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"This is about to get very real. I'm about to share a bit about my personal challenges as both a solopreneur and a leadership coach..."

Deb's Blog

Thinking Differently

October 30, 2019

Let’s imagine this scenario. You are a leader in your organization and the management team wants you and your team to be more innovative. You don’t see yourself as a particularly creative person. As a matter of fact, you live by the motto…“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

You want to approach work differently. And, you have no idea where to start.  What will it take to get your team to approach challenges in a new way? 

In a recent Forbes article entitled “True Innovation Starts with Diversity”, the author notes that “innovation begins with the courage and willingness to think differently.” 

In my years of working with teams and building relationships, I’ve learned that building FCT. F=Familiarity, C=Comfort and T=Trust is at the core of every relationship.  So…the key to innovative thinking comes from building a culture of FCT.

Summer Anderson notes that "in order to build the freedom to share diverse thinking, the key is to curate an environment of social safety within a board or executive suite.” Social safety and FCT are intertwined.  What are you doing as a leader to create a safe space for your team to think differently? How about starting with curiosity?  

Consider this. If you always approach a problem asking WHY, try asking about the WHO, HOW or WHAT.  If you start with WHO, think about the WHY, HOW or WANT. And so on and so on… This tiny tweak can result in all sorts of new innovative approaches to the same old problems.  

In addition, Anderson recommends the following strategies to enhance diversity of thought on your team: 

1)   Build Courage - (BIG NEWS…The Think Good Company is talking differently in 2020 about Courage) 

2)   Add diversity by assessing your diverse thinking styles. 

3)   Review Sacred Cows - Get your team to talk about taboo topics 

At The Think Good Company, we specialize in building diverse thinking teams. As a certified trainer and coach in Whole Brain Thinking and the HBDI, we can help you assess your team's strengths and blind spots. 

We're all about creating social safety in your organization. We'll teach your team a common language around thinking styles. Let's ignite innovation! 

Interested in learning more, contact us at thethinkgoodcompany@gmail.com.

Creating the Best Version of You Every Day!

October 24, 2019

​Imagine a new morning routine that includes creating a mindset for success...

I'm sure many of you have heard about the power of creating intentions. Honestly, it can feel awkward! I get it. Often times, I get push-back from coaching clients who feel that this activity might be out of their comfort zone. Sometimes, they just have a hard time figuring out how to fit intention setting into their daily routine. 

​Today I want to introduce you to an incredible example of setting a morning intention... 

Our daughter is a first grade teacher a local elementary school. Many of the children that she works with have experienced trauma early in their lives. In the first few weeks of school, she chose to take an authoritative stance in front of the room. In energy leadership coaching, we would call this choosing catabolic energy. It shows up as anger and conflict and can create a toxic environment. Her children continued to act out. She then made a conscious shift in her mindset to creating a more loving and creating mindset. We call this Level 4 and it is focused on service and compassion to others. On a daily basis, her children recite the following set of affirmations:

Deb

Our daughter is seeing incredible results! It is truly remarkable to see the energy that is created in this class as a result of creating positive intent. Children in her school now see her classroom as a safe and comforting place to grow and learn.

As a leader, an affirmation can create similiar results for you and your team. Jack Canfield, author of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books suggests the following: 

How to Create Positive Affirmations:

1.  Start with the words “I am”
2.  Use the present tense 
3.  State it in the positive 
4.  Keep it brief 
5.  Make it specific 
6.  Include an action word ending with "–ing" 
7.  Include at least one dynamic emotion or feeling word 
8.  Make affirmations for yourself, not others 

Here is an example of what I use everyday:   

I am grateful.  I am grounded.  I am good.  I am enough.  I am free.  I am happy.  I am me.  I know that everything is figureoutable. 

These affirmations are written in the front of my journal/notebook and I refer to them on a regular basis throughout my day:

Your challenge for the day is to write at least three "I AM" statements. Hold yourself accountable for stating them for a week. Then, jot your thoughts down around how this is changing your energy throughout the day. 

