Finding Generosity

Photo by Kathy Garland of Hubbard Glacier in Alaska

Today, with Hurricane Irma barreling through Florida, while South Texas and eastern Louisiana struggle to dig out after Harvey, along with major fires in four states, I stopped to wonder. I wondered what it would take for Americans to pull together again and stop all this hate and vitriol.

Nothing like a disaster to pull people together and bring out their best and most generous. Do I wish for disasters? Of course not.

I just wonder why until there is a disaster, though, we are angry with each other, divided and a small part of the population are givers and volunteers or people who are generous with their spirit and time every day.

What if everyone made it a point to give in their own way, even in small ways, every day?

What would be the impact on our country?
– Would politicians work harder to work with the opposition?
– Would children do better in school?
– Would our food chain be healthier?
– Would we be healthier?
– Would we know our neighbors?
– Would our roads and waterways have less litter?
– Would we see less crime?
– Would we be more prosperous?

All those are idealistic questions of course. I want to believe if everyone is contributing in some way to the issues that drive our passions that life would be better in our country.

In the past, I have felt overwhelmed, like deer in the headlights, on where to contribute. So many ideas float through my head, and I’m passionate about many causes that can improve the human condition.
President Kennedy was a true visionary for which our country should be grateful. After his famous inauguration speech on January 20, 1961, many college students were inspired to go into volunteer work for international aid organizations like the Peace Corps. Others changed their majors to sociology to be of service here in the United States. All these people, who are mostly in their 70’s, were in great service to the country, offering selfless contributions that define their lives.

While his vision was big for what you can do for your country, I also firmly believe you can make a difference for the United States right where you are. For if we all take small, consistent steps, we can become a mighty force. However, not all of us can leave our everyday lives and join a service organization for several years. Not all of us can spare a few hours a week for volunteer work.

Here are a few actions you can take to do something for your neighborhood, your community, your country.

– visit a neighbor who may be suffering or is more isolated
– drive someone to an appointment who can’t drive
– bring items to a food drive or food pantry
– extend trust to someone you have not trusted in the past
– reach out to someone who has lost a loved one, more than once after the funeral
– write a letter to your editor.

You can also start with your own family. Even taking steps to reach out to family members goes a long way to create peace, bring harmony and good feelings to your life. I have a cousin in Florida that I don’t know very well, but I made sure to reach out to him before the hurricane and will follow up with him in a day or two to see how he is doing.

The feeling of a sense of belonging when you reach out to family members is important to us as human beings. We thrive on connection. Our generosity is a way to strengthen that connection.


Election Day: 6 Emotional Intelligence Skills to Make it Through the Day

Vote today!

Vote today!

Emotions are likely to be high today. No matter which candidate you support, you may be anxious, optimistic, fearful, angry, and on edge, curious, or distracted plus many more emotions.

Today let your emotions inform your decisions and your actions. Channel your emotions into productive, not destructive, actions.

Because of course, so much is at stake in this election. When there is a lot on the line, people get very emotional and that’s exactly what we’ve seen this year on the campaign trail. When emotions are present, it does mean something matters and we are all deeply attached to the outcome of this election so no wonder emotions are present. They are healthy and are a way to communicate our beliefs.

Problems and conflict occur when emotions are uncontrolled and drive destructive, disrespectful and divisive words and actions. Emotions then drive people instead of people being able to control their behavior.

If you want to be part of getting people to work together again and be civil to each other, it’s your responsibility to vote and use your emotional intelligence as you interact with others.

There are six skills I believe will help you be more focused, present and effective today and in the days following the election.

  1. Optimism* – Our country has been through many dark times and although it’s been messy and in some cases devastating, we’ve always made it through. Tap into your sense of optimism by looking at the big picture that we will survive.  Look at what is working in your life, your career, and your community. Yes there are a lot of things that need to be fixed. By looking at what is working, it will open us up to new solutions.

I’m not saying you should look at life with rosy-colored glasses and pretend problems aren’t there. Of course they are. Approaching today with optimism means that no matter who wins, we as a country have the ability to make it through, and you as a citizen have the power to take action that matches your beliefs and influence outcomes.

  1. Assertiveness – Do your part to make sure something good happens. When you are appropriately assertive, you communicate your feelings, beliefs and thoughts openly and defend your personal rights and values in a socially acceptable, non-offensive and non-destructive manner. The offensive and destructive voices from these campaigns are overly aggressive which is causing a lot of chaos.

To use assertiveness, first vote, then do something to help other citizens like make calls, drive someone to vote, write a blog post, any kind of action that makes you feel like you can do something to make a difference.

