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6 Steps to Becoming the Best Leader Possible

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What does it mean to be a leader? This is a question I have been asking myself repeatedly over the past few weeks. The 2016 presidential election is but a few weeks away and I am left feeling confused, disgusted, and outright angry at what has been demonstrated as leadership. If I am honest, I feel embarrassed to be a citizen of a country that is most certainly causing many eyes to roll and jokes to be made. 

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We are better than this. 

As I continue to grow, fall down, pick myself back up, and evolve as a leader, I am constantly exploring what the word means to me and how I can embody that meaning from a grounded and heart-centered place. I come back time and time again to the same process — a process that is not weighted or influenced by that which is outside of me, but rather by that which lives deep inside of me. It’s about self-inquiry, self-reflection, self-accountability, and self-responsibility. It’s a process that asks me to drop to my knees, to stretch, to get uncomfortable, to ask more of myself. It’s a process that in times like these, we uncompromisingly appoint ourselves to undergo because we have no choice but to stand firmly in our own leadership. 

Whether you are a butcher, baker, or a candlestick maker — you are a leader. And the world needs as many honest, honourable, and integrity-filled leaders as it can get right now.

Here are my six strategies for stepping firmly into your own embodied leadership. I invite you to get comfy with a notebook, pen, and cup of warm tea and walk yourself through this process step-by-step.

1. Identify Your Value System

What matters most to you? Where do you feel unwilling to compromise? Your integrity? Loyalty? Ambition? Transparency? Your values are the foundational parts of yourself that guide your behaviours, choices, and actions. When these are in alignment and you are living your values, you feel at peace inside of yourself. You are operating not from your head or your gut, but from your heart. You are discerning in your decisions and steadfast in your commitments. Not only does it feel good inside of yourself, it is overwhelmingly obvious to the outside world that you’ve got something groovy going on. 

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2. Acknowledge and Understand What Makes You, You

I hope this step doesn’t scare you, because this one takes a little bit of work, as it is an ongoing unfolding process. Although many of us know parts of ourselves, we also have blind spots. Part of stepping into your leadership is to see and understand all of yourself: the good, the bad, and the ugly. For me, the most helpful resource I have found is the Enneagram. This highly evolved personality typing system helps you to better understand your strengths, your stressors, your fears, your areas for growth, and your opportunities to develop. Using this system, you can become clearer on who you are, while learning how other people operate in the world. This information can be unbelievably helpful when learning how to be mindful and aware as a leader.

As an Enneagram Type 2, the Healer, I am well-versed in knowing that my superpower is my ability to be compassionate, empathetic, and helpful, but I also lose my power and can become insecure when I do not feel needed. This does not make me weak or invaluable as a leader, but rather pushes me to rise up and push my edges whenever I experience this feeling so that I can meet my own boundless potential. 

3. Cultivate a Network of Mentors

Want to know something crazy? You don’t know everything and you can’t do it all on your own. I know how disappointing this may sound, but let me tell you something: It’s a damn godsend! Not needing to know it all or have all of the answers gives you space to be vulnerable, approachable, real, and ever-changing. A network of mentors helps you to not feel alone when you are up against the wall and aren’t quite sure how to navigate your next steps. 

Over the past few years I have worked hard to create my network of mentors. Currently, my network consists of one spiritual mentor and two professional mentors. Oh, and I also have a therapist. That’s right, I have four older, wiser, more evolved humans in my life that I can regularly call upon when in need. And they aren’t my friends. I don’t call them to gab, or simply catch up. I call them when I need to get in deep and unpack some serious personal, professional, or spiritual shit. This wolf pack is a group of individuals who have been around the sun once or twice and take their role as a mentor seriously. 

If you are feeling lost or misguided in your leadership, I greatly encourage you to reach out to people who inspire you and are living and leading lives that you admire. Don’t be shy. Don’t hold back. Be willing to pay a bit of money for it. Be willing to be rejected. But most of all, be willing to ask. 

4. Act from Authenticity

A few months back I wrote an article about my 5 Tips on Being Genuine. It almost makes me laugh to think that we need to be reminded to be authentic in our actions. However, the truth is that we have become used to cropping our lives into a series of photographs, 140 characters, or neat blog entries and Facebook posts. We have become buttoned up, edited, and the image of perfection. 

So, let me show you my leadership by revealing some of my imperfections. 

