Leadership Tales from the Cube

Are the Good Leaders Hiding?

Nowadays, it’s difficult to find a really good leader. Whether it’s in politics (good luck), churches, non profits, corporations or schools, I’m dismayed to find so many that are still out for themselves and their own agenda. Before we move on, let’s define a “leader”.

Anyone can be a leader. Leaders don’t rely on a title and business card to positively influence others to create a fantastic outcome. The single mother with three children who provides daily love, guidance and a safe home doesn’t flip a business card to her five-year old and say “Let’s do lunch”. The pastor who’s asked to pray bedside with a dying family member doesn’t say “Sorry, the football game is on tonight, maybe tomorrow?” The CEO that sacrifices his heart and soul for the betterment of a company doesn’t involve himself in negative office politics and scandal. These individuals lead with the betterment of their people at stake — we call this servant leadership.

A GOOD leader will inspire, guide, mentor, motivate and persuade others for a worthy goal. This goal should benefit everyone following the leader and future followers to come. Note, I said this goal should benefit EVERYONE involved, not just the leader alone. Good leaders don’t set goals and lead for their own ego’s sake, because it looks good on a resume or because they want a better performance review. They should lead because they’re passionate about their cause. They should step up because they have the vision to make this world a better place. They should lead because when their head hits the pillow at night, they know their leadership made a difference in someone’s life. They served someone else other than themselves.

A GOOD leader will also keep up a high level of character and integrity. This is where many are lacking. No ones’ character is perfect, but the good leaders strive to keep a high expectation of themselves in everything they do. They have a strong moral belief system, they realize relationships are the most important aspect and they display transparency, genuineness and honesty in their every day life. (gee, is that all?) Their core principles and beliefs are their compass and should shine through when you watch them in action. They stand up for what’s right even if it’s not the “social norm”.

“If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. – Alex Hamilton”

The traits are not easy to come by. It takes practice, a passion for improving oneself and faith in your heart. Humans are wired to think of themselves first and while biologically that’s a smart characteristic, it doesn’t help anyone else, does it? I have a hard time accepting humans were created to walk the earth only to think of themselves and never anyone else. Unfortunately today, many think this way and those folks are leading our children, businesses, governments and faith-based organizations.

So I ask you today: Do you know where all the good leaders are hiding? Are they your neighbors, friends or co-workers? If so, encourage them, support them and tell them how much they’re needed right now. Or, maybe you’re one of the good leaders? If so, continue to shine your positive light and don’t be afraid to let it inspire others to do the same. The world needs more servant leaders that strive to leave a positive legacy when they move on from this world. Don’t you agree?

Image courtesy of pakorn at

Inspirational Seconds

Reinvention can happen at any time

I have an apology to make. My last post was late November. I haven’t written one post since then. I let my blog slip slightly and may have let down 3 Scoops of Inspiration fans. But, there was a lot of progress in my life since then. I’ve done a lot of thinking, goal setting, praying, reflecting, laughing, inspiring, mentoring (taking and giving), crying… In a sense, I was working on reinventing myself. I had goals and knew I’d achieve them, but I let distractions get in the way. Shame on me!

I never lost sight though. I never lost sight of where I’d like to be. I never strayed too far from my chosen life path. I stayed true to what my spirit and Creator were telling me. And that’s a good thing. Goals are set in stone, but plans are set in sand and can change. I dream of one day being a powerful inspirational speaker, traveling and touching lives around the country. There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll achieve this, but today… today that dream came one step closer.

In my “standby” time off blogging, I’ve concentrated on being an active member of a local Toastmasters club. Toastmasters is an international speaking and leadership club that’s been in existence since 1924 and helps those looking to improve their public speaking skills. In my short 6 months, I’ve met the most supportive and positive people who genuinely care about your success. Barely knowing anything, some folks took me under their wing and taught me about meetings, rules and certifications. I practiced more speeches and was encouraged to enter the Club contest. I had no clue what the contest was about, but took a leap of faith. I won 1st place in the Club contest. What an honor! Tonight I competed in the Area contest and walked away with first place again! The competing speakers were great, it was tough competition. Again, I met wonderful people who came out of the woodwork to congratulate me.

