When I work with leaders the issue of stress is front and center of many coaching conversations. Adults have a lot on their plates, and COVID-19 has made it much worse. Well-being is emerging as the #1 issue for workplaces because leaders are finally starting to realize that people-first strategies are what they need to be successful in the ever-changing marketplace. It is almost impossible to be creative or productive if you do not have your physical, mental, or emotional health.
This leadership coaching video explains some of the reasons why it is important to have fun and enjoy life – even if you have to make the time and an effort to do it!
You May Have Doubts
With all the stress that many of us have been under lately, you might be doubting the importance of fun, but let remind about a few “fun” facts:
Fun is the ultimate stress-reliever
Fun bonds people together
Fun makes you more interesting
Fun is the the ultimate Fountain of Youth
Try your own tests at home. I give my clients assignments to have fun all of the time. Why? Because it puts them in a stronger place to solve problems, work through challenges and develop creative solutions. Fun can also repair relationships.
6 of the Most Powerful Happiness Tools: Gratitude, Movement, Play, Purpose, Self-Love, and Kindness.
Blue the Bee Learns to be Happy (free download)
A few colleagues and I published Blue the Bee Learns to Be Happy, an activity guide for happiness in 2018. It takes the science of happiness and turns it into games and tools designed to help increase levels of positivity. You can use it as an individual with your family or even with teams at work.
If you need more than the video or the book, please contact us for additional resources or personalized coaching. We are committed to helping 100,000 leaders create greater purpose and prosperity for people and our planet, and fun is one of the ways in which we are achieving this big, hairy, audacious goal!
I am an Independent for a number of reasons and usually don’t support candidates because I truly don’t know them that well.
Here in Nebraska, there is a candidate I do support. Her name is Janet Palmtag, and she is an entrepreneur, inventor and true leader. Janet is a total maverick who bought a house and a plane – without permission from anyone! She has also always graciously helped me whenever I needed support.
Now, she is once putting her business acumen and leadership skills to work in the political arena, and I am completely jazzed about her being in office! She has always been a great example of setting your mind to something and then doing it.
I have known Janet for a long time, and she has always been a champion for people, small businesses, and positive progress. Janet helped support our entrepreneurship club when I worked in Nebraska City, took the time to meet with students when I was with the Rural Futures Institute and has always been there to provide support, guidance and advice. She not only understands the challenges in rural communities-she turns them into opportunities!
Janet Palmtag is one of the strongest and most honest leaders I know.
Our team interviewed Janet for the Rural Futures Podcast. You can listen to episode 30 with Janet by clicking on the link below:
The main idea of this post was originally shared in on Memorial Day in 2014. I wanted to share it again in the time of COVID. While it is true that we find ourselves in challenging and uncertain times, we can get through it. I am also sharing this post because the ideals Ewing Marion Kauffman shared with the world were very helpful to me when deciding whether or not to leave my twenty-five year career. His words ran through my head a million times, and I ultimately decided not to be content with what someone thought I was worth – especially when it was $158,000 less than the man who held the position before me.
I don’t believe the demise of the United States is an inevitable outcome. I believe there are many futures, and we have to decide which one we are going to choose. The politics of this whole COVID situation are very real, so make your own decisions about how you want to live your life. The one thing I have learned? Always question those who tell you to be satisfied with what you have or where you are in life – they usually think they are more entitled and valuable than you – and, that you should be there to serve them in some lower-level capacity.
You have the freedom to choose, and people died for that freedom. Now is the time to use it.
To the Brave & the Fallen: Thank You for Freedom!
We have much to be grateful for this Memorial Weekend. Thank you to all who have lost their lives bravely fighting for the United States. And, thank you to those who have served and passed, the families who have sacrificed more than most can imagine and all who defend this great nation. While I realize today is for the fallen, I also want to thank our living Veterans, Military personnel and their families. You need to be recognized and remembered whenever possible for your dedication and service to this country. I also want to remember our loved ones who are no longer with us.