I often have no idea what I’m doing. I felt sad for almost all of last week and I couldn’t totally put my finger on why or what to do other than get lots of sleep, exercise, and eat well. I have lots of little blonde hairs on my upper lip that I pluck when I remember. Sometimes I watch TV on my computer in bed. Other times I eat peanut butter toast and scrambled eggs for dinner when I feel too wiped out to cook. I’ve been called bossy. My boyfriend and I fight. I can get anxious when work is slow. 

Writing these words, I can feel my own power grow. I’m not hiding anything. I’m not putting on a face or trying to be put together; I’m just being human. And whenever I read or watch someone else show me their messiness, I feel their power and their leadership. Being human is sexy. Show the world what you’re working with. 

5. Constantly Work on Your Communication Skills

Let me repeat this one: CONSTANTLY WORK ON YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS. Communication is a basic life skill and your ability to communicate largely determines your happiness. When you communicate effectively, you make and keep friends. You are valued at work. Your family respects and trusts you. Your needs get met. When you communicate effectively, people listen and hear you, and you learn how to listen to and hear other people. This is when magic happens. 

Strong, compassionate communication is something that is learned; you’re not born with it. If you are looking for resources on how to better communicate, I highly recommend the books Messages: The Communication Skills Book by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning and Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg. Additionally, be open to uncovering the underlying reasons of why you react or feel triggered (another blog post coming soon on that) by certain types of communication as well as receiving feedback from others on ways that you communicate well and areas for growth. 

6. Commit Yourself to Lifelong Learning

Whether you are a CEO at a company, a full-time parent, a caretaker, just starting out your career, or saving the world, you are a leader. And any truly great leader is always learning. Leaders are strengthening their strengths, finding opportunity in their obstacles, and discovering new ways to be the best versions of themselves. Whether it is a book, workshop, therapy session, class, or travel experience, commit yourself to a lifelong learning process and you will forever feel empowered in your leadership. 

We are currently witnessing a national crisis, where the proposed future leaders of our country are being caught in webs of lies, immoral behaviours, cruel words, disrespectful communication, and dishonourable action. I know it’s easy to sit here, pointing fingers and placing blame. 

Instead, I am asking you to rise up and embrace your own, unique, and powerful leadership so that we can all come together, one by one, and stand up for what we believe in. Truth. Peace. Integrity. Compassion. Equality. Loyalty. Honesty. And Love. 

If you are doing it right, you will feel like you are revealing too much.

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Consciousness

Study Shows That Horses Understand Our Emotions & Remember Us Deeply

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In a recent study, researchers at the universities of Sussex and Portsmouth have discovered that horses can recognize and recall human expression.

  • Reflect On:

    We are all interconnected and it is beautiful to see more studies coming up that clearly showcase just how aware and in tune animals can be and are.

The more in tune with myself I strive to become, the more drawn I am to explore how connected we all are – not solely with one another, but with everything. This, like many other deeper concepts surrounding life, begs to answer the ever-present question of ‘are there other emotionally intelligent beings out there?’

One could argue that their dogs or other galactic beings (if real) could be emotionally intelligent, but as we look at all of the research, it is clear that most living organisms actually display a very obvious intelligence. From lobsters to plants, they have all been known to display some form of intelligence. This is precisely what was revealed when a recent study explored horses and their interaction with humans.

Let’s take a step back real quick. If you have ever owned or spent a lot of time riding with one particular horse, chances are good that you’ve felt some sort of special connection with them — and wondered if horses even like humans. Maybe you’ve felt like they were actually your friend, or a small part of your family, and wanted to know if the feeling was reciprocal. Research is now confirming that that connection isn’t all in your head — and anyone who has ever had a pet before, horse or not, definitely won’t be surprised at some of these recent findings.

In a recent study, researchers at the universities of Sussex and Portsmouth showed domestic horses photographs of humans with either a happy or angry expression on their faces. Then, later on, the horses were introduced to the same people they saw in the photographs, now with neutral expressions. This new study shows that horses can actually understand and remember human emotions, which is something that makes them seem even more magical than they already did.

“Researchers watched the eye movements of horses as they met the photograph subjects in real life. The horses perceived those who had been photographed with an angry face as more threatening.” – UPI

Horses were more wary of people they previously saw in a photo with an angry expression on their face. Photo by University of Portsmouth/University of Sussex

UPI reports that previous research showed horses tend to focus on negative or threatening objects and events with their left eye, as the right hemisphere of their brain is tasked with assessing risk. In the new experiment, researchers found horses stared at subjects who had been photographed with an angry expression using their left eye.

