Posted on

Limitless Leadership: Sharing your scars can be beautiful

“Wabi sabi – the philosophy that says the beauty of things are imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the opposite of our classical Western notion of beauty as being something that is perfect, enduring, and monumental”

In 2016, the notion of “wabi sabi” made its way into home-wares and industrial design. Many Cafes and homes were and still are, being fitted out purposefully leaving cracks in the walls; exposed beams and concrete floors; lop sided sugar jars on tables and earthy elements in their raw state, scattered throughout the space. No perfect lines and polished perfection to be seen anywhere. The scars, rawness and imperfectness is actually the highlight and focus point, not hidden away or covered up.

The Art of Precious Scars – Kintsugi

In Japan there is an art form called Kintsugi: the art of precious scars. By repairing broken ceramics, it’s possible to give it a new lease of life and it becomes even more refined, thanks to its “scars”.

The Japanese art of kintsugi teaches that broken objects are not something to hide but to display with pride. This art form and philosophy got me thinking how alike we are to this as humans with all of our scars, mistakes, lessons and wisdom we learn in this thing called life.

How often, as humans, do we hide the things that make us who we are today? I have always believed that where we are right now, personally and professionally, is a result of all the choices, lessons and mistakes we’ve learnt and made along the way. Our scars make us stronger and more beautiful and why not display these “gifts” in the same way kintsugi displays the art of precious scars.

Being “human” in today's’ world is more important than ever and its now that we need to let our guard down and be more real and relevant than ever, whether you are a leader, business owner or individual leading self.

Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity

The United States Military are committed to leadership training. It uses the acronym VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity). The key elements of VUCA present the context of which organisations view their current and future state.

  • Volatility refers to the nature and dynamics of change and the speed at which this occurs.
  • Uncertainty relates to the lack of predictability and certainty of change, and this is where our sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events is so important and crucial to our success.
  • Complexity applies to the multiple forces, issues, chaos and confusion that can surround the organisations we are in.
  • Ambiguity relates to the haziness of reality and the mixed meanings of everything we face.

To survive and thrive in such a fast-paced and challenging environment we need to adopt “Limitless Leadership”.  I reckon sharing the lessons and wisdom of our mistakes and challenges could go a long way here.

Mistakes and life's hard “gifts” should never define you but instead guide you through. Don’t “awfulize” and dwell on this but instead, map out the lesson you have learnt and be a lighthouse for others who may benefit from what you’ve been through.

“The scars you share become lighthouses for others who are headed for the same rocks you hit”

Many clients I work with share with me the most amazing experiences and lessons they have learnt along the way, but rarely do they they share these with their team or business. I always challenge them on this and ask them to imagine what would be different for them if their manager had shared those same lessons with them earlier in their career? It's almost selfish not to share what you have learnt providing you frame the lesson in a way that is useful and heartfelt with good intention.

A simple way to do this is to take the time to reflect on the 3 areas below:


Being aware is like stripping off the outer layers to look at what has really got us to where we are today? Good or bad, happy or sad what have you experienced that could be seen as a key ingredient to who you are today? Like any recipe, it’s the ingredients that determine the end result. Not all taste great on their own but when combined in the right proportions you end up with a dish that tastes great. Sometimes, and I can vouch for this, the less than great people or situations in our life, I call them gifts, are the things that teach us the most. It may take a while to see the lesson or the gift but there is always something there if you look deeply enough. List the top 4 ‘Gifts” that come to mind


Being aware is one thing, but now you need to accept or surrender to what you have become more aware of. Acceptance is part of a cycle and I believe tapping into the benefit for you and others can assist here. If you are creating future leaders, how can sharing this story and lesson benefit others? How will it make you feel to share it?

Developing a different relationship to experience, one that is characterised by allowing an experience and letting it be is really what acceptance is about. Allowing difficult feelings to be in awareness means registering their presence and what will happen next.

A bit like the Kintsugi pottery, do you throw out that cracked piece of art or hide it OR do gild the cracks with gold and make it a beautiful story to share.

Action & Implement

So now it’s about what you will share or keep to serve your self? Not all things have to be shared with the world, you will just know.

At the same time, get out of your comfort zone. This isn’t a comfortable thing to do, and we all know that growth is outside doing what we know.

  • You need to access what to share and who will benefit.
  • How you will frame the story and the lessons.
  • What the recipient can do to apply and discuss what this means for them.

