Thursday, December 8, 2011

I had no choice...

It's been awhile since I have blogged and I'm feeling a bit guilty about it. I realize the importance of staying in touch with people and yet for a variety of reasons, I end the day with a long list of items that are not checked off my list. I usually comfort myself with...'Well, I had a very busy day and I had no choice'.

Then today I read Seth Godin's blog (he seems to find the time to write something meaningful every single day!). The title of his blog today is 'No Choice'....and yes, it hit me right between the eyes. I'll quote just a bit of what he says:

"Remarkable work often comes from making choices when everyone else feels as though there is no choice. Difficult choices involve painful sacrifices, advance planning or just plain guts. Saying you have no choice cuts off all options, absolves responsibility and is the dream killer."

So while it's early for New Year's resolutions, I'm going out on a limb today to make just one...I'm no longer going to say 'I had no choice'. If I no longer say it, then I will, over time, quit thinking it. Instead I plan to take charge of my choices, regardless of how difficult it may be.

What could you accomplish simply by choosing to take control of your 'choices' today....tomorrow...and each day thereafter?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ATHENA International Leadership Day

Today is ATHENA International Leadership Day. In communities all over the world established and emerging women leaders are meeting and connecting. In today's world of emails, text messages, Skype and video conferencing why should we connect face to face? Aren't most of us 'virtually connected'?

So why do ATHENA Leaders think it's important to actually bring women together to connect? One definition of connecting is to 'bring together or into contact so that a real or notional link is established'. Another is 'to establish a rapport or relationship'. ATHENA brings women leaders together to establish a relationship.

Is establishing a relationship enough? I recently read that women don't use professional networking opportunities to their fullest advantage. So while establishing a relationship is a great start it's important to have a focused leadership.

ATHENA Leaders are coming together today, this very hour, to discuss leadership. And more specifically, the ATHENA Leadership Model. They are connecting over conversations about authenticity, collaboration, relationships, continuous learning, fierce advocacy, courage, giving back and celebrating each others successes.

Today we celebrate with every established and emerging woman who gather as ATHENA Leaders to connect with each other to engage in conversations about leadership. Today, relationships will be formed and the next generation of leaders will be energized, motivated and ready to develop their own leadership potential.

If you did not have an ATHENA International Leadership Day event today contact us and we'll help you create a significant forum for connecting women leaders in your community.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Building Relationships...What does it mean for you?

from guest contributor ~ Bridget Glavaz, ATHENA International Board Director

Recently, I was enjoying a breezy morning with a power walk. As I was walking my regular path, I noticed a middle aged man walking into local church. He had a t-shirt on with the words ASPIRE across the front. I recently became familiar with ASPIRE OF ILLINOIS through a volunteer opportunity, so I approached him and commented that I too was familiar with ASPIRE. What I knew for sure is ASPIRE is a leader in services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. ASPIRE’s goal is to help people with developmental disabilities achieve their highest potential where they live, work or play. ASPIRE assists adults to find their first job, through relationships built in the community.

Bruce seemed like a shy person, and as we began talking, I realized Bruce was in fact a person with a disability. He mentioned by name all the people he worked with at ASPIRE and all the good ASPIRE did in the community. He specifically mentioned Jim Kales, CEO of ASPIRE of Illinois and how Jim personally made an impact on his life. As I stopped and listened, I realized Bruce simply wanted to be heard.

As I continued my walk, and reflected on what just transpired, it was a reminder to me how every person wants to feel important. We all want to be affirmed and know we matter. Perhaps it’s the common denominator we all share.

The simple act of listening to someone’s story and being interested in what is important to them forges a very strong connection. What I noticed with Bruce is as he spoke about ASPIRE he would look up and his eyes would light up and his energy seemed to pick up. It was as though by listening and showing interest, I was validating was important to him for that moment of time.

We all want our own stories to be important. We want our lives to mean something. It is sad how many times I hear people trying to express what’s important to them and it goes completely unacknowledged. Usually this is because the person who could be listening believes that they are too busy to take the time to listen. Has that ever happened to you? How many times has someone asked you if you had a great weekend to make small talk yet does not truly care one way or the other?

Effective and authentic leaders build relationships. They genuinely take the time to listen and connect. They reach beyond status and self-interest in search of meaningful connections. Great leaders take the time to listen; they are making large deposits in the relationship bank. People like people — and are more likely to follow — those who help them feel good about themselves. A simple, yet powerful act.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Do you flex?

It's all about flex time. I'm a believer in it. Have been for years....way before it became popular. That may be because I had a boss who used to stand at the door looking at his watch and personally monitor everyone's arrival and departure time at work. And yes, I rebelled a bit before eventually replacing him. I did not believe that there was something magical about an 8 - 5 work schedule that was supposed to make me more effective!

I just read an article by Melissa J. Anderson called The Future of Work Life Fit Anderson interviewed Cali Yost, CEO and Founder of Work+Life Fit, Inc. who says that flex scheduling is more the norm than it was in 2006 for both men and women.

Yost suggests that the next step is to take flexibility to the next level of effectiveness by changing the mindset from it being an 'employee benefit' to a 'business strategy'. She states that employers are recognizing that flex schedules improve business and people who work flexibly produce the same amount of work as before.

Flex time is not just for women who are trying to balance motherhood and working. It's for men and women who recognize that living a full life requires integration of career and personal.

I'm still a believer...ATHENA staff can choose their own work schedule and we all work primarily from home. We do all come into the office on one day each week in order to meet and stay connected. It's not always easy as it has required us to develop ways to communicate effectively with each other but it works.

Do you flex? Tell me your story...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Becoming the 'real deal'....

From Jan Davies McDermott in Michigan ~

My two cents; It seems that mirror into the soul can be a good place to start to make change. Examining the truth about who you are, what you want, and how to achieve it can be heart wrenching questions.

I like to think about it like planning a vacation:

Set goals - Follow your passion to the place you dream.

Identify objectives - Pursue the people who are or have been there who can help you identify the actions you need to take to get there.

Plan - Create one. Goals that are written are more frequently achieved than those that are not.

Focus - Execute the plan, consistently moving forward down the path with purpose

Bring balance - Recognize it is more often the journey that will be memorable and chronicled, rather than the destination.

Share - Help others' future better with your experience and wisdom .

Jan's comments mirror one of the ATHENA Leadership Model principles ~ Living Authentically. States ATHENA Founder, Martha Mertz, "A leader can't possibly inspire someone else unless they know themselves well and are living in harmony with their values."

Have you ever examined the truth about yourself? Are you willing to look into that mirror?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is your mentor the 'real deal'?

Thanks to Patty Bean who commented on yesterday's blog. She states....

I like this quick blog as it makes me realize that looking in the mirror or "personal self doubt" can be the most destructive. So, this makes me ask, who is your mentor? Have you spoken to her and found out how she got there? Did she "fake it till she makes it" or is she the real deal?

So to mentees - what do you see when you look in the mirror? And, is your mentor 'the real deal'?

And to mentors - what is your story? Are you 'the real deal'?

I'll post responses....

Monday, February 28, 2011

Glass Ceilings and Self Doubt

A recent survey "Ambition and Gender at Work" by Europe's Institute of Leadership & Management found that almost three-quarters of women believed a "glass ceiling" exists, barring them from senior roles.

They surveyed 3,000 male and female managers and found that 'lack of confidence in their abilities and lower career expectations are holding women back' as almost half of the women surveyed admitted feelings of self doubt.

What about you?

Do you have feelings of self doubt?

Have you created a personal glass ceiling?

How will you break that ceiling?