As November and December approach, I often feel an instinctive urge to both reflect on the year gone by and plan for the year ahead. This practice, whether due to the free time available at year's end or a habit ingrained by the annual calendar cycle, is not unique to me. A 2022 YouGov poll revealed that about 37% of Americans planned to make a New Year's resolution for 2023.
However, it's noteworthy that the average resolution typically lasts only about 3.74 months. A major hurdle with New Year's resolutions is the pressure they impose. Let's say that someone made a resolution to improve their physical health by exercising four or five times per week. Often, missing a single workout can lead to feelings of failure, causing many to abandon their resolutions. Moreover, resolutions frequently involve unrealistic goals, predisposing them to this sense of failure from the outset.
From my experience, setting broader intentions rather than rigid resolutions has been more effective. A client shared with me her preference for initiating change in the spring, a time synonymous with growth and renewal, rather than at the New Year. These perspectives highlight that reflection and growth related practices may be more effective when personalized.
This past year, I started with an intention that, by mid-year, I felt had served its purpose, leading me to establish a new one. This experience taught me that reflection and intention-setting needn't be confined to a specific time frame. What if these activities were part of a continual process?
Embracing this mindset opens up numerous possibilities for moving towards our desired definitions of success. Regular reflection allows for adjustments, helping to stay aligned with what truly matters. It enables you to discard goals that no longer resonate, replacing them with ones that better reflect your values and purpose.
So, this year, instead of committing to a single lofty resolution, consider making reflection and intention setting ongoing and adaptable processes. To guide you, consider the following approach:
1. Reflect Periodically: Choose a natural rhythm for your reflections (monthly, quarterly, etc.). Ask yourself:
2. Review Your Intention:
By adopting this flexible approach, you can make reflection and growth a dynamic part of your life, enhancing your chances of success and personal growth.
Just before the Thanksgiving holiday I attended the Women Leading Travel and Hospitality peer group call. This session’s theme was the “Changing Power of Gratitude” - a timely topic in the spirit of the holiday.
The link between gratitude and the modern day Thanksgiving has deep historical roots dating back to harvest festivals, common to many cultures worldwide. Today we celebrate and give thanks for both the tangible and intangible things in our lives from food, shelter and possessions to our family and friends. Over time, the importance of expressing and practicing gratitude has spread to an even wider application with scientifically proven benefits.
The Women Leading Travel and Hospitality peer group meeting was lead by fellow WLTH member Amanda Johnson, Director, Marketing Communications, Digital & Media at Herschend Enterprises. In preparation for the meeting, Amanda asked us to prepare ourselves by thinking about what we are most grateful for in our careers, gratitude habits, how we express gratitude to others and how we plan to bring more gratitude into our lives in 2024.I know I wasn’t alone feeling happy, hopeful, and energized by the time the meeting was over.
In fact, there is a reason that practicing gratitude leads to positive feelings like I just described. Several research studies have linked gratitude practices to decreased depression and anxiety and improved physical health and sleep quality.
As leaders, we constantly face challenges and circumstances that bring stress. Physical and mental health are not only “nice to have” but are critical to optimizing performance to address all the things that come our way. Building gratitude habits and practices are essential tools in every leader’s toolbox.
As a leadership coach I often find unfortunately that leaders do not know how or do not prioritize using these tools. Outdated beliefs, internal and external pressures have designated tools like these as “soft skills” that are not taken seriously. In my work with clients we address these beliefs and create awareness around just how important they are. Clients are set on a path towards better overall well-being and a higher level of leadership performance.
As we come to the end of 2023 I’ve been thinking a lot about what I am grateful for. This year has been a huge transition for me and it has allowed me to focus on the work that I am most passionate about. I feel extremely fortunate to work with travel professionals to elevate their leadership and create more meaningful lives in addition to improving and growing our family owned hotel. I am thankful for my family and the beautiful mountain town I live in.
