People in leadership positions, whether earned or wanted … or not, are always communicating. Their words, their actions and reactions, their body language, their clothing…everything presented in public is seen and interpreted. So it’s imperative to be intentional about what is communicated.

Otherwise, positive or negative, people will hear (or see) what was communicated as what was meant.

“Be impeccable with your word.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

Inhale Intentionality, Exhale Duplicity…
Inhale Accuracy, Exhale Dishonesty…
Inhale Responsibility, Exhale Deception…
Just Breathe


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Citizens All

I heard a former Army officer claim a level of U.S citizenship above those who had not served. But we don’t convey citizenry based on military service, race, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation; all born or naturalized in the U.S have the same rights and responsibilities.

At least, that’s what our founding documents proclaim…

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”  14th Amendment

Inhale Equality, Exhale Exclusivity…
Inhale Responsibility, Exhale Avoiding Duty…
Inhale Citizenry, Exhale Captivity…
Just Breathe


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Martyr Syndrome

Have you ever watched someone on your team take over a project and then complain about having to do it all?

Here’s the thing about doing it all, all the time: others will let you take the burden and won’t hesitate to take some of the credit. So if you don’t want to do it, DON’T!

“The martyr operates on the assumption that he or she knows best and has THE answer rather than an answer.” ~ David Emerald, cofounder of the Bainbridge Leadership Center.

Inhale Taking Responsibility, Exhale Taking Over…
Inhale Ownership, Exhale Martyrdom…
Inhale Inspire, Exhale De-incentivize …
Just Breathe


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Peak Performance

Leaders often allow underperforming people to stay in positions because the leader is concerned about their feelings. Awareness of how leadership decisions impact team members is a leadership responsibility.

But to leave someone in place when they aren’t doing the job is an abandonment of leadership responsibility and possible sacrifice of the organization’s goals.

Sometimes, “…the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” ~ Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

“We’ve had this in our mind that if we were struggling offensively, that we would give Tua an opportunity, even in the last game… I thought Tua would give us a better chance and a spark, which he certainly did.” ~ Coach Nick Saban on his decision to switch QBs during the 2018 National Championship Game

Inhale Performance, Exhale Dysfunction…
Inhale Decision, Exhale Default…
Inhale Responsibility, Exhale Relinquishment…
Just Breathe…


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Extended Adolescence

One of the speakers at a recent TED talk commented that childhood is a “creation of the 19th century,” and though he didn’t mention it, I was reminded that adolescence is a 20th century social construct.

It’s a construct that I’ve been fascinated by ever since the older Boomer’s kids started coming back home. Because even as a better food supply or, possibly the hormones in our food has accelerated the onset of puberty, we have slowed the acquisition of adult responsibility and lengthened the time of transition to adult roles.

And it’s impacting us individually and as a country…

Adolescence is society’s permission slip for combining physical maturity with psychological irresponsibility.” ~ Terri Apter

Inhale Diligence, Exhale Dabbling…
Inhale Maturity, Exhale Blaming…
Inhale Responsibility, Exhale Irresponsibility…
Just Breathe

Reflections With Renita

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It’s Your Journey…

I’m a fitness instructor with bad knees. My clients are often surprised to see me taking an elevator instead of the stairs after a class. I don’t take the stairs because walking up and especially down stairs puts a lot of strain on my knees. I save my knees for demonstrating the best form when I’m teaching and being in the best form when I’m taking class.

Allison’s last class.

My knees let me know when I’ve gone too far. My knees are the reason I challenge my clients to push themselves to THEIR limit versus what I might think they can do. Because each client is the only one who really knows if they’re pushing to their limit, challenging what’s comfortable and living up to their potential.

In life as in fitness, you are the only one who knows if you’re giving it your best shot or just coasting. And you’re the only one you have to please.

The journey to wholeness requires that you look honestly, openly, and with courage into yourself, into the dynamics that lie behind what you feel, what you perceive, what you value, and how you act.” ~ Gary Zukav

Inhale Ownership, Exhale Irresponsibility…
Inhale Responsibility, Inauthenticity…
Inhale Honesty, Exhale Inaccuracy…
Just Breathe


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Intentional Impact

Self-awareness is scary and hard. Because once you understand the consequences of your choices, once you realize the responsibility for your life choices lie with you, once you acknowledge your role in creating your life, you have to choose to do something …or not.

You can choose to intentionally impact your life or not choose and be unintentionally be impacted by your life. Not choosing is a choice.

People can be divided into three groups. Those who make things happen, those who watch what happen, and those who wonder what happened”. ~ Anonymous

Inhale Intention, Exhale Accidental…
Inhale Choice, Exhale Hesitation…
Inhale Responsibility, Exhale Immaturity…
Just Breathe…

Reflections With Renita

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Careless Comments

Be impeccable with your word.” ~ don Miguel Ruiz.

