5 Inspiring Traits of Successful People

There are a few universal traits of successful people — and you may be surprised to learn they aren’t all that mysterious.

What makes a successful person, well, successful? We all know someone magnetic. They’re good at what they do, firing on all cylinders, passionate, and engaged. But what are the traits of successful people (and how can we get some of what they’re having)?

When we meet a successful person, they’ve “got it.” But sometimes, we might also see familiar flickers in these qualities. The truth is, we all have the capacity to become successful and to fully live the life we want to pursue. Yes, there may be logistical hurdles, but everyone has infinite potential.

So, how do we tap into our potential? How do we emulate the traits of successful people so we can enjoy the same high-quality results?

Defining Our Idea of Success

We all know when we meet someone who’s successful. Sometimes it’s hard to put our finger on the quality, but when we connect with inspiring, dynamic, successful people, we’ll likely notice that they all share some commonalities.

  • Successful people are magnanimous.
  • Successful people know how to “work the room.”
  • Successful folks know how to draw people in.
  • Successful people own it.
  • Somehow, the most successful people make every person they meet feel essential and vital to their mission, project, or task.

These universal traits of successful people aren’t all that mysterious. The question is how they acquired these qualities, and is it possible for us to tap into the same dynamic?

Before we examine the traits of successful people, it helps first to define what it means to be successful. Does a successful person make a lot of money? Are they at the pinnacle of their career? Are they attractive? Popular? There are a lot of different definitions of success, and most of us can probably agree that the markers of success may vary.

But in the most significant sense, all successful people are fulfilled. The most successful people are vision-driven. They’re leaders. Successful people have a sense of purpose.

Are these bastions of success happy all the time? Of course not! (Who is?) However, they’re generally positive and enjoying their life. They’re engaged and extracting the most out of every moment. Successful people might feel satisfied and confident in what they have and what they’ve achieved, but they also drive themselves forward to keep reaching the next milestone. Successful people don’t rest on their laurels; they strive for the next peak and the chance to tackle their next goal.

What Makes a Person Successful in Life? 5 Traits of Successful People

1. Successful People Know Their “Why”

Successful people understand their raison d’être: their reason for being. They know why they get up every day and why they want more. Successful people have a larger mission. They have a vision of where they want to end up.

One of the universal traits of successful people is that a higher purpose generally drives them both in their professional life and personal goals. Now, “higher-purpose” doesn’t mean they’re always religious or even spiritual. It means that they understand their true calling and impact on the world. They’re heeding the call, and it propels them forward. They’re not focused on the simple, temporal rewards that will only get them ahead in the here and now.

Successful people are mission-driven with their eyes on the prize. They stay laser-focused on their larger mission, even if it’s broad, lofty, or nearly unattainable.

2. They’re Willing to Fight

When we say that successful people are willing to fight, it might seem to contradict what we mentioned above. After all, didn’t we just say that successful people were magnanimous and driven by a higher purpose? That doesn’t sound like a person who’s argumentative or angry.

But there’s a distinction between being willing to fight FOR someone or something we believe in and being a petty, angry, or argumentative contrarian. Fighting for something means that we aren’t afraid of conflict because we recognize that conflict is sometimes a necessary step toward reaching a larger goal.

For example, it’s healthier for both parties when we fight for the betterment of a relationship (rather than zoning out or resorting to passive-aggressiveness). Similarly, it can be healthy and productive when we’re fighting for a cause or idea that we feel passionate about at work. We might even be the one who saves the company from a disaster rather than silently watching the ship sink.

Successful people aren’t doormats. They don’t ignore problems; they stand up and get their point across. They also handle their frustration responsibly—they don’t demean others or engage in collusion, bullying, or gossip. Instead, they rally and inspire others to their cause. They share the vision and engage in conflict because they believe in their cause and are willing to fight for it.

3. They’re Present in the Moment

Our lives are full of distractions, but successful people don’t let their distractions get in the way of fulfilling their yearnings. Successful people are mindful, present, and work to stay in the moment. Mindfulness roots us in the here and now rather than replaying the past or fearing the future. Mindfulness connects us with what we want—our deeper yearnings.

“If you’re not in touch with your yearnings…you may waste time and energy complaining to friends about how your company is being run by shortsighted leaders. Or you might miss that moment to love and to matter in your child’s life when you’re tucking her into bed, and she wants to talk, but your mind is jumping to all the “to do’s” left at work. Or maybe you dash off a hurried peck on the cheek to your mate on your way out the door and miss the opportunity to really see and appreciate each other for a moment while nourishing your yearning to love and be loved. When you are truly in harmony with what you yearn for, you experience every moment in a deeper and more fulfilling way.”
Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

Successful people don’t allow themselves to veer off course and waste time. They’re productive and focused. They don’t while away the hours with soft addictions like television, social media, and other methods people use to distract and numb themselves from reality. Instead, successful people stay fully engaged. They go for it! They’re in the moment because they know each moment gives them a chance to grow, explore, and get more out of life.

4. Successful People Practice “Know Thyself”

Now, depending on how we define success, we know that not all “successful people” are self-aware or self-actualized. Take a look at the current political climate or the latest corporate scandal! But people who are the most successful and get the most satisfaction out of their lives practice a growth mindset.

A growth mindset means learning from our mistakes and constantly exploring ways to be better. We’re figuring out our drivers, yearnings, and what our heart truly wants and needs to feel a sense of purpose.

Successful people identify ways to get what they want—what will bring them a sense of satisfaction. They aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeve and do the work to get to where they want to be.

When we learn new things, we form new neuropathways. These new experiences reshape and grow our brains. Without learning and growth, we become dull and stagnant. We may show signs of aging and cognitive decline. We start to disengage and checkout. We find ourselves on autopilot. When we stop growing, we experience the antithesis of success.

On the other hand, successful people explore their inner workings because they want to understand themselves. They aren’t afraid to do personal growth work. They work with coaches, mentors, allies, and peers to understand who they really are. Successful people know that unlocking the secrets of our personality, motivations, and yearnings helps us build up our emotional intelligence—our superpower!

5. They Listen and Lead

When we’re around successful people, we often feel more successful ourselves. It’s almost like osmosis. Transformational leaders become powerful because they share their vision of success with others. They don’t dictate their goals and tasks, but they lead people to realize their own visions. Then, they explore how those visions align and overlap to bring success to the entire team.

Successful leaders don’t bark orders at people. They don’t talk over others or treat them down. They’re assertive to be sure—they say what they want, but they also listen. They work to hear and understand their peers. They want to learn what drives others and what makes them tick. Successful people know that they’re only as good as their team, spouse, and social circle. Their bosses love them because they make their boss look great!

Listening is a powerful tool for success. Often, we want to power through our discussions with others and drag them toward our point. Yet, listening, suggesting, and guiding would get us better results and allow others to share in the success. We can learn to listen by practicing with others—stay in the moment, engage, and really hear what they’re trying to express. We can share our vision and figure out a path together to get what we both want.

Success isn’t a trait we’re born with or inherent talent. To become successful, we have to work and focus. We must be willing to grow, change, listen, and lead. The traits of successful people aren’t mysterious or secretive. The path to success is clear and attainable for anyone willing to do the work.

If you’re ready to find success, don’t miss our resources at Wright Now! We have courses and materials to help you bring out your best in your career, relationship, and personal life. Get more of what you want today!


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.

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.

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.

How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

Dealing with a difficult boss isn’t always easy, but there are steps you can take to empower yourself.

