Power of WE Blog

The Power of WE (Women Entrepreneurs)
Inspiring weekly blogs and monthly webinars – Read, Ponder & Share

Hearing Your True Voice Beneath the Noise by Heather Barron

There is so much noise surrounding us right now. Much of that noise is external – explosive headlines, the echo chambers of social media, election ads, constant coronavirus reports, news of wildfires, hurricanes, story after story of humans’ inhumanity to one another, and the constant demands for pivoting in our daily lives, our jobs, and our family needs.

But a lot of the noise is actually right inside our heads too. We have the myopic voice of ego and personality constantly shouting for us to react without questioning these thoughts.

Our inner Itty-Bitty-Shitty-Committee berates us with its sustained soundtrack of failure, not-good-enough, not-doing-enough, guilt, shame, lack of worth, need to earn love, striving for unreachable perfection. All of this noise exhausts us crippling our capacities and stealing our joy and energy.

With constant change, shifting requirements, national in-fighting, natural catastrophes and the many added stressors we are currently facing, the part of ourselves that is biologically designed to respond to emergencies is in overdrive right now. We can feel we have to “do something” with every shifting piece of news and life. Or we can feel we have to “choose sides” (“You’re either with us or you’re against us”), alienating loved ones and neighbors.

And these impulses can feel like our own true voice, dressed up in moralizing, self-righteousness, and a basic need to be liked and respected.

So, with all this noise, how do we hear the part of ourselves that is not just in reactionary, survival mode? How do we see all that is clamoring for our attention and then make healthy, life-affirming decisions and choices that feel like right action rather than reaction?

I have come to learn through the greatest times of trial and despair in my life that I have an active, ever-present “true voice” that is connected to a deeper well of wisdom than the kneejerk reactionary thoughts that are initially triggered by my ego’s reaction to what’s going on around me. But with all the noise in and around our heads, how can we access this true voice?

Here is one way I have found to tap into my true voice – I use the “power of the pause”.

Viktor E. Frankl, renowned Holocaust survivor who developed “Logotherapy” after living through imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp, introduced the notion of the space between stimulus and response. He said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

This space is the pause we can create in small moments throughout our day. And in that pause, we can hear our true voice calling us into right action or telling us to be still or filling us with courage, patience, and any other qualities that help carry us through our day.

When we shift into responding to life rather than reacting to every trigger or stimulus, we are able to discern what is truly our responsibility. This way of being lifts the heavy burden of false responsibility for saving the whole world all at once – freeing us up to meet the needs that are ours to care for. This pause can also mean the difference between feeling paralyzed by all the suffering, pain, hatred, despair, and grief that we are faced with on a daily basis right now, and hearing our intuition direct us into sustainable, courageous, loving action.

Here are a few steps I have found that help me. When I am in a state of strong emotional reaction, I PAUSE and do the following:
Step 1: I close my eyes (if I can), mentally saying, “I am safe to pause and listen.”
Step 2: I take three deep breaths. Breath one I say to myself, “I belong here.” Breath two, I say to myself, “I am ready.” Breath three, I say to myself, “I am not alone.”
Step 3: Then I continue to allow my breath to flow naturally and with my eyes still closed, I ask myself, “What am I feeling right now?” I name it: fear, anger, sorrow, shame, guilt, despair, rage, frustration, hopelessness, terror, etc.”
Step 4: I place my hands over my heart and ask a few questions: “What deeper wisdom do you have for me, Heart? What do you have for me to know about what I am feeling right now? Do I need to take action based on what I am feeling? Or do I just need to be still with this feeling, acknowledging it until it passes?”
Step 5: I ask my heart: “What is my next right action, my next right step?”
Step 6: I take 3 more deep breaths and open my eyes.

