Lighten Up!

Lighten Up

You are not your title

You are not your job

You are not your actions

You are not your looks

Lighten Up

You are not your experiences

You are not your past

You are not your faults

You are not your accolades

Lighten Up

You are not your car

You are not your house

You are not your wealth

You are not your financial debt

Lighten Up

You are not your family

You are not your friends

You are not your kids

You are not your reputation

Lighten Up


Life has a way of defining us by the things we have or the people we know or the clothes we wear or the job title on our business cards. But that’s not who we are. All those things are merely feedback on who we’ve been and how we’ve shown up in the world.

The moment we identify ourselves using external criteria is the moment we’ve lost touch with the essence of who we are. And we are much more than that.” Greg Giesen


I read a story recently about an Army medical doctor who suffered a terrible illness and was declared dead in the hospital. The sheet was pulled over his head and the hospital staff sadly left the room. Only he wasn’t dead. His heart stopped…his vital signs ceased…but his spirit had not completely left his body. In the timeless world of the afterlife, he experienced the most amazing journey of going through a tunnel towards a white light that radiated love and warmth. You’ve heard these stories before.


During his out-of-body experience, he prepared himself to meet his maker. He recalled all of his life accomplishments…from getting straight A’s in college to graduating from medical school…from joining the Army to marrying his beautiful wife…from having three incredible kids to receiving numerous awards for his scientific research. He was proud of all that he had done and was ready to defend the life he had lived.

And then the most unexpected thing happened.

This powerful and radiating bright light of energy engulfed him and asked him one and only one question:

How much did you love?

Moments later he was magically back in his body in the hospital room with the sheet over head. Only a few minutes had actually passed and yet his whole life instantly changed forever.

He now knew that the essence of life was about love.

From that day forward the doctor transformed himself into a man who was truly in the moment and present with people. He laughed again. He was no longer afraid to be wrong. He had a renewed compassion for himself and for others that was based on love and acceptance. And he smiled all the time and for no particular reason. He was simply grateful to be given a second chance.

In the weeks ahead, I’m going to be sharing with you a concept called The Laughing Leader. I’m going to introduce to you a brand new, creative, and powerful leadership style that will help you lighten up and enjoy the journey, while increasing your productivity at the same time.

I can’t wait!


Greg Giesen


Bless me Father…

From the desk of Greg Giesen

I went to a Halloween costume party the other night dressed as a priest. Actually, I went to the wrong Halloween costume party the other night dressed as a priest. Turns out there were two houses right next door to each other having parties and I, having never been to my friend’s house before, walked into the wrong one.

And then things got interesting.


Since I was so sure this was my friend’s house, I decided to simply let myself in, bypassing proper protocols like knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell. After all, these were my friends.

Upon entering, I was greeted by a little eight-year-old girl who happily took my coat.  That’s odd, I thought to myself, I didn’t know kids were going to be at this party.


I then paused for a second and surveyed the room, searching for a familiar face. There were none. Actually, I thought I recognized Count Dracula and the Cat Woman, but neither seemed to recognize me. There was also a group gathered in the kitchen, but outside of a couple bad imitations of Johnny Depp’s pirate character, I recognized no one.

Usually in these awkward moments, the party host or hostess will surface and formally invite their guest (in this case me) into the party, but no such luck. No one emerged. It also occurred to me that I have never met my friend’s friends before.

I suddenly became a little self-conscious. Here I was dressed in a priest’s outfit, standing aimlessly in the hallway, while starring at a room filled with Goblins, Ghosts, and shady characters. It was like I was an extra in a bad movie, called in to perform some kind of exorcism. Oh yeah, and apparently I’m invisible at the same time.


I need to do something, I reasoned, so I did what anyone would do in this situation…I headed for my safe haven—better know as the bar.

I don’t know if you’ve ever worn a priest outfit to a party before, but it can be an interesting experience to say the least. I’m walking over to the bar area of the (wrong) house and notice that people (who I don’t know) respectively moved out of my way as I passed. You know, kind of like the parting of the Red Sea. What’s more, many nodded and said, “Father” as I went by. And I nodded back, like I was blessing them or something. Weird.

I pour a beer (I know, it should have been wine) and started chatting with the Shakespeare character standing next to me. Within seconds he asks for some advice on a personal situation, like we’ve know each other for years. I gladly gave my two cents, just happy to have someone to talk to.

Moments later another guy in a robe comes in from having had a cigarette on the back porch and says to me, “It was so strange out there. I was hearing voices.”

Are you telling me this because I look like a priest, I thought. I laughed and awkwardly, hoping he’d go away. He did.

Eventually a cave woman found her way to me and introduced herself. “So how do you know Paul?” she asked.

I said, “I know Karen.”

“Who’s Karen?” she replied.

“Karen, the host of the party.”

“This party?” she questioned with a confused look on her face.

“Isn’t this Karen’s house?” I asked, feeling the floor start to give way underneath me.

