How to Get What You Want in Life: Engage!

Are you wondering how to get what you want in life? Do you really know what you want?

Wondering how to get what you want in life? If you want a life filled with more satisfaction and joy, it’s time to engage and go for it.

It’s not uncommon to feel like we want more out of life but to feel uncertain about what a life of more really looks like. We might feel like something is missing, but we can’t really put our finger on it.

If this sounds all too familiar, here’s how to figure it out and get what you want in life. By making a few shifts in your mindset, you can discover a life of greater fulfillment, more satisfaction, and joy!

Not Sure What You Want in Life: Does this Sound Familiar?

In our career: We may be working hard at our job, climbing the ranks, and yet still feel beaten down. We might be the top salesperson or the head of our department but find that we’re still miserable at work (or at least dissatisfied). Maybe we’re missing that “high” we used to feel when we closed a deal. Still, we show up each day, do our job, and go through the motions. We don’t feel the joy, but it’s not enough to push us to leave.

In our relationships: Maybe we hear every word our partner says, we make eye contact, and nod in agreement. Maybe we can even repeat every word right back to them, but yet we still keep hearing, “I feel like you’re not listening to me.” Perhaps things have become routine, even a little boring. Between managing our household, daily tasks, and lives, we feel like two ships passing in the night. We’d love to get that spark back, but we aren’t sure how.

In our social lives: Maybe we have a great group of friends and acquaintances in our social lives. We enjoy going out to dinners, watching sports, hosting a game night, or meeting up with our buddy for a weekly trail run. We have conversations, and it’s nice, polite, and pleasant. But yet, we still feel disconnected. Our friendships don’t offer that same exhilaration we used to feel in college when we met new people that really challenged us and helped us grow.

In our free time: What free time? We’re all busy. Most of the time, we don’t sleep enough; perhaps we indulge a little too often with wine, food, and other soft addictions. Our pastimes feel like they’re all we have the capacity for, but they leave us feeling hollow. We go to the gym, and it’s the same routine—20 minutes on the treadmill, a few rounds on the weight machines, shower, return to work. We’re healthy, but we’re not where we used to be. Is it just part of getting older, or is it something else?

What’s missing in all of these areas of life? How can we get what we want in life?


What Does it Mean to Engage?

Many of us have heard about the importance of employee engagement at work. We may have taken a course on building intimacy in our relationships. We know engagement is a crucial part of friendship but is engagement just a buzzword? What does it really mean to engage in life?

At the Wright Foundation, we talk a great deal about engaging. Transformation and personal growth require engagement and action, but without understanding engagement, it can be hard to “get it back.” We all know when it’s missing from our lives, but recapturing those feelings of being turned on and tuned in can be an elusive task.

At the core, engagement is aliveness. When we’re engaged, we feel a sense of flow.

Most of us have felt flow at one point or another in our lives. We reach a flow state when we’re doing a job well, and we know we’re doing it well, or when we’re connected to our significant other and we’re simpatico. We experience flow when we love our hobbies and personal pursuits, and we find ourselves losing track of time and the outside world because we’re so engaged. We might feel the engagement when our conversations with friends are stimulating and enlightening. We feel aliveness when taking care of our physical body, finding ways to keep ourselves healthy, nourished, and strong. Flow happens when everything seems to be working. We feel on top of our game and on top of the world.

The hum, the buzz, the flow that we feel is engagement. We’re fully present in the moment, and we’re emotionally and physically encompassed in what we’re doing. When we’re engaged, we’re growing and learning; we’re striving and thriving. So even if we aren’t at our destination, we are on the way!

But then we peak. We reach that point where we close the big sale. We land our dream position. We have a beautiful wedding and say, “I do.” We run the 10K and cross the finish line. Once we’ve hit a goal, we might shrug and say, “Well, I guess that’s it.” Even though we accomplished something, we quickly go back to where we were before. We might wonder why or what’s wrong. Does life become less fulfilling as with experience? Is that all there is?

We need the new!

Our brains are hardwired to crave change and challenges. Even though we may think that the easy route sounds ideal or that we prefer to keep everything at status quo, our brains say otherwise. We’re designed to derive pleasure from engagement with discoveries and connections. We need new experiences to facilitate our brain’s plasticity and growth.

Neuroscience shows that it is only by engaging—being aware, paying attention, and intentionally doing new things—that we learn, grow and ultimately transform into someone doing something that would have been unimaginable without full engagement.  –Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

In other words, if we aren’t growing, we can’t engage. If we aren’t engaging, we’re definitely not going to get what we want in life. We’re not reaching our full potential and accomplishing the great things we could be doing with our lives. Instead, we’re going through the motions.

Seeking New Challenges to Get What You Want in Life

Each of us must seek out new challenges and new experiences to keep our minds engaged and alive. While routine can feel comforting (and can help us feel organized), we disengage when we fall into the same pattern of gym, work, dinner, and Netflix each day. We’re not getting what we want in life.

We all have desires and yearnings. Our yearnings are deep longings of the heart. If we think of what we truly want the most—acknowledgment, being respected, being loved, being seen and heard—those are the things that drive us toward our goals.

Our yearnings keep us striving toward the next peak. Many of us climb to the first summit, thinking we’ve met our goal, and we still feel unfulfilled. It’s only by climbing to the next peak and the next beyond that we can continue to find fulfillment.

To meet our goals, we need to be fully engaged. That means being present, focused, and tuned into our yearnings and emotions. When we understand our yearnings, they become our guiding star, leading us towards discoveries about ourselves and others. When we follow our yearnings and engage, we will start to feel the satisfaction of getting what we want out of life.

How Do I Know If I’m Engaging?

We might think that this all sounds well and good, but how do we really know if we’re engaging in life? Engagement isn’t simply about taking action. It’s not about listening or even about attention. We might pay attention to a movie, but often that doesn’t mean we’re fully engaged (we may even be using a film to escape from engaging in the real world).

Most of us are extremely busy, but multitasking and checking the next thing on the to-do list doesn’t mean we’re engaged either. Taking on more tasks doesn’t necessarily mean we’re engaged at work. Likewise, enjoying time with our friends or spouse—going out and being social—doesn’t mean we’re engaging in our relationships.

Instead of engaging, we might actually be suppressing our underlying wants and desires. We might be using activity to mask connections or as distractions. Engagement is emotional and visceral. It means challenging and pushing ourselves. It can mean conflict and passion. Engagement is more than filling up your calendar with activities.

Engaging with life also doesn’t mean overhauling everything or making sweeping changes. Divorcing a spouse, quitting a job, enrolling in a Ph.D. program, or going out and adopting a St. Bernard, doesn’t necessarily make us more engaged. We might still be the same person we were before. We might still feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied, but now with more debt and a dog to take care of.

