How to lead like a Roosevelt

VBI corporate trainer Dawn Kaiser

By Dawn Kaiser
The Village Business Institute 

Have you ever had someone you’ve never met influence your life? For me those individuals are the Roosevelts – in particular Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor. I remember learning a little bit about Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt in school as we studied the Presidents of the United States, but I don’t ever remember hearing Eleanor’s name. That is until 2002, when Robin Gerber published her book, “Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way.” This remarkable author examined Eleanor’s life and leadership and used these lessons to challenge women everywhere to take greater leadership roles.

I have learned hundreds of lessons as a “student” of Eleanor. Here are just a few.

  1. Be flexible and adaptable: Leaders must be open to change and take decisive, bold action when changes happen in order to lead others through the change versus letting them stay stuck in the past.
  2. Align your values and your projects: No matter what the critics said, Eleanor adhered to her values and made sure that they aligned with the projects she took on as a leader. She did not let others steer her away from doing what she thought was right.
  3. Take personal responsibility: One of my favorite quotes from Gerber’s book is “We are personally responsible for who we become, who we choose to be.” There were many setbacks in Eleanor’s life, but she did not let them stop her from achieving great things. Each of us need to take accountability for the choices we make in life.
  4. Put your heart into your work: Eleanor once said “Work is easier to carry if your heart is involved.” As leaders, we need to lead with compassion, courage and character, all of which require a leader to lead from the heart. Feel free to email me at dkaiser@thevillagefamily.org if you want to read an article I wrote on this topic called “The Heart of a Leader.”
  5. Be an advocate: One of the greatest lessons I learned from Eleanor was to be a voice for and to help those in need. I once googled her name and found out she once belonged to an organization called Altrusa Club of New York City. Then I discovered we had an Altrusa Club here in Fargo. Of course, I quickly joined the local club and now, as acting President, I get to be an advocate for and promote literacy, education and leadership for people in our community and around the world.  Find us on Facebook at Altrusa International of Fargo.

As I mentioned earlier, Eleanor is not the only Roosevelt who has influenced my life. Through Brene Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly,” I immediately was inspired by an excerpt from Theodore’s speech about the “Man in the Arena,” which reads:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Those amazing and profound words continue to inspire me to take risks as a leader. To forge ahead even when others say it can’t be done or it looks too hard. It gives me the courage to show my vulnerability as a person and as a leader because I do not just want to survive but rather I want to thrive in life and work.

Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932

Finally, Franklin D. Roosevelt has influenced my life not through his well-known quote of “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” but rather through his words, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”  This was actually told to me by my dad my senior year of college and he told me that no matter what life brings, there will always be people to help me, I just need to be willing to ask. I don’t know about you, but asking for help is one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. As a leader, though, we have to realize we can’t do everything on our own. And when we ask for help, we are inviting people into the journey, the vision, or the project, and it creates a better outcome.

This past weekend I watched Ken Burns’ documentary “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” on PBS and it reminded me again how much these three individuals have influenced my life and my leadership. They are not perfect leaders; nor are we. But each of us are “fellow travelers on the road to a better world.” As you journey through life, think about the legacy you are leaving. Maybe one day someone will write an article about a person who has influenced their life, and the person they mention will be YOU. Live Well. Lead Well. Labor Well.


 Author Bio

Dawn Kaiser is an inspirational educator, joyologist, blogger, altruist and positive thought leader. She specializes in heart-driven leadership, positive psychology and personal achievement. Dawn focuses on helping hundreds of clients all over the world thrive both personally and professionally in life through her work at The Village Business Institute.

Providing great business service: Put the ‘extra’ in extraordinary


By Dawn Kaiser
The Village Business Institute 

When is the last time you were wowed by a customer service experience? For many of us the answers might be “I can’t remember the last time” or “I have never experienced that.” In our world today, our true competitive advantage is how we treat our customers. That is why it is extremely important that we provide not just ordinary customer service but extraordinary customer service. As someone once said, “if you don’t take care of your customers, somebody else is waiting, ready and willing to do it.”

The difference between ordinary service and extraordinary service really comes down to the five additional letters, “e.x.t.r.a.” Ask yourself how can you do extra for your customers? Author and speaker Barbara Glanz challenges us to “put our personal signatures on the job.” It is the little extra touches that matter, like when my car rental place has my car warmed up and running for me especially during our cold winters. Or the place you bank at offers you fresh baked cookies. Or when you walk into a place and they call you by name. (Of course it needs to be the right name.) Think about how you could surprise and delight your customers and then begin to try your ideas out and watch the reactions you get from your customers.

