Sustainability starts with Empowerment

By Edith Samouillet de Gomez, President

I attended our Rotary District Conference in April 2013. Over 500 people from different clubs attended the event in Vail, Colorado.

I have been impressed by the will of all these people to serve the communities, locally and internationally. I also met wonderful human beings and heard powerful messages about Love, Service, Leadership and Compassion.

“Service above self” is the motto of the Rotary and I have seen it in action in many ways. As our organization is leading many projects in many of the most in-need countries and communities around the world, sustainability is a real subject. But good intention and money are not enough to be successful to serve.

To be successful in supporting sustainable projects the most important thing is to understand in depth the culture we are working with. And there is a significant difference between these two expressions: working with or working for.

Working with implies a strong desire and effort to listen to people we want to serve.  The following steps seem to be very important to succeed:

1.Listen to what people need

What matters is not what we want for people. For example, we think that a specific population needs some toilets. Is it really what they want? Is it really their first priority? Is it meaningful for them?

2. Ask for their contribution and involvement in the development of the project

What is their vision, what are their suggestions? This is a critical element in successfully collaborating with the people we are working with.

3. Make sure that people understand the change and the benefit for them.

After many years working in change management, I have seen that people change as soon as they understand the benefit for themselves.

 4.Invite them to learn the appropriate skills to be successful

Training is key in developing a project, especially a sustainable one;  and it is also a way to reinforce collaboration among everyone. As people acquire new skills, they feel valued and are eager to put them into action.

But why is it so important to have people onboard to succeed in any project?

Let us look at the following Leadership Circle chart© that shows the different stages we recommend covering in order to implement any project and be successful:

Leadership Circle

Creating the Vision

Answers the question: What do we want?

Developing a vision is the first step. This vision is built from your thoughts, ideas, inspiration, what you want in your heart, and from what you see that other people don’t see.

Developing followers

Answers the question: who do we need to have onboard with this project and what do these people want?

As we all know, we can’t do anything without others. Working together is what makes us strong and successful. If our vision impacts the life of others, how we could implement it without their insight, input and involvement? They know more than we do about their reality, their needs, their culture, and we can learn so much from them in working with them. Also, some key people may need to be involved to support the project.

Implementing the Vision

Answers the question: what do we need to reach our goal?

This is the practical part of the project. It is what makes it real and alive. It is about the actions that we take to make the project existing and moving forward. It includes structure and processes, communication, delegation. It is also in this part that training can be critical for the success of the project.

Even if people involved have a strong motivation, they also need to develop the right skills and knowledge which will also be very important for the follow up and maintenance phase.

Following through

Answers the question: how do we stay on track and get effective results?

Many of our projects fail due to the lack of maintenance and follow up. Following up is the way to make the project last over time because of the ongoing involvement of people. It is why giving feedback is so important. It is the skill to encourage people and show them where they can improve. This is the skill of growth and learning.

Getting results

Answers the question: How do we stay focused on the expected result?

This is related to how we make sure we get results and the level of demand we put on the project through our behavior and the level of objectives we set. It also has to do with how the leader will demonstrate their authority through their status.

Interacting with people

Answers the question: how do we interact with others to be collectively successful?

The way we interact with others has a great impact on our success. If people we are working with realize they are a significant part of the project and they are listened to, they will  feel valued and engaged and will greatly contribute to the team’s success.

Listening is also very important for the leader as it gives them the opportunity to better understand the reality of others. Then they can be more appropriate in their work relationship with them.

In anything we do as a project leader, empowerment is the key. It is what makes people want to give their contribution and to be committed to the team success. It is also what will make us go without regrets, knowing that some people have taken over after us. And then, we could say: “we did it!”

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Working For versus Fighting Against

By Edith Samouillet de Gomez, President and Founder of Turning points LLC

Many of our communication attempts fail because it is more important to us to be right than to really be successful in our communication. It’s an ego thing.

And so the question is which is more important and effective: keeping an ongoing relationship or being right no matter what?

Our world is full of things to fight against, such as unwelcome events, gossip, toxic relationships, misinformation, aggressiveness, dramas…

In fact, it requires a huge amount of energy to “fight against”. That is the energy that we could be using for a better purpose, the purpose of “working for”. But what does “working for” mean?

“Working for” means using our energy to let emerge what is best in us; whatever the obstacle or threat is. The only power we have is over ourselves, and that creates a very useful skill we can utilize called Unconditional Positive Regard. How can I embrace the threat and turn it into an opportunity for my own good and purpose, and also ultimately for the good of the whole?  It is the opposite of judgment, and it is one most useful leadership skills I know. Judgment stops the relationship. When I put my energy into being right I am stuck in my own world. I automatically reject the other person’s world; I generate more opposition, even rejection and aggressiveness.