Motivation for engagement shouldn’t come from a place of avoidance. Engaging means getting into things, not getting away from them. It doesn’t mean we swap out one relationship for another or seek a different career path.

Instead, engagement means we learn how to grow and transform, getting fully involved where we are. It means rather than avoiding, we roll up our sleeves and start to work on the things in front of us, rather than jumping from one ship to the next.

Engagement also isn’t limited to working hard or throwing ourselves into a single-minded task. It’s about having the grit and wherewithal to stick to something. It’s about perseverance and learning, and growing in each experience as part of a well-rounded life.

When we make mistakes, we can learn from them and build on what we’ve learned. Celebrate mistakes as a chance to grow and a sign that you’re taking risks and getting involved. Seek out new experiences and people who challenge and push you to be your best. Each experience is a chance to learn more about who we are and to uncover deeper aspects of ourselves.

Engagement is about doing things we aren’t successful at, over and over, until we get better at them. When the horse bucks us off, we dust off and get back on. We don’t just pack up our spurs and go home. Don’t rest at the summit and forget that there’s another peak to reach (and another beyond that).

To discover more ways to get what you want out of life, don’t miss our courses and resources available at Wright Now. You’ll find new ways to bring out your best in your career, your relationships, and your personal growth. So live the life you’ve always wanted—a life of more.


Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Come Home to Yourself: The Benefits of Mantra Meditation

If you’re looking for a simple way to calm yourself and refocus your attention anytime and anywhere, mantra meditation is an excellent tool.


Looking for a way to feel calm and refreshed? The benefits of mantra meditation are endless. Here's how to use this simple meditation tool.

What if I told you there’s a simple tool you can use to foster calm and peace at any moment of your life? A tool that will help you sleep better at night and be more productive during your waking hours?

And will cost you absolutely nothing?

Because there is. It’s called mantra meditation.

You’re welcome.

If you haven’t tried meditation before, or even if you’ve stuck your little toe in, you might be wondering if it lives up to the hype or if it’s some mystical practice that’s a little too “woo-woo.”

You’re not alone. But don’t let a little woo-woo talk you out of something as powerful as the benefits of mantra meditation.

The truth is, meditation has gotten pretty mainstream over the years, and even the skeptics are starting to come around.

My 50-Year Meditation Practice

I’ve been practicing meditation for 50 years. (I know, I know,  I’m old, right?) But each time I practice meditation, I feel like a beginner—young, enthusiastic, open-minded.

I’ve trained in many different styles of meditation—pranayama, Tibetan, and various hybrid approaches. When I found mantra meditation, I knew I had found my path to inner and outer peace.

When I meditate, my goal is to interrupt my mind and get out of my head.

This is different from trying to “stop” my mind. There are plenty of meditation disciplines where the objective is to stop your thoughts, but that creates a tension that doesn’t work for me. It feels like I’m trying to stop a freight train, and I become distracted from my practice rather than engaged.

I’m a pragmatist. Those who know me know that I prefer practical applications with a payoff. I meditate to bring myself a sense of calm. I meditate for creativity. I meditate to get away for a few moments and refresh my mind.

Honestly, it’s like a mini-vacation I give myself.

The benefits of mantra meditation are many, and that’s one of them. Here’s a couple more:

You are Getting Sleepy: The Abundant Benefits of Mantra Meditation

When I use mantra meditation, I sleep better, my moods are steadier, and I’m more creative. I’ll often do some right before bed, or even while in bed, to help me relax and drift off to sleep.

Sometimes I use meditation instead of sleep.

There have been times our team has worked with us, and we’ve needed to work through the night. To do that, we take a cue from sailors who travel around the world—they wait until they reach a clear zone and take a 20-minute nap. Twenty minutes is enough time to refresh your mind and give yourself a needed rest.

So, when we’d start to get foggy in our writing or find ourselves nodding off, we’d take a few minutes to practice mantra meditation. Then, I’d set the alarm, go into a quiet room and repeat a mantra several times, first loud and then softening, rhythmically. Many times, I’d find myself awakened by the alarm after a refreshing 20-minute sleep.

Why does this work?

Our brains have different waves—Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta:

  • Beta is when you’re fully awake, engaged, and ready to go.
  • Alpha is when you’re relaxed but aware—you may not be fully attentive, but you’re listening.
  • Theta is the hypnagogic state that you reach right before sleep—when you start to drift off but are aware of thoughts right below the surface.
  • Delta is your deepest state of sleep.

Occasionally, during mantra meditation sessions, you may drop into Delta sleep, but your awareness will hover in Theta most of the time. This state allows you to return refreshed and aware, without that grogginess that can come with a longer nap.

Other benefits of mantra meditation?

Because I use mantra meditation as a tool to refresh myself body and mind, I often experience powerful creative insights and a renewed sense of focus once I complete a mantra meditation.

Another benefit of mantra meditation is that my practice helps me become a more focused leader, who approaches situations with a more even temper.

Truthfully? For me, the meditation practice is often about survival. I tend to operate under enormous pressure, so learning to defuse that stress that and escape with mantra meditation has been a game-changer for me.

Want to try it?

You Can’t Do It Wrong! How to Practice Mantra Meditation

Ever heard of “monkey mind?” This is the busyness that occasionally happens in your mind. It happens in everyone’s mind, and it ALWAYS shows up when you sit down to meditate. Suddenly, all the things you need to do, ask, fix, find or be, line themselves up to distract you.

As you begin to practice mantra meditation, it’s essential to let yourself carry it out however you see fit. If you have an itch, go ahead and scratch. If you’re uncomfortable, shift your posture. If you attempt to ignore or override these distractions, they tend to become more intense and disturbing.

Remind yourself there’s no “best” way to meditate. You can’t do it wrong, AND you won’t get an award for doing it right.

Meditation is simply about refreshing your mind and allowing yourself to escape for a few moments:

  1.     Set aside 20 minutes in a quiet space
  2.     Get comfortable (sit, stand, lie down, walk)
  3.     Close your eyes
  4.     Repeat a mantra, loudly at first, then getting softer and softer

When I follow these steps, eventually, I will find myself reaching a state of relaxation. Until my monkey mind takes over, and I lose it for a minute, chasing another thought, another insight, another hurt, or concern.

The moment that happens, I interrupt my mind by repeating my mantra.

Sometimes there’s a higher self that allows new wisdom and insight to come in. How that works is way beyond me. But, wherever it comes from and whatever it is, I never cease to enjoy the vacation.

How Do You Choose a Mantra?

You may have heard the Buddhist “Om” repeated during meditation. Some of our Jewish students use “Aleph,” the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Some Christians prefer to repeat “Hallelujah,” “I Am,” or another meaningful word or phrase. You could pick a letter or any word for your mantra.