Do you want to bring more gratitude into your daily practices? Check out the exercise below.
Earlier this year, I found myself not as the boss, but working for someone else on a freelance/consulting basis—a situation I hadn’t been in for over 12 years. I was working with other consultants on a project, setting up a new initiative and creating new processes and deliverables. As I collaborated with other partners, I started to notice something about myself. Once we were given our responsibilities and goals, I was ready to execute. I rarely waited for products of the project to be reviewed before they were launched. I also became frustrated if the process became bogged down in decision making.
I am sharing this experience not to promote a particular behavior in consultancy; in fact, this trait could potentially make me a less than ideal consultant! However, the capacity to take initiative and proceed without needing approval, even if it might unsettle some, I believe is a unique leadership quality of business owners and entrepreneurs. One that I believe could be vital for professionals aspiring to climb the career ladder and take on more significant leadership roles and responsibilities.
Being on the other side of the desk, so to speak, offered me the unique opportunity to see a new perspective on leadership. It led me to ponder upon other possible traits that differentiate entrepreneurial leaders. What unique qualities and behaviors set them apart, and how can these traits aid individuals in achieving unparalleled leadership success within their organizations?
I quickly realized I was not treading on uncharted territory. My research led me to some invaluable resources that delve into the realm of entrepreneurial leadership such as the work of Joel Peterson:
Entrepreneurial Leadership: The Art of Launching New Ventures, Inspiring Others and Running Stuff.
Drawing from my own journey as an entrepreneur, I've identified specific behaviors and actions that epitomize entrepreneurial leadership. Entrepreneurial leaders:
I look forward to exploring these leadership behaviors more in my writing, interviews on The Travel Leader and with my clients. In the meantime, check out these resources:
Video with Joel Peterson Are you an Entrepreneurial Leader?
Article 7 Characteristics of the Best Entrepreneurial Leaders
Welcome to the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI)! It’s a thrilling time in the hospitality and travel sector, with AI reshaping the way we experience the world. For the leaders steering the ships in this vibrant industry, it’s time to embrace a fresh set of skills and mindsets. Let’s dive into the essential leadership competencies like curiosity, adaptability, growth mindset, creativity, and empathy, and explore why they’re the keys to success in our AI-driven world.
Curiosity isn’t just about asking questions; it’s about asking the right ones. It’s the spark that ignites innovation and exploration of AI’s endless possibilities. Imagine a hotel leader with a curious streak, delving into AI to discover chatbots that can make guest interactions smoother or data analytics that can fine-tune pricing strategies, giving their brand a unique sparkle in the market.
In the ever-evolving landscape of AI, being adaptable is like having a superpower. It’s about embracing the new and tweaking strategies to make the most out of the AI tools at our disposal. Take the airline industry, where adaptable minds are using AI to craft flight paths that save fuel and enhance passenger experiences, making the journey as enjoyable as the destination.
3. Growth Mindset:
Having a growth mindset is like having a love affair with learning. It turns challenges into stepping stones, fostering a culture where exploring new AI applications is a thrilling adventure. A travel agency led by someone with a growth mindset might play around with AI to whip up personalized travel plans, refining their approach based on what they learn from customer feedback.
Creativity is the magic wand that turns ordinary into extraordinary. It’s crucial for dreaming up novel ways to apply AI that captivate customers’ imaginations. A creative leader might envision an AI-driven concierge service that not only answers guest queries but also recommends experiences based on their preferences, adding a sprinkle of wonder to their stay.
In a world buzzing with tech, empathy is the human touch that makes all the difference. It’s about balancing AI’s efficiency with a warm, human connection. Think of a hotel where leadership values empathy; they might use AI to speed up check-ins but also encourage staff to spend the extra time truly connecting with guests, creating unforgettable moments.
Why These Competencies Matter in the AI Era
Crafting Memorable Experiences
AI opens up a treasure trove of opportunities to tailor customer experiences. Leaders blending curiosity, adaptability, and empathy can implement AI solutions that resonate with guests on a personal level, ensuring every interaction is a memorable one.
