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The Heart of the Matter

hearts-583063_1280I am amazed at how many leaders forget the importance of the human equation when leading others.

It is easy in a world of mounting deadlines and shorter attention spans, to become myopic in the way we approach our work. It is easy to see only the goal line and forget about the team.

How far do you think Tom Brady of the New England Patriots would get in this month’s Super Bowl, if he decided to carry the ball himself on every play? Well knowing Tom Brady, probably farther than most.  But for the rest of us mere mortals, we need people around us to help us complete the play and drive the ball into the end zone.

The best leaders I have ever worked with, were the leaders who brought heart to their work and freely shared their hearts with their cherished teams. 

There was my first corporate boss, Bob.  Bob was a big, brusque Texan who put his feet up on the conference table during meetings, smoked a cigar and when he laughed, the entire building shook.  I watched Bob closely, and what I observed was a man who knew the importance of greasing the wheels of productivity with some back-slappin,’ good ole fashioned fun.  Oh, and by the way…everyone loved him, everyone went the extra mile for him and as a company, we rocked our goals and consistently came in ahead of deadline…all the while having a lot of fun doing it.

Then there was Jan, my first mentor in my comedy career. Jan was the manager of the Laff Stop in Newport Beach, CA and decided to take me under her wing and groom me for the stand-up stage.  I will always be grateful to her for encouraging me to pursue my comedy dream. Jan also had a wonderful, wry sense of humor and a very big heart.  Everyone in the club loved her and whatever Jan needed, Jan got. No questions asked. Jan showed me by her leadership example that you can maintain grace under pressure and that nice goes a lot farther than rude. A great lesson Jan taught me about understanding why people heckle in a club (or in life) was this; “Rudeness is a weak person’s attempt at strength.” I have never forgotten that piece of wisdom.

And finally, there was my former boss Gerry.  Gerry was a great guy.  One of the smartest men I have ever met.  Laid back, with an endearing touch of cynicism when it came to navigating the inherent B.S. that comes with the machinations of day to day business…and once again, a great sense of humor.

Gerry had some funny quirks. For instance, every week he would go through my Request for Expenditures Form and cross out every other item, always saying the same thing: “Nice to have, not necessary.”  “Nice to have, not necessary.” “Nice to have, not necessary.” I have NEVER been able to get this sentence out of my mind.  To this day, whenever I am considering a purchase in my own business, I will hear Gerry’s voice in my head…”Nice to have, not necessary.”

So here is the heart of the matter.  I have noticed several truths in my up-close observation of leaders from my past:

#1) Heart and Humor like to travel together.

#2) People work harder for leaders they genuinely like as people.

#3) More wins happen when people can have some fun working together towards the same end.

#4) The more you can connect from a heart space with people, the more meaningful, impactful and significant the work will be.

Here is an overview of 7 Principles of Heart-Centered Leadership from Susan Steinbrecher, the co-author of Heart-Centered Leadership. Find out more and listen to her podcast at www.positivitystrategist.com

7 Principles of Heart-Centered Leadership:

  1. Know Thyself
  2. Know Your Impact
  3. Don’t Judge or Assume-instead come to understand
  4. Let Go
  5. Associates Have a Choice
  6. They Need What You Need
  7. Care for the Heart

Once again…The best leaders I have ever worked with were the leaders who brought heart to their work and freely shared their hearts with their teams.

So get out there and share your big, beautiful heart. Spread some love, light the way for yourself and others… and amid the quotas, the deadlines and the daily pressures of work…I implore you…LAUGH A LOT!!!

Karyn Ruth White is a “thought-laugher” in the exciting field of Human Potential.  She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She energizes Conferences around the U.S. with her hilariously poignant Keynote talks. She is also an Author, a Comedian, a Keynote Coach and the proud owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to live and work from their heart-centered greatness. Visit her on-line at karynruth.com or email her at info@karynruth.com

Detecting Your Personal Style

detective-1424831_1280I have been immersing myself in watching mysteries, including the series of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Hercule Poirot by Dame Agatha Christie. I love the London settings; Doyle’s dark and daunting streets of 1900’s London, and I can’t get enough of the fabulous art deco furnishings and architecture of 1930’s England in Christie’s Poirot series. The sets become a character, in and of themselves.

Fun stuff, whodunnits. The more I watch, the better I am at detecting patterns and solving the mystery right along with the sleuth. Detecting patterns…I figure that’s a good life skill to keep sharpened.

Several things have struck me while I was watching these series for pleasure.

#1: I love the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) use of humor in the midst of a murder investigation. Doing humor well in that context is no easy feat, it is a skillful tool, as it serves to humanize the characters and provide relief in the midst of tension. (Just like in real life.)