All in all, this does not take very long and has become a practice that surprises me regularly. It surprises me with how calm this helps me to become in the midst of chaos and conflict. And I have been amazed at the unlikely but vital answers that have come to mind in the midst of this practice – ideas that have given me a “Way out of no way”, helping me to find a solution I could not see before.
There are many wonderful spiritual, meditative, calming practices that can help us access this deeper heart-knowing. This is just the one that has worked for me.
Join us on Monday, September 21 at Noon Mountain Time where I will walk us through this process. And if you can’t make the webinar while it is live, register to receive the recording that will have this exercise in it for you!

Heather Barron is Founder of Luminous Life, Inc. Heather is an Integral Life & Mindset Coach, Writer, Speaker. luminous-life.com

Speak your truth even if your voice shakes

“Speak Your Truth Even If Your Voice Shakes” by Whitney Connor Clapper, Senior Global Environmental Activism Marketing Manager at Patagonia

– Maggie Kuhn, human rights activist who dedicated her life to social and economic justice.

The first time I saw this quote, I wondered if this should become my next tattoo. It covered my body in chills and pierced any doubt around voice I’ve ever had.

I grew up in a community where I learned how to survive by using my voice only for good. To share healing, positive emotions and joyous occasions. I discovered it was not ok to talk about pain, hurt, struggle, sickness – anything that was deemed negative. Spoiler alert – using voice only for good and happy things doesn’t always work. Since childhood, I’ve had a full life of love, heartbreak, death, grace and privilege, riddled with job after job that has pulled my voice forth with each experience.
I’ve had to learn over decades that using my voice may not always yield positive emotions for all, like the time I recently emailed my aunt, who is the only black woman in my family, to check in to see how she was doing with all of the social injustices happening around black lives right now – only to get an email back from my white uncle titled: “BLM – you are being played.”
The body copy of the email wasn’t much better and began “May we suggest that your priorities are off” – making me wonder why I felt the need to even send that email in the first place? I wasn’t aiming to cause familial strife, but apparently, I did. 

For me,
voice is
synonymous
with truth. 

Using my voice means standing up for justice. Doing and saying what I feel I need to do and say, even when it causes pain.

When I was young, I watched my dad use his voice through his writings. I remember the time he wrote an email to the President of the Christian college where he taught, sharing his disgust with the school for its swift action in kicking out students who were “misbehaving” rather than truly addressing the issue. Just removing the “problem” without addressing the issue is a short-term solution.
I remember my mom, the kindest woman in the world, who played piano for the school choir finally telling that touchy tenor that she didn’t want any more hugs from him. So yes, I had role models growing up who showed me that we each have a voice and need to choose how to use it, for big and small events.

However, it wasn’t until I entered the corporate world that I really began to comprehend that my voice matters. 


Another tool in my childhood survival kit was humor and politeness, if I could make people in my community laugh and also behave well, life felt a little easier. I unconsciously lived by this mentality in my early years in business. I worked my ass off, made colleagues laugh, turned in reports on time, remained positive even when I wasn’t totally feeling it and did my best to go above and beyond – so as not to disappoint my boss. As a result, I began to climb the corporate ladder and also found myself more and more unsettled with leadership’s actions.  

At one point, as a manager of a team of fourteen field reps across the United States, I found myself writing an email to the President of the corporation in protest of a new mandate that the company had put on my team. This mandate forced all of us to do away with our previous company cars, which the company had supplied us with, to personally purchase a Honda Element for the same work.  We were also instructed to wrap our cars with the company’s logo in bright, bold orange letters. This was not ok, nor was it just. Many of us were fresh out of college, young and had never bought a new car, nor would we ever have chosen to buy that particular make and model of car. In my letter, I not only stated that this was not right, I also was completely transparent in stating that I would not enforce this with my team.  

For me, voice is not only synonymous with truth and standing up for justice, it is a full body experience. 

For people to truly hear my voice, it must come from a heart space, not from my head.
When I sat down to write that letter to the President of the corporation, I had no idea how it would turn out. Would I get fired?  Would I be asked to step down and out of my position?  The outcome didn’t matter. Using my voice for justice, because my heart was guiding me to, was the only thing that mattered and there was no stopping the words that burst from my fingers and onto those computer keys.  