Have you noticed how one negative comment can negate a thousand positive praises? Like any decision, what we decide to say has consequences. Likewise, NOT deciding, intending or being deliberate and conscious about the possible impact of our words is also a choice.

How people receive and respond to what we say is their responsibility. Making sure we share our words in truth AND love is our responsibility.

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” ~ Ephesians 4:29 MSG

Inhale Intention, Exhale Insincerity…
Inhale Clarity, Exhale Carelessness…
Inhale Responsibility, Exhale Recklessness…
Just Breathe…


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Serving Leader

All leaders are serving – either themselves or others.” ~ Global leadership guru and author Bill Hybels. Tweet

In his book, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, John Maxwell used the late General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. as an example of servant hood. As a retired military officer, I love that one of my favorite authors, leadership guru Maxwell recognized this stellar officer as a servant leader.

For those of you too young to remember, the General led coalition forces during DESERT STORM, and was affectionately referred to as Stormin’ Norman. But I admit…I found the choice surprising given that even as military members are SERVING their country, many don’t see them as servant leaders.

They see the military as a top-down, orders-driven and rank-focused hierarchy. The reality is much more complex.

The primary motivation to join an all-volunteer organization that doesn’t pay very well, that asks its members to leave friends and families and put themselves in harms way, an organization that sometimes requires its members to make the ultimate sacrifice…the motivation to join that organization is usually, not always, but primarily, the desire to serve. The desire is to serve something other than self…something bigger than self.

What those members who desire to serve and commit to serving learn as they grow into leadership roles is that serving is demonstrated in the care and development of those they are privileged to lead.Tweet

“Take care of the people and the people will take care of the mission” is the phrase I learned as a young officer…which made sense considering I wasn’t the one doing most of the work.Tweet

So I focused on doing what only I could do… identifying and sometimes fighting for the resources my airmen needed to do their jobs safely and efficiently.

Not only do servant leaders provide the resources needed to get the job done, they work on actively developing the members who will fill their leadership shoes, driving retention and compelling loyalty.

And yes, in the military, there is time for following orders without question. What ensures an order WILL be followed is the demonstration by leaders at all levels that they care about each individual entrusted to their care, about their families, about what’s going on in their lives outside of work… who ensure the members of their team have the resources needed and the development opportunities required to do the task they’re committed to complete.

People make sacrifices for those leaders.

Are you serving yourself or others?

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

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American Myth: The Western

I remember watching westerns as a child; not a lot of movies but TV shows like Bonanza and The Big Valley. But if you did watch the big Hollywood westerns, you probably had a strong sense of the good guys and the bad guys….the noble settlers versus the ignoble savage; the strong, silent cowboy versus the blood-thirsty savage; civilization versus savagery…

And then we became more self-aware as a nation. We realized the people we labeled “savages” were simply protecting their land, which they viewed as sacred, and their way of life from the entitled interlopers. Avatar could be considered a modern “western” told from the perspective of the natives.

We learned that the myth of the American cowboy derives from Mexican as well as Southern American sources.

So much of what we think we believe about ourselves comes from what we are taught directly from our parents and educational institutions and what we perceive indirectly from society.  We are  influenced by soft information in all its forms and just like those who don’t live in this country base their beliefs about American on what they see in Hollywood movies, we perceive ourselves and other based on what we see in the media.

The justifications, assumptions and attitudes about peoples of color during the founding of this country shaped government policies and artistic expressions, which in turn influence our current attitudes. Tweet this now!Tweet

Long past the time the “settlers” of this country sought to eliminate its original inhabitants by forcibly removing them from their lands, isolating them on reservations, or assimilating them into European culture, American Indians, according to Harvard project, “State of the Native Nations” experience epidemic levels of alcoholism, drug abuse, diabetes, and other health problems that are linked to cultural stress.

Long past the time the founders of this country built a thriving economy on the backs of a people they stole from another country, Black Americans suffer from a racist policing system, originated to enforce the subjugation of an oppressed people.

Long past the time the government of America took a portion of inhabited Mexico and declared it our largest geographical state (until they took Alaska), many Americans have decided the Mexican descendants of their Texas cousins are somehow different and less desirable than the immigrants from other locations.

To paraphrase the late Maya Angelou, when we know better, we have to do better…

The easy thing to do is focus on the symptoms of this oppression.  The hard thing is to examine how we got here.

The easy thing is to ignore the reality of racism for people of color. The hard thing is to examine why we are still here.

The easy thing is to deflect blame. The hard thing is to accept responsibility.

The easy thing is to reject new information and realities. The hard thing is to transform through a deeper understanding of truth.

Transformation often only comes when an individual becomes uncomfortable in their current existence, when what they know becomes more uncomfortable than what they fear. Tweet this now!Tweet

Are you ready for a change?

Something to think about:

How uncomfortable are you right now?

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

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