Innovating with a Twist
Leaders armed with creativity and a growth mindset are the architects of innovation, designing unique AI applications that set their organizations apart. By nurturing a playful and experimental culture, they’re not just keeping up with the competition; they’re redefining the game.
Building a Better World
Leaders who are adaptable and empathetic are the builders of a more sustainable and ethical future. They’re using AI to make smarter, eco-friendly decisions and ensuring that technology is used with respect and care for customer privacy and data.
Wrapping It Up
In the exhilarating world of AI, leaders in hospitality and travel need to be curious explorers, adaptable innovators, creative thinkers, lifelong learners, and empathetic connectors. These are the ingredients for leveraging AI in ways that enchant customers and pave the way for a future where technology and humanity dance together in harmony.
Whether it’s a hotel creating magical guest experiences with AI or an airline finding smarter routes through the skies, the future is a canvas waiting to be painted by those ready to lead with creativity, curiosity, empathy, adaptability, and a growth mindset. So, let’s embrace these competencies and ride the AI wave to a future filled with wonder and possibilities!
At my recent high school reunion, I asked an old classmate how his summer was going. He looked at me straight on and said “quite honestly, its hard. Summers are hard with the kids in an out of camps, at home and trying to work at the same time.” I empathized with him as a fellow parent, business owner and community leader, and also took a bit of comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone. It was also healthy to see a man expressing some of the same sentiments I hear mostly from women.
Work-life balance is a common topic of conversation and one I hear frequently regardless of the circle of colleagues and friends I’m in. The challenge increases with age and upward career moves as the demands of children, care-giving, home and work responsibilities seem to pile up exponentially. Its not only the volume of demands but the quality of those experiences that can make anyone feel less than satisfied.
Like many people, I’m not a fan of the term “work-life” balance. It suggests inherently that balance is possible and as we all know, it really isn’t. And contrary to common belief, those experiences aren’t compartmentalized. Feeling stress at work influences home-life and vice versa. Further, there is a more nuanced cause of those unsettled feelings.
The Gallup organization (of the Gallup Poll), has found in its research that the work-life balance conversation can be better framed around the idea of over well-being. They break down well-being into five categories.
Career - you like what you do every day
Social - you have strong relationships
Financial - you manage your money well
Physical - you have enough energy to do the things you want
Community - you like where you live
What most attracts me to this framework is that it takes away the focus on time as the most significant factor in how we measure our lives. Instead, the measure of overall well-being is the quality of each area.
So what’s the connection between leadership and well-being? The old way of thinking is that how someone feels about their well-being is a personal matter. That belief doesn’t hold up according to the Gallup poll research. They have found that how someone feels about their career is the most significant factor in how they measure their well-being. Second, how someone feels about their career is largely impacted by their work environment and especially the quality of their manager. Third, a poor working environment leads to dis-engagement and ultimately costs the global economy upwards of $8.8 trillion according to the latest State of the Global Workforce: 2023 Report.
The evidence is clear: addressing well-being is critical for company success. And the first place leaders can start is with themselves.
At the 2023 Women Leading Travel and Hospitality Summit in Nashville, Tennessee I gave a workshop on how to start addressing well-being called Banishing Balance: A New Paradigm for Personal and Professional Success. Sign up for my complimentary course which includes the workshop background presentation and practical information and exercises to get you started on a path to improved well-being.
I often ponder the question, “what makes a great leader?”. This is a question that I’ll probably never answer because there isn’t really just one good answer. Jacob Morgan, author of The Future Leader, asked hundreds of leaders what their definition of leadership was, and all came up with different answers, and all of them right. There’s no doubt that themes emerge about the foundation and core competencies of good leadership. However, a big part of leadership is unique to each individual and the experiences that shape them. Its these experiences that make leaders authentically who they are. The more they are used to distill meaning and purpose, the more powerful they become. One such kind of experience has been called “crucible experiences”. Researchers Warren G. Bennis and Robert J. Thomas write about it in their article “Crucibles of Leadership.”
