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Be Contagious and Start an Epidemic

This month’s challenge to my email subscribers was to start an epidemic – in a really good way. I am hoping to trigger a wave of goodwill. I am imagining 1000 people in my network spreading positive intentions and an uplifting mood, infecting 10 people with a good bug, who will then pass it on to 10 others. Soon, there will be a ripple effect that can be felt around the world. Can you picture that? Doesn’t that sound and feel amazing?

 An uplifting mood can be exquisitely contagious when it is passed on through an unexpected act of kindness, a simple but personal expression of gratitude, a recognition of potential or an acknowledgement of a unique talent that is not obvious to everyone. What these gestures communicate is that you truly see the individual, that you personally care and that you attribute value to that person. And that is what we all deeply crave for: being seen, being valued and being able to contribute positively. We all need human connection, love that bridges differences, and appreciation that points to a deeper purpose so we feel that we belong.

 If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.  

Mother Teresa

 All it takes is paying attention to the people around you, noticing them and being creative in connecting with them on a personal level – and be it just for a brief moment.

 If you need a little kick-start for boosting your own mood and connecting to awe and wonder, watch one of my favorite leadership clips about gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg:  

Positivity ChallengeGratitude: The Short Film by Louie Schwartzberg from ecodads on Vimeo.

Now that you are inspired, here are a few mini challenges to get you started: 

  • Engage in and log 10 unexpected acts of kindness and notice what happens.
  • Express your gratitude for another person with a specific comment. 
  • Let others know what blossoming potential or underappreciated talent you see in them.

Since sending out this challenge, I have received a few stories from my subscribers and clients about spreading positivity: 

“I praised my admin assistant during an all staff meeting for putting together a rather complex project chart that will be distributed to senior leadership. She received several positive feedback comments afterwards and had a noticeably cheerful way of interacting for several days afterwards. I realized how often I take exceptional work for granted in my field and will express positive appreciation for excellent work more often in the future.” Senior Leader in Technology Company

“The challenge made me more aware of the quality and intentionality of my interactions with other people. I found myself making more eye contact and being more present and less hurried in the moment when I tried to just connect with the people around me. It actually made mundane interactions more fun, like buy coffee at the coffee shop or saying good morning to the receptionist and greeting her by name. Funny how paying attention to the positive things in life lifted my own mood.” Manager at Local Government 

“We have a challenging person on our team and most people avoid talking with her. I made a point to stop at her desk at least once every week over the last 3 weeks, asked her a question and just listened to her for a couple of minutes. I think she is very lonely. I am not sure if she noticed my efforts but I feel better when I see her now and it feels less tense with her.” Manager at Non-profit Organization

 

Are you ready to get involved in making the world a better place for a moment or maybe even longer?

  

REFLECTION & ACTION

  • What is your dominant mood? How do you express that?
  • How do other people’s moods impact you?
  • What can you do for yourself to lift your mood?
  • What do you notice when you assume positive intent in others under all circumstances?
  • What emotions do you want people to feel when they encounter you?
  • What actions can you take to invite those feelings?

 

Questions about this exercise or other leadership capacity building practices?

Contact me via email or even better, schedule a free Discovery Coaching Call with me! I love talking with people!

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Perfectionism: A Well Known Killer at Work

The last couple of First Friday Challenges I presented to my subscriber base focused on Bravery and Resilience. This month, I took a closer look at a common creativity and innovation killer: Perfectionism. In her book bird by bird, a delightful read about writing and life, author Anne Lamott calls it out as a major cause for writer’s block and plain old drab:

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better that you, and have a lot more fun while they are doing it.”

I see perfectionism getting in the way of many efforts and opportunities beyond creative writing. Perfectionism keeps you from experimenting. It will stop you from starting something when you are not certain that the outcome will be anything like the idea that you hold in your mind.

Perfectionism is a myth that asserts itself in several ways. These myths tell the story of “not ready yet” and “not good enough”. It focuses on flaws and lack. It is a bravery, resilience, creativity and joy killer.

So let go of it already!

Perfectionism shown on a ruler

Easier said than done you say? Well, let’s explore the myths that perfectionism perpetuates and begin rooting it out of our daily lives:

1. The Myth of Permanence

Perfectionism lures you into thinking that your efforts are watched and judged by everyone around you. In reality, the majority of our imperfections or imperfect actions will hardly be noticed, will be easily laid to rest, or they are things that can be edited, updated, or improved at a later date or with the next rendition. The important thing is to do something and get moving towards a goal.

