Why Your Why is Important

C4ZEW6XXUAIUv9v.jpg-largeRecently I completed a 2-day leadership session at the Barry-Wehmiller Leadership Institute entitled, Inspire like a Leader. Although I had made connections with many different, extraordinary people, the most powerful insight came from self-reflection, as inspired by the work to discover my why, and because of the caring support provided to honestly look into myself.

I believe, as do the leaders at Barry-Wehmiller, that sharing our why strengthens our purpose, and can also help inspire others in the search of their own why. Additionally, when we gain clarity around our why, then taking action in alignment with our why (our purpose) becomes fluid and in coherence with our life. Below is my why, along with how I ensure my why is put into use.

MY WHY (purpose)

“To empower people to navigate their life’s path; so that they step into their brilliance.”

HOW (process)

  • Communicate gratitude
  • Listen to learn
  • Reflect on reason
  • Acknowledge the truth, no matter the messenger
  • Challenge to enlighten

When we consciously choose to self-reflect so as to be intentionally self-aware, we begin the process of internal transformation, and as a result we also begin our reconnection with the external world, forming in the process a new, powerful, and positive relationship, with our “self” and others.

Leadership that cares, supports, and believes in the brilliance of people, understands that the initial journey they must take is inward. This internal adventure can be arduous and takes courage, not the traditional, physical display of courage, but the courage to look at and use one’s heart as a lens through which you truthfully see yourself, and openly see others.

The heart’s message is one of purpose, a purpose greater than the self, and is why leadership that is truly courageous is heart-centric, and people-centric, they perceive inward out, they communicate inward out, and they lead inward out. This is a leadership of inclusion, not agreement, of autonomy, not authority, and of compassion not control. And that type of leadership provides safety for others to self-express, and be brilliant, and isn’t that what we all want, to be seen, and heard, as we stand fully in our brilliance?

Regardless of our “title” we all lead when we accept responsibility for our own lives, and if we wish to “live” a life of meaning, then we must learn our “why” in support of our purpose.

Commit today to self-love, decide today to be self-compassionate, and then act today in alignment with your heart, your purpose, your why.

You are the Pebble Cast into the Pond

You Are The Pebble Cast Into The Pond


image credit: hope heart.org

Feeling like you can do nothing to change what is going on in the world? The truth is you have the power to enact positive change, but you must first learn to listen to your heart, because without self-awareness we remain lost in reaction.

To create meaningful change externally, you must first transform internally.

If you fail to build a foundation inside of you that is solidly constructed on your core values, and aligned with the desire to serve a purpose greater than your “self”, than your actions might be well-intentioned, and meaningful, but they will fail to sustain over the long-term. And when we repeat this cycle of taking an action only to experience a short-term gain, or no measurable gain, then we become disillusioned, depressed, and disheartened.

If you want to feel, and see true change occur in this ever-changing, chaotic world, then you will need to utilize your heart, and the intelligence of the heart, to synchronize your heart, body, mind, and spirit.

Our heart has intelligence, it has an intrinsic nervous system, and the same type of neurons as the brain in our head, and it can act independently from the brain. Research has shown that the heart brain transmits information upwards through our body and into our brain, quicker, and more frequently than our head brain communicates down to our heart and our body.

What is really important is that the information being transmitted from our heart to our head can modify the cognitive, and emotional centers located in our brain 1. Therefore, our heart is actively communicating, and influencing our perception, cognition, and emotion, our heart, and when intentionally listened to, can provide clarity around how we think, feel, and interact with the world.

In essence: the heart speaks, the mind listens, and the spirit acts.

To listen to our heart, means to become heart-centric, to become deeply self-aware, and this requires that we learn to go quiet so as to hear our heart, and not simply react to the story the brain in our head is telling us. This is not about labeling, good or bad, or what is better, but understanding that when we willingly go inside, into our heart, we elevate our decision making, form stronger personal connections, are better able to persist through difficulties, and remain stronger in the face of conflict, and in the embrace of love.

To take action without witnessing positive results can be exhausting, emotionally, and physically, so here are some ways to become more Heart-Centric, using our heart in coherence with our mind, so that our actions align with our purpose, and in support of our spirit.