Another thing you can do to add “extra” to your service is to work from the heart. Have you ever visited a restaurant and you could immediately tell if your waiter or waitress really wants to provide you with service? I know I can. Well, your customers are no different. They can tell if your heart is in it. Stop looking at your job as a title or job description, and, instead, focus on how you make a difference in someone’s life. How can you make your customers feel special? How can you make their lives a little better today? It might be through a simple smile, talk in positive tones and words, asking a question to get to know your customers more.

It is important to realize that “We do not remember days. We remember moments in our lives.” Determine that each day you are going to wow your customers and provide that little extra that is going to leave a memory with them that they can’t wait to tell the whole world about. Please feel free to share in the comments section of this blog some examples of extraordinary service you have experienced. I would love to hear your stories.


VBI corporate trainer Dawn Kaiser

Author Bio
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion–to energize, encourage and equip others to live their strongest lives now. She is a motivational speaker, writer, teacher, and positive-thinker extraordinaire. She draws on more than 12 years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field, a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of MN Duluth and a Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a certified HR Professional and a life-long learner.

Dawn is available to speak nationwide. For more info, visit Dawn’s website.>

Work Happy Now



Are you happy at work? If you answered “no,” you are not alone. A survey conducted by the Conference Board revealed that “only 45% of workers are happy at their jobs.” Given how much time we spend at work, I think it’s worth taking the time to consider how we can increase our happiness.

  1. Pay Attention to Your Thoughts: We can make ourselves happy or unhappy just by the thoughts we think. When you get up in the morning what are you telling yourself about your day, your job or your family? Become more aware of the self-talk going on inside your head and shift the focus to things you can be grateful for, or try to see things from another perspective. When you do this, you will be adding happiness to your life instead of subtracting from it.
  2. Take 5 everyday: Each day take five minutes to lessen your stress by going for a short walk, reading a chapter from an inspirational book, listening to an uplifting song, talking to a positive person, finding a way to laugh. By taking time for yourself you are better able to maintain your joy and give to others.
  3. Spread kindness: Be on the lookout for people doing things right at work, and say “thank you!” Also ask how you can help others at work. Showing appreciation and lending a hand to your coworkers can strengthen your relationship and also improve how others see you.
  4. Make Your Space More Awesome: Gretchen Rubin, the author of the Happiness Project, encourages us to think about “how we could make our work space more pleasant.” Invest in a cool lamp or buy some motivational signs to hang up, etc. Create a space that inspires you to do your best at work.
  5. Use Your Superpowers: Perform actions each day that make you feel energized and optimistic. Everyone has superpowers which are the activities where passion, results, and focus come together. Leverage your strengths as much as possible and watch your happiness soar as well.

Happiness is different for everyone, so your responsibility is to find out what makes you happy and then begin to incorporate more of those activities each day at work. When you do, you will realize that you can work happy now!

End Notes:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/05/american-job-satisfaction_n_411680.html

http://federalfinancialgroupllc.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/why-not-be-more-happy-at-work/


VBI corporate trainer Dawn Kaiser

Author Bio
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion–to energize, encourage and equip others to live their strongest lives now. She is a motivational speaker, writer, teacher, and positive-thinker extraordinaire. She draws on more than 12 years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field, a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of MN Duluth and a Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a certified HR Professional and a life-long learner.

Dawn is available to speak nationwide. For more info, visit Dawn’s website.

5 tips for building trust in the workplace


trust jumpThere are two different philosophies on trust. The first philosophy is that you trust people until they break your trust. The second is that you don’t trust people until they earn your trust. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, so either way, we all must work on building and establishing trust.

That being said, I think it’s disheartening that “82% of people don’t trust their boss to tell the truth.” (Edelman’s Trust Barometer, 2013). Trust appears to be dwindling in the workplace, but it didn’t just erode overnight. Authors Dennis & Michelle Reina of Rebuilding Trust in the Workplace believe that “90-95% of trust breakdown is related to small, everyday betrayals in which people let each other down.”

So if trust took time to break, it’s also going to take time to build. There is no single activity that will build trust overnight. Rather, we establish and create trust with each other over time through consistent actions, behaviors, and values.

Below are some of the most important things you can do to build trust with your co-workers.