Learn how to deal with a difficult boss without worrying about making work uncomfortable. You can take charge of your career.


I hate my team leader!

My boss is a jerk!

I cannot deal with my supervisor—she’s the worst!

If you’ve been in the workforce for even a few years, chances are you’ve had a run-in with a tough boss, frustrating supervisor, or manager who makes your blood boil. Knowing how to deal with a difficult boss is one of those work skills that’s not taught in college (but is all too necessary).

The thing about dealing with a difficult boss—or a tough boss—is that sometimes it’s not just them. I hear the comment, “my boss is a jerk,” a lot, and yes, in some cases, your boss might actually be terrible. Some abuse their authority and power position. But in almost every situation, there are steps that subordinates can take to empower themselves and address the problem.

So, here’s how to deal with a difficult boss (before you decide to quit).

“It’s Not You. It’s Me.”

I’ve heard many people say they think their boss is a jerk. My answer to them is, “has it ever occurred to you that you may have authority issues?”

Now, most people don’t like to hear that. I admit it may sound harsh at first. But it’s up to each of us to deal with our situation, build rapport, and find ways to improve our situation. Otherwise, we’ll see that the “bad boss” mentality follows us throughout our careers. One bad boss may be a fluke, but a string of bad bosses? It’s probably time to look internally at our reaction to power and authority.

I’ve worked with clients who have had some of the toughest, most challenging bosses on the planet. So the first order of business is always getting them to operate in good faith with their boss as we would in a relationship—assume goodwill. Assume that a boss wants their team to perform and to do a good job.

I will add the caveat that if a boss is truly a jerk—abusive or demeaning, then we should address those cases with human resources immediately.

When we face a truly intolerable situation with someone who tears us apart, it may be time to liberate ourselves from the job and find other employment that’s a better fit. It’s within our power to refuse to be mistreated by a boss (or anyone else). We do not need to be a victim of someone else’s bad behavior.

But in most cases, we may need to look at our behavior and our reactions to the challenges put forth by our boss. For example, if we feel our boss is pushing too hard, raising expectations higher, or offering more challenges, could it be that they actually believe we’re capable and competent?

Is it that we don’t want to give the situation our best effort? Are we offering 100% for the time that we’re paid? Are we working our best and working in good faith—doing our jobs with the intention to succeed and empowering others on our team to achieve as well?

Often, when we take a step back from the frustration of the situation, we may realize we’re not pushing ourselves as much as we could. If we’re operating in “bad faith,” we may believe that our position or territory matters more than the success of our coworkers (or even the company). We may be more interested in passing up our peers than lifting up our peers. We might not be helping others reach their potential.

The truth is that many people seek a job where they can phone it in. They want a position where they walk in, punch a card, and do a mediocre job. But an easy job is a recipe for a job that they hate. When we pick an easy job, we will often resent a boss who calls us out on a lack of motivation. We will resent coworkers who care about their positions and work for the well-being and success of the company.

However, when we shift our mentality and decide to engage, speak up, and buy in, we can completely change our perspective about both our job and our boss. When we start seeing the company’s success as our success, we take ownership. We push ourselves further, seek new assignments and new opportunities. We zone in instead of zoning out.

When we aren’t working for what’s best for the company and what’s best for our boss, then we aren’t operating from a trustworthy position—we’re letting our problems with authority get the better of us. So when we point the finger at our “jerk boss,” it may help to remember that three fingers are pointing back at us.

Deal with a Difficult Boss by Dealing with Unfinished Business

When it comes to working, our relationships often mirror the relationships we have outside the office. Our connection with our boss may mimic the relationship we once had with our parents. After all, the boss offers us resources (money), direction, and (sometimes) praise. In many ways, it’s similar to a parental relationship.

How do we address these issues and frustrations we might have with our parents? Again, it comes back to what’s called “unfinished business.”

Like it or not, each of us carries around limiting beliefs about ourselves that stem from our early childhood. These beliefs include the idea that we’re too much, that we’re not enough, that the world is dangerous, or that we can’t get what we need.

Today as an adult, we probably think we don’t carry these beliefs anymore. Logically, we know that we’re grown up, but our limiting beliefs are often still there under the surface. These beliefs may dictate what we do, our perception of the world around us, and our relationships with others and ourselves.

For some of us, our parents may not have had our best interests at heart. Maybe they had their own interests instead. Or perhaps a parent was abusive or hurtful. We may have had a parent that made excuses for another parent’s bad behavior, defending them with excuses like, “He does this because he cares about you,” or, “She acts that way because she loves you.”

These messages stick with us throughout our lives and cause us to fall into familiar patterns, especially in our work dynamics. We may find our relationship with a coworker is similar to a sibling, or a supervisor reminds us of our parent.

We may fall into patterns depending on our relationships growing up, including what doctor and author Stephen Karpman called the “Drama Triangle.” The triangle consists of three roles: Rescuer, Victim, and Persecutor. We may fall into the role of victim when our boss acts as a persecutor. Or we may rush to rescue a coworker when a manager offers harsh feedback. We may even trade off the different roles, depending on the situation. For example, when given authority, our inner persecutor may come out.

As humans, we’re all drawn to drama. Look at our love of reality television and dramatic movies. We get sucked into the classic storyline of villain, savior, and unfortunate, hapless victim. But truthfully, the drama triangle is an unhealthy zone. It’s disempowering for all participants. It robs us of our ability to stay in control of ourselves and the situation. The drama triangle masks as engagement, but it’s pseudo-engagement. We’re stirring a pot, but it’s not going anywhere.

As we reflect on this, some of us may think, “I had a perfect childhood! I never had any drama.” It’s common for people to assume that they must not have limiting beliefs if they had a great childhood. But by the very nature of childhood, all of us experience limiting beliefs. The world is big, and we’re small. The world is unsafe, and we look to our parents to guide and protect us.

As we grow, the world is no longer too big for us—we can reach the pedals and read the signs. We’re now operating in a world made for adults our size, but we still carry around those limiting beliefs and unfinished business. It’s up to us to work through our business, or it will continue to crop up in our relationships in our personal life AND at the office.

So if our boss is a jerk, we can ask ourselves, how are we allowing them to be a jerk? Are we falling into the drama triangle, hoping someone will intervene and rescue us? Do we fall into a role because it feels safe to let someone else fight our battles?

Standing Up to Jerks

A client came to see me. He was a C-level officer of a major global company. He was in charge of many people and doing well professionally, but he had the same complaint that so many have: “My boss is a jerk.”

So he and I started to break down the situation. We examined his unfinished business and what he could do to address it. He worked hard to build the courage to stand up to his boss. Finally, one day he did it. He called him out in a very public situation—a stakeholder meeting. He did it abruptly and angrily and ended up humiliating his boss.

In some ways, the confrontation was a significant success in addressing his authority issues. But, unfortunately, now he had a more substantial problem—he’d lost any chance of good faith and rapport with his boss. So he and I began to work on ways he could address the issue. I started coaching him on how to win his boss over.

It all clicked when he realized he needed to give work his all. He needed to push himself to take on more challenges. But, more importantly, he needed to be straightforward with his boss. He needed to build back the trust with unwavering honesty.

Fast forward a few months, and he became his boss’s closest confidant throughout most of his career. Then, one day a close friend of his boss walked up to him and said, “Once this guy has an opinion, he NEVER changes it. I’m blown away by how you went from a person he didn’t trust to becoming his closest advisor.”

