Focus – How Engaged are You?

Are you engaged or disengaged with your work?

If you admit to feeling disengaged, you’re not alone. Studies show that a whopping 71% of the US workforce is not engaged in their work. While it’s good to know that we’re not alone, it makes me wonder how the 29% who feel engaged are accomplishing this. How do they do it?

What would it be like to wake up energized and enthusiastic about going to work every day?

What would it be like to be the CEO chief engagement officer – of your work and your life? How can we change our energy about the work we do each day?

Here are 5 ways to increase your level of engagement:

Communicate– Unplug and have real face time conversations as much as possible. Create a genuine connection by talking about more than just work. Showing interest in someone as an individual goes a long way towards creating a lasting impression. You will become a communication model and inspire others as you cultivate real connections.

Listen and learn – to your staff, co-workers, and customers. They all have something valuable to say, and when you listen attentively you will learn what is most important to them. The simple act of listening sends a message to them that you are interested in who they are and what they have to say.

Care – Give your full attention to the people you interact with every day. Being thoughtful goes a long way towards creating positive energy. It often sparks mutual caring among teammates and colleagues and builds constructive relationships.

Atmosphere – Create a positive atmosphere. Choose to smile and make eye contact. Energy is contagious. When you opt to be positive it will ripple out to others in your circle of influence.

Praise – Catch people doing things right and tell them how great they are. People strive to do better when their efforts are noticed and appreciated.

Whether you manage a team or work independently, your level of engagement affects not only how you feel but also the bottom line. You will eliminate the cost of lost productivity, absenteeism, and disgruntled behavior by connecting with those around you.

There are two approaches that affirm and increase positive connections for individuals and teams.

1-     Focus on what’s right by identifying your own and your co-workers strengths. In a world where we tend to focus on what’s wrong and what needs fixing, it can be refreshingly positive to instead focus on what is working. How do each person’s strengths benefit the team’s efforts and lead to greater success? What would happen if you developed those strengths further and empowered each person to do their best, and to be their best? What would be the impact on the bottom line if each employee was empowered to use their strengths fully?

2-     Focus on a theme.  Use the One Word approach to expand your awareness and center your attention over an entire year on an attribute that promotes your growth and success.  Teams and organizations that are using this approach organize individuals collectively behind a common purpose and hold a vision before them for mutual success.

These two approaches for greater Focus develop the character of those who use them. That character development impacts the actions that they take. Those actions have an influence on their level of engagement and the success of the company… well asother activities they give their attention to.

What is one step you’re willing to take today to be more engaging?


Today’s author: Carol deLaski is a certified leadership coach and speaker. She will be leading a Breakthrough Workshop for Women: Stay Focused, Stay Motivated with One Word on February 19th from 9-10:30 am.  Click here for more details and to pre-register


On-the-Grow: Genuine Connections

On-the-Grow: Genuine Connections

As I reflect on the wonderful Heart Centered Leadership retreat hosted by the Wholistic Coaching Coalition last week, I am filled with gratitude. Each time this community comes together there is a buzz of genuine connection that creates an uplifting energy which sustains me long after we part ways. There are hugs, laughter, and sincere interactions of interest and concern. This occurs whether women are meeting for the first time or reconnecting.

What creates the fertile soil for this garden of women-on-the-grow; women who are embracing self-development to improve their professional and personal lives? I believe this environment is grounded in four fundamental coaching principles that seed and nurture the Wholistic Woman Community.

The Community practices non-judgment. In so many areas of our lives women are encouraged to compare themselves to others, whether that “other” is someone in the media, someone in the office, or someone in our families. In this community, however, no one is being compared to anyone else. Acceptance occurs for who you are and where you are in your life, and acknowledgement for being open to lifelong learning.

We also practice respect. We see and appreciate every woman’s unique strengths, and we encourage one another to use these strengths in an ever-more intentional manner. Moreover, we respect the process of growth, and trust that each of us will take away what is most important for ourselves from the new information being offered. We don’t ‘should’ on one another, telling each other what to do or dictating our opinions. We stay focused on our own growth while allowing others to discover their own insights.

Another crucial practice is listening deeply to what is being said as well as to what is left unsaid. Intuitive listening is a skill that the coaches of this community have invested significant energy to master. The more time women spend in this community, the more they develop the skill themselves.  In this busy world it is becoming more and more unusual to have occasions of deep connection with ourselves and with others. We are bombarded with an almost continuous stream of information and opportunities to connect via various technologies. The Wholistic Woman events allow for in-person connections where we are able to make eye contact, focus on what is being said, and let go of distractions to allow for more fulfilling interactions. The result is that we feel uplifted rather than depleted.