Defining Crucible Experiences:
A crucible experience is an intense, transformative event or period in our lives that demands our utmost emotional, mental, and sometimes physical fortitude. It often involves a significant personal or professional setback, loss, failure, or a life-altering decision. Crucible experiences push us beyond our comfort zones, challenging our existing beliefs, assumptions, and capabilities. They can arise from various sources, such as a career setback, a health crisis, the end of a relationship, or a profound personal loss.
Elaine Macy, one of our guests on The Travel Leader Podcast, recalled an early experience of hers that had shaped her as a person and as a leader. In our episode together, she described how one day her husband up and left her with nothing more than a can of soup in the cabinet.
The Significance of Crucible Experiences:
While crucible experiences can be daunting and distressing, they also offer remarkable opportunities for growth and self-discovery. These challenging moments force us to confront our fears, face our vulnerabilities, and question our beliefs. They act as catalysts for transformation, pushing us to redefine our priorities, reassess our values, and learn valuable lessons about ourselves and the world around us. Crucible experiences have the power to reshape our lives and bring forth qualities such as resilience, adaptability, and empathy.
Elaine Macy’s story illustrates how crucible experiences can be turned into powerful agency. She tells how she had to make a conscious choice on how she was going to continue her life after her husband left. The set back not only drove her to succeed in life and her career, but also has fueled her purpose to mentor and empower the young women who have come across her path.
Crucible experiences may test our limits and push us to the edge of our comfort zones, but they hold immense potential for personal growth and transformation. By embracing these challenges with resilience, a growth mindset, and a support system, we can emerge stronger, wiser, and more compassionate individuals. Embracing crucible experiences not only allows us to overcome obstacles but also helps us discover our inner strength, refine our purpose, and lead a more fulfilling life. Remember, it is within the crucible that diamonds are forged.
The Power Humility
As a hospitality leader, there has been more than one occasion when I don’t see our business achieving a specific outcome, and I think: If only employee x would do y, we would get the result we want. And then I ask, why isn’t employee x doing it!? It’s easy to jump down the rabbit hole and analyze all the reasons why said employee is behaving the way they are. In reality, there’s a big chance that if I looked myself in the mirror, I would get the answer I’m looking for.
Many times, undesirable outcomes result from undesirable behaviors that stem from less than stellar leadership practices. This can stem from anything like poor communication, lack of setting expectations or systemic cultural problems in an organization. And most of these can be attributed to the leaders at the very top.
Ask any leader how strong their competencies are in any of these areas, and more than likely they will rate themselves better than someone looking from the outside in. For his book “The Future Leader”, Jacob Morgan surveyed hundreds of employees and leaders about different leadership mindsets and skills. For every one, leaders scored themselves as more proficient than their direct reports. This phenomena is referred to as the Dunning-Kruger effect by social scientists: “a cognitive bias whereby people with low ability, expertise, or experience regarding a certain type of task or area of knowledge tend to overestimate their ability or knowledge.” Adam Grant talks about this in his book “Think Again”.
Feeling deflated? Don’t worry! We are all guilty of it. There’s an antidote for it as well – the metaphorical mirror, or in other words, humility.
Jacob Morgan defines humility as “the willingness to obtain accurate self-knowledge. Keeping an open mind and being willing to constantly learn and improve”. Humility is a powerful mindset and practice. First, it paves the way for all other leadership competencies. Humility is first the belief that we are all fallible human beings with the potential for improvement. It is a “modest self-portrayal”. Humility also includes self-awareness – the ability to look in-wards, self-reflect and accurately assess your strengths and weaknesses. Humility is so powerful that Jim Collins found in his research for “Good to Great” that it was the most important factor that separates truly great companies from all the rest.