I repeat the mantra “Akal” in my meditation.

However, I’m going to let you in on a little secret—your mantra doesn’t matter. It can be a sound. It can be a word you like. It can be anything. As long as it resonates with you, simply allow the sound of the repeating rhythm to bring you to that peaceful-relaxed state of mind.

So, what are you waiting for?

It’s easy to get intimidated by the formality and nuance of meditation. It seems so ancient and mysterious. But it’s simple: a mantra replaces the 10,000 different thoughts in your mind with one powerful, clear, conscious engaged thought.

What’s not to love about that?

Want more ideas and opportunities to learn? Check out our upcoming events. You can also explore our webinars and presentations on leadership, relationships, self-discovery, and more on Wright Now. We offer an array of classes to help you get ahead in your career, boost your relationships, and discover yourself. Learn more today, so you can go forth and ignite your world!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.


4 Reasons You’re Miserable at Work…and What to Do About It

Do you hate your job? Are you miserable at work? Do you get the “Sunday scaries” and dread the office on Monday? Are you wondering if it’s time to throw in the towel?

Miserable at work? Don't give up hope! Here are four reasons why your job makes you miserable and what you can do to turn it around.



Many of us are looking at our job satisfaction and wondering if we shouldn’t be getting more out of our work. We may think of moving on but feel afraid of the career and financial consequences. So we trudge in each day, accepting that we’re doomed to feel miserable at work.

If you’re unhappy at work, there are a few points to examine. Here’s why you might be so dissatisfied with your job.

Is It Me or Is it the Job?

As a coach, I often hear people complain about their job situation. Many people have told me that they’re miserable at work. But what does that really mean?

Underneath that misery could often be feelings of frustration, anger, hurt, and even boredom. It turns out we feel more satisfied when we’re challenged.

When we’re just going through the motions, trying to make it through the day, it might be time for a step back.

The first question is—does work have to be miserable? After all, it’s called work, not fun, right? Absolutely not! I’ve worked with hundreds of people who were satisfied, stimulated, and purpose-driven in their work. They had fulfilling job experiences, whether they were a CEO, an entry-level intern, or serving up coffee behind a counter.

4 Reasons Why We’re Miserable at Work

When we look at our mindset, we can often turn those feelings of being miserable at work into feelings of fulfillment, growth, and betterment. Are we getting in the way of our career satisfaction? Here are a few reasons we might feel miserable at work.

1. You’re Not Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Own Happiness

We are all responsible for our own actions. But what does personal responsibility at work mean?

Taking personal responsibility is the act of declaring: “I determine how I react to the world. I am responsible for my own self-care. I don’t expect others to take care of me, AND I take responsibility for my emotional responses.” In our work life, we could also add, “I’m personally responsible for giving work my all, every day.”

When we feel miserable at work, we should ask ourselves if we’re really pushing ourselves. Have we become stagnant in our work? Are we learning and growing with new challenges? If not, how can we take personal responsibility to ask for more challenging, engaging tasks?

When we don’t take personal responsibility, we enter a state of victimhood. We get stuck in a drama triangle, where we’re the helpless victim. We stop analyzing our situation and making choices to become more effective and happier. Instead, we are disempowered, in a hole of our own unhappiness. We’re blaming others for our problems without doing our part to improve our situation.

It turns out that people who are unhappy at work are often the same people with the least to do. Boredom is anger turned inward. When people take that attitude to work, they aren’t set up for success. They’re spinning their tires on the ice rather than moving forward and accomplishing tasks. When we face challenges and complete a task for the day, we feel accomplished and excited. These achievements lead to pride, joy, and job satisfaction.

Personal responsibility is about understanding that we each own our emotions and reactions at all times. We can make work a fun game or see it as drudgery. For example, I once hired an acquaintance and two temps to help with an envelope-stuffing project. The work was monotonous, but the acquaintance would stuff 300 envelopes at a time. When he finished his goal, he’d reward himself with a quick walk outside or a snack. Then he’d come back a get right back to work.

On the other hand, the temps viewed the task as dull and frustrating. My acquaintance ended up stuffing more envelopes than the two temps combined. He was much happier too. He didn’t complain or blame the task. Instead, he got to work and turned it into a game.

If we want more satisfaction at work, we must start to shift our perspective about what’s “fun.” How can we set a goal and work towards it? Setting a timer, creating a milestone, or seeing how efficiently we can complete a task can make the time pass quickly and leave us feeling satisfied.

2. You Have Authority Issues

When we were kids, we may have heard that we had a problem with authority. It happens to many people, me included. Like many of our childhood memories and ideas, our pushback and rebellious streak can continue to manifest in adulthood.

But just because our boss is bossy (or even a jerk—and they are out there), it doesn’t mean we need to be unhappy. We need to look at how we’re reacting and get honest with ourselves.

If we have issues with authority (if we’ve had similar feelings whenever someone else is in charge), we’ll probably react to any boss, supervisor, or manager in a volatile way. Whether that means we shut down and withdraw or resist and defend, we’re likely to face continuous conflict unless we explore our feelings.

There are two steps we can take to get a handle on our authority issues:

First Step: We can deal with our unfinished business. All of us carry unfinished business with us. These issues are often unresolved from our childhood (even if we had happy childhoods), and they can come up when we experience feelings of powerlessness or frustration.

Yes, our “jerk boss” might be overly aggressive or even a bully because he’s unhappy with himself. But we don’t have control over that. We can only control our actions and reactions. Some folks can really struggle with this area, and it’s essential to get to the root of the problem. It could stem from residual childhood issues with authority. Perhaps our boss brings up negative feelings we had about someone in our past (an older sibling, a teacher). Becoming aware of these emotions and projections helps us get on the right path to control our reactions and make confrontations constructive.

Second Step: Deal with it. It may sound harsh, but sometimes we face people who are just jerks. If we’ve done work to become conscious of our projections and emotional reaction, but our boss is still a problematic bully, then the real question is—is it worth it? Can we deal with it? Can we put aside the feelings and work with this person productively?

When we focus on effectively doing our job rather than the emotional ups and downs of the day, we might find a greater sense of empowerment and control.

We can ask about our performance and spark a conversation with our boss down the road. This presents a less-heated opportunity to confront our boss about their attitude honestly and openly.

How will the boss react? They may respond positively or negatively, but when we’ve honestly expressed our feelings in a responsible manner, we own them. Our boss may not listen, and they may not change, but these opportunities can teach us powerful lessons about our inner strength, skillset, and even how to do a better job. If the situation is genuinely unworkable, then it may be time to liberate ourselves from the job and find something that’s a better fit.

