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What do you want to be when you grow up?

When we speak to children, whether they are 5, 10 or 15, we often ask them: What do you want to be when you grow up? Some will say they want to become a pilot, a firefighter, a school teacher or a doctor. Some others do not have a straight answer. I was one of them. I never really knew what job I wanted to do. The only thing I knew from a young age, is that it had to do something with languages, with traveling, with living abroad. 

When we get older, we often fall into a routine; getting up, working (whether it is to work for a company or for oneself), going to bed. We frequently forget to pause and ask ourselves the question: What do I want to be when I grow up? How do I want to look back at my life when I am 80? Thinking strategically and having a long term goal in mind is something we have to do if we want to be successful and achieve our goals.

Have a long term goal in mind

Answering the question ‘How do I want to look back at my life when I am 80?’ is not an easy question to answer. It can take days, weeks, months or even years to answer it. You also may not be able to answer that particular question but you should ask yourself, every so many years: what do I want to do in 5, 10, 20  years? Once you have found your purpose in life and/or your long term goal, you can start working backwards and establish (short, medium and longer term) goals so that you can look back at your life and be proud of what you have achieved. 

Having long term goals in mind helps you stay focused. You may not know yet how you are going to achieve these goals, you may not know when you will achieve them. But by staying focused, you’ll be able to recognize when an opportunity will present itself and you’ll just have to grab it. In 2003-2004, I wanted to leave the Netherlands. I wanted to go and live either in Spain or in Italy. I was not speaking fluent Spanish or Italian, I did not know how I could move to one of these countries. Yet, this was my goal. And in 2006, the Quality and Training Manager of the Italian subsidiary of the company I was working for, resigned. The Italian Management team approached me and asked me if I would be interested to take over his job. I of course said yes. I was thrilled. It was because I had put my goal out there, to the Universe, that my dream came true somehow. Many people knew what my goal was. I had worked hard and had done my research. I had never anticipated my Italian colleague would resign. When he did, I was ready. 

 

Identify the gaps

Once you have a clear idea of your goal, you can identify the skills you need, the habits you need to have. You know where you are now which helps you identify the gap between the current situation and your goal. You can then start to work on them. What new skills do you need to acquire? And do you need to unlearn something? What habits do you need to get rid of? What new habits do you need to start doing? 

You may have already started to work on some new skills or competencies. But you may need to level up, read books, follow some webinars or training to develop them and improve yourself. 

You may also want to hire a coach or a mentor to brainstorm to have an accountability partner, who can challenge you and ensure you are taking action. Being motivated and taking action are sometimes not enough. You need to be disciplined and act on a consistent basis to make progress (see one of my previous articles here.)

 

Setting priorities

The main challenge is that people often do not prioritize the right things. They think everything is important. And by putting everything at the same level, nothing stands out. That is how the routine starts. People no longer know what is a priority.

It is critical to spend some time planning. Of course, being spontaneous once in a while, doing things at the last minute, is ok. We all need some flexibility. However, when it comes down to the bigger picture, this is where you need to stay rigid and focus on your goal if it is important to you. The way you approach things may change, the timing for which you’ll want to achieve your goal may also vary, as some things are outside of our control (the situation we’re currently experiencing is a perfect example). However, if something is important enough for you, you will find a way to achieve your goal. Take a break. Reflect, pause, evaluate and ask yourself: what do I need to do this week, this month, this quarter, this year, the next 5 years, so that I can achieve my goal by 20xx. 

 

Remember this: the most successful persons are planning years, decades ahead. They have also had setbacks and certain things probably did not happen as planned.  But they keep working at it. Continuously. Focusing on their long term goal, their vision. 

 

This blog was also shared on Linkedin.

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Preparation is key

Preparation is key.

When we have a deadline, we often focus on the task we need to do: going through an interview, delivering a training or presentation, providing a report. There are important milestones that we need to go through to achieve our goal. To be successful in achieving these milestones, two things are essential (see my previous article: The keys of success). However, there is one thing we often underestimate: preparation. 

