Archive for the 'Positive Change' Category

Applying Brain Science For Leadership Development

Our brains are critical to everything we do in our lives.  Here are several resources I reference in my work and recommend to you to learn more about applying brain science for your leadership development, or to use as you coach leaders.

Dr. David Rock, consultant and author, coined the term NeuroLeadership in 2006. From the NeuroLeadership Institute website:

“NeuroLeadership is an emerging field of study focused on bringing neuroscientific knowledge into the areas of leadership development, management training, change management, education, consulting and coaching.”

“The NeuroLeadership movement is intended to help individuals and organisations of all types fulfill their potential through better understanding how the human brain functions at individual, team and systemic levels.”

Since 2007, Dr. Rock hosts the annual NeuroLeadership Summit and has developed the post-graduate Certificate in the Foundations of NeuroLeadership. He has written several books including  Coaching with the Brain in Mind, with Linda Page, and Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long. Learn about the format and some concepts from the first few chapters of Your Brain at Work in my podcast. I invite you to participate in interesting discussions as a member of the open LinkedIn group, NeuroLeadership.

You can also explore the connection between brain science and leadership with Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders by psychiatrist, brain-imaging researcher, and executive coach, Dr. Srinivasan S. Pillay.

There is even a “Dummies” book on this topic. Check out The Leadership Brain for Dummies by international educational neuroscience consultant and adjunct professor, Marilee Sprenger.

If you are passionate about your own leadership development and that of your clients, you owe it to yourself, and those you lead, to explore the powerful applications of brain science to leadership. I invite you to share your experiences with neuroscience and leadership, and to share your recommended resources in this arena.

May you choose to create an amazing day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch!

Melanie Hoffner

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Accountability: From Buzz Word to Action

There is a lot of buzz about the concept of accountability. If you ask five people to define accountability, you are likely to get five different interpretations. That is one part of the challenge of building a culture of accountability in the workplace, an organization, or even a family.

Are you committed to accountability? How accountable are you? Take a mini-assessment at for some personal insights. I encourage you to consider the power of accountability in your life.

As  a Certified Trainer of Accountability That Works!®, I appreciate opportunities to share Linda Galindo’s powerful model. I am excited to be facilitating a seminar  on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 from 8:30 – 11:30 am at the NICC Town Clock Center, 680 Main Street in Dubuque, IA in Room 106.  It is sponsored by The Employers Council of Northeast Iowa (ECI) in partnership with Dubuque Area Labor-Management Council (DALMC) and Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) Town Clock Center forProfessional Development.

The seminar description includes: “If you could, would you end “the blame game” in your organization? Would you enjoy improved supervisor-to-subordinate or peer-to-peer relationships? Would you benefit from improved teamwork on projects? Would you rather focus on agreement management instead of conflict management? If you responded “yes!” to any of these questions, register for the program “Accountability: From Buzz Word to Action” and gain insights and strategies to improve responsibility, empowerment, accountability, and the use of the powerful tool of clear agreements. This training will provide a strategic framework upon which to build a culture of accountability.”

If you are in the area and interested in attending this seminar, it includes 3.0 HRCI general recertification credits. Pre-registration is required and to register for Course #2055, go to or call (563) 557-8271 ext. 380.

If you are too far away to join me and are interested in learning more, check out one of my podcasts about accountability at  And stay tuned because  I am excited to interview program creator, and author of The 85% Solution, Linda Galindo, soon on my SPARK talkradio show

May you enjoy the power of accountability to create more success in your life!

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Saving Superwoman: Your Success Sanctuary

Many women are juggling so many roles, tasks and responsibilities that we look like Superwoman to others – and we may feel like it ourselves. Yet, we may also be feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and in dire need of time or space to take off the cape, breathe, and feel safe to ask for support, ideas, or even share laughter as we realize that we are in the company of other amazing women.

I found such a sanctuary with two successful fellow superwomen, Life Strategist Lynette Patterson, and Dr. Lisa Van Allen, The Biz Doctor. From our circle of coaching one another, we came together as a trio and realized the power of synergy we created in our “sanctuary.” We could pull back the curtain and share our mistakes, fears, and challenges in the safety of compassionate support. Often we laugh because two, or all three, of us “tripped on our capes” in a similar way, and we each thought it had happened only to us. We also share strategies and resources that we have discovered, or created, that may help each other to move through challenges.

We soon realized that other superwomen could benefit from a “success sanctuary” to catch their breath, regroup, collaborate, strategize, laugh, re-energize and more, to continue to achieve and create success. How could we share the experience that was so helpful to us? Saving Superwoman was born!

See if Saving Superwoman could be your “success sanctuary” by going to While you are there, you can sign up for a free Success Map and check out archived recordings of our weekly 30-minute podcasts. (Our most recent podcast is also in the player to the right of this blog.)

