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They were just turning the corner, quite a distance away. Intent on my mission, I hadn’t noticed. Stepping off the side walk, I leaned forward, nose deeply buried in the fragrant lilac blossoms, capturing that fleeting scent of spring to later call to mind on a bone-chilling Chicago winter day.


Suddenly, as I stepped away from the flowers, they spoke and I jumped. “I’ve been watching you.” A long pause, as I stood frozen. Then they shared a slow smile and the comment, “You’ve inspired me.” They smiled again as they leaned in to smell the lilacs. I smiled and was on my way.   What an unexpected, pleasantly surprising, simple and powerful exchange with a stranger on a sunny, spring day.


We are always being watched. Always influencing others whether we know it or not. That is in simple terms called leadership, an interaction where influence occurs. Depending on our behavior that can be in a positive or a negative way, consciously or unconsciously and with varying impact.


We have a choice every moment of how we want to impact the world and the people in it, a choice of how we want to lead. Whether that is at work, in our home, in the community, on the sidewalk, or at a lilac bush. How will you inspire others? How will you lead? Somebody’s watching.


Have you ever had an experience like this? Share it with us, and we welcome your comments.

7 a.m. on a Monday morning. Stopped at a red light, the young woman in the car is frantically gobbling down breakfast. She races off as the light turns green, stress written in the taut lines of her face.  What kind of day will she experience?

Morning “malpractice”. When we start off the day already stressed, running and multi-tasking, until we’re exhausted and its time for lights out. It’s so easy to slip into a morning “malpractice.”

I’m guilty. I let my normal morning practice of starting the day in a special way just slip away. My workload had exploded so I began my morning “malpractice” of jumping right out of bed at 4am and working until 10pm. Then it started all over. No fun, no friends, no exercise, bad eating. No morning practice. Finally, my body said, “no more,” and slowed me down with a nasty virus.

I pinpointed my downslide to the morning “malpractice.” My ability to stay centered, make balanced decisions, and be highly productive and positive decreased by the day and lead to a distressed body. Lesson learned. I’m back on track. What about you?

We can all find simple things that make us feel good and help us set the intent for a positive and uplifting day. For me, it is lighting a beautiful candle for honor, ringing a special bell, reading a short inspiration/motivation, and a few stretches that make my body smile. Short and easy, but the pay-off is big.

What one thing can you do to start your day in a special way?

Please share your comments and suggestions.



I froze in my tracks.  I had been enjoying a perfect Chicago day.  The sun was sparkling on the water, the perfect foil for Chicago’s renowned architectural skyline.  Bearing down on me was a mass of intensely, hurried people.  There was nowhere to go.  I was jostled, shoved aside, and nearly trampled.  The rush hour had begun, and I was on the reverse commute.

It was as if I didn’t exist.  I was just an obstacle in the way of getting to work and appointments. I smiled, no response.  Tension was etched on almost every persons face.  They were already at work in their minds, anticipating and creating stress even before they were in the work environment, unaware of the sunshine.

They were oblivious to everyone and everything.  Could they be walking next to a potential client, business partner, or someone with whom they could enjoy a laugh? They will never know; so oblivious to the world around them.  They are the “walking dead.”

“Walking dead” are everywhere.  They are not present in the moment.  Instead, they are mentally on to the next task, the next event, focused on frustration, anger, and have too many things to do.  You can find them in traffic, at the supermarket, and even in your living room.   Do you know one?

What is the benefit of being disconnected?  What is the price of stress?  Starting now, pay attention to the world around you.  You may notice a stunning sunrise, initiate a new deal, meet an interesting person, or enjoy some unexpected laughter.   Your life will be the richer for it.


Fearful or Fearless? Which would you choose? We may not realize it, but we make that decision almost every day.  As much as fearless is the choice so many of us would like to make, it is the fearful decision that we so frequently employ.  The price for that decision is high; often denying us of happiness that each of us so richly deserves.

