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9 Core Behaviors Of People Who Change The World For The Better

Look around you and you’ll see three kinds of people – those who dislike their work, and complain bitterly, those who just tolerate their work and see it as a paycheck and aren’t looking for more (or feel they can’t have more), and finally, those who love their work, and relish it. The third category is a small subset of all professionals globally, but this group stands out because these are, most often, the people who change the world for the better.

My work as a career success coach and writer connects me with people who’ve made a true and measurable impact in the world – including well-known experts, authors, researchers, journalists, scientists, innovators, business geniuses, and entrepreneurs. But among this group of world influencers there are also everyday people who have found a special niche in which they’ve contributed at the highest level.

It’s critical to note that people who’ve made a real difference aren’t all privileged, advantaged or “special” by any stretch. Many come from disadvantaged families, crushing circumstances and initially limited capabilities, but have found ways to pick themselves up and rise above these circumstances (and their genes) to transform their own lives and those around them.

Researching these makers, shakers and disruptors, and working with my own clients who shape the world around them in powerful and constructive ways, I’ve observed 9 core behaviors that set them apart – habitual ways of behaving and approaching life and work that distinguish them from those who long to make a difference but can’t or won’t find the way.

The 9 core behaviors of people who positively impact the world:

They dedicate themselves to what gives their life meaning and purpose.

Thousands of people today don’t believe in meaning and purpose as something to discover or pursue in life. But those with positive influence feel otherwise. They have found that there is a purpose to their life, and that purpose usually involves some aspect of turning their “mess into a message,” or using what they’ve learned (often the hard way) as a means of being of service to others. People with a sense of purpose are driven, focused, committed, and lit up from the inside – unable to be deterred or distracted from what they believe is the reason they’re on this planet at this time. This sense of meaning and purpose gives them inexhaustible drive and offers guideposts to follow along the path – it informs them of what they wish to attend to in life, and what they need to walk away from because it doesn’t support their higher purpose.

They commit to continually bettering themselves.

People who impact the world for the better know that they are not perfect. They understand how their knowledge isn’t “complete” – there are always gaps, biases, limitations and prejudices, and new places to go with their expertise.

Yes, there are powerful narcissists aplenty, but their influence isn’t positive or helpful in the long run – it’s damaging and destructive. Innovators who positively shape the world come from a “beginner’s mind” and a loving, compassionate heart – with an openness to see, learn, and experience new things on the way to being a better servant of the world.

They engage with people in open, mutually-beneficial ways.

Those with huge positive influence understand the power of relationships, connection, and engaging with the world openly. They’re not afraid to get “out there” – connecting with others, sharing their knowledge and talents, offering their authentic and often contrarian viewpoints and opinions. They’ve pushed beyond any introversion, shyness or reluctance to be who they are, and have learned how to relate well with others and build mutually-supportive relationships that catapult both parties to a higher level. They know that positive, supportive and authentic relationships are the foundational building blocks to anything and everything they want to achieve.

They invest time and energy not in what is, but what can be.

The people I’ve interacted with and interviewed who’ve made a huge positive impact in the world don’t settle for conformity. When they see something that agitates and disturbs them, they strive to know more, get to the root of the challenge, research and understand the contributing factors, and arrive at new solutions. They observe gaps and mistakes in common thinking and behavior, and trust themselves in their belief that it’s time to push the boundaries of what’s accepted.   They want to affect change because they believe change will bring a better way to live.

They embrace critique.

The most powerful positive influencers don’t need or want to be “right” – they want to grow and be more effective. For that to occur, they walk right into critique, and they embrace challenge. They’re not afraid to put their work out there for others to poke holes in.   They are strong and confident in the face of opposition, yet know how to integrate constructive feedback to strengthen their work and ideas. They engage in open dialogue and welcome scrutiny.

They spread what they know.

We’ve all met authors or “experts” who keep their knowledge secret, close to the vest. They’re afraid to let it out for fear someone will steal it or make money on their ideas. This is the opposite of the positive influencer’s mindset. Those who make a true positive difference can’t help but share and teach what they’ve learned. They don’t see their knowledge as just some commodity to sell, as a meal ticket or a money maker – they see it as information that has to be shared with the world for its betterment. They believe their ideas and innovations are of use and value to others, and can’t help but share those openly, and teach others what they’ve learned. They understand the universal principle at work – “the more you give, the more you get.”

