“You're always you, and that don't change, and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it.” - Neil Gaiman
There is only one thing that’s certain in life and that is that things will change. No matter how much you deny, resist, or ignore it, the unfolding of life brings new challenges and experiences that you must adapt to, one way or another.
Each of us experience change constantly yet react to it in many different ways. While some of us embrace change and even drive it, most fall into the “change resistant” category. Our brains expect certain things to stay the same and when they don’t, the information we trusted breaks down causing us fear over what comes next. What we don’t know tends to scare us and change creates a lot of unknowns. Even positive change comes with challenges and discomfort. Change. Is. Hard.
In today’s fast-paced, quickly-evolving world, it’s important to develop your ability to handle change effectively. While it’s never easy, here are somethings you can do to adapt to change with a bit more grace.
Freak Out For a Minute, Privately
There’s nothing wrong with being scared of change, especially when it blindsides you, so go ahead and freak out for a minute. Just do it privately. Negative reactions on public display almost never produce good outcomes. Go for a walk alone, vent to someone you trust, write in your journal, scream into your pillow…let it out in a private place to release pent up emotions and then start focusing on how to deal with the change.
Give Yourself Time to Process
When change hits hard and fast, it can feel overwhelming. Your brain starts racing, making up a story which usually concludes with the world as you know it ending. But if you think back on all the times you freaked out over change, how often did the story end the way you first imagined it? Probably never, if you are like me. That’s why it’s good to give yourself time to process the change. I can promise that tomorrow, it won’t seem nearly as bad as it did today, so think it through and come up with a plan after sleeping on it.
Be Honest About Your Feelings
It’s easy to focus on the situation or person, blaming and barraging the bringer of change or the change itself. Don’t do this. Be accountable and own your fears and other feelings. Look inside to understand your resistance so you can clearly articulate why you have such strong feelings. Put words to your feelings by asking yourself questions and answering truthfully. Why do I feel this way? What am I afraid of? Why am I resisting? If I embrace this change, what’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen?
Get More Information
Don’t assume the story you told yourself about why the change is happening is true. It’s probably not. Ask questions and do more research so you understand why something is changing. The deeper your awareness, the faster you can settle your mind, fine tune your response, and adjust to the change.
Give Your Opinion
It’s okay to want to influence the outcome, especially if you feel passionately about something. Consider what you want to achieve, be conscience of your tone, listen to others, and then give your opinion. Always look for a positive solution; a win-win may not be possible, but you’ll feel better once you’ve expressed yourself.
Accept the Change
Life is so much easier when you stop resisting every little change, so pick your battles carefully. Sometimes change is worth resisting and sometimes you just have to accept things as they are. Resisting can make you miserable and you risk damaging relationships and your overall happiness. Take a deep breath and give yourself permission to surrender every now and then. Stop complaining about it to others. Look for the positive and give it some time. Before you know it, you’ll have adapted to the change and it’ll be a distant memory that doesn’t seem all that bad.
Change is what makes life interesting and amazing. It teaches us profound lessons and promotes growth and wisdom. It can take us to faraway places or deep within ourselves. It creates exciting opportunities and yes, sometimes it breaks our hearts. It’s what weaves the tapestry of our lives together, creating a colorful patchwork of experiences, emotions, thoughts, and relationships that make up our existence. Embrace it and do your best to enjoy the ride; if properly harnessed, change can inspire you to be the greatest version of yourself.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance” – Alan Watts
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Recently, I was on a panel at a trade show discussing women in the industrial cleaning industry. One of my fellow panelists, Abby Zaffuto, who is the president of a company that owns and operates eight Rotor Rooter franchises in South Carolina, spoke about how to achieve work/life balance. She gave a brilliantly funny talk and what she said hit home…
There is no such thing as work/life balance; throw that idea out the window. What’s key is integration.
There is so much buzz around work/life balance, especially these days where it’s getting harder and harder to disconnect. And there should be; it can be easy to forget that there is life outside of running around trying to cram a million things into the day; when we hardly have time to take a deep breath, how can we truly engage with the world around us? That being said, finding balance is hard, so hard that the thought of attaining it makes us more anxious. Perhaps balance isn’t what we should be in pursuit of; maybe it’s integration?