Let us take an example. A few years ago I was the general manager of an organization in Europe, with which I regularly worked with trade unions. People who have been involved in doing business in Europe, and particularly in France, know that dealing with representatives can sometimes be painful and threatening. It happens that within my function, I had to deal with a representative who was very aggressive and non-cooperative. We had to put in place a new state regulation within the organization and we were supposed to cooperate. It was pretty difficult for me as I had no other choice than to be successful! So we had our first meeting and I decided to use the leadership skills I had been taught; especially listening and Unconditional Positive Regard.  As soon as we entered our meeting, the representative started to complain about the law and the fact that we had to apply it to the organization. My first decision was to listen to her and reformulate what she said. I wanted to understand her and get all the information I needed to make sure we would be able to move forward. As the threat level rose because of her extreme opposition, I chose to use Unconditional Positive Regard: 

She said: The employees don’t want this law in our organization!

Me: I believe you.

Her: Silence.

Me: Do you want to tell me more?

Her: I am not here as a person. I represent the employees!

Me: I understand you are the elected person in charge of the representation of the other employees.

Her: Yes!

Me: Please, can you tell me more about what the employees say?

Her: They disagree with the law.

Me: Thank you for sharing this with me. Please, can you tell me more about this disagreement?

Her: If they have to work less, they will be paid less!

Me: What you tell me is that they are afraid to lose money with the new law?

Her: Yes!

Me: I believe you.

Her: Silence.

Me:  I intend to put this law in place and I would like to do it with you. Do you want that?

Her: No. Eh…maybe.

Me: Do you have any suggestions?

Her: I don’t know…Do you really want my suggestions?

Me: Yes, I do. I can do this without you but that is not what I want.  I believe it is in the interest of the employees that we work together. I am very interested in your suggestions.

Her: Ok. We can try but I need to think about it.

Me: Ok. When can we meet again this week and at what time?

Her: Silence as she looks at her calendar. Friday at 10 a.m.

Me: Thank you very much. I’ll see you on Friday.

We worked like this for several weeks and we were finally able to find an acceptable  solution for both parties: the organization and the employees, and all in compliance with the law!

Once again, “working for “instead of “fighting against” drive you to much better results!

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My Reward is Their Reward

By Edith Samouillet, President of Turning points LLC

As we approach the end of this year I feel it is time to share my thoughts and feelings about what I have accomplished so far.

Day after day I have fine tuned my vision. I have always thought that there is a tremendous power in giving and receiving, and so I have set this as the vision statement of my company.

Since I have created Turning points LLC, I have supported a significant number of corporate and business people in their personal and professional growth; teams and individuals. It is also true that I have made a living doing this and I feel so blessed that I can do something that I really believe in and tremendously enjoy.

Most of the time, it requires real courage for people to get involved in coaching sessions or in groups where they expose themselves with their strengths and weaknesses showing. They also probably intuitively know that taking some risks and moving outside of their comfort zone will drive them to a place where their lives will be significantly improved and even more enjoyable. It also has a significant impact on the quality of their relationships at work and in their personal life. They learn skills that drive them to more congruence and freedom. They also learn that the only power they have is over themselves, rather than over circumstances or other people. They stop trying to use their energy to try to change others and refocus their energy on their own personal power.

Working with all these people drove me to revisit my vision and to think about what really makes me happy, and I ended up with the following statement:  “What makes a huge difference in my life is the deep joy generated by people’s growth.” I believe that it is truly my calling to support these people in their journey and I want to do more.

So my plan in 2013 will be to create more opportunities for people to experience this process through my Vision and Leadership Sessions, Leadership retreats, and Executive coaching.

My greatest reward is to watch people, in their business lives and their personal lives, getting what they want and becoming more responsible over their own life and happiness.

Lakewood, Co USA December 3rd 2012 

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The magic of the Olympics

The Magic of the Olympics
By Edith Samouillet, President and Founder of Turning Points, LLC

This year I  watched the summer Olympics with an increased interest,  and I wondered why it had suddenly drawn my attention.

I place great value in effort, consistency and resilience. Immediately these athletes showed an amazing courage, determination and enthusiasm. But I also saw something else: fraternity. I was quite moved as I watched these people from all over the world greeting each other no matter if they had won or lost. It is what I call the Spirit of the Olympics, that I feel in my heart and is the reason that I really got it in these London Olympics.

Did you see the American athlete who kept running for his team even with a broken leg? Or the Chinese athlete who was supported and encouraged by the winner of the hurdle race, because he gave it his best even with a serious injury?