Despite all the challenging emotions and questions that came, I spoke my truth. Rather than getting fired, they promoted me and less than a year later, this mandate was dropped.
 
Now, I am also someone who tends to always side with the underdog. I’ve had a different boss tell me that I can get wound up too easily by others, and he’s right, sometimes. If I’m not careful, it is during those times that using my voice backfires, hard. So, a word of warning – it’s really important to pause to check your motive before waxing poetic. This is why dropping into my heart before acting has become so important – to make sure I am not just acting on an emotion.
We are in a time and space where words matter more than ever – “Black Lives Matter”, “Make America Great Again”, “Dump Trump”, “Pollution is Racial Violence”We are also living in a moment where emotions are high, reactions are unconscious and impulsive, and violence is rampant. So how do we show up? 

There is no formula, or step by step guide. The only contant is your choice within each moment. I worked with a small team on an acknowledgment for Patagonia that we recently released on social media. While we could have edited that piece for many more weeks, the process was pretty dang strong. Words were carefully written, re-written, thought about and re-written again. It took us weeks of working on this acknowledgment before it felt worthy of sharing. 
The motive for this acknowledgment was pure – as a leader in the outdoor industry it felt important to own up to and publicly acknowledge our challenges and shortcomings for racial justice to our Patagonia community and greater outdoor industry. As a result of consciously choosing the words, doing the due diligence internally before the post went live externally, and listening for the right time to share publicly – the acknowledgment was heard, felt and landed well. I realize that not everyone has weeks to prepare the right words to speak, share or write. But everyone has the time to take a deep breath in between trigger and reaction, or stimulus and response (as Viktor Frankl coined it). So, take that time to drop down into the heart space before responding to the next crisis – whether it’s your screaming child, angry co-worker, frustrated partner or challenging President. 

The world is already on fire, through our pause to hear how to use our voice we will either choose to fuel the flames or smother the embers. For me personally, amidst the chaos, I am doing my best to pause and only use my voice when it feels appropriate. And even then, my voice may shake mid-sentence. But when I’m speaking for truth and for justice, I know that those who need to hear my message will hear it.

Will you join me?

Whitney Conner Clapper:
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Don’t Let Your Business Die – By Adrian Reif a Future-Focused Strategist

Adrian is a future-focused strategist for some of the most ambitious orgs on the planet. He’s helped lead impact businesses, community-led innovation, & regenerative future design. He believes each of us plays a role in building a future that works for everyone. And if you do this, your org will thrive. He runs Incredible, an innovation, strategy, and design firm + startup studio.

At a given point in time, there are three horizons.
The 1st horizon – the one we’re in now – will die.
If you’re only serving today’s needs, your org will die with it.

The 2nd Horizon will take its place.
Eventually, it will fail.
Your job is to build the 3rd Horizon.

If you do this, your org will be ready to serve the inevitable future. If we get this right, we will step into a future world that works for everyone.

The 2nd Horizon will take its place.
Eventually, it will fail.

Your job is to build the 3rd Horizon.

If you do this, your org will be ready to serve the inevitable future. If we get this right, we will step into a future world that works for everyone.

How to build for the Third Horizon

There are “Pockets of the Future” hidden in the present. The water is murky, but it’s possible to find them — and build them.
Nick Haan of Singularity University says, “Companies and governments that don’t evolve to solve humanity’s grand challenges will be left behind.”
Tackling gnarly challenges – whether in your community or across the globe – will be essential to the promise we’ve told ourselves for 10,000 years: It will get better.

Leaders for the future will need these skills:

 

● Futuring,
● Exponential Innovation,
● Altruism,
● & Collaboration.
The first step you can take is an inventory of these skills. Ask yourself:
“How far is my org looking into the future?”
“What trends — born and unborn — are we spotting?”
“What tools are we using to innovate towards them?”
“How can purpose set us apart or help us do better work?”
“If this problem is gnarly enough, who else is working on it?”
“How might we expand & strengthen our ecosystem to solve this?”

