Leadership: InPower? or EMpower?

With the recent occurrences in our world, I felt compelled to write about the attributes of a true leader in any situation, whether it be in our family, at school, at work, social networks and other places where leadership can elevate or sabotage an event or situation.

In my years of management, I experienced empowering mentors and ineffective mentors.  While the empowering mentors helped me grow, the ineffective ones also taught me a lot about growth in a different manner.

I will share a couple stories that bring out the qualities that make someone ineffective as a leader in an organization, and share other stories that create a spark in the consciousness that make people come alive in a work setting.

file8841263254299I was already a single mom in my 20’s, a budding manager,and excited to help people succeed. I knew I had a lot to learn and looked up to my superiors to teach me the ropes.  What I quickly learned was that not all managers were effective.

Maureen (not her real name) was an experienced nurse in her prime years of care for patients.  She partnered with another nurse and created a successful hospice service to patients experiencing end of life.

Maureen shared with me that the only reason she became a nurse was that she was forced by her parents to choose a profession and that it was mandatory that she attend a prestigious college.  Her decision was to become a nurse because it was the shortest path to gaining a degree that her parents desired for her. This was Maureen’s path.

I attended my interview Maureen and her partner, complete with suit, pumps, and pad and paper for notes. I answered their questions and shared my experience.  I liked the diversity of the two personalities and enjoyed the short conversation.  I walked away from the interview not knowing if I was hired.  Two days later, I received the call:  “You’re hired.”

In my five years with this organization, I created better communication, scheduling practices, and earned the owners’ trust in running the organization in their absence.  But, then the abuse arrived at my door like a thief in the night.

Maureen lived in a world of fear, hatred, and self-doubt.  She was used to gettangry-womaning what she wanted no matter how unrealistic or painful it was for others around her.  She stomped her feat, screamed, and slammed doors.  This was her management style.  The company’s turnover hovered around 75%.  But, I was not a quitter.

I soon became known by my peers as the “whipping post” for everything that went wrong, even though I was not technically overseeing anything, except those I oversaw in a closely controlled, loosely described supervisory role.  I knew this would be the case, but I was just learning and at the bottom rungs of my career.  I could take a little abuse (I had already been there, I thought, with an abusive husband).

One day, Maureen, came to me and openly reversed on a principle that she made known to everyone in the organization.  She told me to do something morally wrong that served her purpose to appear “large” in the eyes of a client, who was well-known in the community.

file4781300045861Humbly, I repeated her principle back to her and she came unglued. Big mistake on my part. Her arms began flailing in the air, her eyes on fire, feet stomping, and her voice raged like the fury of a mother jaguar.  She came at me, all five feet of scrambled wildness to my five foot nine.  She wrinkled her face, lunged up at me, and screamed for over five minutes.  After a minute, it was like hearing the teacher in Charlie Brown cartoons: “wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.”  Then…silence came.  I drew in a deep breath and without a beat,  calmly asked her if she was finished and said, ” Thank you, may I get back to work, now?”

Maureen spiraled around in a fit of flames, stomped to her office and flung the door shut, creating a jarring slam that I am convinced woke the dead.   Nothing was resolved, and I was still sitting with a dilemma that could have lost us a very valuable account.

This was my first experience with a manager who had no respect for herself or others. She never took time to understand a person or situation before losing her true identity as a caring person (who was, sadly, lost).  There is more to this story, but I digress and put this one on a shelf to tell you about an effective manager.

About ten years later, I was hired as a manager to an international organization that provided internal service to hospitals.  I worked for seven years before making it to corporate management.  Just prior to getting there, I was under the direction of a boss who looked out for people. He helped them become successful.  He asked their opinions, offered engagement in processes.  He valued the people who worked with him. He went by the name Garvey.

Garvey took time with me when I was frustrated that I could not get buy-in from the teams on some of my projects.  He taught me about people and the importance of meeting them where they are.  Further, he saw something in me that I knew, but never really took it to heart.