The client had been reacting to his boss due to his own unfinished business with his family. As he worked through the business, he stopped projecting it onto other people and situations. He was able to move to a place of good faith with his boss. He stopped using his boss’s behavior—even bad behavior—as an excuse for his own bad behavior.

When the company faced changes, he was the most valued person in the transition. As a result, the company went through a very successful change and growth, thanks to my client’s work with his boss.

When we’re dealing with a difficult boss, we need to look at our behavior and reactions. Are we falling into old patterns? Are we jumping into the drama triangle?

It’s always possible to turn around our relationship with our boss and start working toward a place of mutual good faith. We need to find ways to challenge ourselves and push ourselves past our comfort zone. We need to express our feelings honestly to our boss—even if we don’t like something. We should learn to speak up rather than shy away from confrontation. When we come from a place of honesty and authenticity, we will start to move toward the career we want.

For more ways to boost your career and build better connections, please visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses to help you get more from your work, relationships, and yourself. Start getting more of what you want now!


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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 Be a Leader Wherever You Are

Many of us want to be a leader—at work, at home, amongst our social group. But we may assume that we’re not in a position to lead.

Be the boss outside of work too. The Wright Foundation can teach you how to be a leader wherever you are.

Maybe we’re new to the group. Maybe we’re around people whose personalities are more assertive and more dominant. Perhaps we’re just starting a job at the entry level.

The truth is that we can be a leader wherever we are. So what does it take to be a leader? The capabilities are inside all of us. It’s a matter of unlocking our inner-leader and learning how to build rapport with the group.

Today we’ll explore what it takes to be a leader and how to be a leader from any position. If you’re ready to take the reins, here’s what you need to know.

Identifying Leadership Opportunities

When should we step up to lead? Is it appropriate to lead in any situation, or do we need a signal, title, or training to be a leader?

Leadership opportunities present themselves all the time—both in our careers and in our personal lives. We may not realize it, but we can embrace an opportunity to lead in almost any situation.

I’ve talked to people struggling to discover their inner leader—people wrestling with leadership conundrums in their lives, even if they aren’t the highest-paid person on the payroll.

Leadership is within each of us, and there are chances to lead in any situation. Any time we’re in a group, we’re presented with an opportunity to be a leader. Will the group always respond positively to our leadership? Not always, but as we learn how to build transformational leadership skills, we’ll start to lead in a way that inspires at motivates. When we lead with emotional intelligence, we help each group member bring out their vision and their best—including our own.

So the big question is: what is a transformational leader? What does it take to lead with vision, inspiration, and emotional intelligence?

Transformational leaders display certain universal qualities. To be a leader, we don’t need to be the funniest person in the room, the loudest, the smartest, or even the most inventive. Transformational leaders can motivate others because they engage with them. They see each person on the team and help them bring out their best.

A transformational leader:

  1. Walks the talk—they do what they say, keep their commitments, and lead with integrity.
  2. Has a sense of vision, and they share that vision with those around them.
  3. Are interested in the well-being of each individual in the group. They keep everyone engaged.

When we see a transformational leader at work, we might notice they don’t walk in the room and demand attention. Instead, they command attention. There’s a subtle but significant difference. Commanding attention means listening and engaging with others. It doesn’t mean getting their ideas out first or with the most confidence and bravado. The best leaders are good at getting things done because they are open to all possibilities. They allow everyone in the group to bring their very best to the table.

Leaders Understand Culture on Multiple Levels

We hear a lot about culture these days—whether it’s a discussion on a person’s background and culture of origin, the company culture, or the zeitgeist of the moment. If we want to discover what it takes to be a leader, we need to understand culture from all aspects. There’s a lot of reward for those who understand culture—not only in terms of their teams. Many consultants are highly paid to help business leaders understand company culture and shore up gaps for their employees.

Transformational leaders understand the culture of the country where they’re working. They know the city’s culture, the company culture, and the culture of every individual in their purview.

Successful businesses get that way because their leadership understands the importance of culture to their organization. Culture is an unspoken society, rules, and atmosphere of an organization. It’s the personality.

In any group where we want to lead, we need to connect with the culture of each member. Culture is different than understanding their race or religion. It’s about engaging in a deeper understanding of what makes them tick. When we connect with someone on that level, we can truly bring out their best. We start to understand their motivations, their fears, their concerns, and their needs. We prioritize their well-being and see them for who they are.

The company’s rules, roles, and expectations must be clearly outlined for all of those operating within those parameters. As the organization’s culture builds and grows, employees should start to identify and understand the culture. When I hear complaints about employee behavior, it’s often because the employees are operating with no idea what the rules and expectations of management really are. The parameters haven’t been defined, and the culture is nebulous and unclear. If the expectations aren’t clearly outlined, we aren’t setting up our group for success.

How to Be a Leader and Motivate a Team

We’ve all been part of a team where everyone is pissing and moaning about the way things are done. They complain about the expectations of management. Nothing productive happens. It’s incredibly frustrating.

When a transformational leader is stationed with a group of whiners, they don’t fuel the fire. They acknowledge the feelings of the group and listen, but they don’t contribute to the frustration. Instead, they focus on the future. When we’re faced with a situation where everyone is feeling demotivated, we can say something like, “I know no one is happy about the situation. We can either figure out a way to get it done professionally and productively, or we can piss and moan and spin our wheels. So what are our next steps?”

Whether we’re faced with a room of two-year-olds or forty-two-year-olds, offering a choice is always motivating. No one (at any age) likes to be told what they must do. People don’t respond well to orders and barked directions. Instead, we can articulate the dilemma, understand and acknowledge the feelings of the group, and then help them choose to move forward and stay productive.

If we opt to relate by joining in on the whining and collusion, we keep it going. We continue to perpetuate the cycle of unproductive behavior. It’s far better (and more efficient) to acknowledge and validate feelings and move forward with the plan. The project may indeed be daunting and even unpleasant. Team members may validly be upset at the situation. All feelings are valid (there are no bad or wrong feelings), but when we must move forward, it doesn’t help to dwell in the negative space.

Instead, we can appeal to the group’s hearts and minds. Alfred Adler theorized that by giving people a choice, we help create motivation. A choice invites people to feel self-respect and gives them a chance to jump in and offer new solutions to the problem.

Be a Leader by Understanding & Connecting

When people feel unmotivated, it can indicate that they’re out of touch with their emotional intelligence. In many cases, they may be holding back out of fear. Either they fear failure or fear that they aren’t being heard and their needs aren’t being met.

Every person yearns for certain things. They may yearn to be seen and heard, yearn for respect, love, security. Transformational leaders understand those yearnings and acknowledge them. They understand people’s fears and concerns and reassure them that they’re being heard.

We can still take a leadership role when we’re part of a group where we aren’t the designated leader. For example, when our manager or boss is faced with a naysayer or an adversary, we can support them in what they’re saying. We can show that we’re behind them and rooting for the success of the entire team. I’ve been in many situations where a whole room will start to hear someone out simply because they see me supporting the speaker and siding with them.

There will always be people who will balk at leadership and management. In any given situation, there will likely be pushback. Sometimes it’s for a good reason—for example, someone isn’t leading with values or integrity. Other times it’s because the team member is negative and difficult. Rather than allowing those negative people to dominate the conversation, we can co-lead by helping the group support and align with the leader’s vision.

When management sees how we support them and share their vision, they’ll listen with respect and hold us in the same regard. When we use our leadership skills to bring out our best and the best of those around us, we can succeed in any situation.

