My last blog of the year is always my favorite to write. It gives me the chance to connect with all of you, to share what I’ve learned, and to express gratitude for the last twelve months of my life.
I would like to share the lessons I learned both personally and professionally in 2014, and I hope that you will share yours with us.
- Focus on resonating with some rather than pleasing everyone: In speaking, coaching, facilitating, and in life, not everyone will buy into what you say. While we can do our best to relate to all of our participants, employees, customers, etc., we are better served by focusing on those who naturally align with our message, those who can benefit most from it. Similarly, if we give most of our energy to our strengths rather than our weaknesses, we will create resonance within ourselves and therefore those around us.
- Be in the present moment as much as possible: This may sound simple, but I am amazed how much we live outside of the present in our daily life. What if we focused on every moment as it was happening? When we walked, we would feel our heel hitting the ground with each step. When we had a difficult emotion, we would stay with it until it shifted, letting ourselves be in that moment without judgment. If we ate an apple, we would notice every aspect of the flavor. Life is richer in the present, and I try to draw myself there as often as possible by using the phrase “I am here.”
- Warmth and empathy are top priority in successful business: In today’s business environment, ultra-busy seems to be the norm. As a result, colleagues often become transactional with each other, leaving little room for human engagement. With more and more work being conducted virtually however, warmth and empathy are no longer ancillary skills – they are top priority, especially for leaders. To influence and inspire across the virtual divide, we must enhance our ability to connect with people without the benefit of their physical presence. We must find creative ways to build trust and put ourselves in our teammates’ place during difficult situations.
- Be open to the integration of your different worlds: As many of you know, I am a hobby musician. I conduct webinars by day, then strap on my guitar to jam with friends and perform in clubs by night. For awhile those worlds remained separate until one day I decided to integrate my favorite band, Rush into a presentation. The crowd went wild over it! After that I began mentioning my musical life at my speaking engagements, using musical analogies and photos of me playing guitar. After almost every speech I give now, people come to me afterward (typically executives in suits) to share that they also play an instrument. We then have an instant way to connect! We often end up swapping song recommendations and even jamming together. What a wonderful feeling to merge different colors in the tapestry of our spirit!
- Don’t believe every “story” you hear or tell: I presented several times this year to finance organizations. In one particular conference for accountants I wanted to do a short simulation to demonstrate cross-cultural communication challenges. However, I told myself a story that this audience wouldn’t want to play a game, that they wouldn’t want to get up and move around so early in the morning. Luckily I ignored this tall tale and did the simulation. The crowd loved it. I had several participants share that out of the whole conference, they gained the most value from my presentation. Whether we hear a story from others or from our inner voice, we must consciously examine it. In the end we might find the story is true. On the other hand, we might miss out on a chance to authentically help others. Make your decision based on love, not fear.
We have had a landmark year in 2014 at Highroad Global Services. We conducted close to 70 webinars with participants from around the world, spoke at conferences on the subject of global virtual teams, coached dozens of global leaders, and helped expatriates adjust to life in the U.S.
We could not have done any of this without you, valued colleagues and clients. The whole team at Highroad would like to express our gratitude, and we wish you a happy holiday season and an inspiring 2015!
All the best,