Garvey asked me, “Do you believe that leaders are created or born?”  I truly believed that leaders could be both.  I believed there were leaders who were ineffective – think Hitler – and those who empowered others -think Mother Teresa.   Garvey and I got along quite well, and he became my professional mentor.  He helped me learn how to take over his job.  I came from the same school of thought – teach others to be at least as successful as me.

One day, I was called into Garvey’s conference room “office.” He traveled to multiple locations within the region.  He said, “shut the door and lock it behind you, we are going to have a discussion.”  Needless to say, I was very concerned. Very…

“Kat,” Garvey said, “I want you to know some things about your management style and what you do with your skills.” Now, I was seriously contemplating handing him a resignation.  “You possess the skills of a leader that I have not seen in a long time.”  As I wiped the sweat from my brow and shook my head, I felt myself looking around to see who he was talking to.  I relaxed into the conversation.

Garvey was talking in a very serious manner.  He had my attention.  “You will be the next regional manager,” he said.  I was speechless.  The silence felt like hours.  I gulped and responded, “But, Garvey, I have no formal degree, or any accounting background, or…”

“Stop,” he said.  “Hear me out. You possess the qualities of a good leader.  You’re not perfect, but you know it.  You set a standard, hold people accountable, but teach them how to be successful. These are the signs of a true leader in my book.”

I nearly cried to hear these words, especially since I recalled the prior conversation when he informed me of his belief that leaders were born.  He really believed that!  So, I sucked up my “girliness” and choked back the tears.  I began to feel my confidence rise with his words.  I felt like I had real purpose in this huge company where employee’s ambitions easily became homogenized, for lack of solid managers to support them.

Later in the year, Garvey retired, and the next director called me into his office.  He said the familiar words I learned about leadership, and I was promoted to the next regional manager -over thirteens states.  My time with Garvey, and other effective mentors along the way, had been fruitful.  I put in the work and it paid off.

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Today, I  have learned so many lessons: from others, and my own shortcomings, as well as the celebrated successes in life and business.  I am now an empowered woman in her golden years, still leading with my love for people and helping them get to a place that brings empowerment to their own lives- a place of happiness and freedom.  I am ever so grateful for the people like Maureen and Garvey who taught me so much about the person I’ve always wanted to be.

 

 

When we empower ourselves, we have completed our own  basic need for attention, the need to feel validated or heard.  We begin to see ourselves in others’ eyes, seeing our own places of opportunity while being grateful to be in the presence of these teachers in our lives.

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Nurturing Voices to be Heard

Kat is a Professional Core Alignment Mentor who specializes in the art and science of NeuroLinguistic Programming and Emotional Wisdom Training.

She has helped many people realize their own potential, improve parenting, build confidence, respond more wisely to stress, and more.

Kat’s practice spans the globe for English-speaking people.  Her passion is helping people awaken the light of wisdom within themselves to live a life of joy.

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Contact:  info@taprootsforlife.com

Site:  https://taprootsforlife.com

 

 

 

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The Silver Lining of my Soul

This week, I was blessed with a visit from a young lady, named Bella, who is about to start her life in the adult world.  She expressed her fears of becoming an adult.  Bella’s fears were simple and reminiscent of when I was her age.   I listened intently as her youthful light shone through her eyes.

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While Bella was excited to step out into the life she had created so far, she was terrified of “growing up.”  Bella feared responsibility and independence because it seemingly lacked freedom from this young view.  She had seen so many of her friends fail at the forefront of their careers and family life.  Bella saw the struggles of her married friends as young parents trying to make ends meet. It all seemed so confining from experiences of life she lived as a child.

But, Bella lent me some insight to her worries,  because I began to recall the same worries at her tender age, and, now in my late 50’s those fears and obstacles were shadows of the past.  However, this young curious woman gave me a new view:  There is more information for this generation than ever before.  Information that can assist them in taking short cuts:  blogs, search engines, libraries, videos, and…the wisdom from their elders.