 

Why is it important?

Even though preparation can be boring and not always fun, it is one of the most valuable things you can do to avoid stress and anxiety as the deadline approaches.

Being prepared as much as possible is critical if you want to be successful. When you are prepared, you can tackle challenges more easily and more efficiently. You will also be and feel more confident when you’ve worked on all the things you need to know and on the things you control.

In business

When you are looking for a job and get an interview, nothing is more important than doing your research, Find out about the company you’ve applied for, their values, their financial situation, locations, culture, etc. Find out more about the role by reaching out to people in your network who may work there or ask your connections if they know people working there. 

Prepare your answers to some of the common questions (tell me more about yourself; why do you want to work here; what are your strengths and weaknesses, etc.). Don’t forget to prepare questions to ask the recruiter, hiring manager etc. Interviews are a two-way conversation and candidates often forget this, 

When you deliver a presentation or a training, you also need to spend as much time preparing as possible. It helps you create something that will interest your audience and you can link things between a project, the company, the department, to your presentation. When you are well prepared, you will have worked on everything that is in your control (have a backup ready in case you have some technical issues; be ready to answer questions or objections; know the layout of the room in case you have to do some team exercises, etc. ). The more information you have beforehand, the more chances you have to show your professionalism, knowledge and expertise. 

Preparation is key.

 

In life

Same as in business, if you want to put all the chances in your corner, you need to prepare. 

When you want to cook something special, you usually need to look at the recipe and buy the ingredients in advance. You also need to make sure you have all ustensils so that you can make that special dish. Unless you’ve been cooking that special meal several times in the past, you need to spend some time in the preparation to be sure you’ll be able to make that dish on time.

Whether you want to run a marathon or start a new fitness routine, you need to first know your exact goal and where you are starting from. Same thing if you want to improve your health and lose some weight. Once you have identified the gap, you can prepare, put actions into place that will help you achieve your goal. You may have to buy certain equipment, buy certain food or change your schedule. All of this requires preparation. 

Preparation is key.

When traveling

When you want to travel for pleasure or business, or need to move abroad, preparation is also critical. 

What is the cost of living? Which places can you visit? What type of food do people eat? How is the weather? If you are a woman, are there areas you need to avoid? 

If you got a job abroad, find out about the tax system and if there are many expatriates. You also should enquire if the city you’re going to has (international) schools for your children and if your partner will be able to find a job easily. These questions may not be relevant first but things can go quickly sometimes, and the better you are prepared, the easier the transition will be. 

Preparation is key.

 

Conclusion

Whatever your goal, make sure you set some time aside to think, organize yourself and work towards what you want to achieve. Obviously, sometimes unexpected things happen, but when they do, they are mostly things you cannot do anything about. 

So remember that preparation is key, not optional! See it as an investment that will allow you to relax more and will put you at a competitive advantage. Even though it may seem like a ‘waste of time’, being prepared will in the end save you time and money.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ ‘There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure’ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Colin Powell

#vlvcoach #leadership #leadershipdevelopment #mindset

This article was also shared on Linkedin.

If you want to become a better leader, be(come) a dancer!

Yes! If you want to become a better leader, you should be(come) a dancer.

I’ve said it before: leadership and dancing have more in common that you may think. When you are a dancer, there are some powerful lessons you can draw that will help you in business as well.

 

Lead and motivate people

When you dance, as a leader (usually the man), you need to lead your dance partner. You need to let her know what she needs to do: does she need to turn right or left? Does she need to turn once, twice, more? Does she need to slow down or speed up? Without a clear guidance, your dance partner will not know where to go or what to do. When you are the woman (and in that case you are not the one leading) you can still lead your partner. This is especially true if you dance with a beginner and you are already at a higher level. By making some subtle suggestions or providing some advice, you can provide guidance to this new dancer.  When we do that, we are not trying to take over from them,  but we are influencing them through encouragement. 

