How the “Power of And” Changed My Life

This guest post  (which originally appeared on LeadBIG) is from Margaret Seidler, a nationally recognized Organization Development consultant, master trainer, and author based in Charleston, SC. As one of only twelve certified Polarity Management Masters in North America, central to Margaret’s work is Polarity Management®, a set of principles and method to guide people in tapping the power of “both/and” thinking for better, more sustainable results.

the power of andAfter a 360° assessment that was, shall we say, less than stellar, I looked for a magic bullet to improve my leadership abilities.

What made a pivotal difference and accelerated my own abilities was discovering Polarity Thinking — a set of principles and a mapping tool introduced by Dr. Barry Johnson in 1975. I found polarity thinking a straightforward way to both document my wisdom and to shine a light on my blind spots. Continue reading


Face stereotypes or flee?

facing stereotypesI belong to a business club downtown. It’s a great place for meetings, one-on-one discussions and the occasional introspective time (fueled by their extraordinary chocolate chip cookies).

There were two of us in the member’s library that rainy afternoon – a white-haired gentleman and me. The gentleman had been on phone call after phone call, and I was in my “happy place” — a reflective frame of mind where I’m blissfully alone and totally immune to what’s going on around me.

Suddenly I’m aware of a shouting voice…one that’s directed at me. Continue reading


5 reasons it’s OK to say NO

“I so want to tell him no, but I don’t want him to think I’m an awful person.”

From her distressed look, I thought my gal pal meant someone important to her. That guess was wrong — Heather felt she couldn’t say no to someone she had met a week ago!

At a cocktail party, she had mentioned having two articles picked up by two different national outlets. Doug — the fella in question here — leaned in to say; “My business has gotten off to a terrific start. I’d like to get some national press for the innovative work we’re doing. Interested in writing about it?” Continue reading


Mind The Gap

Recently I had the chance to present on the topic of  ”leading up” to a group of business women. After my presentation, we engaged in a lively dialogue about the difference between men and women. Most of the women in the room were energized by a particular point from my presentation:  When talking about career progression men are more likely to discuss title and women are more likely to talk about meaning and content of the work. The women who attended my presentation agreed whole heartedly with this assertion. Not only did they agree but they took it one step farther they felt men are wrong to talk about career progression in terms of title. These women were advancing the argument that what is important is the content of the work not the title. They wanted their male counterparts to talk about what matters to them rather than unimportant titles. Continue reading


Mean Girls

Last night I took my seven year old daughter to a Boy Band Concert. The opening act was Rachel Crow. I had not heard of Rachel but enjoyed her soul-filled voice. One of Rachel’s songs in particular caught my attention. It is called Mean Girls. The song talks about a young girl being left out by other young girls. It details the pain of not fitting in and being left out at the school lunch table. Continue reading


Can’t get no credibility

Abby was upset her boss put her through a 360 evaluation process. She was even more unhappy after receiving the feedback. In fact, she was shocked, angry and disbelieving because there was absolutely no way she was unethical, thoughtless or lacking in credibility and integrity. How could people think that of her?!

In following the trail of bread crumbs to the root cause of her issues, Abby was amazed to discover it was her propensity for changing meeting schedules that had opened the door to the lack of trust, low satisfaction and poor performance that dogged her department. Continue reading



I am a novice horse back rider and my instructor pointed out that I was using the wrong paradigm for turning my horse. I was turning my horse Poppy like I turn my car. I was turning by moving both hands and literally steering my horse.  Instead of using the reins for "steering" the reigns should be used like the walls of a hallway. So the best way to lead a horse is by providing the parameters or boundaries of where they can going and where they are headed. Reins work by controlling the bit that is in the horses mouth. Bits work by exerting pressure inside the horse's mouth. The are assisted by the bridle that creates additional pressure around the horse's head—cheeks, chin or nose. The idea is that, by moving away from the discomfort of the pressing bit, the horse moves in the direction the rider wants to go. In a properly trained horse with the right tack and a knowledgeable rider, it all works together to create unity between the rider's wishes and the horse's performance.

The way you reward the horse is giving them more reign- taking the pressure off. You let them know they are going the right way and you want more of that way.

The Bridle and Reins

As my riding instructor explained all of this I couldn’t help but think horses like people don’t like to be steered. We like to know our boundaries- we like to know we are going the right way. As a mom, as a wife as a leader, I find it is easy to forget this important life lesson.

My Horse, Poppy


“Getting runs early continues to be a big part of the game for this team. It takes the pressure off the pitchers.”
 Dana Fiedler quotes



Emotional Bank Account- The Currency Matters!

