearly what success looks like for them, and then how that translates to the success of the company? Take the time to do this; it will be well worth it.

You Can’t Have It All (All At Once)

We live in a society that is impulsive and filled with the need for immediate gratification. With a computer mouse click or two, you can have a new product at your doorstep tomorrow. We live in an optimistic culture where we believe that anything is possible. While, for the most part, this belief has a tremendous upside, it also has a dramatic downside. When you believe you can have it all, you are never satisfied with what you have. And when you’re dissatisfied with what you have today, you can't bring your best for an even better tomorrow.

You may admire someone who seemingly "has it all." You look at your boss and aspire to be in that job. You see your neighbor's brand new Porsche and you hope that one day you could afford one too. You kiss your child goodbye, as you scurry to catch a plane, but on your drive through the neighborhood, you see another parent walking their child to school and you wish you could, too. Your co-worker has another date with someone promising, and you can't seem to meet anyone that's right. You met someone who has the career you wish you had, but you stayed home with the kids instead.

At any point in life, you can find yourself wishing for something that isn't in your grasp at that time. You end up focusing more on what you don't have, often forgetting to enjoy what you do have. You’re so focused on the job you aspire to get, that you aren't even doing the job you actually have. As a result, you undermine your performance.
You can have it all, with time and a long-term strategic view, but you might not have it all at once.

When I became a corporate executive after consistently working hard for more than 15 years, I was fulfilled professionally, but not personally. I was single and didn't have a family of my own. I had certainly met a professional goal, but at the time, I believed it was at the great expense of a personal one. This belief hindered the joy that I felt about my professional accomplishment. It also made me resentful that I didn't really "have it all", so it didn't allow me to perform at my best level.

At that time, I believed that I deserved to have it all, all at once. I didn't fully understand that every benefit has its cost. When we choose something, we invariably pass on something else. We really can't have it all…at least, not all at once.A female executive once said to me, "get clear on the choices you make, because every choice has its share of sacrifices.” How right she was.
In Marshall Goldsmith's New York Times bestseller, “What Got You Here Won't Get You There," he explains that successful people see a direct correlation between all of their actions to their successes and even their failures. In other words, people create their own success; it isn't because of luck or happenstance.

I found his insights to be particularly interesting because highly-driven, action-oriented leaders believe that they can create their own success, no matter what. They believe they can have it all, when they want it, all the time. They have a commanding leadership style and a tremendous confidence in their ability to "make it happen". The downside to this confidence is that there is little understanding of the relationship between cost and benefit. The illusion of "having it all" is a slippery slope that can sour quickly.

If you’re struggling to make things work in both your career and family life, realize you can't do both to the max at the same time. You just can't demonstrate successful leadership in both your work and home lives simultaneously. You can be a great mom or dad today and a great business professional tomorrow. Something always has to give.

When you’re in a particular role, give it your fullest. Don't lament on what you aren't doing. If it is for a day at a time, or even an hour at a time, focus on what you’re doing, and don’t get preoccupied with anything else.

If you are putting something on hiatus while you are deeply focused on attaining another goal, accept your choice and its corresponding trade-off. You will get to another phase in life, where another choice will take you down another road to achieve another goal.

What are you waiting for? Be a participant and take action!

My husband and I were driving back home after a wonderful dinner with friends a couple of weeks ago. As we rode along highway 59, a car sped quickly past us and as it did, it changed lanes. In a matter of seconds, the car lost control, hit the embankment, flipped over and hit the embankment again. It was as if a horrible movie was playing in front of me in slow motion.

Thankfully my husband kept a steady hand on the wheel and kept the careening car in front of us and out of harm's way as it slowed. No other cars were hit by this car that rolled out of control. We were fine.

I immediately called 911. Yet my husband's reaction was "Don't worry about calling, there were other witnesses that will call.

I called anyway.

I tell you this story, not to make myself the hero and my husband the bad guy, but to point out that it is easy to be a bystander as opposed to a participant. There have been countless times in my life when I also chose to be a bystander and "not get involved."

I see how this happens so much in business life. We may see injustice, or we may see things we wish we could change, but we don't do anything. We chose to be a bystander and complain without jumping in to either create a solution or facilitate one. Leaders participate in solutions, regardless of their role. When you take action and participate, it feels good. It feels good because you have taken a stance to make a difference, however small or even regardless of the outcome. Nothing is more dis empowering than being a bystander. Participation is empowerment.

I don't know if my call was the only call to 911 that night or the 50th call. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I took the action to call. I chose to be a leader and a participant. I felt good about that. I was empowered.

Take some action today and see how it makes you feel.

Are You a Hollow Tree in the Corporate Jungle?

What can Hurricane Ike teach you about getting stuck in a job rut?

My family and my business is based in Houston. Hurricane Ike came through this past weekend and rattled and rolled our city and our lives. It will be hard to forget the devastation that occurred to our neighboring coastal cities.

When we awoke Saturday morning, we found our home intact, but several small trees and a fence between our home and our neighbor's house had fallen. We were very fortunate.

As the rain started to subside, many of us ventured outside to see if others were in need around us and to survey the damage in our neighborhood. Many trees were down and some had destroyed homes.

Wham, bam, thank you m'am (mother nature)!

As the days passed and I continued to see more of our neighboring streets, I noticed more and more trees down. What surprised me about many of the trees I observed, was that they were hollow and had shallow roots.

Yet, days earlier who would have suspected that these apparently strong and functioning trees were like shells; hollow on the inside?

