The Self-Aware Leader

Self Awareness2

“If we agree on everything, one of us is redundant”

(Colin Powell)

This is one of my favorite leadership quotes from Colin Powell.  This statement identifies true leaders want and encourage feedback from their direct reports.

This concept provides the leader with information needed to make sound decisions to help organizational growth.  New and ineffective leaders miss the opportunity to engage with direct reports on decision making for multiple reasons.  Some can be attributed to inexperience, lack of trust, and lack of self-awareness.  All can be overcome with concerted efforts to develop as a leader and engage within the work environment.  Leaders who are self-aware can begin to mitigate the inexperience and lack of trust mentioned earlier.

How do you become a self-aware leader?

  • Look inside and become introspective
  • Identify your strengths, weaknesses, values and how others view you
  • Understand how your self-view impacts others and the work environment
  • Knowledge of how your interactions (positive or negative) influence direct reports
  • Ensure actions and decisions are based in an authentic framework
  • Strive to build authentic relationships with everyone within the organization
  • Adjust based on interactions and feedback from others
  • Advocate for a continuous learning work environment

Work place impact of the Self-Aware Leader

The self-aware leader improves the work environment by modeling the attributes of self-awareness.  This modeling allows direct reports to see and understand the importance of self-awareness.  The leader actively acknowledges strengths and weaknesses.  This provides a framework to enhance staff members’ development within the work environment by catering to staff strengths and working to mitigate weaknesses.

The self-aware leader provides direct reports an engaging work environment where they know they are valued and input is encouraged.  This attribute showcases a leader who fully understands how they are viewed within the work environment.

Finally, the self-aware leader provides an organizational foundation for success by creating additional self-aware leaders.

How can you model self-awareness in your daily interactions?  What benefits would self-awareness bring to your work environment?

Self Awareness


Walk-up Music

Walkup music image

Major League Baseball (MLB) players leverage music to help in their in-game preparations.  The concept of hearing music at MLB games is not new but today’s modern players have really stepped up their games and insert their personalities and thoughts into their ‘Walk-up’ music selection.  Walk-up music is what you hear as a hitter steps up to the plate for an at-bat or a pitcher enters the game.  The music is normally picked by the hitter or pitcher and played over the stadium speakers to energize the crowd and the specific player.

View a list of 2017 Walk-up music here:

As you can see, the players select a wide range of music to represent them and to hype them up.

So, why are we discussing Walk-up music as part of your Walk into the Future?

Excellent question!  How do you get ready to tackle your day?  What actions do you take before giving a big presentation at work?  What impact would your personal Walk-up music have on your daily interactions?

Incorporating Walk-up music or some semblance into your daily interactions can provide the inspiration needed to accomplish your task.  Not saying you will have music blasting over a stadium PA system, but you can find your inspiration in music to generate the mindset needed for success.

As an introvert I still need an extra push prior to any speaking engagement I have.  My speaking engagements range from on-campus workshops, Chamber of Commerce presentations, Economic Vitality Council recruiting events and Keynote speaker responsibilities.  Most people who have seen me in front of a crowd assume I don’t experience nerves or anxiety before I take the stage.  Well, truth be told even with the amount of speaking I have done, I still need that extra push to get me prepared to speak and deliver the content needed.

I have leveraged Walk-up music my entire professional career like MLB players are doing.

Big presentation for me and I go directly to an 80’s Hip Hop classic by Eric B and Rakim:  Move the Crowd.  This song reminds me the main reason I’m speaking is to connect with my audience and provide them with content they can use.  It reminds me to lock in and focus on what I’m saying, how it’s said and why it’s needed.  I play this music in the car, on the computer or on my phone prior to my presentation.

I switch up my Walk-up music and where it’s played when I do Keynote speaking.  I have a love for Reggae music and the ‘Irie’ vibe it provides.  I like to play Bob Marley music for my audience prior to my introduction.  The Reggae sounds helps relax and focus me and seems to put the audience members into a great mood to receive my message.  I always play the song Jammin’ right before I’m ready to take the stage and impart my words of wisdom on the audience.  Again, the concept of Walk-up music is designed to get me and the audience ready in these situations.

So, I ask again:

  • How do you get ready to tackle your day?
  • What actions do you take before giving a big presentation at work?
  • What impact would your personal Walk-up music have on your daily interactions?

Look to generate your own Walk-up music ideas to help you during the day.  Leverage this concept to help mentally prepare for that big presentation you have coming up.  Find the music needed to help you thrive and enjoy the process.

Let me know your final selections for your Walk-up music!  Thanks!

Walkup music stats

Building Resiliency

Resilience Bottom

Resilience is that affable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever (Psychology Today).

Building resiliency can provide a new window towards stated goals and help adjust your mental outlook.  There will still be days where you will face challenges, but resiliency helps adapt to the challenges and come out stronger.

There are multiple techniques to use to build resiliency.  The American Psychological Association (APA) list the following:

  • Make connections
  • Avoid seeing crisis as insurmountable
  • Accept change
  • Move towards your goals
  • Take decisive actions
  • Look for opportunities for self-discovery
  • Nurture a positive view of yourself
  • Keeps things in perspective
  • Maintain a hopeful outlook
  • Take care of yourself

These are great reminders to add to your toolkit to help your personal and professional growth.