So what’s the difference between balance and integration?
Balance is defined as a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. Integration is the combining of two or more things so that they work together effectively. It’s the process of attaining close and seamless coordination between several departments, groups, organizations, systems, etc.
Integration is not the same as balance.
I don’t know about you, but my life is not filled with elements that are in equal or correct portions. Sometimes I am traveling for two weeks. Sometimes I have to work late. Sometimes I take a 10 day vacation and don’t answer emails. Sometimes I have to take the day off to care for my sick child. I get up early to work for a few hours so I have 20 extra minutes to take my son to school every day. Some nights I have the energy to cook and other nights it’s take-out. This is not balance…this is making it work. That’s why the idea of integration appeals to me.
Perhaps it’s just semantics but for some reason I feel like I can do integration; there’s a chance I can succeed at combining the complicated aspects of my life so that all the pieces work together….at least most of the time. Balance on the other hand is a much more difficult concept. Trying to find balance in my life is like doing backflips on a balance beam with your eyes closed; next to impossible unless you are a world class athlete.
Good or bad, the line between work and the other parts of life is blurred. It’s hard to truly disconnect from the 24/7 aspect of global business. This is why successful integration is so important; you can easily get sucked into the vortex of endless work if you let yourself. So what can you do?
Here are three tips to help you successfully integrate work and life…
I’ve faced the fact that, for me, work/life balance is unattainable. Truth be told, I don’t even know if it’s what I want…and I’ve made peace with this. My goal is to be and do my very best and sometimes that means I have to work more and sometime it means I have to play more. And it always means being a good role model for my son. Blending your aspirations, responsibilities, duties, and some downtime is the key to living a successful, engaged and fulfilling life. It’s the definition of work/life integration.
So here’s to integration, may you achieve seamless coordination in all aspects of your life; it may not be easy but it’s certainly a worthy goal.
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A few months ago, I wrote a blog about how we should all make 2017 the Year of Going Big. Why not? Sure, the turmoil and uncertainly in the world may be frightening but now is not the time to hunker down and make yourself as small as possible. Big change can (and needs) to happen.
So you’ve made a bold, courageous resolution and you are ready to pursue it with gusto. Now what? As famous French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” If you don’t know how to get to where you going, how do you ever get there?
I’d like to share a take away from the book “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.” It’s an exercise on how to put together a plan of action to reach a big goal. This exercise is similar to developing a marathon training plan. You know you need to be able to run 26.2 miles at the end of 20 weeks. You also know that you can’t start with 20 mile runs in week 1. Therefore you must develop a plan that works backwards week by week, lining out how you will log your training miles. This is the only way to keep yourself on track to the build motivation, strength and stamina required as you increase your mileage each week. Without this kind of plan, you may run too much too early and hurt yourself or you may not run enough and fail to cross the finish line. The plan is key.
You can use the marathon model to plan any goal you want to achieve. Let’s say that your goal is to get a promotion at the end of the year. You have 10 months to earn it; how do you get there? Start planning backwards. It looks something like this…
This is a simplified example, yes, but you get the idea. I recently did this exercise for a 16 year goal I’ve set for myself and it was incredibly eye-opening and helpful. I feel empowered and excited because I have an outline for success. There is no way I could achieve a goal that's 16 years out without a solid plan now.
You may find that you need to deviate from the plan you’ve created and that’s okay; course correcting along the way is necessary to achieve a goal. This exercise merely helps you think through all the things you need to do to get to where you want to be. Make adjustments as you execute your plan; use this as a tool to ensure you are working on the RIGHT things and taking the RIGHT actions to reach your “big thinking” goal.
Good luck and go for it!
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One of most important attributes to becoming successful is self-discipline. It’s almost impossible to achieve excellence without it. Self-discipline helps you stay focused; it gives you the gumption to stick with something even when it’s difficult. It helps you choose winning the long game over short term gratification. Self-discipline allows you to overcome obstacles and deal with the discomfort of pushing yourself to new heights. With enough self-discipline, you can form life-long, positive habits; once you form a habit, it no longer requires discipline and you propel yourself towards success because it’s what you do day in and day out.
