The Value of Authenticity

This last April, my husband and I took a trip to Orlando, Florida and had the opportunity of visiting EPCOT theme park, one of 4 Theme Parks at Walt Disney World Resort that  includes the World Showcase.   The World Showcase is an incredible collection of shops, attractions and restaurants that represent the culture and cuisine of 11 countries:  Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. What I was struck with was how authentic each of these countries were.  Indeed, as we visited each of the countries, people who served us ere actually from that country!  Everything was authentic – the dress, the food, the music, the architecture and the language.  For a few moments, we felt like we were visiting each country (without having to travel there). 

How does this concept apply to our leadership?  Authenticity is one of the most powerful ways that we can build trust as a leader. Think about it.   When you are able to admit your mistakes and honestly share to a fellow team member, you are saying to your team, “You can trust me.”   What can you do today to be a more authentic leader to your team?

Break the task into smaller chunks

If you want to get overwhelmed with de cluttering – then see your office as a gigantic mess with seemingly nowhere to start.   However, if you want to feel like you are taking concrete steps to accomplish your dream of having an organized office – then see if you can do what many project managers say “break the task up into smaller chunks!”  Here are some ways you can apply this philosophy to your office organization:

  •  Start small. Start with one pile – Begin someplace.  Perhaps it is one pile of papers or one filing cabinet or one part of your desk. 
  • Put the timer on for 5 minutes (see previous blog)
  • Celebrate your success!

I hope you got some practical ideas on how to declutter your office…it is a constant battle for some of us.  But these tips work!  Here’s to an organized office!

Commit to doing something 5 minutes a day

I know what you are thinking. How can 5 minutes really accomplish much of anything? You are right – you won’t totally de clutter your office in 5 minutes one day. But 5 minutes over a series of days may get you that much closer to your goal.  Just think, it is 20 minutes in a week (I’m not counting Sundays) – and in a month – you would have organized and de cluttered your office 125 minutes.   But guess what – most likely you will spend more than 5 minutes a day some days.  You’ll get into the groove of the task – you’ll likely want to finish that one pile. Or go through that one folder. Or recycle a bunch of papers… So put your timer on and go for it!

Envisioning your future

Dr. Stephen Covey identifies his 2nd habit in his famous book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” as “Begin with the end in mind” and envisioning the future is a great motivator to get our offices organized!  Here are some ways you can envision your “organized” future:

  •  How will you feel when you have space in  your life?
  • What are some things you envision yourself creating in your “new space?”
  • How will you act relatively to this “new found freedom?”
  • What can you do to continue to keep your office organized?

All the best to you as you “clear the clutter” and stay tuned for my last tip!

Clearing the Clutter

My husband and I have begun a remodeling project and this affords me another opportunity to clean out my clutter in my home office.   For some of you – organizing and de cluttering projects are motivating and fun.   I envy people like you and you can probably skip most of what I will be talking about in this blog. For the rest of us, these types of projects are hard to start, difficult to continue, and even harder to finish.  Here are three things I’ve done to keep me motivated.  Perhaps these will help you:

  1. Think how I’ll feel when I create space
  2. Commit to doing 5 minutes a day
  3. Break the task up into smaller chunks

The next 3 blogs will share some practical actions with each of these tips.

The Daily Discipline of Investing in yourself

John Maxwell, leadership expert and best-selling author and author of his latest book, “The 15 Irrefutable Laws of Personal Growth” talked about the choice we make every day on self-improvement.  As he said, ‘Growth doesn’t just happen – we have to grow on purpose – it has to be intentional.”  One of the interesting things that happened in John Maxwell’s family is that he got an allowance every time he read a book. (See my previous blogs concerning the importance of reading!).

Here is one tip that John Maxwell shares that may be helpful for all of us: 

Proactively schedule self-improvement in your calendar.

I try to think of attending conferences, reading books, talking to mentors, or taking a class as an investment in myself – that I schedule in advance.   How many of us schedule vacations, TV programs, or important social engagements?  How much is it worth to us to schedule those activities that will improve our minds and our professional lives? 

Indeed, if we don’t invest in ourselves –we may be moving backwards. Let us strive to improve ourselves, for we cannot remain stationary; one either progresses or retrogrades.   Mme. Du Deffand

The Daily Discipline of Investing in yourself

The Chick-Fil-A  Leadercast that was held on May 4th of 2012 was all about choices – and how the choices we make will determine the leaders that we ultimately become.  John Maxwell, leadership expert and best-selling author and author of his latest book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” (which will be released October 2012), talked about the choice we make every day on self-improvement. 

I have been thinking of these two issues:  the value of daily discipline and the benefit of intentionally pursuing self-growth.   Let me talk about one of these – the value of daily discipline.  My next blog will focus on the importance of self-improvement. John Maxwell says that the law of diminishing returns comes to play when we aren’t doing something daily.  “We don’t do what we should do – it is less likely that we will do it.”

Anne Ambrose, a pioneer in televised physical fitness and one of the nation’s most successful wellness authorities, (and graduate of California State University, Long Beach – Go Beach!) – recently was quoted in the Spring 2012 issue of Breach Review (the magazine of California State University, Long Beach),  “I make sure I get a good 30 minutes of exercise every single day, getting my heart rate up, stretching and toning.  It could be fast walking one day, yoga the next day, or using light weights.” 

What can you do on a daily basis to increase your effectiveness at work and your vitality in your energy and life?   Reading Anne’s quote, I’ve decided to increase my exercise activity from 3-5 times a week – to every day!   What about you?

Capturing Stories

 If stories can incite an audience to action, then how do we go about getting our stories?  Janice Elsheimer in her book, “The Creative Call,” shares the importance of keeping a “day book.”  I can identify with her sharing that our journals can be our companions and confidants during the most important times of our lives.  “Writers can use their daybooks as a source book for ideas, images, characters, dialogue, and plot for other writing…” 

Jeanne Robertson, a professional speaker who specializes in hilarious humor based on her life experiences, in a session she conducted at the National Speakers Association entitled, “Don’t let the funny stuff get away: turn everyday experiences into speech material that audiences will remember” suggests “jotting down” when something happens and writing up as soon as possible so the stories can materialize.  Indeed, Jeanne Robertson is a consummate story teller herself and is described as “the aunt you can’t wait to talk to at the family reunion, who always has a new story to tell that keeps the whole family in stitches. (The Carlisle Theater, Carlisle, PA).  Read more about Jeanne at her website at


Stories Incite Passion and Action!

Have you ever gone to a meeting where the meeting leader just shared facts and figures?  What do you remember from that meeting?  Perhaps you were able to capture the information but were your emotions stirred?  Were you excited to go act on the information? 


Daniel Goleman in his books on emotional intelligence (Emotional Intelligence, Working with Emotional Intelligence) suggests that it our emotions that guide us and propel us to pursue our dreams.


Next time you are leading a meeting, think about how a short story, anecdote or real-life example can “flesh” out and bring life to the facts that you are relaying. 


Stories help us Connect with others

Another benefit of stories especially telling and hearing stories from others is that stories connect us with each other.  Certainly our lives are a story and we can learn a lot about ourselves, and others, by ‘telling and listening” to stories. By listening to stories, we are providing a safe place for work colleagues, friends and family to be who they really are!  By telling our stories, we provide people an opportunity to get to know ourselves better. 

 Who in your life can you ask to “tell you their story?”  There are hundreds of people in rest homes with real-life stories who just need someone to listen to them.  Who can you tell your story to?  There are people who desire an opportunity to get new glimpses into your own life. 

Each of us has a story.  Each of us is a story. Who will you share yours with?