If you’re ready to discover more about yourself and unlock your leadership skills, don’t miss our courses at Wright Now. We have many different resources and online classes to help you discover more about your career, relationships, and yourself. Start getting more out of life today!


How to Manage Your Emotions at Work

We all know emotions and feelings are a regular part of life… but what happens when those emotions and feelings come out at work?

Feelings and emotions are a regular part of life but managing your emotions at work can be a challenge.

Human beings are emotional creatures. In fact, our emotional expression is one of the most beautiful parts of being human. Whether it’s feeling happy, sad, fearful, angry, hurt, or something in between, the spectrum of emotions is what makes us who we are.

But there are sometimes when those emotions feel less-than-ideal. For example, when your boss just offered some direct feedback, or your coworker dropped the ball, and you’re left picking up the pieces (and feeling frustrated). Knowing how to manage your emotions at work can be crucial to your career.

So how do we express our feelings at the office—even those feelings we might not feel comfortable with? Is it wrong to express your emotions at work? How can we take responsibility for how we feel, avoid a hostile situation, or worse—a career-ending mistake?

Managing Your Emotions at Work: It’s All About the Approach

People often worry that it’s wrong to express emotions and feelings at the office. Some feelings might not fit the setting, but there’s a tendency to believe that we should be emotionless while we work. We might downplay our mood because we don’t want to rock the boat, speak up, or argue with a superior or coworker.

What happens when we try to turn off our emotions at work? We sulk home after the day is over, feeling frustrated, downtrodden, and even angry. We might feel like we hate our job. We might slack off or feel the urge to “show them.” Our performance suffers.

Or we store up our anger and frustration until we blow up at an inopportune moment. Suddenly we blurt out something that we later regret. We run out of a meeting, yell at a coworker, or do something else that we feel bad about.

The truth is many of us struggle with knowing how to manage emotions at work. It’s a challenge because we are emotional creatures, and that emotion can be an essential part of engaging in authentic connections, building trust, and leading others.

So, while we should certainly not divorce ourselves from emotional expression, we may want to explore how to express our emotions responsibly.

Years ago, prior to grad school, I ran into a situation with my boss. We were in a huge room of people, including the president of the company. Someone raised a question about an issue our company was facing, and my boss blamed the entire problem on me—in front of the room!

In this particular case, the problem wasn’t my fault at all. He was passing the buck to save face. So you can bet I was pissed off! Why? Because getting the brunt of the blame left me feeling hurt and embarrassed.

In those days, I wasn’t as adept at identifying or handling my emotions. I didn’t understand that it was perfectly okay to feel hurt. I didn’t know how I could express it responsibly. I’d been raised to believe that hurt was an emotion that women used to manipulate men. In some ways, I didn’t even know that I was capable of feeling hurt. So when my boss made the misplaced comment, I misidentified my emotion and expressed it as anger.

And I definitely expressed it! I really lost my temper at my boss. I confronted him angrily, and I told him, “If you EVER embarrass me like that again, I’ll embarrass you right back in front of everyone.” Needless to say, this wasn’t the right way to handle it.

Fortunately, my boss was older, wiser, and more mature than me. He responded to my outburst in a calm, measured manner, helping diffuse and downregulate my emotions. We discussed what had happened and why I was so upset. We talked it out, and, in the end, despite my emotionally immature reaction, my boss and I became close. He was a great friend and advocate who later helped my career grow.

People Bring on Emotions

Emotions are a critical part of human interaction. They’re linked to the way we communicate and understand each other. So, whenever we’re dealing with other people—a boss, coworkers, or clients—feelings and emotions are bound to arise.

Learning how to manage your emotions at work doesn’t mean turning them off the minute you walk in the door. Not only is that unrealistic, but it doesn’t help you make those critical human connections or build a rapport with others.

Feelings at work aren’t wrong. Even strong emotions like anger don’t need to be volatile if we learn to express what we’re feeling clearly, openly, and honestly.

Remember, conflict is a natural and vital part of engagement. It’s important we keep conflict productive and focused on outcome and goal, rather than blowing up or placing blame. Conflict is healthy and arises in all relationships. We may think conflict and emotions only apply to our romantic connections, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Emotions are present in all areas of our lives.

At work, emotions can feel especially strong. After all, our livelihood is often linked closely to our identity. We’re deeply invested in the outcome of each situation. Many of us feel deeply connected to our careers. We see success as a pathway to the life we want to attain. We want to be respected, liked, and valued at work. We want to succeed and do well. Naturally, these common yearnings bring up many emotions surrounding our office interactions.

We Choose our Feelings

It’s a hard lesson, especially for some people to accept, but we choose our feelings. We can decide what we want to feel in each interaction. We are solely responsible for our own happiness.

When we blame our boss or our coworkers for our negative feelings, we’re shifting the responsibility of our emotions. To manage emotions at work (and avoid a tense situation or worse), we must recognize that ultimately we’re responsible for our own happiness and satisfaction. If we feel unhappy or dissatisfied, it’s also our responsibility to shift the situation and go for what we want.

This can be a tough pill to swallow, especially if we’ve gotten into the habit of blaming others for our unhappiness. We may be used to taking on a victim identity, where we believe our boss or coworkers are “out to get us” because it takes the responsibility off us. It allows us to blame others for our feelings. But it’s also a disempowering thought. How powerful is it to know that we can make our own happiness and satisfaction happen? We don’t need to wait for the perfect job, the right coworkers, or a better boss. We can decide to have it now!

Every office and each dynamic within the workplace is different. It’s natural that certain personality types may clash. We may work with people who we don’t quite “click” with. But what if we shift that mentality to find ways we can connect?

There are some office relationships where we may feel we can be 100% honest and open. We may even be friends with some people. At the same time, certain words and actions of our coworkers may bother us. This is because each persons’ history, programming, beliefs, thoughts, and feelings come into play (and come with them to work).

So, what is frustrating and annoying to one person may be no big deal to another. It can help to remember that each of us is coming from a different place and bringing along our own unfinished business, but we can try to find commonalities if we really engage and see it as a challenge to overcome. It’s all about what we’re bringing to the table. If we want to build rapport with others, we can do it, no matter how impossible it may seem at first.

Taking Your Family to Work

It sounds strange, but all our experiences, family, and history come right to the office with us each day. These pieces of our makeup comprise our matrix. We’re all shaped by each experience we encounter in life. We carry that with us when we walk into the room.

It doesn’t matter how old we are—whether we’re right out of grad school or well into our 60s, we bring our unfinished business with us everywhere we go, especially to work. If we had a father who was an authoritarian, we might see our bosses as authoritarian too and find ourselves rebelling under his demands. If our mother was highly controlling, we might balk against the control expressed by others on our team. Each day when we walk in the door to work, these pieces of our internal programming come right along with us.

Rather than throwing up our hands, assuming we’re doomed to repeat the same patterns over and over, we can learn to integrate our expressions of feelings at work so we learn and grow. We can identify the patterns and similarities in our relationships and use this information to help us better connect with others.

For example, a domineering boss presents an excellent opportunity to learn how to advocate for our needs. We may decide to tell our boss how we feel—that we’re afraid, hurt, or angered by their behavior. When we express these feelings straightforwardly, in an open manner, they become more manageable and easier to address.

In the rules of engagement, we often discuss the importance of assuming goodwill. If we assume good intention on the part of our boss or coworker (rather than thinking they’re out to get us), we’ll lower our defenses.

Most of the time, we can find common ground and even realize that maybe our boss is bringing their own baggage to the table. Rather than stewing about our feelings or exploding, we can bring them to light and work through them together.