When Bella came to me, her words made me realize that I had grown into my own wisdom that she sought for herself.  I was flattered.  As we emerged from our chat, mentor to client, we began our curious conversation toward her new outlook on life.

It is to young Bella, I dedicate the poem I wrote this morning.  These words for the little wisdom I had when I was young, facing one tragedy after another; yet, it was not all for nothing as I realized much later in life.

My life and its striving moments has meant something.  And now I see the great moments that have brought me courage, curiosity, and a new vigor for life.  I share this with Bella and see a bright future where she will share the same to inspire others.

I hop0f0d060d4e0cb3ce3c17409e4246694ee this poem will inspire you in some way with just a thought that will bring light to your day.

In my youth, I would fear:
That I will grow old
My body will falter
My hair will  gray
My eyes will  fail
My hearing will wane
I will walk bent over
My hands will tremble
My face will sag
I will forget things
My speech will lag.

In my Golden Years I Know:women-1013116_1920
There’s a new world each day
Filled with hope and surprise
I am thankful for each moment
My eyes are able to see
I am grateful for each day
I feel and I love
I find joy in seeing youth grow
In my heart and in my soul
My body is not important
Because my spirit flows free

The young person in me only saw the outer cover of the core of who I was.  I wanted things, I saw things, I feared things.  There was a lack of love for myself, confidence was low, and my vision was cloudy.   I felt I deserved nothing, but if I looked good no one would notice…never leaving the house without a smile, or nice clothes, or showing up with make-up being perfect, covering the internal…and external…bruises.

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I walked through life only as a shadow of what the world brought to me.  I would react to its harshness,  because, truthfully, my ego was on a mountain shouting its anger and fear.  I traded dignity for ways to be heard and acknowledged, attempting to feel fulfilled.  Life brought some really tough lessons, because I did not really pause to listen to my inner wisdom.  To listen to that voice that had been telling me that this is not who you really are.

Mother Nature and the world around saw where I was headed, and it was disastrous.  Failed relationships, lack of direction, no faith in any higher power. I was broken and felt alone.  My children suffered, my parents suffered, my friends left me, and I was alone in the darkness with my empty self.

The only hope I held was that my children, and grandchildren to follow, would not suffer as I did.  I would educate them on what they should and should not do.  I would shelter them from harm at any diversion in the road of life.

But…as I grew older, I began to understand that life is what you create.  When my children left home to live their own lives, I began to ponder what was important. What would my life now look like?  How would I now shelter my children and my grandchildren from the harm of making rash decisions?

I didn’t know what that life looked like until I learned that my entire life had already been lived from my soul.  Many times I did not recognize it for the shadows of my superficial material world.  It was important to me to look good, even though I was living in a vacuum of self-destruction.  I drank, disrespected my body, slept a lot, and starved myself of self-love and respect. I was unhappy with my life, unhappy with me.

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My experience of knowing the wisdom and living it and, knowing the wisdom and rejecting it was the key to the answer of how I lived my life to this day.  The days that I rejected my own wisdom were the days that were so dark and so dreary that I could not see the truth in myself.  The truth that I was a loving, deserving, confident single mother, who loved life and the people in it.  At the time, I missed the message.

My children were my hope for the future.  But, what was I teaching them?  It was a long road of self-discovery.  I sought the wisdom of a Catholic priest and I scheduled counseling for myself and children.   My children had become my teachers.  I did not always make wise decisions for them, and we all learned the hard way.   I began to observe their behaviors at school, with their friends and at home.  This life wasn’t what I wanted for them.

One evening, I found myself in a bar that was, well, not a very reputable place for men, let alone women.  The women who visited this place were hard, did time, and drank…a lot.  I had become friends with the bar tender because I had become her confidante for her personal and work life problems.  People at this place somehow thought I had it “all together, ”  to trust me with their hard luck stories. I didn’t care, I just wanted someone to talk to.  Anyone, just anyone who didn’t need a diaper change, a medical treatment to breathe (a son with Cystic Fibrosis), or want something more than I could provide.

