The Mindset of a Leader – Part 3

Artists MBA, Professional ProgramWhen we think about leaders, usually our focus is on their behavior and how their behavior influences the world around them. And perhaps we try to emulate that behavior with varying levels of success.

The reason we have varying levels of success is because behaviors come from underlying beliefs about our world and our place within our world. In order to become authentic leaders in our own lives, we must build a foundation of beliefs that empower leadership behavior.

In this, the last of 3 classes, using Christopher Howard’s 18 Assumptions of Empowered Leadership, we explore:

  • The final 6 Assumptions of Empowered Leadership
  • The benefits and challenges of each assumption
  • And how we can apply them in our day-to-day lives

Additional Resources for this Class:

Prerequisite Class:

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Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Mastery Lab to access the transcript of this class today

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Foundation, Professional Program members only. Click here to login.

Ready to get serious? Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Professional Program to access these classes today!

Your Tuition ($79 per month) includes all Foundation level classes PLUS the Professional level classes PLUS the Time Management Mastery Course & App.

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Foundation Program members only. Click here to login.

Congratulations! If you have taken all the classes in order, you have reached the final class. How are you doing implementing these concepts into your business and your life? If you’re ready to take it to the next level, consider joining the Marketing & Business Academy Mastery Lab!

You will receive support from me, Debra Russell, as well as your fellow labbies, all working hard to take their business to the next level.


I believe that Leadership, or the lack thereof, underlies many if not all of the challenges that we are experiencing in today’s world.  But what is Leadership?

Leadership – A 21st Century Concept

According to the dictionary, Leadership is the position or function of a leader.  (I hate when dictionaries define a word with the word itself, don’t you?)  The definition of a leader: a guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group.

And I think that is exactly the mistake we are making in our world.  Who am I to call myself a leader – I’m not a directing head of anything but my own life!

We are waiting for someone else to lead, someone else to take responsibility for our lives, someone else to judge what’s right or wrong, someone else to fix what’s wrong in the world.  While on the one hand, I think that having a centralized government is generally a good thing.  Our world is really too complex to work without that, I certainly don’t want to be dealing with paving that big pothole or providing electricity to the city!

On the other hand, I believe that giving over the responsibility for my own judgment, my own authority to someone who lives far away and over whom I have no influence is a mistake.

It fosters corruption.  And it gives me a convenient scapegoat for all that doesn’t work in my life.  It sets up an environment of shame and blame and empowers a victim mentality.  It creates a society that is OK with corporations that steal from the individual as long as the stockholders are making money; with a health care system that takes your money but doesn’t take care of your health; with waste and a pollution which may yet make our planet uninhabitable; with a government that undermines our human rights in the name of security.

All because we’ve given away our leadership.

On an individual level, we don’t learn to trust ourselves.  We are taught to trust the authorities in our lives over our own internal guidance from early infancy, whether it’s our parents, our teachers, our religious leaders or our peers.  This can create tremendous stress, self-esteem issues, and challenges with addiction and depression, because we feel helpless, a piece of flotsam in a vast sea of conflicting and violent currents.  And because we’ve forgotten how truly powerful each and every one of us is.

And it fosters an inability or unwillingness to take responsibility for our own actions, our own outcomes, even our own feelings.  But the truth is, taking ownership of our action and our outcomes, being responsible for our feelings – these are skills we can learn. And so I’ve created my mantra, in order to create myself as an authentic leader in each moment, in each day:

I have the opportunity TODAY
To live my life how I intend my life to be
In balance and with consistency

I’ve become passionate about the challenge of personal leadership.  How do I create authentic leadership from within myself and how can I empower you, my clients, and my readers to do the same?  I believe that we co-create our world in each moment of every day.  Join with me on this journey of exploration, personal growth, creation and expansion.  So that we can co-create a world that truly works, that empowers life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that gives equal opportunity to each and every one of us.

