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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I Got a Rock…

Most of you are familiar with a famous cartoon character named Charlie. On Halloween, Charlie and his friends step up to the neighbor’s door and yell, “Trick or Treat!”  The neighbor tosses  various sizes and shapes of treats into their bags. As they move away from the door, the kids begin to size up what treats they received. “I got gum, I got chocolate…!”
halloween-1773447_1920Lastly, Charlie says quietly with disappointment, “I got a rock.”   This not only happens once, but three times!  And, with equal tone and doom, Charlie begins to personify the heaviness of the drop in his bag.

In life, we meet many Charlies that could relate to this unlucky Halloween experience.  Do you see the friend at work who always gets overlooked for a promotion? How about a sister or brother who thinks that the cycle of not being included will never end? Or the boss who never sees the good things you do? Do you see a wee bit of yourself in Charlie?

Charlie tried to see the positive in life, yet doom seemed to follow him everywhere. Even his dog made fun of him.  What was missing from Charlie’s life that all his friends seemed to have mastered?

On the outside, we seem to do a good job of masking our feelings that occur deep inside us.  For Charlie, even his Halloween costume portrayed his internal woe of doom.  His ghost sheet full of holes screamed, “I am a failure!”  It reflected how he carried himself in his outer world.  If you know of someone who can relate, they could be wearing the same costume without realizing it. But there is hope!

Each of us possesses a core mindset where we can choose to feel like a rock or a gem. When we are able to develop this new type of thinking,  we can learn from our”rock,” about what we portray, what we say, how we say it, what we see as constant gloom and doom, the types of friends we attract, failure, lack of focus.

When we embrace our emotional existence, we can learn to move our internal negative self-talk from a rock to a gem with language changing to positive:

” I constantly say I’m a failure” to “I am a winner;” or ” I don’t make a lot of money;” to “I am grateful to have a roof over my head and food in my stomach.”

The “rock language” changes to “gem language.”The gem we create and embrace becomes who we are truly meant to be: loving,  giving, thankful creatures of the planet.  diamond-2028549_1280

We begin to feel more beauty in our space, opportunities open up, we smile more, people take notice. We see simple things for the first time that are simply beautiful!

So! The next time you are thrown a rock, what will your choice be?  Rock or Gem?harvest-moon-1828012_1920

Pardon me, as I stir my tea with a stick of rock candy…(beastly howl!Bwahaha!!).

                         Happy Halloween!

HippyKat

Kat Kohler Schwartz is a Core Alignment Mentor and founder of Salt of the Earth Holistic Wellness in St. Louis, MO, USA.

Kat mentors women who face difficult challenges in life which include relationships at home, work, and socially.  She specializes in Neuro Linguistic Programming and Emotional Wisdom Training.

She offers phone mentoring, group sessions, and face-to-face with aromatherapy and energy work.

Contact:  livingmywisdom@gmail.com  or call 314-359-2467

 

 

 

 

Some Day I’m Going to…

By Kat Kohler Schwartz                                                                                                                 Founder/Core Alignment Mentor at Salt of the Earth Holistic Wellness, LLC

Have you ever caught yourself looking at lists of classes online that you always wanted to take? Like pottery, writing, carpentry, or painting? Or it might be a place you always wanted to visit. Like the majestic, snow covered mountains in Switzerland, or the sandy, serene beaches of the Caribbean. Or, perhaps, you just want to relax and catch up on all the books you’ve always wanted to read.

What is important to you that you are not doing right now?

I was helping a friend, Christine, move some seasonal clothes from the basement to the upstairs. We stopped for a moment at her sewing room while she showed me her latest projects. They ranged from clothes for the grandkids to the beautiful quilt she had been working on.

As I gazed around the room I could not help but notice the piles and piles of fabric in various patterns and colors of blue, red, bright greens and shades of yellows. She had them stacked in bags, totes, and proceeded to open a large storage closet packed with more bolts and folded pieces of fabric. It was overwhelming to me.

I had to ask, “Christine, what are you going to do with all of these gorgeous pieces of fabric?” She smiled, looked down at the open work on the table, and responded, “Well, after I get done with these three projects, some day I will get around to those projects,” as she pointed to the stacked containers. She had enough material to keep her going for the rest of her life and mine combined!

Knowing that Christine had always been a resourceful person, it seemed important for her to have these sewing projects. It exercised her mind, her body, and her drive. Sewing kept her alive inside. Her husband had fallen ill and she could not get outside their home like she used to. They were aging, but Christine still had the spark of dreaming. However, she had satisfied herself by doing things she liked without leaving home.

Becoming interested in how she thought about the state of things at home, I asked her, “What else do you want to do?” Sheepishly, she answered, “I’d like to travel, some day, or take up yoga, Tai Chi, or pottery.”

As she uttered those words, “some day,” again. I suddenly became aware that I have heard those words quite often among friends, in family discussions, in the workplace, and, well…I’ve heard it a LOT! Realizing that Christine had just turned 81, I curiously asked, “What does ‘some day’ mean to you?”

Again, she smiled, but this time reflected on my question a bit longer. Christine sat quietly for a moment, then responded, “Well, I guess I’ve run out of ‘some days’ haven’t I?” Chuckling, she looked up at me from her chair, her hazel eyes still twinkling. Slowly, her face became very solemn and she gazed down at her sewing work. She was feeling the reality of her limited time left on this earth. I touched something deep inside her….and me.

Christine’s response stopped me in my tracks. “Some day” was a phrase that I had used often. Some day I will lose weight, some day I will sing with a choir, some day I will take up yoga, some day I will meditate, some day I will visit places I’ve never been. Yes, I wanted the some of the same things as Christine, but I wanted much more than to still be dreaming it when I age to 80 years old. I wanted it to become reality. Christine’s message was a gift.

