10 Success Principles of Iconic Leaders: Napoleon Hill

 

Image use with consent of the Napoleon Hill Foundation

In the early 1900’s, Napoleon Hill studied 500 of the most successful and wealthy people of that era, including Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, William Wrigley Jr., Charles M. Schwab, Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Thomas Edison and many more. He was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to interview and associate with them in order to extrapolate the characteristics, traits and actions of successful people. After 20 years, Napoleon Hill was successful in doing so,   publishing a number of books, magazines and articles. He earned several million dollars acting on the information gathered. Napoleon Hill’s legacy lives on through his Foundation (www.naphill.org), who regularly publish his philosophies in daily emails, books and other mediums.

Today, leaders are constantly subjected to leadership trends and fads which can add pressure, stress and anxiety from the expectation to adjust in order to fit the styles of the time. Studying and applying long-standing principles to your leadership style gives you clarity and a model of high success to emulate. Principle based leadership will also fortify you from the inside out, increase your self-confidence and significantly improve your leadership ability and likeability. Consider adopting a few of these principles and watch how your life will improve for the best.

Napoleon Hill’s principles are followed by my interpretation/insight.  

Before trying to master others, be sure you are the master of yourself.
As a leader, are you willing to complete the tasks that you assign to others? Do you want people to respect you for your leadership position, regardless of your personal action and character as their leader? There is nothing worse than having an immature or untrained leader in a position of authority. This person can wreak havoc on an organization, create a toxic work environment by creating atmosphere of anxiety and stress, and cause personnel to look for other opportunities. It’s well known that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad leaders.

If you’re a leader and having challenges with others following your lead, are you willing to look in the mirror to see if the issue is you? If you are daring, talk to a well-respected person who has been at the company the longest. They’ve seen different leadership styles and knows what motivates the workforce in that company culture. Ask them how they view you as a leader and the suggestions they have to improve your effectiveness with the workforce. Work on yourself, expand your leadership knowledge, change your approach in the way that you lead people and you’ll find that people will change their minds about you and follow you anywhere when you BECOME a leader worth following.

Who told you it couldn’t be done, and what great achievements has he performed that qualified him to set up limitations for you?
When seeking to get to the next level or achieving a new goal, you should be careful on who you are getting your advice from. Are you allowing family and friends to plant seeds of fear and failure in you? Do you have negative co-workers that give you all the reasons you can’t achieve your goal? When you buy someone’s opinion, you buy their lifestyle. If you were looking to buy a Mercedes S550, would you seek advice from someone who drives a Dodge Neon? Same applies for your goals. Seek advice and counsel from someone who has achieved the results that you desire.

Your mind is the only thing you can control exclusively. Don’t give it away too freely to useless arguments.
There are people in organizations that make it their personal mission to fight every battle, regardless of whether or not the outcome affects them directly. Giving energy to useless arguments and to situations or circumstances that are not in your control is unwise. It also creates preventable stress and anxiety that you are subjecting yourself to. If your input to an undesired situation has the ability to change the outcome, then that’s a battle worth taking up and backing with factual data. However, the information should be presented in a professional manner in order to be received properly. If talking about it or complaining won’t change the outcome, then consider putting that energy and time somewhere that will yield results that will keep you ascending in the organization.

Before opportunity crowns you with success, it usually tests your mettle through adversity.
Thomas Edison failed at inventing the lightbulb 10,000 times. Walt Disney filed bankruptcy several times and was told he lacked imagination. A television station asked Oprah to change her name, stating that she would be received better. It’s rare that someone has ever achieved massive success without failing greatly and mightily on numerous occasions before finally breaking through to success. Knowing this, there are two choices to make, play it safe and never attempt anything outside of your comfort zone, or go after your goals with everything you have, expecting to get knocked down…several times. Continue and go all the way through the goal until it is achieved. Napoleon Hill said, “A man is never whipped until he quits in his own mind.”

The individual who has time only for gossip and slander is too busy for success.
Successful people are always looking for the next mountain to conquer and rarely have time to nit-pick and talk about others. They are too busy looking ahead and not looking behind or around them in an effort to find fault and talk about others. Successful people also realize that giving negative energy to any situation, creates negative energy and circumstances in their lives, so they mainly focus on the positive. If you desire to get to the next level, and can’t figure out why you are meeting resistance and/or have obstacles, evaluate how you how you treat other people and whether or not you are judging and talking about them.

If you have no major purpose, you are drifting toward certain failure.
Your job may not be your major purpose. It’s a means to pay your bills, but it is not why you are here in this lifetime. Many people get caught up in the cycle of the 9-5 and lose sight of becoming who they dreamed of. According to a recent Gallup survey, 87% of people worldwide dislike their jobs. If you fall in this category, although you may be deemed “successful” when it comes to position, money and material possessions, you have not achieved the true success that comes with working on your purpose. Working in purpose, you are doing what you fills you with passion and wakes you up every morning ready to conquer the world.

It’s never too late to work on your major purpose. Vera Wang started designing at 40 and Colonel Sanders franchised KFC at 62. You don’t have leave your job to do what gives you meaning. Consider spending less time watching television and more time investing it in what brings you joy. What would give your life meaning? Can you volunteer your time to a cause you feel strongly about? Life your life full and without regrets.