  1. Be Congruent: Do your words match your actions? If your words and actions are not congruent, people will start to question your credibility, which erodes their trust. Live out your values through your daily actions, behaviors and decisions.
  2. Be Reliable: Do you make promises you can’t keep? People place their trust in people they can count on and who will follow through as agreed upon. Or those who will at least be forthright when things don’t go as planned.
  3. Take Ownership: Do you own up to the positive or negative consequences of your actions? The honest truth is we all make mistakes at work. To maintain the respect and trust of our coworkers we must own those mistakes. Be willing to communicate the lessons you learn from your mistakes and move forward.
  4. Listen for Understanding: Do you take the time to understand the opinion of others? The act of being understood and heard is very important to people. They want to know that you don’t just assume the worst, but rather seek to understand the full story before taking action.
  5. Solicit & Share Feedback: Do you ask for and provide honest feedback? It can be scary to give or receive honest feedback, but it is necessary to establish trust. Find the courage to communicate your expectations with others and tell them how well they are meeting those expectations. Then don’t forget to ask how well you are meeting their expectations.

Building trust begins with you. What first step are you willing to take to cultivate a culture of trust in your workplace?

End Notes:

http://www.edelman.com/insights/intellectual-property/trust-2013/

http://www.reinatrustbuilding.com/reinatrustbuilding.com/userfiles/file/Chicago%20Tribune-%20Rebuilding%20Trust.pdf


VBI corporate trainer Dawn Kaiser

Author Bio
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion–to energize, encourage and equip others to live their strongest lives now. She is a motivational speaker, writer, teacher, and positive-thinker extraordinaire. She draws on more than 12 years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field, a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of MN Duluth and a Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a certified HR Professional and a life-long learner.

Dawn is available to speak nationwide. For more info, visit Dawn’s website.

Start the Success Habit Now

Dawn Kaiser, The Village Business Institute

Have you ever heard yourself utter the word “someday?” For example, “someday when life slows down I’ll focus on my passion.” Or “someday when the kids are grown we will travel the world.” If you have, you are not alone. I have been guilty of using the word “someday” too. That is until I read the book, “The One Thing” by Gary Keller. I picked up this book one evening and could not put it down until the final page was read.

In the book, Gary talks about living on purpose which I absolutely love since I am a very purpose-driven person, but what really caught my attention was his “Goal Setting to the Now” method. The Goal Setting to the Now focuses on “training your mind how to think, how to connect one goal with the next over time until you know the most important thing you must do right NOW” (Keller, p. 152). He uses the visual of a domino run and about the momentum that happens when one domino is knocked over into another one into another and so on and so forth. We can do the same with our goals.

The beautiful part of Keller’s method is that it is simple and yet powerful. Below are the seven questions you need to ask yourself to start a success habit of living in the now.

1. What’s the One Thing I want to do someday?

2. Based on your someday goal, what’s the One Thing you can do in the next five years to achieve that?

3. Based on your five-year goal, what’s the One Thing you can do this year to achieve that?

4. Based on your one-year goal, what’s the One Thing you can do this month to achieve that?

5. Based on your monthly goal, what’s the One Thing you can do this week to achieve that?

6. Based on your weekly goal, what’s the One Thing you can do today to achieve that?

7. Based on your daily goal, what’s the One Thing you can do right now to achieve that?

To know your someday goal is how you begin, but in order to achieve it you need to be able to identify the steps you need to take along the way and what you can do right now. Otherwise we tend to procrastinate or go back to waiting for “someday”. So follow not only Gary Keller’s method, but also the advice of Lao Tzu who once said “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Here is hoping you can connect today to all your tomorrows and live with purpose.


About the Blogger
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion to energize, encourage and equip individuals to live stronger. She is a motivational speaker, writer, blogger, teacher, leader and positive-thinker extraordinaire. Dawn draws on more than twelve years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field and has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration and a Master of Education. She is also a certified HR Professional.

Dawn specializes in communication, leadership, high performance teams and personal development. Dawn also enjoys unleashing hope in her community and around the world through her speaking, writing and volunteer opportunities.

Closing the generation gap at work


Dawn Kaiser, The Village Business Institute

By Dawn Kaiser
The Village Business Institute 

Generations in the workplace are a hot topic, and for the most part, you don’t have to convince people that generations really do matter. In a survey released by the Pew Research Center a few years ago, “79% of Americans say there are major differences in the point of view of younger and older adults.”

Essentially, we recognize there is a generational gap, and that this generational divide can cause real problems at work. Now that we recognize it, we must learn to manage the generational gap at work. If we don’t, the great divide could seem as large as the Grand Canyon.

So how can we learn to work together effectively and constructively so we can achieve team goals? Below are some tips to help you close the generational gap in your workplace.

