Leadership posts

How to Bravely Stretch

Posted by Laurie J Cameron

My client Jackson Smith* had a bold mission. Gathering support and investors for a start-up venture was his highest priority. He had completed the business plan, assembled the team, and enrolled some key clients and business supporters. Now he needed the funds to make his project a reality.

The challenges for Jackson were overwhelm, uncertainty and being way out of his comfort zone.  He was a content expert in tech development, not a fund-raiser. He had to develop the ability to reach out, extend himself and make requests. Jackson had to get crystal clear about what he needed to do and who he needed to become.

When we stretch ourselves into new arenas, we  need to build new competencies.  In our coaching sessions we talked about not only what Jackson needed to do - the strategies and tactics- but who he needed to be in order to make this venture a reality. We explored new ways of being, and with that embodied vision, he could go out and practice these skills in the business world.

1. Be Intentional

Setting a clear intention is the first element of any successful endeavor. A conscious, clear intention creates focus.  Clarity of intent coupled with mindful awareness is the most powerful mental creative force to get the right things done, say no to distractions, and take purposeful action. Jackson added an early morning routine which grounded him in his intentions- what he was here to do. Mindfulness practice helped him to learn to notice when he was wandering off, not on task, or pulled away from his essential next steps. Our energy goes where we focus our attention. Be intentional with where you focus.

2. Know Your Why

The antidote for overwhelm and fear is purpose. Jackson got very clear on why this project was so important to his mission, and why he was the best one to do it. When he felt overwhelmed, reluctant or hesitant, he anchored back to his why. Our 'why' contains our reasons, that come from the deep inner place that guides us when we listen. We can be present with fear, and use the energy of purpose to generate the momentum needed to move through it.

3. Embody Your Commitment

Amy Cuddy's TED talk  does a beautiful job at explaining how powerful our body language is in shaping how we show up. With leadership presence training, we can connect the vision of what we want to create in the world and how we want to be with strong, bold physical ways of being. Jackson practiced his strong declarations of what he was doing and why while standing up, taking his full space and speaking from the depth of his body. Try this yourself. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your shoulders back, stomach in and have a long, alert spine. Now declare out loud what is important to you? What are you here to create this year? And who do you need to be?

Jackson practiced this embodied leadership move at the end of his morning workouts. He stayed anchored to the purpose of his project - the bigger why. And he used planning tools and mental practices we discussed to direct his time, energy and resources in an intentional, focused way each day. Jackson launched his venture two months ahead of schedule, but more importantly he grew into a next-level leader.


*name changed

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