October 10, 2023

October Energy Check: Finishing Strong

Spartan Warrior, LLP


Finishing Strong

Last month I urged you to use September as a time to take stock of your 2023 performance to goals and reset your mindset, commitment, and energy to those goals. Rather than punt on “4th down & 3 to go,” focus on the goal line and give it your best! Let’s face it, tenacity and perseverance win the day. Don’t waste Q4; leverage it! Great leaders see opportunity in every experience; great leaders BELIEVE in their ability to make gains. So grab your favorite team jersey and read on to create your own Q4 game plan to finish strong and set up a great 2024 kick-off.




Transformation is not a Destination

Whether personal or organizational, transformation is a process, not a destination. It’s fine and convenient to put timing goals and end dates on transformation projects and activities, and such is the hard reality of budget cycles and year end performance reports. That said, EVERY transformation is fundamentally based on behavior changes…human behavior changes. Behavior change takes time and it often is NOT linear. We improve, we trend positively, then oops; we backslide. Sometimes it’s the very timetable that we set up that contributes to our backsliding because we’re discouraged that we’re “behind plan.” The discouragement leads to rationalizing giving up or worse, abandoning the behaviors that produced success in the first place. Good bye empathy, collaboration, active listening, and trust! Hello insensitivity, sarcasm, micromanagement and judgment!
Leaders do not have the luxury of self-pity. Leaders must always inspire confidence in others as well as themselves. While timetables will never go away, you CAN detach from the “destination mentality” by embracing that behavior change is never ending. It requires ongoing attention, support, and nurturing. Once you shift focus to the process, the daily experience and PRIVILEGE of leading others, outcomes fall into place. In essence, as long as you keep moving the ball forward, you are always gaining. Let’s put this into play!
Your task: review your 2023 goals, personal or work-related, and identify ONE behavior change you can make to move yourself and your group/team toward that goal. This is not an action for others. This is a behavior that you will model every day. One specific behavior that will be your #1 focus through 12/31/23. Maybe it’s delegating more or listening for understanding rather than to craft your reply. Maybe it’s looking at solutions rather than problems. Perhaps it’s throwing out the “yeah, but” from your vocabulary. Pick one behavior and make it your mission to embody that behavior, no matter what. Do it. Be all in! Then, check yourself daily by personalizing Deming’s PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act). THIS is how you elevate your energy and your influence as a leader. This is how you keep moving forward with enthusiasm! Identify your one behavior and start now.



Time Does Not Wait


There is no Off Season

The game of life is a running clock. While we celebrate the 4th quarter with fireworks, the next day it’s the 1st quarter again. There’s no pause, no training camp time, no “sitting the bench” and no time outs. This is why lasting behavior change is an ongoing, ever evolving process. So how do you be your very best and make every minute count? How do you rejuvenate and recharge every day? Here are two simple steps to get you on that path of continuous self-improvement and creating your own well-spring of energy.

