What makes the difference in truly powerful leaders? How do they attract and keep loyal, committed followers? Where does their strength of conviction come from and how do we tap into it?
I believe it comes from within each of us, through a state of being I call alignment. So, what do I really mean by alignment?
Aligned individuals simply love what they do, they are good at it, and what they do and why they do it are almost always tied to a purpose greater than themselves. Once an individual is truly aligned around their purpose – and thus, they are indeed living their life on purpose – this is when and where true power is revealed and released. Their mind, body, emotions, and spirit are in harmony. There is simply no substitute for total alignment and congruency within a person or leader.
Think about it … when we see a person who truly walks their talk, whose life is a full and total manifestation of their beliefs, and whose profession is one that fully capitalizes and optimizes their gifts and talents – we see a person who is in their groove. One doesn't have to look too far for examples – they are the ones that would do their work for free and that come to work with a spring in their step. They are the ones that have a passion for their work, an intense desire to make a difference, and are centered and confident in the manner in which they choose to let this unfold. Their personal and professional goals are aligned and they remain committed to doing whatever it takes to fulfill their purpose.
It is my belief that this 'quest for alignment', like all things, is a journey not a destination. So, what are a few steps we can take to start moving toward greater alignment and authenticity of 'who we really are' as individual leaders? In this article, I am offering a few baby steps to help us start down the path of revealing who we really are and what we really want.
- Observe when we are really 'in the zone.' You know what I mean: when we are fulfilled, happy, and energized, when our heart is singing, we are in the zone and 'in the flow.' Pay attention to these moments. They are whispers revealing the 'real me'. We need to get to know this person; and give ourselves freedom to be who we are. Let all things flow from there. This can be such a revealing process. Pay attention to that little voice inside. It may come as a question in the middle of the night, or as crystal clear as a voice in the shower. The voice is our soul – it is our core and it is the pure essence of what and who we are meant to be. Heed it.
- Create time for solitude. There is nothing like quiet time to shut out the noise of our day to day lives. Often, when we are searching for 'something to fill a void,' we surround ourselves with people, things, and activities. We over schedule and over program our lives. This 'busyness' clutters the air waves. Stop. Be at home. Feed the birds. Read a novel. Watch a movie. Turn off the car radio. Be with YOU … just like with others, the more time we spend with ourselves, the better we will get to know ourselves. I have also found that keeping a journal is amazingly enlightening. This may be a stretch for some who are reading this article – that is ok. Even if you only write down only one or two thoughts you have – when you have them – it is amazing how they will grow and multiply in your mind's eye. It is a great way to reflect on your day, the lessons learned, the observations of yourself and others. It is like living it 'over' in some ways – which is incredibly powerful.
- Stay connected. This may appear contradictory to being alone; yet, it is not. We are all connected. We are all part of the same energy of this world. To really define ourselves and get to know ourselves, we do this in relation to others. As the cliché says: “if you really want to know yourself and all your idiosyncrasies – be in a relationship!” How
true this is. So, yes, we need both solitude and community to truly enlarge and embrace our sense of self. By staying present in the moment, some of our greatest teachers will be revealed. As the Buddhist proverb says, 'When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.' I have found this can be through the random encounters with taxi drivers, bartenders, passengers on subways, and even our children. Yet, we have to be present to win! This means we must put down our iPhones and Blackberries, and be awake to the happenings around us. Try it the next time you are in an airport terminal – it may surprise you.
- Trust your gut and have courage to follow it. Choices are the right and left turns on our lives' highway. If we truly listen to our 'gut' and our intuition they seldom lead us astray. Our challenge is to have the courage to listen to our gut. We often rationalize, justify, and 'sell' ourselves on what we think we need to do. Sure, there is a balance – this is called judgment. However, I will offer that in my life every single time I have not listened to my inner voice – my intuition – the decision has been far less than optimal for supporting my true and authentic self. Let go of expectations of others for your life. Many times we may have a 'hit' to do or be something other than what we are presently – and we fight it (or just flat out ignore it) because it is not what we think we should be doing. The trappings of our world are intoxicating. We often get 'drunk' on these. What I believe, however, is if we truly follow our heart's desire – we will be successful. All the other trappings will take care of themselves.
- Finally, be willing to play hard and possibly fall hard. Whether this is engaging in a yoga class, a lacrosse match or taking a monthly art class, we need to 'do stuff' we really love. This is our essence. We need to go for it with all the gusto we can muster. If we stumble or fall – that's ok. We are living life without fear of failure. Whew, what a concept. If only we could truly embrace the cliché: 'what would you do if you knew you could not fail' in every moment of every day.
We have the choice to grasp all the possibility within ourselves, and then act in a disciplined, concentrated and focused way. Whether we are leaders in our organizations, mothers and fathers raising our children, or simply making our way in the world, as Hawthorne offers: “No one man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.” Once we find 'the true one face,' we reveal and embrace our fullest potential with simply 'the real me.' Therein lies the power of the authentic and fully aligned self.