I don’t write this to brag about winning a contest. I was inspired to write because of the feeling it gave me. Tonight, Kristie was reinvented. Life took on a whole different level. I strayed out to the unknown and relied on my fellow Toastmasters to guide me along the process. I did something different, something brand-new and it left me with true inspiration and a new lease on life. People were inspired, touched and moved by my message. Doing something you feel called to do is the most inspirational, spirit moving thing you can do. You’re in your “zone”. Tonight, I got a taste of my ultimate goal as a speaker and it was delicious.

When did you last seek that spark in your life to jump-start your passion? When was the last time you felt a victory in life? When did you last picture your greatest results? Can you see yourself doing what you love? Do you envision what that’ll feel like? If you’re looking at your goals and dreams as a far away fairy tale, maybe it’s time to shake it up a bit and reinvent yourself. Take time to reflect, laugh and just “be”. Revisit those goals and take a different path toward achieving them if your current one isn’t getting you there.

There’s no rule in life that says you can’t change and reinvent yourself. Take the time to inspire yourself. Change is a good thing especially when considering your true passion. Do something out of the ordinary. Take that leap of faith outside your comfort zone. When you’re holding that personal victory in your hands, you’ll be glad you did. I promise.

Note: My speech topic was from a previous 3 Scoops of Inspiration post: Choosy Minds Choose Choice


Inspirational Seconds

Life is like… Black Friday?


I admit, I’m one of the crazy people who LOVE shopping on Black Friday. I’ve actively shopped that fateful day for over 10 years now. Perhaps the thrill of the hunt, the massive savings or the challenge to buy that hard to get item pulls me back every year. While staring at numerous Black Friday ads for hours creating my game plan, I commented to my boyfriend that only certain people can really attempt and survive Black Friday. They have to own a “particular set of skills” (thank you actor Liam Neeson). As I named the characteristics, he thoughtfully said, “It sounds like the same skills you need in life”. Exactly.

Shopping Black Friday is about goals. You can buy a TV any day of the week, in your pajamas, at home, online. But to get that same TV for $299 within a tiny window of time — now you have a challenge. Whether you want to be successful in life or nab that last cheap iPod, the same skills apply.

ENERGY – If you’re going to shop at 2am with thousands of other sleep deprived people, you’ll need energy. While waiting outside your favorite store, you’ll see loads of people drinking coffee, doing jumping jacks or chattering quickly to keep themselves coherent. They have energy because their goal lies within the doors of that department store and they’ll do anything to stay awake to get it. Do you have that same energy for your life? Proper sleep, eating right and good mental well-being are essential to stay on track for your goals. Years ago, I read an article in Inc. magazine. A CEO mentioned energy being the #1 component to success. Years later, I realized if you don’t have energy to pursue success, you’ve got a tough road ahead of you. Energetic people are successful people.

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you. — Oprah Winfrey

PERSISTENCE – This is defined as “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition”. This  describes the epitome of Black Friday. Heavy traffic, no parking, irritable shoppers, crowded stores, waiting hours in line and praying your item isn’t sold out. Shoppers endure great obstacles to save a great deal of money on that prized Blu-ray player. Those who choose not to go through a few road bumps, don’t get the reward. It’s that simple in life. Pursuing something truly worthy in life means pushing through obstacles, naysayers, tragedies and setbacks. There’s nothing convenient about Black Friday, just like there will never be a perfect, convenient time to pursue success. Push through the negativity and keep your eye on the prize.