#2: I am struck by the vivid difference in the two detective’s personal operating styles. Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is no nonsense in his pursuit of the task at hand.  He is laser-focused and has no time for the niceties and social graces. People only factor into the equation for him if he thinks they can be of use.

Whereas, Christie’s Monsieur Poirot, played brilliantly for 25 years by David Suchet, is the height of grace.  His manners are impeccable, always…even when encountering a less than desirable sort…and yet he still manages to succeed at his goal.

I found myself fascinated by this difference in approach. I realized that these are the same choices we make each day as individuals, whilst navigating our way through this mystery called life.

Our personal approach is our personal choice. So…ask yourself… “Do I choose to see people as an obstacle or as a resource to my mission?” Is the way I deal with others situational, or am I consistent in my approach toward people regardless of circumstance?”

In your daily dealings, both personally and professionally, do you tend to dismiss people unless they can be of immediate use to you, or are you gracious to all, always?

Venture a guess as to which one of these styles garners better overall long term results?

Detecting (and perhaps adjusting) your personal style might be the best mystery you ever solve.

P.S. And let’s not forget Detective Columbo, played by the incomparable Peter Falk, who simply annoys people to death until he gets his way.  This of course, is always another option when choosing your personal style.

Karyn Ruth White is a “thought-laugher” in the exciting field of Human Potential.  She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She energizes Conferences around the U.S. with her hilariously poignant Keynote talks. She is an Author, a Comedian and the proud owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people unravel the mystery of happiness and live and work from their greatness. Visit her on-line at karynruth.com or email her at info@karynruth.com

How Not To Snap During Crunch Time

snow-branchesWhen I was a little girl I used to have a recurring dream that I was the ruler of a small country.  Then I grew up and realized that that was silly…it wasn’t that small of a country! So naturally, as a Queen, one of the hardest adjustments I have had to make in this journey called life, is identifying what I can control, and accepting (begrudgingly) the things I can’t.

As you wrap up the year, and the pace of work and life increases, and you enter “crunch time,” it’s easy to become paralyzed by the feeling of being overwhelmed. This time of year is famous for ushering in a feeling of too much to do and not enough time to do it.

Here are five lessons that have helped me over the past 20 plus years as a busy speaker and business owner to hold on (albeit loosely) to my sanity. They can help you too.

#1: Prioritize:  I once had a boss who labeled everything that crossed my desk “Top Priority.” One day I walked into her office and we had a little chat about the meaning of the word “Priority.”  Not everything can be a priority.  The very nature of the root word “Prior”- implies that one thing must come before the other.  So when you’re feeling slammed at work by year-end details, or by holiday commitments, sit down take a deep breath and prioritize.

#2: Chunk It Out: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  Hmmm, tastes like chicken! Once you’ve set your priorities, start with one thing, just one thing, then move on to the next.  I am not a big proponent of multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is like call-waiting; it’s an opportunity to insult two people simultaneously.  When we laser-in and focus on what we are doing, before going to the next thing, we make fewer mistakes, we feel more energized and we are more efficient. Completing one thing at a time actually creates positive momentum.

#3: Forget Perfect:  We can become paralyzed when we feel overwhelmed.  And a big contributor to overwhelm is the desire to get everything perfect.  That, my friend, is a pipe dream. Let it go.  I always ask myself two qualifying questions whenever I complete something. “Is it perfect? No. Is it better? Absolutely!” I then feel energized, rather than defeated, and I am much better prepared to move on to the next thing.

#4: Do the Victory Dance:  Nothing energizes you more than acknowledging your successes.  We all crave kudos from others, but how about making it a habit to be the first to congratulate yourself for getting it done?  Rather than going home and tallying up all the things that are still left to do, how about tallying up all you have accomplished? Do this every night for one week and you’ll start feeling more on top of things.

#5: Laugh It Off: I remember my first job in High School, as a Chambermaid in a busy resort hotel.  It was one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had.  (Which is why when I travel, I ALWAYS leave a nice tip for Housekeeping.) One afternoon, amid a mountain of laundry and an unrealistic deadline, I just fell into the sheets and laughed for ten solid minutes at the absurdity of my workload.  Then I got up, wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes and proceeded to get the job done.  Did you know that research has shown that one good laugh relieves 15 minutes of stress-related tension in your body? So let it out, laugh and move on.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with light, love and laughter and low-stress levels.

