We are living in a 24/7 world and work is becoming home and home is becoming work. As the boundary that separates these two worlds quickly disappears, we are losing sight of who we are, what really matters and what is important to us. If we are to keep the human spirit alive, then we must change the way we are living and we must achieve some sense of balance. Our self-image and ultimately, the quality of the life we lead, depends on it.
So what exactly do I mean by balance? Balance as we define it, is simply about living your life in alignment with your values, integrating your priorities and making time for the people and things, that matter most to you. In this respect, balance is uniquely defined by each and every person. However you define it, it is about self-leadership - something we all must strive for if we are to know what peace of mind is all about.
The following ten steps may help you along the way:
1. Clarify your values.
Take the time to ask yourself, two very key questions: Who am I? and What do I stand for? Your responses should define and reflect your core values and those core values should be integrated within every area of your life. If for example, respect and compassion are two of your core values, you have to ensure that those values are shared with your family, your colleagues and your clients. Failure to do so, will diminish your self-respect and that in turn, will diminish your ability to focus in the workplace.
2. Identify your priorities.
What is important to you - is it your health, family, friends, creativity, alone time, spirituality, personal development, community or your work? Write down everything that really matters to you in your life and schedule your time accordingly. Setting priorities will help you establish manageable boundaries that will allow you to achieve more balance in your life, overall.
3. Be committed to a healthy lifestyle.
Recognize that your health is your most valuable possession. We often take our health for granted until we receive a wake-up call. Invest in yourself by exercising a minimum of three to four times a week. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink plenty of water. A healthy lifestyle will reduce stress and provides you with more energy and an enhanced sense of well-being. In turn, you project your self-respect to the outside world and this translates into a positive attitude, stronger communication skills and better results, for you.
4. Make time to create wonderful memories with your family and friends.
When your personal life is rich, you create synergy in every area of your life. When we are in balance with our primary relationships, it spills into every other relationship in our lives. Most importantly, you will have the peace of mind that will allow you to be happier and more effective in the workplace.
5. Identify any unresolved conflicts that you may have in your life.
Though you may not realize it, unresolved conflicts will impact how you communicate with others and as well, hold you back from reaching your full potential. By taking responsibility for the role that you play in the conflict and by doing everything you can do to resolve it, peace of mind will not elude you. Recognize too, that the person you have the conflict with, may not be willing to look at it in which case, "the responsibility lies with the person who understands." You must be willing to forgive and move on.
6) Give back.
Take the time to make a difference in someone else's life. By reaching beyond ourselves to help others, we ignite the human spirit and in turn, add a greater sense of meaning and purpose to our daily lives. Think about how you may be able to help a colleague by sharing your experience and knowledge. Your giving will come back to you, tenfold.
7) Be committed to reaching your full potential.
Ask yourself what skills you need to enhance your credibility at work. What courses do you need to take? Are you presenting yourself in a way that commands respect? Do you treat everyone you meet with the same level of respect that you have for yourself? These are very important questions that when addressed, will have a profound impact on your personal and professional success.
8) Create a vision for your life.
Michelangelo was once asked how it was that he created a magnificent angel from a huge slab of marble and he replied, "It's really quite easy, I simply have a vision and I just chip away at everything that isn't angel." Having a vision for your life is about creating a mental picture of everything you would like to achieve in the future. When coaching our clients, we suggest that they project their lives ten years out, but that they write their vision, in the present tense. A written vision, though not cast in stone, engages the entire nervous system and inspires you to do the things and to set the goals that will make it a reality.
9) Set realistic and meaningful goals.
Your goals are the stepping stones toward your vision - they are your navigational tools that will take you to a specific destination in the future. In order to be inspired, your goals should begin with a verb and be specific and measurable. If one of your goals is to get fit and healthy, "get fit", is not a goal because it is not specific and it is not measurable. Instead, begin with "exercise three times a week, beginning July1, 2015." And just watch what happens.
10) Treat everyone, including yourself, with respect. Respect as we see it, is the glue that holds people, relationships, families and companies, together. When we respect ourselves and others, we influence the trust that we have for one another. When people feel respected, which is a basic human need, they are able to respond to one another in the same way. Take the initiative and lead by example - you'll be amazed at the results and you will inspire others to emulate you.