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“What we’ve found is that horses can not only read human facial expressions but they can also remember a person’s previous emotional state when they meet them later that day — and, crucially, that they adapt their behavior accordingly,” Karen McComb, a professor at the University of Sussex, said in a news release. “Essentially horses have a memory for emotion.”

Scientists have previously shown horses can recognize expressions, but the latest findings, published this week in the journal Current Biology, are the first to show the mammals can recall an expression linked with an individual’s face.

“We know that horses are socially intelligent animals, but this is the first time any mammal has been shown to have this particular ability,” Portsmouth researcher Leanne Proops said. “What’s very striking is that this happened after just briefly viewing a photograph of the person with a particular emotional expression — they did not have a strongly positive or negative experience with the person.”

This is a beautiful discovery in and of itself as stated above, outside of ourselves there had not been any recording of other mammals showing this ability.

The Takeaway

With more of us beginning to turn inward for growth, it is beautiful to see that more and more research is coming to the forefront revealing our fellow animal kingdom as being connected and in tune with us as much as their surroundings. At times when everything else seems to be chaotic, remember to be still. The real magic within us and our connectedness to everything is what oneness consciousness is all about. You are not alone in this world, let alone in the universe. It is in our awareness that we allow bonds that were seen as less than to blossom — it is in our remembrance of Self that we re-member as One with all.

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Aquarius: Pleasure & Originality

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We are having a Full Moon in Aquarius which is exact on August 15th at 12:29 pm, Universal Time. It will appear the fullest on the night of August 14th in the Americas and on the night of 15th everywhere else.

This is the peak of the Lunar cycle which began two weeks prior with a New Moon in Leo. The energies of it build up as the Moon increases its light and are strongest in the days before and after. However, it will still be a part of the backdrop over the following two weeks.

Full Moon’s are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Sun in Leo and Moon in Aquarius. It can reflect either a conflict or integration of both signs. We can feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Leo side and others expressing the Aquarius side.

Leo is associated with self-expression, creativity, love, affection, children, courage, vitality, passion, leadership, generosity, and playfulness. Ruled by the Sun, it is also about shining in our power and being in alignment with what really lights us up and gets us excited.

The negative expressions of Leo can be egotistical, self-absorbed, authoritarian, dramatic, stubborn, jealous, and hot-tempered.  As it is associated with seeking praise and attention, it can be demanding of respect and be too loud and boisterous without considering or caring about how others respond to that.

The best way to approach Leo energy in a positive way is to be in our authentic and heart centred version of ourselves; whether it be in our creations, how we perform, or how we express other Leo traits previously mentioned. When we do this, we are more likely to receive a supportive response from those on the receiving end.

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Aquarius is associated with friends, social networks, the group, the team, humanity, and being in the best interest of the collective. Associated with Uranus, it can be unconventional, idealistic, innovative, original, inventive, technological, reforming, and even revolutionary. It tries to figure out how to do things in a better way and takes the future into consideration. Although it is idealistic, it still applies itself intellectually and rationally yet can also be theoretical at times.

Negatively, Aquarius can be overly detached, aloof, unemotional, and very invested in the mind at the expense of the heart. Traditionally ruled by Saturn, it can also be unyielding when it comes to the ideas and perspectives that it has already decided on.

Aquarius is also associated with science which negatively is reflected by Saturn as it is limited to the material world, yet reflected positively by the innovativeness of Uranus. Furthermore, other Uranian expressions of Aquarius can be of a higher level of consciousness which can go beyond the limitations of only observing the physical aspects of reality, and integrating the spiritual as well.

Both Leo and Aquarius have some similarities. They are ‘Fixed’ signs and therefore can both be determined yet stubborn. They are also both associated with originality and authenticity. In Aquarius, this comes from its unconventional and innovative Uranian attributes while in Leo it comes from being inspired by its heart centred self-expression.

Full Moon Opposing Venus Superior Conjunction In a Quincunx With Pluto

At the time of this Full Moon, Venus is closely aligned with the Sun in Leo from our Earth-based perspective which is known as its ‘Superior Conjunction’ lasting from August 10th-17th. This is when the Earth and Venus are on opposite sides of the Sun.

This is a period in which we may experience important developments connected to Venus ruled areas (love, relationships, friendships, values, finances, worth, creativity, aesthetics). This is sort of like the beginning of a new Venus cycle in which it will be travelling ahead of the Sun until Spring 2020.

