My daughter always attributes her love of travel to the nomadic life she endured (maybe retrospectively even enjoyed) as the child of a military member. And because we didn’t usually live close to relatives, summer always included several long visits in the South. She usually managed to achieve her goal of being gone all summer long!

Now, she uses the perks of working in the airline industry (of course) to fly to all the places she’s never visited. And sometimes invites me to come along. I always say YES!

“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” ~ Francis Bacon

Inhale Experience, Exhale Inaction…
Inhale Adventure, Exhale Inertia…
Inhale Participation, Exhale Isolation…
Just Breathe

Reflections with Renita

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Experience is the best teacher…”

I’ve seen some people live this saying as if they can ONLY learn through their own experienced mistakes. And while I concede those lessons tend to be the most enduring, I wonder…isn’t is possible to learn through someone else’s experience?

But then I’m reminded that life is not necessarily supposed to be smooth all the time. The life lessons gained through good and bad experiences help us get to who we’re supposed to be.

Out of the cacophony of random suffering and chaos that can mark human life, the life artist sees or creates a symphony of meaning and order. A life of wholeness does not depend on what we experience. Wholeness depends on how we experience our lives.” ~ Desmond Tutu

Inhale Experience, Exhale Judgment…
Inhale Detachment, Exhale Judgment…
Inhale Acceptance, Exhale Judgment…
Just Breathe

Reflections With Renita

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I’m a learner. I’ve course corrected many times on my life journey to incorporate the lessons learned from experience, mine and others, and the consequences of my choices, good and bad.

I’m also a helper, so I try to share those life lessons, especially when I see folks going through something similar. But I’ve learned that for some people, the only lessons retained are those learned through experience. And that is perfectly okay.

We cannot drink only of happiness or sorrow and have life remain life.” Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Inhale Experience, Exhale Ignorance…
Inhale Consequences, Exhale Confusion…
Inhale Retention, Exhale Destruction…
Just Breathe…

Reflections With Renita

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What we ingest, consume, or absorb either helps us stretch and grow or keeps us stuck and stunted…guides us to wisdom or leads us to death.

What are you taking in?

Eat honey, dear child—it’s good for you—and delicacies that melt in your mouth. Likewise knowledge, and wisdom for your soul—get that and your future’s secured, your hope is on solid rock.” Proverbs 24: 13-14 MSG

Inhale Wisdom, Exhale Stagnation…
Inhale Growing, Exhale Stalled…
Inhale Maturing, Exhale Stunted…
Just Breathe…


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Being Me

Having been judged for sometimes stumbling on this life journey, I am mindful of passing judgment. Because what I understand now is that each experience, especially the ones I’ve perceived as negative at the time, was there to teach me something if I was open and sufficiently humble to learn the lesson. And if I am willing to be vulnerable and courageous, my experience can inform and influence someone else.

We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Inhale Experience, Exhale Ego…
Inhale Vulnerability, Exhale Ego…
Inhale Growth, Exhale Ego…
Just Breath…


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American Experiment: Can You Hear Me Now…?

I get it.

You tried to warn us.

You heard the outright lies…suspected Russian ties…watched the “Alt-right” rise…

You were unsettled. And you tried to warn us.

I saw it too. The “blacklash” that always comes after perceived progress by people of color in this country…

The videoed violence inflicted on bodies of the marginalized…black, brown, female, disabled…

The attack on clean water sources by energy companies intent on “digging up death” instead of investing in clean energy.

The virulent, relentless American brand of racism so reminiscent of the deep anti-Semitism that existed in pre-Nazi Germany.

I found a 40-year old copy of the George Orwell book “1984” on a visit home, started re-reading it and wondered, “Are we already there?”

The novel “1984”, portrays a dictatorship that imposes its own facts.

Now, of course, many Americans are feeling a sense of alarm.

Sales of “1984” have increased “almost 10,000 percent since the inauguration,” most notably when Kellyanne Conway appeared on Meet the Press and introduced the phrase “alternative facts”.

Actually, “alternative facts” is a very “1984” phrase, where “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.”

I suspect if the Women’s Marches that took place all over the world right after our inauguration were to happen this weekend, there would be double the participation, upwards of 5 to 6 million.

And now you’re wondering “Why couldn’t you hear and heed the warning?” and “Where were all these marchers when…” and you want to know, “Are you going to be here for the long haul?”

I get your frustration. I understand your anger. I feel your sense of betrayal.

But the majority of Americans did not vote for the person occupying the office of POTUS. Whoever can hear now, is here NOW…can space be made for the newly conscious?

And if you’ve just been awakened, educate yourself, don’t make this about yourself and try to stay engaged.

It’s not a time for cynicism, or finger pointing or embarrassment. It’s a time for Americans to come together and protect our fragile democracy. I pray it’s not too late…

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

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For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Newton’s Third Law of Motion
For every dream, there is resistance.” ~ Steven Pressfield

There will be resistance. You’ll wake up from a dream that felt real, see the vision clearly, feel the knowing intently and immediately the voice in your head will demand to know “Who. Are. You. … to think you can do this?”