What's in your DNA?  Ice cream?

September 30, 2019


When I was in elementary school, I organized and hosted a carnival in my back yard to raise money for Easter Seals. When I was in middle school, I served as a founder of an organization called KIND (Kindness in Nature’s Defense). Today, I own Think Good Leadership, a company that specializes on nonprofit leadership.

For years my brother has quietly sponsored and supported kids with high potential. My husband, Fred, serves on the Board of Directors of Arts Quest and as a mentor at a local school. Both my sister-in-law and I serve as Big Sisters for the Big Brother Big Sister organization. The four have us committed significant time, talent, and treasure to bettering our communities. We believe in service above self. We learned this from our parents. 

This week I said goodbye to my 88-year-old father, Richard Cummins. He had fought a long, hard battle with Parkinson's Disease. In an amazing twist of irony, my parents, who were divorced for 35 years, died 364 days apart. Needless to say, this past year has given me lots of opportunities to think about my roots.  

What you are reading is a part of the eulogy I delivered at Dad's memorial. Often times, I ask my clients to work on their personal mission statements. Begin with the end in mind. A eulogy is the ultimate beginning with the end in mind.  

My brother Jon and I grew up in a household where service was modeled. Our dad, Lieutenant Colonel Cummins was a member of the JAG Core after completing law school. We watched him head off to McGuire Air Force base every month and two weeks in the summer.  

Dad demonstrated leadership in his service as national president of Easter Seals. I was so proud of him when he led the effort to ensure handicap accessible parking in this role. Don't even consider parking in one of those spots! When he moved to Saratoga Springs, NY, he volunteered at Sunnyview Hospital. He later became the Chairman of the Board for that organization.  

My mom also made a lifelong commitment to service. She served on our local school board and was active with the League of Women Voters. In the second chapter of her life, she spent countless hours volunteering with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra and the Allentown Art Museum.  

This legacy of service is something my parents leave with us and our children. It's in our DNA.

On a more humorous note...we also have something else a bit sweeter in our DNA. Friendly’s or DQ? Jon and mom were team Friendly’s and Dad and I always picked soft serve. Legend has it that DQ was the first sign I read.  

On the last day I spent with my dad, he was literally not eating. We were running errands for his wife and she suggested we pick up a jelly donut. We ground that sugary treat into a zillion small pieces and Nancy served it to dad one tiny piece at a time. He loved it. He savored it. It brought us such joy to see him enjoying this simple pleasure.  

Ice cream flowed in my dad’s veins. My grandmother grew up on a dairy farm and we proudly display a Weissglass Dairy milk box on our fireplace.  

This is a legacy my parents leave with us and we know… our children. Ice cream is just part of our DNA. Who we are as a family.  

I am a big believer in serendipity. Although this has been the most difficult year of my life, I have learned so much. I made a commitment last October to enroll in a coaching certification program. Next week, I will complete my final live training module.  

Throughout this process, I have been able to process my energy around grief. Some of you have heard my mantra #gratitudetrumpsgrief.  

During our weekends together, my coaching colleagues and I have talked about the legacy we would like to leave through our coaching work. With the past 364 behind me, I look forward to helping others define their legacy. To live a mindful life. To lead with intent. To see the good in others. To leave a legacy that their children will be proud to share with others in a eulogy. 

- Deb

Mobirise

The Kind Leader

September 10, 2019

  
It would be so easy for me to go off on a million tangents today. Every day, the world seems a little less kind.
Whether it is devastating weather events, gun violence, or the basic lack of civility, kindness feels like it is slipping away. ​​ For the purposes of this blog, let's look at kindness as a basic leadership practice.  

