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What separates great leaders from average leaders? Is it years of experience, a degree from a top-notch university, or an impressive title?

It’s none of these things.

Lead from Within

Lead from Within

The difference between average and great leaders begins long before they assume the mantle of leadership. In fact, you can be a great leader even if you do not have a leadership title or position.

How is that possible? Because great leadership begins from within. It begins with who you are. Who you are when no one else is looking. Your core values and how you act on those values will distinguish you as a leader—every single time.

How do you know if you have what it takes to be a great leader? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you value most about yourself?
  • Do you go along with the crowd—even when you know in your heart that you should choose differently?
  • Do you consistently look out for the best interests of others?

Great leaders have these things in common: self-awareness, core values that guide their choices and actions, and giving to others what they have received. Great leaders are also intentional. They look within first and are focused on living with purpose and passion.

So, ask yourself: What one thing can I do today to be more intentional?

May you enjoy the blessings of increasing your awareness each day… and reaching out to help someone else do the same—just a sampling of the many blessings of leadership.

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about leaders you admire—in your family, in your community, or at work. Use the comment section below or let’s start a conversation on Twitter! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue the conversation! Twitter: https://twitter.com/gloriaburgess Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD. And feel free to learn more about me and Jazz, Inc. by checking out my website: http://gloriaburgess.com/index.html. Have a fantastic week!

Pass It On!

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Leadership is difficult.

Contrary to popular belief, leaders aren’t born. They are made. You grow into leadership through the choices you make.

We stand in awe of leaders who can make tough decisions on a dime, especially when they say, “I just went with my ‘gut feeling’ on the matter.” What these leaders don’t say is that their gut feeling is honed through years of experience, learning through their personal and professional trials and challenges as well as through others’.

That gut instinct is also honed through doing a few critical things every day. Things that over time become automatic, such as their ability to lead effortlessly under pressure. These learned characteristics mold leaders, transforming them from good to great, and they are characteristics that anyone anywhere can incorporate into their daily lives. Leaders Exude Positivity

They Exude Positivity and Energy

In any organization, there will be snags along the road to success. A great leader doesn’t allow those bumps in the road to disrupt positive momentum. The workplace they create is uplifting and inspiring, and they constantly seek new ways to generate positive attitudes among team members. Each morning, they set the tone for the rest of the day. Whether it’s simply saying good morning to everyone and asking if anyone needs any guidance on their work or if it’s organizing the occasional “company offsite” to boost camaraderie on their team, a great leader never lets the opportunity to lift the team spirits slip through their fingers.

They Speak Up

Great leaders are aware that if they wait for the perfect moment to bring up a concern, voice an opinion, or act decisively that moment may never come. They aren’t afraid to make themselves uncomfortable for the greater good. If they have a concern, they’ll surface it in order to rectify a situation before it snowballs into something bigger and, possibly, worse for themselves, their team, and their organization. Typically, they’re the first ones to say out loud what everyone else at the table is already thinking. What’s the difference between them and you? They took the chance to speak up.

They Communicate Their Expectations

Do mind readers exist? Great leaders don’t think so. They recognize the need to properly translate their vision and expectations to their team members so that their expectations will come to fruition. They keep an “open door,” encouraging team members to communicate directly with them and among themselves. After all, everyone needs to be on the same page if they’re all in the same organization working towards the same goals. Great leaders constantly remind their team of the standards they’ve set, making it easy for them to identify high-performers and those who are not.

What are some things YOU’VE seen great leaders do consistently? I’d love to hear from you. Tell me in the comment section below or let’s start a conversation on Twitter! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue the conversation! Twitter: https://twitter.com/gloriaburgess Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD. And feel free to learn more about me and Jazz, Inc. by checking out my website: http://gloriaburgess.com/index.html. Have an uplifting week!

Pass It On!

