Monday, December 18, 2017

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Build Meaningful Relationship

The worst loneliness is not 
to be comfortable with yourself.
--- Mark Twain

A passage in the Old Testament reads, ‘Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither’.

You came into this world owning nothing of any substance or physical weight external to yourself. You will leave just as empty-handed.

Have you ever seen the t-shirt ‘He who dies with the most toys….dies.’ The two most significant moments in your life—birth and death—have no material objects to show for them!

So perhaps there is something within this ‘nothingness’—perhaps even something that matters most despite weighing the least.

When you take time alone away from the adrenaline-arousing mix of people, events and tasks that crowd your every waking moment, you stop running from this emptiness. Instead, you make peace with the vastness within so you can understand the feelings it contains.

The next time you pick up a magazine, or turn on the TV, or pick up the phone, ask yourself, ‘Am I committing this action in order to move toward something that’s important to me or to move away from myself?’

As The Eagles famously reminded us, ‘some dance to remember, some dance to forget.’ Do you make decisions each day about how to spend your time to enthusiastically create new memories or to desperately flee from old ones?

This week, take some time to reflect on how you will develop your relationship with the one person who will always be there with you, no matter what: yourself.
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Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Monday, December 4, 2017

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become a More Effective Leader

The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, 
far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to
a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.
--- Tom Wolfe

Leaders today occupy a precarious position. Research by the social psychologist Michael Hogg of Claremont Graduate University suggests that because of the high status of leaders, followers tend to see them as strikingly different from themselves, members of an outgroup to which followers do not belong.

As a result, followers tend to not be too eager to socialize with leaders. Think about it: do you want to hang out with your boss on a Saturday night? I doubt it.

If you do invite any coworkers into your social life, you would probably prefer those with whom you feel you can let your hair down and just be yourself. You probably perceive such individuals to be similar in status to yourself in your organization—and, hence, to belong to your ingroup.

These intra-organizational social dynamics are unfortunate for leaders, as a 2004 study by the Center for Work-Life Policy found that today’s knowledge workers increasingly socialize with their coworkers rather than outside of their organizations.

Who, then, is left to socialize with leaders? For these reasons, leaders often feel isolated and lonely.

If you are in a leadership role, you may be wise to stop hoping for genuine friendships from the people you lead.

Instead, as an interview study I conducted with Sarah Wright of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand reveals, you may be better off expanding your social network by joining peer groups that include other leaders also experiencing a similar excommunication to the outgroup by their followers.
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Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Monday, November 20, 2017

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become Your Greatest Fan

To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
--- Old proverb

In July 2004, the City Council of Monza, a small town in Italy, banned goldfish bowls. They felt strongly that goldfish should be kept in rectangular aquariums rather than in round bowls.

Search your imagination and try to figure out why they made this decision. I have to admit I was stumped on this one.

A statement from the City Council read: “A fish kept in a bowl has a distorted view of reality and suffers because of this.”

In other words, Monza city council members want goldfish, even if they are to live out their days in a glass encasing, to see the world as it truly is.

Have you ever been feeling sad and thought everyone else must also feel sad? Alternatively, have you ever been looking to rent a house or apartment and suddenly realized there are ‘For Rent’ signs everywhere, even though you walked by them unknowingly before?

We don’t see others, but ourselves projected onto others.

Rather than creating our life, we inherit a series of habitual patterns from our parents and others who have significantly influenced us. These habitual patterns, rather than what lies directly in front of us, determine what we see.

This week, identify the lens you cover your eyes with that distorts your view of reality and detracts from the way you experience life.

As the citizens of Monza have taught us, if you wish to liberate yourself from its control you first have to name it.
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Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Monday, November 6, 2017

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Build Meaningful Relationships

On the last analysis, then, love is life.
Love never faileth and life never faileth so long as there is love.
--- Henry Drummond

There are times in our lives when our emotions can paralyze us.

Perhaps the emotion you feel is grief for a family member that has recently passed. Remind yourself that you only feel this devastated because you loved this person so deeply.

It is important to remember that the person you’ve lost would not want you to be consumed with such pain. They would want you to live rather than merely exist in this way.

You are doing them no favors by using them as a pretext to become paralyzed and to discard the valuable days of life that remain.

If working through your grief and still being a happy person is a goal for you—and I hope it is—just like any other goal or result you want in your life, you will only attain it by letting it go and focusing on the process.