What is self-discipline? Essentially, it’s the ability to control your impulses, emotions, reactions, and behaviors. It’s the ability to forego short term gratification in favor of long term satisfaction and gain. It’s basically saying no when you really want to say yes.
How does self-discipline lead to forming habits? If you do something over and over again, it eventually becomes a habit and once something a habit, life gets easier; you no longer need willpower to force yourself to do it. For example, last year one of my goals was to do more yoga. I made a commitment to do it 30 minutes every day for 30 days. I felt so much better that I continued for another 30 days which turned in 6 months, etc. Now I get up an hour earlier to start my day off with 60 minutes of yoga. I don’t have to set my alarm anymore and I do it EVERY day. If you would like more insight on how to use discipline to form habits, read the Power of Habit. It’s a fantastic book.
The word self-discipline makes most people shudder just uttering it but being self-disciplined isn’t about leading a restrictive and boring life void of enjoyment, relaxation, and fun. In fact, it’s next to impossible to be self-disciplined in all areas of your life and I don’t recommend it. Instead, you should use self-discipline to focus your energies on what’s most important to you. Let it help you make the tradeoff between the short and long term so that you make better choices. In the long run, you’ll be happier when you have formed habits that make your life better.
So how do you become more self-disciplined? Here are my tricks:
You are the master of your destiny, the creator of your life. If you want your destiny to look, be and feel a certain way, then you have to develop the discipline to form habits. Vigorous habits will help you get to where you want to be. While it seems counter intuitive, I have found that I am happier and healthier the more self-disciplined I become. I think you will find the same thing, too.
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You are a collection of all the stories you’ve told yourself. That’s right, your life is a work of fiction and you are the main character.
We all tell ourselves stories about the things that happen to us, the decisions we make, and why other people do the things they do. You make assumptions and then act upon those assumptions. That’s how you create your life; your stories become your reality. You wear your stories like a warm winter sweater because they give you comfort that you actually understand what’s happening around you. You do this because your brain can’t stand not understanding why something is happening. It is constantly looking for patterns, assigning cause and effect, then creating a narrative that you subsequently believe, even if you have no access to the actual truth. Psychologists and scientists call this the narrative bias. We couldn’t survive without it.
There’s good and bad news to consider when pondering your narrative.
First the bad news. If you create a story that is negative, inaccurate, or based on a lie you’ve been told or that you’ve told yourself, you could send yourself down a path that might lead to poor decisions, low self-esteem and needless suffering.
The good news is that you can create a different story. You can challenge your assumptions. You can think about the way you think. You can break down belief systems that hold you back. You can build upon the positive things that happen in your life. You can choose to let go and move on.
Even though your story might feel real and unchangeable, it isn’t. It doesn’t matter if you’re living a charmed life or one of struggle and despair. Your story isn’t real and it isn’t permanent.
So pick the one thing in your life you want to change or make happen and tell yourself a different story. One where you are progressing, succeeding and winning. Then start taking action to create that story. It doesn’t mean it’s easy; it just means it’s possible. Be willing to do the hard work.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street. I am not saying you want his story (or maybe you do; he is very wealthy and everyone loves a comeback story) but it’s a statement worth keeping in mind.
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”
Thanks for reading,
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It’s hard to believe that another year is in the books; 2016 flew by and it will go down as one of the most intense years in history. I for one am glad it’s over, as I imagine many of you are, for a plethora of reasons that really need no explanation.
Now, 2017 is here and as with any New Year, we will be filled with the excitement of all the possibilities it brings. Perhaps we mistake this magical feeling for the deep sense of relief of having made it through the year; another trip around the sun and we are still here! Let’s raise our glasses and celebrate! We are sure that when the clock strikes midnight, our lives will change for the better. This year will be different, we just know it. We make resolutions to ensure that we will become the future versions of ourselves we so long to be. And then January passes and we realize that it’s just another day, week, and year. Sigh.
But it doesn’t have to be that way….