Remembering that nothing is permanent and that taking a first step, even if wobbly, is better than waiting for perfect. Taking a shaky first try will set your creative juices flowing, allow you to tap into greater creativity, and ultimately enjoy better results!

2. The Myth of Success or Failure

Perfectionism blinds you to the spectrum between success and failure. Like other all-or-nothing ways of thinking, it highlights the extreme options with nothing in-between! Even worse, the tendency is to believe that the odds are slanted significantly in the failure direction. Of course you procrastinate – who wants to fast track towards failure?

The truth is that there is always room for improvement no matter how amazing your first effort is. Because we are constantly learning and growing, when we look at past efforts the desire to update can be strong! Some things aren’t even worth your time to fret about. Other things can be considered valuable learning experiences that can be mined for valuable insights. Take the time and energy to figure out which is which – let go what needs to be let go and learn from what can be improved.

3. The Myth of Getting Respect or Approval

If you’re struggling with perfectionism, it can also be a signal that you value the opinions of others more than what is healthy for you. It can seem logical that you need to present a polished and perfect appearance for others to accept your leadership. However, it has generally been my experience that people are attracted to authenticity and vulnerability not perfection. As a leader, a mask of perfectionism can have the effect of making you unapproachable to your team. Of course, you want to remain professional but putting up a fake front of perfection will not promote your reputation in your team nor does it create a safe space for them to take risks and be creative.

4. The Myth of Everyone Else Has It All Figured Out

This one is more common than you might guess, especially among leaders. It is closely related to Impostor Syndrome as well – the idea that everyone else got where they are by merit, but you’re just lucky and don’t really deserve to be there! It fills you with the internal pressure to make sure you do everything correctly so no one finds you out. The truth is that very few leaders feel 100% confident all of the time. Comparing yourself to another leader will always lead to self-doubt and will hamper your own and your organization’s growth.

Have you gotten pulled into believing any of these Perfectionist Myths?

How do you see them playing into those internal voices that say you are “not ready yet” or “not good enough?”

I invite you to challenge perfectionism in your life and in your leadership with a simple and concrete action:

Give yourself a finite amount of time to work on a big project. Once the time is up, send whatever you have to a colleague or business ally for feedback, no matter where you are in the process.

Would you like access to more leadership capacity building practices? Contact me here or even better, schedule a free Discovery Coaching Call with me! I love talking with people!

Learning to Bounce

Basic Bouncing Ball Action

I sent my email subscribers a challenge at the beginning of the month, encouraging them to practice bouncing. I didn’t mean the kind of bouncing that children do on backyard trampolines though! The art of the bounce is all about practicing resilience when your “20 seconds of Insane Bravery” do not yield the results you were hoping for.

Sometimes risk taking may bring you standing ovations and sometimes you will hear cat calls and boos. Some of your ideas will have enthusiastic fans and some will bring out the harshest critics – and the most outside of the box ideas are likely to generate both.  Setbacks, letdowns and brutal criticism are practically a given once you begin to take risks, so developing the skills to recover gracefully and learn from them is vital to your growth as a leader.

How do you learn how to bounce?

  1. Explore your fears

Practice getting used to wins and losses, seek praise and reproach, get used to getting call-backs and being ignored. One way of doing this is to reflect on a feared outcome and ask yourself the question, “and then what?”. For example, if you are afraid you may experience severe criticism for your action, think about what it would feel like if it actually happened, and if the criticism came from someone you really respected. Ask yourself what would happen next? How would you respond? Keep asking yourself the “so what?” or “and then?” questions until you get to a place of accepting whatever the outcome is or the anticipated outcome becomes so outlandish that you realize the fear is overprojected, e.g. they will hate the idea, I will lose the gig, I will not find other work, I can’t pay the bills, I will be living in a tent in the woods… This is a great journaling exercise that can help you to uncover the real and imagined fear that is holding you back from stepping out in risk.

  1. Accept the existence of non-fans

It’s important to work on letting go of wanting to be liked by all and being known as a “nice person”. Ultimately, people are responding to the tape that is playing in their own head and their response is not a reflection of your worth and often not even an indication of the value of your idea. Learn what you can from your experience, allow people to have the reactions they have, mourn an unrealized opportunity if you need to and then turn to your next opportunity to reach for what you believe in.  Practice not responding immediately to negative comments (especially on social media platforms!) to give yourself time and space to assess whether that response really warrants any energy back from you. Try and notice if there could be different ways to interpret another person’s comments or responses. Is there anything that you can take away from it that will aid your leadership journey?

