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Lights On! A Reflective Journey

LightsOn Book by Claire Knowles"Here's a quick peek at the Table of Contents" of this exciting new book! Women in Leadership...focus your attention to Chapter 10 especially!

Sample Chapter - "Sometimes we all need a little push."

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Success Workshops

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Strategic Agility: Big Picture Questions for Leaders

Written by Claire Knowles on . Posted in Empowered by Choice, Moving Forward, Strategic Agility

chess-88145_640Are you seeing ahead clearly? Are you future-oriented? Can you see the big picture and the detail of what is important for the next improvement, competitive leap or break-through? Or are you so caught up in the day-to-day activities that you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture?

Part of every manager’s job is to be strategic—the higher in the organization you are, the more critical the requirement. It is an important time (now) to hit the pause button! Here are some important questions to ponder as this calendar year comes to an end, and you focus on what’s strategically important for the coming year.

What are the company’s top three to five initiatives for next year? Your departmental and team objectives need to be closely aligned with the business and fully supportive of those top initiatives. When your team’s efforts are in synch, the entire business benefits. Being at cross-purposes detracts; being without a clear compass promotes disconnect. So make sure your team’s efforts are aligned with the greater business strategic initiatives.
If you and your team have been fraught with lack of clarity, incoherence and inefficiencies, then getting intentionally aligned is key to future effectiveness.
Do the people on your team understand how their efforts contribute to the company’s overall success? Set the top three to five initiatives for your department/group/team early-on, communicating them thoroughly while engaging each person in the process. Keeping these strategic goals visible is important. Talking about them regularly, identifying progress and milestones around them, are ways to integrate the can-do attitude toward successful outcomes. (Remember the story of the stone mason who was not only laying stone, but was essential to the building of the cathedral!)
Being agile translates into being able to move quickly and easily.
We live in uncertain times and things can change. External and internal forces can impact even the best-intended strategic objectives and plans. Teams and businesses that win in today’s fast-moving climate have to be agile…in their day-to-day activities and in their strategic plans and rollouts. To be agile requires adaptability and flexibility. Does that describe your Team? People on your team need to view “agility” as a strength; leader-managers set that winning tone. How agile is your Team? How agile are you as a Manager?
Glean input from your Team to determine three new ways that the Team will help the business to be better in the coming year? (Save $, avoid cost, provide better service, etc.). In addition, describe the specific ways the Team needs to continue to provide value—ways that have been successful in the previous year and worthy of repeating. And lastly, have the team determine what three things they did/were doing in this last year that were NOT value-adding to the business—how will those type activities be phased out? Challenge your team to push the envelope for continuous improvement as they do some team introspection together.
As a Manager do you clearly know the performance levels of the people on your Team? Can you describe where your inefficiencies are?In what ways is your team most effective? Are your best performing people working on the projects that have the potential to provide the greatest value to the organization? Are people matched with tasks critical to the success of the business? Are people who are not high performers being continually developed? Maximizing the productivity of your Team is part of developing strategic agility. Strategic agility, in turn, supports sustainability.
Managers must be effective communicators. Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses as a communicator? How well do you share information? Are you effective with your Team? Peers? Superiors? Make it part of your new year’s goals to improve on the communication areas where you are challenged. Clarity is essential for leaders who want to achieve their key, strategic initiatives.
Here’s to making a clear and positive difference in the coming year!

Claire Knowles

Lights On! Seeking Approval? Validation?

Written by Claire Knowles on . Posted in Authenticity, Empowered by Choice, Lights On!


Let’s be honest. We often spend much of our time and energy seeking approval and validation. Our desire is to be well liked, (or appreciated, respected, needed, etc.,). It is often so strong that we can lose ourselves, and our values, in search of recognition, praise or simple affirmation. We fear rejection. We fear being put down, humiliated, disrespected., or criticized. Yet in the end we know that what counts is not at all what others think of us—it is about each of us accepting and loving ourselves—just as we are!

“This above all: to thine own self be true.” ~ William Shakespeare

You Are Not Alone….that inner child, once wounded….is a definite part of you!

Everybody’s psyche, according to psychology articles, gets victim-wounded somehow, someway…and usually prior to the age of 7. It is a wound that unconsciously becomes one we can long-carry with us; we try to smother it and rise above it as we move into adulthood. Yet those hurts, fears, humiliations and angers can form emotional baggage—of the clinging variety. (No one escapes the wounding).

Our inner child takes in an untruth….someone has said something mean/hurtful to us and as an authority over us, claims it is true, so your child mind concurs….”I’m not adequate, I can’t do it, I am stupid, I’m not smart enough, I’m not enough, I’m not liked, I’m not respected, I’m not good enough, I’m ugly, I’m unloved.” And then, as life plays out, those very wounds, if not dismissed immediately by one’s child-mind, (or balanced out by huge love, caring and nurturing), can get distorted, then reinforced by related rejections, exclusions, repetitions, etc., as time moves on.