Thanks to our great military heroes, one of the unique gifts we have in the United States is the gift is FREEDOM! The Declaration of Independence guarantees all of us “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This means we are free to pursue our lives and our vocations in any way that makes sense to us. Freedom and opportunity are already available, now we need the confidence to pursue our dreams!
Freedom is what makes America so great. What we do with our freedom is up to us. It is our choice. Freedom is our grandest opportunity and should be protected, especially in challenging times. The importance of the freedom to choose is demonstrated by the story of Ewing Marion Kauffman.
After serving in World War II, Ewing Marion Kauffman started working as a salesman for a pharmaceutical company and was extremely successful. When he started making more money than his boss, he found that his sales territory was suddenly limited. Mr. Kauffman’s boss limited the sales territory on purpose. After all, an employee couldn’t make more money than the boss!
Mr. Kauffman made a decision after his boss limited his sales territory and income. He quit his job and vowed never to work for anyone else again. He started his business in 1950 in the basement of his home. He generated $36,000 in sales and $1,000 of net profit in his first year. By 1989, Mr. Kauffman’s business made over $1 billion in sales and employed over 3,400 people.
Mr. Kauffman wanted to give back to the world and used his knowledge and wealth to form the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a foundation designed to support entrepreneurship and innovation.
Dr. Carl Schramm, the former President of the Kauffman Foundation, wrote The Entrepreneurial Imperative. In this book (one of my absolute favorites), he notes three things all Americans should remember in the face of gloomy times (p. 81):
1. Never bet against the American system.
2. Know that being an American is your very best asset…
3. Finally, never count on anyone but you to create your own destiny.
The American system is designed so that we can pursue our passions and dreams, especially in challenging times. Our ability to pursue our dreams and create our own destiny is what makes our country so great. We all have the freedom to choose what to do with our lives, and we have the freedom to help one another. We have the freedom to pursue our ideas, our dreams and our passions. We have the freedom to create our own destiny.
People like my Great Uncle Jack realized this and helped protect the freedoms we have in the United States. Uncle Jack was a fascinating man. When I was young, all I knew about him was that he was great at hunting night crawlers. In fact, he taught me how to hunt them. We lived in the apartment above my parents’ TV and appliance store. It was located on the main street of a rural community and did not have much of a yard. Luckily, Uncle Jack lived only a few blocks away and had the perfect yard for gathering night crawlers. When it rained at night, we would walk down to his house with our flashlights and buckets. Dad and Uncle Jack would help us kids hunt night crawlers so we could use them as bait when we went fishing.
There is actually a trick to getting your night crawler. You have to shine the light on night crawlers to find them while they are above the wet ground. And, you have to be quick! Too much light scares them back into the ground. You have to remember where they are and grab them quickly yet gently. Then you have to slowly coax them out of the hole a little bit at a time. If you try to force them out, they break.
Night crawlers and people are similar in this regard. If you force individuals down a path they do not truly want to pursue, they eventually break. Humans must find their own paths and pursue their own destinies with passion and purpose in order to live their best lives.
I did not understand much about Uncle Jack until I was a young adult. He was a World War II Veteran and served under General George S. Patton during the Battle of the Bulge. Absolutely amazing! He was a World War II hero and I thought he was awesome because of his ability to catch night crawlers!
Uncle Jack and his family sacrificed when he served our country. As Americans, we must remember that our freedom is not free. Many men and women have died, been injured and sacrificed a great deal to provide us with the ability to live our lives with freedom and choice. Taking our freedom for granted dishonors our troops and veterans. It also dishonors their families, who have sacrificed more than many of us can imagine. These people have truly sacrificed for all of us and our great nation. We should honor and salute them everyday because they have given us the gift of freedom and choice. We get to choose how we spend our time and our lives.
The bottom line: Cherish your freedom, protect it and use it to create your destiny!
Freedom is foundational to entrepreneurship, business development and the future. We must protect freedom for our future generations. My daughter’s birthday is this time of year. Happy Birthday Raquel! As a your Mom, I will do whatever I can to preserve your freedom so you can pursue any dream you choose!