Tip #1: Let Go
There is an old saying that says, “labels are for jars, not for people,” and that certainly is true for generational labels. Your coworkers do not fit nice and neatly into one of these generational labels. A whole host of other things impact who a person is and why they behave the way they behave including: parenting, relationship with technology, education, economics, personality traits, etc.

Does that mean we forgo trying to understand the generations? Absolutely not! Jason Dorsey, the Gen Y Guy, says generational labels are “powerful clues to where to start to connect with and influence people of different ages.”

Along that same line, I think it’s important to check our own personal view of how we think about other generations. Do you feel that your generation is the best generation and that the rest just need to grow up or shut up? Be willing to check the assumptions, preconceived notions and biases you have about other generations and then let them go. In the end, be willing to get to know the person for who they are, not just what their generation says about them or what you think about their generation.

Tip #2: Seek to Understand
Have you ever heard yourself utter the phrase, “I don’t understand kids these days, why do they think it’s okay to…….” If so, you are not alone. Part of the generational divide is that we don’t take enough time to truly understand the other generations’ mindset. The truth of the matter is that growing up in different eras causes people to see things differently.

If you want to cross the generational divide, you have to be willing to take some time to ask folks from other generations what events, trends, and people impacted their first 15-20 years. That will help you begin to understand how they see the world. Then as bestselling business author Eric Chester says, “Once you have understanding, you can get cooperation and connection.”

Tip #3: Get out of Your Generation
Ask yourself, “How can I get out of my generational mindset and connect with a person from a different generation?” We cannot create a one-size-fits-all working relationship, but instead must tailor our interactions and communications to best meet the needs of each other. You can get started by asking your coworkers some simple questions:

  • What can I do to best communicate with you?
  • How and when do you want to receive feedback?
  • What does work life balance/integration mean and look like to you?
  • What is the best type of reward and/or recognition that you can receive?

And then, be willing to share what you need from your coworkers to be the best team player possible.

Generations in the workplace are here to stay, and with two more on the horizon, it’s important to learn how to maximize the strengths of each generation. These three tips will help you cross the generational divide and close the gap that may be holding your team and/or organization back from being the best it can be.

End Notes: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2009/08/12/forty-years-after-woodstockbra-gentler-generation-gap/


About the blogger
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion to energize, encourage, and equip individuals to live stronger. She is a motivational speaker, writer, blogger, teacher, leader and positive-thinker extraordinaire. Dawn draws on more than twelve years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field and has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration and a Master of Education. She is also a certified HR Professional.

Dawn specializes in communication, leadership, high performance teams, and personal development. Dawn also enjoys unleashing hope in her community and around the world through her speaking, writing, and volunteer opportunities.

For more information about The Village Business Institute, go to www.TheVBI.org or call 1-800-627-8220. For information about having Dawn speak anywhere nationwide, visit her website at dawnmkaiser.com.

 

Be vulnerable in order to be great

“Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown

“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown

By Dawn Kaiser
The Village Business Institute 

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper or more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Those words resonated with me this past Sunday as I watched Oprah Winfrey interview author Brene Brown, author of “Daring Greatly” (Editor’s note: This piece was posted May 20, 2013). I have been inspired and encouraged by many of the Super Soul Sunday episodes, but this one was different. It struck a chord deep inside of me and really made me reflect on how I am living.

In the past I would have identified vulnerability as a weakness. It was the Achilles heel you didn’t want to reveal. However, I have noticed over the past few a paradigm shift is taking place. Influential and inspiring leaders are starting to talk about vulnerability as a path to greatness—one that takes real strength and courage.

Think about two coworkers who are unable to get along. Most of the time, the source of the conflict goes back to a situation where one person’s actions led to another person feeling disrespected or hurt. Instead of being vulnerable and open about how they feel, they choose to respond in defensively and aggressively, which sets the cycle of chaos in motion. If one of them is courageous enough to let his/her guard down and express the hurt, the other may respond to the vulnerability with openness—which likely will lead to a dissolving of the tension and conflict.

Vulnerability is not only about expressing our feelings. It is also about taking chances or risks. I admire people who are willing to put their work and ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation. I am inspired by those who dare to dream big and don’t let the thought of failure hold them back. Those are intense forms of vulnerability. They are people who I consider to be living the title of Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly.” It is interesting that the title for Brown’s book comes from a speech Theodore Roosevelt gave in 1910. I will quote the whole section since it is so lovely:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly….”

