Being Radical

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Lessons from a Manger

Recently, many of my conversations with my clients have focused on radical self-care. I am not talking about bubble baths and indulging in travel and dinners. Sure, it is important to treat ourselves to things we enjoy and yet self-care is so much more than eating expensive chocolates. I was reminded of this months ago when a team member of my firm’s told me she was not able to respond to my 3 PM text because she was having her “me” time. She used as a weapon how I spoke about self-care. I reminded her that self-care was ultimately about living well which includes not negating responsibilities and being mindful of our impact on others.

Yet, in our look-at-me-isn’t-my-life-wonderful social-media world, we are led to believe that self-indulgence is where it is at. Whether I am talking to the teens who fill our home or talking to C-level executives, self-care is a radical, revolutionary act that we can give ourselves and role-model for those entrusted to our care.

“No” is an act of empowerment especially if it is stated clearly, calmly, and with respect.

Radical self-care can change our worlds and demonstrate connected leadership, even during this season of over-the-top-commercialism. Radical self-care involves:

  • Not saying yes.
    How many times have you co-signed someone else’s bullshit by going along, covering yourself with the blanket of denial, and allowing people to guilt you into doing things you do not want or should not do? We all do this and herein lies the radical, life-changing act. “No” is an act of empowerment especially if it is stated clearly, calmly, and with respect: No, that is not what you said. No, that does not work for me. No, I am not continuing to do the same thing expecting a different result. No, your behaviors do not align with your words.
  • Not taking the invite to the fight.
    We live in a world where people have somehow confused honesty with saying whatever they want, whenever they want, and to whomever they want. Remember: you do not have to enter into the fray just because someone wants to drag you in. You do not have to explain or defend. You do not have to engage with crazy, delusional, or paranoid. You can choose not to participate in guilt-inducing manipulation. Create boundaries designed to keep you safe from people who abuse, lie, and do damage and surround yourself with people who help to restore you to sanity.
  • Self-nourishing acts.
    We change our world by digging deep, learning as much as we can about ourselves, and being accepting, honest, open, and willing. One of the most courageous things we can do is nourish ourselves with people who fuel us in healthy, life-affirming ways. By eating well and exercising, of course. By drinking tons of water and sleeping soundly and long. By honoring our truth and not deluding ourselves about our life and the people in it. By learning to sit quietly and listen to the whispers of wisdom. By accepting what needs to be acknowledged and being accountable.
  • Standing tall.
    Life throws us curves. Sometimes avalanches. Leaders who are connected to themselves in deep, honest ways make the changes necessary to live in alignment with a higher purpose. They serve but are not obsequious. They work hard but do not hustle for approval. They apologize honestly and make amends yet do not grovel. They choose wisely. They go the extra mile yet rest along the way, fueling themselves.

The practice of radical self-care is a continual journey and what better time to start it or to renew commitment to it than now. It will outshine even the sparkliest gift under the tree.

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Karen Hardwick brings decades of expertise to her work as a trusted advisor and coach to C-level and senior executives, their teams, and organizations.

Karen is known for sharing her own life-stories with clients in order to role-model transparency, foster connection and empathy, and enhance success. She has created a unique model for deepening connection — The Connected Leader™ — which gets to the core of a company and its people with compassion, intuition, and business savvy. Her upcoming book, The Connected Leader, is filled with her powerful voice and inspires others to lead with emotional wholeness, spiritual strength, and mental well-being in order to become their best selves and help others do the same.

Karen lives in Atlanta with her husband, Greg, and their 17-year-old son, Matthew, where she can be found around the table with friends and family eating nourishing, home-cooked meals and sharing stories. She is the biggest contributor to the family ‘swear jar,’ despite her daily practice of meditation and prayer. And above all, Karen believes that living a life of connection is courageous; a sacred calling that requires all we’ve got.

Karen J. Hardwick, M.Div., MSW

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The Power of Connection

Karen is currently writing a book about how the power of connection can transform leaders into catalysts, groups into teams, and businesses into places where people lean in to courage, clarity, and compassion.

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