As I learned in the situation with my own boss, it’s easy to bring our unfinished business into our interactions at work. I was lucky that my boss helped me learn from the situation rather than simply firing me on the spot for mishandling my hurt.

Not only is it essential and healthy for us to express our emotions at work, but it’s healthy for our whole office as well. We’ll enjoy work more, strengthen connections with our coworkers, and discover more success when we start sharing our feelings at work.

Looking for more ways to find success at work and home? Explore our courses at Wright Now. We have many options to help you learn more about your career, your relationships, and yourself. Get the life you want today—a life of MORE!


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 Improve Self-Confidence (Hint: It May Be Overrated)

How many of us have heard, “fake it ‘till you make it,” when we wonder how to increase confidence?.

We live in a culture that reveres self-confidence and self-assuredness, but as it turns out, there may be a better approach to success and personal development: self-compassion. While self-confidence makes you feel better about your abilities, it can also lead you to vastly overestimate those abilities, wrote Kristin Wong in her recent piece in the New York Times.

Maybe we’ve heard that self-confidence is the key to getting that new job, landing a date, or making a new connection. Everywhere we look, we’re led to believe that if we simply pretend to project confidence, we’ll succeed—and if we’re not confident enough, we’re doomed to fail. We may look for ways to increase our self-esteem and self-assuredness because we’re hoping to “trick” others into believing we’re better than we think we actually are.

In reality, the opposite may be true about faking confidence. Projecting over-confidence can become a detriment rather than a sign of strength. We’re far better off learning not to lean too hard on our inner-blow-hard OR our inner-critic. Instead, it’s more important to listen to our inner realists, assess the situation, and then use self-compassion and self-affection to nurture and care for ourselves. We can and should identify our weaknesses, of course. But rather than beating ourselves up over challenges, we’d do better to focus on how to use them as an opportunity to grow and expand our capacity.

The Question isn’t How to Improve Self Confidence, But How to Identify Blind Spots

I recently had a conversation with a team member who also happens to be in one of our leadership training groups. He brought up concerns he’s having with a fellow member of the group.

“He’s overconfident in his leadership abilities. It’s actually holding him back. It keeps him from identifying the challenges and growth areas he needs to work on. It’s like he turns a blind eye to any sign of weakness.”

We all have blind spots.

When we meet someone, who refuses to recognize areas where they’re challenged, we should realize they are actually in a very fragile position.

Overconfidence isn’t often a genuine state, and their outer shell of confidence is just waiting to be cracked, uncovered, and disturbed.

When this reality check happens, it’s often particularly difficult for them. In fact, it may be earth-shattering when he or she has to face the truth. It isn’t that they need to learn how to increase confidence, but they need to learn how to increase self-awareness.

In studies about kids and resiliency, it’s been discovered that kids who are congratulated frequently for being inherently smart or “born with talent” tend to rest on their laurels. They learn they can rely on their wit and intelligence to get through any situation. In some ways, they become overconfident in their abilities and talents.

On the other hand, kids who are congratulated for trying hard develop resilience and grit. They keep trying and don’t give up. Rather than simply believing they’re smart, they learn they are ABLE. They learn to have self-efficacy—the belief that they can do something. This belief in their own capability and coping skills serves them well into the future. No matter what challenges they face, they realize they’re able to experiment until they find a resolution. They understand the power of trial and error. They’re not frightened by uncertainty because they recognize challenges are simply part of growing.

The idea of grit doesn’t apply to kids-only. Adults can learn to be grittier too. We learn far more from mistakes than we do from our successes. When we push ourselves to do everything “right” or believe we always know the answer, what happens when we fail? What happens when we face a situation where we really don’t know what to do? We may find that we veer toward the safe zone, and we don’t go out of our range of comfort. This limits our experiences and can hold us back from many great opportunities in life. We may be missing out on the whole picture around us.

As I counseled my leadership group member about their peer—many times, those who can’t recognize their ability to fail are setting themselves up for a major failure. We all have blind spots, and it’s foolish to believe they aren’t there simply because we can’t see them.

Over-confidence keeps us from being really present and aware of our interactions. We can’t truly engage with others—find opportunities to learn and grow from them—if we believe we already know all the answers.

When Confidence Can Set Us Up for Failure

In the late 70s, I was teaching a course at a blue-collar trade school. The students and I had enjoyed a fantastic semester together, and I was deeply honored when I was invited to deliver their graduation address. I felt overly confident in the situation. I believed we were there to celebrate what we’d done with the students. This felt like a situation where we’d toast each other and give out pats on the back.

I confidently assumed my audience would be filled with people who would want to hear us cheer ourselves on. I hadn’t reckoned with the fact that the audience would really be filled with mothers, dragging along belligerent, resentful fathers who didn’t want to sit through a long, self-congratulatory graduation ceremony about the values of higher education were touted. Many of these fathers hadn’t had the opportunity to finish high school, let alone trade school. They were just waiting for a chance to shoot at someone.

And shoot they did.

Because I went into the situation over-confidently, these fathers were ready to take me down. I set myself up for a nightmarish experience of being heckled. What followed was one of the most humbling experiences of my career up to that point.

In hindsight, I realized I walked into the situation believing I was failure-proof. I was cocky and self-assured. I didn’t consider the feelings or viewpoints of those I was hoping to inspire (or at least, hoping not to tangle with). Because of my over-confidence, I was headed for a sure fall.

When we go headlong into a situation with too much confidence, we often fail to plan for contingencies. We don’t look at how we will cope if a situation doesn’t pan out as expected because we think we know it all.

In truth, we can all fail at any time. In fact, it’s often at our most confident and self-assured, we trip up or get our world completely rocked out of the blue. We find ourselves truly blindsided.

Self-Compassion Over Self-Confidence

We have to understand that self-confidence isn’t bad or wrong, but arrogance or a failure to see our blind spots puts us in a vulnerable place. We may be wondering how we strike a balance—how do we keep our eyes open to these pitfalls while maintaining a healthy sense of self-esteem? How do we like ourselves without becoming arrogant?

Just as Ms. Wong reported in her Times piece, the goal isn’t to beat ourselves up over feeling confident or knocking ourselves down a few pegs. The goal is to practice more self-affection and self-care. When we feel powerless or like we lack control over our circumstances, we can embrace the vulnerability and find our inner grit to continue.

We may feel that a display of confidence is where we find the most power, but it’s not. As Wong writes, “Self-compassion, on the other hand, encourages you to acknowledge your flaws and limitations, allowing you to look at yourself from a more objective and realistic point of view. Both have merits, but many experts believe self-compassion includes the advantages of self-confidence without the drawbacks.”

When we treat ourselves as someone who’s learning, who’s capable of making mistakes, but sees them as opportunities for growth, we’re nurturing ourselves.

We’re realizing that we’re human—wonderful and amazing, but still on a path to growth. We’re not perfect because no one is. We’re on a journey of learning and striving to be better each day.

Many of us look at our kids, our friends, and even our spouses, and we may be able to quickly identify their flaws. In fact, those flaws or weaknesses may even cause us to feel MORE compassionately toward them. We’re forgiving of them because we recognize no one does everything perfectly all the time. We love them anyway.

Yet, when it comes to ourselves, we don’t want to admit we’re also learning as we go along. We cringe at our mistakes and beat ourselves up for missteps—replaying them over and over. But in life, our opportunities to grow and learn from each experience are limitless. It’s this growth that adds interest and excitement to life. Each new adventure and challenge helps us feel fuller and more alive.