So where do you begin to practice humility? Break out the mirror and ask yourselves these questions:
Start with asking yourself those questions and the sky is the limit for your own leadership growth and the organization for which you work.
(The following blog is based on the opening of a panel discussion I moderated at the Travel Unity Summit in Auburn, New York on December 7 and 8, 2022)
Learning starts early and doesn't stop
Recently, my 12 year old son came home one evening and shared his day at school. After a few minutes of recounting encounters with friends, games during gym and boring math classes, he became more serious. He played back an exchange in one of his classes when they were doing an assignment to describe a character in a book. A boy sitting next to him got in trouble for something that he had written on his paper. My son recalled that when the teacher walked by and noticed that the boy described the character as “colored” the teacher became agitated and in an angry tone told him what he had written was wrong and that he needed to change it. My son’s reaction was one of confusion and emotion, not understanding why his friend had “gotten in trouble”. After a long discussion with my son about the historical context around the word, I also thought, wow, this really is confusing.
I was also 12 years old when I first became aware of the deeper meaning of skin color. The language we use today didn’t even exist. We didn’t use words and phrases like anti-racism, bipoc, social justice, and global majority. I’ve noticed how much and how rapidly the vocabulary has changed just in the last 3 years, let alone 25. There’s no doubt that I have gotten it wrong and still do today.
Making mistakes leads to growth
Along the way I've had moments I’m not proud of. In 2018, in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue murders in which 11 congregants were tragically killed, I attended a vigil at our local synagogue that was open for the general public. Following the event, I was deeply moved but also confused and a bit angry. After talking to some others who had similar feelings, I wrote an anonymous letter to the synagogue leadership about how I felt about the proceedings. I expressed to them that I had experienced the vigil as polarizing and politicized. Two years later, when I was identified as the anonymous letter writer, I was persuaded to discuss the matter with the Rabbi and others involved. I realized through this process that how I reacted was a prime example of my white Christian privilege and that it was not about me, or how I experienced that event.
That moment was one of many defining moments on my DEI journey and very humbling. I always considered myself well versed on the issues. I spent my early years in high school and college studying civil rights and participating in campus race dialogues and went on to study abroad in South Africa to learn about Apartheid. But it wasn't until more recently that I realized that this work is just as much if not more about the inward learning and reflection than it is about the outward. I've struggled with my own questions of identity and how to use my voice as a business owner in the tourism and hospitality space on behalf of DEI. The last few years of reflection, training and dialogue on anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion have coincided with my development as a leader and a leadership coach. What I have learned more than anything, is that this work is fundamentally about leadership and how I show up as a leader.
A call to action
A few months ago the moment came when I was called to show up. I received an anonymous email through our hotel website contact form with the following message: "Hi, one of your employees, recently harassed and threatened a beloved member of the local transgender community who also happens to be a combat veteran. For proof see this link... Is this what your hotel stands for??? I’ll never consider staying here again unless action is taken to terminate this persons employment immediately . Everyone else in the lgbtq community is aware of this too and will not stay at your establishment until he is fired."
Receiving this message was deeply upsetting and uncomfortable. But I knew this was the moment that all my work had until now been leading up to. While I couldn't respond to the anonymous person who brought this to our attention, there was public post on instagram to which I could respond. I drafted a response in which we publicly acknowledge the harm done to this member of our community, denounced the act and also committed to addressing the situation internally. While the employee in question had been fired for other reasons already a month before the incident, we took it seriously as a moment to reflect and publicly decry acts of hate such as this one.
Lessons I've learned
There are so many lessons I've learned over the last few years.
I’ve never really considered myself a Tech person. My strongest school subjects were in the social sciences. I participated in the sciences out of necessity and never enrolled in computer science. However, somewhere along the way, I realized that digital technology had a super-power and it was going to make my personal and professional life easier. Both at home and at work I’ve leaned into technology to professionalize processes and systems and ultimately to invest in a return on time and money.