Each of these coaching practices of non-judgment, respect, and deep listening contribute to create an overall positive environment for self-discovery. Consciously using these practices we develop trust that leads to the final, important, practice: finding and using our voices. This safe space for sharing allows women to get out of our own heads and risk telling others what our challenges are, and what insights are being learned as we approach our own growing edge. This edge is the place where we are mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally stretching, experimenting, and discovering new truths or ways of being. The coaches model continual growth and encourage like-minded women to do the same.

After co-hosting five retreats and other assorted events, I can easily say that these are the qualities that make the Wholistic Woman Community uniquely special. I encourage you to find a way to stay connected to this community so that you will reap the benefits throughout the year. Choose a coach to work with, attend a workshop, or become a member and be involved in this dynamic, stretching, garden of blossoming women.

You will also find these coaching qualities practiced monthly at the Breakthrough Workshops. This month’s topic is “Find Out What’s Holding You Back” and will be offered at two times: an evening workshop for men and women on Tuesday, October 15th from 5:30-7:00 PM, and a morning workshop for women on Wednesday, October 16th from 8:00-9:30 AM. I invite you to join me to learn four effective strategies to break free and begin moving forward to reach your goals. Click here for details or to register.


Today’s author: Carol deLaski is a certified leadership coach, author, and speaker. You may contact her at or 301-371-7460.


Words to Live By

“What’s your word?” I asked the thoughtful-looking woman standing before me. She gazed off into the distance and said quietly, “Acceptance. It’s the lens through which I’m challenging myself with some hard questions. For example, I’ve been dieting for months and have been experiencing success. So now I need to ask myself, ‘When will I stop? When will I accept that I’ve lost enough weight?’ My word is also challenging me to accept my 17- year-old daughter for who she’s becoming, even in little ways, such as accepting what clothes she chooses to wear to school each day.”

Words carry energy. There’s no denying it. I’ve always been fascinated by this fact. Words can motivate and inspire us to greatness, or in one fell swoop they can deflate and discourage us.

Have you noticed what words carry great energy for you?

This year I’ve been using a theme word as a lens through which I view my professional and personal life. My word is Believe. It came to me after following a process outlined in the book, One Word to Change Your Life by Britton, Page, and Gordon. I have now taught and coached this process to many others as well, and I am inspired by the stories I have heard as a result of this work.

The process is about receiving a word that is meant to guide you for an entire year. Instead of going through a mental exercise of picking a good word, the process is about creating a quiet space, both physically and mentally, to open your heart and receive a great word.  The process can move swiftly or it can take time. One of my clients waited two full months before her word became clear to her. She patiently tested various words during that time, but none of them felt quite right until one day, two months into the process, a particular word resonated with her heart and she knew she had found it. Discerning the word that is meant for you takes patience, observation, and self-awareness.  It means bypassing your thoughts and paying attention to what your heart is guiding you towards.

Examples of words that I’ve seen people embrace this year are: Open, Ask, Courage, Surrender, Positivity, Patience, Discipline, Observe, Plans, Light, Breathe, and Change.

What a variety! The good news is that there is no right or wrong word.

Some people embrace, their word immediately, while others resist it. Certain words have even initially evoked fear. One woman in particular received the word Courage. Her first response was that she didn’t want the word because she didn’t want anything to occur to her that would require courage. She wisely chose to test, or live, with the word for a day to see what she could learn about it. During this trial period she asked her husband if he ever thought she was courageous, and he surprised her with several powerful examples that provided her with a new perspective on herself. She also read the definition of courage in the dictionary and learned that the word originates from coer, which means heart.  Lastly, she noticed that a favorite word, and activity of hers, providing encouragement to others, contained courage within it. Armed with this information, she was able to accept what her heart already knew; this was to be her word for the year.

I am now expanding my appreciation of the energy that words hold as I prepare for the Wholistic Woman Heart Centered Leadership Retreat. As I learn about the Seven Principles of Heart Centered Leadership I am drawn to this particular principle: Know the Impact of your Words and Actions. It encourages heart-centered people to speak and act with integrity, and to wisely choose the words we use at work and at home. Leading lives that are guided by our hearts, instead of entirely by our heads, isn’t always easy. To do so we need to learn how to listen, and follow, the inner nudges which move us forward towards our higher purpose. I look forward to learning more about the seven principles of heart-centered leadership at the retreat and applying them to my personal and professional life. I hope you will join me there!