They uplift others as they ascend.

You’ve experienced, as I have, scores of “leaders” and high-achievers who’ve gotten where they are by stepping on the heads and backs of those in the way. These are not true leaders or influencers because their power is a sham – it was obtained unethically and is shallow and weak, and can’t be sustained over the long haul.  I have encountered power-mongers who were crushing and cruel to their subordinates and I wondered when they would finally reap what they’ve sown. Over the long term, this day always comes.

On the other hand, people who positively impact the world not only obtain amazing results in their work, but their process of obtaining these results – how they operate in life — is also inspiring and uplifting. They are happy to help and support others, and have an overflow of positive energy that enriches the lives of everyone they work with and connect with. These positive influencers want others to grow. They walk away from “success-building” opportunities that will be hurtful and damaging to others. They know that those unethical, demeaning or destructive approaches go against the very meaning and purpose they’re committed to.

They view the journey as the goal.

Positive influencers don’t take short cuts or go for the quick buck or easy answer. They don’t view some arbitrary goal or outcome as a destination, because they believe there is no end – it’s all in the journey. It’s about what they’re learning, experiencing, and building that helps others, and for that, there is no defined end point. They embrace failure more readily than others as “information” that guides them. They are more fluid and flexible, and more open to the “how’s” because their ultimate goal is not about upholding their title, salary, reputation, stature or power, but about new ways to help and share what they know.

They use their power and influence well.

Sadly, it’s a common occurrence in business today to witness power and influence being wielded as a weapon. It hurts and destroys. Positive influencers use their power well and wisely. They understand the widespread influence they have, the power they have to build up and elevate, or tear down. Those who impact the world for the better are careful and judicious with their words, actions and behaviors. They care deeply about their leadership and communication process and style, and the influence they have. They take it seriously, as a special honor and responsibility not to be flaunted or misused. They understand their special role, and accept it with grace, compassion, and care.

Are you longing to make a positive impact in the world?  What can you do today to shift your behaviors to make more of a difference?

(To build a more rewarding and impactful career, check out The Amazing Career Project.)

Why You Don’t Invest In Yourself, and 4 Critical Ways to Start – Work You Love Episode 13

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Greetings, and welcome to Work You Love – Episode 13!

My Forbes post this week on The Top 5 Reasons Women Resist Investing In Themselves and How It Hurts Them generated so many powerful comments, emails, questions and reactions (including a radio interview with Charles Adler in Canada!) that I wanted to share my thoughts via video with you on what holds women back from saying YES! to investing in their own growth, and what we can do about it starting today.

Here’s my take:

I’d love your candid feedback. Do you resist spending both time and money on your own development? Why? And what outcomes are you denying yourself because of it?

Please share your candid thoughts and comments below, and most importantly, PLEASE – make an investment in yourself today.

How to Spot a Toxic Individual and Find the Courage To Walk Away Quickly

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One enormous benefit of working with thousands of people each year is that you learn to detect in 10 minutes or less an enormous amount about people – their energy, how they operate in the world, their sense of entitlement, generosity and consideration (or lack thereof), boundaries, degree of self-love, values, worldview and much more.

In my line of work, where hundreds of strangers reach out on the phone or online to connect, I have had to develop the capability to discern who I want to move forward with, and who I need to walk away from quickly, in order to protect myself, my time and my energy. If I fall down on that, I suffer, as do my family, colleagues and clients (and my health and well-being).

I’ve learned to see the red flag warning signs of behaviors I know I need to walk away from, and my list of warning signs might be of help to you too. I need to add that even though I walk away from these toxic individuals without guilt or shame, I endeavor to access love in my heart and deep compassion for them. I’m not cruel, harsh or dismissive (at least I try not to be), but I’m as respectful as I can be. I realize that we’re all doing the best we can every day.

But I do know where I end and they begin, and I know when it’s time to end our connection, and fast.

Below are the top 3 signs that help me know when I’m dealing with a toxic individual, and when to walk away:

1) It’s all about them
I’m astounded by people who call me at all hours of the day and night, without a thought to ask for an invitation to talk about their struggles. They launch right in, not checking in if it’s a good time to talk, and it’s all about them.

These types of people are chronically unhappy, stuck in feeling victimized, lacking in awareness of the impact of their own actions and words and that they are co-creating their problems. They’re often angry, frustrated and highly critical of others, and feel that their problems deserve immediate attention, without regard for the world around them. In other words, they believe that their urgency is your emergency.