One of the best leadership books I have read recently is Brenee Brown's "Dare to Lead". If you don't know about Brenee Brown .... well, you should!  One of the major "a-ha's" I had reading the book was a simple axiom... "
Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind." ​  

I honestly believe that 99% of all leaders have good intent.  And remember, when we talk about leadership at Think Good, we are talking about all kinds of leaders. Board members ... CEO's ... executive directors ... senior managers...you get it. I have yet to walk into a consulting situation where there is anything but a desire for good.   

Unfortunately,
lack of clarity is a common theme for leaders. A failure to communicate is often times disguised as a failure around clarity.   

Here's an example of how this shows up...   
Leaders come to me with catabolic energy around what they see as underperformance on their team. A staff member is not delivering around goals. The work is not getting done. The leader is frustrated, even angry. (Because, we all know what happens when team members don't perform. It falls back to a leader who is already over-committed.)

This frustration usually leads to a conversation around communication.
The leader might say: "Why doesn't that person come to me if she doesn't get what I need?"
Or, "I thought I was clear in my email?"
And of course, there is always "why does this simple task seem so hard for someone to do? It would be easier for me to do it myself!"

Sound familiar?  

After I provide the space for the leader to decompress, we work on getting to the heart of the matter. And at the heart of most matters is lack of clarity. We've all either heard or said "I'm not a mind reader."   

Kind leaders create alignment with their teams
- and alignment happens as a result of continuous courageous conversations. Why courageous? Courageous because we are often afraid to talk about the very things that are at the heart of successful teams.   

How do we get to mutually agreed-upon expectations?
Through hard work.
Through authentic conversations.
Through multiple conversations.
By asking for help... which requires us to be vulnerable.

And, this takes time. Time is a leaders most precious resource.  

"Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears or feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior" - Brenee Brown

Taking the kind approach to leadership means committing the time to reaching clarity. Be willing to first understand, then be understood. Think about what the gift of clarity would do for your team...and for you. 

We can all play our part in making our workplaces kinder.  
Just the thought of it puts a smile on my face.  

- Deb

La Dolce Vita

July 16, 2019

  
I have learned so much about gratitude this year. As I reflect on the first half of 2019 (what... how did that happen!), I realize how connected this word is to my word for the year...revitalize.  

This week, I am literally living the dream. I am writing this blog from a porch overlooking the Amalfi Coast. As I think about how grateful I am for this experience, I am grounded by knowing what is most important about my life. It's all about simplicity.  

I wrote recently about my challenges with being an entrepreneur and unplugging. I am not always good at it. In fact, it had been a struggle for me to stay balanced as I have launched my business this year. My energy drives me to build something I believe in my business and am proud of. It can also be chaotic and frenzied. I left for this trip ridiculously overscheduled. How about 2 appointments scheduled prior to leaving for the airport? Insanity. 

Although I am learning about mindfulness, I realize everyday that is a practice. And, I don't always practice.  

Spending 10 days in a foreign country in a remote house in the hills with limited access to the outside world is a gift. No internet equates to some big changes in my behavior.  

”I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat, perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life. I can at least practice for these two weeks the simplification of outward life, as a beginning. I can follow this superficial clue, and see where it leads. Here, in beach living, I can try.” - Anne Morrow Lindbergh 

Ann Morrow Lindbergh wrote this in 1955 in her book, "Gift from the Sea". I can't recommend this book enough. It's hard to believe how this wisdom has transcended time.  So here are a few things I am reminded of during this time of coastal living.  
1)   Sunshine is the cheapest vitamin in the world. After week's of Pennsylvania rain, 10 days of sunshine was a gift.
2)   Life will go on without TV. It's been wonderful falling asleep with amazing books. I've gotten obsessed with reading about the Lindbergh family in ”The Aviators Wife”. Three books down in ten days ... happy dance time!
3)   Fresh food is truly best when you pick it off a tree. We've been eating figs from our garden.
4)   At 57, I am living my best life and loving drying my laundry outside ... like an old Italian woman!
5)   Every family is complicated and simple at the same time. We all are crazy. But spending time with people you love is the greatest gift.