All this easily connects to our self-esteem and our perceived self-worth…..all unconsciously.

Low-level simmering is happening on the inside!   If, for example, we don’t really believe that we are worthy on the inside, (worthy of achievement, applause, respect, praise, etc., because we’ve bought in to that deep wounding), then we’re always going to be seeking some degree of validation or appreciation or respect from others that tells us we are okay. The problem is that no matter how much others tell us that we did a great job, have their respect, are honored by our presence, appreciate our achievements, are loved, deep down we don’t believe it. (Unconsciously, we reject their attempts). So when we don’t get or when we dismiss the validation we are needing or unconsciously craving, then the simmering continues, and resentfulness and even anger can become part of this cycle. We become our own worst enemy—victims of playing out a story-line that holds no truth—and never did. We have to find our own ways of coping and rising above the old wounds.

How do you overcome this?   The number one answer is that you have to be AWARE of the elements of this cycle and all the places in your life where it shows up. For example, as a youngster I had the label of “loser” put on me when playing board games with older kids and it was humiliating. So much so, that today I rarely play board games. I am aware of the label. I am aware how often I have to tell myself, that “I’m okay, I can do this, I can muster the new courage to take on this new situation, task, career move, etc., and that I am not a loser, I’m a winner!”  I talk myself into overcoming the label that was erroneously implanted into my mind as a child.   I know it was a wounding, limiting label and I know that it does not represent who I am or what I am or how I am.    By recognizing the falseness of the label and the origin of the wound, I create the inner balm necessary to heal the wound…not just a bandaid, but a healing. I move forward, inspite of that old wounding—not allowing it to get the better of my present moment, not letting it erode my self-confidence or erase my joy.

Of course, this is a complex subject and just as there are negatives that we carry in our psyche, so there are positives. There are positive phrases that were told to you as a child….positive phrases that you bought into also…Can you remember them?   Positive phrases that have served you well!

Take some time to do some focused self-examination. Consider the phrases that you tell yourself, especially when you are stressed. What are the words you use when you self-criticize? (Where did they first come from?) You can get to the root of your destructive self-talk and then consciously work to erase/minimize it. You can integrate into your adult psyche and underscore the wonderful person that you are…as a human being, and an individual and in all that you do. Awareness is key. Affirmations provide you with a powerful way to freedom from that old emotional baggage! Here’s to your Awareness and your Affirmations!

Recommended reading: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Lights On!

Claire Knowles


(Claire Knowles is a distinguished career HR & Labor Relations Manager, author of two Amazon Best-Selling books, “Lights On! Illuminations to Move Your Life Forward”, and also “Can You See Them Now? Elephants in our Midst.”  See www.ClaireEKnowles.com for bio, consulting and speaking engagement info.)

Emotions do Matter! What are you Feeling?

Written by Claire Knowles on . Posted in Empowered by Choice, Lights On!, Moving Forward

Emotions Do Matter!  emotional-ladder 1 haze

I recently listened to a webinar on our emotions being a wonderful coping tool for us. Yes, a coping tool! I’m a big believer around the Ladder of Emotions. In my many years I think I’ve experienced most of them! The learning, of course, is that no one can move you up the ladder of emotions but yourself. You have to find a way to move out of the lower end and into the higher end—as much of the time as possible. In a sense, we each have a stop light inside us….we know whether we can cruise on green, whether to have caution when on yellow, and when we’ve got a big emotional problem and we have to stop and regroup on red; we know all that just by the emotions we are feeling! We know we have to move back to green!

Unfortunately, as humans in this day and age, we tend to have a negativity bias….it takes more effort to climb up than it does to regress downward. It is as if our negative emotions are “Velcro”—and they stick to us; while our more positive emotions are “Teflon”—and they are quick to slip away. Is that not the reason for the old saying, “Smell the Roses”….! Yes, grab on to the good while you can…..because once the downward emotional slipping starts we have to work hard to climb up again! Cultivating your own ways for climbing up (recognizing them, repeating them) is a life learning to acknowledge.

How do you bring yourself up? What do I do? I work very hard at finding the positive; Dealing with the reality of the situation; learning the lesson in it. Being grateful. Trying to see the good in situations. And, primarily, by diverting my attention to something that is good, that brings joy, that sends love. Works every time!

Claire Knowles – Lights On!

Claire Knowles is a 2-time best-selling Author, sought-after Speaker and Effective Consultant for business, leadership and teams. Find her books, Lights On! and Can You See Them Now? (Elephants in our Midst) on Amazon.com