3. You Aren’t Recognizing and Honoring Emotions

Sometimes our misery at work doesn’t stem from our boss or the drudgery of the job. Sometimes we feel miserable at work because we aren’t connecting with others—customers, vendors, and coworkers. We’re letting our emotions take over without examining their origins.

Take, for example, if we feel really angry at a coworker. When we engage our emotional intelligence, we own, examine, and understand our emotions. We explore where our anger comes from, and we own our part in it. As a result, we can engage in productive, honest conflict with the other person and find a proactive way to resolve the situation. We can learn and grow from every interaction, thus nourishing our emotional and social intelligence.

Where do these emotions and projections come from? Childhood lessons and values can project onto our adult selves and influence our interactions with others. People often become their childhood selves while interacting with those who remind them of certain family members or friends. One person may stir feelings of comfort and happiness—like a favorite aunt. Another person may evoke feelings of inadequacy, like our demanding dad.

When we examine everyone we have issues with at work, we might discover some distinct familiarities with our relatives and friends from the past. Examine these issues to determine what we might be projecting onto others, whether good or bad. Recognizing our emotions can help those emotional intelligence skills grow.

4. You Don’t Have Social Intelligence Skills

Social and emotional intelligence skills help us understand people’s emotions and reactions. Social intelligence is the ability to understand what other people are feeling, then learning to influence them positively and productively.

If we want to explore our social intelligence skills, we can ask ourselves questions like:

  • Am I a contributing team member?
  • Do I ensure my colleagues are working effectively?
  • Do I support the team?
  • Am I helping everyone win by contributing?
  • Am I open and honest in communications with everyone at the company?
  • Do I try to better both my work and myself?

Some people lack social intelligence skills because they lack emotional intelligence too. They don’t understand their emotions and reactions. One leads to the other, and both skills are essential for happiness and satisfaction in work and life.

For example, if we feel like we’re on a team that drags us down, we can turn it around and ask, “What have I done to lift my team today?” That’s part of that social and emotional intelligence in practice. If we take responsibility for ourselves, even when others are not, we can be socially aware and carefully, responsibly, and clearly communicate our feelings. We can start to understand our colleagues and how they might react and then engage with them accordingly.

How to Stop Being Miserable at Work

All these reasons go hand-in-hand with why we might feel miserable at work. I’m not interested in just helping people be “happier” at work. I’m interested in helping them have a wildly successful career of fulfillment and satisfaction. Most of us won’t be happy every day with every task, but we can shift our mindset to find purpose in every task.

The 4 reasons for being miserable at work are in a very specific order for a reason. The first step is taking responsibility for ourselves. Then we must deal with our authority issues, increase our emotional awareness, and build our social and emotional intelligence.

Learning these social and emotional intelligence skills allows us to create joyous work, practice gratitude, learn and grow in an adventuresome way. We will discover more about ourselves, others, and our world every day.

To build up your career satisfaction, don’t miss the courses available at Wright Now. We have insightful resources to help you increase your satisfaction in your relationships, career, and with yourself. Don’t miss the opportunity to live a life of more!

Learn more about Wright Living’s Career & Leadership Coaching in Chicago & Career Coaching Courses in Chicago.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

A Growth Mindset Turns Adversity into an Ally

Want to get past a challenge? You don’t need to avoid challenges. Instead, try embracing them with a growth mindset to become stronger and more resilient.


Want to get past a challenge? You don't need to avoid challenges--instead, try embracing them with a growth mindset to become stronger and more resilient.

Challenges give us two choices: 

  1. We can give up
  2. We can embrace them and move forward

One is a fixed mindset, and the other is a growth mindset. Guess which gives you a better life? Let’s talk about the difference between the two.

A Growth Mindset vs. A Fixed Mindset

A fixed mindset means we steer clear of anything—challenges, activities, situations—that pushes us outside our comfort zone. As Carol Dweck explained, we do this because we believe we’re making our lives safer and easier.

But the truth is avoiding challenges and staying in tight-fitting comfort zones can leave us feeling empty, directionless, and bored.

A growth mindset does the opposite. 

It drives us forward and inspires us to seek out challenges. It helps us to embrace challenges as an opportunity to get stronger and learn something new. It encourages us to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Here’s another difference—a fixed mindset makes excuses:

“Now isn’t the right time for that.”

“I might upset the apple cart.”

“I’m too tired.”

“I’m not the kind of person that can do that.”

“My parents never taught me how to do it.”

“It’s too hard. I’m not smart enough.”

We all have our own “excuse lists,” but the result is the same. We hold back. We stay stuck. We rely on power blockers like blame and justification. We deny our autonomy over our lives.

A growth mindset doesn’t look for excuses or make-up reasons for certain behaviors. Instead, it lets us take responsibility for our actions, rather than justify our bad behavior by blaming external factors—like traffic, our mother, or our salary.

We can toss that list, step up and move on more powerfully when we…

Ditch the Excuses and Listen

I remember walking into my office 10 minutes late for a session with a client. I’d been in heavy Chicago traffic; I felt rushed and annoyed. I looked at my client and said, “I got stuck in traffic. Come on, let’s go.”

He just sat there. He folded his arms across his chest and looked me in the eye. He said, “No.”

I was confused for a moment, and I began offering up a litany of excuses and explanations. “Traffic was unbelievable. I missed a light, and it was gridlocked.”

He looked at me and said, “If I was the president of the United States, would you have been late to this appointment? It’s not that you were late because of traffic. You didn’t leave earlier because I wasn’t important enough to you.”

It stopped me dead in my tracks. He was right. I wasn’t late because of traffic. I could have left my house fifteen minutes earlier. I could have planned appropriately.

I was late because I didn’t prioritize him.

Running late may not seem like a big deal to many of us. We all know people who are perpetually running late. Maybe we’re even one of them. But if we want something bad enough, we will show up ready and on time.

When we set our priorities with a growth mindset, we don’t need to make excuses. 

What do we need to do?

Drop the Defenses and Learn

When someone calls us out on our bad behavior, do we get defensive, or do we listen? A growth mindset allows us to listen to the feedback of others.

To embrace growth, we need to learn from criticism. We need to seek it out. An honest critique is a gift. It gives us feedback on where we can improve. A growth mindset lets us drop our defenses and understand the criticism so it can make us better. It can help us learn.

And we can learn from anyone. Even babies!


Practice Persistence

When we fall, do we stay down, or do we get back up?

Think of babies learning to walk. What if a baby said, “I’m just not good at walking. It’s too hard. I’m going to keep crawling instead!” Imagine what she would look like going to school or trying to get a job? It’s a silly picture, but it proves the point.

When we face adversity and challenges, we can either crawl until we learn how to walk or spend the rest of our lives crawling.

With a growth mindset, a setback is simply a chance to practice persistence.