If you’re in the business of making money, these questions will be essential in maintaining relevance – and capturing future market share.

If you’re in the business of solving social and environmental problems, these questions will help deepen your understanding of root problems and build coalitions and movements to solve them.
It’s not easy.
“If you talk about where all of the value will be created over the next 50 years, it’ll be in those hard things,” says Chamath Palihapitiya, founder of Social Capital

Say hello to VUCA.
Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. & Ambiguity.

VUCA is here to stay. In fact, it is only speeding up.

If you want to thrive in a world where change is speeding up, you need to replace old thinking with new frameworks.

At Incredible, we’ve developed a process called Regenerative Innovation to design amidst uncertainty.

Regenerative Opportunities
Regenerative Innovation is being used to tackle some of the gnarliest problems in our communities and around the globe:
➜ Move People Out of Poverty
➜ Create Local & Global Resilience
➜ Shift Power
➜ Drawdown CO2
➜ Uplevel Education
➜ Tap into $4T Circular Economy
➜ Build peace
Just as important, Regenerative Innovation reframes perspectives, expands our locus of impact, & builds capacity in others to solve problems.

The Shift is Hitting the Fan.
A new future demands new stories.
If you believe the Stockholm Resilience Institute, 3 out of 9 levels of our biosphere – the systems of our planet that keep us alive – are beyond the Zone of Uncertainty. Three more are in or nearing the Zone of Uncertainty.

The Global Footprint Network measures how much of Earth we use. We use about 1.6 Earths every year. If we do this much longer, the Earth won’t be able to regenerate enough stuff for us to use. Who are you going to sell stuff to then?

Regenerative Innovation is our approach to writing new stories. Small communities, governments, and global companies can reconnect to the systems they’re nested in. They can determine what they want the future to look like and build toward it.

We Believe
We believe your org can thrive. We believe your customers and supply chain and team members can thrive. We believe it’s possible while the planet thrives too.
All we have to do is reimagine what’s possible.
Contact Adrian Reif at LinkedIn

 

 

 

 

 

Demystifying “Daily Practice” By Heather Barron

How to bring greater balance into your life one day at a time – Heather Baron – Founder of Luminous Life, Inc. Heather is an Integral Life & Mindset Coach, Writer, Speaker luminous-life.com

The words “Daily Practice” bring great joy to some. But if you are anything like I’ve been in the past, perfectionism, resistance and a whole host of other things have gotten in the way of creating a sustainable Daily Practice – even though we fully understand the benefits of having one!  
This blog is about what gets in the way of us choosing the very thing that could bring more balance into our daily lives. We will start by demystifying the phrase “Daily Practice.” Then we’ll walk through a “Process of Discovery” to help us identify a Daily Practice that works for us.

To keep things simple, we will return to a basic elementary school lesson for the Discovery Process: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How (but because we are playful, we will look at them in a different order!). 

Your WHY:

This is how we demystify the concept of “Daily Practice.” Oxford English Dictionary defines the word practice as: The actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it; and also as Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it. For the sake of life-balance, Daily Practice helps us move from our theories about life into our hearts and actual embodiment of life.

WHY HAVE A DAILY PRACTICE (and why haven’t I been able to stick to one that works)?

Barring any recent twists in life, we are already living a life we have practiced our way into. So it isn’t that we don’t know how to “do” daily practices. If we are seeking greater balance in our lives it is because what we are currently practicing on a daily basis – consciously or unconsciously – is not necessarily aligned with what we most desire to have and to experience in our lives. As a Perfectionist, I’ve wrestled with this too. Even as a Life Coach for others I get so swept up in the endless lists of everything that “has” to happen each day for life to continue. And I often hear my internal response of: “I don’t have time to do anything about this!” when I can feel my life is out of whack. But when I get honest with myself, realizing no one else can bring more balance to my life except for me, then I can see the work that is mine to do to create the change I long for.