So, is alignment the secret to authentic power? I actually believe authenticity and alignment are synonymous. I also believe there is undeniable power in the authentic congruency of mind, body, heart, and spirit. So, yes, I believe becoming 'aligned' with your core soul, and allowing this to manifest into the world through your choices, is the secret to living your life with powerful purpose and purposeful power.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Kristin Kaufman formed Alignment, Inc. to help individuals, teams and leaders increase their overall contribution, bottom line effectiveness and personal fulfillment. Using a well-rounded ‘end to end’ alignment process, she helps some of the world’s leading organizations achieve measurable results and develop and inspire leadership capacity for ongoing transformation. Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centered on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment, was published in 2011 to national acclaim. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.
Recently I attended the Ohio HR Conference, HR Rocks!! As part of the planning committee, it was a great experience for many reasons.
One reason it was so great was that we told attendees they could wear jeans. Amazing how something so simple could set the tone for the week. Our committee wore tie-dye all week with our jeans and invited people to relax in our lounge filled with lava lamps, candles and incense – at an HR Conference!
One experience last week has stuck with me the most . . .
During lunch on Thursday, our 770+ attendees and our 160+ resource partners all gathered to savor the incredible Fajita Bar. Plates were loaded beyond capacity and hands were full as people approached a separate beverage station to grab a glass of water, lemonade or ice tea. The Kalahari staff were so amazing the whole week – especially here. But, even as much as they tried, the line continued to grow and grow and grow.
Before the week started, I told my Committee that I wanted to set a new expectation for us and the Conference attendees. I wanted us to serve them in ways they hadn’t experienced at a conference before. To make sure I didn’t fall into the classic HR trap of – just tell people what you expect and they’ll do it – I made sure to model this behavior.
So, I jumped in the front of the beverage line and started greeting everyone as they came up and handed them a glass full of ice. Then, the phenomenal team of Joan, Sonja and Keysha poured everyone’s liquid of choice and made sure to get more glasses to keep up with the demand. After stepping in, you started to hear laughing, see big smiles and positive comments from everyone instead of typical frustration with having to wait on service.
People said, “Wow, service with a smile!” I couldn’t resist but responding with, “Better than service with a scowl, huh?” It was the most rewarding 1/2 hours of the entire conference. We were able to serve our guests so that they could enjoy their lunch. Also, the staff from Kalahari saw that their work added immense value by meeting a simple need for others.
It’s time for HR to shift to a new approach. Instead of trying to mandate policies, force conformity and compliance at all costs, or be the function that polices vs. leads – we need to MODEL THE BEHAVIOR WE EXPECT FROM OTHERS.
We can’t keep expecting change to magically happen because we’ve come up with the next great “best practice.” Model behavior. It’s that simple.
To prove that point, Sonja, Joan, Keysha and I became tight. The rest of the week, I sought them out and they did likewise. I heard they even talked about the tall guy in the tie-dye shirt who jumped into help without asking if it was okay. They were some of the final hugs at the end of the week and I’m sure they will continue to be amazing.
Where can you change and model what you’d like to see? Try something this week and you’ll be astonished at the results!
In the mad pace of the work world, do you take time to reflect at all? Really. Do you reflect or do you react?
Most HR people I know constantly share with me that they react more often than anything in their daily jobs. Part of this is a fact of being in HR because people can be unpredictable. (That’s one of the things that makes working with people so cool!)
I had a conversation recently with some people about the challenge of having people report to you. It really is daunting if you think about it. It’ s not just a matter of performance reviews, systems and tasks. When someone reports to you, they are at the mercy of your decisions for their careers and their daily work experience.
So, back to the reflection question. Do you think about how you affect those that report to you or work with you? Do they matter to you or are they just a means to an end to get work done? This is something to really look at.
Think about this . . . you are with the people you work with more each day than anyone else including family and friends. This alone should be a motivator to really check into what matters to those around you.
What would work be like if you shared what mattered to you with those that report to you or work with you? You’d be amazed at the depth and vibrancy you’d find in the people you sometimes won’t even take the time to say, “Hi” to because it’s too important to get to that critical e-mail that you just HAVE to answer.
Try a new approach this week. Take a deep breath and go out into your work environment. Talk to the people that you spend each day with and see what matters to them. You’ll start to understand what true diversity is because it’s all around you just waiting to be tapped.
Need to go now. More great humans to hang out with!
Purpose is the reason for which something exists.
I wonder how many others struggle with having a sense of purpose. I didn’t consciously think about this question until fairly recently, but I believe it’s been in the back of my mind for a very long time.
Cancer changed the way I see many things.
Until diagnosed, I was content with my life. At least that’s what I told myself. After all, most of us are raised to be grateful for what we have, right? Two points became crystal-clear to me during my fight with the big C:
- Being content does not mean you can’t have dreams.
- Having dreams does not mean you are not grateful for what you have.