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To Celebrate Life, Love, Moms, Motherhood, & Valentine’s Day

Letter to My Mom, Mildred Blackmon McEwen

Give her roses while she can still enjoy them. ~ Earnest McEwen, Jr. (my father)

Dear Mama ~

It isn’t your birthday or Mother’s Day. Christmas is over. Epiphany, too. It’s the beginning of a glorious New Year… and I’m writing this letter to honor you. I want to thank you for the singular blessing you’ve poured and continue to pour into my life: you!

You are that blessing. Your life is a poem, a mighty spiritual, a testimony of gratitude, faith, and love. And this letter is a celebration of you.

Your road has been long; your journey has not been easy. Bigotry and prejudice fortified you, teaching you how to love even more deeply and how to see not just with your anatomical eyes, but also to see with the eyes of your heart. Greatest of all, you relied on God’s love and strength rather than your own. In this you gave me the gift of faith and unconditional love for myself and others.

You also gave me what my sister-friend and fellow poet Nikky Finney would say is the gift of being “a woman with keys.” A woman with keys moves in a particular way and she has a responsibility, an obligation to help others find theirs, help them move through their rooms, cross their thresholds, unlock their windows and doors on the journey to claim their promise.

I remember as a little girl, you gave me the precious gift of encouragement. When you said over and again, “Be all that God intended you to be—no matter what, come what may.” I now offer that gift back to my daughter, other family members, my students, clients, and friends.

I remember your humility and sacrifice. For many long years you and Daddy toiled and sacrificed so that my sisters and I could have a better life than the ones you’d known. I remember your and Dad’s Mississippi stories of struggle and strife, of Dad’s deep longing to go to college to better himself and improve our lot, of him working as a janitor at Ole Miss and there, by the grace of God, William Faulkner came into his life and paid for Dad to attend Alcorn A&M College, with no strings attached. I remember you working as a teacher and cook in the nursery school to help make ends meet, Dad’s working at low-paying jobs even with his college degree. I remember you both standing on your rock-solid values of hard work, gratitude, faith, love, and integrity.

I also remember the profound lessons you taught me—to lend others a helping hand, to be of service to others… your constant reminders to do something with my time, to make myself useful. Even if I was already occupied doing something! Today your words echo in my soul as the voice of legacy. Early on, you taught me, Doris, Annie, Debbie, and Vera that you make a living by what you choose as your work, and you make a life by what you do for others.

I remember when I asked what compelled you to go along with Daddy’s “impossible” dreams, you said, “I loved your father and I believed in him. More importantly, we had an abiding faith in Almighty God, and He never gave us more than we could handle, and His grace always saw us through.” Even when you didn’t have any idea of how our family would make it, your love and faith sustained you.

Thank you for giving me a legacy that values education, character, as well as loving, lifting up, and helping others with no strings attached. Thank you for painting on the canvas of eternity with your unshakable belief in the nobility of the human spirit, for painting with a palette imbued with the qualities of humility, faith, love, triumph, and the capacity to treat every human being with dignity and respect. Through you, I have a small glimpse of God’s magnificence, devotion, and triumph.

Because of you, I know—deep in my bones—a few things: if you want change, you must stir the waters and be willing to get out of the boat. If you want change, then you have to invest your heart and soul in the generations to come. I also know that each person must live the legacy that God has intended just for him or her, which means that you can’t hide your light under a bushel. You have to dare to wear your soul on the outside, and keep on keeping on—no matter what, and we have to pass it on by building sturdy bridges for others to cross.

Mother, thank you for being a diva in my life, for not merely talking about blessings… but for being the blessing, and for passing it on!

Love and honor, your daughter Gloria

Pass It On!

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In just a few days, we will pay tribute to an American legend – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Around the world we will celebrate his legacy, even as our own legacies continue to intertwine with his.

Even now, I imagine Dr. King’s presence… and I hear his marvelous voice beckoning us to lean into our deepest calling, which is to serve. “Anyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

Storyteller and author Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminds us that “One of the most calming and powerful actions [we] can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show [our] soul.”