“No, this is Paul’s house. I think you might be at the wrong party!”

In that moment I could see heads turn towards me as the room became uncomfortably silent.

“This isn’t 3757 Briarwood?” I joked, already knowing the answer.

“No, this is 3755.”

“But we’d love to have you stay Father!” yelled Johnny Depp #2.

“Why not, you’re already here,” added Cat Woman.

If there ever was a time for an exorcist, this was probably it. I smiled as my face turned three shades of red. Even the guy in the devil’s outfit looked pale in comparison.

“I should probably at least make an appearance next door,” I mused, as I backed out of the kitchen. “But I’m sure I’ll be back.”

The walk from the coat room to the front door couldn’t have happened fast enough as I humbly walked out of the house and over to the party next door.

Having just had a surreal experience, I rang the doorbell next door this time and was immediately greeted by Karen, the host of the party.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” she said as she brought me into the house.


 “You have no idea,” I said and headed for the bar.


How to take a vacation every day!

From the desk of Greg Giesen

I’m enjoying the final few hours of my Maui vacation. I’ve already checked out of my room and get to spend the whole day at the resort before flying home in the evening. Normally I’m not a fan of evening flights but this one made a lot of sense and essentially added an extra day onto my vacation in paradise.

Here’s my Maui satellite office that has served me well during this week. What was particularly interesting to me about this spot was that I was able to be effective and efficient in whatever business dealings I had to take care of while my mind remained in vacation-mode—in many ways a contradiction of sorts.


And yet that’s the beauty of it. The setting—which includes the tropical sights, sounds, smells, and warm temperatures—put me in a constant state of peacefulness, serenity and appreciation.

So this leads to the million dollar question: Is there a way to maintain this state of mindfulness…this state of being…when I return home back to the hustle and bustle; where the work has piled up in my absence with deadlines looming?

The answer is YES! All it takes is a daily meditation practice.

Think about it. The many benefits of a vacation include:

·      Restfulness

·      Change of pace

·      Relaxation

·      Increased right brain activity

·      Being in the moment

·      Playfulness

·      Mind-body integration

·      Slower heart rate

·      Appreciation

·      Peacefulness

·      Ability to go with the flow


The many benefits of a 15-20 minute daily mediation include:

·      Restfulness

·      Change of pace

·      Relaxation

·      Increased right brain activity

·      Being in the moment

·      Playfulness

·      Mind-body integration

·      Slower heart rate

·      Appreciation

·      Peacefulness

·      Ability to go with the flow

Interesting! I’ve been practicing daily meditation for years but didn’t see the power of this analogy until now. Meditation is a mini-vacation and can provide the same benefits.


Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating putting an end to vacations. Not at all. But I am advocating the importance of a daily meditation practice. After all, who wouldn’t want to operate from a place of peacefulness and appreciation all the time! I know I would. And if you haven’t realized it yet, this is also what Zen leadership is all about…the ability to lead from within so that we can remain calm and in control while in the eye of the storm.


If you do meditate daily, perhaps this blog will enhance the experience as it has done for me. If you do not meditate, I would strongly encourage you to explore the idea and consider trying it out. What do you have to lose?

Lastly, there are a variety of different mediation techniques and modalities out there and it would be difficult to recommend a particular one without knowing a little more about each of you individually. With that said, I will leave you with a resource who has not only been on our radio show as a guest but who has created a powerful meditation technique that will work for anyone. His name is George Green and his technique is called Heart Harmonies Immersive Mindfulness Training. Click on the link to learn more and tell him Geese sent you.

That’s it for now. I still have a few hours to go here in Maui and it’s time to play a little more.



There never is a good time…

From the desk of Greg Giesen

Why is it that there never seems to be a good time, or enough time, to:

  • Take a meaningful vacation
  • Attend that Yoga class you’ve been talking about
  • Add a day onto a business trip to see the sights
  • Provide team building for your work group
  • Sit by the fire and read a trashy novel
  • Do personal growth work
  • Hire a management/leadership coach
  • Take time for yourself

What’s up with that?

Is the hustle and bustle of our lives so important that we neglect ourselves in the process? If that’s the case, then we’re being shortsighted and missing the big picture.

And yes, I’m talking about myself as well.

You see, I’m headed out to Hawaii for a vacation of a lifetime and I’m feeling a little guilty. I’m feeling guilty because the timing of this trip is not ideal given all the projects I’m currently involved with, not to mention that I’m right smack in the middle of revamping my business after fifteen years. Why, I’ve got deadlines to meet…people waiting for reports…web designers needing copy…marketing people looking for direction…clients seeking coaching…associates needing my time…friends wondering why I don’t communicate more…and a little Yorkie named Bailey complaining that I travel too much.


Clearly, it’s just not a good time.

Or is it?

Maybe the better question should be: Is there ever a good time?

Well, is there?

I can tell you that there are two possible answers to this question.

  • The short-term (in the moment) answer will always be NO!
  • The long-term (visionary) answer will always be YES!