These five gifts are available to all of us every day. The location may not be quite as lovely, but simplicity lives right in front of us. I think we can lose sight of this in the overstimulated life we live in. I am grateful.  Yet, these 5 gifts are free to all of us. And aside from the "laundry" thing ... I am setting a mindful intention to practice La Dolce Vita.  

Enjoy this sweet life. 

- Deb

Backpack, Notebook, Pen ... Why I'm Back in School!

June 05, 2019

  
Those of you who know me often hear me speak about being a "Leadership Geek". I am. I love all things leadership and have a voracious appetite for learning. I am judicious about picking educational opportunities. They need to be right for me...and my clients. So, why did I choose to go "back to school" in March for IPEC coaching certification?  

1)     I wanted to learn a new way of coaching. I have certification in leadership coaching with The Leadership Challenge and the HBDI, but, I see my clients holistically.  I want to coach in a new way - one that would help me to work with leaders and the myriad of complex issues that they bring to our sessions. 

2)    I wanted to be more inclusive in my business. It’s a subtle shift, but I want clients to understand that I am a Success Coach, not just a Leadership Coach. Anyone can work with me who is excited about igniting potential and a success mindset in their lives. 

3)    I wanted to learn what I didn't know about coaching. And wow, there is a lot to learn. Perhaps the biggest "aha" moment of this experience is that in the past I approached most of the engagements I had with clients as a consultant; providing wisdom and expertise on complex issues. I will continue to consult when wearing my consultant hat, but honoring the coaching process is different. Coaching assumes that individuals already have answers to their own problems. The coach’s job is to help them get to their own solution. Basically, I am learning a whole new skill-set for working with my clients. 

4)    I wanted to be authentic around calling myself a coach. Coaching is a term used by many to describe their work. By enrolling in a coaching certification program, I am aligned with using the term "coach," and that feels good! This is an incredibly rigorous program. It includes 3 day live sessions and 8 hours a week of practice coaching and homework assignments for 6 months. We are talking MASSIVE commitment!  

5)    Finally, I was attracted to my specific program, Core Energy Coaching. Core Energy Coaching shifts people into living their highest potential. As a Core Energy coach, I connect people to their passion. We work together to develop specific plans including action steps to reach a state of success that few people achieve.

“It is energy that defines a great leader” (Bruce D Schneider), and I would also add that it is energy that defines a successful organization. This certification enables me to work with people and organizations on assessing their own energy levels. Once you identify what kind of energy you are experiencing, you can make an intentional change.

I have always understood the power of acknowledging energy levels in my own life. This program allows me to make the concept of core energy a tangible concept for my clients. 
 
So let's get ignited!  For more information about coaching services, please email me at thinkgoodleadership@gmail.com.

- Deb

It's Complicated

May 02, 2019

  
This is about to get very real.  I'm about to share a bit about my personal challenges as both a solopreneur and leadership coach.

In the last seven months, I've lost my mom, 2 dogs and have had cervical spinal surgery. I've also managed to embark on a new coaching certification and build my business in ways that I could never have imagined.  

This isn't a personal pity party. My mom raised me to be a resilient, strong, fearless woman. But here are the facts. I've been going in "fifth gear" since September 20th.  

For the first two months after my mother died, I focused my energy on cleaning out her house. Determined to get it on the market quickly, I amped up my project management skills. I coordinated auctioneers, cleaners, and teams of repair specialists.  

I was devastated and angry about her sudden passing. So, I dumped all of that negative energy into dealing with the house. After two deals fell through (more anger, more frustration, etc...), the house went under agreement last month.  

As the universe would have it, the focused launch of my business happened during this time as well. I had been serving in an interim executive director role for a year. That commitment came to an end with a merger celebration on September 22nd.  

I found myself pouring whatever energy I had left into ensuring that this business would succeed. I kept my appointments with prospective clients. I did my best to keep my naturally positive disposition in the foreground. And despite everything, I found myself with a busy spring schedule.  