A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. — Elbert Hubbard

PATIENCE – This may be the top tactic needed to get through Black Friday. Once you leave your house, you may have to wait to find a parking spot, wait in line to get in the store and wait in the check-out line an hour, or two. If you lack patience, these rituals will make your brain explode. The quote “All good things come to those who wait” runs through my mind while standing in Kohl’s in wall-to-wall people at 2:30am with a few items in hand. It’s normal to want success overnight, but the reality is, it just doesn’t happen. If you maintain your focus, keep doing the right things and have faith you’ll succeed, your patience will be rewarded in victory. Take a deep breath and know you have good things coming.

Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy. — Saadi

ATTITUDE – While navigating through seas of people and aisles, not everyone is in a sunshiny mood at 3:30am. You may even see media horror stories about the experiences of Black Friday. While some may be true, I’ve shopped Black Friday in multiple states and cities and manage to have a positive experience every time. Why is that? Because I’m expecting to have some road bumps in my shopping extravaganza. Then, I keep my eyes fixated on my goal and maintain a positive attitude toward my success. When you’re running for a better life, your attitude will be the difference maker on the level of your success. Bring a negative attitude and life will feel miserable. Bring a good one and suddenly doors of opportunity swing open.

See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination. — Ralph Marston

ORGANIZATION – This is essential for a successful shopping trip. Creating a solid game plan of scoping out ads ahead of time, making a list and setting a budget will get you through Black Friday. Pick a few hard to get items and go after those first. As in life, if you have no clue how you’re going to obtain your goal, your chances of achieving success are pretty grim. Don’t be afraid to create a timeline or prioritize a list of steps on how you’ll achieve your goals. Reading books, mentoring with experts and picturing your success aren’t bad routes to follow either. Put your dreams in reachable perspective by organizing your thoughts.

In every aspect of life, have a game plan, and then do your best to achieve it. — Alan Kulwicki

There you have it — life according to Black Friday. If you venture out for these elusive deals, may your car find close parking spots, may you get the last cheap iPhone and may you find a new friend while waiting in line. If you can endure all these challenges for one day of shopping, imagine what can be accomplished by applying these same characteristics in your life. Nothing compares to the feeling of realizing your dream and going through many harsh struggles to finally taste that long-awaited victory. It’s always worth it.

Note: It’s true, thousands of people opt to do much of their Black Friday shopping online to avoid the insanity. I too, have done this, but where’s the challenge in that?

Inspirational Seconds

9.6 tips to avoid the perfection complex

welcome-to-perfection copy

Perfectionism is a very personal topic that I’ve struggled with since first grade. My parents still remember the story of my teacher warning them of my perfectionist tendencies. If I got anything less than 100% on an assignment, I fell into a downward spiral of frustration, anxiety and sadness. I was a high achiever in all my school years, but was never satisfied and very hard on myself. Decades later, it’s been one of the largest challenges to overcome, but I’m happy to say I can now identify and control it. Being a prisoner to the perfection complex can leave you feeling trapped in your own world. Your constant pursuit of “perfection” can adversely make you feel unworthy, irritable and downright depressed. Sounds counter-productive, no? Shouldn’t the perfect life make you happy? Then why does the pursuit of perfection have the opposite effect for some? It’s not the pursuit, it’s the expectations you set on yourself.

The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The definition of ‘perfect’ according to Google:
–the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.
–the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible.
There’s a LARGE difference between 100% faultless and as faultless as possible. Most people define “100% flawless” as perfection, so that’s what I’ll refer to.

Here are 9.6 tips and a re-framing that guided me in letting go of the impulse to be perfect every day of my life.