However, another way to look at it is that this period can bring more clarity and forward momentum around things connected to what was going on in the Fall of 2018 and building up since then. Venus last joined the Sun from our vantage point in late October when it was retrograde in its ‘Inferior Conjunction’. This was when the Earth and Venus were on the same side of the Sun. .

At that time something may have been seeded or we could have been doing something that may have had a direct or indirect connection to how things are playing out at this point. It can be associated with Venus ruled areas but it could also have something to do with other aspects of your life, triggered by its previous retrograde last Fall.

Due to the Full Moon being in an opposition with this conjunction, it’s also possible that the push-pull energy of the Leo-Aquarius polarity (mentioned above) can have something to do with Venus themes of values, love, relationships, friendships, finances, worth, self-worth, creativity, or aesthetics.

The Sun/Venus conjunction is in a quincunx aspect with Pluto in Capricorn. This can bring in frustrations and/or needed adjustments connected to fears, power, control issues, obsessions, hidden matters, shadow qualities, repressed feelings, sex, desires, structures, and ambitions to any developments connected to the Superior Conjunction of Venus. For many people, this may also be associated with the themes of last Lunar Eclipse.

Mercury Trine Chiron and Square Uranus

Less than seven hours before this Full Moon, Mercury (which has returned to Leo) ended its post shadow period of its previous retrograde that occurred throughout July. In the last few weeks things may have started to flow more smoothly and we could have experienced some resolutions and clarity around any challenges or issues that came up in the month prior. We may feel things moving forward and could also experience further developments related to this in early September.

During this Full Moon and in the day following, Mercury is in a trine with Chiron and square with Uranus, which has recently begun its retrograde. Our thoughts, communications, or other developments can be healing, holistic, spiritually oriented, unconventional, unique, awakening, and insightful. We can be more inventive, tap into new and original ideas, or bridge different things that don’t normally come together.

This energy can also be a bit unstable, impulsive, or we can be mentally scattered depending on how we apply ourselves. We can experience disruptions, surprises, changes in our plans and routines, or a disconnect in communications. Considering that Uranus is nearly stopped in the sky as it begins its retrograde, its energies are amplified right now. This can also reflect more extreme manifestations of its energy such as rebellion, separation, or even accidents in rare cases.

Mercury Trine Jupiter, Venus Conjunct Mars While Moving Towards Trine With Uranus

From August 20th-21st, Mercury will be in a trine with Jupiter in Sagittarius which has recently ended its retrograde and  is now moving forward. This can be good for learning, expansive communications or thoughts, travel plans, positive thinking, and optimism. We may want to seek the big picture, beliefs, perspectives, and meaning. For some people this can be lucky and there is a higher probability that things going on at this time can go very well.

Venus joins Mars from August 23rd-25th. This can be great for romantic, social, or creative activities. It can stimulate passion and sexuality. We may seek pleasure at this time yet we can also be impulsive about it. It can be good for anything that involves female and male energy coming together. Considering that this conjunction is occurring in Virgo, it can also be good for any type of actions or work that involve beautifying anything or even cleaning and organizing.

Both of these planets are also moving towards a trine with Uranus which is strongest over the following week. Venus makes its contact with it from August 25th to 26th which can bring an exciting, surprising, or stimulating energy around our relations and finances.

It can also be be good to participate in something fun that is different or new to us. For some people it can reflect creative undertakings especially if it involves technology. Making aesthetic changes in some way can also be ideal as well.

Mars’ trine with Uranus is strongest from August 27th-29th. This is good for any sort of actions that are unusual, experimental, liberating, progressive, technological, or independent. We may want to do something that involves making positive change.

Things To Consider At This Time

What has come up for you in the last week around values, relationships, love, friendships, finances, pleasures, creativity, worth, or aesthetics? How should you proceed forward based on these developments or realizations?

How can you balance your personal passions with the needs of the collective? How can you resolve any conflicts between leadership and a team or group? Are you experiencing any challenges or conflict between your heart and intellect? What is your gut telling you? What signs are you getting from the Universe?

What can you do to be more innovative, original, or progressive? What areas of your life are calling for growth, expansion, exploration, meaning, or better understanding? Is there anything that you feel you should be doing to help you feel more free?