This also boosts your self-regard and is a good use of your social responsibility, both which increase your emotional intelligence.

  1. Impulse Control – Take a breath before you argue or make sweeping generalizations. Impulse control is a mature way to address differences and conflict. Using impulse control, which is resisting or delaying the impulse to act, can help cooler heads prevail today and in the days following the election.

Using impulse control doesn’t mean you shouldn’t express your opinion, to recommend keeping quiet would violate your right to free speech. The difference is how you express your feelings, thoughts and beliefs in an appropriate way.

  1. Emotional Self-Awareness – This skill is so important I’ve included the whole definition from Multi-Health Systems – “Emotional self-awareness includes the ability to recognize and understand one’s emotions. Also includes the ability to differentiate between the subtleties in one’s own emotions while understanding the cause of these emotions and the impact they have on one’s own thoughts and actions and those of others.” Using this skill is the foundation for the core of your emotional intelligence.

When we are not present to our emotions and let them drive us, we lose our ability to be rational and take appropriate actions.

Take time today to reflect on your own emotions. Mine are a messy mix of hope and fear for the future, curiosity about what will change, anger about all the hatred that is being unleashed, and frustration. I’m also working to be more optimistic that we can make the country better, and tapping into my own use of assertiveness to reach out to potential voters through calls to encourage people to vote.

  1. Reality Testing – this can be tough if you experience a lot of difficulties in your life, especially on a day like today. Doing your best to be objective and see things for how they are can help you manage your emotions. Managing your emotions helps you stay productive and effective.

Fearing the worst keeps you from fully being present to your family, your job, co-workers, team members, and employees. Fearing the worst can paralyze your thoughts and actions and you can spiral into a downward spin into negativity and at its worst, depression.

Mentally or on paper, list the worst fears you’ve had and then notice which ones actually happened. Hopefully it’s none or less than the good things. This exercise helps you create a stronger sense of realistic thinking.

It is easy with all the media coming at us to mentally construct gloom and doom scenarios in our head. All the analysts, political commentators, talk show hosts and social media posts drive us to conclusions that may not be in our best interest.

We can use our minds just as easily to focus on good outcomes. Spend a few minutes today picturing good outcomes to our society, our economy and our country as a whole. It can get better.

  1. Interpersonal relationships – You won’t agree with some people, however, if they are significant people in your life and you want to stay in relationship with them, use impulse control – think carefully before you speak.

Speak your mind respectfully and after you have, respect their right as a citizen to vote as their conscience and heart speaks to them. This will go a long way to preserving your relationship.

While not measured as an emotional intelligence skill, courage will be important. There are so many forces out there that want us to stay in fear or incite fear and panic in us that we will lose our in us that we will lose our country. Some of the fear is real, and some of it is not. Use courage to discern for yourself what is real for you and then take action.

Thank you for reading this. I’m going to make some calls now to encourage people to get out and vote.

For your voting locations visit

* All definitions and emotional intelligence skills mentioned in this article are from Multi-Health Systems EQ-i 2.0 Emotional Intelligence Survey. Kathy Garland is a certified provider of EQ-i assessments. Click here for more information on emotional intelligence.



3 Strategies to Strengthen the Leader in You

TeamIn the past week, I’ve been discussing with some colleagues the concept of leading from the inside out. In other words, the outward actions of a leader are internally motivated.

People that lead from within usually have a sense of purpose and have a vision for the company that influences their approach to work. Here are three strategies you can see in internally motivated leaders. You can cultivate these skills easily to expand your abilities as a leader.

Ask Great Questions – Leaders that lead from within have an internal sense of curiosity and desire to create the best outcomes. Their curiosity brings out creative solutions and insight that might otherwise stay hidden.

Use Influence instead of Authority – Leaders who are driven from within don’t rely heavily on their authority to get things done. They understand the art of influence and know how to use it wisely to get things done. In addition, a strong leader influences others when she or he understands what motivates team members and is able to translate that into communications that influences action.*

Learn something new each day – Leaders who lead from within know that part of the secret to success is to continually expand their world. Leaders who focus on growing themselves in the areas of their professional expertise and in their emotional intelligence are able to inspire and motivate their teams. They are also more creative and open to new ideas. Continual learning increases self-regard and well-being, which are essential emotional intelligence skills for leaders. **

* For information on improving influence skills for you and your team, contact me  for a complimentary assessment call. 
** Self-regard and well-being can be measured through the MHS EQi Emotional Intelligence Survey, for which I am certified to administer and coach.
© Kathy Garland, 2015.