It takes more than a loud voice to gain respect for authority.
There are some leaders who yell at their personnel in an effort to move them. It’s not only disrespectful to the personnel, and eventually erodes their motivation and self-esteem, it’s also tiring for the leader. If you find that the only way to get people to do what you want them to do is by yelling at them, consider discovering what else motivates them? Is it public praise by acknowledging their good work versus always pointing out the bad? Are you giving them room to grow and learn from their mistakes versus minimizing them and treating them as derelicts; and then get frustrated because they continue to be derelicts? You can never go wrong by shifting the way that you talk to people and actually treating them like the personnel you would like for them to become. Treat people like they are two positions above their current position and provide mentorship opportunities for them to grow. You may be surprised that the majority of them will grow into the role you set for them and their behaviors will change too.

It is always better to imitate a successful man than to envy him.
There are a number of people that dislike highly successful and wealthy people. This is unfortunate because you have drawn a line in the sand and classified it as “us” and “them”. Read Forbes 400 and you will find that a large number of self-made billionaires overcome a number of insurmountable obstacles and are now enjoying the fruits of their labor. Success principles are universal and apply in any vocation. Study the principles and you’ll find that most successful people have applied similar principles to achieve their dreams. Apply the principles to your life and watch it unfold in new and exciting ways.

Wise persons are those who think twice before speaking once.
This is not only a cliché, it’s a skill that needs to be exercised on a regular basis. A number of people lose positions and credibility when speaking out of turn. Also, some people think that by over talking people and solely talking about themselves and their accomplishments is impressive to others. It actually has the opposite effect. In “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie shares great insight about how you can have someone eating out of your hands simply by listening to them and caring about what they care about. Not in a manipulative manner, but by truly listening and having a conversation surrounding them. Opportunities are created by your ability to communicate with others. If you are looking to get to the next level, or desire a better job, get Mr. Carnegie’s audiobook and listen during your commute.

Don’t covet the other fellow’s job if you are not prepared to accept the responsibility that goes with it.
Do you look at your boss and think you would be better their job? Do you resent your coworkers because they make more money than you, but do less work? Instead of harboring negative feelings towards others, find out how they got the position and what credentials they hold, and start at once in obtaining them. Are you willing to do the work to get to their positions, or have you become content with just complaining about something that you can change? If you upped your qualifications and certifications, you will open up possibilities for you, even if it’s with a different company. The key is growing into the person that would fit into the position and then switching jobs if necessary. Both require ACTION.

What’s your favorite Napoleon Hill quote? What long standing principles have you adopted? Which leaders have you emulated that you credit your success to?

Christy Rutherford, an Executive Leadership Strategist, trains leaders on long-standing leadership principles to assist them with realizing their full potential and increase productivity. She also coaches Type A leaders who are suffering from burnout, which impacts their performance at work and home.

Download your free workbook: “Success Roadmap – 7 Powerful Ways To Get Clear On The Results You Desire” at www.christyrutherford.com 

Check out the programs designed for you to manage your stress, reduce anxiety and significantly improve your life while you work to make a living. www.christyrutherford.com/programs

 

 

 

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What Have You Sacrificed For Success? Was It Worth It?

Ahhhhh, the ever elusive term S-U-C-C-E-S-S. As I reflect on my previous career path and accomplishments, I also look at what advice would have been useful prior to entering the job market, and then again mid-career.

Success has to be achieved and is not freely given to anyone. In the pursuit of success, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s sacrificed along the way. Not consistently reflecting and redefining the meaning of success, many people have tunnel vision in their pursuits. Regret comes when they finally stop…reflect….and then realize it’s too late to take corrective action.

Success is a journey and not a destination. Once I graduated as an officer in the military, I thought that was SUCCESS because it was my first post-college job, only to realize that it was the beginning of the journey. Thought obtaining an MBA would satiate my desire for success; nope. Buying my first house; no. Second house; nope. After achieving my lifelong dream of going to culinary school; nah. Being awarded a prestigious medal because of our efforts after Hurricane Katrina; not a chance.

I failed to realize that while working to obtain society’s definition of success (which had become my own), there was a leak. The leak was my personal life, personal growth and time with my family. Equating myself to a gallon container, it can only hold a gallon of liquid. The more SUCCESS liquid I poured in, in order to hold it, that same amount leaked out (sacrifice). In full pursuit of my goals with intense workaholic’ism (not a real word), the rapid pressure of filling the container with SUCCESS liquid, had an even more intense pressure of SACRIFICE liquid coming out of the unseen hole. This cycle of putting more in and never actually feeling full(filled) only became evident to me a few years ago.

Looking at the resignations of some high level CEO’s, it looks like I was not alone.

Last November, the CEO of Reddit resigned because he found the job to be stressful and draining. Citing that after two and a half years, he was completely worn out, and outside people and his coaches (those that were for him and not his title) expressed concern about his health. He also stated that it had detrimental effects on his personal life.