In business, your role as a leader is to lead your team members. Having a vision of what you’d like your business to become is like knowing what type of dance you want to do. Your team members need to do what you want them to do in order to achieve a certain goal. If you do not lead them in the direction you want, some people will go their way, which may end up being completely the opposite of what you want them to do. For that, you need to communicate with them regularly, encourage them and guide them so that they know they are on the right track. When you lead people, encourage them and guide them, you’ll be able to achieve your goals and hopefully have fun in the process, just like with dancing,

 

Everybody is different

Whenever you are in the office or on the dance floor, remember that everybody is different, You therefore have to adapt yourself to your counterpart. Is your team member new? Then you will need to guide him/her more, give them some time to practice, provide them with some tools or tips so that they can learn their job better and quicker. If your team members have been in your team for quite some time, they already know your style of leadership. They will know how to approach you, communicate with you or ask you questions. Same with your clients, suppliers, etc.  Just like with your team members, you need to adapt yourself to them and need to be able to manage change. 

When you dance salsa (or any other partner dance), you will often dance with different people. Some have been dancing for years while some others are just starting. Some dancers will dance cuban salsa, while some others will dance puerto rican salsa. No matter who you’re dealing with, make sure you observe, listen (or feel in case of dancing) so that you can adapt yourself to the person in front of you. The last thing you want is for someone to feel lost or completely disconnected because you have not been willing to adapt yourself to his/her level.

 

Building trust

Any relationship is based on trust. Whether you want to get clients, lead a team or dance with someone, you need to start building the relationship so that the other person trusts you. 

In business, you need to lead by example, say what you’ll do and do as you said. For a relationship to be successful, you have to be trustworthy so that people know that they rely on you if they ask you to deliver something or if there is a challenge or an issue.

When you dance with someone, the man needs to trust that the woman will follow what he wants her to do. The woman needs to trust the man that if he wants her to do a certain figure, he will not break her arm or leg! Dancers build on each other’s strengths, they rely on each other, and they need to be able to trust each other to perform.

There are many other similarities between dancing and leadership, and I had already shared some others in a previous article. That is why I help people Succeed in the Adventures of Leadership and Self Assurance (SALSA 💃🏽 )

This article was also shared on Linkedin.

#vlvcoach #leadership #leadershipdevelopment #globalleader #globalteams

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Your health is your wealth

“Your health is your wealth”, we all have heard this expression.

In these days where most of us are stuck at home trying to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, I can’t help but think that this expression has never been truer to me…

Being healthy does not only mean being ‘fit’ i.e. not overweight. It also means being healthy in our mind. 

 

Physical health

When we say ‘health’ the first thing that comes to mind is usually our physical health. It is important to practice a sport regularly to feel good, to build your muscles and stamina. It also helps to release your stress and to sweat to release toxins from your body. Practicing a sport regularly helps you stay in a good condition and prevents you from having certain aches. After I had my serious car accident, dancing helped me build my muscles again. And these last two years, I’ve also started doing yoga. It helps me strengthen my muscles, especially those in my back.  

It actually does not matter which sport you do. Whether you like to run, play golf or tennis, dance, swim or cycle, as long as you do something regularly. 

 

Food

Being healthy also means paying attention to your nutrition. Many diseases we get are because of (1)  deficiency in vitamins and minerals and (2) toxicity. We often eat processed food and even though they may taste deliciously, they are often the food with the least nutrients to nourish our bodies. In addition, these processed foods often have lots of additives which, in the long run, make our bodies ‘toxic’. Think also about all the chemicals we use (not only to clean the house, but I think about the pollution we have outside. I also think of what we, women, use; the make up, nail polish, the color for our hair, etc.). By eating as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible, we are helping our body – and mind – stay strong. We are providing them with vitamins, minerals, basically nutrients that are critical for our health. 