  1. Individually: intentionally schedule quiet times in your calendar, anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour, wherein you sit, or walk in a space of quiet contemplation consciously listening to your heart. A simple technique is to mentally locate your focus on to your heart, and begin deeply breathing in and out of your nose and into your heart, and then simply listening for what your heart has to say. The more consistent the breathing the more coherent you become, the more the mind settles, the more aware you can be of your heart’s message. Our minds tend to be “on” all the time, constantly stimulated, like churning water, when what we need to hear our heart is the calm pool of reflection, so we must learn to stop stirring the water, allow the thoughts to settle, so we can look deeper into ourselves, knowing that when we do this we become stronger, kinder, healthier, and more in tune with our true self.
  1. Locally: intentionally engage with your family, friends, and peers, by listening. Invite them to talk about their dreams, their passion, their purpose; the reality is very few people take time to think of themselves, because we have bought into the myth that to be a good person means we must be busy in service 24-7, when the truth is, if you are a hot mess due to your busyness, are you really serving others fully? To be heart-centric means to be self-compassionate, and self-loving, knowing that your ability to go quiet, positions you in a positive way to be open to and listen to others without fear, or judgment, and in support of their difference, and diversity. For more on how to listen in a heart-centric manner click here: http://emcmike.com/31-heart-centric-communication/
  1. Globally: intentionally choose to consume, communicate, and invest in things, people, or services that align with your purpose. Research to discover ways to actively participate with your money, and your time so that your desire to serve a purpose greater than your “self” can create positive change on a global scale. This does not mean you have to do something dramatic, and earth shattering (but if you do, great), but it does mean to think about how what you buy, consume, and invest in can cause a ripple affect that little by little can transform the lives of people around the world. This can be as simple as being more intentional about who you follow and engage with on social media (find global influencers that align with your purpose, and create a relationship), to running for office, and or utilizing your resources to generate a positive movement with global appeal.

The key to being heart-centric is to do things, and live a life guided by your heart’s intelligence, and not simply informed by your brain’s story.

Mike Watson



  1. Glob Adv Health Med. 2015 Jan;4(1):46-61. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2014.073. Heart Rate Variability: New Perspectives on Physiological Mechanisms, Assessment of Self-regulatory Capacity, and Health risk. McCraty R1, Shaffer F2.

3:1 Heart-centric Communication

In spite of our desire to lash out, speak out, and be heard in moments of stress, anger and in leadership, the truth is and wisdom shows that listening is critical to meaningful communication, and at the end of the day that should be the goal, meaning, not noise.

From a 2012 Forbes article: “While some may be impressed with how well you speak, the right people will be impressed with how well you listen. The best leaders are proactive, strategic, and intuitive listeners. They recognize knowledge and wisdom are not gained by talking, but by listening. Take a moment and reflect back on any great leader who comes to mind…you’ll find they are very adept at reading between the lines. The best leaders possess the uncanny ability to understand what is not said, witnessed, or heard.”

For complete article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2012/02/09/why-most-leaders-need-to-shut-up-listen/#e4a4b3a39324

The overarching message of the Forbes article, I believe is spot on, but also leaves out some pre-work if you are to communicate in a meaningful manner.


My heart-centric strategy of communication is comprised of four essential steps, in which the first three are aspects of being quiet, reserving step four, for speaking, therefore the ratio of listening to speaking is 3:1.

If you are to form purposeful relationships and communicate vision in a meaningful way then focusing on how to listen is essential to others and yourself.

Here are the four steps of heart-centric communication that prove to be powerfully efficient in regards to communicating effectively.

Step one: OPENNESS

Being authentically open while focused on relaxation allows for internal grounding at a deeper level, and this is where the conversation begins, with you. To be open do the following:

  • Sit upright, breathe in and out through your nose, and consider how it feels to be open.
  • Notice the feelings that arise with being open. Whatever they may be, just notice them, vulnerability, anxiety, exhilaration, it does not matter, what matters is you do not judge the feelings only take note of them.
  • Whatever you felt was for you, do not label it, but now think about being open, as in authentic, and welcoming, by thinking about a place, a person, or a thing that makes you feel relaxed, safe and without worry.
  • Note how your body, and your mind are different when you associate being open in this way, from where you initially began.