These Olympics were very emotional. I was touched by all the parents watching the success of their children after all the years of support, dedication and love. I also saw in many occasions, the power of team work and how it can drive people toward amazing results.

I also noticed one more thing: humility. I was truly amazed by the humility of many of the winners and how they accepted not being first in every situation.

All these young people, no matter where they come from, have given the world a wonderful demonstration of leadership; made up of courage, humility and the willingness to give their best.

These Olympics reminded me that it is possible to build a better world, made of peace and fraternity. We just need to be willing to do so as human beings.

I enjoyed these Olympics as I never have before.
Denver, August 15. 2012

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Why taking a break as a leader is so important.

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Each of you have probably experienced this once in your lifetime: going away to a natural environment, hiking for few days, using the water of a creek.

Because of the high pressure of the business environment and your responsibilities, it is hard to remain focused and centered.

Several times in my life I chose to go away from my day to day, as I was feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities. From 1998 to 2001, as I was the General Manager of a medium size organization in Europe, I attended an International Leadership Development Program. Each session was held in a different part of the world so diverse as Tuscany, Bruges, and Baja California. As I had to entirely finance this program, I believe it has been the best gift I ever gave to myself.

It woke me up and made me reconnect with my potential and inner self. Being pushed by circumstances to become a leader is one thing, to make the step to find out who you really are is a true journey. It is a responsibility each of us should take, as many people’s lives are dependant upon us!

Being in charge makes it easy to lose control of your life as you are on the spot and very much in demand.

Treating yourself well in taking the time to give yourself this amazing gift of few days off to retreat and question yourself is an amazing experience and so rewarding.

The most amazing effects of it are the following:

  • Your rediscover things you have forgotten, like the very simple things such as fresh water, which we take for granted. It drives you back to your inner balance: body, mind, spirit, and emotions.
  • You reconnect with your true self, your creativity, and start again to look at all the possibilities in yourself and in your environment.
  • You benefit from the resources of others that you did not even know existed.
  • You open again your heart and your eyes to the beauty around you which is a tremendous source of joy.

It is the reason why I made the huge step of moving from France four years ago to create Turning Points Journey: a Leadership Development Company, in cooperation with Navajo Native Americans.

My call is to support Senior Executives in their endeavors. One of the ways I do this, besides Executive Coaching for Business Leaders and Executive Teams, is to provide them with leadership retreat opportunities in the Canyon de Chelly, Arizona. We partner with Navajo Native Americans who still know many things we have forgotten.

We work with small groups of a maximum of 8 participants, to ensure a good group dynamic and enough attention to each participant.

For information about the program and dates, please contact:

USA  Edith Samouillet + 1 303 317 3265 esam@turningpointsjourney.com

www.turningpointsjourney.com

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Leadership is an Art that comes from your heart, By Edith Samouillet

“Dear Madam,

This is with tears in my eyes that I send you all my condolences. David was an exceptional man. He was my boss and became a friend.

His death touched me deeply. David taught me all about my job and personally as well. He always took good care of us, “his little guys” with the strong desire to help us to become better and successful people. He succeeded to make us grow, sometimes with difficulties. He was more than a boss. He was a father for us.

We all highly respected him, without exception, he was a great man. We spent full days laughing with him when he was telling us some of his work stories. We will miss him a lot.

This is with a painful heart and tears that I wish you to overcome this so difficult time.

Warm regards,

B. M “

Helping leaders to develop their leadership skills is a part of my every day life, as I believe it can make a slight different in the world.

This man did.  David, my brother who passed away on Christmas day 2011. He can be in peace today for all the good he has done as a leader on this earth. I really wanted to share this letter which was sent to my sister in law few weeks ago, and I encourage you to ask yourself this question:
What will make me happy at the end of my life, and what do I want to be remembered for?

Denver, March 15 2012

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“Chère Madame,

C’est avec les yeux humides que je vous présente toutes mes condoléances. David était un homme exceptionnel. Il était mon chef mais également mon ami.

Sa disparition m’a profondément bouleversé. David m’a tout appris, tant sur le travail que dans le privé. Il s’est toujours occupé de ses “petits gars” avec l’envie de faire quelque chose de nous Il a réussi à nous former non sans mal. C’était plus qu’un collègue ou un chef. Cétait un père pour nous.

Nous le respections tous, sans exception, c’était un grand homme. Nous avons passé des journées entières à rire avec lui quand il racontait ses histoires de travail. Il va nous manquer.

C’est avec le coeur gros et plein de larmes que je vous souhaite de surmonter cette épreuve si difficile.