Sally is a Controller for a large privately held company.  After fourteen years of service and completion of every assignment and development activity she was offered she was passed by for a long desired promotion to CFO. She was considered for the position but ultimately an outside candidate was selected.  The CEO of the company offered her a substantial raise when he shared the news.  He wanted her to stay on but offered no explanation as to why she wasn’t selected. Sally shared her story with me over coffee. She said her passion for her job had been lost. She felt like the wind had been taken out of her sails. Her reviews were stellar. She was left wondering why she had been passed over for this promotion.  After offering several statements of empathy that seemed to miss the mark with Sally I finally hit the one that summed it up for her. The substantial raise was not commensurate with the hurt she felt that she was not provided an explanation and  money was not able to rebuild her spirit. The fact that money was offered as the motivation to stay completely missed the mark.

After morning coffee with Sally I headed out to walk with an old friend, Sarah. Sarah had just returned from a long weekend with her son and husband.  They were traveling to a long-awaited appointment to meet a Beluga Whale. Sarah was responsible for navigating the family on this expedition. They got lost on the way to the appointment.  Her son and husband teased her about having no sense of direction. The teasing kept on until they arrived one hour late to their appointment. They missed the orientation for meeting the whale, so they would have to return the next day for the opportunity to commune with the whale. This delay coupled with the teasing reduced her to tears. Her husband hugged her and encouraged her son to do the same. Both son and husband offered the hug in apology.  A day later, Sarah was still stinging from some of their remarks about her lack of navigational skill. Once again I tried several empathetic responses to no avail.  I felt compelled to ask is it bothering you that the apology felt short of the hurt you felt? She said yes!  That is it exactly! I asked what you would have liked your family to say or do?  She had some very specific items including acknowledging how important and how hard she worked to make that day a possibility.  She was looking for a distraction to the pain she was feeling and not the teasing or a hug.

Later that day I reflecting on my conversations with Sally and Sarah I  found myself wondering about the emotional bank account concept. I had been exposed to the concept of the emotional bank account at a Stephen Covey workshop. I remember that you must make deposits that are equal to the withdrawals we make in our relationships.  What occurred to me in both Sally and Sarah’s story is that not only did they want commensurate responses or deposits but they also wanted them in a different “currency” than they were given.  The raise or the hugs were not enough and not the right form of  deposit.  We must remember to not only to keep our deposits and withdrawals in mind in our emotional bank accounts but to also make sure we are depositing currency that the person accepts.  I am curious what is your experience? Does an apology have to be equal to the offense or both equal and in the right form? When someone makes a withdrawal from your account do you have a specific “currency” in mind for replenishing the relationship?



Confidence goes beautifully with your new shoes

Why is so darn easy to focus on what we lack or don’t have or can’t do, but so easy to overlook all the positive elements we have and can offer to others?

We see possibilities in others, but do we ever dream of the possibilities within ourselves? ~Unknown

I was speaking with a client who spent several minutes bemoaning (and berating) her inability to prepare a pivot table in Excel, comparing herself to a colleague who could “whip up a pivot table in his sleep.”

“Does your job require that you prepare Excel pivot tables, ” I asked.

“Not really.”

“Is preparing pivot tables part of your colleague’s job duties?”

“Absolutely. He’s our compensation director and has to do lots of analysis.”

“Does your colleague have your ability to craft compelling marketing messages?”

“No way,” she chuckled. “He can hardly write an understandable email message!”

What Diane missed was her own fabulocity factor - the unique abilities that you bring to the table. Many people go through life being hard on themselves, thinking and/or feeling that they’ve fallen short in too many ways. While it’s true there are always things we could do better, it’s equally true that each one of us brings our own special gifts and talents that we should honor and appreciate more.

Positive self-esteem is the immune system of the spirit, helping an individual face life problems and bounce back from adversity. ~Nathaniel Branden

Too often we don’t inventory our special gifts and talents because we describe ourselves as just ordinary. Start today with an exercise to increase your confidence:  inventory all the special talents and gifts you already have. Write your list on a lovely sheet of paper or bookmark it. When you’re feeling inadequate, reread your list. Remind yourself of all you have and can do. Glory in your fabulocity.*

“Mindfulness means noticing new things and drawing new conclusions, ” says professor of psychology Ellen Langer and author of On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself through Mindful Creativity. “It doesn’t matter whether what you notice is smart or silly because the process of actively drawing new distinctions produces that feeling of engagement we all seek. It’s much more available than you realize: all you need to do is actually notice new things. More than 30 years of research has shown that mindfulness is figuratively and literally enlivening.”

Being mindful of your fabulocity* isn’t bragging – it’s acknowledging and recognizing that you’re special.

*Kudos to my dear friend, Taide Alvarez, for inventing this fabulous word and letting me use it!
Cartoon from Falling Forward