I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit for almost as long as I can remember. I recall catching minnows and selling them to local fisherman at about age 8, making bracelets out of seashells and selling them at the roadside with a girlfriend at about the same age. Having a greeting card and small gifts business from age 9 to 14. Perhaps you relate. However, once I graduated from university I got into the mindset that I had to have a “real” job and work for someone else in order to have security and benefits. When our kids were growing up, my husband was an international consulting engineer who travelled about 6 months of the year, so even though I yearned to be an international consultant I felt I needed to have a “real” job with benefits, and be the stable one in the family. Throughout my career I held a number of well-paying positions that were stimulating and allowed me much independence.
When I attended a course on Project Management in a Government Environment my life began to change. The course instructor was a partner in a management consulting company. He spotted my facilitation skills and before long we met and he offered me to be a contractor with his consulting group. About 6 months following the course, I left my “secure” and well-paying government position to become a contractor/independent consultant on a handshake. I worked with the consulting group for about 6 months learning a lot of processes and gaining experience designing and facilitating everything from town hall meetings, to national consultation processes, to strategic plans, to multi-stakeholder partnership-building activities. After 6 months, the partner who had brought me in had a philosophical split with the other two, and invited me to join him in his new company. I thought about it, and decided I didn’t want to “take sides” so then I began working in my own process/management consulting business. Before long my business took off and within two years I was thoroughly enjoying working for myself and was making 6 figures. I haven’t look back since having launched two successful management consulting businesses and a life and business coaching company.
Recently I was connected with an amazing woman, Pat Duckworth, through the Evolutionary Business Council/Institute of which I am a member. She invited me to be part of a book she was writing on “midlife women entrepreneurs”. It was an extremely positive experience, and I’m happy to announce that today Pat is launching Hot Women Rock, a book that chronicles the journeys and wisdom of Pat herself and 21 other midlife women entrepreneurs including myself. You may obtain your complimentary copy on launch day October 4 at https://www.amazon.com/Hot-Women-Rock-discover-entrepreneurial-ebook/dp/B01JEV9T6Q
I’d love to hear from you about your entrepreneurial journey and lessons, and welcome your comments below. Please share with others who you think might find this of interest.
In a previous post I shared the attributes of a Balanced and Mindful Leader, one being “Understands the importance of work/life balance and models it for others http://creativelivingcommunity.com/balanced-and-mindful-leadership-what-do-you-think/. So how can you integrate work-life balance into your own life and model it for others in the workplace?
Here are some suggestions:
- Count up the number of hours you typically work in a week. Is it more than 50? (Obviously sometimes)
- Make a commitment to reduce the number of hours you typically work weekly (choose a realistic number to begin with)
- Experiment with a work week when you reduce your hours. Then notice how you feel. You may wish to journal about it.
- Begin incorporating mindfulness practices into your personal life; e.g.
- on awakening while lying in bed do a body scan from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet noticing any tension, discomfort, heaviness. Breathe into those areas of tension, discomfort or heaviness and set the intention to release and let go of them.
- Start doing mindfulness walking meditations 3 times/week for 30 minutes each time.  Some of my clients do this at lunch hour. Others after work. Notice how you feel before, during and after. Is there a cumulative effect?
- Unplug at least 90 minutes before retiring and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
- At work, encourage people to take breaks
- Set clear expectations with your direct reports and colleagues related to NOT checking emails and answering texts on evenings and weekends. Share with them the importance of them taking time for themselves and their families
- Have short meetings (up to 60 minutes max) with clearly defined agendas, and expectations so people know why they’re there, how to prepare and the expected results.
- Encourage people to take lunch breaks
- Support people to take regular vacations and to NOT check their emails while on vacation (set up a buddy system so staff and managers can feel that the key aspects of their positions are being covered while they are away)
- Have yoga classes and/or a gym on site and participate in the classes/use the facilities yourself.
What two actions will you begin integrating into your life tomorrow? Please share those actions and any related comments below. Feel free to share this post with a friend, colleague or family member.
 A tool from Easter psychology that I have found extremely useful for getting “out of my head” and into my body is Mindfulness Walking Meditation. Mindfulness practices focus on the senses and feeling sensations and emotions in our bodies. When we do a mindfulness walking meditation we feel the ground beneath our feet, we feel the breeze against our face, we feel the cool air going from our nostrils down into our lungs. We smell the scent of salt or the aroma of lavender in the air and observe the scenery in front of us. We try to stay out of our minds and experience our senses. Rather than spend a walk in nature constantly thinking and processing all the things we have to do, instead we stay present and experience nature and all of its beautiful sights, smells, sounds and sensations.
I believe it’s time for a new type of leader, and a new type of organizational culture; one that focuses on people, understanding, and collaboration; instead of money, results, and competition. … This is the first in a series of blog posts on balanced and mindful leadership.
In my coaching with business and professional women from around the world, greater and greater numbers, and younger and younger women are coming to me exhausted, “juggling so many balls”, feeling that there is no longer any fun in their lives; they are all about work with little or no time for themselves, or to spend with people they love. Some of them have health concerns. They are looking for tools and support to help them find peace amongst the chaos of daily life and work.
Well-educated professional women are leaving their senior positions or turning down career advancements when they have children, as there is not enough time to do it all. Those who try to do it all, often become ill or end up in separation and divorce.
The old paradigm of working harder to get ahead is no longer working. In fact, productivity starts to decline after a certain number of hours of consistent work. It’s time for a new paradigm and new type of leader: a balanced and mindful one.
What are the attributes of a balanced and mindful leader?
- Lives life in alignment with their core values
- Runs an organization or operates within an organization in alignment with the organizational values
- Knows their BIG WHY (life purpose)
- Understands the importance of Work/Life Balance and models that for others
- Rewards teams rather than individuals for their performance
- Models and rewards inter and intra-organizational collaboration
- Recognizes the need for space to encourage creativity and innovation
- Uses their body as well as their minds to make decisions; e.g. Leadership is an art as well as a science.
- Inspires and supports others to be the best they can be
- Is emotionally intelligent and aware of their strengths and weaknesses
- Surrounds self with folks with complementary skill-sets to shore up their weaknesses and complement their strengths, rather than people like themselves.
- Encourages brainstorming and questioning of the status quo.
- Allows their managers and staff to make mistakes, share and learn from them; encourages a culture of innovation – e.g. Engineers without Borders Annual Failure report – http://reports.ewb.ca/
Do you agree with the need for a new type of leader? What are your thoughts? I welcome your comments below. Feel free to share the post with others who you think might like to join in the discussion.