Most importantly, I hope that you take great care of yourself – mind, body and spirit – so you can enjoy your Superwoman success!

May you choose to create a great day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch!


P.S. We also have men who have shared that they are listening to our podcasts because they want to be Superman or because they want to better support the superwomen in their lives.

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Focus on Progress Rather Than Perfection

Have you been thinking about doing something but haven’t started – or finished – because, well, you don’t think it would be good enough? I have enjoyed several powerful conversations this past week that sparked insights and reminders I want to share.  

To start, take a deep breath, smile, and say with enthusiasm, “I am committed to excellence and I make new and different mistakes every day.” After I share that statement in seminars or with coaching clients, I often see wide eyes and hear gasps!

I then comment, “Because we are human beings, we will make mistakes, right?” And they agree.

Finally, I ask, “Why not commit to learning from our mistakes so we can avoid repeating them and make new ones instead?” They then laugh and agree. This is one of my personal mottos which reminds me to focus on progress rather than perfection.  Since we are going to make mistakes, let’s learn from them as we go so we can make new mistakes and have more learning opportunities. 

For a discussion of more strategies to “Focus on Progress Rather Than Perfection!” listen to my online talkradio show, SPARK. It is archived and I invite you to listen to the 10/9/10 segment at BlogTalkRadio to help you shift your thinking, get started, and get done!

Finally, take ONE action on something you read – or hear if you listen to the recording – to spark a positive change in your life!

May you choose to create a great day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch!
~Melanie Hoffner

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Live Your Passions!

A thought for today: There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. ~ Nelson Mandela

Are you living your passions? Are you doing what you love in your work?  Are you happy with your relationships, your health, your life? Would you appreciate getting more clarity about what your passions are? Would you love more joy every day?

Today at 11:00 AM CT Chris Attwood and Janet Bray Attwood, authors of The Passion Test, will launch their exciting new project to support people to live their passions: Passionate Life Secrets. I want you to have the opportunity to learn more about this program and how it can help you LIVE YOUR PASSIONS! Go to and see for yourself. If you’d like to explore first by taking the fr*e Passion Test Profile and watch the five fr*ee videos while they are available, go to Let me know what you think about the program, the profile or the videos.

I became a Certified Passion Test Facilitator because I saw how this amazing process could spark me AND my clients to live more of our passions every day. If you are ready for a recharge that will change your life, check out what the pioneers of Passion, Chris and Janet, are sharing and give yourself this gift. I highly recommend it!

Please contact me directly if you are interested in one-to-one coaching or in bringing The Passion Test to your organization. Remember, when you give to yourself, you have more to offer others!

May you choose to create a great day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch! ~Melanie

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What Are You Telling Yourself?

What is your relationship with your thoughts – that voice in your head? If you are thinking, “I don’t have a voice in my head,” or “Do I have a voice in my head?” that is the voice I am referring to today. We all have a running commentary in our minds that runs throughout our waking hours. The question is, have you trained that voice to be a supportive ally in your life, or do you allow it to run unchecked and believe everything it tells you?

Dr. Daniel Amen, a respected neuroscientist, psychiatrist, brain imaging expert, and author, is committed to helping people have healthy brains. In numerous interviews, public television specials and articles, he has discussed the dangers of ANTS-Automatic Negative Thoughts – and your power to create APTS-Automatic Positive Thoughts. The following is from an article by Dr. Daniel Amen:

“The thoughts that go through your mind, moment by moment, have a significant impact on how your brain works. Research by Mark George, MD and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that happy, hopeful thoughts had an overall calming effect on the brain, while negative thoughts inflamed brain areas often involved with depression and anxiety. Your thoughts matter.”

He also notes, “You do not have to believe every thought that goes through your head. It’s important to think about your thoughts to see if they help you or they hurt you. Unfortunately, if you never challenge your thoughts you just “believe them” as if they were true. ANTs can take over and infest your brain. Develop an internal anteater to hunt down and devour the negative thoughts that are ruining your life.

Once you learn about your thoughts, you can choose to think good thoughts and feel good or you can choose to think bad thoughts and feel lousy. You can train your thoughts to be positive and hopeful or you can just allow them to be negative and upset you. That’s right, it’s up to you! You can learn how to change your thoughts and optimize your brain. One way to learn how to change your thoughts is to notice them when they are negative and talk back to them. If you can correct negative thoughts, you take away their power over you. When you think a negative thought without challenging it, your mind believes it and your brain reacts to it.”

You can read Dr. Amen’s article in its entirety at

For over 25 years, I have been teaching and training about choosing a positive mental attitude and using positive language, as well as sharing this strategy with my coaching clients. It’s exciting to see more brain research that supports the impact of both positive and negative thoughts.