When we listen, quietly and openly, without judgment, we make ourselves available for insight and opportunity. Now that you are open (step one), in a safe, positive space, continue to sit and listen, things will be said, your job is to simply bear witness to the conversation. When you simply witness, and listen you have effectively grown more self-aware, because you can see how you (in witnessing) are clearly not your thoughts.

I like to smile at my thoughts as I hear, and notice them; especially the negative ones, it keeps me focused and purposeful.

If you want to connect, with another or yourself on a deeper level, you must commit to listening and learn to listen.

  • Listening is more than the absence of speaking.
  • Listening happens in the moment (again and again).
  • Listening keeps you engaged, and connected to who you are and to what the other person is saying.
  • Listening is for insight, not agreement.
  • Listening is respectful, not required, but when committed to listening:
    1. Builds trust and respect,
    2. Empowers people to release their emotions,
    3. Reduces tensions,
    4. Encourages the sharing of information,
    5. Creates safe environments
    6. Elicits openness,

and listening consciously leads to living fully. 

Step three: CURIOSITY

Now with regards to whatever your thoughts were while listening, be curious and ask yourself, “How am I meeting this moment, what are the qualities of my heart and my mind with which I am responding to what I heard?”

Once answered, then focus not on what you want to say about your answer, but on WHY you want to say it, the feeling you have about it, the emotion underlying the message, and write that down, or keep it the focus of your attention.

When we are intentionally curious with listening, we become powerfully authentic when speaking.

Your intentions transform your listening into meaningful actions.

Step four: MATCHING

Now that you are open, aware, and intentional you have gained facts and clarified feelings around your thoughts, but you still can derail your communication even when you are authentic, if your authenticity does not meet the needs of the moment, the individual, and yourself.

What is needed, before you speak, is ensuring you match your emotions with purposeful words.

It used to be said of communicating and treating people, to “treat people the way you want to be treated,” and this has some validity as long as how you want to be treated matches how they want to be treated, however, people are unique (thankfully), and therefore, if you are to be heart-centric, and care about making a connection with others and yourself, then you must match, or “treat people how they want to be treated,” while at the same time remaining authentic and in alignment with your purpose.

In this way you commit to communicating in a wise, compassionate, and heart-centric way. At the deepest level, whenever you doubt yourself, or before you begin to speak, you can ask yourself, “does what I am about to say lead to well-being, benefit or happiness to myself and others?” If yes- then say it, and do it with appropriate emotion, and do not doubt why, but if it is not in alignment with who you are, or will not bring about happiness, or be of benefit, then remain silent, and remember that being silent does not mean you were quiet. Being quiet is not passive, and the silence you choose now can prepare you to communicate more effectively in another moment in the future. Another benefit is that in your silence you stayed aligned with your purpose and your heart, so you do not say anything you will regret later.

I have found that communicating in this heart-centric way creates deeper bonds with others and myself, and keeps me aligned in purposeful vision.

We often, science shows, intuitively, and instinctually act before we speak, like when we decide to hug someone, the conversation with the other person silently begins in our brain well before we hug and speak.

So remember: with your thoughts, go your actions, with your actions, so go your words, with your words, so goes your life. 

Peace, be heart-centric.

Shrinking the Gap Between Our Real and Our True Self


I have found that to be successful, and happy we must know the difference between doing and being. We talk about doing, doing, doing, but forget about being. The reasons some moments are so effortless or meaningful are due to the integration of both doing (purposefully) and being (intentionally). The doing creates or completes things, doing can accomplish tasks, or take action to solve problems, but the being keeps you in the moment, in the joy of doing. When your attention is deeply, and solely focused in and on what you are doing, then there is joy in the doing; the action is joyous because the moment is intentionally purposeful (in being).

People talk about work/life balance, like it is a scale to be calibrated or a puzzle to be solved, but this will never work, because life is constant, chaotic, and changing. Therefore the balance you should be seeking is between doing and being. If you are self-aware you can recognize when you are doing too much (busy, but not productive), and consciously choose to get back to being in the moment, so that your doing becomes, effective, efficient, and joyous, and conversely you can notice if you are being too much, (thoughtful, but without action), and take meaningful action in alignment with your purpose.