For details about the one day retreat on Friday September 27th, visit:

Carol deLaski is a Certified Leadership coach, speaker, and author. She works with individuals and businesses to focus and develop effective leadership skills for greater success. To contact her, email


Know Thyself

Know Thyself

OK, I have a confession to make…I am a self-help/personal growth and development book junkie.  I love books that help me understand how human relationships work, why people do the things they do, and how we can improve ourselves.  I gained some insight into this tendency a couple months ago when I took the StrengthsFinder assessment and “learner” showed up in my top 5 strengths.  When it come to fiction vs non-fiction, non-fiction wins my vote 9 times out of 10.  I watch TV for pleasure and entertainment.  I read to learn!  (This drives some of the people in my book club crazy, but that’s OK.)

I believe that self awareness is the key to happiness.  I strive, everyday, to learn something new about myself.  I know that I am a work in progress.  I don’t ever want to be “done”.  I believe that there is no upper limit on happiness or self awareness.  I am compelled to keep pushing the evolving edge of these, and I have chosen to surround myself with people who share this passion for wanting more of both.  Chances are, if you are taking the time to read this, that you too want to know yourself better.

As one of the life coaches of Wholistic Woman Retreats, I’ve been busy preparing for our upcoming fall event titled, “Heart Centered Leadership, An Invitation to Lead from the Inside Out” which is a half day retreat being held on September 27th, 2013 in Buckeystown, Maryland.  The retreat is based on the 7 principles of Heart-Centered Leadership as described in the book with the same title. And, as I’ve now confessed to one of my addictions, you’ve probably made the assumption that I am reading the book as part of my preparation, and guess what, you are right!

The opening lines of this book read, “At this very moment – while writing this book – we know we are a work in progress. As much as we will share our personal and professional experiences, we don’t have all the answers.  We are learning every day about the power of leadership, the power of people, and the power of connecting with people.”  OK, I’m hooked!  But wait, it gets better…!  Guess what principle #1 is titled!  Know Thyself!

Several years ago I wouldn’t have given a book like this a second glance.  Why you ask?  The simple answer is because I didn’t see myself as a leader.  I had a very narrow definition of that word.  I thought leaders were only found in business.  I thought that to be a leader you needed to be the head of your company, or leading a management team or something like that.  But because I was doing my own work, and learning new things about myself on a regular basis, I came to realize that we are all leaders.  The question is not, are you a leader, but rather, where and how do you lead?

Are you a CEO of a company?  Are you a parent?  Are you the owner of a business?  Are you a volunteer in an organization?  Are you an employee in a company?  Are you a student?  Are you someone’s friend?  Are you alive?  OK, you get it right, the list could go on and on.  But here’s the deal, if you answered yes to any of these questions, (if you answered “no” to the last question, then we have a problem) then guess what, you are a leader!  And, like I said earlier, if you are taking the time to read this blog then I know that, like me, you too believe that you are a work in progress and there is always more to know about yourself.

With that said, I’d like to invite you to join me and 39 other women for a day of self inquiry and growth at the Wholistic Woman’s fall retreat.  Aren’t you curious about what the 6 other principles are?

If you’ve been to one of our retreats in the past, you know that it will be a day for rejuvenation, fun, connection and learning.  You will make new friends and reconnect with others.  If you haven’t been before, well then you are in for a real treat!  You can sign up today by clicking here.  Don’t delay as space is limited.  Hope to see you there!  For more information, visit us at



Laura Hall is an iPEC certified life coach whose business, Hall Coaching, was established in 2009 with the vision of waking women up from the nightmares of “How did I get here?” and, “Is this as good as it gets?”, so that they can begin creating and living the life of their real dreams, hopes and desires. She offers both one on one as well as group coaching services. She can be reached at or check out her website at


These Boots are Made for Walking

These Boots Are Made for Walking….and that’s just what they’ll do…one of these days these boots are going to walk all over blue.

While strolling through life in my cowgirl boots this past month, many people have considerately asked me about my head and how my recovery from the concussion is going (which I had written about in the recent blog of Trading Ski Boots for Cowgirl Boots) I have been touched by everyone’s concern and wish I could say that I’m fully recovered, just as a toddler will say “all better, and run back into play after receiving a hug and a kiss. I wish I could do the same. “Not yet, but I’m working on it”, has been my answer.