In this example, Mother Nature's actions are a great metaphor for what often happens in the Corporate Jungle. You see, Mother Nature understands the need for pruning to promote growth. She has a way of weeding out the debris that can be stifling and impeding growth.

Are you a Hollow Tree in the Corporate Jungle?

Kevin and Jackie Freiberg, authors of "Boom! 7 Choices forBlowing the Doors off Business-as-Usual" refer to this phenomena as "Dead People Working". Like the seemingly strong, functioning tree-when it falls, it is obvious that there was nothing inside holding it intact to the earth. Nope....it was just taking up space in the Corporate Jungle.

You see, the Corporate Jungle, like Mother Nature, understands that pruning can promote growth. I am not trying to sound callous, but if you are a Hollow Tree in the Corporate Jungle, it might just be time to re-root yourself somewhere else, or Corporate Mother Nature will do it for you.

Re-rooting yourself requires finding your passion again. You see Hollow Trees are just "hanging out" because the sunshine and water is good where they are, because they feel safe, but they aren't producing fruit, flowers or seeds any longer.

If your life blood isn't pumping and your roots are growing shallow; you've lost the passion for where and what you are doing. Do yourself and others the favor and re-root yourself, or others will do it for you!

I was re-rooted, initially unwillingly, by others. I was starting to become a Hollow Tree. When my job scope began to change and my company wanted me to pursue other opportunities in Atlanta....well what do you think? It was time to go.

Hollow Trees in nature don't hang on to deadness; no they just fall when Mother Nature pushes them. Well, people like you and I, we love to hold on to deadness, holding on to stuff that isn't working for us any longer in our lives. That could be a relationship, a job, a habit. We get stuck in a rut.

Don't be a Hollow Tree in the Corporate Jungle or anywhere else for that matter. Find your passion, your life blood and grow deep roots. It will be good for you and for everyone else around you. It will promote growth in you and in everything you do.

Laura Lopez is a performance strategist, leadership specialist and branding expert with more than 20 years of corporate leadership experience. Most recently, Laura Lopez was a vice president with The Coca-Cola Company. Laura's book, The Connected and Committed Leader, is available via her Web site at http://www.laura-lopez.com/shop.htm, at your local bookstore or on http://Amazon.com. As the owner of her own business, Laura helps companies and business associations achieve more sustainable business results through the power of leveraging diverse talent with effective leadership and branding. She is available for speeches, workshops and customized programs. Laura can be contacted via her Web site at: http://www.laura-lopez.com

Stressed Out?

Learn how to accept and adapt to your present reality to alleviate stress.

Since childhood, Labor Day has always marked the end of summer fun and the back-to-school and work routine that comes with it.

For adults, the back-to-school routine can be a welcomed change (kids getting out of the house!), but it is often filled with a let’s-get-back-to-work serious note. And, of course, a certain amount of stress.

I recently read a brilliant definition of stress in Ekhart Tolle's much-acclaimed book "The Power of Now". He writes that stress occurs when we are too focused on either the past or the future state, with little regard for the present moment. In other words, when we are stressed out it is usually when we want to be somewhere else other than the present. WOW!

Think about it for a moment. You are stressed out in traffic. Why? Because you don't want to be stuck behind some truck, you would rather be in your living room relaxing. We get stressed out at work because we know we have 30 more things to do by next week. Or, we’re stressed because we should have spoken up in that important meeting last week.

Tolle advocates, and I agree, that if we focus on the moment in front of us and suspend our focus on the past or the future, then we would not be stressed. I have tried this and it works. When I know that I have many things to accomplish, I try to focus my attention on the one thing that I am doing now, as opposed to concentrating on the future things that also need to get done. The present moment is the time we have now for getting things done. Focus your attention here and not on future or past tasks.

This is an important leadership skill to develop.

It reminds me of a story I heard regarding prisoners of war. Apparently, after the Vietnam War, surviving prisoners of war were psychologically analyzed. What researchers learned was that the freed prisoners all shared something in common - their attitudes toward their current reality weren’t pessimistic or optimistic. No, the survivors were realists when dealing with their current reality of being a prisoner of war and the pain, agony and unknown associated with it.

You see, pessimists didn't survive because they focused on the things they should have done and they gave up early, hence their fate. Optimists didn't survive because they believed that things would get better tomorrow and when they didn't, they began to lose hope. Realists took each day as it came and dealt with their present reality. They minimized stress and focused on the present task at hand.

With so much unknown (i.e. organizational changes in strategy or corporate downsizing), being a part of the corporate ranks can make one feel like a prisoner. It is no surprise that leaders are expected to adapt to change and help others manage change for themselves.
Change that is out of our control and involuntary is stressful. We seem to want to hang on to the past, or project a different future. Learning how to accept the present moment helps us alleviate stress.

Athletes demonstrate this well. They don't know what their opponent's next move will be, but they are focused on being able to respond effectively to that moment with little regard for the past or the future. They are alert and able to adapt to change quickly. This is realism in action. This is a successful leadership skill.

Laura Lopez is a performance strategist, leadership specialist and branding expert with more than 20 years of corporate leadership experience. Most recently, Laura Lopez was a vice president with The Coca-Cola Company. Laura's book, The Connected and Committed Leader, is available via her Web site at www.laura-lopez.com, at your local bookstore or on www.Amazon.com. As the owner of her own business, Laura helps companies and business associations achieve more sustainable business results through the power of leveraging diverse talent with effective leadership and branding. She is available for speeches, workshops and customized programs. Laura can be contacted via her Web site at: http://www.laura-lopez.com.