Leaders can create this type of culture that supports both intentional being, and purposeful doing by being heart-centric, by engaging both the heart and the mind, by being authentic, transparent, vulnerable, empathetic, and assertive, and if you do this, or at least work towards this, then you will have gone a long ways towards providing yourself, and others with what so many of us want, to feel seen, valued, and secure.

People seek security and the underlying needs that are fundamental to people’s existence, being seen and feeling valued. And when they don’t have these things people feel anxious, fearful and angry, so to deal with change, and difficulty, you must use your heart and your mind to fully engage with yourself and others.

So the real problem, in companies, or in our own lives is that too many people believe that how they are at work should be different then who they are in life. When people decide to be different then who they really are, they give up their power, they are deciding to be insincere, and inauthentic, to be mediocre, and this has the negative effect of creating distrust, and an ever-widening gap in their life between what is real and what is true.

In all of us there exists a “self” gap, it is that distance between our real self and our ideal or TRUE self, the one that holds meaning in your life.

The reality is that closing the self-gap is the number one thing we can do to increase performance, at work and in our lives. This gap remains as long as we do not feel safe, due to lack of food or sleep, or as long as we do not feel secure, due to instability, or as long as we are left wanting due to not feeling loved, or needed, or if we remain unbalanced in terms of giving and receiving, and lastly if we fill incomplete due to lack of self-respect, self-esteem, or lack of recognition.

To better your life and your performance, and the performance of everyone around you, work on reducing the self-gap in your life that is keeping you from your true self, and support and assist others in seeing and closing their own self-gap. When we decrease the gap, we increase trust, and therefore we improve performance. Therefore, trust is an important factor for an organization that wants to be successful, as it has the ability to enhance employees’ motivation and foster interpersonal communication. Reducing the self-gap take support, time, and persistence, and can be guided by consciously considering and purposefully acting upon these 5 steps.

5 Steps to Shrinking the “Self” Gap

So as to Step Fully into who we are in Leadership and in Life

 Step one– Eat mindfully, and sleep consistently

Step two– Do not worry about the external, especially about things you cannot control, instead consciously decide to create a positive culture, no matter how small the space, or how few the people.

Step three– Be strong by expressing your emotions, not to define what you hate, but to recognize the brilliance and beauty in others, and to celebrate each small victory so as to see the good that surrounds us every day. Do not avoid conflict, or difference of opinion, but see it as an opportunity to learn, by listening and to clarify through responding.

Step four– Give and receive, whenever and wherever you can. Not to gain advantage but to empower yourself and others.

Step five– Learn to “be” quiet, so as to get to know yourself, you cannot be organizationally aware if you are not self-aware. Be grateful while you are being quiet. Recognize your accomplishments, and those of others on a daily basis. Cognitively, and emotionally this predisposes you and those you engage with to perform better, and more importantly to be happier. Happiness is a choice, and it can be learned, and research shows that people that are happy, and have a positive attitude outperform all meaningful metrics, and other types of people. Self-aware, positive people work faster, make better decisions, and contribute at a higher level to the overall good of the organization and their life.

The goal is not perfection on any of these steps, or to check off the steps, but to understand and be aware of where, and when you need to work on these things, so you can step more fully into your true self.

There will always be problems (change, stress, anxiety), the choice is yours whether to be defined by your problems, or pushed forward by your purpose.

Mike Watson





TED Summit 2016, Insights and A-Ha’s


ted summit

74 Countries, 1 Place: Banff, Canada 2016


Mike Watson, Founder, Heart-Centric Leadership


*All notes and comments are my own, and in no way are meant to be comprehensive descriptions of the entire TED Summit 2016 event, these notes are brief glimpses into my own experiences and are formatted so as to provide quick a-ha moments of insight and understanding, that hopefully lead to intentional actions and further meaningful discussion that can positively transform both places and people. Links are provided for ease of additional research.



Chris Anderson: Welcoming Address

Overarching theme: Aim higher together by understanding that what is covered, featured, and highly visible, is not an indication of what will become transformational in society. Seek to discover the moments and pieces of brilliance that are often not mentioned or highlighted by the media, more likely than not that is where the transformation will first be found.