So give up faking confidence and aim for self-affection and compassion instead! The next time you make a mistake, give yourself kudos for discovering an opportunity to learn, emerge and evolve. Be kind to yourself and keep moving forward as you discover more about how resilient you are!

For ideas on ways to get MORE out of life, don’t miss our courses on Wright Now. We have opportunities to learn more about your career, relationships, and personal growth. If you’re ready to live life to your fullest potential, start today!

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

Tips for Professional Networking Events You’ll Actually Enjoy

Professional networking events—we’ve all been there. Here are some new ways to think about making business connections.


Looking for tips for your next professional networking events? Here are some new ways to think about making business connections.

Professional networking events—we’ve all been there. Usually, we mull around the room awkwardly, a glass in our hands, trying to munch on a few crackers and talk to strangers between bites.

We’ve all read the tips for professional networking events, too, like “practice your elevator pitch” or “remember to ask for a business card.” Perhaps we follow a mnemonic device like picking out a color on someone’s tie to associate them with what they do or repeating their name three times during the conversation.

But do networking tips ever really work? Does anyone actually enjoy networking events, and do they even pay off? Are we just wasting our time?

The Secret to Better Networking

If we really want to be better at networking, we can throw most of the standard tips for professional networking events out the window. The goal of networking isn’t about how many contacts we can make or how many business cards we can collect. The real goal is to build a real, quality connection.

If we walk out of the room with one great, authentic connection, it’s far more valuable than ten business cards that we’ll toss in a drawer and forget. The truth is, we can build that great connection with almost anyone. Will it always be a relationship that will pay off professionally? Perhaps. But if we’re only looking for new customers and clients, we’re approaching professional networking with the wrong mindset.

We should look at events as though we’re the host. What does that mean? It means we assess the needs of others in the room. We may welcome them; we might ask if we can get something for them. Most importantly, we show a genuine personal interest in them—not because we want to “sell” them something or because we want to get their card, but because we actually see them for the person they are. We sincerely want to get to know them.

In many ways, professional networking events are akin to speed dating. It’s a quick snapshot of another person.

Most people try to “work the room” looking for someone who will be useful to them as a customer or who will be the next person who can give them something. But we’ve found that it’s far more engaging (and authentic) when we flip that idea on its head.

When we hold events at the Wright Foundation, we help attendees take a different angle. Even if our events are career-focused, we know that authentic engagement doesn’t simply come from reporting what we do or talking about the nuances of our day-to-day tasks. If we want to really network with people, we need to find better ways to connect with them on a deeper human level. We need to focus on human networking, not just professional networking. That means looking at who the person is. It means listening and engaging, not on a superficial level, but in a genuine way.

What if we look at networking as a chance to find out what the other person needs and how we can deliver it to them? What if we gave ourselves the challenge, not to see how many people we could meet, but how deeply we could engage with just one person at the event?

What if we went beyond the elevator pitch to discuss the real struggles our peers are facing in their careers? We might find out far more if we asked about the biggest challenge they have at their office or the largest roadblock they’re facing right now. Will we be able to help them with that problem? It’s hard to say, but chances are that when we start to really engage with each other, we’ll find ways to help each other now or in the future.

Engagement by Authenticity

When we begin many of our events at the Wright Foundation, we start by discussing and filling out the C.A.R.E. personality profile. The profile isn’t simply about what people do and their career goals, but who they are in any situation. It helps people understand how they interact with each other—are they Cooperators? Do they tend to be Analyzers? Are they Regulator types who want to be in charge? Or are they Energizers who lead the crowd with enthusiasm?

When people start to reach deeper into their personality type, they begin to talk about those bigger-picture concepts—who they are, what they value, where they struggle. It gets to the core of their emotional intelligence, their values, and their vision. In other words, things get real. Instead of putting forth a polished, professional, generic answer to questions, they start to really open up and talk about their approach and perspective on business and, more importantly, on life.

We may think that our business life and personal life are entirely separate and never cross over, but the truth is that most of us display very similar personality traits, whether we’re at home or the office. We don’t turn into a different person when we lock our office door and drive home. Many times, our relationships at work are similar to our relationships with our family and friends. We may have similar challenges, communication styles, and reactions. We may even find that certain work connections mirror certain relationships in our family life. Our boss might be very similar to our mother, or a coworker may remind us of the relationship we have with our brother. We often see these dynamics repeat in different areas of our life.

So it stands to reason that the personality we bring to the networking event should be the same personality we have all the time. Rather than presenting a curated “professional” persona, what if we were simply our true, authentic selves? What if we actually answered questions honestly and truthfully?

Like professional networking, when we go on dates, we often have this idea of putting our polished selves out there. We might dress a certain way, answer questions with what we think our date wants to hear, or we may try to order something from the menu that seems “appropriate.” But what if we were open and honest about who we were and what we really wanted? What if we weren’t trying to seduce someone with a concept of who we might be, but instead, we made it a goal to engage with them as our true selves?

It seems funny at first to think of walking into a date wearing sweatpants and saying, “I have $20,000 of student loan debt, four cats, and I would like to order the lobster, please.” But what if we did just that (assuming it’s reflective of who we really are)? After all, after a few dates, chances are our love interest is going to discover the cats and see us in sweats. Presumably, at some point, they will also discover our student loan debt, and we will eat something expensive and messy in front of them. What if we cut the crap and got to the truth right away?

Becoming radically honest in our interactions may seem challenging. Or we may even think, “Okay, maybe that’s fine for our social lives, but not in professional settings.” But if we’re living our best lives and reaching our fullest potential, why not embrace our authentic selves in our interactions?

Make Your Next Professional Networking Event Fun

So how do we apply these tips and ideas to our next professional networking event? In the past, many of us may have gone in with a goal like “get the most business cards” or “get x number leads.”

This time we can make it a game to see if we can instead push ourselves to have better engagement. Instead of thinking of a business networking event as a serious event when you need to generate leads, take the pressure off. Instead, focus on better human engagement and building stronger connections. Make it an event that’s actually fun and exciting—treat it as an experiment and a new adventure!

What will this mean when we’re working the room? Instead of rushing through conversations, really listen. Instead of asking superficial questions about the weather, what the person does, or general topics, really go for the deeper discussions right away. What if we asked people, “What is your biggest problem? What do you need right now? How are you REALLY doing?”

From there, we can listen with intention. Ask ourselves how we will see the other person for who they truly are? How will we hold space for them as they engage with us? More critical than practicing “active listening tips,” where we’re trying to retain information (and waiting for the next break in conversation so we can share), simply listen. Focus on what the other person is saying. Get to know them and when asked for information, communicate with the same openness and candor.

When we start to really see people not as business cards or potential leads but as beautiful human beings who are waiting to engage with us, we’ll experience a paradigm shift. The way we communicate will change.

If we want deeper engagement with others, we don’t need to wait for a special “networking event” either. We can find opportunities to engage with others throughout our day. Build your network of social connections by finding ways to engage with the barista at the coffee shop. Talk to the person next to you on the train. Strike up a conversation in the elevator that goes beyond, “nice weather we’re having.”

Our network builds our net worth. The more social ties we can cultivate and grow, the stronger our engagement skills become. Our circle of influence will broaden, and we’ll enjoy all the benefits of the networking event called life.

For more personal development ideas and opportunities to boost your career, explore our courses at Wright Now. We offer an array of class selections to help you discover a life of MORE.

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.

