“Without friction a wheel cannot move forward.”

 – Unknown

I want to live with an appreciation for the friction in my life which strengthens my leadership skills and makes me more resilient. At InnerWill, one of our five practices of Values Based Leadership is to Practice Reflection – which is, in essence, pausing to learn. The behaviors that support this practice are:

• Review my thoughts, actions, and impact
• Learn from experience
• Apply the lessons

This year has been a challenging one so far, and for me there is much upon which to reflect.

Early in January as I prepared for a double knee replacement, I got my house in order, prepared meals for my freezer, borrowed the necessary post-surgery equipment, and strengthened my upper body. The first weeks after surgery were difficult and quite painful but, over time and with physical therapy, I made progress every single day.

After my recovery I welcomed my return to the office, but it was just a few short weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic relegated me and my colleagues to working from home. It was time to shift again and work on flexibility.

In late April I received word that my beloved mother was not doing well, and she wanted to see me and my husband. We made plans to visit briefly, but shortly after our arrival discovered that she was very ill. Six weeks later we laid her to rest. Then we headed home to quarantine for two weeks.

During this time, racial and political protests erupted with many people clamoring for their voices to be heard and understood, but my world was so focused on taking care of my mother that I was not fully aware of all that was taking place. As I worked through my grief and reconnected with the wider world, it became clear that there were opportunities for me to have conversations, to listen and learn much, and to move forward into positive change. The world and my world were both topsy-turvey.

So how does one lead oneself and others in the midst of the overwhelming circumstances many of us are experiencing? How are you choosing to lead yourself and others through the challenges of 2020? Here’s what I am in the process of learning and practicing:

• Focusing on what I can control – I don’t have control over many of the events right now, but I have the power to make many choices about how I show up and influence.

Making decisions and living in alignment with my values – Keeping my values as my filter for my decisions and actions provides me with a stable platform, keeping me steady in times of stress, uncertainty, and chaos.

• Giving a voice to what I am feeling – Name it and acknowledge it, don’t bury it. Neuroscience shows that understanding and naming emotion is part of the process of moving through it and being resilient. For me, this also means being willing to share my thoughts and feelings, allowing myself to grieve loss at the pace I set, extending grace to myself and others, and letting go of the things that no longer serve me well.

• Staying in the present – I want to focus on the gift in front of me rather than focusing on what might happen! This means cultivating the practice of gratitude for the here and now and keeping relationships top of mind.

Seeking to learn – I’m committed to expanding my knowledge and gaining wisdom from others. This means actively listening to understand others’ points of view and perspectives and being aware of my biases. It means meeting people where they are, not where I want them to be, and remembering that everyone I meet has a story.

I am definitely on a learning path this year and practicing many things that I want to become more automatic. My intention is to stay true to myself, honor others, stay healthy, and grow my leadership awareness and skills. Values Based Leadership is more relevant than ever as we strive to navigate uncharted waters and to live into our potential.

I would love to hear the lessons you are learning. Let’s help each other grow and fan the flame of hope!


Carla Ruiz

Carla Ruiz

Carla’s mission is to fuel growth and development by affirming strengths, challenging beliefs, and igniting potential through Values Based Leadership. She presents, facilitates, and coaches in a variety of leadership programs and with companies intentional about strengthening their culture. In her role as a Leadership Development Coach, she is passionate about increasing emotional intelligence, which she believes is the cornerstone of effective leadership.

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