Over the past two years, my best friend from grade school and I have been connecting via Facebook.

Neither of us grew up with a privileged background (or even a pretty one) and it’s interesting to see how we’ve both made lemonade from our lemons.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we were both loved and cared for, but we had a few burdens to bear that other kids didn’t have.

Because we’ve reconnected, it’s given me a chance to reflect on just how much I’ve changed from that little girl to the woman I am today.

Yes, my childhood was rocky and throughout my teens and twenties, there was a part of me that operated as a peace-maker.

To keep the peace in my life, I’d simply avoid addressing things that needed to be addressed, which sometimes meant not communicating with the people I loved most or dealing with issues that were hindering my growth.

Over time, I discovered it wasn’t the absence of conflict that determined whether or not my relationships were deemed life-giving; it was knowing how to handle the conflicts that would inevitably arise – and choosing to move forward anyway.

While there will always be temporary disruptions in my peace-filled world, when I lead with an Upside perspective, the end result is always progress. (….which is the 6th Pillar of Leadership – Evaluate Your Progress.)

Look, I want a peace-filled life, but when you choose to evaluate what’s working and not working on a regular basis, your life – both personally and professionally — will be better than you ever could have imagined.

When you choose progress before peace, you get rid of the “junk in your trunk” and make better decisions regarding your ideal client, who you are hiring, and just plain who you spend the precious hours in your day with.

Today, anyone who knows me knows that I do not lean towards being a peace-maker but a progress-creator.

I am strong, and opinionated and realize that the world is made for those who stand out and not those who fit in.

After all, as my loving and supportive husband shared with me, conflict doesn’t mean you have to fight against something and tear it apart; conflict can also mean you’re fighting for something to make it even better and stronger than it’s ever been.

As you examine your own leadership style, I encourage you to reflect on where you were, and where you are today – and what happened along the journey to get you there.

The Upside Challenge this week is to calendar when you will evaluate and examine your progress. Choose a date and time within the next 30 days to spend 30 minutes on what’s working and what’s not working and identify what you’re willing to do about it.

Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely. Lead Upside.

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