But sometimes, that fixed mindset won’t budge. It’s been a part of us for a while, after all. But as we become more aware of it, we can look for more ways to bypass it.

Like this:

Jilt the Jealousy and Be Inspired Instead

When we look at someone’s win and say, “I could never do that,” we’re shaming ourselves. We’re making excuses (there’s that list again!) We’re seeking justification. We’re shifting the blame on circumstances beyond our control. We’re comparing ourselves:

They were able to succeed because they went to an Ivy League school. 

They were able to win because they had more time to train. 

They were able to get sales because the boss likes them better. 

They came from money, so they have an advantage.

What if we looked at someone’s success as a source of inspiration? What if we learned from their mastery? What if we explored how they overcome their obstacles so the next time, we can do the same? Because the reality is, obstacles keep us strong. They teach us to think on our feet and come up with new solutions.

Look at all we’ve learned over the past year and a half. The pandemic has taught us a greater appreciation for others, how to reconfigure our approach to work, how to get along with others, and many other things. These will serve us well beyond these immediate challenges.

There are always great lessons if we can just let ourselves step back and reframe. When we do that, we will no longer find ourselves asking…

Is That All There Is?

An attorney came to see me. He said, “I think I want to quit law.” He explained he was feeling miserable. It was boring. He wasn’t enjoying his work, and every day felt like drudgery. “I dread every day I go to the office. It’s not bringing me any joy.”

I said, “Do me a favor tonight. Do you have a case tomorrow?”

“Yes, but it’s nothing special. Another energy law case. I’m pretty much already prepared.”

I told him, “I want you to go home and prepare for tomorrow as you’ve never prepared before. Even if you know this stuff inside and out, I want you to make tomorrow’s case your best case ever.”

He agreed and went home. The next day I got a call.

“Guess what! I did what you said. I went home and prepared like crazy. I presented the case today, and I was on fire! I dominated the meeting; everyone listened to me. I felt alive again! It was amazing!” He was radiant, and I could hear the enthusiasm return to his voice.

I told him to repeat the preparation and to keep pushing himself past complacency. Every step of his career fell in line after that; he started rapidly moving ahead. Today, he’s pioneering a whole new type of law because he developed a growth mindset. He leaned into his life.

Lean into Life

So back to our two choices that show up with every challenge—do we give up, or do we embrace it and move forward? Here’s the thing: It’s not the right job that makes us happy. It’s not the right school, or the right social circle, or an easy life.

It’s choosing to face and embrace each challenge. When we meet each moment with a growth mindset, we discover a powerful sense of purpose and satisfaction.

Start today. When the next challenging situation or conversation comes along, and it will, lean in. 

Grow your mind, and your life will follow.

Want more ideas and opportunities to learn? Check out our upcoming events. You can also explore our webinars and presentations on leadership, relationships, self-discovery, and more on Wright Now. We offer an array of classes to help you get ahead in your career, boost your relationships, and discover yourself. Learn more today, so you can go forth and ignite your world!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

4 Tips on How to Be Your Partner’s Best Friend

Are you wondering how to be your partner’s best friend? Their closest ally? Their sidekick?


Wondering how to be your partner’s best friend? Here are 4 tips to follow for an unbreakable bond and a supportive relationship connection.


While, of course, it’s essential that we have strong connections outside of our romantic relationships, there’s something wonderful and important about two partners who work together as a life team. When you and your partner are best friends, it feels like you’re an unbeatable dynamic duo. You have each other’s backs, and you’re pushing each other forward to reach your full potential.

Being one-half of a power couple doesn’t always happen naturally, though. Both partners need to be committed to the idea that life is about seeking more—more adventure, more discoveries, more intimacy, and more personal growth. When you’re both focused on gaining a greater sense of purpose, you’re well on your way to couple greatness!

Here are four tips to help you learn how to be your partner’s best friend today!

Why the World Loves a Power Pair

Have you ever looked at great adventure stories and wondered why we find the hero’s quest so inspiring and motivating? These stories are prevalent across every culture. There’s often a hero tasked with an epic goal in these stories, and they set out on their journey.

Think of Odysseus in the Odyssey, Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Frodo in Lord of the Rings, or Katniss in the Hunger Games—all of these heroes faced vast challenges. They went on epic journeys, where they came face to face with realizations about themselves and the world around them.

But these heroes all share another commonality. Each of these heroes had allies. Odysseus had Athena. Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan Kenobi. Frodo had Samwise, and Katniss relied on Peeta. In each heroic tale, there are always people who support our protagonists and help them along the way.

Allies bring out the best in each other. They help us see ourselves for who we truly are. They hold up a mirror to our potential but also call us out on those moments when we’re not pushing ourselves to be the best we could be.

True allies not only support each other when things are tough, but they also inspire and challenge their partners when all seems calm and well.

On our own journeys, our partner can be our strongest ally. When we’re in a relationship, we’re often headed in the same direction and working toward similar goals. So who better to be our companion on our life quest than our partner?

4 Ways to Be Your Partner’s Best Friend

Wondering how we can be our partner’s best friend? Here are four ways we can build up an epic connection that will take us through all the twists and turns that life has to offer.


1. Support Your Partner’s Vision

Every goal, journey, or plan begins with a vision. When we want to achieve something, we often envision the outcome and work toward that idea, whether it’s buying a house, getting a promotion at work, or raising children. Nothing happens without first having a picture of the desired end in our minds.

We can be our partner’s best friend by exploring their vision and aligning our goals. That doesn’t mean we all need to have the same goals as our partners, but we can discuss them to see how they overlap. How can we be an ally to our partners by supporting them to be their absolute best selves? How can we help them orient to their desired path?

We mirror the vision our partner inspires in us, and it is consistent with our own goals for ourselves. It’s not about changing our partner to our “standards,” but believing in their potential and supporting them as our partner moves in the direction of their dreams.

We often need our loved ones to activate our yearning—it’s hard to yearn for something if we don’t even know it exists or if we’ve ruled it out because of our limiting beliefs. When each party affirms their partner’s ideal self and helps them hold that vision for their personal growth, both experience more satisfaction. When one partner has an individual victory, so does their other half. Couples celebrate the wins together, and these triumphs bring them closer together.


2. Take Every Opportunity to Work on Your Relationship

Relationships of any sort take work, and partnerships require both sides to do their part. However, the work doesn’t need to feel like drudgery. Instead, it means that both parties are thinking of the relationship’s health, putting in the effort to improve and grow individually and together, and working to strengthen intimacy.

Working on our relationship doesn’t mean that we never fight or feel annoyed with each other. On the contrary, we can still support our partners and help them achieve their dreams, even in moments where they get under our skin. As we explore in our book, The Heart of the Fight, couple’s conflicts can actually bring us closer together and create more intimacy, as long as we’re fighting fair.