“I Hate My Job” …When to Leave Your Job

So, you’re stuck in a job that doesn’t thrill you (or maybe even a job you hate). Almost everyone thinks, “I hate my job,” at some point. We all have those days.

Although it can be a difficult decision, it's important to know when to leave your job.


When the days add up, it may be time to seek out something else. Being stuck in a job or hating your line of work can be demoralizing. It’s especially confounding if you like your coworkers or appreciate some aspects of your career but detest others.

So how do you know when to leave your job? When is it time to say goodbye? Are there ways to fix a frustrating job without leaving?

Finding Happiness at Work

Going to work at a miserable job is drudgery. If your job no longer fills you with a sense of growth and purpose, then you probably aren’t fulfilled or happy. Similarly, if your job doesn’t offer you a challenge or stimulation, you’re probably bored and easily annoyed with your workday. When a job loses its excitement, you begin to dread going to work.

Our work can’t be the only thing that gives us a sense of purpose and fulfillment, but all of us need to find some purpose from the work we do. No matter if you’re the CEO of a corporation, if you work in a restaurant, or on a factory line, having pride in the results of your work—and knowing you’re bringing people something they need—provides a strong sense of fulfillment.

I’ve known blue-collar guys who worked on the line at GM and found immense satisfaction in that. They worked hard and took pride in the results of their work. They paid attention to the details. They viewed the job with a sense of how it was helping the greater good, and they felt like they were a part of something bigger than the task in front of them.

These same satisfied workers also didn’t rest on their laurels, sit back and say, “Well, I’m just going to build this same thing every day and go home.” Those who were the most fulfilled came in every day ready to do a better job. They were constantly trying to up their achievement and growth. You can easily apply this same mentality to any line of work.

When we stop wanting to do a better job each day, we may find ourselves unstimulated and dissatisfied with our careers.

A lot of finding our satisfaction becomes a question of mindset. We have to break out of a self-fulfilling prophecy that says, “I hate my job,” or “I’m not going to do well.” When we put those ideas out there, we’ll see them continue to prove to be true. But when we shift our mentality and start to look at how we can do the best job possible, we’ll see a shift.

When I started in counseling years ago, I helped golf pros improve their game. Golf is a very psychologically fueled game—it’s a game where you’re actually playing against yourself. Even when golfers are in these big tournaments, they’re playing to beat their own score.

Jack Nicklaus once said, “Achievement is largely the product of raising one’s level of aspiration and expectation.” This applies to both golf and your career. It’s very much a mental game.

Golf is so psychologically driven that there’s even a condition called the yips. Golfers become anxious, and then, due to holding their club and the tension in their body, they start to shake. This condition can ruin their entire career, and it’s a very real issue.

Similarly, the pros that get the hole-in-one, the course record, and even the green jacket often say afterward that they KNEW they were going to win, even before they began the game. They envisioned the entire process. They were in their groove.

If you’re in your groove at work, raising your aspirations and expectations constantly, you will be successful. At the same time, if you’ve reached the top of your career potential, succeeded as far as you can, and reached a point where you can no longer grow, it’s probably time to liberate yourself and move on to the next opportunity.

I Love My Job, But I Got a Better Job Offer

We’ve all had a great offer come along—an offer we can’t refuse. Sometimes it might be difficult, because you may really love your job now. Or maybe you don’t like your job, but you love your coworkers and the environment. What do you do?

Well, weigh the merits of the new role. Will you be doing the same thing you’re doing now, just with more pay? Rather than making it all about the money, look at the opportunity and the purpose.

When we’re driven by purpose, money is just the icing on the cake. When we’re driven only by a bigger paycheck, we might never feel fulfilled in our work.

I’ve talked to CEOs and presidents who reported they simply felt hollow despite their success. Why? Because they were all about the money—and not about the purpose behind their work.

So if a better offer comes along, weigh it against what you’re doing now. What need will it fulfill within you? We all have deeper needs and desires called yearnings. We might yearn for acknowledgment, achievement, or security. While a raise can provide some of these things, deep human yearnings cannot be fulfilled by money alone.

A client I worked with, Ellis, discovered that working with a sense of purpose is more powerful than money:

From early on, Ellis wanted to be well known and make a lot of money. This was his highest conscious purpose for many years. He lived in a feast-or-famine world. To make ends meet, he even once traded his house for a less expensive one. Fear and chaos dominated his life. He began living by the principles of purpose, and then his career purpose took form.

Over the years, he discovered the joy of partnering with his clients in fulfilling their dreams. His sense of purpose expanded. As money receded in importance, he made more. As fame became irrelevant, his reputation grew. He became absorbed in meeting his clients’ needs. In doing so, his own needs were met or exceeded. His famine periods receded, and life became remarkably enjoyable.

When he moved from a limited purpose of making money and becoming famous to one of servicing clients and fully helping them succeed, he discovered unanticipated excitement. This enthusiasm caused him to conceptualize and develop new products at breakneck speed. He wanted to serve as much as possible. Clarity of purpose helped him prioritize product development and keep focused on the wellbeing of his growing organization. He even split off a major portion of his business because the key executives were not in line with his higher purpose.

—from Beyond Time Management: Business with Purpose

When you have purpose, the money will follow. Don’t be swayed by a “better offer” if it’s not a more purposeful offer.

When “It’s Not You, It’s Me”

Many of us get a chip on our shoulders at work. We start putting ourselves on the “pity potty” with what I call Stinkin’ Thinkin’. We shift the blame from our own inadequacies and under-performance to understand our own mistakes as everyone else’s fault.

As it turns out, YOU are responsible for your happiness. Not your wife. Not your husband. Not your kids. Not your employer or coworkers. YOU.

If you’re miserable in your job and you dread going in every day, you need to look at it just like you would a relationship. What got you to this point? Why did you pick a job that led you to this place of being so unfulfilled? What missteps did you take on your journey?

If your answers start with something like, “Well, it’s these coworkers of mine, you see, they’re just awful…” or, “Look, my boss is a jerk,” then you still need to step back and reassess. Why did you let it go so long? How did you fail to set up appropriate boundaries?

Now, I get it. Some bosses are jerks. Some people get off on power trips and like to torture their employees. In the business world, we still have problems with bullying, just like in elementary school.

But if a boss, manager, or coworker is truly abusive, why are you putting up with it? Most bullies, just like in the movies, back off the moment you call them out.

Level with your boss. Let them know you want to improve your performance, and you want to be successful. Ask them how you can get there before it’s too late or before things have unraveled too far. Get on the same page and have them explain their vision to you. How do they want the company to run? What does a successful department look like to them, and how can you help them get there?

If all else fails, resign but don’t leave and fall into the same trap as before. Leave and learn from the experience. What can you do differently next time to set yourself up for success?

When the Bridge is About to Burn

If it’s time to leave a job and you’ve found an opportunity that presents more possibilities for your own personal growth, developing your greater purpose, and achieving more fulfillment, great!

Just don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Don’t burn the bridge you might have to cross again. Cities are like big, small towns, so if you plan to stay in the same industry or if you might run into a crossover client, leave on good terms. Don’t run around spouting off to everyone about what an egomaniac or jerk your former employer was.

Keep connections strong with coworkers, particularly those who have shared your vision and who are supportive allies. Stay in touch and build on those connections outside of the work environment.

If it’s time to leave a job, leave things in the best condition you can. Don’t use your resignation and as an opportunity to give your employer a laundry list of grievances.

If there’s something concrete that needs to change, share it with your boss to help ensure the role is more successful in the future for the next person who takes it on.