I think that in 2017 we all should throw caution to the wind. We should make a bold, courageous resolution and pursue it with gusto: we should commit to becoming really great at something that makes the world a better place or that brings great joy to our lives. Can you imagine how much better we would all feel if we pursued something that brought about real, positive change to our lives?
Sure, it may seem like a chasm to get from here to there, but it’s all in how you look at it. There is almost always a path; you just have to create the steps to get there. And you have to being willing to do the hard work. The first step is overcoming inertia; once you have momentum, it gets easier.
If you need some inspiration (or a good kick in the butt), I suggest these books to help overcome inertia and create a plan of action.
“The Compound Effect,” by Darren Hardy
“The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller
"The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure," by Grant Cardone
Remember, your dreams won’t happen to you unless you make them happen. Go for it.
Happy New Year,
Despite what the media sells us, there are more good things happening on this planet than bad things. There are beautiful people doing beautiful things with the goal of helping human kind advance into the brilliant, beautiful creatures we have the potential to be. Every day, each one of us has the choice to evolve or devolve. I choose evolve; I hope you do, too.
NOW is the time to change the world. So I am taking Gandhi’s words to heart, “be the change you want to see in the world.”
I believe the world needs leaders who can bring people together; thoughtful leaders who truly listen to what people have to say even if it’s not what they want to hear; leaders who are honest and transparent, who take action and ask for feedback; those who explain the why behind decisions and who are willing to change their minds. I am going to be this kind of leader.
I believe the world needs more businesses that give back to their employees; ones that believe in spreading the wealth by paying people decent wages and providing good benefits; businesses that allow employees to partake in the success of the company through employee ownership and profit sharing; ones that treat their employees with respect and dignity and who actively help their employees improve their own lives and those of their families. I am going to create this kind of business.
I believe the world needs managers who know how to hold people accountable while at the same time being compassionate to their employees’ individual emotions, experiences, and situations; managers who care about their people, wanting them to succeed; those who are willing to put the team first and who can admit when they make mistakes. I am going to be this kind of manager.
I believe the world needs smart people who are lifelong learners; those who challenge their belief systems and are dedicated to “never stop growing”; those who are committed to reading more books, becoming better writers, considering opinions that differ from their own, traveling outside their own little worlds, and letting go of fears that hold them back. I am going to be this kind of person.
I believe the world needs good parents; those who teach their children to be resilient, accountable, and kind; those who help their children learn the valuable lessons that failure teaches; those who model the value of hard work, honest communication, and perseverance; those who love unconditionally and discipline effectively. I am going to be this kind of parent.
The world needs more communities that are filled with people who are kind to each other, who give back and get involved, who support strong education, healthcare, and infrastructure systems, and who shop locally. I am going to be this kind of community member.
There are many ways to be the change you want to see in the world. Don’t just sit on the couch and complain about the way things are. Do something about it. I encourage you to take action with kindness, compassion, inclusiveness, and with an open-mind. Choose to evolve, not devolve. Choose to change yourself for the better and in turn you’ll change the world for the better.
As always, thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment, like or share if you are so inclined. Please click here to receive my blogs in your inbox.
I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago today and I believe it's even more prevalent now than it was back then, so I am sharing it again. In a country and world as polarized as ours, and with leaders who seem to think this is a good thing, it would behoove us all to stop and question why we, too, think separation is really the answer. This dramatic change...transformation really...starts by each of us questioning our own thoughts and belief systems with the understanding that there is validity to all view points, even those we may vehemently disagree with. The only thing that is for sure is that there is no such thing as THE right way or THE truth. I hope this piece allows you to pause and see your thoughts from another perspective.
Have you ever stopped to question your thoughts? Where did this thought come from? Why do I think this way? Is this thought even true? It’s a pretty powerful moment when you wake up and realize that the way you think might not be the truth. In fact, it’s probably not THE truth.
Here is a perspective…as you read any one of my posts, you are having thoughts about it. You love it, it resonates with you, and you can grab hold of something from a post and take action right now! Those thoughts are based on your experiences, your preferences, your judgments, your emotions, and most likely your feelings and/or perceptions about me as a person/leader (whether those perceptions are true or not).