 

Mental health

Having a healthy mind is also critical to being healthy. What does it mean? It means trying to have positive thoughts, practicing affirmations. When you are constantly thinking ‘bad’ thoughts, you will stay in a negative framework. To have positive thoughts, pay attention to the words you use. Challenge yourself when you say something like “I always fail” or “I can never do this”… Is it REALLY the case? Is it really “ALWAYS” or “NEVER”? Or are you just exaggerating? 

Being mentally healthy also includes meditating or praying. It includes focusing on the present, the ‘now’. It also means removing as much negativity as possible. It means letting go of negative emotions and practicing gratitude. I know that in these challenging times, it is sometimes very difficult to let go of the negativity and practice gratitude, but there is always a silver lining in any situation…

From my experience, being healthy mentally is THE most important. The mind is stronger than the body. Napoleon Hill said it “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve” and Henry Ford as well: “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

To summarize

All of these actions take time and practice. Nothing will change from one day to another. But by doing little things every single day,, you will see some positive differences in the long run. Your body and your mind will thank you for it.

 

We should always be our Number 1 priority. 

This is not being selfish. 

This is being a leader, our own leader (see my previous blog on this). We can only help and support others if we can help ourselves first and are (mentally and physically) healthy. 

 

#vlvcoach #leadership #health

This article was also published on Linkedin.

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What to do on your first virtual meeting

This week, because of the current situation, I held the first virtual meeting with my Toastmasters club. Being forced to move a meeting that has always taken place face to face, and moving it to virtual, is not always easy.

Members of my club had not been very enthusiastic about it. Some had never used zoom, some others were wondering how we would interact with each other virtually.

There are obviously things we could no longer do:

  • We could no longer shake hands when introducing someone of thanking them for their speech or evaluation
  • Look around at the audience was no longer possible
  • We could not really move around the ‘meeting room’

 

However by using a few ‘tricks’ you can ensure that everybody feels involved, part of something and that everybody enjoys their time during these virtual meetings (have a look at my previous article for general tips on working from home).

Spend a few minutes explaining the tool

Make sure you explain the basic functionalities of the tool so that first time users do not stress unnecessarily. In my case, when we used zoom, I shared my screen and showed people where they could mute  and unmute themselves. I also showed them the different views they could have (gallery view versus speaker view). I also explained them the ‘Chat’ option and how they could message everyone or one single person. 

 

Look at the camera

This is counter intuitive but when you are speaking in front of our computer, we have a tendency to look at people. However, to really connect with people, you need to ensure you look into the camera, and NOT at the participants. It takes a bit of practice to think about doing so every time, but it works. People feel like you’re talking to them when you really focus on your camera, and not on the people who are on your screen. 

 

If someone seems a bit lost or is not engaged

When you are the host and you see someone who seems to be struggling with something (they cannot mute themselves, or they do not remember where the ‘Chat’ button is, make sure you help him/her via chat and guide him/her. If nobody is talking, you can take over and talk the person through explaining the steps he/she needs to take. Make sure you keep the conversations going whenever possible, asking questions and/or making jokes in between. 

 

During our first virtual session, we got very creative. 

In Toastmasters meetings, there is always someone keeping track of the time. In face-to-face meetings, we usually use green, yellow and red cards (or some clubs use mini ‘traffic lights’) to let the speakers know how much time they have left. Virtually  in our session last week, the time keeper used different backgrounds (green, yellow and red) to show the time left.

To vote for the best improvisation and the best speech, each of us sent our vote to the Toastmaster of the evening privately, That is how participants got to understand and put in practice the use of the chat option.

 

Before closing the meeting, I did a round table to ask impressions of participants. 

Everybody was very positive. Some even said they did not expect the meeting to be as good as it was. We also identified a few areas for improvement, which we’ll implement during our next virtual meeting.

Virtual meetings do not have to be bad. You simply have to make sure everybody is involved and that they have all the necessary knowledge to use the tool properly.

This article was also published on Linkedin.

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Tips for working from home

Working from home. The coronavirus is now forcing people to do so in some countries.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about how to manage / lead a virtual team (for those of you who missed it, here is the link).