  1. Seek candid feedback

For an even riskier way to practice the bounce, take this practice outside just your personal journaling time and invite some real feedback: Ask someone who is NOT a raving fan of yours for candid feedback on a recent project, action, or behavior. Listen and ask open-ended, non-leading questions: What worked for that person and what didn’t? What was the perception on the receiving end? Are there suggestions for alternative approaches? Thank your conversation partner for the feedback. Allow the message to settle. Consider what is being said to you, whether you see validity in the comments and how it may help you handle a situation differently in the future. Take valuable comments and consider how to put them into action. Put the rest aside. Walk on. Really. Walk away from the comments that were not helpful to you. Shake them off. Take a deep breath. Connect with yourself and feel that you are still whole, with immense talents to share and valuable contributions to make.

  1. Cherish support and praise

On those rare occasions when you do get standing ovations after your moment of insane courage, enjoy the moment! Accept the praise graciously and thank those who contributed to the excellent outcome. Tease out what exactly lead to the success so you will be able to draw from the experience in a similar situation in the future.

Tigger

REFLECTION & ACTION

  • What is the criticism that you are most afraid of? What fear is triggered? What do you believe the criticism or failure would uncover?
  • What are other ways you could interpret criticism? What may be going on in the other person’s world may have played into a harsh response?
  • What part of the criticism is constructive (you agree with it and you can choose to do something about it) and what part is puzzling, unhelpful, perhaps ill-spirited?

Questions about this exercise or other leadership capacity building practices? Contact me via email or even better, schedule a free Discovery Coaching Call with me! I love talking with people!

Building Resilience – 20 Seconds At A Time

In one of my favorite scenes in the movie “We Bought a Zoo”, Matt Damon’s character (Benjamin Mee) talks to his son about facing fears and doing the unthinkable:

“All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage, 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it!” ~ Benjamin Mee

How often have you shied away from doing something new because of a fear of failure? Do you only start things when you know you will succeed?

Becoming comfortable with uncomfortableness is a current mantra for many successful leaders. It is nearly impossible to grow without some level of discomfort. And yet, leaders often resist seasons of ambiguity and change even while knowing it is the right thing to be able to embrace the tension of those inevitable transitions and phases of not knowing the answers to questions yet.

So how do you start to appreciate ambiguity? How do you practice resilience? How do you begin to find your center in uncomfortableness and continue to breathe through it as scenarios unfold around you at a rapid speed?

I invite you to practice! You can “become comfortable with uncomfortableness” by doing things that get your adrenaline flowing and that stretch you into something new and never done (by you) before.

When you step into Insane Courage and take gasp inducing action, a few things may happen:

1. Wild Animals Threaten to Shred You to Pieces

Fight, Flight, Freeze responses are easily triggered in high-stakes settings. Trust that the “wild animals” in the corporate world may show their fangs and claws but you do not really have to fear for your life. Breathe. Create a pause to think and consider your options before you respond. Practice slowing down in the moment, so you act with intention and in control of your emotions. Trust that the sun will go down and rise again. Take it one step at a time.

2. A Royal Bust Unfolds

Your act of Embarrassing Bravery pivots into an unexpected direction and your idea falls apart for the world to see. Self-directed humor may diffuse tension and allow you recover more or less gracefully. Resisting the temptation to apologize before you know what to apologize for or if an apology is even necessary, exiting with flair and acknowledging the bust are some creative-productive options.

 3. Awkward Silence

Invite a reaction and wait for it, wait for it, wait for it.

 4. A Standing Ovation

Your idea takes off like a rocket ship and your audience is delighted. Accept the applause and the accolades, give credit to the people who supported you and enjoy your spotlight while it lasts.

When the enormous wave of adrenaline has ebbed and you are in back in your safety zone, take a caring look at what you think happened. There is something to learn from any of the above scenarios and more possible outcomes of stepping into the unknown. Stay clear of defensive reasoning and being overly critical of yourself. Own what you contributed to the situation, and consider what you would want to stop, start or change the next time you have an opportunity to practice insane courage. Reflect on your expectations and possible expectations of your audience and give yourself a pat on the back for having stepped into the arena of life and taking a chance.