The process is to continually acknowledge as much of the grief as you can manage.

When you feel you are saturated for the time being and will lose your balance if you internalize any more, it’s time to engage in another activity.

You will know when you are feeling balanced and stable enough to work through more of your sorrow.

Just as your work efforts are punctuated by periodic breaks to renew your energy so you do not become miserable and unproductive, you can approach your grief in the same way—alternately engaging with and detaching from it until it gradually becomes more manageable.
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Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Monday, October 30, 2017

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become a More Effective Leader

The ‘Golden Rule’ is ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ 
Instead, I believe we should do unto others as they would
have others do unto them—as long as it's aligned with our values.
--- Anthony Silard

When we follow the ‘Golden Rule’, we project our values onto others and often give them what we—rather than they—desire.

The alternative—expressing genuine empathy—can be challenging.

Do you spend a lot of your work day listening to others? Do you sometimes feel frustrated that your efforts do not seem to be reciprocated? Does it sometimes feel like others think, “She or he is doing OK. I don’t need to be there for them.”

If you are in a leadership role, you are not alone. As it turns out, leaders are in a particularly vulnerable position when it comes to empathy.

According to an empirical study by Ginka Toegel of IMD Business School in Switzerland, the empathy leaders express toward their followers tends to go unreciprocated.

Why? While leaders view their expressions of empathy toward their followers as “extra-role behavior”—in other words, not a part of their job description—followers hold a contrary view. They consider leader empathy to be a part of the leader’s job description, or “in-role behavior.”

“The leader is acting like they care about my personal and professional issues,” followers tend to think, “because they know that’s the best way to motivate me to perform better.”

The sad thing is that, at least on some level, followers are correct.

This week, consider joining a peer group of other leaders where your empathy will be reciprocated and you can receive the social support you need to be an effective leader.
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Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Monday, October 2, 2017

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Live the Life You Have Imagined

If you keep doin’ what you been doin’, 
you’ll keep gettin’ what you been gettin’.
--- Yogi Berra

Like all other human beings, you develop habitual patterns you’re comfortable with and continually act them out.

When we succumb to the unconscious control of our habitual patterns, we think we are experiencing each day, but in reality we’re only projecting our past experience repeatedly onto the present.

We’re not living 365 days each year, but one day 365 times.

Recall a time when you made a significant life change. Did you think through the new course of action for months or years, or did it come about after an unforeseen event changed the way you view your life?

If you finally decided to take a risk and become vulnerable in a relationship, was it attributable to months of self-analysis or did this emotional breakthrough follow your meeting someone who made you feel both safe and inspired enough to love again?

If you made a career change, what pushed you over the edge to let go of the familiar and leap into the unknown? Was it months of self-introspection, or a rupture in a key office relationship, or both?

While your thoughts “set the stage” for a significant life change, a strong move by one of the actors is often necessary for it to come to fruition.

This week, put your mind on hold and take a daring step toward an important life goal.
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Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Monday, September 25, 2017

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Build Meaningful Relationships

We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world,
and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.
--- Robert Louis Stevenson

The social distance between two people—whether they are friends, family members or intimate partners—is a continually evolving variable that their interaction influences in each and every moment.

The more we treat other people with kindness while also non-judgmentally allowing them their freedom, the more they wish to be close to us.

The more we attempt to keep others under our wing to quench our insatiable need for reassurance that we are not alone in this world, the further we push them away.

The reality is that we have come into this world alone and will leave it alone. I realize that is a tough thing to write or read and it reeks of an individualistic approach to life.

I see it differently, however. We do not set foot on this earth to accumulate things or people. Most of us spend our lives trying to make as much money as we can, guided by this futile objective.
Rather, we are here to experience love and share it with others.

To progress in this endeavor, it is imperative that we accept others as they are and allow them to be free human beings: in other words, to offer them precisely what we desire for ourselves.

To do so, we cannot insist on a specific level of closeness that they must maintain with respect to us.

This week, acknowledge that each person in your life, at times, needs to be closer to you and at other times more distant. Adjust how you act toward them accordingly.
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Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Monday, September 4, 2017

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become a More Effective Leader

Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. 
You never walked in that man’s shoes.
--- Elvis Presley

Do you express empathy toward the people around you each day? If you are like the rest of us in our increasingly technology-mediated society, you may be expressing less empathy toward others than you think. You may also be receiving less empathy from others.

According to survey research by social psychologist Sara Konrath of Indiana University, empathy rates in the general population have decreased by approximately 40 percent over the past few decades.

