Crossing the Threshold to Retirement with Confidence

Crossing the Threshold to Retirement with Confidence

If you are a non-profit executive preparing to retire, that milestone step forward can be immensely enriching if well planned. When crossing the threshold to retirement, there are many practicalities to consider — the board and staff, the successor, organizational vulnerabilities, and the like.

As a leader, you may feel there are few places where you could trust processing the joys and anxieties of leaving your work and shifting an identity you’ve had for a long time.

This May, I’m again co-leading a workshop to help you effectively design your legacy and prepare for your leadership departure with confidence. It’s called Thresholds: Leaving Nonprofit Life with Grace and Curiosity.

We facilitated this workshop in January and found it to be very inspiring. Nine Executive Directors gathered, each in the midst of deciding when to transition from their positions. Their time frames varied from as soon as 6 months to a few years out. Yet all were looking for a way to explore, process and plan their departure.  And they did it, together and with purpose, to great satisfaction!

 

‘This group and the time we shared is memorable and so unique. We came together as strangers and, even through Zoom, we connected on a much deeper level. Thank you everyone for your honesty and sharing your personal perspective.’

– Thresholds participant

 

Since everyone understood the unique mix of challenges, struggles and excitement around the decision to leave, it created a wonderful cohort of equals who clicked. We found they had a hunger just to talk, reflect on their legacies, and what they wanted to do after years of professional service — whether it was moving on to something they’ve always wanted to do, or focused on how their personal lives could grow.

And the Thresholds workshop, a welcoming and fertile environment, was just the way to do it.

If you find yourself resonating with this, the workshop might be of interest to you. If so, here’s a preview of how we guide crossing the threshold to retirement.

We take everyone through a five part process over a period of 5 weeks:

1. EVOLUTION OF LEGACY

We cover what brought you to your work, and how different the world is now as you want to move on.  This sets the stage for musing how you want to leave things so they are relevant to these times, and creating a checklist of what needs to be done to get there.

2. TRANSITION PATHWAY

This section has two parts. First, we explore what you don’t want to leave undone, unsaid or undiscovered. Then we move on to practical information about leadership transition: How to work with the board, support the staff and the like.

We make use here of the William Bridges model, which provides a good framework to understand how transition  affects you and also your people. His book, “Transitions,” is a resource I use often in my coaching practice.

3. GETTING IT ALL DONE

In this stage, we address what you may be grappling with, and practice peer to peer coaching – accessing the wisdom and experience of the group to help each other work through transition challenges and concerns.

4. POTPOURRI of QUESTIONS

As everyone goes deeper exploring the transitional process, new questions can emerge around authentic fears and hopes, identifying what you’re willing to let go of, when it is time to go public and how, what the future looks like and how you want to celebrate it!

5. THE WAY FORWARD

A wonderful opening! This is where you’ll envision the future: reclaiming some of the freedoms and possibilities you may have set aside to be so responsible. We talk about opportunities which could include learning new things, and getting time to spend with family, untethered to a phone or schedule.

These steps are empowering! It was amazing to watch participants transform from where they started to looking forward to what’s next, feeling centered and clear. The strength and confidence that came from this cohort had everyone leaving with the unspoken certainty that it is no longer so lonely at the top.

 

‘Our roles can be isolating at times, especially relative to a critical decision such as this.  What a wonderful opportunity to learn from peers reaching a similar point in our careers.’

– Thresholds participant

 

There is so much potential in you for this next evolution! Crossing the threshold to retirement is one of the most important turning points of your adult life. You deserve to invest the thought, time and depth it offers you.

The Thresholds Workshop starts May 6, 2021. If you’d like, sign up today

If you would have questions or want to know more, reach out to me, and let’s talk!

Harness the Three Brains of Leadership

Harness the Three Brains of Leadership

To be an effective leader in today’s climate of challenge and change, harness the Three Brains of leadership — not just the one in your head, but the ones found in your gut and your heart. If you rely solely on using your head, you’re leaving these two other vital resources untapped.

 

Three Brains?

A wealth of neurological evidence is emerging, pointing to each of us having three “brains” — the intelligence found in our head, but also in our gut (the enteric brain) and heart (the cardiac brain). All are innate and at work 24/7, whether you utilize their messages or not. My goal with this series is to introduce you to the findings from these scientific studies as an exciting new way of operating in your work and life, and to help you to develop it.

Head Intelligence

My series started with The Role of Heart Intelligence in Leadership followed by How to Listen to Your Gut. I deliberately saved Head Intelligence for last as it’s the most familiar to us all.

Our head is constantly taking in and processing information in order to make decisions. We rely on this as our primary source of information. It also governs things that are so automatic we don’t even notice, ie: our breathing, heart beat, fighting infection, etc. Amazing that we carry on, largely unaware of the very things that are at work moment by moment, even the ones that are literally keeping us alive!