Anyone who thinks that life is all about them and that their problems are more important or pressing than anyone else’s needs a wake-up call. But the truth is – you don’t have to be the one to deliver that call. Walk away.

2) They have no regard for your boundaries

In my work as a therapist, I’ve connected with many folks with serious psychological disorders, including severe personality disorders. One such disorder is labeled “borderline personality disorder,” and while I’m not a fan of labels, the hallmarks of this disorder are apparent: there is total lack of personal boundaries, and complete disregard for others’ boundaries. It’s virtually impossible to build a positive, mutually-supportive relationship with people who disregard or violate your boundaries, who won’t take no for an answer, and who don’t t even recognize when they’re walking all over you.

Take a look today at the people in your life – do they respect your boundaries? Do they act appropriately and honor when you assert yourself and say “Yes” or “No?” Or do they continually demand of you what you’re not comfortable to give and what you have said you would not give?

Your boundaries are the invisible barriers that separate you from the world around you. They define who you are, and keep you safe and secure, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Having well-developed boundaries ensures that you are shielded from behaviors and actions that are injurious, disrespectful and invasive. Those with healthy boundaries know their limits and are able to express themselves with quiet strength and authority.

Those with unhealthy boundaries push and pull on you in uncomfortable or aggressive ways, and don’t know when to stop. They can’t regulate their behaviors or language to honor and respect the boundaries of others.

Who is trampling on your boundaries today? (BTW, If you have a narcissistic boss who is treating you terribly, check out my Forbes post on How to Tell If Your Boss Is a Narcissist – And 5 Ways to Avoid Getting Fired By One.)

3) There’s no grace, kindness or appreciation

I’m always pleasantly surprised when I speak to a stranger or potential new client or colleague, and they connect with grace, generosity, kindness and appreciation. It’s a beautiful thing – to be greeted by a gentle voice, a kind, open heart, and sincere appreciation for what you do and who you are.

The flip side of this is when people engage with you in ways that are brusque, inconsiderate, demanding, or disrespectful. Givers – who approach life with a generous, giving mindset – are a true blessing in our lives. Insincere, self-absorbed takers, on the other hand, who are always looking for “what’s in it for me” and critically demand of you more than is fair, appropriate or realistic, need to be led out the door of your life.

How do you walk away from a toxic potential client or partner you’ve just met? Here are a few key tips:

1) Be kind and courteous, but make it clear that an engagement or partnership with this individual or his/her business isn’t a good fit for you at this time

2) Be honest – explain what an ideal partnership looks like and why this isn’t it

3) Be BOLD – Thank them for their time, but explain that you have a set of non-negotiables and standards of integrity that you live by. With love in your heart, share that these non-negotiables are just that – immutable rules that help you thrive. Explain your feeling that your non-negotiables would most likely not be honored in this arrangement, and for that reason, you’d like to leave things as they are and part ways.

Who’s toxic in your life right now? What bold, candid conversation do you need to have today to protect yourself from narcissistic, demanding takers and self-absorbed individuals who can’t or won’t respect or appreciate you?

(To learn more about building a happy, successful career, join my free career breakthrough teleclass on April 9th — Make the Right Career Move Now! And to learn how to develop healthier boundaries, read my book Breakdown Breakthrough and check out my one-on-one coaching services.)

Is Work-Life Balance a Pipe Dream?

Episode 2 of Work You Love

Hello! Welcome to Episode 2 of “Work You Love” – my weekly video blog dedicated to helping you build a successful career you love.

Today’s episode looks at the question of work-life balance, and debunks the myth that seeking balance between your work and your other pursuits is futile.  Understand what gets in the way of balance, and learn concrete strategies for claiming more balance in your life.

Enjoy!

 

 

I hope that’s useful! Please share your candid feedback below – I’d love to hear from you!

If YOU have a burning question pertaining to your career, job or professional life, please share it with me. No question is too big or too small. Ask away, because your query represents that of thousands of other professionals around the world. Your candid exploration and sharing helps others.

CLICK HERE to submit your question, and I’ll do my best to address it in the weeks to come.

Here’s to your breakthrough to amazing career success, happiness and reward.