In a meta-analysis of 72 studies conducted between 1979 and 2009, Konrath found that people today are much less likely to agree with statements such as “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective” (a measure of cognitive empathy, or the mental process of putting oneself in another person’s shoes).

Konrath also found that people are much less likely to agree with statements such as “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me” (which measures affective empathy, or the experience of emotions that attune to how another person is feeling).

What happens to us when we express and receive less empathy? We become disconnected from others. Our reduced social connections then lead to the toxic effects of loneliness.

This week, ask someone how they are feeling at least twice per day. Even more importantly, when they respond, stop what you are doing and truly listen.
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Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Monday, August 21, 2017

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Live the Life You Have Imagined

Thought and theory must precede all salutary action,
yet action is nobler in itself than either thought or theory.
--- William Wordsworth

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was living in Weimar in 1806 with his girlfriend, Christiane, and their son. Napoleon’s army invaded the town and occupied their home, bursting into their bedroom with bayonets drawn.

While the German philosopher stood petrified, Christiane took charge of the situation. She barricaded the kitchen and cellar and quarreled with the marauding soldiers until they retreated. The next day, Goethe married Christiane.

While thinking can help you crystallize your deepest values and life vision, so can acting.

Without action, your thoughts can go on tangents that distance you further and further from reality. Being in the line of fire with Christiane and observing her courage provided Goethe with the wake-up call he needed to clarify his feelings toward her.

While your mind generates thoughts about what you want to do with your life, your actions generate feelings.

To confirm whether you want to become a singer, dancer, or podiatrist, you have to do more than study those vocations. You have to belt out a few tunes, get jiggy with some new moves, or put your hands around a few feet and experience how it makes you feel.

This week, practice taking bold action instead of thinking your days away and you will feel energetic rather than lethargic, and confident rather than timid as you witness yourself unabashedly living your potential.
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Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Build Meaningful Relationships

To love abundantly is to live abundantly,
and to love forever is to live forever.
--- Henry Drummond

All of us experience profound grief at various times in our lives. The passing of a loved one, a miscarriage, a break-up—unfortunately, difficult events are or at some point will be a part of all of our lives.

When we feel grief after the passing of someone we deeply love, it is not possible to process all of it at one time.

Consider the alternative: if you hadn’t had such strong feelings of love, you wouldn’t feel much grief.

As hard as it may be to do, push yourself to access the deep gratitude that lies within. Be thankful you had the opportunity to love, to feel such deep caring, to develop such a meaningful relationship.

Despite how challenging it feels to do, try to shift your powerless feelings of loss to powerful feelings of gain—toward an appreciation of how fortunate you are to have been blessed by this person’s presence in your life.

The alternative—no relationship; no love; no loss—is unfathomable.

Make a vow to yourself, when you feel able, to genuinely express love in each of your relationships and to fill your life only with relationships that provide a repository for the love within you and allow it to flourish.

While this may feel like small solace in these dark hours, it is love and only love—for the people around you—that will bring vitality back into your life.
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Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Monday, July 31, 2017

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become a More Effective Leader

There’s not one wise man among twenty will praise himself.
---Shakespeare

The subject of narcissistic leadership has received much press over the past year. On the other side of the coin, researchers such as Bradley Owens of Brigham Young University have been making important discoveries about humble leadership.


Owens’ empirical studies have found humble leaders to admit their own mistakes and limitations, to be “teachable” or open to learning, to showcase follower strengths, and to emphasize the developmental journeys of followers.

As these characteristics of humble leadership overlap significantly with empathy and trust, two important ingredients of high-quality relationships, it seems that humble leaders might be adept at developing lasting and meaningful relationships. These relationships play a protective role in shielding them from the hostile effects of loneliness.

These associations are particularly important as relationship quality is the strongest (negatively related) determinant of loneliness.

In sum, it seems that leaders are able to shield themselves from loneliness by being humble. Conversely, when leaders are aggressive, overly sensitive, and less empathetic toward others—the hallmark characteristics of narcissism—they isolate themselves from others and become increasingly lonely.

This loneliness is dangerous for all of us, as the lack of wise counsel and social support associated with lonely leaders can short-circuit their ability to make sound decisions.

This week, emphasize the strengths and accomplishments of your followers, admit one of your mistakes, and reflect on other actions you can take to integrate humility into your personal leadership style.
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Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).