Until we practice something new, the old default setting will run our lives. When we PRACTICE something new (something we want to have in our lives), we’re REPLACING something old and stale that is not working for us. This can feel overwhelming at first, no doubt! But, if we are truly wanting more balance, we will get to a point where maintaining the old way is more exhausting than trying to learn a new way. And that is where the magic of a Daily Practice can make all the difference.

For the other Perfectionists reading this: PRACTICE IS MESSY – at first. Have you ever been to a soccer practice for 5-7 year olds? Or seen Pinterest Fails compared to the perfect cake/painting/vase they were trying to recreate?For us Perfectionists, we need additional layers of PERMISSION and TIME on our foundation before we introduce new practices. We need to give ourselves permission to be messy, inconsistent, and imperfect at anything new we are trying to introduce into our lives. And we need the time to sort through whether this newness is just uncomfortable because we are not perfect at it yet, or if it is something that actually doesn’t work for us (and there is good support for this process!).
IF PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT, WHAT ARE WE ALREADY PERFECTING?

So what ARE we practicing each day? Let’s look at this so that we can see where there may be an imbalance for us. This will help point us in the direction of our “What” – the right Daily Practice for us. 

  • Are we practicing gentle, empowering inner conversation with ourselves, or are we practicing negative and defeating self-talk? 
  • Are we practicing “busyness” and “not enough time,” or are we practicing listening to the right order of our day to make time for what matters most to us? 
  • Are we standing up for ourselves in a culture that has a gravity to wear us down and strip us of our equanimity, or are we in default mode just following the trail of fires that “need” to be put out? 
  • Are we practicing saying “No” to additional commitments and requests for helping others that we know won’t allow us to maintain a healthy balance, or are we saying yes out of guilt, wanting to be liked, wanting to be perceived as helpful and then resenting ourselves and others later?These are not easy questions to dig into for ourselves. But to get to truly understand how to bring greater equanimity to our lives, we need to get honest with what is already in place as our daily operating system. We need to see our current imbalance to know where to focus to create greater balance in our lives. 
  • WHAT DO I WANT MORE OF IN MY LIFE?

    My WHAT: What is it we actually need in our day to balance it out? This is not the same for all of us. Here is a quick list to look through. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths letting your attention drop down out of your head and into your heart. Place your hands on your heart and ask through the following list. “What do I feel is missing in the balance of my daily life?”
    1.Calm
    2.Stability
    3.Joy
    4.Self-knowledge
    5.Fullness
    6.Satisfaction
    7.Peacefulness
    8.Wisdom
    9.Solitude
    10.Processing Time
    11.Depth
    12.Rest
    13.Creativity
    14.Voice
    15.Boundaries

    For your WHAT, choose one or two of these qualities that you most long to have more of in your life. This will be your focus for finding a Daily Practice that works for YOU.

    NOW FOR THE WHERE WHEN & HOW

    My WHERE, WHEN and HOW: Now we get to explore what works for us! Each of us has different needs. So let’s discover YOURS.

    This part of the process is meant to be a heart-date. Set time aside to have a date with your heart – even for 15 mins in your back yard with your journal or a notebook (or in your car in the driveway, or in the bathroom with your toddler locked out!). Settle into a chair and take a few deep breaths. Feel yourself being held.

    Now take 5-10 minutes to journal through the following to get clear on your Where, When and How for your Daily Practice.

    1.What is the best time of day for me to fit in a Practice right now? Am I a morning person, a Night Owl, or some combination?

    2.Where could I do my Practice? Is there a quiet space I can create/use to honor my Practice? Or can I use tools like noise-cancelling headphones, eye-mask, etc, to create a quiet space?

    3.How do I need to prepare ahead of time to carve out the space and time I need? Do I need to ask for help (“Honey, would you be willing to read the kids bedtime stories and keep them in their room for 15 mins each night while I disappear into the garage for my Practice?”)?