In closing, remember that we all deserve to bear the fruit and reap the rewards of our hard earned efforts. What makes it all worthwhile, however, is the knowledge of knowing that we have taken the time to integrate our priorities into our daily life. After all most people don't regret what they did do, they regret what they didn't do.
So with that thought in mind, recognize that balance is not simply something that you squeeze in when you have some downtime. Instead, it is a way of living that expresses your values and reflects your true identity and that is what gives meaning and purpose to your life. So why not take a leap of faith and consider incorporating these ten strategies into your life? If you do, you may not only reach your full potential, happiness, fulfillment and peace of mind, will not elude you. I wish you well on your journey.
©2015.Kimberley Richardson All rights reserved.
 Frank Raso - Co-founder Imagemakers International
The Gift of Forgiveness
"I'm not sitting across from her", I can remember her saying quietly, as she stood at the Christmas Dinner table. Recognizing the need to be comfortable, she quickly shifted her position so she wasn't forced to "look her in the eye", throughout the meal. Breathing a sigh of relief, she relaxed as did everyone else.
Aaah the family Christmas Dinner. We can laugh at this scenario because - let's be real - we've all been there. It's the place we not only gather for a great meal, it's the place that unresolved conflicts seem to rear their lovely and not-so-pretty heads. Tension and stress often builds, well in advance, as we do our best to be "civil" to one another. How sad I often think, that the very relationships that are meant to support and elevate us, often bring us down. Holding our spirits captive and deprived of joy, not only at Christmas, but throughout our lives.
Knowing this is something we have all faced and will face, what if we were to create a new tradition by giving the gift of forgiveness to ourselves and others?
Are you a Genuine Leader?
If you want to attract and engage the best talent, improve performance and optimize results, it should come as no surprise that it all begins and ends with leadership. What may be surprising to many, however, is that leadership in the 21st Century is no longer just about rank, title or position. Instead, it's about knowing who you are, the values you uphold and the impact your actions will have on the lives of others. As we see it then, everyone has the opportunity to be a leader and the need for genuine leaders, has never been greater.
To help people on that path, we’ve come up with a checklist that helps to define what a genuine leader is. Why not see how well you fare?
A genuine leader is someone who:
So, are you a genuine leader? Take a moment to acknowledge the leadership qualities that are within you and those that you may need to work on. When you do, you will be well on your way to becoming a genuine leader and the kind of person others are inspired to emulate.
©2014 Kimberley Whiten-Richardson - Imagemakers International. All rights reserved.
The passing of Robin Williams has evoked many feelings and sentiments and I find myself trying to understand why? I never knew him as a person, didn't follow him as a comic, but I do remember that when he entered my world as Mork, he made me laugh - a lot. And now, for many reasons, I am experiencing a deep sense of loss.
Like so many others, I've found myself searching for answers and wondering how a man with such extraordinary wit, brilliance, success and love, could leave this world as he did. Yes I know that I’m not the first to ask that question, but my desire to attempt to answer it for myself, is important.
Over the past week, we've all come to hear about the deep and dark places his mind took him to. Places where he was left feeling alone, afraid, anxious and fearful. We’ve also learned that he suffered deeply from depression and was in the initial stages of Parkinson’s – a debilitating disease that impacts the nervous system and the mind, ultimately leaving the person incoherent and deprived of their essence.
But why we ask, would he end his life? Aren't there other celebrities like Michael J. Fox, who turned their diagnosis into a triumph – increasing awareness, moving forward and inspiring research into this disease? Why couldn't he have done the same thing?
Perhaps the answers lie in the fact that Robin's essence was his genius, wit and unquenchable desire to make people laugh. That was his raison d’etre. His reason to be. So maybe there is a possibility that the thought of no longer being able to be himself, was essentially life threatening to him. And before the disease would take him, he would claim his life so that "who he was" could and would, remain in tact.
And now, everyone who knew him personally and those of us who didn't, have been forced into a state of reflection, grieving the loss of the joy, laughter and inspiration he gave us - remembering him just as he was.
And remember him, we will. His passing has made me realize that one life can truly make a difference. His death has raised awareness of the power of depression and that no one is exempt. According to the America Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on the evening of Robin's death – they received the highest number of calls – in it's 27 year history. The upside to the downside of this tragic loss is that many lives were likely saved, awareness increased.