What do you mean when you say those words, “some day?” I’ve heard them in many a conversation at the water fountain at work, or standing in line at the coffee shop. So, what emotions do you notice when you say these words? What do they mean? Are you willing to explore the reasons for what keeps you from your dreams?

I know that I never want to run out of “some days,” so I now show up for myself when those words haunt my mind. I think of Christine, dreaming all of her 81 years and now the reality of her dreams has become limited. Knowing that my days could end tomorrow or next week keeps me motivated to continue to work towards those things I put off for “some day.”

In fact, I no longer say those words. I owe it to myself. Dreams do come true…

What is important to YOU?

What dreams are you holding onto for “some day?”

 

Kat Kohler Schwartz is a Core Alignment Mentor and founder of Salt of the Earth Holistic Wellness.

“I bring light from dark situations to create a sacred place of peace that is rooted in the heart.”

Kat practices Neuro Linguistic Programming and Emotional Wisdom Training.

She offers group workshops in the U.S. and worldwide phone sessions. Contact: livingmywisdom@gmail.com 314-359-2467

Honor Thy Cat’s Gifts!

Cat owners will appreciate the humor in this story:

Muffy whips out the door, at midnight when Margie takes the dog out for his last squat.  “Great! Now I have to find the cat,” she rants. Margie spent hours calling her name, tapping the food can, in hopes that the fluffy white puff ball would tip toe over the threshold, as she usually did.  But, no. It’s now past midnight, and Margie, with only 4 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours, is now beside herself  that little Miss Muffet just had to take a hike on this night!moon-182145_1920

Clambering back to her bedroom, desperate for just a piece of sleep, Margie  finds herself tossing and turning,all night, worrying about Muffy.  Could she be stuck in a pipe somewhere? Did she get hit by a car?  Did a rabid fox get her?  Eventually, Margie collapses into sleep out of worried exhaustion.

Early the next morning, Margie realizes that she fell asleep and Muffy was still out there… in the wilderness of the summer nights.   She bolts out bed, grabbing her robe; she hooks up the dog to his leash and heads for the door.  “Got to find Muffy before the kids wake up and find out,” she mumbles in a frantic fumble to unlock the door, her eyes sagging and red.

Margie opens the door, slips on one clog and steps forward with bare foot bouncing her big toe around to slide into the other shoe.  Hopping on one foot, balancing the dog’s leash, and a shred of dignity, her bare foot lands on something that does not quite feel like the soft shoe she anticipated, but this soft, squishy, a bit wet, piece of yuk.  Margie knows what it is, as it is all too familiar.

KakaoTalk_20150326_205625070Muffy, in all her glory, shows up at the front door,
attentively  tip-toeing back and forth, vying for her attention. “Meow, meow, meow,”she attempts to cue Margie’s smile in her flirtatious mews.  But no smiles, today. Margie looks down and sees that her dear little Muffy has brought…well… a gift, albeit a strange one, as she lifts her foot, stuck with mouse, and gags.

“No no, kitty!” she screams, kicking the mouse across the front lawn. Yes, it is the sacrificial field mouse.  Muffy has spent all night looking for the very special one, just for her stressed out owner.  Margie, in her haste,scowls at the dog, as he has one furry foot in the air; and, yanks him back.

Margie carefully hops backwards scraping off what is left of Mickey, and, heads back into the house, grabbing Muffy by the scruff on the way in.  Door slams and so the story of the day begins.

What did you notice about this story?  Is there anything familiar that you can take away?

For cat owners,  gifts from the cat are a very special occasion.  They may hunt for hours to bring back their prized sacrifice from the wild.

In our human-ness, it is often easy to overlook what others bring to us, as a gift.  Whether it is a lesson, a shared talent, or even shared time.  They are gifts of the heart.

More importantly, it is our life journey that we discover, recognize and utilize our  own gifts.  These, sometimes hidden, talents are born from our mind and soul, and are delivered when our body shows up to bring them outward to our world.

When one is able to relax the mind by accepting the current emotions, accepting what is, loving what is, and having an attitude of gratitude, one is able, easily, to see the gifts within the heart; and, to recognize when others bring us gifts….such as Muffy’s very special drop at the front door.

How does one get to this point?  There is so much information on the web, in books, papers, etc.!  How do people corral all of this information to pull their inner wisdom and know where their gifts lie? Yoga, meditation, go to the spa, eat this brain food, take this supplement, stand on your head.  It is insane, you say!! 021_pp

Every ounce of my being says, “You…are…Correct!”  Inner wisdom has nothing to do with what we learn in books, how we meditate (although there are benefits to that), or even how much we rely on the internet for our answers to the “how-to’s.”

And the answer is (drum roll please)…..wisdom comes from your heart!

When our mind is in total alignment, we are well-grounded , we think positive thoughts. Our heart begins to speak in us and through us in ways we never thought we could imagine.

From the practice of bringing alignment emerges our gifts.  Our gifts of who we are, what is our true purpose for our life on this beautiful earth.  This IS your heart and living from YOUR heart.

Next time your little Muffy brings a “gift,” won’t you view it just a little differently?  View it with L-O-V-E!

HippyKat  Kathleen “Kat” Kohler Schwartz is a Core Alignment Mentor and owner of Taproots for Life (NEW).  Kat practices Emotional Wisdom Training and Neuro Linguistic Programming to help women realize their inner voice toward living a happier, more fulfilling life.

Kat conducts her sessions over the phone and is available worldwide for English speaking clientele.

Available by appointment only-                                                         E-mail: info@taprootsforlife.com

Visit her website:  https://taprootsforlife.com