REFLECTION & ACTION FOR GROWTH

What may be a gasp-inducing action you can take that would open new doors and new possibilities…

… in your professional life?

… in your relationships?

… in your personal life?

What is something you really, really, really want but you have not had the courage yet to take action on?

Create an opportunity for yourself that makes you gasp and that brings you closer to something that is important to you!

No alt text provided for this image

How resilient are YOU? Take a simple resilience survey to assess your readiness to handle ambiguity and challenges.

Take the survey HERE.

I would love to hear about your 20 seconds of bravery!

Friderike Butler, PCC, Human Potential Catalyst

Butler Communication – http://www.DevelopingCreativeLeaders.com

Leading Yourself to Growth in 2019

Leading Yourself First

It’s that time of year when everyone is thinking about wrapping up the loose ends and setting goals for the New Year. It may seem like all you need is a powerful resolution, the right planner or the right time management tool and you are off to a great start – which then often fizzles out. The one thing I’ve noticed about leaders who are able to set meaningful goals and actually achieve them is their ability to self-correct and lead themselves.

As a business or organizational leader, you may feel that time spent on yourself is indulgent, or perhaps even unnecessary. However, only leaders who are willing to take a closer and honest look at themselves and change what needs changing to operate at a higher level will be able to drive growth.

In order to lead yourself well, you have to understand your intrinsic motivation, your triggers, and your leadership personality.

  • What makes you uniquely you?
  • Why do you make the choices you make?
  • Where are you operating on autopilot and what choices do you make deliberately?

If you’re serious about taking your business and professional development to the next level in 2019, you’ll have to start with yourself!

I have two excellent programs coming up in January to begin this process with leaders, who are ready to take a deep dive. Both have Early Bird pricing that expires soon – reserve your spot and get ready to SOAR in 2019!

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Monday, January 14th, 2019

8:00 am – 12:00 pm

2019 Leadership Strategies and Action Planing Workshop

  1. Identify your leadership style
  2. Define your leadership goals and vision
  3. Build a development plan for yourself and your team and deliver it in 2019

$245 per person / $195 if purchased by December 31, 2018

Sign up here

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4th Fridays, January-April, 2019

8:00 am – 12:00 pm

SOAR Leading for Growth Program

The SOAR Leading for Growth Program develops and strengthens Leadership Excellence and drives Growth at Every Level in organizations. In this program you will gain powerful tools and practices that will catalyze and accelerate the growth of your people and your organization.

$2495 per person / $1995 if purchased before December 31, 2018

*Practitioner and non-profit rates upon request, qualifies for 2 CEUs

Sign up here

Butler Communication’s SOAR Leadership Labs give you an opportunity to take a closer look at the current leadership capacity in your organization, to learn and practice new communication patterns, to experience and implement collaborative management styles and to strengthen your leadership teams at all levels in your organization.

Questions? Call me: 703-599-9079

Build Committed Relationships, Shape Engaging Culture,
Inspire Agile Action, Generate Extraordinary Results

With best wishes for bold and courageous 2019,

 

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Friderike Butler

Chief Human Potential Catalyst 
​Leadership Development & Executive Coach

Your Narrative of Your Past Impacts the Possibilities You See in the Future

Backward Forward

 

This past month I had the honor to be showcased by the talented photographer Melissa Maillett in her Women Entrepreneur Success Series. I love the results of the photo shoot. What came as a surprise were unexpected insights triggered by Melissa’s thoughtful interview questions. As I outlined my professional journey, I started to see previously unnoticed patterns: a consistent series of “firsts”, a steadily growing confidence in seeing and actively pursuing new opportunities and challenges, discovering the impact of culture and culture clashes, seeing unrealized potential in others and last but not least a long line of people, who were inspired to stretch and grow with me.

My coaching business therefore feels like a natural extension of a life-long journey. When I looked at my curated notes in response to the interview questions, I was able to clearly articulate my professional purpose: seeing the almost limitless potential in the people and opportunities I encounter, discovering possibilities with others and supporting them in designing a path to purposefully living and working, and embracing change and transformation and I was easily able to create a formula for my own definition of success that previously seemed elusive:

Activation of Growth through Transformation
rooted in
Potential + Possibility + Purpose
=> energizing and inspiring delight


HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • What patterns do you discover in your past that may boost your motivation and energize your current professional life?
  • What have been consistent behaviors in your professional journey beyond your technical skills that produced positive results?
  • What do people see in you when you are at your best? Can you leverage that when you get ready to pitch new ideas or go after new opportunities?
  • Does your internal narrative support the results you want to create?