Depression is a dark, dark place that its victims do not choose to venture to. It is almost always triggered in adolescence by the culmination of experiences, people and relationships that have left an indelible wound. Having being surrounded by this dark devil in my own family, I know for certain that people do not choose to go there. They encounter a feeling of hopelessness, fear and despair that consumes their life. And we must understand that words like, "get over it", "you have so much to live for" or "be grateful", though well intended, may diminish their spirit even more. As such, we must do our very best to be more sensitive and understanding and to take off the lens of judgement for "we judge because we’ve either been there or we haven’t been there yet."1
Yes, sadly this great comic and human being, has met a tragic ending. His mask removed, we are deeply saddened by what we now know and see. He made us laugh until we cried and now, wondering how anyone can fill that void. They can't and won't because he was truly one of a kind. We will mourn the loss of his genius, humour and humanity, but perhaps the loss of something even greater - the light of someone who gave us joy and brightened our lives. A man who saw the silliness in everyday happenings and made us laugh at ourselves. And now, in his passing, forcing us to think, look within and see the humour and the irony, in our own lives.
If we are to keep his legacy alive, let us all have more compassion and understanding for one another. Let’s do our best to take life seriously, but not ourselves. Let us all strive to be kinder, more understanding, gentle, loving, forgiving and true to ourselves. And most importantly, let's strive to laugh more and often.
Doing so, may just save another life – not the least of which, our own.
May his beloved family and friends take comfort in knowing that he made a difference in so many people's lives and left a legacy of love and laughter that we can all be inspired to emulate.
May his soul rest in peace.
1. Footnote: Frank Raso 2013
I can remember our encounter like it was yesterday. He looked up at me timidly, afraid to look me in the eye. In a trembling voice he asked, "Spare any change, ma'am?" I responded, "I'm so sorry Sir. I would love to, but unfortunately I don't have any." Smiling he said, "that's ok your acknowledgement is payment enough." With tears in my eyes, I walked away somewhat humbled by the gift he had given me. I made a mental note "to always carry some change" just in case I would see him or other people like him, again.
During the Holiday Season, as we run from one place to another, we will pass people like this gentleman. Cold and hungry, they will persist in their request for change, from one person after another. Many will walk by, some will reach into their pockets and a precious few, will reach into their hearts. Those who fall into the latter category will be giving the gift of acknowledgement - that priceless gift that is wrapped up in kindness and tied with dignity.
We have many leadership lessons to learn from our homeless people, not the least of which is humility. Here are a few more worth sharing:
1. Be compassionate:
We must remember to not judge the homeless as "less than" or condemn them for being on the streets. There are stories upon stories of people who's lives were changed in an instant, by tragedy. People like the former executive of Shell Oil who's wife and daughters were killed in a car accident. Unable to cope with this terrible loss, he eventually lost everything and found himself on the street. He did not choose the street, his life circumstances placed him there.
2. Preserve their dignity:
Though we've all heard stories about people who choose to live on the streets, far too often mental illness them there. With current stats of 1 out of 4 people suffering from mental illness, it's not surprising that those without a support system end up being homeless. We must strive to do our very best as human beings, to preserve their dignity and to treat them with respect. Those who do will be doubly rewarded.
3. Remember, there are great teachers and leaders amongst them:
Closer to home, my Uncle Cliff was once an English teacher who taught at Forest Hill Collegiate and Upper Canada College in Toronto. After a series of difficult life circumstances, severe mental illness and hard times, he ended up on the street. He went on to create Poetry Canada Review, a newspaper of the heart reporting on what really matters. It was also the first newspaper where Canadian poets could post and share their work. He also published three poetry books and won several international awards. Sometimes people must hit rock bottom before their gifts are discovered.
And so as we move forward with our gift giving, let's remember to have an open and humble heart. Let's do our best to take the time to acknowledge those less fortunate than ourselves. Let's strive to BE the change and honour our fellow human beings. And finally, let's always remember that every one is somebody's child.
If we do, we will lift their spirits and ours, not only at Christmas, but always. Fellow leaders amongst us.
Lead. Make a difference. Leave a legacy.
Kimberley is an inspirational speaker, seminar leader and executive coach. She inspires people to become genuine leaders and in turn, the kind of person others are inspired to emulate.