With the current situation with the coronavirus, the advice I mentioned in my article is still valid and even more critical.

When you were managing a team onsite and suddenly, everybody is forced to work from home, you are now dealing with other challenges and another dynamic.

Here are a few more advice I’d like to give in these challenging times

Keep communication going

In normal circumstances, you hopefully had regular one-on-ones and team meetings with your team members. Now, you’re all working from home and do not see each other. Make sure you keep the communication going. Set up a chat group so that you can greet all your team members every morning and ask how they are doing. You can use this chat for casual conversation or to ask business related questions. You can also use this chat group to ask who needs help and who can help (maybe some team members live in the same area and can help each other with groceries, or taking the dog for a walk). The most important is that your team members still feel they can contact you (or anyone in the team) if they have questions or concerns. 

Be flexible

With schools or kindergartens closed for a few weeks, some people will have their children at home. This means they may be struggling attending some conference calls or send certain reports/mails at times previously agreed. Try to show some empathy and be flexible. If they cannot deliver a report by let’s say 10:00 AM, they may be able to deliver it by 14:00. In these exceptional circumstances, show some flexibility and understanding, People are dealing with these issues the best way they can, they will appreciate it if you show some flexibility and allow them to do their job with some changes in their schedule.

Implement virtual ‘breaks’

If you were having some regular coffee breaks with your team members, or if you legally need to provide breaks to your team members, why not use this 5/10/15 minutes break to meet virtually? Have a video conference call or use the chat group I mentioned earlier to give people the opportunity to speak about anything but work. Try to bring some fun. Share something funny you saw on the internet (a picture, a small video etc.) and encourage everyone in your team to do the same. This will help you all relax a bit and recharge your batteries. 

Remember

This situation is unprecedented. This represents a change for everybody. It is a change for you, whether you are a manager or a team member. Everybody deals with change in different ways. Everybody has to adapt to this new situation, even if it is for a short period of time. 

Make sure you are all supporting each other, that you show empathy and understanding. 

⭐️⭐️⭐️ Together we are stronger ⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

#vlvcoach #leadership #management #virtualteams #remoteteams

 

This article was also published on Linkedin.

How to become a manager

When we start our career in a company, many of us aspire to become a manager one day. Being a manager means additional responsibilities, a higher visibility and also most of the time an increase in salary.

However, what does it take to become a manager? Here are a few tips based on my own experience…

Show the value you provide

It’s easy to say you want to become a manager, but nobody will hire you or promote you if they do not see your worth / the value you bring. Show what you can do, your strengths and your expertise. While doing that, make sure you achieve the goals that were set, on an individual basis but also how you contributed to achieve the team’s goals.. Make sure you are also willing to learn and that you keep improving your skills and knowledge.

Be proactive

Don’t wait for something to happen. If you see an opportunity to take on additional responsibilities or to improve a process or a system, don’t wait until you are asked to work on it. Be proactive and volunteer. If there is a problem with a tool or a process in the team and you know you have the answer (or know you can find it), don’t think ‘it’s not my job’. Work on it and propose a solution or show that you have found a solution.

Let your manager known

Even if you are very good at what you do, are proactive and show you can become a manager, do not assume your manager knows for sure you want to become one yourself. When you have your 1-on-1 meeting or performance review, tell him/her that you’d like to grow further in the organization. Mention that you would be willing and ready to take on new challenges and new responsibilities. Explain you feel ready to manage a team and that you have already accomplished x, y, z that show you have the potential. It’s important not to just say it but that you also come with proofs or accomplishment to demonstrate you are ready for the next level.

Make sure you have some key skills

Reliability, integrity, decisiveness, problem solving, team building, etc These are some of the skills you need to have to show you can become a manager. Nobody will want to have a manager if they cannot rely on them. Nobody will want to work with someone if they are not trustworthy and show integrity. A senior manager will not want to have a direct report who manages a team who cannot make decisions or solve issues.