  1. Realize perfection is a deceiving mind game
    Everyone has their definition of perfect. Since there’s over 7 billion definitions, whose standard is right? And since no human is perfect, then we’re imperfectly defining perfection! It’s deep, but true. No one, not even the most successful business person, influential spiritual leader or self-less humanitarian is perfect. We all stumble, err in judgement and fail. Unchain your mind from this toxic mindset and be glad no human is perfect. Could you imagine the world if there was? Whew, thank God for that.
  2. Learn from failures
    You will fail. It’s inevitable. If you understand this and use failures as learning experiences not a blow to your ego, you will take a closer step toward self acceptance. We were meant to screw up, but out of mistakes come the best inventions, insight and information that has changed the world. Failure is part of the success equation toward excellence.
  3. Avoid the comparison game
    This can be tough. We’re constantly bombarded by beautiful models, millionaires with extravagant lifestyles and families who can do no wrong. If you’re striving to have a lifestyle like these folks, remember, behind the scenes, they’ve messed up too. We’ve already established no human is perfect, including everyone you see in the media. Comparing yourself to others is a quick way to forget what strengths you bring to the table. Speaking of strengths, beware of comparing your weaknesses to others’ strengths!
  4. Control what you can control
    You’ve planned everything to a tee, triple checked all details and inevitably, something outside your control happens. It happens because it can. Kids will misbehave, foul weather will come and someone will trip on the stairs in front of 700 people. Life will not unfold perfectly, but will unfold the way it’s meant to be. If you limit your urge to control everything, your mind will relax. Life can’t be controlled, only lived.
  5. Have faith
    This mindset has helped me the most. Have faith in God, your heart, your instinct, whatever you call it. Believe in yourself and your capabilities. Things happen for imperfect reasons, but in the end we must have faith to believe they happened for a good reason. This goes back to viewing failure as opportunity for growth and learning. Believe those imperfect moments were put in front of you to grow, not to look bad.
  6. Keep your goals realistic
    I’m going to lose 20 pounds in 5 days! I’m going to go from janitor to Vice-President tomorrow! I’m going to run a marathon with 4 days’ worth of training! These are excellent goals, but lack perspective and a good dose of realism. I had a habit of setting myself up for failure by creating lofty goals and missing them by miles. For a perfectionist, feelings of frustration, unworthiness and insecurity quickly ensued. True goals include realistic, measurable and specific objectives. Stick to these characteristics and watch your level of success increase sans the cruddy feelings.
  7. Celebrate your successes
    While we’re on the topic of success (and you will succeed), don’t forget to reward yourself for an accomplishment. This sounds simple, but I still struggle with this one. Have pride when you’ve done something well, even if it wasn’t “perfect”. Look how well you organized the closet, finished that tough project or dressed for that event. You’re allowed to bask in your own awesomeness at times, it’s ok. The pressure of perfection will ease up when you congratulate yourself on a job, no matter how well done. If you don’t occasionally celebrate, even if it’s internally, you will continue having the negative mindset of: achievement = zero upside.
  8. Forgive yourself
    We’re getting into the tough ones now. Perfectionists can be very hard on themselves because they’re not ‘perfect’. We’ve already established no human is perfect, so throw that expectation out the window. Without the expectation of being perfect, you’ll have an easier time forgiving yourself when you do something less than desirable. Take a deep breath, admit something went wrong, learn from it and move on. Let it go and understand you’re still only human.
  9. No one else wants you to be perfect
    This makes me smile. As a recovering perfectionist, I realized one day, no one wants me to be perfect! Picture being in a relationship or a co-worker that never made a mistake. Ever. How about a leader that never made a wrong decision or prediction?  That’s quite unrelatable to other folks, isn’t it? If I wrote this blog in strictly perfect and articulate grammar, wouldn’t you wonder “Does she really talk like that?”. I don’t want the 100% perfect boyfriend because I couldn’t relate to his “perfectness”. Plus, that would be downright creepy.

9.6   I encourage you to practice these principles every day. As we all know, practice makes…an ex-perfectionist!

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”
― Michael J. Fox

I hope these 9.6 suggestions help break your never-ending cycle of perfectionism. Instead of perfection, try pursuing excellence. It’s a much better deal and you’ll love the results.

Inspirational Seconds

Pick your battles now

I’m writing to you from a hotel room in Milwaukee way past 1am.  Today, I chose to wake up around 6am, drive over an hour to meet my friends to jump in their car for a 7 hour drive to Milwaukee.  Rest  stops, Chicago traffic and construction added to the flavor of the adventure. The hotel arrival includes even more friends greeting us with hugs, smiles and laughs.  These folks aren’t just acquaintances, they’re people striving for positive growth in their lives who have become close friends over the years. They picture a more fulfilled, purposeful life out there.