Recently I’ve been sharing more of my story with clients and in keynotes and the response has been profound. Knowing what to share and the intent is vital. Don’t share for the sake of being “vulnerable”. Make sure you share with integrity and a rawness that encapsulates what happened, the result and the lesson that you learnt, good or bad.

I’s love to hear what you do with this and the outcomes for you and those around you.

To being “limitless”

Renée Giarrusso

Subscribe to your Success

Your fortnightly insight to lift professional and personal performance delivered directly to your inbox.

100% Privacy. We won't send you any spam.
Posted on

Limitless Leadership: How is your energy introducing you?

Your energy is an introduction to you and can potentially set the tone of the conversation, meeting or interaction you are about to have.

The way you show up will frame the introduction to you, or not, and I believe sometimes we forget to be consciously aware of the energy we put out there.

We all have so much to do in what feels so little time and as I say time and time again we have become ‘human doings’ and not human ‘human beings’.

It’s Monday morning and you have bought your team together for a meeting or maybe your manager has you attending a meeting he or she has organised. You walk in and the vibe is low, your manager rushes in and slumps down in his or her seat, coffee in hand and says how tired he or she feels and that he knows you are all busy and gets into the meeting. There is no buy in, foot impatiently tapping, you are checking your phone and waiting to leave. You are not present, not actively listening and therefore not engaged.

So how should your manager act?

A light bulb makes no impact unless it is switched on.

I really believe energy is contagious and should be top of mind in every interaction we make. I’m not saying to be happy-happy, joy-joy all the time, we need to be real and we need to be human. I do believe though that we should ramp up our energy by at least 20% above of that of the room.

I know when facilitating and training I calibrate the room and consciously adjust my energy accordingly. Needless to say highly energetic environments light me up as they are more matched to me energetically whereas in a more somber or low energy environment I need to dial my level of energy down.

Our beliefs drive our actions and also our actions can drive our beliefs, all which are strongly linked to our energy. Think about this, if you walk into that meeting knowing and believing the value you will give and get and the “why” of being there you will project that energy and most probably be more engaged and engaging.

On the flip side if you are feeling negative and don’t want to be at the meeting then what you give out will be totally different.

Be the energy you want to attract

An example of where our actions can create our beliefs is backing a horse at the races. The minute you take action, and place the bet, your belief is heightened that the horse will win. It can work both ways and the output of either is the energy you will project.

I really believe that the level of energy can determine your success. The more energy you have, the more successful you’ll be. The greater your ability to raise the energy levels of those around you and be able to get buy in, the more effective you will be leading others and working with others in general.

There are studies that have proven that higher levels of energy are associated with higher levels of satisfaction in all areas of your life. These areas can include: leadership, relationships, personal development, finances, etc.

These three elements contribute towards our energy:

  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Emotions

When looking at our overall energy and awareness and engagement of this it is the above 3 things that influence this. Thoughts create feelings and emotions and every thought, feeling and emotion is like a tiny filter that forms the lens through which we view and experience the world and therefore play out in our energy. Basically, this lens is your perspective and will direct us to whatever we do or don’t do.

To take charge of your thoughts ask yourself better quality questions and if looking to increase the energy of others do the same when asking questions during interactions. Make them quality, thought provoking and powerful.

Catabolic vs Anabolic energy

In Bruce Schneider’s book, Energy Leadership, the concept of catabolic and anabolic energy is talked about and these two different energies come from the thoughts we are having.

In simple terms, energy can be described as a person’s attitude which begins with our thoughts.

  • Catabolic energy-destructive
  • Anabolic energy-constructive

Which energy are you burning?

Think about where you sit? These two different energies will obviously lead to different outcomes, interactions and also in the way in which you lead self and others.

If you see and feel anger, guilt, anxiety and low morale, you most probably are leaning to towards a more destructive energy, known as catabolic.

If you notice a calmer presence, especially when things become stressful it is more likely you are leading with an anabolic energy. This is where you take nothing personally, you tend to think objectively and you do not judge people or events as good or bad. Opportunity and solution as opposed to the problem are the focus here so therefore the energy you emit is more vibrant and positive.

Be mindful of how you show up, what you put out and how this is perceived.

Remember; effective communication is gaining the response that you want and energy plays a key part in getting buy in, conveying your message and leading with motivation.

Every impression is a first impression…how is your energy introducing you?

To being limitless


Posted on

Limitless Leadership: Rapport equals influence in the coaching conversation

Rapport is like a boomerang, it will only come back if the connection is a mutual one.