It will be so loud, you’ll think it’s someone else and perhaps it WAS someone else…but you’ve internalized the voice, and now believe the thought and you’re thinking it so loud it sounds like someone is speaking.

The way to quiet the voice is to feel the fear, face the fear and pursue the dream in spite of the fear.

Because along with resistance, comes assistance. Tweet this!

It’s the money that shows up AFTER you registered for the course you weren’t sure you were going to be able to pay for. It’s getting hired for the job you almost didn’t apply for because you believed you lacked all the qualifications. It’s starting the journey.

There will be resistance to your dream. But resistance doesn’t mean can’t, stop, or don’t. Take the first step.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Inhale Action, Exhale Inaction…
Inhale Movement, Exhale Obstacles…
Inhale Assistance, Exhale Resistance…
Just Breathe…


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American Experiment: Hypothesis Disproved?

“America is an idea” Bono.

America is a great idea. It’s an idea full of hope. It’s an idea that speaks freedom, shouts equality and invites peoples from all over the world to pursue happiness HERE…youshouldbeherebanner

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Of course, the truths espoused in the American Declaration of Independence have never been true for all Americans. America has never willingly extended unalienable rights to all its citizens unless they demanded them. For those segments of the population whose rights were initially and deliberately withheld, the 2016 election seems to be a repudiation of everything fought for, hard-earned…never given. Like many Americans, I’m left wondering if America can really ever achieve its promise

Social and cultural psychologists like Jonathan Haidt, one of the creators of the Moral Foundations Theory, would seem to suggest it’s going to be really difficult. In his widely read piece “What Makes People Vote Republican?” he describes a conservative mindset that sees in diversity a breakdown of social norms and feels a decrease in a sense of belonging to a shared community. Haidt suggests the more liberal among the population focus on those conservative concerns and adjust their rhetoric accordingly.

But if the conservative, predominately white part of the country sees diversity in negative terms, what does that mean for an increasingly diverse America? alt-right-protestersIn a generation, America will no longer have a majority white population. If the determined 25 percent of the country who voted for our 45th president, decided an unqualified candidate, one supported by American terrorist groups like the KKK and spouting fear and division, was the president we deserved, are we supposed to believe they won’t support the repeal of rights gained over the past 50 years? And if the 50 percent of the population who didn’t vote is tired of fighting, too cynical to believe their participation matters or too disengaged to understand the impact of their non-participation, will there be enough to prevent what may be coming?

In the long run, the only way the American Experiment will survive is if we all recognize the fragility of our Republic and work together to overcome the fragmentation that threatens to break it apart. Tweet this now.

I pray it’s not too late.

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

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Now is not the time to grow weary, get distracted, become cynical, or loose hope. Now is the time to put into action that which you have been purposed to do….

“…You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.” James 2: 18 The Message.

Inhale Conviction, Exhale Fear…
Inhale Confidence, Exhale Distress…
Inhale Certainty, Exhale Insecurity…
Just Breathe…


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How is Your Leadership Impacting Your Team?

I once had a boss try to embarrass me in a meeting. I had been on the job about a month and was still trying to learn my way around.

I don’t really remember what she said, but I do remember hearing the roar of blood rushing to my face. I was stunned and momentarily immobilized. I managed to finish what I was doing (I think) but my emotions had been hijacked, rendering me unable to fully function. When I confronted her later, her response was basically, “Yeah, and I did it on purpose….”

Her action and response had a really negative impact on my desire to continue working for her.

Emotional Intelligence guru Daniel Goleman writes in Primal Leadership that the fundamental task of the leader is to prime good feelings in those she is privileged to lead and “that occurs when the leader creates resonance – a reservoir of positivity that frees the best in people”.

The opposite of resonance is dissonance; a dissonant leader throws people off balance and negatively impacts their performance.

A dissonant leader creates employees who don’t want to be there. According to Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, disengaged describes about 70% of American employees and employee disengagement is costing the U.S. an estimated $450-$550 billion annually.

The great thing about being in the military is that you get to experience leadership changes frequently. Either you or your boss will eventually move to another location. So the occasional dissonant leader may make your life miserable for a time … that you know will pass. I decided early in my career to try and learn from the good AND not-so-good leaders.

This particular dissonant leader reinforced for me the truth of a tenet I learned as a young officer…

Take care of the people and the people will take care of the mission.Tweet

I understood it to mean I was to provide what was needed to the people I was privileged to lead so they could do their jobs. Providing what they needed wasn’t just ensuring they had the resources they required, a safe physical environment and recognition for a job well done. It also meant creating a culture where people felt safe to make mistakes and being honest when the mistake was mine.

Taking care of the people meant being open and transparent when, for example, a unit I was leading was being outsourced.

It meant not asking my subordinate commanders to drop what they were doing to attend an emergency meeting…that was not an actual emergency.

A leader who understands how to take care of her people is going to attract and retain employees who want the organization to be successful and are actively engaged in creating that success.

Do you know how your leadership is impacting your team?

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

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