    4.Can I give myself Permission to make this one of my biggest priorities? Committing to a Daily Practice that can bring greater balance is a gift to myself but it is also a gift to all I am responsible to. Write yourself the Permission Slip you need to allow yourself to do your Practice.

    Next, using a search browser, type in Daily

    Practices for {YOUR WORD HERE – Restfulness, greater Joy, etc}. Spend 5-10 mins looking until something fits with what your needs and abilities are. You can make a list of different practices that speak to your heart (this is not the same as ones that just “sound good” or that worked for someone else).

    Choose one to start with. START SMALL – 5 minutes, or 10 minutes at most. You can always add but start with something that you can fit in each day.

    NOTE: I do recommend, if you are able, to have the same location as much as possible. This helps you to tune in more quickly because you gain a felt reference of place = activity. – CAN I GET A WITNESS?

    My WHO –

    The final piece of this Process of Discovery is determining WHO we can ask to support this Practice, either through being our accountability person, our babysitter, our cheerleader, or even our partner in the Practice. Accountability can be the key – having someone we shoot a quick text to with a daily check-mark or emoji we’ve chosen can be the final ingredient. 

    THE BALANCING ACT – 

    To truly feel balanced is not necessarily the result of adding things to a different side of the scale. Instead, I invite us to think of Daily Practice as a way to create a stronger more stable foundation on which we, as whole and complete women, stand.

    When we start from a place of I am enough, then the practices we explore do not have the power to make or break us, do not have the ability to make us feel like successes or failures.

    Instead, standing on a firm foundation, anything we add as a Daily Practice is meant to ENRICH and UPLIFT and GROW us. When this foundation it is solid, we are more balanced.

    And yes, all this can be done in 5-10 minutes a day.

At the August 17th The Power of We webinar join panelists: Stephanie Amend, Katharina Papenbrock and Heather Barron to discuss Defining A Balanced Focused Way. Held at noon register free here. 
Leading from a “Feminine” Perspective: developing a strong, diverse, balanced and committed leadership team

Leading from a “Feminine” Perspective: developing a strong, diverse, balanced and committed leadership team By Katharina Papenbrock

Rural Opportunity Representative
Remote Worker, Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade
 choosecolorado.com
I was groomed to lead from an early age. My sister and I were dedicated to our studies, sports, music and volunteer efforts, the same way my parents dedicated themselves to their careers, community and us. I embodied what I thought a leader was supposed to be: straight A’s, team captain, “Most Likely to Succeed,” etc. In my late 20s, my professional resume shone but didn’t resonate, I only saw paths determined by a “no” or an “unwanted consequence.” If you asked me for a five year vision, my answers were always curated to the audience. Then, I blew it up.

I moved to Ouray to start a restaurant, during the recession. It was spurred by an authentic love of food and autonomy but also by a husband who wanted an excuse to move to his dream town. My business partners closed our partnership with a handshake, “because that’s how we do it here.” Within two years, my marriage was over, the partnership blew up and I wasn’t confident enough to pursue my legal rights. Help was there but I hadn’t learned how to ask for it.
My leadership style was extreme self-reliance, which is pretty common among business owners, immigrants, women, adventure athletes and rural Americans. I went into my new job with the local Chamber with all of those boxes checked, ready to fix everything and then learned that taking on a leadership position in rural Colorado is a study in rapid education and humility. Luckily, you also realize that you are surrounded by incredible examples of leadership, knowledge and support. I started to see that effective leadership doesn’t mean you stand alone, never admit to a mistake, are emotionally unwavering and never burn out; it comes from being your authentic self and is always a team effort.

I was lucky to be selected for the Colorado Tourism Office’s Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey and I can’t champion enough finding a structured way to combine personal reflection and learning with direct contact to other leaders and mentors. Even finding a loose network of mentors or colleagues to share challenges with will help you reflect and adjust along the way. Always include someone that intimidates or challenges you, and look beyond job and community lines.