Increase Your Self-Awareness

Yes, it always starts with YOU. Sorry, that is the fundamental truth of leadership. Remember, to effectively lead others you must first effectively lead yourself! The best way to do that, in my opinion, is to keep a tally of your judgmental thoughts and/or instances of feeling angry, frustrated or annoyed. Then use that tally to reflect later on why you chose that thought or feeling in those situations. Reflect with curiosity and desire to understand. While you might initially focus on the person or event, go deeper. Ask yourself what value or core belief is being violated. Next, brainstorm other choices or perspectives and consider how to leverage those options in the future. Simply asking yourself, “what’s another way to look at this” will often unlock the door to the core trigger.
The goal of this daily tally and reflection is to increase your anabolic energy (inspiration) and decrease your catabolic energy (stress emotions). Be honest with yourself. Set pride aside. Truly practice this daily for continuous gains.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The world is your Leadership Lab! Whether at home, at play, or at work; there is unlimited opportunity to practice. Make it a requirement; a commitment to seize every moment to BE BETTER, to literally love on yourself by building yourself up as you build others up. Sometimes clients tell me that they “didn’t have time” to practice. That really means that they didn’t make it a priority. Most of the time, it’s because they are afraid to fail. What if they try and don’t “do it” well? My question to them, “what if you practice and do better every time?”
You choose what to practice in your Leadership Lab. Not sure where to begin? Here are my suggestions.
1. Own your thoughts, feelings and actions. Be conscious of your behaviors and whether you are responding (choosing) or reacting (defaulting to emotion). You have the power to choose; you also have the power to let others choose for you. Hint: any time you find yourself blaming others, you are giving away that power. Leaders creating legacy are always responsible for themselves.
2. Remember that one behavior change you selected during your reflection time? Speak it into truth. Visualize it. Make it impossible for you to ignore. BE it, every day, all day. Create an “I am” statement and repeat it to yourself often, especially in the moments when you feel weak or unsure of yourself.
3. Forgive endlessly. Give grace, to yourself and others. Wipe the slate clean because carrying around resentment is draining. In order to elevate your mindfulness and energy, you must release sources of destructive and damaging thoughts and feelings. Forgiveness is not approving of bad behavior; it is an act of will to benefit you and enable you to BE your very best.
4. Lighten up. Accept that you cannot change the past nor dictate the future. You CAN engage and be your very best self in every moment. Learn from the past to inform better decisions moving forward. Prepare yourself for the future by building on your experience and seeking opportunities to learn and grow. Be willing to laugh at yourself and practice gratitude.

The greatest leaders make leadership look easy even though it truly isn’t. The key is to genuinely commit to the journey of improving self-awareness, practicing behavior transformation, and leaning into EVERY quarter of the game. Make the choice to embody an inextinguishable fire of confidence and opportunity. If that doesn’t sound like you right now, it is time to make that change. You are your only limit!



Army Ten Miler


You are always Making an Impact

I spent this past weekend in Washington, D.C. It was a full and fun weekend with my sister-in-law, Ginny, and her friend, Kim. I should disclose that they are both accomplished Ironman athletes. I could have declined the invitation to go with them since I am not “in their league,” but instead I embraced the opportunity to practice what I preach! It was a beautiful, crisp morning and each of us ran well. I finished 9 minutes behind them and was super happy with my time of 1:48:20, a new personal best for that distance! My goal was first, have fun and enjoy the course. Second, run a pace in the 11’s. Well, I had a great time being back among military folks. Not gonna lie, the vibe is different and felt comforting and strengthening at the same time. Goal #1 exceeded! I ran an average pace of 10:50; so goal #2 exceeded too!
Not every step of the 10 miles was awesome though. I rely on past experiences to power me through the rough patches; “If I can do that, I can do this” type of self-coaching. I also reflect and think about affirmations. Any time a former direct report or client shares uplifting feedback with me, I save it to reflect on in the future. I call them, Motivation Moments. During long training runs, races, or when I’m feeling discouraged, I read through those Motivation Moments. They bring perspective and remind me that mindset matters; leadership matters; and it always starts withy what I am emitting to others.
Leaders are beacons. You’re either shining a warm light of inspiration or you’re casting a blinding light of disorientation. Either way, you are always making an impact. Every. Time.
Not sure what your impact looks like? Ask your direct reports, ask your coworkers, as your friends and former coworkers. Ask them if they feel uplifted when they’re around you (or not).
No person is perfect and mindfulness is not about perfection. It is about being conscious in our choice of thoughts and feelings which then impact how we interact with others. Ironically, the more you let go of judgment and perfectionism, the greater your inspirational influence will be.
My overall ranking in the Army Ten Miler was 11,550 out of 26,000 runners. Not only did I not win, I wasn’t even close. On the other hand, I finished in front of 14,450 other runners. So when people ask me after a race, “Did you win?” I always wink and answer “Yes, I did win. I always win.”




Diane Wilhelm
Choose Your Impact


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