2 More Reasons You Fail to Achieve Your Goals

I came across a great blog post at, entitled – 4 Reasons You Fail to Achieve Your Goals.  And I’d like to add two more:

5.  Lack of will.

In the Success Principles, Jack Canfield talks about fears, considerations and obstacles – when you set a great goal, you will always encounter these three things.  I believe many people don’t achieve their goals, because they are unwilling to confront their fears, considerations and obstacles.

In essence, a lack of will.  Will is defined (thanks to as:

the act or process of using or asserting one’s choice; volition

So often in my conversations with people do I hear the words, “It would be nice…” or “I wish…”  In order to achieve your goals – you must replace the verbs “would be” and “wish” with will:

It will be nice….

I will….

The first step after choosing a goal is to apply your will.  It is an act of volition, an act of choice – which leads me to my 6th reason you fail to achieve your goals:

6.  A lack of ownership.

Not only are these MY goals.  But these are also MY fears, MY considerations and MY obstacles (even the external obstacles are mine).

If you have the will and are willing to take responsibility for your results, then you will get your goals.

How do you create the will?  Say that you do: “I have the will.”  In other words choose it.  How do you take responsibility? I own my results – I choose them.

A Call to Responsibility; A Call to Action

President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Speech:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.  I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.  The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace.  Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.

At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been.  So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood.  Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.  Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered.  Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics.  Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real.  They are serious and they are many.  They will not be met easily or in a short span of time.  But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.  The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation:  the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given.  It must be earned.  Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less.  It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.

Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life.  They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished.

But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed.  Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.  The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.

We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health cares quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans.  Their memories are short.  For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.  The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward.  Where the answer is no, programs will end.  And those of us who manage the publics dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill.  Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.

The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.  Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.

Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expediences sake.  And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born:  know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.  They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please.  Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy.  Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations.  We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan.  With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.  We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers.  We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.  To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.  And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the worlds resources without regard to effect.  For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains.  They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.  And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.  It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours.

It is the firefighters courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parents willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new.  The instruments with which we meet them may be new.  But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old.  These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.  What is demanded then is a return to these truths.

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled.  In the year of Americas birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river.  The capital was abandoned.

The enemy was advancing.  The snow was stained with blood.  At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America.  In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words.  With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.

Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and Gods grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Attitude of Gratitude or How to Handle the Hard Stuff

In general, when bad things happen or when the good stuff doesn’t happen fast enough, many people have one of two reactions – avoidance or blame.  And neither of those responses will make you feel better or create a different outcome in your future.

What will shift things for you is to consciously, intentionally choose your response. This is called response-ability (pun completely intended).  When something happens that is different than what you believe you want – the only proactive and empowering choice is to own it – this is my result.

Blame is NOT the Same as Responsibility

As long as you’re avoiding it (if I don’t look at it, maybe it will go away) or blaming someone or something for it (it’s the business, it’s the economy, it’s my childhood, it’s my parents, blah, blah, blah) or even if you’re blaming yourself (it’s all my fault for not doing/saying/thinking the right thing) – you are not taking responsibility and you are powerless.

So, I recommend looking at all circumstances with an attitude of gratitude.  Now, that may sound all new-agey woo-woo to you.  I mean, when you’re drowning under the flood of bad stuff, how the heck are you supposed to feel grateful, right?

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”  Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning.

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl explores his horrible experiences in a Nazi Death-Camp.  If he could find meaning in the suffering of a Concentration Camp, don’t you think you might be able to look for a glimmer of light and gratitude in the midst of your own human drama?

There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for

When I was very ill with CFS, I practiced being grateful for the days I could stand long enough to brush my teeth.  And if you practice looking for what there is to be grateful for, that will expand – there will be more and more blessings in your life.  Because what we focus on expands.