What are those fearful decisions? We may want to start our own business, change careers, or relocate to a new city; but fear prevents us from taking the first step towards achieving those goals.  It may be the lifelong wish to play the piano, or be an artist, write a book, learn a new language, ride a motorcycle or ski that we are afraid to fulfill.

Perhaps it is attending an art opening, party or Hip Hop event alone. For some changing hairstyles, clothing styles, or sampling new foods can be fearful experiences.  The list is endless and as diverse as we are.  The reasons we are afraid are just as diverse. The one commonality, those desires rarely go away.

Living a life of fearlessness empowers us to live a life with no regrets.   By facing our fears, we begin to challenge and expand our boundaries and comfort zones and increase personal confidence about our abilities.  This makes it easier and easier to live the life of purpose, passion and pleasure that we desire.

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky says it succinctly, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Today, make a fearless decision.  Take one small step toward that goal or dream.  You won’t regret it.

Delighted to share that this post was picked up for content on Yahoo! Voices website:

The back row, it’s where I always sit. It’s a great way to be invisible, and the best seat for observing the drama of human behavior. At a recent workshop, on day one, my team was assigned my favored spot…back row.  On day two, not so lucky, we were seated in the front.

Front row seating makes me slightly uncomfortable. I am no longer invisible, which makes me feel very exposed. Best behavior is required, focusing on the speaker, listening intently to their presentation.  No doodling and day dreaming, no checking for emails. The pressure is on.

But to my surprise, I was engaged and energized. I felt like I was a part of the action, not just observing it.  I was inspired, even motivated.  By the end of the day, I was a convert. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing!

As I drove in for day 3 of the conference, the words of Bruce Schneider, PhD, the founder of my coaching alma mater IPEC popped into my head.   “How you come to anything in life, is how you come to everything.”

I had a sudden flash of insight. I was Front Wanda, in the Back Row. What a metaphor for my life! For years I always defaulted to back row seating, a decision that served the insecure me so well. Now I was a confident woman, making major life changes without a safety net, certainly that classifies as Front Row behavior! This was impacting my life in many ways. It was time to rethink my seat selection, as well as other default settings.

I shared this with a close friend, a successful businesswoman, who surprisingly said “I always run to the door and hold it open for everyone else to enter, and then I walk in last.”

When I analyzed it; I realized that most of our defaults begin with “I always……  They served us at one point in our life. Then they became default settings, like brushing our teeth, we never think about them again.  They become an invisible, automatic pattern in our life.

It’s time to re-examine those default settings. They impact the way we approach everything in life, and may no longer serve us. What do you “always do”? What are your defaults? Is it time to reset them?

Delighted to share that this post was picked up for content on Yahoo! Voices website:


The holiday festivities are over.  We’ve rung in the New Year, made our list of resolutions, and returned to our daily routines.  But why must the celebration end?

Why must we wait for a momentous occasion or holiday to mark success, happiness, or important milestones?

Don’t we have reason to celebrate frequently?  Shouldn’t we celebrate frequently?

We plow through out days completing project after project, from the annoying to the challenging, to the rewarding.  We push, and rush, skip lunches and maybe even procrastinate on starting that major project at work or at home.  Then start over again the next day with another to-do list.

Rarely do we stop to reflect and feel proud about our achievements, big or small.  Rarely do we stop to celebrate a wonderful day, a wonderful moment. Don’t we deserve to recognize important personal milestones? Might we be happier, feel more motivated, if we recognized our accomplishments, if even in just a small way? The answer is yes!

My clients are celebrating more, and so am I.  The reasons and the rewards are as diverse as their lives and careers. One schedules a celebration for completing the first phase of a challenging project for motivation, another pauses every day to celebrate. It may be slipping out for a walk or a treat, lighting a favorite candle, buying tickets to an event, meeting friends at the pub, or just pausing and reflecting on how good they feel.  The reward can vary, but the feeling does not.  There is more happiness in their life, they are more productive, and they look forward to their day with more enthusiasm.