Someone else reading my post is having a completely different experience. She hates it, thinks I am writing nonsense, and can’t find anything in any post worth trying to implement. She thinks I'm just a "fill-in-the-blank" insult.
Both experiences feel like the truth to each person, but who's truth is right? The answer is neither and both.
We live in an age where we tell ourselves that being RIGHT is worth fighting, even killing for and where tolerance, acceptance, compromise, and admitting that you are wrong are signs of weakness. But here’s the kicker: WE ARE NEVER RIGHT BECAUSE THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY. There are 7(ish) billion people on this Earth which means there are 7(ish) billion different ways to think about everything there is to be thought about. That’s mind blowing! So if there are 7(ish) billion different ways to think about the thought you just had, how can you be so sure that yours is the truth?
Questioning your thoughts is extremely powerful. Yes, it can create discomfort, especially when you challenge your own belief systems (you can read why I think discomfort is a good thing here) but it is also eye opening and life changing. Not believing that your thoughts are true…that your way is the only way…can lead you to new perspectives, new ways of thinking, to stretch yourself, and most importantly as a leader…to making better decisions. Not believing everything you think allows you to make room for other people’s ideas and solutions. It cultivates tolerance, acceptance, and compromise. It helps you be a better person, parent, and leader.
Here are some questions I ask myself when I am feeling passionate (ok, defensive) about the way I think or feel about something or when I am being judgmental about a person or a situation. Sometimes I can detach from my thoughts and sometimes I can’t, but this process always helps me put things into perspective and helps me be more open and compassionate.
Why do I believe this? Why are my feelings so strong?
What if I believed something different? What would change?
What story am I telling myself about this person or situation? How do I know that story is true? What other stories could also be true?
What assumptions am I making?
What would happen if I just let this thought/feeling go and it never crossed my mind again?
Is this how I really feel or is my ego getting in the way?
Why am I being judgmental?
Most of us can agree that the world would be a better place if we weren’t always arguing, judging, defending, and warring. If we want to change this about our world, we must change it within ourselves first.
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As I sit here on my 38th birthday reflecting upon the past year, I feel a huge sense of gratitude for all that I have, for who I am, and for all the amazing people in my life, especially those who bring me so much joy. I am so glad to be here.
This past year has been fraught with challenges but the wins are far more overwhelming. There has been laughter, tears, hard work, 100K+ airline miles, grief, and joy. There has been spectacular moments and moments of panic and anxiety. There's been a lot of mountain bike riding. And most importantly, this past year has been filled with precious moments with my family, especially with Jack…my fast growing, highly evolved threenager; these are the memories I am trying to burn into my mind forever; I never want to let them go.
Life is what you make of it; there is no doubt about that. I am eternally grateful for all the amazing things and all the crappy things that flow through my life each day; all of these events, decisions, and feelings add to the rich tapestry of connections, relationships, experiences, and sense of self that are woven together to form the fabric of my life.
So what did I learn this year that's worth passing on to all of you? Perhaps nothing profound but that being said, sometimes it's the little things that mean the most.
First, it’s important to take care of yourself. Burning out does no one any good. Do yoga every day (seriously, it’s life changing). Get regular massages and/or acupuncture treatments. Eat well. Ride a bike. Take a day off to treat yourself. Even better, take a vacation, or my favorite…a staycation. You will be able to do more when you give yourself a break.
Second, spend more time with the most important people in your life; make it a priority. At any moment you could lose someone you love dearly. You don’t want to regret the choices you made on how you spent your time. Call your mom every day. Go visit your grandfather. Put your phone down and play with you kids. Eat dinner as a family every night. Life is too short to not be with the people you love.
Third, the things that seems like a really big deal today will be minor things tomorrow and forgotten about the day after. Do you remember what you were freaking out about last week? Yeah, me either. So don’t let yourself fall apart over the challenges life throws at you. Take a deep breath and let the situation play out. Life ebbs and flows and you’ll move on faster than you think.