As I sat there on the bar stool talking with Mel (Bartender),  a “old” grade school buddy sat beside me.  He sat in silence for awhile without addressing me.  We were classmates at a Catholic grade school.   Finally, Bill looked over at me, as he gulped down a swig of beer.  “Girl, what are you doing here?”  I responded with my cheeky answer, “having a beer, why?”  Bill looked at me with his concerning brown eyes, “Sweet girl, you do not belong in a place like this.  Come with me.”  I felt ashamed and allowed Bill to lead me out the door.

Bill drove me to his home, nearby.  He poured a glass of wine and we toasted to old memories.  At the end of the short evening, he leaned over and looked me closely in the eyes.  “Will you promise me that you will never go back to that place, again? You deserve better.  Your kids deserve a mom who is there for them. You are not that kind of a girl.”

Bill squeezed my shoulders in a deep, loving hug – like a father would give.  I left Bill’s place that night, wondering what it was that I was missing.  I was so confused about who I was, I wasn’t raised this way.  I left that evening, however, with a sense of comfort, knowing that my  true friends looked out for me when I most needed it.  Bill was such a friend.

Prior to that evening, I had many opportunities to wake up and pull it together, but it was Bill’s words that stung so hard “you are not that kind of a girl.”  What kind of girl had I become?  As I repeated the thought in my head, it ran deeper and deeper into my core so deep that I cried for hours over what I was really doing versus who I knew my self to be.  I had been wandering down a path of fire on both sides, wavering from side to side in a state of subconscious regret, fear, anger.  It was burning me up alive, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

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Bill saved my life that night.  There were so many ways I could have gone, but I finally listened to the words that I had heard over and over at that god-forsaken bar.  But, because Bill and I were friends, it became glaringly clear to hear it from his mouth.

It was not long after my seemingly coincidental visit with Bill, that I began to pull my life together.  I was not only dressing nicely on the outside, I took care of my inside (my soul).  My mind had somehow relaxed when I accepted what I heard from Bill.  It was all, by no means, a mistake or coincidence.  I began to listen to my surroundings and become aware of what was falling down around me.  I was realizing that I was responsible for my own future, this current life didn’t have to be this way.

As my mind became clearer on what I wanted, events began to occur.  I was referred by my former boss to another company and my career began to take off.  My confidence began to strengthen, I was smiling more.  Conflicts did not seem to bother me, as they once did.

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My successes became more frequent, my children were happier, I met a loving man.  These were miracles that came to my life with just one conversation and tuning my attention to what was really important to me.

I did not do this all alone, however.  I can not imagine taking on such a personal growth without guidance from someone who really cared about my welfare.  I found ways to afford counselors, coaches, and massage therapists.  I wanted to bring holistic approach to the value of my healing.

Even now, as I move toward 60 years old, I seek coaches and mentors who bring a holistic approach to my ongoing journey as a confident, loving, and caring wise woman who wants the same for everyone on this planet.  I have learned that no one is broken, they just have different information; and, gathering information gives us the best chance in making the best possible decisions for our lives as we are all learning how to live from our souls.woman-570883_1920

So, Bella, as you read this message, I smile and see your bright and shiny future that lies ahead like a diamond lit path.  There will be flaws in the diamonds, but it is there you will find your strengths and truths.  Ask questions, be curious, for it is also there that you will find your wisdom within.  It is in those moments that we truly shine in our vulnerability, standing out with love in our heart, that we find the silver lining to our soul’s purpose and speak from our voice of wisdom.

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Kat is a Professional Core Alignment Mentor who specializes in the art and science of NeuroLinguistic Programming and Emotional Wisdom Training.

She has helped many people realize their own potential, improve parenting, build confidence, respond more wisely to stress, and more.

Kat’s practice spans the globe for English-speaking people.  Her passion is helping people awaken the light of wisdom within themselves to live a life of joy.

taproots-for-life-logo-medium-web

 

Contact:  info@taprootsforlife.com

Site:  https://taprootsforlife.com