In 2011, when we took over our family hotel business, we were using an outdated property management system, receiving online channel agency reservations by fax message and keying in credit cards one number at a time. We have spent the good of the last ten years upgrading all systems on our property to improve the employee experience, customer experience and our bottom line.
Implementing technology improvements has not been all fun and games. I found out relatively quickly that technology usage is harder for some than others, that not everyone can see the advantages and that adapting to change is a process. I’ve made some mistakes and learned that it takes leadership to establish a vision, address resistance to new systems and manage the change process.
Establish a vision
You may think that the new system you will introduce is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but the people around you may have no idea why. When doing so, it is critical to demonstrate 1) the positive outcomes that will result for team members 2) how it will impact customers and 3) how the company as a whole will benefit.
In her book, The Customer of the Future, Blake Morgan lays out the case for technology innovations and how necessary they are for the employee and customer experience. When employees don’t have the right tools and technology, engagement falls. The key to customer experience success is creating frictionless experiences and this is where technology either plays a role in creating or removing friction.
A couple of years before the pandemic we started taking reservations at our restaurant and bowling lounge. Every reservation had to be taken by phone and email and then payments for deposits and the actual reservation had to be entered into the system manually at an on-site physical location. We finally bit the bullet and started a process to implement an online reservation process on our website. In doing so we would decrease the time staff spent taking and entering reservations, allowing them to do other things. We would be improving the customer experience because they had more control over the process and could complete a reservation in less time. And finally, we would no doubt book more reservations and maximize our overall occupancy and therefore financial bottom line.
At my hotel we are currently considering whether to implement cashless tipping for the housekeeping department. We are introducing this idea because we think it will pay off for housekeepers and increase their tips. We also believe it will make it easier for guests to tip when they want to. I’ve brought the idea to our housekeeping team, but the response was luke warm…and I get it. There’s something about cash and knowing you can stick it in your pocket. You can touch and feel it. There is a security to it. Switching to cashless tipping brings an unfamiliar system and uncertainty around when and how you will actually receive your money.
The bottom line is that resistance comes from a deeper place of fear and those fears may not look the same for everyone. It is critical to uncover what they are for each person and address them by doing the research and answering questions. I have also found that it becomes a question of the tipping point: at what point does the opportunity of the change outweigh the “pain” or disadvantages of the status quo?
Managing the change process:
Managing the change process is for me the most challenging part. I am not a patient person and that impatience often threatens to blow the whole thing to smithereens. When we decided to move to a guest text messaging system which required a completely new software, I had been researching it for months, made a decision and I was ready the next day to execute. I ended up skipping over a bunch of steps and asked my team to roll out the usage of the new text messaging system on the Friday of a major peak ski weekend. Huge blunder….no surprise there. Here are the critical steps to take to ensure a smoother change process:
Technology innovations are critical to the success of any company to keep up with customer expectations and the competition. While it can be daunting, reflecting on your own mindset, that of your employees and engaging in the process above, it can be a lot easier to undertake.
Who isn’t attracted to the idea of achieving work life balance? Every where I turn there are articles like “10 steps to achieve work/life balance” or seminars that promise if you undertake certain methods or strategies all your work/life balance problems will be solved. What does it even mean?
For me, work/life balance has meant somehow giving equal attention to work priorities, family and my personal needs. To achieve this goal, I’ve tried everything. I’ve believed that if I adopted certain strategies especially around time management that I would get there. I’ve used to-do lists, blocked off time in my calendar, created special spreadsheets based on Stephen Covey’s 4 quadrants and set SMART Goals. Inevitably, I’ve aborted every single strategy because 1) they took up a lot of my valuable time and 2) they didn’t really move the needle. I mostly ended up right where I started: frustrated and hopeless.