And do not forget…

Becoming a manager requires you to change your mindset. You are/were an individual contributor. This means you were mainly focusing on yourself and your job. When you become a manager, you now mostly have to deal with people. This means you have to ensure they do their job and achieve their goals. It also means that you need to support them and provide them with the training, tools and/or policies and procedures so that they can do their job properly. As a manager, you are also there to help your team members when they face challenges. You need to communicate with your team members and have regular meetings with them. You also need to report to your own manager about your team, their achievements and challenges.

Basically, your focus will shift. You will need to look at the bigger picture rather just than your own contribution.

Managing people is great when you are a people person, but it can be time and energy consuming.

Final thoughts

One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was first appointed as a team manager was the following: “It gets lonely at the top”. You may be friends with some of your colleagues. However, when you become manager and they become your team members, they also become your employees. You need to be able to differentiate what is business versus what is personal. Not everybody will be pleased that you got promoted. Some others will not want to hear your feedback or will disagree with what you do or say. And that is why you will probably lose some friends along the way.

And it’s ok.

The most important thing is that you stay true to your values. Stay honest, keep working hard to show your worth. Keep managing and motivating your team in achieving goals. And before you know it, you’ll be able to go to the next level, becoming a managers’ manager!

#vlvcoach #leadership #management #leadershipdevelopment #managementdevelopment

This article was also published on Linkedin.

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How to stay positive

Stay positive! Easier said than done! Life is full of ups and downs. We all have our struggles…

Like everyone, I had my share of challenges. When I look back, and even if these situations were tough at the time they happened, I am grateful they happened, as everytime I came out stronger. The main reason was because I always stayed positive. Of course, I have had times when I cried and felt depressed or down, but I always managed to look on the bright side…

 

How do you stay positive, even in challenging times? Here are my few tips.

 

Surround yourself with positive people

Nowadays, we are surrounded by negativity (the news, the bad weather, people who envy us, etc. ). It is critical that you surround yourself with people who support you, people who encourage you and who can challenge you to become a better version of yourself. We are never alone. Even if you do not have close friends where you live, you can always manage to get some support and create some great friendships online (I know I have, mostly via Linkedin).

 

Have a goal in mind

Especially when you are going through some tough times, make sure you have a goal in mind. When my parents got divorced, I had to take some exams at the university. Focusing on them helped me go through my parents’ divorce in a more ‘peaceful’ way. When I had my car accident, my goal was to be able to walk again and go back to my normal life. This was my priority number1. Literally, every step I was making, every progress I achieved, made me happier and happier, as I was coming closer to my goal. 

When you focus on something positive, something you’d like to achieve, you’ll be able to cope better with the more challenging experience you may be facing.

 

Listen to some uplifting music or watch funny movies

When I had my car accident, I had to lie down in bed in the hospital for weeks, I remember listening to some songs that were uplifting. They were making me happy. 

Watching movies that make you laugh also help you be more positive. Laughter is actually very good for your health. It helps strengthen your immune system and boost your mood among other things. Laughing helps you lighten your challenges. It helps you release your stress. 

 

Smile

This one is so easy and powerful and yet, not many of us do it on a regular basis. Smiling has a huge impact, not only on others but also on ourselves. It helps you relax and gives you hope. 

Try to smile and have negative thoughts at the same time, I challenge you! 😉 

 

Challenge your negative thoughts

When something bad happens to us, or someone disappoints us, or when something goes wrong, we have a tendency to generalize and make things worse… “Why does this ALWAYS happen to me?” or “Why am I NEVER able to do xyz?” etc. These little words such as ‘always’, ‘never’ are actually rarely accurate. We exaggerate our feelings. 

When you have these types of thoughts, ask yourself: is it really true or am I exaggerating? Can I think of one example when this was not the case? You will very often find an example if you are looking for it. 

