In May of 2002 Synergy Strategies was born. It is hard to believe it has been TWENTY years! This month, I wanted to take some time to reflect and share some thoughts from the last 20 years. As you read this, consider how these areas might be relevant in your life and leadership and what inspires you! (Inspiration to me is what I think about, am passionate about, want to learn more about, and constantly seek to deepen understanding and ability to do well).
What inspired me THEN versus what inspires me NOW?
My inspiration then was:
- MAXIMIZING POTENTIAL: I love helping people live and operate at their highest potential. The challenge is to identify what holds them back, design action to remove obstacles, and lean into their strengths, interests, and talents so that together, we can run through the gap to the goal. Coaching is always about where we are, where we want to be, and navigating the gap in-between.
- UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE: Great teams work well together because they understand one another. By using the DISC personality profile and other tools, individuals understand themselves and then take an interest in understanding others. When we understand our natural style, we can better appreciate what comes easy for us as well as the shadows of our strengths. We can judge others for not being as good at something that seems obvious to us but is really an innate strength for us. We can also appreciate our strengths but struggle with the opposite of it, (i.e., someone can be very organized but lack flexibility or very driven but lack patience, etc.). The better we understand ourselves and how we operate allows us to work to our strengths, minimize our shadows, and optimize communication, productivity, and results. This still matters and is an asset for sage leaders to operate at their highest and lead strong performing teams.
- PURPOSE: I believe that we are in a time and place for a purpose. While we sometimes do not understand the bigger story happening in our life, I believe God can work good in all things. This is an important perspective because it helps me see what is possible rather than what is not. It helps me to look for the good rather than sinking into the defeat of the struggle, problem, or something out of my control. In coaching, I believe each person has a purpose and is in their situation for a reason. My desire is for each person to know their gifts and talents to do their best, serve others and add value to advance the well-being of others and the mission of their work/life. When we live on purpose and on mission we have greater energy, focus, and resilience. Purpose gives us clarity through the noise, allows us to find the important over the urgent, and prioritize what really makes a difference.
My inspiration now:
- LEADERSHIP: I have always felt leadership was important. However, over the years in coaching, I have come to understand why. Poor leadership is a lid on others. Working under a lid is painful. Poor leadership skills contribute to a leader being ineffective, not achieving their goals, and creating pitfalls for themselves that could have been avoided.
Additionally, poor leadership creates limitations and confusion for those they lead. As leaders, we have the great honor and privilege to grow ourselves and to create space for those we lead to grow as well. When leaders stop growing, they can get blinded by ego, stumble in a reactionary mode, fail to empower others, and accidentally shut down those they need and hope to advance. Leadership matters because bad leadership is a lid on growth, performance, and transformation. We are all growing and learning until we die. The person who feels they have “arrived” has entered a maintenance mode. Really, since the world is constantly evolving, this means they are in the process of dying, becoming outdated and dull (losing the sharpness needed to be a great leader).
As leaders, we must be rigorous to hold ourselves accountable to a higher standard so that we create space, opportunity, and encouragement for those who follow. Great leaders are always working their way out of a job. There is not a scarcity mindset. Rather, leaders who are committed to growing their hard and soft skills internally know as they rise, they are opening more doors and possibilities for those they lead. As leaders, we must be relentless with our growth, curiosity, and self-care so that we can be resilient, compassionate, and always striving to LEAD UP.
This has become more important than ever before. As the world changes, a top-down, dictator-type leadership style is less welcome and followed. Leaders today must understand cultural shifts, people, and the world we live in to adapt and be agile in the constantly changing landscape of work and life. Leadership is a choice to show up well, follow through on our word, understand our weaknesses, and close the gaps for ourselves, our teams, and whatever we are advancing (work, non-profit, families, etc.)
- COMMUNICATION: Just as great leadership is continuing to be a growing essential skill for people, communication is as well. Great leaders communicate well to support others to use their voice to lead forward, reduce conflicts and advance goals. Over the years coaching on communication has expanded from my original passion for understanding personality and people to include helping people see the value of crucial conversations, accountability, dancing with the ego (speaking so people can hear tough messages), being clear with the feedback needed rather than squishy or ambiguous, and the ability to clearly define, prioritize and move things forward.
Additionally, communication includes how we think and perceive things. It is our ability to be curious, compassionate, and reflective. It is a greater way of being that allows us to communicate effectively. Communication is hard and complex. The more important the messages you want to deliver, the more we realize the challenges of words and how people hear and process information. In addition to the challenge of the human mind being very individual, we also compete with numerous distractions (technology, stress, pressures, etc.), a diminished training in communication (written and verbal skills in school to give and receive), and a shorter attention span of people.
Communication is worth developing. A leader needs growing communication skills to clearly articulate vision, and goals as well as handle crucial conversations (tough conversations, accountability, feedback, and re-design) in a productive way. Even if they are a great communicator, there is always more to learn!
- HUMAN MIND/HEART: The last area I am curious and inspired by is the study of Neuroscience and the heart (HeartMath, etc.). These two fields give great insight into how our mind, heart, and subconscious feelings and thoughts affect how we operate. They affect the lens through which we see ourselves and the world. The better we understand ourselves and how we function, the better we can help ourselves accomplish goals, and lead ourselves and others.
On the one hand, human behavior is very simple and predictable and on the other, each unique human is a masterpiece, special and individually shaped by their experiences and story. Life can be full of punches, hard knocks, and mean people who mock our great ideas and cause us to question or give up on our dreams. Yet, humanity matters. Your heart, ideas, and dreams matter. Life experiences can dissuade us from risk and taunt us to play small because it feels fitting or easier. Challenges can leave us with a hard ego to protect and inaccurate lessons about life. All these inputs can lead us to operate from our mind/intellect more than our hearts.
Is important to access our own wisdom, intuition, and creativity. Our hearts are also where we can have compassion, empathy, and reliance on ourselves and others. Our heart helps us to know when a boundary is needed. It tells us when to rest and recharge. It helps design a healthy way of operating that does not come from a place of brokenness but from health and wholeness. This area of heart health is a growing need of which leaders need to be aware to grow their awareness and experience transformation.
This corresponds to another intriguing area of leadership: the shift from a 2.0 Industrial Era in which we mainly operated with masculine energy, bottom-line results, and performance at all costs to a 4.0 Industrial Era that is guided by feminine energy, leading from the heart, intuition, and compassion. Navigating this shift is required for leaders and humans to access the creativity to innovate, the wisdom to discern priorities and the ability to be resilient. The better we understand the heart and its effect on our leadership, the better we can lead and thrive in our work and lives.
Over twenty years there are many things that are the same, but many things have changed and continue to evolve.
To me, it feels like the past twenty years are a foundation upon which to build and continue a pattern of being curious, learning, and growing. I invite you to journey with me into the future. What are you curious about? Where do you want to grow? What have you always been interested in and continue to see trends, evolutions, or changes? What foundation are you building on? What do you want to be learning about and where will that take you in the next 5, 10, and 20 years?
Here’s to our learning and growth. Thank you for being on this journey with me, whenever you joined me! Each of you is a gift to me. I’m excited for the years ahead as together we learn, develop and advance how we think and operate.