Cordialement

B. M “

Chaque jour, j’aide mes clients à développer leur Leadership  parceque je crois que cela peut faire une petite différence dans ce monde pour le bien de tous.                                      Cet homme a réussit cela. Il s’appelait David, mon seul et unique  frère qui nous a quitté en ce jour de Noël 2011. Il peut reposer en paix pour tout ce qu’il a accompli de bien, en tant que Leader, sur cette terre. Je voulais vraiment partager cette lettre avec vous, reçue par ma Belle Soeur il y a quelques semaines et je vous encourage à vous poser cette question: qu’est-ce qui me rendra heureux (se) à la fin de ma vie ou qu’aimerais-je que les gens se souviennent de moi?

Denver, March 15 2012

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Why our passions make us stronger? by Edith Samouillet

Native Americans say: “Each vision starts with a dream”. They also give a huge importance to dreams as they think they convey to us some important messages about ourselves and especially elements that are our essence.

I remember, a long time ago, I was walking with my friend Barbara, on the Torrey Pines Beach in San Diego. It is one of the most beautiful and inspirational place I know. It is  where I confirmed my promise to one day move back to the United States and fulfil my dream. I think it was in the summer 2002.

I did it! Even when others doubted I would. I landed in Denver, on December 27 2007 with two hours delay, due to a severe snow storm. The car dealer was waiting for me with my brand new Liberty Jeep! The trunk was filled with the basic necessary items for a first night in my new life.

Many people told me that I was quite brave, to move on my own at the age of 51, in a brand new place at the other side of the world. I don’t think that courage has any thing to do with it. My fuel was the big passion I had in my heart to one day build my own company and make a slight difference in the world. The vision of Turning points Journey, the Leadership Development company I have created is “The Empowerment of Giving and Receiving”.  Giving; to me is a tremendous source of Joy.  Joy to see people grow, joy to see Navajo people finding dignity in the employment opportunities we create for them, joy of receiving  great gifts from amazing people who have crossed my path and still do.

An other great source of joy for me is when I see through my camera lens, the beauty and light in people, from new born babies to elderly people.  My other dream is to become a worldwide portrait photographer and deliver to as many people as possible this message: “Look at how beautiful you are and see the unique gifts you carry within yourself.”

Our dreams are often the revelation of our passions. Our passions are our strength when we listen to them and fulfil our dreams.

Sometimes, when I experience some discouragement, doubt or a lack of energy, I just look back at what I have accomplished and tell myself: “If you have been able to do this, you can do it again or even more!” It is the strength that comes from fulfilling your dreams!

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Why we provide Leadership retreats for Mothers and Daughters?

By Edith Samouillet, President .

Relationships between mothers and daughters change as those daughters grow up. When they mature into adolescents, teenagers, young adults and independent women, their mother can be a great ally to support their growth.
We also know that Mother-daughter relationships may be more complex than other relationships. Many daughters idolize their mothers when young, but pull away during adolescence.

Later, it could be challenging for a mother to accept their daughter as a mature adult.
Some women say that they really enjoy their interactions with their daughters perhaps because they want to share feminine thoughts and ideas.

The greatest gifts that mothers can give to their daughters are probably to offer experience, to listen carefully and to respond kindly – yet honestly.

The greatest gifts that daughters can give to their mothers are probably to offer new prospective and ideas, to listen carefully, and to respond kindly – yet genuinely.

Mothers can really play a coaching role with their daughters.

But why offering a Leadership Retreat to Mothers and Daughters?

A simple definition of leadership is that leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. This definition of leadership captures the leadership essentials of inspiration and preparation. Effective leadership is based upon ideas, but won’t happen unless those ideas can be communicated to others in a way that engages them. Put even more simply, the leader is the inspiration and director of the action. They are the person in the group that possesses the combination of personality and leadership skills that makes others want to follow their direction.

Your daughter can be among our leaders of tomorrow. It is our responsibility as mothers to help them develop their leadership skills at an early stage. For you mothers, it can be an amazing and rewarding journey to accompany your daughter in their growth and development of their influence in order to make a difference in the world.

The biggest challenge in any relationship is to accept others as they are, instead of wanting them to be what we want them to be. Accepting and prizing the unique gift of what our daughters can bring to the world is a wonderful growth opportunity for both of you and can be a mutual and exiting learning process.

 

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Mexico, or the tremendous healing power of Love

Few days ago, I was in Ciudad Juarez, a land of war and terror where raising children and going to work every day requires an incredible amount of courage.

