What’s Next, The Locusts?

That is what my neighbor said the other morning when we met on the street under a smoke- filled sky taking our dogs out for a quick bio-break. (I live in California). He was quite serious but I burst out laughing, behind my mask, of course. I couldn’t help it. It was one of those lines that is funny because it is true. Here we are in a worldwide pandemic, living in a state (among others) that is on fire. This time last year 100,000 acres had burned in California due to wildfires. Today 3+ MILLION acres have burned. These days the words, “Anything is possible” have a whole new meaning for many of us. So, it inspired me to put into writing some thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain as we live through this bizarre time. Here are 12 of them:

  1. Family and friends are all that count. It’s in the heart, not in the flesh. But “ouch” anyway, because I miss them so!
  2. Sometimes, good enough is good enough.
  3. Life is “this AND that”: funny and tragic, happy and grief stricken etc. Saying “yes” to both is the hardest and most powerful spiritual practice around.
  4. If you feel like you’re falling off a cliff, remember, whoever it is you need to become will be there to catch you.
  5. Focusing on gratitude is life-changing, even if it takes all day to find something for which to be grateful.
  6. You can’t NOT smile when watching a hummingbird.
  7. The only thing we control is ourselves and our response to life.
  8. Faith, hope and love are no joke, they’re the real deal.
  9. Prolonged weariness will either lead you to transformation or to the emergency room.
  10. There is always beauty in the world. Seriously, keep looking…it’s there….I promise…just…keep…..looking.
  11. Ever since going to the grocery store became as arduous as packing for an international trip, it’s good to know that you really CAN make something decent for dinner with all those bizarre pantry items with long past expiration dates.
  12. Last but not least, making the perfect martini is both an art form and a Godsend!

Stay well.

Copyright 2020 Sheila Madden. All Rights Reserved

5 Ways Experiencing Beauty Make Us Better Leaders


It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Do you know what kind of beauty takes your breath away? What beautiful thing or experience completely captures your imagination and makes you smile from the inside out, forget time and experience pure joy?

Leadership is a tough gig and for many it can become all-consuming. In our endeavor to be the best leaders we can be we can forget to take care of ourselves. The irony is that this one act of forgetfulness can lead to a slippery slope of exhaustion, frustration and even burnout and we end up becoming the monster leader we are trying not to be.

I write often about how leadership is other-focused, and it is, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t deliberately and regularly take time for nurturing ourselves. In fact, the more focused we are on others and unlocking their potential and that of our teams and organizations, the more we need to tend to ourselves first so that we are grounded and balanced and, thus, able to successfully tai chi our way through the inevitable leaderships challenges we face.

One fun way to do this is to take yourself on what Julia Cameron in the book The Artist Way calls an artist date. This is a personal field trip in search of beauty that feeds your soul, brings you joy and clears the cobwebs and clutter out of your head. The one rule is that it has to be real, not virtual. You have to leave your phone and computer behind and experience something physically.

It is quite extraordinary when you do. I have a set of Harvard Classics that are from 1917 that were my grandfather’s. He died before I was born so having his books is a way of connecting with him and reminding me that my love of literature has been passed down from generation to generation. I’ve read most of them but sometimes I just take one out of the book shelf to feel the soft leather cover and the delicate gold trimmed pages, to smell the scent of the years it holds and to let myself think about the genius held within each page…Austin, James, Dostoyevsky, Balzac.


So, whether it is nature, music, poetry, art, literature or any number of other things, seek it out at least once a week and experience the magic.

When you do, here are 5 ways the experience will make you a better leader:

  1. It will slow you down and slow down time. When you slow down you will notice people and things that you might miss when you are moving fast and going from task to task.
  2. It will get you out of the virtual world and into the real one where you actually have the possibility of experiencing things that have been around longer than you, the computer or the phone.
  3. It will refresh your mind, body and soul which keeps you in a positive state of mind. Positivity is contagious. Your team will notice and mirror that vibe and work will be more fun for everyone. This refreshment also helps keep you in balance so that your own triggers and issues don’t hijack you, spill all over others and create a hot mess that you have to clean up.
  4. It will return you to a state of wonder and possibility and guess what? This is where innovation and creativity live. Visit often!
  5. It will connect you to the universal muse of inspiration and this will provide perspective and remind you that within the beauty of the world there is so much that is bigger than the day-to-day challenges you face.

Copyright 2018, Sheila Madden, Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.


Want To Be The best At What You Do? Take Naps, Seriously

polarsnappinFor 25 years my husband has been teasing me about my inability to take a decent nap. He can take a nap anywhere, anytime. The usual scenario for us is that we lie down and within two minutes he is sound asleep and snoring. Within five minutes I am twitching with restlessness. Within six minutes my mind has turned into a roller coaster of thoughts about what I should be doing, what I have forgotten to do, what I am worried about doing or not doing and a thousand “what ifs” that torture me unmercifully. In the meantime my husbands slumber continues and the deeper his innocent and effortless sleep goes the more agitated I get. Not just because he is right, I can’t take a decent nap, but because I want to and I haven’t been able to figure out why I can’t!
Continue reading → Want To Be The best At What You Do? Take Naps, Seriously

Meditation De-Mystified:It Can Actually Make You A Better Leader

Leadership is a tough job and it can be stressful. This is especially true if you are a senior executive and you are connected to your job 24/7.

Meditation is an amazing antidote for that stress and every other stress for that matter. In Stephan Bodian’s Meditation For Dummies, he lists the following benefits of regular meditation practice. Continue reading → Meditation De-Mystified:It Can Actually Make You A Better Leader