Last March, the CEO of PIMCO, who reportedly earned $100 million annually, resigned shortly after his 10 year old daughter gave him a note of 22 events he missed in her life because he was working, including PTA meetings and her first day of school. That note gave him a wake up call and made him realize he wanted to focus more on his family.

The brave decisions of these CEOs to redefine success for themselves should be encouraging to others. It also shows that in some cases, even when you get to the top and are deemed successful by your colleagues, industry and family, there may be something missing. They were brave enough to change their lives now and not live in regret later.

The ex-CEO of Reddit was harshly criticized for his decision, but I applaud him because he’s making important decisions about his life and not living in the expectations of other people.

I’ve never heard of someone on their death bed wishing they had worked more or bought a bigger house. Can’t recall someone who was diagnosed with terminal cancer talk about how they wish they would have resolved conflict better with someone at work. Most people who are dying are not reflecting on material possessions, but how they lived their lives and what they did with the 24 hours they had each day.

In his last words, Steve Jobs said, “I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy… At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.”

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 states, “Pleasures are meaningless. I said to myself, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless. ‘Laughter,’ I said, ‘is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?’ I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly-my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives. I undertook great projects. I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well-the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for my all my toil. Yet, when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” Wow! Wow! Wow! 🙂

Are you toiling away at work for your family, but rarely see them? Are you working to pay for expensive cars, but only drive them to and from work because you are working extended hours to pay for them? Will you reflect on your life and analyze what’s important? Have you reconsidered your definition of success in the past 5 years?

In an effort to live your best life today, I offer the following questions:

  1. What is your current definition of success?
  2. Are you in pursuit of it?
  3. What are you willing to sacrifice to attain it?
  4. What are you not willing to sacrifice?
  5. What will you change?

Once you’ve answered the questions for yourself, be brave enough to fight for the life you deserve. We all have a limited amount of time on this planet and it’s encouraged to live your best life now and die without regrets.

What are some of the things you unknowingly sacrificed for success? How has your definition of success changed over your career? What things are most important to you now?

Christy Rutherford, an Executive Leadership Strategist, trains leaders on long-standing leadership principles to assist them with realizing their full potential and increase productivity. She also coaches Type A leaders who are suffering from burnout, which impacts their performance at work and home.

Download your free workbook: “Success Roadmap – 7 Powerful Ways To Get Clear On The Results You Desire” at www.christyrutherford.com – Get Instant Access

Check out the programs designed for you to manage your stress, reduce anxiety and significantly improve your life while you work to make a living. www.christyrutherford.com/programs

Leadership Meme: Bosses Depend On Authority – Leaders Depend On Goodwill

There are millions of memes and clichés about leadership floating around the internet. There are also hundreds of thousands of books written on leadership, advanced degree programs, and a wide array of resources and assessments.

A meme is, “A humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users.” I’ve observed this meme over the past few months and read a number of comments that strongly agree with this comparison. It’s really an unfair comparison and shows that some people don’t understand the true nature of leadership. Leadership is tough and the qualities listed above sound good in theory, but are unrealistic in some ways.

True leaders are not only leaders in the workplace, but they are also leaders in the community, their families and in other areas. When people are fed unrealistic information on how their leaders should show up for them, it creates tension, stress and anxiety for leaders who are giving their all in many different areas.

Bosses depend on authority and leaders on goodwill sounds good, but it doesn’t take into account the other 99.95% of the equation. The trustworthiness of the people they are leading and the culture of the organization.

To create goodwill amongst a group of people takes an extended period of time. You have build trust, reputation and credibility. It also takes just as much growth on the part of the employee as it does the leader. It’s a cohesive team working toward the same goal, not just the leader out front expected to just believe what their employees will say. This expectation has more to do with culture than an individual leader.

Early in my career, there was a mid-grade manager (we’ll call him Tony) that called in sick regularly. When questioned by leadership on his whereabouts, my supervisor would look like a deer in the headlights because he didn’t know. O_O This happened at least once a week and was embarrassing to all involved, and caused anxiety for my supervisor.

Tony was a valuable asset to the office for his expertise and 10+ career span. His illnesses of choice were pink eye and strep throat, and although he was out sick a few times a month, he never missed a basketball or golf tournament.

When my supervisor left for extended training, Tony became the responsibility of my good friend, who eventually became the deer in the headlights. Tony’s age and career span compared to ours was intimidating, because we were young and only had 3 years of experience. However, I started to see the writing on the wall because if she left, I would become the deer. 🙂

When she departed for training, Tony and I sat down for a candid conversation because it was not my desire to be stressed out because of his actions. I showed him a 6 month timeline on my calendar that noted all his illnesses and tournament attendances. We also talked about the realistic recovery time of pink eye and strep throat, which were more than a day. The look on his face was priceless.

I then asked about his goals and he expressed frustration because he wanted to be promoted, but stalled out and couldn’t figure out why. He started to look down on himself, was becoming depressed and non-productive at work. We talked about how he fit into the big picture and what happened to the leaders when he was not present (disarray, anxiety and disorganization abound); so he was very valuable to us and the good order of the office. Apparently, no one had ever told him that he was valuable. I then told him that it was never my intent to be embarrassed like the others and if he was “really” sick, we needed a doctor’s note and he needed to call me personally.