But maybe that’s too much to start with.  What if you just start with curiosity?  What if you look at your circumstances, and ask – “Huh, isn’t that interesting – I wonder what this is about?  What’s the lesson here?  How do I grow, expand and develop from this place?”  And choose to respond with gratitude for the experience, the learning, the challenge that asks you to overcome – to be bigger than you’re used to.

All of our experiences, in each moment are our teachers, but only if we actually look for the learning.

By the way, if you’re doing this just so the bad feelings will go away and the bad stuff will stop happening – that’s another form of avoidance.  So, acceptance-of-what-is is an important piece of this puzzle.

There is no failure, only feedback

So, your job is to respond with the question – what’s the positive, constructive feedback in this experience?

So much of our experience is determined by what questions we ask about our situation.  So, let me suggest a few alternative questions:

Instead of – why does this always happen to me?  How about – What’s the payoff for me in creating this experience over and over?  What benefit am I getting?

Instead of – Why can’t I get what I want?  How about – What can I learn from what I am getting and how can I experiment with different responses to achieve different outcomes?

Instead of – What am I doing wrong?  How about – what am I doing right?  And how are my expectations creating this result?

Instead of – Why do I have to work so hard (or why is life so hard)?  How about – how am I creating my own suffering?  How could I think about these circumstances differently so I can move out of suffering and begin to enjoy this process?

Instead of – Why are there always these obstacles in front of me?  How about – what are some new and different (out-of-the-box) ways to get around these obstacles?  Who can help me with this?  What are the most outrageous possible solutions to this problem?

If your questions focus on the value, the learning, the opportunities and the joy of the process and the experience, your attitude will organically shift into gratitude.

So start asking good questions, empowering questions, humorous questions and questions focused on solutions.  And always, always, always, be looking for what the blessings are in each experience.

I am truly grateful that you take your precious time to read my words.

What do YOU stand for?

I was having dinner with a client and two new friends the other night.  And we were talking about values and Ben Franklin’s Virtues.

Senia, a positive psychology coach, chimed in that she had used her name to create an anagram for her values.  And then we were off!  So we all came up with a Values Anagram using our names! I like mine so much, that I had to share it with you!

  • D – Discipline
  • E – Exploration and Experimentation
  • B – Bravery
  • R – Responsibility
  • A – Attitude!

So tell me, what do you stand for?  As we all have our own unique meanings for words, over the next few posts, I’ll tell you what those words mean to me.

Procrastination vs. Keeping My Word to Myself

How do I get myself to do what I’m “supposed” do? So often, that’s what procrastination looks like. I’m supposed to be doing “A”, but instead I’m doing “B”. I’m supposed to get up and shower, but instead I’m cuddling with my kitty and drinking more coffee.

But perhaps the problem is in the way I think about it.

Who says I’m supposed to be doing A?

The problem when you’re a self-employed, small business owner, working for yourself, is that it’s you. It’s all you. And we are not trained to be responsible to ourselves. We are trained to be responsible to others – our parents, our teachers, our bosses. So, how do we learn to be responsible to ourselves?

And therein lies the real skill of time management: being responsible to yourself, keeping your word to yourself. Because I create my own schedule and so, keeping my schedule is keeping my word to myself.

And therein also lies the trap. If I don’t keep my word to myself, what do I make that mean? Does it mean:

“I’ll never be successful.”
“I’m not worthy.”
“I’m a hopeless lazy flake.”

There are so many ways I can torture myself about not keeping my word to myself. But this is just another method of procrastination. Do you see the trap?

The way out of the trap is to embrace the process. Each success or failure doesn’t mean anything in and of itself. It’s all part of the process of me learning to keep my word to myself. I will make mistakes; I will fall on my ass, probably many times. But if I recognize that this is the process of learning to be responsible to myself, no individual failure means more than that one failure.

And so I can learn from that failure and grow.

What did I learn from not keeping my schedule this morning? I learned that the day after I work out, I tend to need more sleep. So, in the future I can schedule accordingly. Going to take a shower now….