 

Try to see the glass half full instead of half empty 

There is always something to learn from any situation. It’s ok to be sad, to feel angry, disappointed, down, but then take a moment to think: what is the lesson here? How does it help me? Going through challenges is never easy. However, when you look at life on the positive side, things start to brighten up

 

Be grateful

This one is probably the most powerful. When I had my car accident and ended up in the hospital, I was grateful to be alive. Yes, I was in a poor condition but I was alive. When they put me in a wheelchair, I was grateful my condition had improved. I was grateful for all the people who came to see me, for my colleagues who phoned me every single day for 6 months to know how I was recovering….Since then, I’ve been grateful every single day for being alive, for being able to walk, to run, to dance and I appreciate life more and more. 

Being grateful not only improves your mental health, it also helps improve your physical health. It increases happiness as well as your energy level. 

 

Remember

I would like to finish with a sentence, which I purposely used as the subtitle of my book “My revenge on life”.  

 

No matter the circumstances you’re facing, remember: Stay positive!

 

There is always the light at the end of the tunnel…

#vlvcoach #inspiration #mindset #leadership #staypositive

This article was also published on Linkedin.

Salsa Leadership!

Salsa and leadership. 2 words that we usually do not find in the same sentence…. 

 

What do salsa dancing and leadership have in common? Some of you may answer ‘Virginie’ as these 2 areas are 2 of my biggest passions 😀  

However, I would say that both areas actually have quite a lot in common. 

 

I started to learn to dance salsa when I also started to have leadership roles… I strongly believe that salsa really helped me become a better person and a better leader as it gave me valuable leadership lessons that I would like to share with you…

 

Diversity / inclusiveness

When you dance salsa (or any other dance), you learn to deal with and embrace diversity. You’ll dance with people of different ages, from different backgrounds, different jobs, different nationalities, cultures and with people with different dancing styles! 

Dancing brings together people from all walks of life. It’s a hobby and a passion that people from all backgrounds share. And by bringing people together, you learn to accept, respect others as well as enjoying all differences dancing brings.  

In leadership, you need to accept and respect everybody. Everybody has something to offer, no matter where people come from, no matter their age, background, nationalities, gender, etc. All great leaders know that having a diverse team or organization  is key in being successful as diverse people offer diverse perspective.

 

Communication

A strong leader is usually an excellent communicator. You need to be clear and precise in how you communicate. You need to take your audience into account.  Whatever message you’re trying to share, you have to be as clear as possible so that there is no confusion. People have to know your values, what you stand for.

Same as with (salsa) dancing. When you dance, you communicate. You do not talk while dancing but you have to be clear in your communication. You have to indicate to your dance partner what to do, whether she needs to turn once, twice or more; whether she needs to turn right or left; whether you need to dance slowly or more quickly.  

 

Confidence 

When you dance,  you cannot hesitate and therefore need to be confident. 

Dancing helped me become more confident. When you dance, you have to stand tall, shoulders straight/open, just as you should do when you present something.  Like dancing, if you hesitate, your partner will not be able to follow you properly. 

As a leader, you need to be confident. You cannot want to inspire and motivate people if you are hesitant and/or show a weak body language. As a leader, you have to give clear directions. You need to have a vision so that people follow you. People need to know your values and what you stand for.

 

Dealing with change

Dancing salsa is an amazing place to learn to deal with change. On the salsa scene, you often dance with different partners. You dance to different music. And since dancing is an international language, you also learn to dance in different locations, different countries etc. Change is a constant on the dancing floor, just like in life. As a leader, you need to be able to react and act quickly to changes. You know that things can change quickly and you need to be able to show flexibility and adapt to the new circumstances. 

 

Dealing with rejection / with things that go wrong

Sometimes you want to dance with someone, but that someone wants to dance with someone else. Or the person is tired and wants a break. Or some people simply do not want to dance with you, either because they are intimidated or because they think you are not good enough for them. When you dance, you learn to deal with these rejections, You also learn how to deal with things that do not go as you were expecting it (for instance, someone you thought could dance well actually is just doing his/her own things and do not really care about their dance partner). 

In life and business, you know that sometimes things do not go as planned. Projects get postponed, some team members resign or get a promotion, clients come and go etc. As a leader, you need to be able to deal with rejection. You know there is always a lesson to learn and that you should not take things too personally. 