Two months later, I conducted an experiment with his evaluation and marked him high; at the level that he had the capacity to perform and not where he was currently. It was a signal of – this is where I see you now, so grow into it…and he did! He became one of the highest performing members in the office and never reverted back! He also became one of the happiest people in the office, his posture changed, he rearranged his desk to be more visible to the leaders that needed him and eventually got promoted and continued to accelerate in leadership levels.

Goodwill and authority are about culture and takes time to nurture and grow. Tony felt used up, and started to take advantage of the system that allowed him to. When he was held accountable for taking advantage of the system with low evaluations, which affected his promotions, he responded with lower performance. This created a cycle where the leaders and Tony looked bad. It was a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.

Nearly 8 months after the conversation, we shifted from authority to goodwill with Tony. I was the last peg in the leadership chain, so it doesn’t take senior leadership to address people. EVERYONE is a leader.

A few keys in shifting from authority to goodwill with your personnel:

  1. Have an open conversation
  2. Set clear expectations of their performance
  3. Get feedback on their short and long-term goals
  4. Express appreciation of who they are
  5. Tell people how they fit in the overall picture
  6. Give them room to grow
  7. Coach them on the goals they set for themselves.

For the most part, people love to feel needed and as a valuable part of the team. A low performing employee or poor culture can be turned around with a few tweaks. This has been proven time and time again.

What are your thoughts on the authority vs goodwill? What are your experiences with authority to gain compliance?

Christy Rutherford, an Executive Leadership Strategist, trains leaders on long-standing leadership principles to assist them with realizing their full potential and increase productivity. She also coaches Type A leaders who are suffering from burnout, which impacts their performance at work and home.

Download your free workbook: “Success Roadmap – 7 Powerful Ways To Get Clear On The Results You Desire” at www.christyrutherford.com 

Check out the programs designed for you to manage your stress, reduce anxiety and significantly improve your life while you work to make a living. www.christyrutherford.com/programs

Bosses Drive Employees – Leaders Coach Them

Deloitte’s report of Global Human Capital Trends stated, “Despite the proliferation of leadership fads, there are no shortcuts to building a leadership team that is broad and deep. Building leaders requires more than a portfolio of training programs.”

People never forget great leaders and the skills learned from them can last a lifetime. Leaders aren’t just born, they can be cultivated, but it takes an investment. Whether it’s a substantial investment of time by learning from other leaders and/or money from the company, the best leaders are created and cultivated by other great leaders.

Leaders are people who went the extra mile, refused to quit and gave it one more shot. Leaders typically have high levels of stress and anxiety, and have challenges in managing it. People glorify leadership, but then judge leaders on their dysfunctions that were created by overcoming all the obstacles in seeking the leadership position.

A dysfunctional leader is considered the “boss that drives employees.” There are layers to leadership and one person can wreak havoc on an entire organization. It’s up to the next level leader to address the issues and if that person does not, then it’s the next level. Someone has to be responsible for monitoring the climate, without paperwork or assessments.

A leader of leaders, everyone in my responsibility was expected to be a leader. My goal was to always improve workplace climate, increase productivity and excel in our mission, but the first task at hand was shifting the mindset of the existing personnel. Moving offices every few years ensured the techniques were refined and polished with time.

People perform at the level they are expected to perform and if they are berated, called names or frowned upon, they will meet the low expectation. It also creates undue pressure, stress and anxiety. If they are treated with high regard, (even those that perform at low levels), their performance will significantly improve and they will be happier and more productive.

An environment of high expectation, respect and high regard was created, so when new people came in, they quickly adopted the culture. If there are leaders who operated outside of this, the change is noticed quickly. One example:

I had a team of 20 personnel that worked various times of the day and night. They worked with high integrity and ran their jobs seamlessly, so there was no need to micro-manage them. A year later, a new supervisor arrived and after a month, it was secretly reported he was harsh and condescending. (Do your personnel trust you enough to tell you mismatches in culture and know that you will address it?)

We scheduled a quick meeting and when asked about the nature of the meeting, I told him that it had been brought to my attention that the behavior he was displaying towards those he was entrusted to lead was undesired and uncharacteristic of the leadership environment he was working within. Our workload is stressful enough, and adding poor leadership would create unnecessary anxiety and decrease productivity.

His eyes were the size of golf balls and I asked if he knew why people would make that statement about him. He didn’t know. All bad leaders don’t know that their style is bad; some are oblivious. He was informed that talking down to others, and treating them poorly was not needed since the team had high results without safety issues or reports of bad behavior. He then justified his behavior by saying, “I get results” and then started rattling off statistics of tasks that had been completed.

When asked if he could get the same results without the negativity, he stared at me. Then I gave him my definition of leadership. If you lead your team around the winding roads, through adversity, overcoming insurmountable obstacles, and finally reach the top of the mountain, what condition would they be in? Would they be tired, yet excited for achieving the goal or would they be beat down and disheveled. He looked confused. I said, “Will they celebrate with you when you reach your goal at the top of the mountain or throw you off the cliff?  O_O  That’s the leadership test I want you to remember when talking to the people who work for you.”

