Meet the many sides of Karen
I’m a business executive who founded BreathingBusiness – a consultancy that helps people and organizations to transform with heart – after 20+ years in People, Culture and Transformation leadership roles at SAP, Philips and Nordea. I help people and organizations through disruptive changes and am a disruptor myself, guiding people past fears and through transformations to enrich their professional and personal lives. And through this, I transform as well. I am a co-traveler in transformation.
Being back in Denmark has also reconnected me back to the existentialism world of our philosopher Kirkegaard. He has inspired me to live life to its fullest, savoring every interaction with lots of love and laughter. I am grateful for those moments and hope to inspire others to also lead a full and meaningful life.
Here are some of the heroes I have learnt from.
For me H. C. Andersen’s fairy tales reveal lessons of life – both its darkest corners and brightest avenues. That even hardship and upset can have a happy ending. They are simple, inclusive – but always profound.
People and organizational transformations are the same: they need everyone – also you – to have access to, be included and involved in the story.
Lesson to learn: Your life has many layers
Existentialist beliefs are rooted in me thanks to the philosopher Soeren Kirkegaard. He’ll remind me that life is short and precious. That we’re all responsible for giving it meaning and living it passionately, sincerely and authentically.
And when you and I are faced with change, searching for the bigger ‘why’ will help us become more resourceful and see opportunities.
Lesson to learn: You alone give meaning to your life
Carol Dweck, reveals there are only two mindsets to choose between:
• A growth, love-based mindset that propels us and makes us eager to learn;
• A fixed, fear-based mindset where we are eager to stay safe and prevents us from fulfilling our potential.
The truth is, despite being able to change, we often choose not to. People and business transformations need not just you, but most of us, to unlearn old beliefs and mindsets to make change last.
Lesson to learn: You choose to change or not
Physicist, Albert Einstein, combined science and consciousness to reveal we can only solve a problem we have created when we shift our consciousness.
Transformations offer many difficult problems; challenges we can only turn into opportunities when we shift our collective mindsets to solve sustainably.
Lesson to learn: Solving what you can’t solve today – requires you to shift your mindset.
What gets measured, gets done. British author Richard Barrett’s framework lets us measure consciousness (or mindset) of ourselves, a team and a whole organization, community and nation. You can identify any invisible waste of your human capacity and turn it into value.
Lesson to learn: Transformation that gets measured, gets done.
Otto Scharmer, Professor of MIT Management Sloan School, shows the path to a new way of listening, learning and acting in businesses. He teaches the power of allowing teams and organizations to see new perspectives, to co-create solutions for the future, to serving all stakeholders in a balanced way.
It’s your inner operating model that defines how far you can take your business operating model. It’s why every organizational transformation needs your personal transformation.
Lesson to learn: Moving from a ‘me’ (ego) to a ‘we’ (eco) perspective allows you understand what is needed now
Psychologists Daniel Katz and Robert Kahn studied and sawe organizations as living breathing organisms, not machines. They are complex, adaptive systems.
When you tap into its collective, organization-wide wisdom, it enables you and others to contribute and, together, you can deliver much more than the sum of your parts.
Lesson to learn: Businesses are alive and breathing.
My inspiration comes from all walks of life. The Irish singer and song writer, Eithne Padraigin Ni Bhraonain – known as Enya – can express the expansive energy I believe is needed in business. Through the vibrations and tone of her songs she heals, calms, inspires and transforms. She has been my main travel companion in writing this book and other important moments of my life.
Lesson to learn: The energy you bring to each interaction has profound impact on those around you.
Who are your heroes and how do they inspire you?
My nightstand is built up of some of the works that touch me, teach me, inspire me… and these are 3 that I am currently feeling very connected to.