My fiancé’s mother, Francesca, was in the General Hospital after a stroke and
we both wanted to visit her and take care of her.
What I have seen in this place was pure Love and I felt it is my responsibility to
testify about it.
This hospital is a very basic place with very limited resources to give the
minimum care to patients. When you want to visit someone, you really need to
be willing to! First of all, only one person at a time is allowed to visit. Second of
all, you need a pass to be able to go to this person and you can get it only at a
certain time of the day. You have to provide almost everything to the person
like mineral water, wipes, blankets and towels, soap and other supplies that
can help the person to be more comfortable.
What I have seen was amazing.
I saw sons and daughter staying nights and days taking care of their parents.
When I say taking care, it means washing them even intimately, moving them, giving them massages, talking to them with love, care and energy, entertaining them to bring some hope and joy in their hearts.
I have seen people giving each other signs of affection and love, being
attentive to any expressed needs, totally dedicated to serve.
I have seen sons and daughters, husbands and wives sleeping on the floor to stay overnight with their beloved ones.
I have seen patients in the room taking care of other patients and making sure
that every need is fulfilled.
I have seen nurses and health care staff giving unlimited time and care to their
patients.
I have seen human beings sharing their Faith and keeping praying for each
other.
I have seen the miracle of people moving from a depressed and weak state to
a joyful and improved condition after receiving so much Love and care.
These people have very little and have everything. They have the three
qualities that make great people:

  • The courage to walk the talk of Love.
  • The humility to serve whatever it requires and to rely on each other.
  • The tremendous ability to give.

Even in the dark, the light of Love can exist and carry a unlimited power to heal
and create hope. These people exactly know what richness means, the one of the kingdom of Love.

When we left the hospital, Francesca did not need oxygen anymore, she was
smiling and even laughing and she is now back to her daughter’s home.
Let us dedicate our lives to the tremendous healing power of Love.

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Our thoughts about Executive Coaching

Why Executive coaching?

C-level and Senior Executives are in charge and face big challenges in their organization that require very specific skills, qualities and behaviors in order to be successful.  At Turning points, we support the idea that Executive coaching works at best when:

  • The kind of coaching is clearly defined. (Emerging leader, Leader in development, Strategic leader.)
  • The person is willing to go through it and grow.
  • The organization has a clear objective to support the coached and is willing to establish a three ways contract with clear objectives and measurement criteria.(two ways for a strategic leader)
  • The confidentiality between the coach and the coached is fully respected.

 Our approach
We believe that Leaders need to regularly take some distance from their day to day and reflect about what they do.  They have a stressful life and it is sometimes really a challenge for them to balance their personal and professional life. They are intensively watched by their followers and they need to walk the talk to maintain their credibility to keep their people on board and achieve their goals.  It is one of the reasons why we have created our Executive Leadership Retreat. We think that having someone who plays the sounding board, challenges positively and genuinely is critical for success and growth. We offer our customers a way to develop their congruence (being fully responsible for who they are and their actions), their listening and empathic skills and to develop the ability to transform their threats and challenges into opportunities.

Our value proposition is the following:

“People are sovereign individuals and can choose to manage their own change”

At Turning points LLC, we support the ideology that there are three qualities that make a Leader effective: Courage, Humility and the Ability/Willingness to give and serve.

Executive Coaching Services we offer to our customers.
Courage.

  • The courage to say no to a client when we estimate the conditions of a successful coaching  are not there, whether the person is not willing to enter a coaching journey or the company does not have clear objectives or has what we call an “hidden agenda”.
  • The courage not to give up ourselves as a coach when we experience some conflicts with our own values.
  • The courage to deliver honest and transparent feedback and play the sounding board all along the process, even if it is sometimes challenging.

Humility.

  • The humility to admit as a coach that we don’t know better than the coached. Most of the time, our customers have all the answers within themselves, and our mission as a coach is to help them, through our questions, insights, and the way we challenge them, to find their own responses.

One of our customers said the following; “My coach used an approach with me that made me think deep down and then come up with an answer. She did not lecture. She helped me come up with the right approach. Painful but very, very effective!!” International Head of Sales, Global Phone Company
Ability and Willingness to give and serve.

  • Being an Executive Coach implies a full commitment to serve the coached and the organization which hired us for the mission. It does also imply a very positive attitude, generosity and the willingness to give your best to the person you are working with.
  • Compassion and unconditional positive regard demonstrated by the coach.
  • We have a lot of dedication, flexibility and adaptability and at the same time sticking to the rules and work frame we have prior defined with the client, and to be very clear about the boundaries of the relationship we are building.
  • In order to ensure there is a good fit between the Coach and the Coached, we always offer to our customers a choice of coaches to guaranty a good alchemy in the relationship and therefore high level results that serves as well the person and their organization.
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