Rapport building is all about connection and taking the time to build deep connection and therefore meaningful relationships and influence.

Rapport equates to influence.

Some of the best leaders I work with are seen as a coaching resource. You can have the best frameworks to coach and mentor but without connection ,trust and a safe zone for the coachee to grow, coaching will be one sided, ineffective and a waste of time for both of you.

Focus on goals

In any coaching relationship, whether formal or informal, the focus should be on the coachees goals and how they can be achieved. Coaching is not counselling so it does not require the coach to know too much about the coachees private life or to become their ‘best friend.' Your aim as coach is to create a level of rapport that means the coachee is happy to talk honestly about their work performance.

If you're like most people, when you welcome people such as friends and family into your house you want to make them feel welcome and at ease. While the specifics of what you might say to a team member are different from what you might say to a house guest, the motivation and attitude behind the words should be the same.

Listen to what is NOT being said and only ask one question at a time and let the coachee's response shape the next question.

During a coaching session, you want to open the conversation with a remark that lets the coachee know that you are genuinely interested in them and what they have to say. Following this with an open question will assist in leading the conversation into the topic, challenge or opportunity the coachee would like to be coached on during that session.

Active listening is important after asking questions as it demonstrates to the coachee your interest in what they are saying. Listening makes the coachee feel important and is a great way to get you, as the coach, to talk less.

Rapport is built upon but keep in mind you and the coachee can go in and out of rapport so don’t take it for granted. At times, not being in rapport can serve the coachee well, especially if you are challenging them or getting them to think and act outside of their comfort zone.

Building Rapport in the Session

Take time to build rapport

The time is takes is minimal in comparison to the benefits. Be interested and curious and hold the space to be present and there for the coachee. Maximise similarities and minimise differences.

Ask rapport-building questions

Use open questions. These starts with: How, When, Where, What, Why and Who – open questions get the coachee to talk and open up which is really important.

Listen deeply

Show you are listening by asking one question at a time, paraphrasing answers to show you have listened and clarify throughout the session.

Ask permission to give feedback and make suggestions

Don't assume things, be upfront and set the scene and expectations by asking the coachee for permission to give feedback and to also make suggestions where and when needed

Match their language

By being a little more like the coachee, without changing who you are, there will be a match and this can assist in building rapport more easily. Match words and the pace at which they talk

Acknowledge the coachee

As a coach, you want to assist the coachee in building even more confidence in their ideas, thoughts and actions. My regularly affirming they are on the right track, when they are, acknowledge this and celebrate success.

In any relationship rapport can go a long way and is often missed in the busyness of life.

Take the time to be in the moment, be ALL there and be curious to add and receive value from every interaction.

Be limitless!


Posted on

Limitless Teams: The power of questioning that gets missed

“Knowing the answers will help you in school.

 Knowing how to question will help you in life”

Warren Berger

How often do you say “Hello” to someone and they reply with “Good thanks” even though you haven’t actually asked them how they are? Yes, I’m as guilty as charged, we’ve all responded like this at some stage and this reflection is a great example that as life gets busier and more congested our brains are wired to think and be more than one step ahead of the conversation.

We speak at 125 words per minute, but we think at 400 words per minute!

How often are you thinking of your opinion on what someone is telling you while at the same time subconsciously planning your next question?

When running communication workshops or speaking on this topic I always reinforce that we should only ask one question at a time. How often do you hear: “How was your weekend? Wasn’t the weather great? Did you go out for brunch? The recipient of these questions will only reply to the last question as you have simply loaded the questions with your intent and what you want to talk about, in this case being brunch.

Ask one question at a time, as soon as you visually picture a question mark, zip it and be present and listen.

When in the zone of coaching, you need to be present and not give in and give the answer. This is one of the most challenging aspects of coaching as we naturally want to help and have sometimes created the expectation that we will always provide the answer or solution.

When a coachee becomes stuck we want to jump in. Instead ask a quality open question and instead of thinking what to say or ask next…. slow down and simply wait and listen to the response you get and shape your next question based on this. Frame your questions as open ones. This type of questioning elicits information, not a yes or no answer and gets the other person talking. This questioning technique is great if you are conversing with someone who is quite and who replies with one-word answers. By framing your questions based on the coachee’s response it shows you have listened (a rare skill these days) and also makes the coachee feel important which in turn builds subliminal rapport.