  1. Value does not come from scarcity, but from ubiquity.
  2. Ideas do not conform to borders.
  3. What are we building today that will last for 1000 years? (Be intentional).


Speaker: Abigail Marsh



Overarching theme: Human Capacity for Compassion. If we are evil, why do we sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to help others even at a cost to ourselves?


  1. If there is no center of your world (you) then your ‘caring’ circle is all encompassing, void of a center or an ego.


Speaker: Isaac Lidsky



Overarching theme: Eyes Wide Open: Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities In A World That Can’t See Clearly.


  1. What you feel changes what you see.
  2. Fear distorts reality; it fills in the gaps created by uncertainty and the unknown with the “awful,” and diminishes critical and creative thought in the process.
  3. Hold yourself accountable so as to see beyond fear, and open hearts to your bounty.
  4. Avoid ambiguity.
  5. Blindness gave him vision.


Speaker: Lesley Hazelton



Overarching theme: Exploration of The Vast and Often Terrifying Arena in Which Politics and Religion Intersect.


  1. The ‘soul’ful dimension of being transforms the bitter to the joyful.
  2. Fear builds walls and shrinks souls.
  3. Brave souls don’t hate difference and don’t fear the unknown.



 Session: Engaging Conversations

Overarching theme: Conversations should emphasize results over relationships.


  1. Dialogic Organizational Development, a way of seeing and understanding together what we cannot see alone.
  2. Stop passively consuming and start actively engaging.


Session: Telling Your Signature Story

Overarching theme: Become self-aware, discover your story, and share it on every stage possible.


  1. Conflict creates necessary tension.
  2. Structure of story: a. make the opening engaging, and provide a peek into the future, b. get to the conflict fast, c. close with the lesson, the takeaway.
  3. Find the adventure, own the experience.


Session: Lessons From the Longest Study on Happiness

 Overarching theme: More than any other factor, good relationships, regardless who they are with (family, friends, spouses) keep us happier and healthier.


  1. Isolation (unplanned or unwanted), is toxic, and diminishes happiness and longevity.
  2. The quality of the relationship matters more than the quantity, and these relationships actually protect you brain, enhance your emotions, and elevate your well-being.
  3. Key factor in healthy, happy relationships is trust, being able to rely on each other.
  4. Attention is the most basic form of love ~ John Tarrant



 Speaker: Don Tapscott



Overarching theme: Take the Long View On Our Digital, Connected, Hyper-Collaborative World. Regarding blockchain, rather than redistributing wealth, could we pre-distribute it?


  1. Blockchain is the Internet of value that removes the middleman, transactions without the use of third parties.
  2. Trust is established through collaboration, cryptography.
  3. org, blockchain as platform of innovation and value creation.


Speaker: Bettina Warburg



Overarching theme: Use blockchain to lower uncertainty and exchange value.


  1. Blockchain and the transactions can be used to collapse institutions that monopolize transactions as 3rd party handlers.


Speaker: Joseph Lassiter


Overarching theme: Can nuclear energy deliver carbon-neutral supplies of reliable, low-cost energy all around the world?


  1. Bring power (energy) to people rather than people to the power.
  2. Rich people (countries) do what they choose, whereas poor people (countries) do what they must.



Speaker: Rachel Botsman



Overarching theme: How collaboration and trust enabled by digital technologies will change the way we live, work, bank and consume.


  1. Trust is the force that propels you from the known (and over uncertainty) into the unknown.
  2. Technology can increase personal confidence and relationships with the unknown.
  3. Trust Stack = what needs to take place before we are willing to move from the known into the unknown. 1. Trust the idea, 2. Trust the platform, and 3. Trust the other user.

NOTE: One of my favorite speakers: authentic, engaging, knowledgeable, provided insights and delivered outcomes.


Speaker: Rebecca MacKinnon



Overarching theme: Issues of free expression, governance and democracy (or lack of) in the digital networks, platforms and services on which we are all more and more dependent.


  1. Anti-terror legislation and actions can quickly become state and government sponsored suppression of individual rights.