It wasn’t until I became a leadership coach, which involved a lot of personal and professional development before I could coach others, did I understand why my goal of achieving work/life balance was so elusive. The problem is twofold. First, focusing on time management strategies only addresses the symptoms of bigger problems and not the root causes. For instance, I can have the best of intentions to block time off in my calendar for weekly exercise, but if I repeatedly override those blocks with meetings because I feel like I can’t say no, then there is a deeper mindset issue at play.
Second, focusing on specific outcomes like balance keeps us trapped in a specific definition or goal. If we don’t achieve that definition, then we just feel even more frustrated. Striving to achieve balance is a perfect example. Giving equal attention to all areas of our lives at all times is impossible. And each time we set that standard, we set ourselves up for failure.
Establish new beliefs
The solution is also twofold. Instead of focusing on specific strategies, address the underlying source of why you are not able to make the choices you want to. Usually, these are beliefs and mindsets that creating obstacles for those choices. Establish new beliefs and mindset shifts that will allow you to make the right choices. Here are a few beliefs that I’ve addressed in my life:
Let go of perfectionism and control
Perfectionism and control play a big role in my personal life. Breast-feeding my kids (or at least attempting), homemade baby food, homemade snacks to reduce plastic waste, perfectly balanced and healthy meals, making sure my kids are wearing matching clothes…yup all of it, I did (and sometimes still do). Perfectionism and maintaining control are HUGE time suckers. Slowly I’ve learned to challenge myself to let go of things that really don’t matter. A big win for me was that one night recently I was very tired and couldn’t bring myself to make dinner or even go to the store to find something easy. So I said, okay kids, go at it, you can eat whatever you want for dinner that you can make yourself…cereal, toaster waffles. And guess what…nobody died. Mind. Blown.
Set clear boundaries
Being accessible for my team at work has always been really important to me. Whether or not I’m on-site or off, my staff know they can knock, call, text or email and I’ll be available for them. But there are clear drawbacks to this mindset. I’ve found that if I’m not clear about boundaries, I’ll receive messages at all hours of the day or week and it prevents me from shutting off or focusing on my family. I’ve begun to shift this mindset and understand that I can still be seen as an accessible boss, without my staff having access 24/7. If I communicate when I’m available and when I’m not, team members can still get what they need without too much delay.
Give yourself permission
“I can’t possibly do that…” I can’t tell you how many times that phrase has gone through my head. I subconsciously tell myself that I’m not allowed to do certain things because what would other people think? Or because other people don’t do it that way. Or because people expect something different from me. A perfect example of this was how I design my work week. I was convinced that I had to work in specific places, at specific times etc. It took coming close to burnout after a hotel expansion project to give myself permission to do things differently. My life has drastically changed because of it and I believe my business not only hasn’t suffered, but has thrived.
Move towards a feeling
Second, instead of focusing on a specific outcome, establish how you want to feel. Focusing on how you want to feel, allows you to open up more doors and possibilities. Overtime I have found that what’s most important for me is that the time I spend on anything is about quality over quantity. I’ve let go of counting hours and put my time in where it is most meaningful. At work, this means being there for my team when we have staffing gaps. At home it means carving out time before and during dinner so that my kids can tell me about their day. I’ve discovered that more than anything, the way I want to feel is fulfilled and that I’ve made a meaningful contribution to the people that matter to me. The best part is that focusing on this feeling has residual effects. I make decisions easier, I’m present, I’m healthier and I’m downright a better mom and leader.
So what about those strategies and outcomes? Do they have no purpose? Strategies and outcomes are important, however, they are secondary rather than primary forces of change and improvements. They are supportive rather than causative. I have found that addressing limiting beliefs and knowing more generally how I want to feel have given me so much guidance in making choices, that I often need far less strategies and specific outcomes to get where I want to be in work and life.
Rachel Vandenberg is a leadership coach living in Stowe, Vermont with her husband and three children. Rachel also owns and operates a hotel and attractions property with her family. She sits on the board of the local tourism association and also created a leadership retreat for women leaders in travel.