Whether we’re fighting with our significant other, playing, doing chores, or making love, every interaction provides an opportunity to grow, connect, and transform. Each time we communicate, we influence and “sculpt” each other toward something new. So ensure those interactions focus on moving the relationship forward (even if there’s a conflict).


3. Appreciate Your Partner (and Express It)!

Great allies appreciate each other for who they are as individuals. They express appreciation for their counterpart’s help, insight, and dedication. If we want to be great partners, we need to remind ourselves why we’re thankful for the respect, love, and assistance that our partner offers.

When we’re working with a partner, we may occasionally fall into the pattern of thinking of them as an extension of ourselves. As a result, we may take their efforts for granted or forget that they’re choosing to partner with us and work with us on our life journey.

Occasionally stepping back and acknowledging that our partner is a separate person who loves us, respects us, and is helping us move toward our goals can help us keep perspective.

Remember that even if we appreciate our partner in our hearts and minds, sometimes vocalizing that appreciation and expressing it with words can be affirming and supportive. Assume goodwill and acknowledge the good!


4. Work on Becoming Your Best Self

If we want to be a good ally, we need to work on becoming our best selves. The best partners are those who are focused on their personal growth as well as the growth and health of their relationship. They’re working on learning and growing both in and outside their partnership.

When we’re focused on becoming our best selves, we will bring out the best in our relationship. The more we grow, the better our relationship becomes because we’re contributing to our partner’s expanding horizons too. The more experiences we have together and on our own, the more we’ll have in front of us to explore.

Whether we’re working on new ideas, different ways of being, having novel experiences, perspectives, or knowledge, we’ll be more satisfied in our relationships when we’re more satisfied with ourselves. The great thing about working on ourselves is that we can start doing it right away, even if our partner isn’t entirely on board yet. Once they see us achieving our goals and making new discoveries, chances are they’ll want more too.

Power partnerships happen when we’re working toward goals together and separately. When we’re both curious about the world around us and viewing each new day as a chance to learn and discover new things about ourselves and each other, we’ll feel engaged, interested, and connected.

Emotional intimacy comes from partnering on the big, deep stuff, not just the day-to-day tasks and logistics. So if we want to have an epic romance, a stronger connection, and an unbreakable bond, set out on a hero’s quest together. You and your partner may discover the best friendship and allyship you never thought possible.

To learn more about connecting with your partner, exploring your best self, and achieving your career goals, don’t miss our courses at Wright Now. We have an array of classes, webinars, and resources to help you get started on your journey today!



Wright and the Wright Graduate University.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

What’s More Hopeful Than Living with Optimism? Living with Intention

Hope and optimism aren’t enough to get us through difficult times. Here’s why living with intention is so crucial. 

Hope and optimism aren't enough to get us through difficult times. Here's why living with intention is so crucial.

Admiral James B. Stockdale was tortured and starved in Hanoi for eight years as a POW. After his experience, reporters asked him how he survived: “I can’t tell you exactly how I survived, but I can tell you that the people who didn’t survive were the optimists.”

It was the people who thought they’d be saved by Christmas, then spring, then summer, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas again, always hoping for their rescue, that became broken down by disappointment. As Stockdale said, “They died of a broken heart.”

So how do we live without optimism in challenging times?

We live with intention instead.

The difference? Mindset and approach—we keep the end game present at all times.

Never Lose Faith in the End of the Story

In his book, From Good to Great, author James Collins writes about the Stockdale paradox, explaining that:

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Suppose you think facing the brutal facts means being resigned to what’s going on. In that case, the Stockdale paradox reveals that it’s the opposite. Even in the direst of situations, we can find a sense of purpose IF that is our mindset.

Clinging to the idea that one moment, one person, or one outcome can complete us is a sure way to lose faith in the end of the story. We must find the meaning within ourselves.

Even in the worst of circumstances, we can be led to growth. We can choose this moment. And then the next. And the next. And the next.

Until, before you know it, we’re living with intention.

What’s So Great About Living with Intention?

Living with intention requires us to take risks. It requires that we be present with our lives in new ways. As a result, it drives results in our career, our relationships, and more.

Living with intention means we understand the power of our “No” as well as our “Yes.” Saying “No” tells us that we’re willing to stand up for ourselves. To do what’s right for us, even in the face of rejection.

But just how difficult can it be to speak your truth in the moment? Read on.

We All Just Want to Belong

In 1951, Solomon Asch conducted a well-known conformity experiment. He told the participants it was a “visual perception test.” The participants didn’t know that the other participants they were taking the test with were actors.

The test? Visually assess lines to see which two matched in length. The correct answer was obvious, and the rest of the responses were wrong.

When presented with the first few lines, everyone would choose the obvious answer. However, after a few turns, the actors began to select the wrong answer. At first, the participants would go against the crowd and choose the correct answer. But as the experiment went on, their resolve waned.

Eventually, 75% WOULD CHANGE THEIR RESPONSE to match what the rest of the room said—even though they knew it was wrong. Even more shockingly, half of the 75% would eventually perceive the wrong answer as correct—they would actually see the wrong line length!

THAT’S how difficult it can be to speak your truth in the moment.

We all want to belong. We all want to please others. But when we compromise our deeper truths for the sake of conformity, it has a high cost. 

Expanding our social and emotional intelligence, helps us learn to get along—without needing to agree with everyone in all situations. To respectfully disagree AND express our true feelings.

Living with the intention to become the fullest, most authentic version of ourselves lets us belong and connect. It lets us live satisfied and successful lives without compromise. It lets us contribute to a world that works for everyone.

But Will You Still Like Me?

Deep within us lies a fear of rejection. So much so that we spend more time avoiding rejection, than choosing our true intention. And while that fear of rejection helps us learn to interact socially—we also have to learn to make choices that are authentic to our lives.

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”

– James Collins

If we want success, we have to become like Admiral Stockdale. We have to choose to live with the intention of not only surviving but thriving. 

In the Year of More, we challenge our students to start asking for things with the intent to get them. Our students are often amazed at how setting the intention that they WILL get what they ask for can really drive the results. Once they realize the power of intention, they often start asking for bigger and bigger things!

Take a few minutes today to look at how YOU can live with intention in every moment. Approach tough situations with a sense of purpose. Look at each challenge as an opportunity.

Instead of asking “How am I going to get through this?” ask: “What do I need to do to make this the best experience that’s ever happened to me?”

And then watch yourself THRIVE.

Want more ideas and opportunities to learn? Check out our upcoming events. You can also explore our webinars and presentations on leadership, relationships, self-discovery, and more on Wright Now. We offer an array of classes to help you get ahead in your career, boost your relationships, and discover yourself. Learn more today, so you can go forth and ignite your world!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.