We talked for another 30 minutes and I discovered he thought he was a great leader. He was indeed a great leader, but he also had dysfunctions. We all do, just in different areas. 🙂 In some offices, his style of leadership was tolerated, but in a culture where mutual respect came first, he was not. I recommended one of my favorite books, the “Alpha Male Syndrome” and told him to do the work to become the great leader he desired. Nearly 2 weeks later, he returned and thanked me because no one ever took the time to give him the insight needed to be a better leader. In his 20+ year career, no one pointed out his deficiencies, offered a tool to fix it and then monitored the progress.

Some people in leadership positions think they may be doing great because they get results, but greater results can be obtained with a few tweaks. Treat people like winners and they will respond accordingly. Treat people like losers, you will stress them out, create anxiety and decrease productivity, which will ultimately lower profits.

Three points key to turning around ineffective leaders.
1.  Have someone work with them on their deficiencies? (Not in an attack, condescending manner or with a 360 assessment) Leaders need to be verbally counseled and not be coached with a piece of paper/assessment.
2.  Offer them tools that address their specific issue. People are unique and need specialized attention. One size does not fit all.
3.  Monitor their progress and acknowledge their improvements.

What characteristics do you think separate bosses from leaders? Have you ever been traumatized by a bad leader? What advice do you have for other leaders? 

Christy Rutherford, an Executive Leadership Strategist, trains leaders on long-standing leadership principles to assist them with realizing their full potential and increase productivity. She also coaches Type A leaders who are suffering from burnout, which impacts their performance at work and home.

Download your free workbook: “Success Roadmap – 7 Powerful Ways To Get Clear On The Results You Desire” at www.christyrutherford.com 

Check out the programs designed for you to manage your stress, reduce anxiety and significantly improve your life while you work to make a living. www.christyrutherford.com/programs

Is Technology The True Culprit Of Overwhelmed Employees?

Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends report stated, “Sixty-five percent of executives…rated the ‘overwhelmed’ employee an ‘urgent’ or ‘important’ trend, while 44 percent said that they are ‘not ready’ to deal with it.” The report also stated, “Senior executives should create a culture that broadens the opportunity for leaders to develop in new ways…continuously coaching and supporting leaders so they can build their capabilities as rapidly as possible.”

On one hand, senior executives need to continuously coach and support leaders, and on the other hand, leaders are overwhelmed and executives are not ready to deal with it. This highlights a gap, which I consider the proverbial elephant in the room, the human side of leadership. Senior executives may be overwhelmed too. Leaders carry high levels of stress and anxiety, but have to show up to work every day and be the leader that everyone else needs, while neglecting their own.

 “Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” – Eckhart Tolle

When people talk about how leaders should perform and act, they are stating what the perfect model of leadership should look like. This is great in theory, but when you add the human element, you don’t account for the other roles leaders have to play in their lives. To “coach and support” leaders takes an investment of time and/or money on the part of the leaders and organization.

Known as a leader of leaders, I invested a significant amount of time into my personnel and 50+ people outside my office. Every evening, I spent 1-3 hours (at their request) sharing insight, leadership principles, balancing work and home, managing stress and anxiety, averting depression, and filling them with enough information that would last 15+ years. At home and on weekends, I coached the other 50.

To complete all tasks required, lead and nurture, create and maintain a climate of fairness and respect, my personnel were adequately coached. However, I was overwhelmed, stressed out with high levels of anxiety, but hid it behind a masked smile at work.

By the results I produced, I was considered a fantastic leader, but I was not a great aunt because I missed my niece and nephews’ birthdays for years. I knew a birthday was May 10th, but not when May 10th actually occurred. I was an okay daughter, because I didn’t visit home as often and every year, got progressively worse in picking out thoughtful Christmas gifts for my mom. Earlier in my career we were in tune and I knew what she wanted. As time passed, I got busy, we talked less and I didn’t know anymore. I was a pretty lousy niece and cousin because I was too stressed to manage my dramatic family during the holidays.

Information overload is not the only factor in overwhelm. How many leaders carry the guilt/burden of missing important milestones in their family’s lives because they were at work? How many have failed or strained relationships/ marriages because they take work home and are not emotionally present? How many have unresolved guilt for missing time with their aging parents, only to show up to put them in a nursing home or attend their funeral?

Time can never be recouped and carrying this baggage, along with meeting the demands at work, not being fully engaged at home, all while coaching others, can be a significant contributing factor to the overwhelm, stress, anxiety and depression leaders experience. Companies spend millions developing leaders professionally, but is anyone addressing the baggage they carry for having the leadership position?

One of the best pieces of advice I pass to junior leaders is to get a life and not work themselves into oblivion. I tell them to manage their stress and anxiety by working out, and not alcohol. If they are displaying signs of depression, I offer insight into what makes them happy and investing their time into activities that give them meaning.

Somehow I couldn’t save myself and felt trapped in the hole of decisions that were made to get to the executive leadership position; but felt it was important to inform young leaders to watch their balance from the beginning.

Regardless of the countless number of assessments and training programs available, people look for others with leadership traits they want to emulate. A great leader can cross cultural, racial, gender and generational barriers. People are inspired by others that have traits they desire and look forward to growing into a similar mold of the person they are looking up to.