Karyn Ruth White is a thought-laugher in the exciting field of Human Potential.  She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She energizes Conferences around the U.S. with her hilariously poignant Keynote talks. She is an Author, a Comedian and the proud owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to live and work from their greatness (and stress less, especially during crunch-time.)Visit her on-line at karynruth.com or email her at info@karynruth.com

100 Things I’m Grateful For

thank-you-971644_1280(In random order…can random be considered an order? Hmmm?)

  1. Oxygen
  2. Tea
  3. Coffee
  4. Cats
  5. The natural world
  6. Gravity (sometimes)
  7. Music
  8. Mozart
  9. PBS
  10. Art
  11. Skin
  12. Clothes
  13. Enough Food
  14. A home
  15. A new roof
  16. The Big Bang Theory
  17. Bugs Bunny
  18. Looney Tunes Cartoons
  19. The Ocean
  20. Water Fountains
  21. Sterling Silver
  22. Flowers
  23. Flowers
  24. Did I mention Flowers?
  25. Whimsy
  26. Friends
  27. The ability to walk
  28. My sense of humor
  29. and my willingness to use it
  30. and share it
  31. and encourage it in others.
  32. Swimming
  33. Riding my bike
  34. The bright blue skies of Colorado
  35. No humidity
  36. The Moon
  37. Laughing out loud
  38. Laughing so hard I snort
  39. Laughing so hard I pee
  40. Having friends I can do both with
  41. My vision
  42. Dreamers
  43. Artists
  44. Optimists
  45. Patient people
  46. To be listened to
  47. Whimsy (I may have listed this twice…but…oh well…one can never have too much whimsy)
  48. My hearing
  49. My unique ability to accessorize
  50. My decorating gifts
  51. My teaching gifts
  52. My passion
  53. My heart
  54. The kindness of my heart
  55. Being a person who wants to keep doing better
  56. A roaring fire
  57. Great craftsmen (and women) ship
  58. People who care about excellence
  59. People who can see past their own nose
  60. People who listen well
  61. The purr of a cat
  62. Candles
  63. Bonfires on the beach
  64. The smell of burning wood
  65. A good Bloody Mary
  66. Country Gravy
  67. BACON
  68. Real Butter
  69. Milk
  70. Half and Half
  71. A strong body
  72. A strong mind
  73. A soft heart
  74. Being tall
  75. My freedoms
  76. My gift to help people laugh more and think better
  77. To live in America
  78. The Constitution
  79. The American Flag
  80. The right to question
  81. The right to speak
  82. The right to vote
  83. My connection with the Divine
  84. My creative spirit
  85. Money
  86. Water
  87. White cotton
  88. Linen
  89. Cashmere
  90. Umbrellas
  91. The ability to empathize
  92. My generous spirt
  93. My cautious spirit
  94. Victorian Antiques
  95. Junk Stores
  96. My ability to leave it better than I found it
  97. Trees
  98. The songs of birds
  99. Public Radio
  100. My vivid and busy imagination- I think I’m grateful for that- most of all. Right after- Oxygen.)

Enjoy celebrating what you’re most grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Leave It Better Than You Found It

littering-3Between political pundits and power leaf blowers, there sure is A LOT of hot air blowing this month.

Tomorrow we elect a new president. I know who I am voting for and why, do you?

I am amazed at how many people seem to look to leaders to “fix” the problems in their own lives.  Sure, great leadership is an asset, but the ultimate responsibility for your life and your happiness lies in your hands alone.

There is a little old man who walks in the same park I walk in.  He always has a white plastic bag in his hands and he stops to pick up litter as he walks.  I love that he has taken it upon himself to better his immediate environment.  My prayer for him is that he doesn’t let his anger toward the litterers eat him up inside.

When I see him, I am reminded of the power of individual initiative. If each person on the planet just decided to do the best they could in their own realm of influence, the world would transform.

Instead of cranking up your leaf blower and blowing leaves off of your lawn into the street and making them someone else’s problem, instead of leaving a shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot and creating chaos for the rest of us– we could decide to become a more mindful people.  We could think about our actions and the consequences they create, and we could exercise our freedom to make a grander choice.

Never, ever, ever underestimate the power of personal accountability as a change agent for peace and progress.

The boy scouts have a great mantra- “Leave it better than you found it.”  This applies to camping, living and voting.

I love America (faults and all), and I will do my part, and more, to keep her great. Even if it means walking those five extra steps to put away my shopping cart…because…hey, that’s just the kind of patriot I am.

Karyn Ruth White is a thought-laugher in the exciting field of Human Potential.  She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She energizes Conferences around the U.S. with her hilariously poignant Keynote talks. She is an author, a comedian, a proud American and the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to live and work from their greatness  Visit her on-line at karynruth.com or email her at info@karynruth.com.