Coaching Challenge: Participate in a Memorial Day Activity and show your gratitude for our Veterans and Military families!
The end of the year – and in this case the beginning of a new decade – is a great time to take stock of where you have been and where you want to go!
Milestones in time create the ideal moments to clear the challenges of the past, celebrate our wonderful memories and launch our dreams. Listen to your internal compass. Maybe you have been feeling stuck or have an internal knowing that it is time to do something different. If so, it is time to give yourself permission to consciously create and pursue the future you truly desire.
One of the first lessons we cover in F * School is giving ourselves permission to do whatever we truly want to experience, try or pursue on the path to our preferred future – the future we truly desire.
I have noticed the need to “give permission” in both individuals and in organizations, so I created a lesson to address this need. Many people tend to keep themselves mentally stuck or wait for someone else to give them permission to move forward with an idea, project or vacation (Yes-sometimes leaders really struggle with taking time off to recharge and renew).
I have been guilty of choosing to stay stuck at times. My amazing executive coach, Elise Auxier, pointed this out to me as I transitioned from my job to my business. Instead of waiting for some external person or force to give me permission to leave a long-time career that was no longer serving me, I had to take ownership of my life and do it myself. It took a series of bold, baby steps. And, it took a lot of support. Ultimately, I had to be the one to take action. I gave myself permission every step of the way. Was it always easy? No. Has it been totally worth it? Yes!
The process of giving yourself permission to move forward with your dreams and desires can be especially important if you are going through a time of change or transformation. I used the Permission Slip several times to help with my midlife metamorphosis. It took me a year to leave the place I had been at for twenty-five years. As a mentioned earlier, it was a process of bold, baby steps. It has taken some time; however, I am finally emerging as the person I have always wanted to truly become.
Give yourself permission to take steps forward, no matter how big or small, to experience your dreams and desires. Don’t choose to pursue what I call the Purposeless Future.
The Purposeless Future
Too many people keep their desires inside of them. They pursue what I call the Purposeless Future. This is the future that “just happens” because people opt to stay on the hamster wheel of life rather than taking the time to develop and pursue a purposeful future that they truly desire.
The future is not a straight path forward. Rather, there are many alternative futures. In the world of strategic foresight (futuring), we us a tool called the Cone of Possibilities to help people understand this concept. In the cone, there are multiple futures that can be described as:
Preferred: The desired future we choose to pursue
Possible: The wide range of events and possibilities over the course of time
Plausible: Futures that are possible but unlikely
Probable: Events and future scenarios that are likely to happen
Purposeless: The future that occurs without conscious intention
There are also two key assumptions about the future:
There are multiple futures. It is important to clarify your preferred future through a visioning process; however, you must also be willing to change course when necessary. Remember, life is not simply about achieving in the future — it is also about enjoying the present.
You influence the future through your true intent. Once you establish your preferred future, you must develop the beliefs, behaviors, mindset and actions to make it happen. If you do not truly believe in your preferred future, you will not consciously or subconsciously pursue it with true intent.
The Power of Honest Intentions
Our honest intentions are naturally supported by our beliefs and actions; therefore, all true intent is realized. Intentions become the outcome — they become your future. Your intentions serve as motivation and the source of actions and behaviors. Setting and pursuing false intentions can lead to a lack of interest and motivation, which typically ends in feelings of failure and self-doubt. Feelings of failure and self-doubt can seriously erode confidence and our sense of self-empowerment and success. Be genuine about your desired future and your intent to pursue it. If you honestly and consciously establish your true intentions, your beliefs, behaviors and mindset will align to create the outcome.
Dealing with Wild Cards
Sometimes, we experience Wild Cards — those unpredictable, unexpected and unforeseen happenings that can impact our present and future. We might lose a job or have an unexpected health emergency. We might inherit a large sum of money or land a big client.
Wild Cards are a part of life, and we have to learn to deal with what comes our way.