What do I mean?

If we live our lives in a reactive-mode, then we have a tendency to define ourselves by what’s happening around us in the moment. This is what I mean by short-term. Because there will always be more work than we have time for; more fires to put out than we have fire hoses; more meetings and obligations to attend than we can possibly fit on our busy schedules…there will never be enough time or the right time to do anything for ourselves that’s outside of the rat race. That’s because we are the rat race.

When we choose to define ourselves by what’s happening around us, we allow the external environment to dictate who we are on a given day. When productivity is high and complications are minimal, we had a good day. When productivity is low and complications are overwhelming, we had a bad day…and the cycle continues.

I choose to think differently.


I prefer to take the long-term, proactive perspective about life. What this means is that I am committed to being a work-life balanced leader in all facets of my life. This means taking vacations, making time for family and friends, working out at the gym three-times per week, seeking out personal growth opportunities, and taking quality time for myself…even if I don’t have the time.

If I’m not at my best with clients, colleagues, friends and family, then I’m doing a disservice to them and to myself. Therefore, I need to take good care of myself so that I can serve the people in my life, both personally and professionally, at the highest level possible.

So it really doesn’t matter if it’s a good time or not. If you are committed to continuous growth and development, as I am, then you do it anyways. There will always be things that pop up in life and fires to put out. What’s non-negotiable is our commitment to ourselves.

Florida 010

This is what the Leading From Within program is all about. This is what the Zen Leadership Institute (my new company) will be focused on. And this is why I’m going to put work aside for a few days so I can fully enjoy being in Hawaii. No, it’s not a good time and I’m going anyways!



What the little white ball taught me about authenticity–Part II

From the desk of Greg Giesen

CLICK HERE to read Part I

And then my mouth dropped as the title came into view. No way! I exclaimed. Are you kidding me!

Sure enough, the one subject I no longer wanted to read about…the one symbol I never wanted to see again…was right there staring me in the face. The cover depicted a golf ball flying over the fairway, giddy and happy as a golf ball could be.

51mvDokZbSL__SL500_AA300_I wanted to throw up.

Actually, if you look closely at the cover, the ball is clearly headed out of bounds. Can you see it? Naturally I could resonate with that part, but another book on golf! No way. I quit, remember!

Before I could look away, four words in the subtitle caught my attention…the Game of Life.

I quickly looked around to make sure none of my golf school buddies were watching before grabbing the book. I was surprised by how comfortable it felt in my hands. And it had that new book smell too. Do you know that smell? Even the cover was enticing in its own way, making me want to test drive it by opening to a random page.

Don’t worry, I consoled myself, it’s not going to make me want to play golf again.

I fanned through the pages, stopping randomly on page 68, and began reading. Call it a coincidence or call it an act of God, but what I read ended up changing my view of life, not to mention my perspective on golf.


For those of you not familiar with the story, Bagger Vance is a caddy who mysteriously comes into the life of a struggling golfer and ends up helping him not only turn his game around but his life as well. Here’s the excerpt that I read that day in the Phoenix airport, with Bagger Vance speaking…

“I believe that each of us possesses, inside ourselves, one true Authentic Swing that is ours alone. It is folly to try to teach us another, or mold us to some ideal version of the perfect swing. Each player possesses only that one swing that he was born with, that swing which existed within him before he ever picked up a club. Our task as golfers is simply to chip away all that is inauthentic, allowing our Authentic Swing to emerge in its purity.”

It was as if the golf ball on the cover actually hit me in the head. I was dazed by the powerful message from this passage and its many implications.

That’s it! I screamed, with goose bumps covering my body. I’ve been going at it all wrong! Instead of changing my swing, I need to rediscover it. I need to go all the way back before my first golf lesson and embrace my natural swing…that swing I started with instead of all the many versions that have been imprinted on me over the years.

It was suddenly becoming very clear; I had been looking for answers in all the wrong places. I was defining myself and my swing by external measures instead of trusting my own internal instincts and desires. And what’s worse, I had lost myself in the process.

I smiled. And to think—all of this from a few sentences in a book!


But it’s true. I had somehow lost my authentic swing—which in essence was my authentic self—by allowing others to define who I am and who I needed to be. You might say I was experiencing an identity crisis on multiple levels.

In the end I came to realize that releasing all the opinions, standards, and judgments of others, including my own, led me to a much more simplified perspective on life, not to mention a more natural golf swing. I also tossed out the “how-to” cards, the fancy clubs, and stopped keeping score when I play. And guess what? It worked. I started having fun again. That childlike exhilaration that drew me to golf in the first place reappeared. I began noticing the little things like the squishiness of the grass under my shoes as I walked down the fairway…the ping of a club hitting the ball perfectly off the tee…or more importantly, the battery engine of the beer cart driving up in just the nick of time. You get the idea.

Yes, but has my golf game improved, you ask? Probably not; but I’m sure having fun again…and isn’t that what life’s all about!