During this time, wonderful people and organizations entered my life, including my grief counselor. I was not only trying to process my mom's death but during the winter, I lost my "boys". Two wonderful dogs that had provided me so much solace and compassion. I refer to Chase, my Cavichon, as my “mashed potatoes”, or comfort food. This gentle soul, with fur like a pair of Ugg boots, provided me a warm place to bury my head and his loss was profound.  

My counselor was amazing. I felt like I was practicing good self-care every time I entered her office. She reminded me time and time again that grief is complicated. Understatement of the century. She also prepared me well for the next challenge. 

On February 14, I had a cervical spinal fusion. After 8 years of chronic pain, my neurosurgeon had been able to pinpoint the source of my pain. Over the years, I had been relentless in pursuit of new treatments. If you have ever suffered from chronic pain, you know that there are times you literally feel crazy. Yes, I was going to get the surgery that I knew I needed despite the timing of everything. 

During counseling, we talked a lot about how to create comfort post-surgery. Mallomars, Ramen Noodles, and the Bravo network made it to the top of my list. 

A huge shout out here goes to my incredible husband, daughter, family and some amazing friends. 

I pressed the surgeon about the time I should take off from work. He and his team told me that 8 weeks was the norm for those returning to an office. I am my own boss, so I took off just two weeks. I didn't work for at all for only the first week. 

And, here's where things go a bit wonky, I started back into things in my office (the couch) in week two. I told myself I could do this and "paced" myself working a couple of hours each day. In early March, after sort of getting clearance to drive, I hit the road for a 100-mile drive. 

I was now back fully into whirling dervish mode. Pushing through physical pain and a broken heart. Let's remember, my mom taught me to be resilient. And so, I stayed focused. 

In the last 14 days, I have presented 9 times. I designed new sessions, launched new programs and I’m proud of where my business is today.  

But, and yes, there is a but here...I am not proud of how I've taken care of my whole self. 

In January, I went through the process of identifying my word of the year. Revitalize. LOL. Today, I find myself drained and depleted. This weekend was rough. The first Passover without mom. In seven months, I've never missed her more. 

So why am I sharing this with you? I am a leadership coach. I facilitate and coach The Leadership Challenge. On a daily basis, I write and talk about the five practices of exemplary leadership. #1...model the way. And guess what, self-leadership is hard work.  

I'm in the process of getting another coaching certification through a program called IPEC. It's based on a CORE ENERGY model. We talk about catabolic and anabolic energy. Most importantly, through coaching and counseling, I've learned the incredible importance of managing one's energy. 

I realized today, that I have been running on the equivalent of battery back-up for 7 months. I'm not even sure where this energy came from. 

I am taking accountability today for it not being sustainable. I'm re-committing and re-setting my personal leadership compass. I’m putting self-care back in play and reconnecting with things in addition to work that brings me joy. Photography, some good art supplies, and a walk in the sunshine with my Mia (our 2-year-old Mini Goldendoodle). 

Life and leadership are journeys. I know my mom would be proud that I've plowed through all of this. But now, it’s time to practice what I preach.


The Value of Group Coaching

March 13, 2019

Mobirise
  
One of the greatest joys of starting Think Good Leadership has been coaching leaders. I've had the opportunity to do lots of one-on-one work with high potential individuals.

Our work generally begins with utilizing a leadership assessment. As a certified coach of The Leadership Challenge, I love offering my clients the leadership assessment tool, LPI360. This 360 provides insight into the actual practice of specific leadership behaviors. We use it as a starting place for our coaching and it provides the client great insight into areas for growth.

One-on-one coaching is intensive. We work together for an extended period of time and work on specific challenges. It's usually face to face. It requires a moderate financial investment from the individual or the organization.  

I decided six months ago to add group coaching to my portfolio of services. Here's why I felt it was so necessary to offer virtual group coaching:

Anyone can access virtual group coaching from any location. This year, we will be utilizing a brand new platform called "Circles". This program was specifically designed for team engagement, meaningful conversation and impact. It has a really cool interface that will connect participants in unique ways.  