There are many who struggle with significantly worse injuries and illnesses than mine and my heart goes out to them. It helps me, however, to gain perspective when I see the how others are handling their struggles. It also encourages me to look for the lessons in this experience of healing from a head injury. I notice how my thinking flows up and down, which causes my emotions and energy to do the same.

I have level one thoughts of fear and anxiety. What if I don’t fully recover? What if I never feel completely better? These thoughts swirl on the outskirts of my consciousness like birds circling above my head. I don’t let them land for long; shooing them away because their presence makes me sink into a blue despair.

Instead I move to level two and struggle with thoughts of frustration and impatience; I can’t believe I’m still not 100%. When am I ever going to be over this?! I experience inner conflict when my head and heart want to pursue normal activities and my body is not cooperating. Headaches and fatigue demand that I stop what I want to do, and instead do what I must do to manage my recovery.

Wanting relief from the struggle I seek level three by asking myself what I can do to take responsibility in this situation. Each day I find that I must balance my commitments to others with my commitment to my own self care. Taking more frequent breaks, even for a short time, makes a difference to my overall well being throughout the day. I walk away from the computer so I can rest my eyes by either closing them or by gazing out the window to take in the beauty I see outdoors. Recognizing that my head is heavy, I find a comfortable position to rest it and take the pressure of its 5-6 pounds off of my neck for awhile. These small gifts that I give to myself throughout the day may seem simple, yet they are exactly what I need to do in order to continue caring for my healing head. I feel empowered in a situation that is beyond my control when I take steps to be responsible for my own care. As long as I remember to take compassionate care of myself, I effectively leave my despair and frustration behind.

Heart healings are featured in my upcoming book, Lost and Found…One woman’s story of finding and keeping faith. I find it interesting that I now have the opportunity to learn about head healing. What I have discovered is that healing takes time. It can be slow and requires a great deal of patience.  The pace is easier to endure, however, when I look at it as an opportunity to grow, and these thoughts then shift me to a level five energy. With curiosity I ask myself, what can I learn from this today? I often forget to ask this powerful question. When I don’t, I’m much more likely to remain in level two struggling energy, or grab a hold of a level one thought of fear that swirls above me. But when I apply conscious effort to focus on the opportunities that lie within my difficulties, I raise my spirit, enthusiasm, and overall energy. And that lift, in itself, is worth the effort.

My cowgirl boots which I bought during a level 5 retail therapy outing when I could no longer wear my skiing boots after my concussion are a good reminder to  walk all over the level one energy of feeling blue.


Today’s author: Carol deLaski Hayes is a Certified Leadership Coach. You can reach Carol at or at 301-371-7460.


What’s Your Story?  Introducing Guest Blogging

What’s Your Story? Introducing Guest Blogging

“Never give up.  And most importantly, be true to yourself.  Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in.”  -Louise Brown

In October of 2010 Wholistic Woman Retreats published it’s first blog.  Since then we’ve posted 65 blogs, including this one.  As the quote above states, we’ve written from our heart, in our own voice and about what we believe in.

A few months ago, we came up with the idea of opening our blog space to members of the Wholistic Woman Community.  We know you are living amazing lives of both personal and professional trials and triumphs.  You have stories to tell.  Stories that may lift someone up at just the right time.  Stories that may give someone else an ‘ah-ha’ moment.  Stories that connect and inspire.  What’s your story?

If this idea is appealing and you are ready to share your wisdom about your own growth with our community here are the guidelines to participate.

Who is eligible to post?

This is a benefit for members of the Wholistic Woman Community only.  For information on membership, click here.


We are looking for blogs about personal and professional growth.  They may be inspiring, thought provoking, or personal in nature.  Of course they should be original with women being the target audience, but the material does not need to be exclusive to women.


400-1,000 words


We are looking for blogs that are written specifically for the Wholistic Woman Community and therefore request that you do not post your blog on any other sites.


  • Blogs may not include affiliate links
  • Personal links should not be included in the copy
  • 2 personal links are permitted in your byline


Please supply an image to accompany your blog.  If you need help with this, we will be happy to help you.  Please make sure you have permission to use the image you choose and if necessary give proper credit to the source.


Wholistic Woman Retreats has the right to edit your blog as we see necessary.  We will send the edited version to you for approval prior to posting.  We also reserve the right to reject blogs that are not consistent with our messaging of personal and professional growth.


Once your blog has been posted we request that you help promote it via social media.  You will be allowed to provide a link to it from your personal website if you choose.  We also request that you respond to any comments it may receive.

Now, what’s your story?  Please send your blog submissions to

We look forward to hearing from you!