The past two weeks, 3/3/10 and 3/10/10, I have focused on this topic during my online talkradio show. I invite you to listen to the recordings for more strategies to challenge those negative thoughts and train your self-talk to be your ally rather than your critic. ( )

I challenge you to take action on something you read so you can create more positive thoughts and self-talk to support you in living the life of your dreams. May you choose to create a great day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch! ~Melanie Hoffner

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What Have You Done For Your Brain, Lately?

What Have You Done for Your Brain, Lately?

Most of us take better care of our hair and skin than we do of our brains, yet our brains are critical to EVERY aspect of our lives. Since we are not born with instruction manuals for our brains, many of us go through life as best we can by adopting the choices and habits of our parents, families, communities, etc. and we don’t give our brains a second thought. This has potentially harmful and dangerous implications for us as we live, grow and age. The time to start caring for your brain is NOW!

The good news about our brains is that they can heal and change! What can I do for my brain, you may wonder? For the past several weeks on my radio show, I have been sharing strategies from Dr. Daniel Amen’s research and works, including Making a Good Brain Great, and Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rules. These segments are archived at so you can listen or download at your convenience.

Mental exercise is good for brain health. Learned anything new recently? I love helping people get the best from their brains and I have been facilitating an exciting seminar entitled, “Brain Boosters” through several venues the past few weeks, with great response. If you are interested in having your best brain at work and at home, this seminar is filled with resources for you. Contact me to bring this seminar to your business, school, organization, or community.

Physical exercise, according to both Dr. Amen and Dr. Medina, is a great place to start because it provides so many benefits to the brain. What benefits? Since it’s almost time for me to go exercise, I’ll quickly share the following from Dr. Medina’s site, (The words in parentheses are my clarifications):

“Exercise improves cognition (thinking) for two reasons:
Exercise increases oxygen flow into the brain, which reduces brain-bound free radicals. One of the most interesting findings of the past few decades is that an increase in oxygen is always accompanied by an uptick in mental sharpness.
Exercise acts directly on the molecular machinery of the brain itself. It increases neurons` (brain cells) creation, survival, and resistance to damage and stress.”

Consider creating an action plan to support having a healthy brain for life – making one lifestyle change at a time. Do something positive for your brain TODAY because a healthy brain is a wonderful gift to give yourself and your loved ones!!

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Time to Reflect and Project

It’s the end of a year, which is one of the logical times to reflect on the past year’s successes and challenges as well as the lessons we can carry forward. This was the subject of my show on 12/30/09 on , if you’d like to listen.

There are many wonderful resources for this process. I am sharing a few here. If you think that goal-setting or strategic planning don’t fit your style, start with Dr. Lisa Van Allen’s podcasts as she addresses the importance of knowing your style as the starting point of the process so you can adjust or find models to meet your needs.

Next, we can project into 2010 with goals and action steps as well as identifying potential challenges and strategies to overcome them. Among many resources and strategies for this process, in the links below you’ll find lists of thought-provoking questions, a process to gain clarity and direction, approaches to goal-setting and strategic planning that work WITH your natural style, and challenging your negative language and limiting beliefs. If you have a resource or strategy that works well for you, please share it in the comments.

Here are the links: (fr*ee articles on Positive Attitude at Work & coupon code spark to save 15% in online store thru 1/15/09-includes Individual Passion Test Seminar), (20 fr*ee short videos), www.Everything (fre*e audio download from Gary Ryan Blair, Do It Right The First Time), (fr*ee Goal Planning Workbook), Dr. Lisa Van Allen’s series on Strategic Planning ( search for LisaVanAllen), (fre*e ebook Positive Business Manifesto), (a fr*ee copy of Good Vibe Coach Jeannette Maw’s ebook Adventures In Manifesting with coupon code GoodLove thru 12/31/09), and Byron Katie’s site (fre*e calls with trained facilitators).

Here’s to making 2010 the best year yet!

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Words of today: PMA and Gratitude

Welcome to my blog – SPARK. Yes, it is the same title as my online talkradio show. It stands for Strategies, Possibilities, Actions, Resources and Knowledge. I hope you discover SPARKs you can use to ignite your life.

My words of the day are PMA and GRATITUDE. Through my adventures of yesterday – a smoking van when I got to Dubuque, losing a major tooth filling, getting the blue screen of death on my work laptop, and Tom getting a flat tire 15 feet from home, I chose a positive perspective and gratitude. They found a part to fix the van for under $100, I have a dentist appt. Wed., my laptop restarted just fine, and Tom got a ride to work this AM and he has a tire he can use for the repair.

A friend commented that she couldn’t believe how calm and positive I was when each of these things happened. We CAN choose our perspective and our responses.  I chose to focus on the positive side of each event and be grateful for the solutions.  Anyone can learn to do this and with practice, it gets easier. I dare you to give it a try today and let me know what happens.

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