Speaker: Suzanne Simard


Overarching theme: Do trees talk, the complex, symbiotic networks in our forests.


  1. Biological pathways connect entire forests, the trees are constantly talking, interacting, sharing resources with each other (regardless of species) so as to increase likelihood of overall success.
  2. If you remove a “power” connector tree, then you kill off all the connections as well, whereas if you selectively remove some trees, leaving the “power” trees intact, the forest will repopulate quickly, and fully.



Session: Sarah Kay, Spoken Word Poetry

Overarching theme: Spoken word empowers individuals, elevates education, and elicits meaning.


  1. There are 3 key questions relating to meaningful writing; 1. What do I write about (make lists they help), 2. How do I write about it (avoid abstraction, provide sensory details), and 3. How do I perform it (through experimentation and joy).
  2. Possible lists to generate and use as inspiration for writing:
  • 3 things I know to be true…
  • Regret (or substitute other words for regret) looks, sounds, smells, feels like…


Speaker: Monica Araya



Overarching theme: Advocates for the next step: a fossil-fuel-free society.


  1. Stop building cities for cars and start building them for people.


Speaker: Jonathan Tepperman



Overarching theme: There are solutions for the worlds most pervasive and seemingly intractable challenges, if we are willing to look globally.

Insight: Regarding problem solving

  1. Embrace the extreme.
  2. There is power in promiscuous thinking.
  3. Please all of the people some of the time.


Speaker: Shai Rashef



 Overarching theme: Democratize higher education.

Insight: University of the People (SO AWESOME)

  1. An online school that offers tuition-free academic degrees in computer science, business administration and health studies (and MBA) to students across the globe. The university is partnered with Yale Law School for research and NYU and University of California Berkeley to accept top students. It’s accredited in the U.S. and has admitted thousands of students from more than 180 countries.
  2. Education is a major factor in solving the global challenge of immigration, and war.


Speaker: Sam Harris



Overarching theme: Growing our understanding of ourselves and the world changes our sense of how we should live.


  1. Humanity’s willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs.
  2. We intentionally construct economies that create wealth but no jobs.
  3. Is artificial intelligence ethical?


Downsizing Damages Cultures and Communities


Part One

Companies continue to use downsizing as a strategy even with the potential for negative outcomes based on the belief that with the decrease in employee payroll, an increase in production and performance will take place due to getting leaner. When looked at over the short-term, or over the long-term, downsizing has been shown to be ineffective and has created conflict that extends beyond the internal workplace to impact customer attitudes, and community psychology. Even with extensive data that demonstrates the negative implications of this strategy, organizations continue to implement downsizing as ‘the’ response to lost business.

There are three possible ways that company downsizing impacts customers and potentially sets the stage for increased conflict, they include the transference of emotions, positive or negative to the customer via the employee, described as “emotional contagion.” Secondly, the loss of labor force, and therefore the increased workload assumed by the remaining employees, at any level, technical, manufacturing, or most importantly at the service level, has a direct impact on customer relations due to reduction of quality engagement. Lastly, organizational contagion, and subpar employee performance can combine to create situations that exaggerate the stress and strain caused by downsizing, and transfer this issue onto relationships between company personnel and their customers resulting in worsening relationships or even total disengagement or “customer defection”.

Stressed and strained workers create dysfunctional conflict, defined by Bobot, (2011) as those actions that limit accessibility, create obstacles, and damage relationships. This conflict is actually transferred from and initiated by the employee to the customer due to the employee’s own lack of trust with their own organization due to having survived the reduction in personnel and yet still fearful of what might happen in the future. The customer, sensing the strain of the employee, and potentially receiving poorer service due to the strain, also can lose trust in their relationship, thus each party has lost confidence in the other creating a foundation for emotional reactions, and conflict. Work overload, emotional exhaustion, and interpersonal conflict encountered by employees that have been through downsizing can combine to cause chaos, and conflict with important external stakeholders such as customers, not the sort of outcome that leads to sustainable performance.

Downsizing leaves a negative imprint on the social community and the company is seen by the community as breaking a social contract, an unethical act in the eyes of potential and past customers and employees.  The external community that lives nearby the company, has relatives at the organization, or knows someone that does business with them can then become an area of conflict between the organization and the public.