Listening skills along with being an effective communicator are two imperative skills you need to master as a Leader.

You need to be open in identifying the beliefs that your coachees carry with them. A belief is a feeling of certainty about what something means to someone. We all have empowering beliefs and what we call limiting beliefs. The limiting beliefs are the ones, as a coach, you need to watch out for and challenge. Every moment we have over two million pieces of information coming at us. We form our thoughts, opinions and beliefs based on our own perception, whether we think it’s wrong or right. Beliefs that don’t serve and support our coachee’s outcomes need to be challenged. Simply asking challenging questions around the cost of not changing and what they are losing by not shifting beliefs can assist in getting the coachee to reframe this.

Whether you are leading a team, conversing with clients or internal stakeholders building your questioning muscle is essential. By asking better quality and more powerful questions that are relevant you will find you will be speaking less and listening more and therefore empowering others.

Less is more in this case when identifying beliefs.

In a pure coaching sense, we are only asking questions, deep, meaningful questions. There is a plethora of other questioning and communication techniques, start with asking more open questions, one at a time and base the next one on the coachee’s response.

Let silence do the heavy lifting and watch what happens!

To being limitless


Posted on

Limitless Leadership: Team culture – what would your team say?

Recently I took a week off with my partner to refresh and reset and was delighted to have possibly one of the greatest customer experiences ever at an eco-resort in Byron in Bay.

We only stayed there for 2 days,so for me to say this shows the impact that a happy team culture can make. Travelling a lot with my work, I rarely see this and you can pick up from a mile away a negative, sober culture even when you are not fully immersed in the day to day of the staff. It’s refreshing to see people loving what they do and who they do it with.

Something so often missed when organisations put progress before people.

People before progress, always

On arrival we were greeted with what I call “authentic happiness” and an excitement for us to experience a resort that the reception team were clearly proud of. From a great conversation on where to go and what to do, in between sips of lemon iced tea, to how the place was founded and built, I could clearly feel such a positive energy and commitment from the staff within the first 10 minutes of arriving.

From reception a gorgeous girl Layla, picked us up in a buggy and dropped us to our room, which was stand-alone pod beautifully positioned in the rainforest. Without us asking she openly told us she loved working at the resort and that all the staff are like one happy family. It really showed and it wasn’t just talk and within 2 hours the waiter at the Mexican themed pool said the same thing and that he was looking to leave and travel but why would he when he loved his job and surroundings.

Happy team, happy work life

A few mojitos later we enjoyed an amazing dinner and were boarding another buggy to take us back to our room. It was a chilly night, even for a Melbourne person, and all I did was fold my arms and within 10 seconds from behind I was cocooned in a beautiful warm blanket for the trip back. Again, the person driving us back openly stated they loved working at the resort and even on her days off she would stay at the resort with her partner. I told her we had heard from everyone that day how they loved working there and asked her what made it that way.

A few things I am sure we can all relate to:

We get left to do our job

When people are given the freedom to focus on their key area and tasks and monitored from a far, they can learn and grow as they work. Give your team the WHAT but not the HOW, let them co-create and own what they do. Let them lead themselves, tap into their strengths then let them take ownership, not just accountability.

The place delivers on what it promises

Working where you are proud of goes a long way especially when the expectations are exceeded both internally and externally with customers and stakeholders. Build a culture that delivers not only internally but externally also and I believe one is a reflection and result of the other. What do you promise your team? What are they committing to as a team? Check in, reflect and reset this often in order to build a Limitless Team.

Everyone has fun

Fun is a key component to life, in and out of work. Who doesn’t like having fun? Does your company culture foster people having fun? Fun doesn’t mean that work isn’t getting done, it’s the way work can be done in a more productive and fulfilling way. When the pressure was on when I worked at MARS Australia, I would tell myself and my team that we were only selling chocolate!

We all know what we have to do

Role clarity is imperative and needs to be refreshed and updated, not left to discuss during Performance Reviews, or what I believe should be called Performance Previews. Knowing what each individual has to do and why is imperative in conjunction with each remember knowing what each other do. A one team mentality is vital and this can’t be achieved if we are aren’t aware of what each other do and how we all fit in to achieve one common objective.

How would your team answer, “What makes you love working here?”

Working with thousands of leaders and business owners over the years the above things are so obvious but often missed. I believe we over engineer what great looks like and we need to strip back our thinking and therefore our actions and focus on the small things that can make a big difference.

 Be Limitless