If organizations do not have leaders that others want to emulate, there are going to be issues. If senior executives don’t have the time or desire to deal with overwhelmed leaders (or themselves), is it realistic to expect a succession of leaders created in their organization? Creating a pipeline of effective leaders starts with addressing overwhelm, stress and anxiety in the current leaders.

Below are 3 recommendations to develop better leaders in your organization:
1. Address the needs of leaders by asking what they need. Being unbalanced, stressed out with anxiety, or unhappy, can wreak havoc on the workforce. Also, they do not display the characteristics others may want to emulate. If the workforce observes leaders who suffer from depression, why would they seek advancement in that organization?
2. Make leadership an expected trait in all employees. A number of people operate at 10-20% of their capacity and if you give them an opportunity to expand, they will shock you and themselves. This decreases the workload of stressed leaders.
3. If leaders are displaying behavior that is disruptive to the organization’s culture, address by getting to the root cause and not just the glaring issue. Ask yourself, did your organization, the culture, unmanageable workload and inadequate programs for stress management create the negative behavior in this person? Are you now punishing that which you created?

What are some great leadership lessons you’ve learned? What advice do you have for leaders who are struggling? Can you relate to the trade-off of great leadership?

Christy Rutherford, an Executive Leadership Strategist, trains leaders on long-standing leadership principles to assist them with realizing their full potential and increase productivity. She also coaches Type A leaders who are suffering from burnout, which impacts their performance at work and home.

Download your free workbook: “Success Roadmap – 7 Powerful Ways To Get Clear On The Results You Desire” at www.christyrutherford.com 

Check out the programs designed for you to manage your stress, reduce anxiety and significantly improve your life while you work to make a living. www.christyrutherford.com/programs

How To Love Your Job More Despite Its Challenges

I’ve recently talked to a number of people who talk badly about their jobs, bosses and co-workers. There’s a fire that burns within them when they passionately express ALL the things that are wrong. Their passion usually illuminates the flame in other people and then you have a group of people complaining about everything that’s wrong with the world. They say that if someone would just fix the problems, their jobs would be so much better. If someone would address the countless challenges, they wouldn’t be depressed, stressed or have high levels of anxiety. Surprisingly, they also have a list of solutions to the problems they’re complaining about.

I’m very direct in my questions and when asked why they don’t act on or propose their recommended solutions to the decision makers, their fire quickly diminishes, coldness enters and I get a “deer in the headlights” look. After a minute or so, an avalanche of excuses start to emerge from their pores and spill all over the floor. Passion soon turns into exhaustion.

“Start going the extra mile and opportunity will follow you. Leaders who need a job done think first of people they know will do it well. If other people respect you for the quantity and quality of your work, you will find yourself advancing past others who regard their jobs as drudgery. For all the extra service that you’ve rendered, you’ll find yourself more than amply compensated by opportunities others never grasp.” – Napoleon Hill 

 It’s so interesting that people get excited when they complain about everything that’s wrong in their lives, but get exhausted and make excuses when it comes to creating a solution. It takes work to make changes and create new habits, but it’s seems easier to complain than make changes. Truthfully, it’s easier to make changes than to complain about the same thing year after year. If you are blaming everyone else for your problems, depression, stress and anxiety, and NO ONE seems to care that you have these conditions, it’s time to look in the mirror and decide to save yourself.

At one office early in my career, mid-level personnel rotated jobs every year to diversify our portfolio. When rotation time came, senior leadership decided to keep me in the initial position because I was very good at it and made significant improvements. This was great for them, but what about me and the implications to my career?? I had every right to complain and rage against it, but instead, I asked to be given an official title and the flexibility to change the job description; my requests were granted. I also volunteered for other roles to stay in the presence of senior leaders.

When rotation time came again, they kept me in the job for the third year. This was unheard of and completely unfair!! With the success of the training programs developed, the new standards of conduct and higher levels of professionalism displayed by the people who worked for me, senior leadership wanted the trend to continue. I felt my hard work was having the opposite effect and cost me career diversity. Again, instead of beating my fists, I asked to be given 4 newly arriving personnel and the request was approved. Over that 3 year period, I ended up with 75% more officers (mid-level supervisors) working for me, than any other person at my level.

Instead of feeling victimized by the decisions of others, I chose to create new and unconventional ways to diversify my job portfolio. The valuable lessons learned from that experience taught me that organizations are open to efficiencies and changes if they:
1. Make sense
2. Greatly benefit the bottom line, and
3. Doesn’t involve extra money or personnel to make it happen

In the next position, I applied the same principles and ended up developing a reputation with the leaders in my office and others within the worldwide organization. I also attracted the attention of leaders from local, national and international companies and was regularly requested to speak at their events to share my knowledge and expertise. After the events, I had numerous job offers that were kindly declined.

The previous paragraph is not intended to impress you, but to impress upon you that thinking outside of the box, and working hard to solve long-standing problems opens up an expansive array of possibilities. Senior leaders have their reasons for making decisions and any time you work for someone else, you will be subjected to their reasons; whether they share them with you or not. Taking ownership for how you respond is up to you. Getting down on yourself, becoming depressed or stressed out, or having anxiety because you feel left out is not the right approach, there is a better way.