Daring greatly is about having the courage to be vulnerable. It is not about waiting to do something once you have no fear, but moving forward and striving for greatness in the midst of your fear.

This year I am going to challenge myself to take it to the next level and be vulnerable in order to be great. I am not really sure what that looks like or where it will lead, but I am willing to go for it. I am willing to be courageous and walk the path of vulnerability and openness. It won’t be as much fun, though, without you joining me. So let’s do it together. Let’s have a year of daring greatly and living wholeheartedly!


Dawn Kaiser, The Village Business Institute

About the Blogger
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion to energize, encourage, and equip individuals to live whole heartedly. She is a motivational speaker, writer, blogger, teacher, leader, and positive-thinker extraordinaire. Dawn draws on more than twelve years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field and has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration and a Master of Education. She is also a certified HR Professional. Dawn specializes in communication, leadership, positivity, high performance teams, and personal development. Dawn also enjoys unleashing hope in her community and around the world through her speaking, writing, and volunteer opportunities.

Dawn is available to speak nationwide. For more information, visit dawnmkaiser.com.

Start thinking big

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Dawn Kaiser
The Village Business Institute

On January 21, we paused to pay tribute to the fallen civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., and whenever I hear his name, I cannot help but hear his words “I have a dream” ringing in my head. Martin Luther King Jr. was a big thinker. He was not afraid of what others called “impossible” and he was willing to share his long-term dreams with the whole world.

Unfortunately, I believe thinking big has gone to the wayside and small thoughts and short-term thinking have become the norm. It doesn’t have to stay that way. Bestselling author Michael Port has created a “Think Big Revolution,” where he states that “big thinking must happen now; today, tomorrow and forevermore.”

So with the New Year upon us, I am making a call to action for thinking big. I will admit big thinking isn’t easy, but if you commit to the process, the results can be extraordinary and dreams can come true. Here are some tips I have discovered along the way as I began to think big.

  1. Learn Continually: In order to think big we must be willing to learn from every experience, including both our successes and failures.
  2. Make Time: Devote time to exclusively focus on thinking big. Put creative thinking time in your schedule.
  3. Ask BIG Questions: Be willing to challenge the status quo and focus on asking questions that will help you to think about things in a different way. Example: How can I think more creatively about this?
  4. Look for Possibilities: Don’t focus on the problems, instead look for positive possibilities.
  5. Focus on Future Regrets: There is the saying that “we regret not the things we do, but the things we didn’t.” So ask yourself, if I didn’t try or attempt this would I wonder “what if?” ten years from now?
  6. Create a Dream Board: I like using Pinterest to create dream boards for my goals and then pinning images to my virtual dream boards.
  7. Connect with Others: To become a bigger thinker, connect with other extraordinary people, who will inspire you and challenge you to step outside your comfort zone.
  8. Start Small: The old saying goes that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We must think big but focus on starting small, so begin today by taking a small step forward. For example, you could go join the “Think Big Revolution” at http://www.thinkbigrevolution.com/

Thinking Big can be scary, but it can also be fun. Having fun and laughing at and with yourself while you think big will go a long way toward helping you become comfortable as you stretch your mind and change the world around you.


VBI corporate trainer Dawn Kaiser

Author Bio
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion–to energize, encourage and equip others to live their strongest lives. She draws on more than 12 years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field, a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of MN Duluth and a Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a certified HR Professional. For more information about The Village Business Institute, go to www.theVBI.com.

What’s your genius? What’s tour center?


"Rise of the Guardians"

“Rise of the Guardians”

By Dawn Kaiser
The Village Business Institute

Last weekend I went to the movie, The Rise of the Guardians, with my six year-old niece. She gave it two thumbs up, but she usually gives any movie we see on the “big screen” that rating. In this case, though, I must admit I agree with her. This movie has stayed with me.  Although the main plot of the movie was your typical fight between good and evil, the second storyline about a character trying to find his purpose in life captured my attention.

In one scene, Santa Claus “a.k.a. North” asks Jack Frost, “What’s your center?” When Frost is confused by the question, North explains to him that just like those old Russian Dolls that have the little dolls hidden within, each of us has a center or purpose inside of us. Your center isn’t a job, daily responsibilities, or long-term goals. Rather your center is the real reason why you are here, why you exist. Dick Richards, the author of Is Your Genius at Work?, calls this center your “genius.”

So how do you discover your center or genius in life? I will admit there are many ways to do this and I have tried several of them, but one of the simplest processes I can give you is below. For some of you, this may take 20 minutes, for others maybe an hour. What I have found is that the more open you are to this process, the quicker it will work for you.