We descended on Milwaukee because that’s where the leaders are. We’re part of an association that organized a large leadership seminar reserved for people wanting to improve their lives and the lives of others.  We want more out of life than what the status quo has in store for us if we don’t keep growing. We understand life is meant to be lived to the fullest not with feelings of settling or feeling trapped. We learn from others with successful lives in many aspects like finances, relationships, health, leadership and spirituality.

Our Friday night session focused on dream and purpose, my favorite topic. Since it’s now 1:45am and I’d prefer to be coherent tomorrow, I will make my point brief. Each speaker came from various parts of North America with different stories to tell. However, they always have laser focus when it comes to pursuing their dreams and passions. The key to their success was obvious. Constant consistency toward the pursuit of your passion and purpose =success. Many of the thousands in the arena could relate perfectly to the message while others probably sat back pondering “What in the world IS my purpose???”

As the leaders poured their hearts out and I pictured my ideal life, I was reminded that anything in life is attainable, you just have to want it bad enough. You have to wake up before sunrise to jump in a car with some friends. You have to sit through construction and later encounter strange people at rest stops. By all means, you should narrowly zip in between semis in the middle of dead-stopped Chicago traffic praying you get to the hotel in one piece. (No, I wasn’t the one driving.)

The most joyous, happiest people pursue their purpose at all costs. They do it because something inside calls them to keep going, to keep pushing. They do the necessary things, no matter what it looks like to the outside world, because it’s their dream, no one else’s.

The trip could’ve been worse. We could’ve all stayed home. We could’ve said we’re not driving that far. We could’ve made a lot of decisions against pursuing personal growth opportunities.  But we didn’t. When was the last time you took your dream pursuit a little farther? When did you take that extra crazy step closer to that goal? Have you stayed up til 2am working on those little things that lead you to your ideal life? Maybe it’s time to battle some traffic. Your dreams are worth it.


Leadership Tales from the Cube

Walk away from the zone of comfort


I recently read some blogs conveying negative feelings on self-help or self-development. Many said they were fully capable of helping themselves thank-you-very-much then stating a majority of people who read self-help materials never put anything into action. I find this quite interesting because I grew up learning the contrary. It’s been said leaders are readers. The most successful people today are avid readers, many in the personal growth categories. They’re reading materials and following others who have fantastic results in spirituality, finances, relationships, health and leadership. They absorb what information is relevant to their life and act according to their passion and purpose. There was, however, a bit of truth in the anti-self development writers and that’s the characteristic of no action. Are you that person? Are you soaking up personal development material and still unwilling to step outside that comfort zone?

If you’ve read my posts or other personal growth material, how’s that going for you? Have you put it into action? Or, are you just thinking about it while you read more books, satisfied with the status quo? A step towards personal growth starts by getting outside your comfort zone.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Acting on what you comprehend is key to personal growth. You can read the most excellent quotes, insightful books and witty blogs on earth, but without action on your understanding, you just have a lot of consumed knowledge. Successful, joyful people are known for keeping their mind open to trying new things and then doing them. They take risks, believe in their dreams and aren’t afraid to act on what they’ve learned.

I was guilty of this practice years ago. I was so excited about improving my life, that I’d read an excellent book, take notes on it, then neatly tuck them away on my night stand. There! That feels better! I read a book, even wrote some notes; put a check in the box. I noticed a few changes, but nothing significant. It wasn’t until I allowed myself to let go and actually act on this knowledge, did I see amazing results. I wasn’t as caught up in being constantly perfect. More business fell into my lap. People were thanking me for my coaching and insight. My insight? All I did was read a book or ten, stray outside my comfort zone and act on knowledge. I did something anyone could do.

So it’s time for a checkup. Have you strayed outside that comfort zone yet? Have you acted on some fantastic knowledge lately, or are you just complacent? Are you noticing the difference you envision? If not, it’s time to act. Today.