There are unique opportunities for personal growth when sharing challenges with others. Each week, we have a discussion topic that will guide the conversation. As the facilitator, my job is to introduce the topic and to engage participants. Group coaching encourages participants to share their particular challenges around topics in a safe and supportive environment.  

Group coaching promotes personal accountability. Members are accountable to each other. They need to show up and be present. They need to practice their listening skills. They need to complete follow-up work and be willing to share their learnings with others.  

The first Synergy Circle Leadership Circle happened in the summer of 2018. It was a fabulous experience. Here is some of the feedback from program participants:   

"It was really great to spend time talking through situations with leaders from other organizations. It helped me gain insight and self-reflect."  

"I enjoyed having a place to go to be able to openly and confidentially, share struggles and challenges with a group of like-minded colleagues. who were there to provide support and suggestions."  

"The Synergy Leadership Circle was a great opportunity to have discussions and gain insight from other non-profit leaders. It provided an opportunity I may not have had otherwise. It was a great group and I believe we all trusted one another and were open about current situations. It allowed for all of us to feel more confident in our day-to-day work environments."  

When participants bond, feel accountable to peers, contribute and actually want to show up, magic happens! Being part of Synergy Leadership Circle provides leaders with unique opportunities for connection. It's the place where leadership skills meet leadership mindset. I call this Leadership Confidence Quotient or LPQ. By building LPQ, leaders see their personal effectiveness skyrocket and their impact soar. 

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop for upcoming group coaching circles!

Mobirise
  
It would be so easy for me to go off on a million tangents today. Every day, the world seems a little less kind.
Whether it is devastating weather events, gun violence, or the basic lack of civility, kindness feels like it is slipping away. ​​ For the purposes of this blog, let's look at kindness as a basic leadership practice.  

One of the best leadership books I have read recently is Brenee Brown's "Dare to Lead". If you don't know about Brenee Brown .... well, you should!  One of the major "a-ha's" I had reading the book was a simple axiom... "
Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind." ​  

I honestly believe that 99% of all leaders have good intent.  And remember, when we talk about leadership at Think Good, we are talking about all kinds of leaders. Board members ... CEO's ... executive directors ... senior managers...you get it. I have yet to walk into a consulting situation where there is anything but a desire for good.   

Unfortunately,
lack of clarity is a common theme for leaders. A failure to communicate is often times disguised as a failure around clarity.   

Here's an example of how this shows up...   
Leaders come to me with catabolic energy around what they see as underperformance on their team. A staff member is not delivering around goals. The work is not getting done. The leader is frustrated, even angry. (Because, we all know what happens when team members don't perform. It falls back to a leader who is already over-committed.)

This frustration usually leads to a conversation around communication.
The leader might say: "Why doesn't that person come to me if she doesn't get what I need?"
Or, "I thought I was clear in my email?"
And of course, there is always "why does this simple task seem so hard for someone to do? It would be easier for me to do it myself!"

Sound familiar?  

After I provide the space for the leader to decompress, we work on getting to the heart of the matter. And at the heart of most matters is lack of clarity. We've all either heard or said "I'm not a mind reader."   

Kind leaders create alignment with their teams
- and alignment happens as a result of continuous courageous conversations. Why courageous? Courageous because we are often afraid to talk about the very things that are at the heart of successful teams.   

How do we get to mutually agreed-upon expectations?
Through hard work.
Through authentic conversations.
Through multiple conversations.
By asking for help... which requires us to be vulnerable.

And, this takes time. Time is a leaders most precious resource.  

"Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears or feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior" - Brenee Brown

Taking the kind approach to leadership means committing the time to reaching clarity. Be willing to first understand, then be understood. Think about what the gift of clarity would do for your team...and for you. 

We can all play our part in making our workplaces kinder.  
Just the thought of it puts a smile on my face.  

- Deb