If you don’t like the circumstances of your job, are you willing to work for your company/organization and go the extra mile to make it better at no cost? Doing more work than your counterparts and making significant impacts in your current position may give you an opportunity to get hired at a higher income level with other companies. Leaders love other successful leaders and are always on the lookout for top talent. Are you doing what’s necessary to be considered top talent?

When leaders work to make their companies better, they aren’t looking for praise, accolades, raises, awards, etc. They are doing the work to solve the problems that people have been complaining about for years. By solving the problems, it’s likely they receive the praise, accolades, raises, etc., but the price has to be paid up front.

“If life hands you a lemon, don’t complain, but instead make lemonade to sell to those who are thirsty from complaining.”
– Napoleon Hill

What have been your experiences with leadership and going the extra mile? Do you have people in your office that complain all the time?

Christy Rutherford, an Executive Leadership Strategist, trains leaders on long-standing leadership principles to assist them with realizing their full potential and increase productivity. She also coaches Type A leaders who are suffering from burnout, which impacts their performance at work and home.

Download your free workbook: “Success Roadmap – 7 Powerful Ways To Get Clear On The Results You Desire” at www.christyrutherford.com 

Check out the programs designed for you to manage your stress, reduce anxiety and significantly improve your life while you work to make a living. www.christyrutherford.com/programs

Motivating Successful Women: Wealth, Influence or Prestige?

While recently talking to a number of executive level women, these ladies have the elements of success, but felt that there was something more to be done with their lives. After achieving high levels of success and getting paid a great salary along with it, there is still a longing for more…but the question is, more what?

There is a hidden reason that’s becoming highlighted through open and honest conversations; and while surveys are great, they are typically based on surface emotions, and not the true feelings of some women which can be buried in the abyss and guarded by sharks. 🙂

In 2010, Princeton University released a study, “High Income Improves Evaluation of Life, but Not Emotional Well-Being.” It said that emotional well-being rose along with income up to $75,000, but there was no further progress of emotional well-being above that income level.

My friends and I laugh all the time about how we were happier at $45k than we were/are at $100k+. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating against achieving high levels of income, but it’s about realizing what’s given up along the way from $45k – $100k. Acknowledging that we lost “something” as we gained more income, credibility, job titles and reputations in our chosen profession, is the key to being happy with more money. What were we doing at $45k that we aren’t doing at $100k?

At $45k, we were fresh out of college and super proud of the accomplishment of getting our first job. We were happy with moving into our very own apartment, typically furnished with hand-me down furniture or pieces from discount stores. We were happy with our used cars.

The freedom and excitement of accomplishments were celebrated often and we gathered regularly with friends for dinner, movies and birthday parties; often seeing each other several days a week outside of work or at least twice a month for dinner at Red Lobster or Olive Garden.

We had responsibility, but it wasn’t a ton because we were young and the expectations and penalties for mistakes weren’t as crushing.

Over time, as we ascended up the ladder of achievement, work became a priority and accomplishments became a normal part of life; so they were no longer celebrated. With additional income, our apartments turned into houses with mortgages and used cars were replaced with new ones. Stress and anxiety from working longer hours accompanied the higher income.

Money that was once considered disposable income for gatherings with friends, is now being used for nicer homes, cars, furniture and other material possessions. Red Lobster is now McCormick and Schmicks and Oceanaire (who eats frozen seafood these days?). People got married and had kids and the once close relationships with others are not so close anymore. The attention has to be in the home and at work.

Friends who had kids and became stay at home moms developed depression because their professional identity was replaced with picking up dirty socks and becoming a pseudo cab driver to kid’s activities.

Now here we are in these big houses, driving these cars and have several post graduate degrees, but we are also stressed out and over-worked in high level positions. We have anxiety and strained relationships with family and friends because Father-Time waits for no one, and the weekly/monthly gatherings have turned into once every few years, if ever.

For women who try to balance work, stress, family, spouses, care-giver or whatever role they are called to do, there are questions raised on whether or not it’s worth it. Achieving executive level positions and breaking barriers is exciting for competitive women, and is a lofty goal to achieve. However, what happens when we get there and look at all that was lost along the way?

What happens to the women who are one step from achieving an executive position, but sees the stress, anxiety and strain of other women in those positions? A young lady ascending the success ladder talked about how her bosses have high divorce rates, and suffer from depression, so she’s choosing to stay in a lower position because the future is brighter there, rather than stepping into the shoes of her executive team.

Why do I go to this length to get my message out to the audience that needs it the most? It’s because while we ascend to high positions, no one is highlighting the trade-off. There is an exchange taking place. More money, less time; more time, less money; bigger house, less disposable income; more disposable income, smaller house or apartment.

What’s the point of leaving a $600k house in the morning and driving to your reserved parking space at work in a Lexus if you drive around in the parking lot for 5 minutes, and then kick rocks on the way in the door? What’s the point of getting to the corner office with a view, if you are going to stare out of the window and regularly talk yourself out of jumping out of it?

“Happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well-being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events.”
– Tal Ben Shahar, “Happier” 

What made you happier 10 years ago? Can you re-create it? Has your definition of success changed? After achieving high levels of success, what more do you want?

I’m simply asking these questions to spark an inner dialogue and to get you to think about what you really want in life. Only you know and it’s unique and individualized to your life. Surveys can’t tell you who you are, only you and God can do that.

I’ve recently talked to a number of people who talk badly about their jobs, bosses and co-workers. There’s a fire that burns within them when they passionately express ALL the things that are wrong. Their passion usually illuminates the flame in other people and then you have a group of people complaining about everything that’s wrong with the world. They say that if someone would just fix the problems, their jobs would be so much better. If someone would address the countless challenges, they wouldn’t be depressed, stressed or have high levels of anxiety. Surprisingly, they also have a list of solutions to the problems they’re complaining about.

I’m very direct in my questions and when asked why they don’t act on or propose their recommended solutions to the decision makers, their fire quickly diminishes, coldness enters and I get a “deer in the headlights” look. After a minute or so, an avalanche of excuses start to emerge from their pores and spill all over the floor. Passion soon turns into exhaustion.

“Start going the extra mile and opportunity will follow you. Leaders who need a job done think first of people they know will do it well. If other people respect you for the quantity and quality of your work, you will find yourself advancing past others who regard their jobs as drudgery. For all the extra service that you’ve rendered, you’ll find yourself more than amply compensated by opportunities others never grasp.” – Napoleon Hill 

 It’s so interesting that people get excited when they complain about everything that’s wrong in their lives, but get exhausted and make excuses when it comes to creating a solution. It takes work to make changes and create new habits, but it’s seems easier to complain than make changes. Truthfully, it’s easier to make changes than to complain about the same thing year after year. If you are blaming everyone else for your problems, depression, stress and anxiety, and NO ONE seems to care that you have these conditions, it’s time to look in the mirror and decide to save yourself.

At one office early in my career, mid-level personnel rotated jobs every year to diversify our portfolio. When rotation time came, senior leadership decided to keep me in the initial position because I was very good at it and made significant improvements. This was great for them, but what about me and the implications to my career?? I had every right to complain and rage against it, but instead, I asked to be given an official title and the flexibility to change the job description; my requests were granted. I also volunteered for other roles to stay in the presence of senior leaders.

When rotation time came again, they kept me in the job for the third year. This was unheard of and completely unfair!! With the success of the training programs developed, the new standards of conduct and higher levels of professionalism displayed by the people who worked for me, senior leadership wanted the trend to continue. I felt my hard work was having the opposite effect and cost me career diversity. Again, instead of beating my fists, I asked to be given 4 newly arriving personnel and the request was approved. Over that 3 year period, I ended up with 75% more officers (mid-level supervisors) working for me, than any other person at my level.

Instead of feeling victimized by the decisions of others, I chose to create new and unconventional ways to diversify my job portfolio. The valuable lessons learned from that experience taught me that organizations are open to efficiencies and changes if they:
1. Make sense
2. Greatly benefit the bottom line, and
3. Doesn’t involve extra money or personnel to make it happen

In the next position, I applied the same principles and ended up developing a reputation with the leaders in my office and others within the worldwide organization. I also attracted the attention of leaders from local, national and international companies and was regularly requested to speak at their events to share my knowledge and expertise. After the events, I had numerous job offers that were kindly declined.

The previous paragraph is not intended to impress you, but to impress upon you that thinking outside of the box, and working hard to solve long-standing problems opens up an expansive array of possibilities. Senior leaders have their reasons for making decisions and any time you work for someone else, you will be subjected to their reasons; whether they share them with you or not. Taking ownership for how you respond is up to you. Getting down on yourself, becoming depressed or stressed out, or having anxiety because you feel left out is not the right approach, there is a better way.

If you don’t like the circumstances of your job, are you willing to work for your company/organization and go the extra mile to make it better at no cost? Doing more work than your counterparts and making significant impacts in your current position may give you an opportunity to get hired at a higher income level with other companies. Leaders love other successful leaders and are always on the lookout for top talent. Are you doing what’s necessary to be considered top talent?

When leaders work to make their companies better, they aren’t looking for praise, accolades, raises, awards, etc. They are doing the work to solve the problems that people have been complaining about for years. By solving the problems, it’s likely they receive the praise, accolades, raises, etc., but the price has to be paid up front.

“If life hands you a lemon, don’t complain, but instead make lemonade to sell to those who are thirsty from complaining.”
– Napoleon Hill

What have been your experiences with leadership and going the extra mile? Do you have people in your office that complain all the time?

Christy Rutherford, an Executive Leadership Strategist, trains leaders on long-standing leadership principles to assist them with realizing their full potential and increase productivity. She also coaches Type A leaders who are suffering from burnout, which impacts their performance at work and home.

Download your free workbook: “Success Roadmap – 7 Powerful Ways To Get Clear On The Results You Desire” at www.christyrutherford.com 

Check out the programs designed for you to manage your stress, reduce anxiety and significantly improve your life while you work to make a living. www.christyrutherford.com/programs