Do you have fears, repressed/deep feelings, shadow qualities, or obsessions that are creating obstacles or complications? If so, how should you handle it? Do you need to release or unravel anything to help you feel better, heal, or bring more joy into your life?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up at this Full Moon, it is best to do so anytime after the peak of the Full Moon when it begins to wane until the next New Moon in two weeks. The exact moment of this Full Moon is on August 15th at 12:29pm Universal Time. You can click here to so what that is in your time zone.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and YOUTUBE for more astrology related content.

astrology, astrology readings, carmen di luccio

Looking for astrological insight into what is going on in your life? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order. 

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Consciousness

Tips For Those Who Have Trouble Meditating & How To Overcome Them

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I’m willing to bet that meditation is not a new concept to you.

With one of the latest rough estimates gauging that anywhere between 200 to 500 million people meditate with regularity globally, there is a pretty good chance you’ve either tried it at some point or at least have been encouraged to — especially if you decided to read this article.

And while there are plenty of people who swear by its power, myself included at times, I’m convinced that there are plenty more of us who just don’t get what all the hype is about. While I don’t personally believe that we all need to become meditation aficionados, I wanted to create a resource for those of you who have interest in jumping on the bandwagon but always seem to hit a roadblock.

I’ve nailed down 4 of the most common reasons why so many of us struggle to meditate and how we can change that. Watch it or read it, the choice is yours!

1. Preconceived Belief That Meditation Is Boring

Compared to the sights and sounds of ordinary conscious life, meditation certainly can be substantially less sensorially stimulating — especially at first. But that’s part of the point! One of meditation’s greatest potential powers is its ability to bring us into the present moment without any glaring distractions, a reality that many of us haven’t experienced in years.

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So if you’re part of the crowd that keeps putting meditation off because you think it’ll be too boring, I challenge you to ask yourself: is boredom really the issue? Or am I instead either so addicted to stimulation or even worse afraid to be alone with my thoughts?

Solution: Involve others! Either set up a challenge with your friends to add an element of competition and accountability to it, or meditate with a group in a public space. It’s amazing how much less intimidating being alone with your thoughts can be if you’re not the only one intending to do it.

2. Crazy Expectations

If I were to ask you to create a mental image representative of the word meditation, what would come to mind? I’m willing to bet that at least one (if not several) of the following elements would come up: the sunrise, a sunset, a monk, mountains, or someone sitting cross-legged with great posture.

While these visuals certainly are accurate depictions of meditation, they don’t account for the vast majority of the 200 to 500 million of us that are practicing it regularly. Meditation can be done at any time of day, in a countless number of settings, on a comfy chair, and sitting or laying quite normally. So rather than setting these unrealistic expectations of what meditation is supposed to be like, why not just try making it your own?

Solution: Remind yourself that we are all human. Even those who claim to have attained the most profound insight while meditating have had just as many random thoughts pop into their head, so you’re not broken and just as capable.

3. Shear Impatience

We live in a world where a substantial number of us are not only used to but fully expect things instantaneously. We’re run by instant gratification, and when something fails to provide that, we’re quick to lose interest and ultimately our patience.

If you want to meditate regularly but patience is an issue for you, I’ve got some bad news: meditation will never satisfy your need for instant results. But meditation is also one of the best tools for developing a state of mind that won’t be so hungry for them!

Solution: Start by “forcing” yourself to practice patience through a reward and/or punishment system. Establish something that you are going to reward yourself with for meditating 7, 14, or 21 days in a row. Or even better, set up a punishment (ex. donating $100 to a cause you don’t believe in) for not sticking to your goal.

4. Overreacting To Thoughts

One second you’re focusing on your breath, and before you know it several minutes have gone by and your mind has drifted through a random string of thoughts you never thought imaginable. As I mentioned above, this is far more normal than you may think!

The part we need to focus on is how we choose to react to noticing that our mind has drifted off rather than the fact that it has.

There is a substantial difference between allowing yourself to get pissed off while believing that the entire meditation is ruined, and just noting that you’ve drifted, and bringing yourself back to your initial intention.

Solution: I’ve highlighted the word noting above because I believe it’s one of the best solutions for this issue. When you realize that your mind has drifted, choose to make a calm mental note that it has happened and then bring yourself back either by re-focusing your attention on your breath or by doing a numeric countdown (anything with a meditative purpose that your mind can easily focus on).


Ready to change your life today? Get my FREE eBook on 5 Quick Daily Hacks for a GENUINELY Happier Life sent straight to your inbox within 48 hours by signing up here. And for more brutally honest personal development content designed for those who actually want to change, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and to follow me on Facebook.

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