For other insights on leading from within, read these posts by my colleagues:

Emerging Leadership:

The Responsibility of Leadership:

Qualities of Creative and Successful Leaders:

Kathy Garland works with women leaders to improve results through strengthening their influence, emotional intelligence and relationship-building strategies. She is an executive coach, mentor and speaker and specializes in working with women with technical and analytical backgrounds. She is certified in the MHS EQi Emotional Intelligence Survey as well as 360 Management Skills Surveys.


Succeeding by Changing the Game

Game ChangerWe just saw the movie, “The Imitation Game” that told the true story of Alan Turing, the prodigy mathematician who broke the Nazi Code during World War II. Turing was extraordinarily gifted in his intellect and so devoted to his studies that no focus was given to developing his social and interpersonal skills. As I watched the movie, it was difficult to imagine anyone more shut off from people and more into his work.

He led the team of mathematicians, however, his personal style and focus created a divided team that fought daily. They made no progress toward deciphering 159 million bits of code. The task felt impossible for Turing’s team.

Turing himself had a clear vision of a machine that could decipher the German Enigma code. His problem was that he didn’t share it or accept any support from his team.

Turing’s genius eventually made a profound difference in WWII and the Allied success. How did that happen? He changed the game.

A young woman mathematician on the team was able to influence Turing to start showing a little caring for the team. His first action was to bring each person on the team an apple. It was enough to repair some of the damage created by his isolationist and elitist attitude.

Little by little, his team started getting on board with his vision and his approach. Eventually, while they were having fun on a night out, a solution was found that broke the code.

By using just a little emotional intelligence, Turing was able to change the game and find solutions that, according to historians and post-war analysts ended the war two years sooner and saved approximately 14 million lives.

Pretty impressive don’t you think? What results could you create by improving your interpersonal skills? Where can you influence powerful changes through the power of your relationships? What vision do you have that could become a reality by tapping into the power of your team and your networks?

If you would like to affect change, be more influential and maybe become a game-changer, sign up for my free series, “Lead Like Dorothy, Power and Influence along the Yellow Brick Road” which contains tips to increase your influence and ability to build strong personal relationships.

Kathy Garland helps mid-level leaders drive results and get to the next level through increased influence, strong relationships and effective communication within teams and across the organization. She is certified to deliver emotional intelligence and 360 management skills assessments.
(c) 2015 Kathy Garland

Communicating Your Value to Employers and Clients

One of my clients started new job in December. An important focus for her is to build relationships with her co-workers to maximize her influence and her ability to create change.

Her boss gave her a specific project in her first week on the job which will give her a good overview of the team and what needs to be done. While she is happy to be there, she wants to expand her contributions and value to the team. Her strength is seeing patterns and conclusions that other people don’t see. In particular, she draws conclusions from her analyses that provide insight which, when implemented, improve customer satisfaction.

So we developed an introduction she can use when meeting people. Most people are tempted to introduce themselves with what they do, not the value they provide. Just stating one’s role or job title is much easier of course. Here are some examples of generic introductions:

I’m in IT. I’m in sales.

I lead the sales team.

I head up the team that is migrating our systems to our new platform.

I’d like to encourage you to be specific about the value you bring to the organization and then include your title or role. For example:

“I analyze crazy amounts of data to identify patterns and trends that help us increase usage of mission critical data which supports our growth. I’m on the information architecture team.” ValueSeeing what others can’t see.

“I make sure people can have their data when and how they want it so it supports our business growth. I lead the analytics team.” ValueCustomer-focused approach so people can do what they do best

“I look for strategic opportunities for our company to grow and deliver our best solutions as well as those that encourage us to stretch our capabilities. I head up the national sales team.” ValueFind the right customers so we can do our best and win contracts that help us grow as a company.

“I build relationships with our suppliers who work with us to keep our plants stocked with the right materials and components so we have no down time. I am a senior buyer.” ValueNo down time. Understanding value of relationships to accomplish goals.

Why is it important to focus on your value to the organization? So you can build equity in your position. You become more distinct and less of one of the crowd. It also demonstrates influence, emotional intelligence and strategic thinking to be able to communicate in this way.

When you can clearly communicate your value in a way that benefits your company, that’s when you get noticed and attract more opportunities for the type of projects you really love.

For a complimentary consultation on crafting a statement you can use to communicate the value you bring to the organization, contact me.

(c) 2015 Kathy Garland.

Kathy Garland helps women leaders drive results through increased influence, strong relationships and effective communication within teams and across the organization. She is certified in the MHS EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 assessments as well as the Ambio360 Management Skills Assessment.