Diversity Perspectives

Choosy minds choose choice

In 1995 the movie, Dangerous Minds starring Michelle Pfeiffer, was released. It’s based on a true story of an ex-marine teacher struggling to teach a hodge podge of teenagers from various ethnic and low-income backgrounds in an inner city school. I love good mentor movies and this is one of my favorites. Picture a bunch of bored, unruly teenagers in a classroom while Michelle’s character, Louanne, is trying to teach poetry. One irate student mumbles under his breath that he has no choice being stuck in class.

Louanne: Nobody’s forcing you to be here. You have a choice. You can stay, or you can leave.
Student: Lady, why are you playin’ this game? We don’t have a choice.
Louanne: You don’t have a choice? You don’t have a choice on whether or not you’re here?
Student: No. lf we leave, we don’t get to graduate. lf we stay, we gotta put up with you.
Louanne: Well, that’s a choice, isn’t it? You have a choice. You either don’t graduate or you have to put up with me. lt may not be a choice you like, but it is a choice.

What a great illustration on choice. In fact, it was this movie scene that changed my views on using the power of choice. How many times have we been in situations and thought “I had to do this, I had no choice!” “He gave me no choice but to…” Let’s take this a little further.


Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice. — Wayne Dyer

You choose:

To be angry. Someone betrayed your trust. They cut you off in traffic. He embarrassed you in the meeting. She insulted your goldfish. No matter what someone did to you, you have full control of your reaction. They didn’t make you do anything. Your kids didn’t make you scream at them. Your friend didn’t force you to hang up the phone angrily. Humans are wired for various emotions including anger, but it’s our choice to control it. Let’s say you’re in the heat of the moment, really upset, maybe even shouting and your phone rings. Do you answer HELLO$$##@%!?!??! or, do you compose yourself first and then answer? In that moment, you executed the power of choice and quelled your anger for a brief moment. It can be done.

To be offended. This is a tough one. You know the old adage about the school bully? If you don’t let the bully’s words and actions bother you, pretty soon he moves on because you’re not reacting. Being offended is somewhat similar. Whether it’s through media or another person, you have the choice to turn away from it. If it’s music, change the channel. If it’s a book, don’t buy it. If it’s a person, nod, smile and remember they’re human too and make mistakes. You have excellent qualities and the offensive person has yet to recognize them. Being offended is based on culture as well, which further proves it’s a choice. The typical two finger “V” sign in the United States means ‘peace’ and is a welcoming gesture. Use that same gesture in England and you’ve appalled someone. Words, gestures and actions are what we make of it. If we choose to take offense to everything, it’s going to be a tough go at life. Especially when many people inadvertently offend others. If we let many things fall to the side and learn for next time, it’s going to be a rewarding experience.

To be happy. Depending on your current state of mind, this may not come easy. There were times in my past where I thought this wasn’t an option. I felt I had no choice but to have negative feelings. When opened up to the power of choice, everything changes including your life perspective. On the flip side of anger, no one can make you happy. Not your spouse, not your kids, not your best friend. Do you know someone who “has it all” yet still feels empty? What about the friend with the nice house, fast car and perfect kids? Are they truly happy? I know people who have all these things and more and they have a great deal of joy in life. That’s because they chose to. They chose to grow personally, work on their relationships and live their passion in life. I also know people of meager surroundings who are full of happiness thanking their higher power for every blessing they have. Whether you have riches in your bank account or not, outside forces do not choose your happiness. You do. It’s an inside job that only you were hired to take care of.

Choice is a powerful force to be reckoned with. You have that power. With one choice you can change how your day will be. With one change of mind, that person will never offend you again. One tweak to a perspective and you start living a joyful life again. One choice means you display compassion rather than anger toward your kids. The opportunities are endless. If you have nothing else, you always have choice. Use it wisely.

P.S. Yes, I referenced a peanut butter commercial in my title. 🙂

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