So when things go wrong or not as planned: just keep going! Every great leader knows that there is always something to learn in any situation.

 

The list of common items could go on… 

 

To me, SALSA means: Succeed in the Adventures of Leadership and Self Assurance. (SALSA💃🏽). 

If you want to SALSA, contact me by DM or at virginie@vlv.coach! I’ll help you become a true and successful global leader! 

 

This article was posted on Linkedin.

Credit: Picture Jack Vettriano – Take this Waltz

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Self Leadership also means Self Care

Last week, I mentioned in my article that if we want to become better leaders, we have to practice self-leadership, i.e. start with being a leader of ourselves. 

 

It means we have to lead by example. We have to have values that match our words and actions. We have to step of our comfort zone to grow to become a better version of ourselves.

 

To me, self leadership also includes something important: self care. 

 

Self Leadership = self care

 

We cannot inspire, motivate, help or support others if we are not healthy. And when I say ‘healthy’, I mean ‘mentally and physically healthy’. 

When I had my car accident 21 years ago, I had to stay in the hospital for 3 months. During these 3 months, I had to stay and lie in bed for 6 weeks, without being able to stand or even sit. This accident made me realize how precious life is, how precious our health is and that without it, we are of no use to anyone. The doctors told me I recovered so well because I stayed positive throughout this whole experience. They also said I recovered quickly because I was in a ‘good shape’ i.e. not overweight, or having some health issues such as too much cholesterol, or diabetes. We often take our health for granted until something happens, our life changes within a few seconds and we realize that our health is the most important thing we have.

The second time I realized that we also need to be mentally healthy is when I had a burnout. I was doing a job I did not like. I had nice colleagues, but the job was challenging me in the wrong way. So I was stressed and brought my stress home. Because I was stressed, I did not sleep well. Because I did not sleep well. I was more and more tired. So I no longer went to dance (which used to help me get rid of my stress). I was in a vicious circle. Until I was forced to break it. I could no longer work and stayed at home for 2 months. Here again, I realized that even if I was physically healthy, I still was of no use to anyone, not even myself, as I was no longer able to think properly or even relax! I had stretched my resources too thin… This was another powerful lesson.

 

What I learned from these experiences

 

We need to learn to take time for ourselves to exercise, to meditate / pray and to eat healthy. We need to take some time to relax. Getting enough sleep, spending time with our family and friends and doing things we like are necessary activities so that we can recharge our batteries. When the battery of a phone is close to empty, we are quick to recharge it as soon as we can. Why don’t we recharge ours when we are tired, feel drained, cannot concentrate or start having all kinds of issues (such as headaches, backaches, stomachaches, etc.)? Why do we often wait until it’s almost too late?  I’ve learned it the hard way with my burnout. The body is a powerful machine. It tells you everything that is important, if you take time to listen to it. 

These 2 experiences are the main reasons why I dance salsa 💃🏽. With salsa, I found my passion. Salsa is not only my workout, it’s also my (mental and physical) stress relief. When I dance, I can let go of everything and focus on myself, the music and what my dance partner wants me to do. Salsa gave me confidence. It gave me some ‘me time’. It helped me become a better leader and a better follower. The list goes on and on…

 

So what does that mean?

 

That means we need to continue learning new things and unlearning others. We need to develop and improve our skills. This means also starting new habits and getting rid of others. Getting rid of people who put us down, are jealous or criticize us and surround ourselves with people that support us, encourage us and motivate us to become a better person. 

Finally, this means to be aware of ourselves, of our body and our emotions. Any negative signal we get (even if it’s just a headache) is a sign that we need to take care of ourselves more. 

Taking care of ourselves is NOT selfish. It is the right thing to do. If we are not (physically or mentally) healthy, we, as leaders, simply cannot help ourselves and others. 

Our mental and physical health should always be our number 1 priority. 

 

This blog was also published on Linkedin.

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