How to Love Yourself More: The Deeper Side of Self-Care

Most of us have days where we struggle to love (or even like) ourselves. Maybe we’re overwhelmed, stretched thin, or feeling the weight of past regrets.

Wondering how to love yourself more? The key to getting more love and fulfillment in our lives is in finding the things that truly nourish us. Self-care means more than just shopping or taking a bubble bath, it’s about meeting our deeper needs.

No matter what’s holding you back, it can be hard to know how to love yourself more. What does it even mean to “love yourself” anyway? Does it mean treating yourself to a spa day? Buying a new outfit or boasting about your achievements on social media? Aren’t people who love themselves a little narcissistic?

Learning how to love yourself more doesn’t mean being full of yourself, taking more selfies, or buying yourself presents. Instead, it means treating yourself with loving kindness and acknowledging the gifts you bring to the world. Here’s how to embrace self-compassion and love yourself more today!

How to Love Yourself More by Nourishing Spiritual Hungers

When we think of self-care, we likely think of activities that nourish us in some way, fill us up, and help us feel comforted. For example, self-care might mean nourishing our cravings with pizza, spending time with friends, or treating ourselves to a pedicure. Self-nourishment doesn’t only apply to physical hungers, but any activity that brings us comfort and a sense of satisfaction.

But sometimes, those quick satisfactions may not fill us as much as we hope. Instead, it may leave us with a sense of emptiness, still craving more.

To truly nourish ourselves and satiate our cravings, we must also address the soul’s deeper hunger and longings.

Spiritual hungers are the essential desires that drive our quest for the life we want. They are the most profound and most essential needs we have. Yet, paradoxically, they are also the needs we are least trained to meet. We remain relatively unaware of our deeper yearnings, confusing them with our surface cravings. We then try to sate these unmet hungers with our soft addictions, but no matter how hard we try, they can never assuage these deep needs.

How we relate to our deeper hungers and needs defines our lives. The degree to which we are aware of our hungers determines our degree of satisfaction and fulfillment, our contribution to life, our impact, and our experience of joy, suffering, peace, and love. If we deny our hungers, we miss the opportunity to feed the deepest parts of ourselves. We become anxious, frenetic, distracted, and unfulfilled and fail to live the life we want. When we identify our deeper hungers and seek to fulfill them directly, we create a life of more.

The Soft Addiction Solution

It takes practice to meet our yearnings. The media and society tell us that “feeling good” is a quick fix that we can instantly gratify. We may think if we buy that new outfit, go on that great vacation, or get the latest tech toy, we’ll feel complete. But the temporary buzz wears away quickly and leaves us still unfulfilled.

To get that sense of satisfaction, fulfillment, and purpose, we need to meet our underlying yearnings—the deeper desires hidden beneath our temporary wants. But knowing how to recognize and ultimately move toward our yearnings requires practice. It’s not a “quick fix” or something we can meet with instant gratification.

Fortunately, when we start to “do the work” to unearth our yearnings and get them met, it becomes easier and feels satisfying. So while we can’t order up the answer to our yearnings on Amazon Prime and have them delivered tomorrow, we can start to change our life path in such a way that we’re meeting those yearnings daily with each interaction.

Believing You’re Worth a Life of More

Remember those commercials that used to say, “Believe me, I’m worth it!” Well, they were true. We are each worth it! We’re worth living a life of fulfillment and satisfaction. We’re worth the effort it takes to live a life of more.

One reason why soft addictions are so, well, addicting is that they offer an immediate soothing effect. How simple is it to go to Starbucks and order a fancy coffee drink? How easy is it to click online and fill our cart with new clothes?

When we indulge our soft addictions, we get a temporary rush. Shopping is exhilarating. Sugar is comforting. Hitting the “watch next episode” button on Netflix feels satisfying. But these activities end up getting in the way of living the lives we truly want and were born to live. They can distract us from fulfilling our destiny and attaining our full potential. It’s not that donuts, television, new clothes, or even social media are “bad.” On the contrary, they are enjoyable, fun, and can be used for positive outcomes. It’s the overuse and reliance on these soft addictions that rings hollow.

Imagine these two different scenarios:

After a frustrating day at work, you stop and pick up a pizza on your way home. You walk in the door, flop down on the couch and flip on the TV. You eat while you scroll through your phone on social media. As you look at the photos of your friends doing exciting activities, you feel a twinge of jealousy, guilt, and frustration. To avoid it, you pull up a game on the screen, which you play while binge-watching Netflix. Finally, still stewing about work, you decide to eat a couple of cookies and go to bed.


After a frustrating day at work, you text a friend to meet you for a slice of pizza. The two of you discuss the day and end up laughing about it, lightening the mood. You decide to go for a walk after dinner and pass a theater showing a documentary you wanted to see. The two of you stop in and watch the movie. After, you walk home, discussing the nuances of the film and extracting some parallels to your own life and the situation at the office. When you get home, you’re ready for bed, tired but satisfied, ready to face the world anew tomorrow.

Although both scenarios offer pizza, film, and social connections, they’re vastly different. While the first scenario may seem like more of an indulgence, it’s the second scenario that leaves us feeling nourished and cared about.

The difference between self-care and soft addictions is choosing to reach for a life of more.

We can give in to our wants, temporarily offering entertainment or relief, or we can seek to fulfill our hungers and our deeper yearnings. These deeper yearnings are much more satisfying when fulfilled because they’re related to our emotions.

The funny thing about yearnings is that, in some ways, they’re easier to fulfill than wants. If we want a specific item like a particular brand of shoes, an app for our phone, a specific meal, nothing else will satisfy us. We often have a very clear picture in our mind of our want and what exactly will fulfill it.

Yearnings, in contrast, are often deeper, more essential, and can be satisfied in many different ways. If we want to connect with others, we can take many steps toward that goal. When we fulfill our yearning to connect with others, we may simultaneously fulfill our yearning to be loved, to be heard, to be respected. If we yearn for affirmation, we might connect with a friend. We might greet someone we pass on the street. We may do something nice for someone else. We aren’t limited to a specific method to meet our yearning.

You Are a Gift: Believe You’re Worth More

Whether we realize it or not, we are all worth a life of MORE. Every human being has intrinsic value. Each of us is worthy of love and of living a full, beautiful, juicy, and satisfying life.

One of the first points we share with our students at the Wright Foundation is that each person is a gift. We are all worthy of discovering fulfillment. Inside each of us is great potential–the ability to influence not only our own lives and destinies but the lives and destinies of those around us too.

A universal truth is that we’re all loved. We’re all children of a loving universe. There’s nothing that any of us can do to make the love go away. It is our birthright.