In our ever-shrinking global village, standing up and showing your soul is not a luxury. It is an imperative.

In my latest book, Dare to Wear Your Soul on the Outside, I discuss what it means and what it takes to stand up and show your soul… so that we might co-create the kind of world that we want to pass on to our children and our children’s children and beyond.

As we remember Dr. King and celebrate his legacy, let us also remember to celebrate ourselves as we stand up, serve, and be the change that we want to be in our world.

Pass It On!

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This holiday season, we are blessed once again by my daughter’s presence. Now that she has launched her career, we are even more grateful that she still delights in the simple pleasures of hanging out with me and her dad.

Last year about this time, I asked her what I should write about for my “Feel Good Tuesday” post. She said, “Oh, you should write about family—how wonderful it is to spend time with family members, the importance of appreciating one another, and sharing our love, especially older family members while they can still enjoy your presence.

Family matters. As I get older, I appreciate and celebrate family more and more.

On Christmas Eve, my husband, daughter, and I piled into the car and headed to Vancouver to see my mom, niece, and two younger sisters. We enjoyed a few joyous hours snuggled up on the sofa sharing stories and photos, catching up on each others’ lives, playing games, and dreaming about the year ahead.

Before my daughter returns home to Boston, we’ll gather around the fire, piece together several jigsaw puzzles, and take a few walks in the misty twilight. We might even round up our instruments to make music together, creating wonderful new holiday memories.

As you reflect on your holidays, may you be blessed with the warmth of family, blessed by love given and received.

Sending you and your loved ones Warm Blessings for a Joyous New Year.

Pass It On!

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Fall is my favorite season, a time of bounty, beauty, turbulence, transformation, perpetuation, and possibility. It’s also a season that invites solitude, reflection, and gratitude.

During this season of Thanksgiving, give thanks for persons who have called your name, even if you weren’t aware of them doing so. When others call your name it is a way of acknowledging you… all of  your unique gifts, skills, and talents, which comprise your signature presence.

When others call your name, it is part of a larger pattern of recognizing the importance of an individual and the collective of which we’re all a part. It also recognizes our interconnectedness to one another and all of life, as well as our responsibility to care for one another and our planet.

As we’ve learned from so many cultures where hospitality and harmony are of utmost importance, I cannot exist with you, and you cannot exist with me. In many African cultures, this kind of innate interdependence is an aspect of the spirit of “Ubuntu.” 

When we deeply understand our interconnectedness, we understand the soul of leadership. In Western culture, we sometimes call this stance servant leadership.

As you prepare your heart for your Thanksgiving celebration, reflect on and count your blessings. Be sure to include persons who have come into your life – however briefly – who have extended a kindness to you… a loved one, a friend, or even a total stranger.

This week, take time to fill your heart with and reflect on these questions: Whose am I? Who supports me? Who do I belong to, and who belongs to me? Who has extended graciousness and blessings to me? Who do I extend graciousness and blessings to? Whose name will I call today?

Pass It On!

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This morning, one of my students opened our class with an attunement, our meditative practice at the beginning of each morning to focus our energy – spiritually, physically, emotionally, and intellectually.

Compassion Flower

Her attunement was to shine the light on simple acts of caring and compassion. She shared with us a moment she experienced just today while waiting for the ferry. As she waited in line, she noticed a man who had slept on the ground the night before, apparently homeless. She watched as he sat up, smoothed his clothing, folded his blanket, neatly, and brushed his hair, readying himself for the day while his companion was still sleeping.

My student noticed another man as he got out of his car and approached the man who had slept on the ground. They had a brief conversation then the man returned to his car. A minute or two later, he emerged, carrying two cups of hot, steaming coffee. He gave both of them to the man, a cup for him and a cup for his companion.

As my student described this early-morning exchange, she said she was struck not only by what she had witnessed, but also by the simplicity of what it means and what it takes to care for our brothers and sisters: a little time… attention… generosity… and a heart of kindness.

Pass It On!

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