We’ve all had the urge to walk out of a job or a meeting in a flurry—throwing things, yelling, or just disappearing for good. Unfortunately, unlike in the movies, these actions can haunt us later.

When you leave a job, even if it’s a job you hate, do your own mental evaluation and work through your own “stuff” before carrying it to the next job. Let your employer work through the company’s baggage themselves. If the company is good, vision and mission-driven, and just a bad fit for you, they’ll move on and be fine. If the company is truly terrible, chances are they’ll fold eventually anyway.

Leaving a job—no matter how stressful or negative the work environment is—can be done on good terms and lead to better things for you and your future. Keep your goals growth-oriented and focused on the big picture. Evaluate what YOU need to do to improve your game and continue to work on bettering yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about getting ahead in your career, explore our great courses available at Wright Now. We offer an array of options to help you learn more about yourself and your world. Start growing today to move toward a life of more.

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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.

Is Your Organization Alive? How to Create a Vision for Your Organization

Do members of your organization see the big picture?

Is your organization alive? How to create a vision for your organization

Is everyone on the same page (and invested) in moving your organization toward success? Is your organization alive—do all the pieces contribute to a vibrant, thriving institution?

Many times, companies and organizations suffer because everyone is working toward different goals or various ideal outcomes. Everyone may have a concept of what success looks like, but getting that vision aligned is challenging.

As a leader, your vision is what moves your company forward. Sharing that vision with your employees and team is a crucial component of strong leadership.

Don’t Get Caught in the Weeds

Too often, as leaders, we get bogged down by living “in the weeds.” We end up dealing with day-to-day problems and issues. Creating a vision for the organization becomes the furthest thing out on our plate. But creating and maintaining a vision of what’s possible and desirable for the organization is vital. It helps us continue to move in the direction that leads to individual and organizational fulfillment.

An idealized vision for an organization is one of a dynamic, vital, nourishing place to work, where people set and achieve challenging goals. In these visionary organizations, everyone takes responsibility for their own success, but they’re also bought into and committed to making the entire company successful.

In a visionary organization, employees go out of their way to satisfy internal and external customers. They’re constantly taking action to improve the quality of their work. They learn and grow together, working to become more satisfied and effective team members and employees.

When conflict arises, the employees engage constructively. We know that conflict isn’t something we should avoid—productive conflict can make us stronger with better communication—constructive conflict results in sound decisions. The employees learn to communicate openly and directly through organization and express truths that help make the company better.

In a visionary organization, employees take the initiative and seize opportunities for themselves and the company. They’re empowered and confident to act on their own to solve problems. They pride themselves on innovation and their creative approaches to product and business development. Team members pride themselves on their innovation and creative approaches to product and business development. They anticipate the consequences of different options and alternatives and use their analysis to make decisions.

In a visionary organization, employees are encouraged and supported by leadership. As leaders, we help them work to their highest potential and to succeed at doing so. Everyone in the organization works to bring their personal and company vision to fruition.

Leading in a Visionary Organization

What does a visionary organization leadership look like? How does leadership behave in this idealized setting, and how do team members thrive?

Managers in a visionary organization lead by example. Each leader displays all the above characteristics to an even greater degree than other employees. They set the bar and hold the standard that everyone aspires to.

Visionary leaders are excellent motivators and developers of people. These leaders offer their subordinates clear, constructive feedback and coaching to help them improve their performance. Because they have high emotional intelligence, they’re empathetic to the needs of their team. They understand how to up-regulate and down-regulate during communication, and they help bring out the best in others.

Strong, visionary organizational leaders help employees align themselves with the company initiatives and objectives.

They encourage a sense of buy-in because employees are heard, and their contributions are valued. They build organizational commitment through creative, evolving, and changing methods to ensure the entire team is learning and growing together.

In a visionary organization, senior executives are strategic thinkers and visionary leaders who understand industry trends and develop long-term strategic plans based on the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, and competitive position. But rather than focusing on the competition, they build their own skills and abilities to enhance and support their positive assets.

Strong leaders are also realistic about where they stand. They don’t turn away from criticism or feedback. They learn from their mistakes and missteps and use these opportunities to redirect and explore creative solutions.

They communicate a vision for the organization and the individuals in it that inspires employees to stretch themselves and work together to achieve the vision. In this organization, the leadership views the internal development of leaders as one of their most important job functions, and they’re constantly seeking opportunities to expand managers’ responsibilities and opportunities.

Finally, all employees, from the CEO down to the most unskilled workers, are committed to continual learning and improvement. Everyone in the organization is known for their honesty, integrity, and personal credibility. People can be counted on to do what they say they will do. They admit and take responsibility for their mistakes and put themselves at personal risk to take stands based on their deeply held values.

What Happens When an Organization Holds to a Vision?

When an organization is helmed by visionary leadership, the results are quickly evident.

Because of the commitment, behaviors, and traits manifested by all its employees, a visionary organization becomes the industry leader and is universally respected for its integrity, values, and business success. Its retention rate is the highest in its industry, and it attracts quality candidates more easily than any of its competitors. It is known as a place where people work hard, and morale is high.

In a visionary organization, employee turnover isn’t an issue. Hanging on to top talent is easy; people are drawn to the company, thanks to an excellent reputation. The company is successful, and it continues to build on that success as it compounds and grows.

Although the leadership sets the vision and sets the tone of an organization, success radiates throughout the entire organization. Because everyone is valued, the company’s success feels personal. Everyone in the organization wins every time the company has a victory.

Your Vision and Your Current State

Does any organization live up to this vision of the “perfect visionary organization” described above? Well, the truth is, it’s unlikely. Most organizations have some (or a lot) of room to grow and develop a more visionary approach to leadership.

However, by analyzing the gaps between this vision and your reality, you can identify the key campaigns and initiatives you need to strategize and execute to reduce the leadership gap and improve the overall effectiveness of your organization.

Visionary leaders need to do the internal exploration and personal growth work to create clarity in their intention. If you want to lead your company successfully, you should look at your own engagement style and emotional intelligence. How do you motivate others? What is your leadership style? Are you someone who leads by energizing others but then pulls back on the execution? Are you someone who regulates those around you, wanting every idea to be carried out just so?

As you learn about your own state, strengths, and areas for improvement, you will find yourself a stronger leader as well. The internal work can be challenging, but it’s well worth it to boost your leadership abilities and improve your organization.

It takes courage to create and hold a powerful vision, especially in light of the struggles organizations face in today’s world. Yet the bigger the vision you hold, the more powerful a leader you can become. Of course, vision alone isn’t enough. Many people have grand visions and can even get others’ support but lack the follow-through. To truly lead your organization to the greatest success, you also need strategy and tactics. You need to set your intention and have the ability to execute your plan.

Your company’s culture and your people largely determine both your organization’s current state and what it will take to achieve your vision of the ideal future. As a leader, your intention is the primary driver to help your organization become what it can be. To figure that out, you need to be honest with yourself and allow yourself to “go there.” Look at the areas of your personal vision that you need to address, improve, and grow. Are there areas you’re ignoring or putting on the back burner?

Getting clarity on your vision is worth the effort. By creating an inspiring vision and engaging your organization in the journey to achieve the vision, the whole organization will benefit, as well as every stakeholder. Creating a vision for your organization is a critical part of your company’s current and future success. When you have a clear vision in place, it will act as your road map through every challenge.

For more ways you can achieve success in your career, please explore our career development courses at Wright Now. We have an array of webinars, seminars, and networking opportunities to help you realize the fullest potential of your personal leadership.

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.