Kathy

So You Want to Start Something Stupid? Why You Must

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Richie Norton

In my coaching and training work helping women lead more fulfilling lives, I’m asked every day questions like this: “Kathy, do you think this is too stupid an idea?”  or “This may be really crazy, but I’m thinking of…” or my favorite, “My family says this is nuts and will never work, but I’m thinking of…” Thousands of people are wracked with fear, paralysis, and embarrassment (or even shame) when considering if they should pursue something “stupid” that their heart desires most.

But after 10 years of helping people turn “stupid” into amazing, I trust wholeheartedly in the power of starting your own version of something stupid, and have seen how this process turns a mediocre and unsatisfying life into a thrilling one.

I was intrigued, then, to discover Richie Norton’s new book The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen & Live Without Regret, and couldn’t wait to speak to Richie about his ideas and his journey from “stupid” to stupendous.

As I read the book, I was deeply moved by Richie’s personal story of losing his beautiful and perfect infant boy of only 10 weeks, and having to make the unbearable decision not to resuscitate him as the process would only prolong his suffering and in the end, not save his life.  As is often the case when tragedy rips a gash in our reality, we feel forever changed by the loss.  In Richie’s case, his life took on a very real sense of urgency, and he faced the shocking realization that circumstance is completely outside our realm of control.  Not just certain circumstances, but ALL circumstance.  This realization opened the door for Richie to learn the biggest lesson of his life to date, what he calls “Gavin’s Law” (named after his beloved brother-in-law Gavin, who died at 21, just two years before the death of his baby boy Gavin).

Gavin’s Law is this:

“Live to start. Start to live.”

There is so much to learn in Richie’s book, but I want to share here Richie’s 6 steps to making our dreams happen.  From my perspective, this model covers all the key bases, and if you use this as a roadmap to pursuing your crazy, stupid idea, you’ll be on the right track.

The 6 steps to Making Dreams Happen and Living without Regret:

1.  Crush Fear
It’s not the actual circumstances that we should feel threatened by, it’s the fear of the circumstances that poses the real threat. The bottom line is that people with high aspirations are going to experience a proportionately high level of fear. If high aspirations are equal to high fear, then the flip side to that truth is that overcoming high fear is equal to achieving high aspirations. To crush fear doesn’t mean you eliminate it; crushing fear means you literally crush it down into smaller, more manageable parts and tackle one piece at a time.

2.  End Pride

The line between fear and pride is nearly imperceptible. At the heart of pride, is the fear of looking stupid. Pride convinces people to feel justified in quitting because, for prideful people, approval is sought at all costs—even at the cost of success. Prideful people won’t ask for help, they won’t ask questions, and they don’t want to do anything to challenge the status quo. To overcome pride, you must embrace “The Humble Power Alternative” –  lean into your “stupid” ideas, do more than you think you should do, take ownership of your life, don’t blame others for lack of success, and encourage others in their success. There is true power born of humility.

3.  Overcome Procrastination

When we procrastinate, we fill our lives with the tasks that are right in front of us rather than make the concerted effort to leave enough room in our schedules to pursue dreams. Procrastination doesn’t always come in the form of frivolous activities. Often we’re filling our time with good or even essential tasks, but even so, anytime you postpone doing the things that are most important in your life, you are falling victim to procrastination. “Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried” (the slogan of Procrastinators Anonymous). Procrastination must be overcome or it will rob you of the things that could be most significant in your life.


>>TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON FORBES, CLICK HERE<<

There are so many helpful ideas in Richie’s book, including how to evaluate a “stupid” idea to see if it’s stupid smart, or viewing the starting of something stupid as a “project” rather than a do-or-die endeavor, or my favorite tip: making a pact to surround yourself every day only with people who embody the “serve, thank, ask, receive, trust” philosophy.

But what you’ll find most in this book is a powerful reminder that within you is a kernel, the seed of something enormous that others (or your inner critic) will say is stupid, but when honored and nurtured, will show you why you’re on this planet at this time, and why no one else can contribute and make the difference that you can, if you only start.

Are you deeply longing to start something stupid?  What will it take for you to crush your fear and start it today?

(For more about Richie, check out www.richienorton.com and The Power of Starting Something Stupid.  And to gain clarity on the stupid ideas you long to pursue in your career, take my free Career Path Self-Assessment.)

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Finally, gain the self-knowledge, insights and answers you need to improve your career today!

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