Heart and Gut Intelligence

Similarly, our heart and gut are also taking in information and communicating to us. They can serve us greatly, if we only tuned in! We’d have much more information at our disposal about people, projects and situations from which to pick and choose, apply or reserve.

The ability to do this is showing up as a key quality to carry leadership forward in a demanding world. Much is beginning to be written about this, for example, this article by Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka:  In it they say, “A new field of leadership development is emerging, known as mBIT (multiple brain integration techniques). It provides organizational leaders with practical methods for aligning and integrating their head, heart and gut brains for increased levels of emergent wisdom in their decision-making, and for developing an expanded core identity as an authentic leader.”

Integrate Your Three Brains

Now that you know that science is finding Heart and Gut Intelligence to be as real and calculable as our brain function, the key is to combine what all three have to offer, to truly be at your best.

Instead of making decisions, taking action, and communicating based solely on what you have in your head, imagine taking advantage of this additional, very real and useful intelligence to add to or blend the information from your head!

Leaders who make it to the top often rely on their instincts – their gut intelligence, or by listening to their heart — and have confidence to act boldly. We think of them as mavericks, apart from us mere mortals. Rare.

But my point is that none of us are “mere” anything! We all have these three brains within us, ready and available. We develop our brains through experience and education. All that needs to be developed for our Heart and Gut Intelligence to serve us is our awareness of them, and an ability to utilize each to the degree needed with any given person or situation.

Can you imagine feeling as comfortable sourcing what your gut and heart tell you as you do with your head? To access only one is to miss operating at your full potential not just your work, but with your family, friends, and in your community — not to mention your own life experience too!

The good news is, by the mere fact of your reading this far, we’ve begun that inner conversation! That small shift can begin to create, in its quiet way, concrete changes over time. If you want to learn how to identify which brain you are or could be using, and judge when to act on it – or not act, that is my specialty!

Please get in touch and let’s talk about your goals!

How To Listen To Your Gut

How To Listen To Your Gut

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘It takes guts’ or have been asked: ‘‘What does your gut tell you?” But do you know how to listen to your gut? What is the gut exactly? How do you distinguish what messages come from your gut vs. your mind? If you have ever felt pings from your body at key moments, or had a strong feeling about a situation or person, you have been utilizing signals from what experts are now calling Gut Intelligence (GQ).

"Every single person has Gut Intelligence—intuition. It’s innate, and is just about whether we tap into it or not."

We know of our IQ: our intelligence, education, and training. We rely on it, and put a lot of effort into improving it, in ourselves and in our children. In the last two decades,  value has been placed on our Emotional Intelligence (EQ) — the ability to empathize or understand the needs of others. EQ, (or Heart Intelligence) has begun to reach beyond the obvious social rewards to its application in business, with clients and our audience. 

Today there is much scientific evidence emerging that we have a third “brain,” stemming from the gut, or the enteric nervous system… and it is being called Gut Intelligence (GQ). 

In literal terms, your gut is the pathway from your esophagus through your digestive system, but did you know that it’s got more neurons to fire communications through your body than your brain has?  Besides it’s important work in your digestive system, it is also your inner alarm system – the place your fight or flight triggers come from!  While the brain is busy being distracted by all kinds of data, in a dangerous situation, the gut kicks in. It processes information far faster, releasing signals through the body to the brain, all focused on protecting you!

Jay Pasricha, M.D., director at Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, said in a recent post, “The enteric nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain—with profound results.” In a word, it’s instinct. We’ve evolved out of primal days when we needed those skills to stay alive, except for extreme circumstances in modern life like avoiding a car accident. Yet those signals are still in top working order and can now be incredibly empowering to you in your work life. 

Being gutsy has positive connotations, but hints that it’s the quality of a maverick, not the average person. The truth is, every single person has Gut Intelligence. It’s innate, and is just about whether we tap into it or or not. 

It can be hard for those in leadership to put much faith in their intuitive instincts over stats, trends, and deadlines. But it’s as viable a skill as any other you’ve honed. One that out pictures as courage, and can heighten the success of any endeavor, professional or personal. You won’t abandon your data, systems, or protocols by adding your intuition… you enhance it! 

We know those times we’ve ignored our body’s hints and clues. So if your gut  senses and communicates critical things your head may not, how can you become aware of that and trust it? And how do you know when to use your instinct or just note it and wait?

If you want to learn how to listen to your gut and develop trust in your judgement calls, I’m here to help. Let’s talk!

This is the second of a three part series on Intelligence. Read the first, The Role of Heart Intelligence in Leadership, and bookmark this blog to return for the third installation next month!  Even better, sign up to my newsletter for my latest blog posts, inspiring hand-picked resources, and to be the first to hear of my upcoming workshops and coaching opportunities.

What is a Courage Coach?

What is a Courage Coach?

You might ask, what is a Courage Coach exactly?