Regardless of the financial responsibility and possible savings as a result of downsizing, the long-term damage to the reputation of the organization can cost the company more than they saved by reducing labor, and their now tarnished reputation can end up negatively influencing the firm’s ability to attract and retain talent, a significant factor, if the firm is to remain competitive.

Mike Watson


Bobot, L. (2011). Functional and dysfunctional conflicts in retailer-supplier relationships. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 39(1), 25-50. doi:10.1108/09590551111104468

Future Post: Part Two- Managing the Conflict Downsizing Creates

Be Authentic Be Powerful


Heart-centric leadership believes in the power of engagement to reshape perspectives and lead others in alignment with vision. A key part of this strategy relates to understanding how to have conversations with peers or employees that maybe you do not want to have. Following is a 5-step process composed of words, perspectives, and strategies I have learned, gratefully borrowed from others, and interjected with my own philosophy, that led me to stand at my fullest height as a leader.

1. Be Direct, Be Kind

Be direct, and before you enter into the conversation, or even the room for that matter, predispose yourself to having a heart that is wide-open with compassion and kindness, but not weakness. Then offer direct feedback as a way of creating opportunity for growth and as an incentive for the other person to be more of who they are. Stay on topic, even when they do not want to, and always provide examples, so your feedback is not perceived as opinion.

2. Listen to Learn

Listening provides a safe space in which people can feel respected. The purpose of authentic and direct feedback is to generate win-win outcomes—both individuals must understand the situation together in order to make positive change. Unless people feel heard there is no lasting change. This style of active listening is different then listening to compromise, where people are only partially heard. Purposeful listening by no means suggests that you have to be in agreement, just honestly heard.

3. Don’t Make it Personal

Again, this is where predisposing our intentions silently before we enter into the conversation sets us up to project the correct non-verbal energy and helps us stay aligned with our purpose. So don’t allow your imagination to create issues, and do not take things personally during a direct feedback conversation. However, honestly acknowledging the emotions being felt will offer the recipient a relief valve for any stress they might experience.

4. Show Up, Be Present

Show up, be fully present—and don’t rush off after having a tough conversation. Be brave enough to allow moments of silence to come into the conversation. Follow up afterward so that afterthoughts don’t create imagined distance and hurt feelings.

5. Inspire Greatness

Communicate the belief in the potential for brilliance in the recipient and the aspiration for who they can become. Respectful, direct feedback restores the individual and the team to sanity. It costs absolutely nothing except an emotional investment of honesty, taking the risk of receiving a bad reaction…and temporarily being uncomfortable.

In the absence of authenticity we become less powerful.

And you are powerful, so do not give that power away, stay true to who you are, while assertive in what is required and right.


Why Care About ‘Being’ at Work


Many of us have experienced that joyous moment that occurs when we are fully immersed in doing something we love, that moment feels devoid of time, in that moment you can experience an almost weightlessness in your physical and mental state, and your ability to create, decide, and construct solutions flows effortlessly.

I define these moments as presence, that special time when you are truly present in the now, devoid of the distractions that normally monopolize our thinking and doing.

This presence is full of energy, of concentrated, and intentional doing that is both efficient and effective, and the results are often highly innovative while practically appropriate.

This is how you would want your teams to operate, in this presence, innovating, creating, and intentionally doing things that elevate their performance and the brand of the organization. If this culture existed within the organization then engagement would go up, effort would go up, happiness would go up, and profits would go up. So then why do we not lead, create and operate in this way? Because we fail to see half of the equation that makes us present in the moment. We talk about doing, doing, doing, but forget about being. The reason these “now” moments exist is due to the integration of both doing (purposefully) and being (intentionally). The doing creates or completes things, can accomplish tasks, or take action to solve problems, but the being keeps you in the moment, in the joy of doing. When your attention is deeply, and solely focused in and on what you are doing, then there is joy in the doing; the action is joyous because the moment is intentionally purposeful (in being). People talk about work/life balance, like it is a scale to be calibrated and once balanced, fixed in place, but this will never work, life is constant, chaotic, and changing, therefore the balance you should seek is between doing and being. If you are self-aware you can recognize when you are doing too much, and consciously choose to get back to being in the moment, so that your doing becomes, effective, efficient, and joyous.