Track the “ah-ha” moments along the way. One that still resonates was a “taking risks”-themed session that connected the toughness honed from life-threatening adventures to the grit you need to work through professional problems.
Qualities I internalized as “weak” were actually strengths, like vulnerability, empathy and an obsession with data.
Empathy morphed the disappointment of my professional and personal failures into a wish to help others navigate their own challenges.
Vulnerability allowed me to open up and connect on a human rather than performance level. My robot brain collected resources and data and imagined new projects and potentials. My personal values aligned with the values my team had defined for our organization: authentic experiences, responsibility, prioritization of local assets and talent, data-driven decision-making, organization and consistency, leveraging expert resources and saying “thank you.”

Learning that it takes more than you to lead came along a little too late in the game. Our big transition ultimately fell flat but the time spent getting the right people in the right spots to move together toward that goal was worth the effort. 
In rural Colorado, we know that everyone looks to the STP’s – the same 10 people – until they burn out, to the loss of the community. My challenge was to look beyond them for sustainable teams and they fell into the “categories” below. Most of the time, their role had nothing to do with their day job but with their passions, experiences and thought processes.

The Cheerleader is the person that you always want to put front and center when you want to get people inspired about what you’re doing. They’re natural storytellers and have a knack for relating to people on an authentic level. I was lucky enough to have one as my colleague for nine years and she connected and pushed me into more new ways of interacting and sharing stories than I can ever say “thank you” for. You’re lucky if your cheerleader is also your Online or Social Media Whiz. That way your internal and external online voice are always consistent. 

The Researcher is your trusted source for data and case studies to support and provide input on your goals, objectives and deliverables. At the end of the day, ROI still matters and they’ll let you know if you made it. They’ll have to work with the Cheerleader to make the data accessible and relatable to your stakeholders, though.

The Big Picture Planner helps with community connections to past, current and future projects to ensure a lasting outcome. In many rural communities, key planning positions don’t even exist so look for people that are always thinking about the next step and higher purpose of individual activities.

The Politician yes, we all need one! This can be an elected official who is a champion for the project or an enthusiastic community member who is committed to attending public meetings to give input, listen and disperse information.

Local Champions are locals who have a relationship with your stakeholders. They know how to speak their language, what’s at stake when there’s uncertainty and can personalize your goal. They may already be overtapped, so it’s best to use them as a sounding board, information distributor or planner rather than a worker bee.

The Financial Wizard checks all of the idealists with hard financial facts of what you can actually accomplish and afford. They should also be creative in connecting to resources and leveraging every dollar.

The Realist is often the same as the Financial Wizard, and will respectfully check everyone’s enthusiasm with what’s actually possible in their community or network.

If you have no one at hand, always start with your Industry Partners. It’s worth the time to find the ones that really jive with your experience. Over time, you’ll build a network of trust and mutual support based on the shared experience of your industry.

I originally left the Cat Herder off of the list but it has turned out to be vital to every project. This person ensures that all members of the leadership team share resources, communicate and move cohesively through the project in their respective swim lanes. The cat herder is also always looking for new team members to fill gaps that emerge.
I always fell into the “cat herder” role but I’ve realized that it authentically fits with my personality and values. If you find yourself in this role, take time to nurture other roles that interest you, too; for me, that’s squirreling away to research and collect data so that I can gauge progress. The responsibility of acknowledging every member of the leadership team as a leader in their own right and recognizing them for that also falls to you.

Wherever you are as a leader, take time away from all of those “cats” to take care of yourself. This is doubly-true in our new normal where life changes almost daily. At the end of the day, personal leadership and building or participating in a strong leadership team only works if you are sound and healthy. That’s certainly an ongoing journey for me, but I’m getting there, one hike, book, visit, free hour and bite of the proverbial elephant at a time.
At the August 17th The Power of We webinar join panelists: Stephanie Amend, Katharina Papenbrock and Heather Barron to discuss Defining A Balanced Focused Way. Held at noon register free here.