When we align ourselves and our lives with the truth, we will experience total satisfaction. We’ll discover how our life transforms when we access the infinite love of spirit each moment we live.

As I wrote in my book, There Must Be More Than This, “It isn’t that love isn’t available; it is that we are not available to love.” When we try to fulfill our need for love and make ourselves more loveable, we might fall into soft addictions and time wasters. We’re attempting to fill a void within ourselves with activities, foods, and methods of escape that don’t nourish us because they don’t speak to our need for purpose. We all hunger for MORE. When we accept that we’re truly worth more and the universe provides us with abundant beauty, love, and light ready for the taking, we will find the comfort we seek.

Being loved isn’t a feeling we need to meet. It’s a decision. The feeling of being loved isn’t something that others give us. Yes, we may be loved by our spouse, children, and friends, but we might not feel that love all the time. When we decide we ARE loved, we look for evidence to confirm that belief. As our awareness increases, we realize love is all around us all the time. We may see a stunning sunset or beautiful artwork. We may hear an awesome piece of music, and we realize it’s confirmation of the love and beauty that surrounds us everywhere in the universe.

If you want to know how to love yourself more, the path is to fulfill the yearnings of your heart. If you yearn to connect with others, nourish yourself by sharing openly with friends. If you yearn to express yourself, cultivate and share your talents and opinions. If you long to be loved, express your love to others.

When we fulfill our yearnings, we’re treating ourselves to the ultimate form of self-care and self-nourishment! Remember, you’re worth it!

Don’t miss our courses at Wright Now for more ways to live a life filled with more purpose, joy, and fulfillment. We offer an array of courses designed to help you maximize your potential and get more out of your relationships, career, and growth.


Judith Wright receives the Visionary Leader Award from Chicago NAWBO.

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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Crisis NOT Averted: How Transformational Leadership Calms Crisis

What’s the secret to leading in times of crisis? Tapping into our transformational leadership skills can help us connect with others, even if we’re uncertain and afraid.

What's the secret to leading in times of crisis? Tapping into our transformational leadership skills can help us connect with others, even if we're uncertain and afraid.

When the pandemic first began, none of us had any idea what was ahead of us. Were we safe to go to the grocery store? Were we safe to go to work? Visit our parents? Let them hug their grandkids?

Even after what feels like so much time has passed, most of us still aren’t sure what the future holds. So as leaders in business and in life, what is the best way for us to respond?

As transformational leaders.

Transformational leadership lets us show up differently. Transformational leaders look forward. They lead with strategy, empathy, a sense of authenticity, and so much more. If we focus on these qualities, they will help us “helm the ship” as the people in our personal and professional lives continue to look to us for guidance.

How can we up our game from being excellent leaders to being transformational leaders?

One of These Leaders is Not Like the Others

There’s been a great deal of research on the qualities embodied by excellent leaders. Having worked with leaders across many industries, including Fortune 500 companies and startups, I have seen many different styles and types of leaders.

However, in his studies, leadership expert Todd Herman found that there are three types of leaders in times of crisis:

1. Fear-focused leadership

Fear-focused leaders stare at the “fire” and worry as the house burns down around them. They spend time on the news, on Facebook, and Twitter. They watch the problem unfold but tend to talk about the issues as hopeless and insurmountable.

2. Unfocused leadership

Unfocused leaders don’t fare much better. They have some strategy, but then they get stuck before taking action. These leaders spend a lot of time online to figure out the best approach and get distracted by each new development of the crisis.

3. Focused and strategic leadership

Focused and strategic leadership embodied the qualities we see in transformational leaders. They keep going. They have grit. They talk in positive language. They reconfigure teams, triage, and get to work looking at new approaches.

Interestingly, a portion of these leaders also reported that they are regular meditators. Being mindful, calm, and present, they know how to stay the course and focus on their path. They walk their talk and they don’t disconnect through the process.

Even when the future is uncertain, transformational leaders bring a sense of comfort and trust to those they’re leading.

Let’s Take A Closer Look at Transformational Leadership

As Bass and Riggio defined in their book, Transformational Leadership, the most influential leaders know how to adapt and rise to the occasion, especially when the occasion is a crisis. They lead with social and emotional intelligence, which includes motivation and vision. They bring meaning to their work, even in times of uncertainty. They engage others and invite them to do the same.

And they care greatly about their employees and their employees’ success.

Take Brad Anderson, the former CEO of Best Buy. When he was working for the company, he had a goal that each employee would be able to lead a store on their own within two years. Each employee was then fostered as a potential, long-term manager with a vested interest in the successful outcome of the company. Because he cared for them as individuals, the company saw great success under his leadership.  

Transformational leaders are socially and emotionally intelligent (SEI) leaders. Does this seem like a soft or lofty concept?

Know this: time and time again, it’s proven to be a key to professional success. In fact, the Harvard Business Review found that their articles on SEI were the most accessed articles, especially in times of crisis.

85% of CEO success is based on SEI skills.

Why? Because the higher up we go on the corporate ladder, the less the technical stuff matters. Think about it. How many CEOs do we think know how to work the machinery in their company? How many tech CEOs understand all the subtle nuances of programming an app or building a website? The higher up we are, the more our leadership ability matters. Social and emotional intelligence is what helps us win the hearts and minds of those we lead and serve.

It is what give us empathy, and we need empathy.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

People are afraid right now, and one of the worst parts of being scared is feeling alone in our fear. It’s important not to deny the fear but also not to let the fear paralyze us. So what can we do? We can consciously create more connectedness. And yes, online connecting counts. That Zoom meeting is the perfect time for us to tune in even more

So what can we do? Reach out. Check-in with our people. Give more than we get. Focus on asking what you can do for others. Help your team problem solve; get on calls, and talk through issues. Stay mindful and focused on your social and emotional intelligence.

Why do you think there were so many focused leaders in Todd Herman’s study regular meditators? Because regular meditation helps us knew how to regulate our own emotions. And that helps us to more effectively regulate others.

It’s tempting to fall into drama when emotions run high, but transformational leaders have the tools they need to stay above the drama.

The truth is, we can never really know what the future will hold, so our intent should always be to survive and thrive. To move forward. To know that we will get through this by caring about each other.

We emerge into a future even more determined to create a world that works for everyone when we do. We’re all connected. Our fates are tied together. As transformational leaders, we can help people grow and discover their most radiant selves.

We can help ourselves do the same. Crisis NOT averted. Crisis met. With calm connection and transformational leadership.

For more ways to connect with others, build relationships, and live your best life, you can explore our webinars and presentations on leadership, relationships, self-discovery, and more on Wright Now. We offer an array of classes to help you get ahead in your career, boost your relationships, and discover yourself. Learn more today, so you can go forth and ignite your world!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.