Fourth, live outside your comfort zone for an entire year; it’s the fastest way to grow as a person and leader. I don’t think I have had a day this year (besides on the weekends) when I have felt like, “oh yeah, I’ve got this.” And even though I am exhausted at times, I have never felt so engaged and connected in my life. Playing it safe is not actually safe. Challenge yourself constantly…you’ll be amazed at what you can do.
Lastly, it’s a game changer to have high status on airlines, even if they are shitty airlines. Free upgrades to first class really do make traveling better. My goal is United Global Services baby!
Here’s to another amazingly fabulous trip around the sun. I am so glad I get to share the trip with all of you.
We all have high maintenance people in our lives. You know the person...the one who is never satisfied, the one who never stops talking, the one who makes snippy comments, the one who doesn’t follow the process, or the narcissist who is always right. No matter where you work, you’ll have to deal with those who make things harder than they have to be. While it may seem like your life would be better if you didn’t have to deal with people like this, difficult people can actually make things better in an organization.
Humans are designed to solve problems; that’s why we are all so different. We each see the world through our own lens and bring different perspectives to the table. In the workplace, having different and even opposing opinions is critical to good decision making. While it may “feel” better to have peace and harmony, it’s not ideal. Conflict is good if it’s handled appropriately because it forces a team to look at all the possibilities. Conflict should be encouraged and managed.
That’s all fine and dandy, but what about those difficult people who drive you crazy? How can you minimize their impact on you while still gaining the benefits of having different styles on your team? Here are my tips on how to handle yourself when you are ready to pull your hair out.
First Look Within
Always start with yourself. Is the person you find difficult really the problem or are you overreacting? Are you making assumptions or being too sensitive? While it’s easy to blame the other person, you may have a role in the situation. Ask for feedback from a trusted coworker about how you’re perceived when you are dealing with the difficult person. You may be surprised what you learn.
See it From a Different Perspective
Take a walk in the person’s shoes. Try to think like him. What are his motivations and fears? What’s his personality type and how does that show up when he’s stressed? If there is one thing you can do to improve your situation, it’s to try to see it from other people’s perspectives. Doing so will give you insight so you can flex your style to better match his, allowing you to have greater influence over the outcome.
Address it Directly
The best way to resolve issues in the work place is to deal with them directly. First, make sure you are not emotional; you will get the best results when you can be pleasant and agreeable. Ask questions first; always seek to understand before launching into your grievances. You may learn that your perception of the situation is incorrect and you’ll then be able to pivot if necessary. Explain why and how her behavior is negatively impacting you and others. Offer solutions to how she might be able to more effectively work within the team. Yes, it can be intimidating to approach a difficult person to give feedback, but 9 times out of 10, you can make progress by addressing the issue head-on.
Many people lash out and act inappropriately when they feel they aren’t being heard. Sometimes, all it takes to positively affect bad behavior is to listen to them and validate their feelings and concerns.
Pick Your Battles
Some things are not worth being upset about or fighting for. Sometimes the best solution may be to just let go of your annoyance or frustration. How do you do this? Find something positive to appreciate about the person. Remind yourself that he is human and has hopes and fears, just like you. Smile to yourself, and say “how fascinating” when he exhibits poor behavior. Choose to accept the person for who he is and where he is on his journey. Only flight the battles worth fighting.
Don’t Take it Personally
It’s easy to make everything about you. I’m here to tell you that 99% of the time, it’s not, so don't take it personally. People are not purposefully trying to make your life miserable. Letting yourself become offended or defensive will only escalate the situation and prolong conflict. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is really about whatever is going on with the other person.
Difficult people are challenging but if you practice the above tips, you will be able to keep your cool, respond appropriately, and handle difficulty with grace and compassion. There is always something to be gained in every experience so ask yourself what you can learn and choose to let the situation make you a better communicator, coworker and person.
As always, thanks for reading! I really appreciate comments, likes and shares so please do so if you feel inclined. Click here to receive my blogs in your inbox.
A Quick Blurb on what this blog is about.
Welcome to my blog! My name is Kerry Siggins and plain speaking, honest leadership is my mantra. My intention is to help those who lead (or want to lead) become better at saying and doing what needs to be said and done in a way that it can be heard and seen, one person at a time.