Step 1: Find a quiet place, free of distractions and interruptions.

Step 2: Take out a blank sheet of paper or open up a Word document on your computer.

Step 3: Write/type at the top, “What is my center or genius in life?”

Step 4: Write/type an answer (any answer) that pops into your mind. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence—it’s fine if it’s just a word or short phrase.

Step 5: Repeat step 4 until you write the answer that makes you swell up with tears. This is your center.

As you go through this process, you may find that some of your answers are very similar and these might be clues to a common theme, which means you are getting warmer. Continue to list whatever answers pop into your head. Push past the feeling of resistance and wanting to quit. Don’t give up, just keep writing.

When you find your own unique answer to the question why you’re here, you will feel it resonate with you deeply. The words will energize you and bring a smile to your heart. I remember when I discovered my center which is to “unleash hope” things just started to make sense and my life started to become clearer. That is why I enjoy writing this blog or speaking to groups because for me those are ways to unleash hope—to encourage, energize, and equip people to live stronger.

Discovering your center is the easy part, the hard part is living it out to the point where you become that purpose. So if you find yourself with nothing to do this weekend, go see the movie, The Rise of the Guardians. It might be just what you need to get you started on the path to finding your center.

To find out more about the employee assistance programs, training, and consulting services offered by The Village Business Institute, go to www.thevbi.com.


Dawn Kaiser, The Village Business Institute

Author Bio
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion–to energize, encourage, and equip others to live stronger. She draws on more than 12 years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field, a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of MN Duluth and a Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a certified HR Professional.

Embrace the journey, not just the destination

By Dawn Kaiser
The Village Business Institute

When I took the Clifton Strengthsfinder assessment it was no surprise that one of my strengths is “Achiever,” which means I focus on accomplishing something tangible each and every day. I am one of those people who loved getting a gold star in elementary school for finishing her homework assignments. To this day I keep a to-do list not just to help me remember what I need to get done, but also so I can mark the items off when I complete them. This strength has helped me to be goal-oriented and achieve great success in my life; however it sometimes has left me with a whisper of discontent. I have spent so much of my time focusing on the destination that I have often forgotten to enjoy the journey, which is really what life is about.

Not anymore! I have made a conscious decision to stop looking ahead to the destination, and instead focus on the beauty and excitement of each day. I wake up each morning with a new blank canvas just waiting for me to choose how I am going to paint the day.

I still think about my future and have dreams, but I now recognize that the parts of my life that have made me who I am are not the achievements, but the actual journey. Those tiny moments have left indelible marks on my soul and truly made life worth living. My journey is continually unfolding and I have come to see it as an adventure rather than a step-by-step guide on how to reach a particular destination. Each moment is a piece to the puzzle and the real key to success is to enjoy those moments and find the lessons they can teach you.

The truth is that we have no idea where our journeys will take us, regardless of how much we plot and plan. It is okay to have a destination in mind, but it’s also important to be open to the twist and turns along the way. My life has been full of those types of life changing experiences—some of them dark, scary, and painful; and others inspiring, uplifting, and encouraging—but each experience has lead me to this moment in time.

Instead of focusing on what life will look like “once I achieve my next goal,” or “once I finish my next project,” I am learning to embrace the journey and the opportunities that come my way that allow me to transform into my next best self—more of who I am meant to become. I still may set goals for my life because having things to aim for is important, but they are no longer written in stone. I have learned to be open to new opportunities, to follow my instincts, to be willing to take risks and not to limit myself. I continuously remind myself to go with the flow and relax because it’s in those moments that memories are made.

When we stay focused on the destination, we tend to miss the journey. Don’t forget to take life one day at a time and appreciate all that you have been given. Whatever journey you are on today, wherever you are at, and whatever you are going through—the process of walking your path is the true essence of a life well lived.

Today, I will stop and soak in the beautiful autumn leaves. Then tonight I will get sit down and appreciate the warming of my soul from a cup of delicious hot chocolate and an encouraging word. What will you do today to embrace your journey and live one day at a time?


VBI corporate trainer Dawn Kaiser

Author Bio
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion–to energize, encourage and equip others to live their strongest lives now. She is a motivational speaker, writer, teacher, and positive-thinker extraordinaire. She draws on more than 12 years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field, a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of MN Duluth and a Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a certified HR Professional and a life-long learner.

Dawn is available to speak nationwide. For more info, visit Dawn’s website.