Life is Not a Straight Line
There is no straight line to any future. As leaders of our own lives, it is important to take risks, learn from the challenges and celebrate the successes. Our preferred futures may ultimately look and feel a little different than we imagined; however, they may be even better than what our minds are capable of creating!
The Pace of Change
Wild Cards are unpredictable, unexpected and unforeseen happenings that we must deal with throughout the course of our lives; however, we are also living in a time of unprecedented change. Not only is technology evolving faster than ever – life is too. We are living longer and experiencing careers and families differently than ever before. We also feel like we need to always be “on” as we are constantly bombarded with the demands of life. This is especially true for people who are creating new ways of living and working.
All of this change can feel overwhelming and cause stress that undermines your potential. Don’t give into the hype! Change will continue to happen. The intention here is to create the positive change, and preferred future, that works best for you and your life. So, get give yourself permission to pursue your desired future!
WIN with Action!
Giving yourself permission to pursue your dream future is not about striving, working hard or struggling to make it happen. It is about the freedom to make decisions that work best for you. This exercise is about exploring how you personally WIN, and by WIN I mean let the process feel —
W = Wild = Free, Fulfilling and Fun!
You have the freedom to choose how to spend your life. Put your ego, external validation and the thoughts of others aside so you can be totally free and honest with yourself. Let your transformation be guided by self-honesty, personal fulfillment joy and fun!
I = Inspired = Explore with Energy and Excitement!
Anytime is a great time to explore new possibilities, so pursue your desired future in a way that gives you energy and feels exciting! If you are feeling a bit stuck, start asking yourself some questions designed to increase your self-awareness:
Where does your energy naturally flow?
What saps your energy?
What do you want to let go of doing, feeling or thinking?
What have you always wanted to do but have not yet tried?
This should be a process of experimenting and exploring. Remember, your true intentions will naturally lead to inspired actions.
N = Natural= Totally You.
Have you ever tried on a piece of clothing, looked in the mirror and thought, “Wow! This looks amazing!” It fit perfectly and the color made your face light up naturally. That is what the “N” in WIN should feel and be like. Write, do and explore what feels totally and completely like you. What comes to you without thinking about it? What have you been covering up or avoiding that is begging to be set free? What comes to you naturally — without effort or striving? What makes you feel alive and excited — taps into your intuition (that inner wisdom we all possess) and aligns with your soul?
It’s Time to WIN!
Download and complete the Permission Slip below. Take the time to give yourself permission to consciously create your future and experience your life by taking big leaps or bold, baby steps. Do whatever you need to do to give yourself permission to WIN and pursue your desired future!
Use extra Permission Slips if you need them. After you finish giving yourself permission to take consciously create your future by intentionally taking action, share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below! What steps did you decide to take? How did it feel? Whatever you want to share is absolutely welcome!
I look forward to hearing what you gave yourself permission to do, feel and experience to make your desired future a reality!
I have to admit that I was super excited to do an interview with Nicole Jansen as part of her Leaders of Transformation Podcast. We talk about the future, the importance of a vision and how work and leadership are evolving; however, my biggest moment was actually diving into my own transition! I have not said or written a lot about why and how I left a twenty-five year career to pursue my own desired future. Honestly, it has been a hard to talk about for a number of reasons. We discuss it a bit in this interview, and it felt awesome just to voice my truth as well as my new adventure in midlife!
Enjoy the show, and let me know what you think! I would love to know what topics you want to know more about in the future. Make sure to download the free
Start creating your desired future today by enjoy the Dream Life 2025 exercise that is mentioned in podcast! After you complete the Dream Life 2025 exercise, let me know what your desired future looks like in the comments section below!
Thanks to all who have served and are currently serving. Also, a BIG thanks to your families. It is a privilege to honor our Veterans.
I especially want to thank my Father-in-Law. He served in the Navy during the Korean War. Ken was a great man who was proud of his service. He also enjoyed being an active member of the Legion. I thought of him when I heard Taps earlier today. We miss you Kenny!