Our dreams keep us moving. They challenge us to be better versions of ourselves. Since cancer, some of my dreams have changed. Others have become more insistent. I still have dreams for just me, dreams some people would consider selfish, but the ones that tug at my heart and mind now involve others.
Achieving my dreams drive me closer to fulfilling my purpose whether I can fully articulate that purpose or not.
I think one of the reasons I landed in the Human Resources field, and remain here, is that I enjoy helping others. It fills me with a sense of happiness that is intoxicating. Despite days that make me feel like a complete villain, there are many more good moments than bad.
I wonder how many people in the HR field have a similar drive to help others. Do you?
Time and lifetimes. Both are fleeting.
November 3 was not only my son’s 15th birthday, it was also the day that my 27 year old nephew entered hospice.
Time and lifetimes. Both fly by too quickly.
And while they do, far too many of us are biding our time doing work that we do not love. One thing is very clear to me - the time to live our great lives and for doing our great work is now. Here are 3 critical steps, or keys, to getting started.
Get Clear About Your Purpose
We do not have it in us to love work that does not feel purposeful. I coach purpose not as a destination but as a neighborhood. Great things happen when you are in the neighborhood of your purpose. These great things are not always visible to you until you move into that space or place of how you may best serve. Doing what it takes to gain this clarity about your neighborhood is one of the 3 keys.
Get Clear About All of Your Gifts
We all have been given many certain and diverse gifts. These gifts include strengths, talents, experiences and accomplishments as well as all that has come to us through struggle, pain, passion and more. Everything that comes to us does not come to serve us but rather so that we may be in service to others. Getting clear about all of your gifts is the pre-requisite to being able to fully stand in them to build a life and work that you love.
Get Clear About Your Boundaries
To have the work you love, you must get clear about how it serves the bigger picture of living the life that you love. Then, get clear about the boundaries that you need in place to have it be so. Boundaries are the lines you will not cross no matter what or only in the case of a real emergency. A boundary for me is that my work schedule fits my son’s schedule. Being here for and with him is the very reason I left corporate to launch my own business.
Are you living your great life doing your great work? Life and lifetimes are too short and too fleeting not to be.
Time waits for no one. What are you waiting for?
What if you told your amazing wife that the majority of your peers and role models were women, your closest professional friends were women and you go to conferences where over 70% of the attendees were women?
I work in a field that is predominantly women and it is exciting!
I asked if I could be a part of Women of HR because I admire the women who have taken a field that used to be called “Personnel” and moved it to “Human Resources” and have chosen, as a group, to continue to move the Human Resources (HR) profession forward.
Now, who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
I’m in HR on purpose and the last time I checked the field was for all humans.
I think HR is, and should be, one of the last “what the hell is a box?” professions. Sadly, we tend to mimic and copy “best practices” instead of boldy making trail blazing paths in organizations.I’ve never considered being compartmentalized or manacled by categorizing how HR should be done. HR should never become a field that relishes in comfort or loves the idea of complacency. Unfortunately, the vast majority of HR people (men and women alike) constantly churn in the sea of compliance and administration when there is so much more that HR has to offer!
What can we do?
Here’s my challenge to the on-line HR community. Be intentional in connecting with your peers. Model being a “human” to other HR folks. The reason most of the HR community isn’t on-line is that they don’t know we exist. They are so consumed and buried in their part of the HR universe that they can’t see any way out.
So, connect with each other on purpose. I have tried to call and/or see my main contacts from Twitter and Linked In so we know each other more as people, as humans, instead of just an electronic stream of thoughts and symbols.
Women, and men, of HR, we have the chance to encourage each other and lift each other up. Let’s do it! If you’re geeked about being in HR, others will catch on and follow.
I have to go now, I have more people to meet and get to see how amazing they are.
Photo Credit iStockPhoto
I take responsibility for everything. I have been told by people I work for that this is a great strength.
The reality is, if you are like me, you know that a strong sense of responsibility can be the gift that keeps on giving. It never stops or shuts off. You know who you are: you are the list maker that adds items to the list that are already done just so they can be crossed off. Yes, that is the curse of us responsibility types. The reality is that a strong sense of responsibility can be overwhelming for women when you are integrating responsibilities and have full-time jobs and hobbies and interests and friends and family and . . . well, the list goes on.
So how do we leverage this “strength?” I have learned over the years to focus in on what I am really responsible for and get clear at work and at home with who else could be responsible. What? Delegate? Really? Yes. There are other owners in the world happy to take on items on the list who actually believe they are responsible too! Who knew?
Here are five things that help me:
1. I prioritize the top five things every day that are impactful and do those first before I do anything else, including checking e-mail. Read Never Check E-Mail In The Morning for time management tips.
2. I set clear expectations at work, make sure others are clear with these expectations, and have a process to check progress.
3. I chase the boss to ensure priorities are on target.
4. I leave room for boss imposed time, client imposed time, and family imposed time
5. I leave time for me
I still am responsible and, with the above steps, I have more control to leverage my strength and create room for the gift.
What do you do to turn your strength into a gift?