We can’t do it enough….joy and celebration.  What will you celebrate today?  How will you do it?  Please share your celebrations!



Frustrated, extremely stressed and exhausted, a friend (we’ll call her Kim) was sharing with me what is now an all too common story.  Kim had been laid-off during the 2008 economic downturn.  After a long and painful job search, she had finally landed an opportunity in a company which offered no career growth or challenge, fostered an extremely toxic culture for employees which included extensive overtime, and was no longer financially stable.  Kim was miserable, and concerned about imminent lay-offs, especially since she was soon sending her child off to an expensive university.

Stress had worn her down.  She looked exhausted and couldn’t stop talking about her problems.  She was stressed because she worked too many hours to look for a job. She was stressed because she couldn’t read all the job listings and was afraid she would miss out on an opportunity.  She was stressed about losing her job.  The list of what she was stressed about was endless, and she was miserable.

When I asked Kim what action she was taking to make changes in her life, the answer was a blank stare.  She was so focused on the problems, she was unable to take action to improve the situation.

Take a look in the mirror.  We probably all see ourselves in the reflection of this situation.     Whether it is a toxic job, a relationship, family situation or finances, we can be paralyzed by so many things that stop us from taking action and remain in the uncomfortable and stressful situation. 

How does that serve you? We all know that stress can cause damage to our health, our moods, productivity, relationships and overall quality of life.  Why would we choose to stay in a situation that is negatively impacting our life and health? But we are choosing, by taking no action, we are making a decision to remain in the painful situation.

All of our decisions and actions in life should serve us in the best way possible.  By choosing to refocus our thoughts away from the negative situation, and focus on action (no matter how small), we immediately begin to improve our life.  In taking action to move forward, we demonstrate our commitment to improving our lives, and like a stone thrown in the pond, our action will continue to expand and improve our lives in positive ways we never expected.

What step (yes, just one!) will you take today to begin improving your life? It really is that easy.

I was mesmerized watching the Chicago Police Department’s face-off with the NATO Summit protesters. It was a hot, humid day and officers were heavily clad in protective equipment weighing approximately 30 pounds.  The officers were taunted by the protesters and at times pelted with unpleasant objects, but they remained calm and patiently inched (literally!) the protesters toward the buses that would carry them out ofChicago.  Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was there, in the midst of his officers, demonstrating true leadership.

Like clockwork, officers were rotated so that those who were face-to-face with the protesters were relieved frequently by those who were refreshed and calm, ready to deal with whatever may happen.  They successfully moved the protesters to the buses with a peaceful ending.  It was brilliant.  Later, I realized it was also the perfect inspiration and model for making changes in our lives.

In today’s hectic world, most of us are frantically multi-tasking with the weight (probably more than 30 pounds!) of our own burdens and challenges.  We keep plowing ahead focused on the goal, never taking a break because we don’t think we have the time. We have big dreams, but take no action to make them come true, or we or our detractors have a million reasons why it can’t be done.  We are tired, stressed, and frustrated and already thinking about what’s next, or we’ve just given up.

Starting today, let’s learn fromChicago’s finest.  Refresh and relax on a regular basis, you’ll be better prepared to face the challenges.  It may be as simple as getting yourself a latte, or visiting your favorite website, practicing your golf swing, visiting a colleague or a quick walk around the block. It can be as easy as taking a few deep breaths.

Set your intention and take small steps to achieve your goals. By ever-so-slowly moving forward, theChicagopolice were able to peacefully move a large group of resistant protesters.  Take one step to making your dream come true, a phone call, a class, some research it will move you that much closer to success. 

Be a leader in your life.  Superintendent McCarthy inspired his officers and millions of people around the world because he met the challenge face-to-face.   It’s easy to sit back and let life happen to you, instead take the initiative to meet your own challenges and succeed. It’s easier than you may think,one inch at a time.

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