Two stand out to me:  Move towards your goals and nurture a positive view of yourself.

Goal Setting

Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-focused, time based) goals can enhance your journey towards resiliency. The SMART goal process will create a platform to view progress and adjust as needed.  SMART goal formation shows if you are truly moving towards your goals and highlights growth.

Nurture a positive view of yourself

This trait comes back to self-awareness and the ability to foster positive self-talk.  We can be our own worst critic in life, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Look for ways to give yourself credit for your progress (SMART goals) and generate positive thoughts (Irie) needed to enjoy the day.  There will be bumps in the road, but resiliency helps you navigate the tough times and come out on the other side better than before.  Continue to practice positive self-talk as you interact throughout the day.

Building resiliency is an on-going process.  Practice resiliency daily and adjust as needed.  It will be well worth it as resiliency will help you power through your day.


The Road to Resilience. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2018, from


Orange Theory Fitness

Orange Theory Fitness (OTF) is based on the science of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) designed to get clients’ in their ‘target zone’ to stimulate metabolism and increase energy (OTF).  This approach allows OTF clients to burn calories during their 60-minute workout and up to 36 hours after workout completion.  This group training program is led by a coach who provides instruction, motivation and an extra little push as needed throughout the training session.

I decided to try OTF to see if this training program can be added to help me with my half marathon training program.  Still looking for training methods to help me with my stated goal to run a half marathon under 2 hours.  My normal training and running routines are going very well but wanted to explore OTF to see if this type training would increase endurance and speed needed to meet my running goal.

My local OTF studio allowed me to sign-up for a free session to experience the workout and ‘afterburn’ advertised.  I was able to pick a day and time that fit my schedule.  The studio staff did a very good job explaining the science behind the OTF process.  They also conduct an in-depth interview to gauge each client’s fitness levels and goals.  This information is used to help the session coach understand how to help each client meet or exceed their goals.  Identifying my running goals allowed my session coach to come over and provide individualized coaching on ways to improve my endurance, speed and running form.

My free session was focused on ‘endurance’ and was comprised of multiple treadmill, water row and weight lifting cycles.  The first half of my session had me rotating between cardio stations (treadmill and water row).  We were given time and distance goals for each station and rotated after meeting those goals.  Example:  4 minutes on the treadmill at 5.5 miles per hour then 700-meter water rows then repeat 3 times.  This comprised the first portion of the session.

My small group rotated over to the weight floor to complete a series of weight/body weight exercises.  Compound movements were used to help/maintain endurance and proved tougher than I thought they would be.  We could pick our own weights but were given guidelines on what we should lift for each rotation.  There were 6 different movements required to complete this portion—some I’ve never tried before.  I was surprised how tough body weight pushups became after a few cycles based on the other movements we completed.  Example:  dumb bell ski lifts (12 reps), push-back push-up (12 reps), dumb bell kicks (12 reps) then repeat 3 times, followed by dumb bell swings (12 reps), bicycle abs (24 reps), push-back push-up (descending reps) repeated 3 times.

Sounds like a lot of work but it was fun, and I could tell I had completed a good workout.  My pump was intense, and I felt surprisingly good after my OTF experience.

Researching the multiple membership options provided to see which would benefit me the most.  This type program can enhance my current half marathon training and get me under my stated goal of two hours.

Have you ever tried the OTF program?  What benefits can a program like this bring to your current fitness level?  Curious.


Coffee Shops

The past few months on my ‘Walk into the Future’ have allowed me to discover and immerse myself into the coffee shop world.

Not saying I’ve never been in a coffee shop, but my current walk has me exploring coffee shops as an outlet for my creative flow.  Most of my previous blog posts were imagined, designed and written in a coffee shop.  I find the environment rich with audial, creative and visual stimulation to help generate ideas and then put them in some measurable format to share via blog.

The people watching in this environment is first rate!  It’s amazing watching the people interactions within a coffee shop—regardless of the time of day.  The amount of business being transacted within coffee shops highlights the benefits of networking away from an actual office.  People bring clients or prospective clients out for coffee to discuss work product, marketing designs and mergers.

Friendly get togethers are another large portion of the people who frequent coffee shops on a random Tuesday.  Friends meeting up after a morning yoga class or run occupy most of the seats today.  The demographics of these groups highlight a diverse crowd who really enjoy good coffee and conversation.

I make a point to patronize multiple local coffee shops to experience interactions on multiple spectrums.  Some of the shops I frequent have a faster pace to patron interactions, tone of the conversations and the actual noise level within.  Others have the pace, feel and sound inflections like a library with the real or perceived ‘hush’ look from people.

I find myself gravitating towards the quieter coffee shops because I can concentrate a bit more and research/write additional context.

My favorite coffee shop so far is Lucky Goat.  Good coffee, pastries, atmosphere and the people are always friendly.  There are numerous coffee shop options available but Lucky Goat continues to draw me in.

What’s your favorite local coffee shop?


Luck Goat2Lucky Goat3

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