My recent work in Narrative Coaching has opened new ways of thinking and exploring for my clients. Here is the co-created progression of a recent coaching session that provided a great framework for my client to explore her narrative:

This framework can be modified effectively for reflection on past successes in order to create desired results in the future.


Self-reflection exercise:

  • List your most memorable successes.
  • What action/s created those successes? Can you see a pattern?
  • How did you feel at the time?
  • What story supports the emotion, the action and the outcome?
  • Is there an emerging event that you can explore through a similar lense? What else is possible when you shift the underlying story?


Are you curious about the potential impact of your inner narrative in your professional life?


Narrative Coaching Discovery Sessions in June FREE for first 5 inquiries

Schedule your Appointment HERE.

With best wishes for an empowered narrative!


Ike Portrait 2018 1

Friderike Butler
Human Potential Catalyst 
​Leadership Development &
Executive Coaching

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What’s SCRUM and Agile Got to Do With Adult Learning and Leadership?

 

Agile__Scrum_Framework01 (4)

How organizations can remain focused and effective in an ever-changing, complex environment

Recently I have had the honor and privilege to assume a coaching role with several leaders in STEM-based organizations. To prepare myself and to better understand their world, I took several crash courses in Lean Management, Scrum and Agile Methodology. I half-expected to have to force myself to make sense of highly technical terminology and dry program management theory only to be pleasantly surprised to find fascinating parallels to cutting-edge leadership development theory.

In simple terms, SCRUM is a methodology that breaks complex scenarios (epics) down into small deliverable increments (stories) that can be completed in a short, defined timeframe (sprint). Each delivery cycle opens with a planning session during which the entire team decides what increments they will be able to complete during the cycle. The cycle closes with a review that includes stakeholder feedback and a retrospective during which processes are refined and subsequent increment specifications may be revised.

Rapid development of deliverables and regular, short-order feedback loops ensure nimble adaptations to external and internal requirement changes and quick detection of misalignment or errors. Accountability and self-governance of the team is built into the framework and communication breakdowns quickly become apparent.

Daily stand-up meetings enforce focus and commitment and team members rely on mutual respect, transparency and openness to new ideas to be able to operate at their best. The team continues to learn from and with each other. Doesn’t that sound like project management Nirvana?

While SCRUM focuses on the work of the product owner (similar role to project manager), the team and the interaction with stakeholders, Agile addresses enterprise design and leadership. More on that in a future post.

Of course there is much more to SCRUM and Agile. SCRUM professionals will be quick to admit that it is not easy to transform traditional project management and top-down leadership calling for long-term goals and defined milestones into an Agile workplace, especially when factoring the human element of resisting major change.

Yet there is a lot to be gained from taking the leap of faith:

  1. Fostering of creative adaptability, which is crucial for success in rapidly changing environments
  2. Engagement of all team members in the design and execution process, which has been proven to be essential for talent retention
  3. Encouraging dynamic collaboration, which always outperforms siloed, static work processes
  4. Continued shared learning, which results in innovation and boosts competitiveness

What excites me most about SCRUM is the notion that this way of learning, working, and creating in a collaborative whole can be applied outside of software development projects. It is a flexible and adult-learning supporting methodology that can be used for dynamic leadership development needs at all levels in an organization through effective, micro-learning deliverables.

You can deconstruct complex leadership epics into skill development sprints that focus on learning, practicing and internalizing new communication and behavior patterns, which ultimately will result in organizational learning, resilience and adaptability at all levels.

SCRUM and Agile Leadership can be an antidote to disengaged staff, unrealized brilliant ideas in the ranks, sluggish procedures, ineffective communication.

Are you curious to hear more? Inquire about our new program offer:

Butler Communication’s SOAR Leadership Labs give you an opportunity to take a closer look at the current leadership capacity in your organization, to learn and practice new communication patterns, to experience and implement collaborative management styles and to strengthen your leadership teams at all levels in your organization.

Curious? Call us: 703-599-9079

Build Committed Relationships, Shape Engaging Culture,
Inspire Agile Action, Generate Extraordinary Results