Whenever I talked with my clients, regardless of their industry or title, the topic of courage always came up. Some were just starting out, some were reaching for big goals, others were in the midst of juggling it all, and a few had reached their pinnacle and were looking at what was next. Technical skills, expertise, good relationships and connections all count for a lot, but when you are not certain and everyone is relying on you to be certain you have to dig down deep and figure out the right thing to do. How do you trust your instincts, show up as your authentic self and stay the course?

It takes courage.

I know because I’ve lived it. For a decade I’d worked as an attorney, growing to a senior position at a Fortune 500 company. While it brought many rewards, I began to hear a calling toward other work that became too loud to ignore.

But making that change would be a big one. Leaving the practice of law was a leap of faith. As I embarked on an entirely new path into uncharted territories with no map, I set up my first email as Courage to be a grounding reminder.  It represented what I was doing – leaving behind a secure position that was financially rewarding, in a role that garnered respect, to follow goals and dreams with no net. In addition, there was the unexpected hurdle that not everyone understood why I left.  There was a lot of pressure to go back to being an attorney, so not only starting something new but staying on that road took a lot of courage.

When you think of the word courage, it may conjur up a warrior on a horse with armor, riding on the front lines into battle.  But when it comes to your unique personal situation, courage can display in a variety of ways, and not all are obvious.

What’s your brand of courage?

  • Bold —You can be very much out there, visible, lobbying, breaking down walls.
  • Quiet —Slow and steady, you take deliberate steps , not ruffling feathers but steadfast.
  • Resolute —You may have the ability toto inspire people around you to follow the course to accomplish what you want and how.
  • Tentative — In in the face of uncertainty, you feel the fear and do it anyway

Regardless, in the span of your career and your life you will have to make tough decisions. It takes a lot of courage to stay the course – especially if some may disagree or discourage you.

Where you see challenges, I offer solutions to those challenges. I’ve walked that path less traveled.  I now want to help you do it!

Let’s CONNECT and move on, together!

The Role of Heart Intelligence in Leadership

The Role of Heart Intelligence in Leadership

Leadership. When you think of what it takes, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s education and skills, strategic planning and execution, or the ability to marshal talent and manage teams. And you’d be right… but it also takes courage, vision, empathy, and instinct. Each of those qualities come from one of three sources — the head, the heart or the gut. Those three have been called the Three Brains of Leadership.

Heart Intelligence is an essential part of leadership, especially in these challenging times. And that is more about the person leading than it is about the title. I saw this aspect emerge within my own work and that of my clients, to the point that my focus toward being a Courage Specialist came out of a clear need for it.

“Wise decisions aren’t always analytical.”

Doris Quote Testimonial

The new world that we’re quickly adapting to working within — and the future it’s taking us toward — begs for innovation, original thinking and fresh business models. And those require that we tune into the untapped resources of our heart and gut intelligence rather than solely relying on our rational, strategic brain.

In Asian Cultures, the values are that head and heart are often connected. There are even words for this. In Japanese, it’s called Kokoro; In Chinese it is xīn, where the word for heart and mind are actually one in the same!

Yet in Western society we’ve separated the head from the more instinctual heart and gut, and we’ve done so at our peril. When immersed in the responsibilities of a leadership position, it’s easy to focus on our intellectual resources and yet wise decisions aren’t always analytical. By valuing only our head we are losing access to information that would help us every day.

The awareness of this connection goes far back. Aristotle, a student of Plato and tutor to Alexander the Great, taught a ‘cardiocentric‘ model of human anatomy, where the heart was the true center of human intelligence, not the brain. In our age, science has evidence to back that up. Modern neurologists and scientists have pioneered and furthered the concept of a functional brain in the heart and the higher level of awareness available from it. From these analyses and the work of groups like the HeartMath Institute, we’ve come to know that “the heart has its own nervous system, which actually sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.”

Really good leaders harness this Heart Intelligence and navigate from intuition with courage and conviction.

ThePerformanceSolution.com summarized this beautifully: “Without the head intelligence, the decision will not have been properly thought through and analyzed. Without the heart intelligence, there will not be sufficient values-driven emotional energy to care enough to act on or prioritize the decision against competing pressures. Without the gut intelligence there will not be sufficient attention to managing risks nor enough willpower to mobilize and execute the decision once challenges arise.”  

In today’s world, especially when you have to make critical decisions, having the ability to access all the three modes is key. It requires a whole new level of self-awareness and self-facilitation. One of the precepts of my work is about reawakening your heart and gut and connecting them to your head. I find helping people to access wisdom and grow their consciousness as they make decisions and carve out new paths for themselves exciting!

If this resonates with you, let’s connect and learn how we can work together on your specific path.

This is the first in a continuing series on this fascinating, cutting-edge topic. Keep an eye out right here for the next post — or sign on to my mailing list to be notified about them, my workshops and more!

This is the first of a three part series on Intelligence to raise awareness of all – from the heart, gut and head. They all work together, and this series is to help you realize you may have only been aware of, or using, using one. My goal is to help you be aware of them all, how you can access each, and work toward balancing how you switch between them based on what kind of wisdom and courage you need to access at any given moment in your endeavors.