Leaders can create this culture by being heart-centric, by engaging the heart and the mind, by being authentic, transparent, vulnerable, empathetic, and ethically assertive.

Mike Watson

#heartcentric #leadership #heartCEO

Want to Innovate? Blink


When I enter a room full of expectant freshman college students, or workshop participants they immediately begin to assess and decide if I am worthy of their attention.  You might think you have 10 maybe even 60 seconds to engage them and thus begin to show your competence, but the reality is, based on recent research by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, you in fact have 1/10 of a second, yep, you literally have a blink of an eye to initially establish your competence.

In this 10th of a second people tend to zero in on your face, and based on the data they receive assumptions are made about a number of things including intelligence, confidence, attractiveness, and trustworthiness. Out of all of these, Willis and Todorov state that trustworthiness is the characteristic assessed the most quickly, and is the least likely to change even after prolonged exposure to the person, reinforcing the oft repeated statement that you never get a second chance at a first impression.

When we become self-aware that we are being assessed and more importantly that we also do the assessing, we can use this information to gain insight and learn to innovate by remaining self-aware. The correlation between snap judgments and innovation is in recognizing that when we rely on first impressions we not only narrow our focus, we reinforce our initial reaction, and therefore the potential for innovation is immediately diminished. Innovation needs space, and room to breath, but first impressions collapse possibilities in their haste to formulate answers, and first impressions are a result of past repeated observations and experiences and by default eliminate alternatives and cloud imagination.  So if you want to innovate you must first remain aware, second you need to widen your perspective, and third you need to change the context or language in which you are addressing the issue or problem. This intentional shift to consider possibilities that are in direct contrast to what is known, or to ask questions that seek to expand and not contract understanding, create the necessary space needed for new thoughts, ideas, and concepts to enter. When, for instance, you ask, “in what ways might I…..?” you create a scenario that invites in options, previously not considered. Now the context has shifted, the potential answers have increased, and you are training yourself to be self-aware so as to be innovative, and more organizationally aware. By changing the language and the context, you have redefined the moment to include brilliance, instead of past solutions, that provide the comfort of the known, but little else. If all you do is what you’ve done, then all you’ll create is what you know, which is never innovative.

Don’t try to avoid first impressions, they have their place and purpose, just not in a space that wants growth, innovation and brilliance. Blink

Mike Watson

Heart-centric leader, founder of www.heartfulapparel.com

Your heart speaks, your mind listens, your spirit acts.

Grow with Failure in Mind

Grow with Failure in Mind


We spend a lot of time and energy trying to predict when something will succeed or fail, and we exert a lot of effort constructing relationships, and things that are built to succeed, only to watch in horror as they crumble, piece by piece, due to seemingly unconnected circumstances, and issues. What I have found is that predicting things is difficult at best, what I know to be true is that failure is a constant. So instead of trying to outsmart what we know we should build to grow with failure in mind. A growth mindset developed with failure as a component part of the equation reduces risk, without eliminating the innovation that comes from taking risk. If we look to grow and at the same time reduce exposure to catastrophic failure then what we can effectively construct is an environment or culture in which growth, and success can be sustained even when failure occurs. All of us are capable of combating, controlling, or even adapting to failure, as long as it does not overwhelm us. The solution is in the construction of the thing, the relationship or your mindset. The solution must build in the absolute notion that failure of some part, thing, or decision will take place at some point, and therefore you should build to reduce exposure. Build so that when failure occurs in some aspect of your world, career or relationship it does not systematically corrupt and or damage the other parts that you spent time crafting in support of success. In this way you manage and, you welcome the lessons accompanying failure, instead of trying to avoid or predict the exact moment when failure will occur. Failure has the ability to illuminate opportunities otherwise missed, failure can recalibrate your sense of direction and realign you with purpose, failure can highlight areas of weaknesses, and allow for insight, and failure can utterly destroy your sense of self and all you worked for if you do not intentionally grow with failure in mind.

Mike Watson

www.emcmike.com @emcmike

#heartful #heartcentric #leadership