I would not be able to post to this blog or express my opinions without the freedom so many of us enjoy (and take for granted) in this great country. May we always value the sacrifice and service of those who make this country great.
If you have been following my posts on AskDrConnie.com, you know that I prefer the word “Intention” instead of goal. Here’s why:
Intentions influence our actions and behaviors. If intentions are established with awareness, truth, and meaning, they help us experience a life filled with passion and personal fulfillment. Lack of understanding around our true intentions (what many people call goals) often causes frustration and confusion, which is one reason people do not achieve their goals. Many goals are written; however, they are not established with honest intent. It’s time to get brutally honest about your true intentions so you can achieve authentic goals.
Intentions have the power to strengthen your “Inner Leader” and help you move forward in a meaningful way as long as they represent what you truly want to accomplish and experience. Honest intentions, based on personal fulfillment and purpose, can also keep you motivated and focused while measuring progress and celebrating success.
Life in our 40’s can be a fascinating time of change. Oftentimes, it is important for women over the age of 40 to reassess their goals, dreams and true intentions. A few questions I encourage women to ask themselves:
How do you define success?
How are you using your intuition to guide your decisions? Has it kicked into overdrive because it is trying to lead you into a new direction?
What do you want to experience?
Sometimes, it is time for a change. The great thing is that you have the freedom to decide to make the changes and adjustments that best suit you. You just need to make sure you are headed for the right change!
The Freedom Journal is my new favorite book. It is a tool I can use to clarify my intentions and help keep my busy life focused. I will keep you posted on my 100-day journey and a few other adventures (my trip to Wyoming, etc.) as well!
Happiness can be a grand challenge for all of us, especially in an culture where ageism is very real.
According to Dictionary.com ageism is a noun meaning:
discrimination against persons of a certain age group.
a tendency to regard older persons as debilitated, unworthy of attention, or unsuitable for employment.
I spoke about hope and happiness at the 2015 Rural Futures Conference, and I used Project Have Hope as a reference to illustrate my point. In Uganda, women of all ages are making beautiful pieces of jewelry out of paper. I found the necklace I am wearing in the photo when visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. These fantastic women are putting their entrepreneurial skills to work! Not only are there actions empowering women in the present, they are fostering success for future generations. They are empowering themselves and their families. The women in Uganda are leaders.
Project Have Hope was started by another female leader, Karen Sparacio, who is an entrepreneurial photojournalist. Karen decided to give back by taking action. You can find out more about Karen and her work by visiting photosbykisp.com.
Do I think agesim is real? Yes. Do I think we can do something about it? Absolutely! Did I pause before posting the page out of the conference proceedings? Yes. Why? Because it is real, and I can visibly see that I am getting older. It’s not an easy thing, especially in a culture that values youth and devalues age. But, I also know that I need to stay positive, practice gratitude and keep moving! I have learned a lot through the years, including the fact that it takes a village to do so many things, ranging from raising children to growing businesses and communities. At the Rural Futures Institute, we are committed to changing the rural conversation to one of challenge to one of opportunity. We also want to connect people and communities to opportunities! This conversation must include women of all ages, including those that are older than 40.
Happiness ignites innovation. Check out the Project Have Hope video below and then think about the challenges you typically hear about aging. Look the extraordinary attitudes the women in the Acholi Quarter of Uganda have and how much action they are taking because they have hope.
We just celebrated the 4th of July in the United States, which serves as a reminder that we are free to choose our attitudes and actions. You are free to decide how you live your life at any age and any stage. So, let me know. What inspired, hopeful actions are you taking?
The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays! I love the fireworks, food and time with family. I am also grateful to be free!!
In the United States of America, we have the best gift of all: Freedom. Many men and women have sacrificed their lives and families to protect our freedom.
Cherish your freedom. Respect your freedom. Use it wisely.
Remember, we have the freedom to decide how to live our lives every single day. You have the power to live in the present while creating your desired future.
Enjoy all the fun that the fourth has to offer; however, make time to thank veterans, active military personnel, and their family members whenever possible. We all owe them all a deep debt of gratitude!