Friday, January 30, 2015

Mindful or Mind FULL?

My wife is a certified yoga instructor and recently I noticed the attached cartoon on one of her many binders where she keeps her notes and various sequences stored. The cartoon hit me right between the eyes as my head was swirling over various tasks, obligations, meetings, and conversations I knew I had waiting for me in the day ahead.

I view myself as a reflective practitioner, but like many, I fall victim to the routines in life which leads me astray of the mindful path to the chaos of having a mind full.   A cluttered mind strips me of my focus, drains me of my energy and distracts me from moving forward.  I find it curious that I must be mindful to remain so.

I “Googled” various tactics to remain mindful which included breathing exercises, and meditation, concluding that “mindfulness practice cultivates the ability to observe and accept the ongoing unfolding of one’s experience without becoming over-identified with or attached to the content of thoughts, emotions, and sensory experiences, regardless of whether these are painful or pleasurable.” Sounds like a pleasant place to find oneself.

So leader…where are you today? At the end of the day, it’s our responsibility to discipline our thoughts. How do you unclutter your mind and find the mindfulness needed to move through the debris which keeps you from being a mindful practitioner? Just askin…

Peace and all good things…

Friday, January 23, 2015

Once I believed...but now...

If you’re a fan of social media you know that the past year reveled its share of “challenges.” Recently I came across a different type of challenge where a leader of an organization was presented with this: write about what you have learned in your years of experience as a leader using “Once I believed…Now I believe… “

The exercise was rather eye opening as I read through the list and began scratching out my own. In reflection my views have changed, my values defined and my vision more focused. Here are some examples to arouse your thoughts of how you’ve grown as a leader…What is it you believed “then” and what is it you believe “now”?

Once I believed initiatives and programs would transform the organization. Now I believe it is through helping each person that the organization will be transformed.

Once I believed that setting the bar high would be sufficient. Now I believe that balancing ambitious expectations and robust supports for others and ourselves is necessary to make the progress we seek.

Once I believed that failure was NOT an option. Now I believe that failure is not an option; it’s a necessity to grow and learn.

Once I believed challenges were to be feared and overcome. Now I believe challenges are to be anticipated and embraced as a means of improving the quality of the organization.

Once I believed success was the result of completing items on our “to do” lists. Now I believe success emerges from living up to the ideals of our “to be” lists; our core values, our positive energy, and our demonstrable delight in being present.

Once I believed my advanced degrees and years of training made me an expert. Now I believe expertise is found collaboratively and wisdom emerges through openness to ongoing learning and exploration. 

Once I believed I could rely on my own knowledge base. Now I believe I must be wary of my “blind spots” and actively encourage honest feedback from many in order to gain insight on what I do not even know to ask.

Once I believed “telling” people our visions would inspire. Now I believe we must collaboratively craft visions and pace forward movement, celebrating even the small steps along the way.

Once I believed it necessary to listen to the content and ignore the emotion in people’s words. Now I believe it is vital to listen to both content and emotion; choosing sensitively when to respond to the content of people’s words, when to respond to the emotion, and when to respond to both.

Once I believed that trust was assumed with our hard work and good intentions. Now I believe that trust, difficult to earn and easy to damage, stems from sincere appreciation for the capability and talents of others.

So my friends, are you up to the challenge? What is it you once believed…but now???? Just askin…

Friday, January 16, 2015

What do you think?

Recently I read an article revolving around the strategies and habits that make “thinkers,” which got me to think…what do great leaders do?

Thinking is defined as, “the process of using one's mind to consider or reason about something. To have a particular opinion, belief, or idea about someone or something.

Certainly great leaders exhibit most, if not all the examples presented in the article, but the real question is what is it they expect from their followers?  Do the leaders of great organizations develop, nurture, and foster thinking throughout the entire company, or do they inspire and value the thinking of only a few?  Is it healthy for the whole to think, question, and debate, or more practical to restrict that behavior to a select few while the remainder simply go about completing the tasks which were designed by “the thinkers?”

What if I were to ask those in your company what it was you perpetuated as the leader, how do you think they’d respond? Do you embrace, value, and trust the thinking for all or only a select few?  At what point in time, if any, does the thinking have to stop and the “doing” begin? Can they go on simultaneously in tandem, or must they be separated from each other as not to bog down the process? So many questions…so many various possibilities…what do you think???

Friday, January 9, 2015

Are you talking out of "both sides" of your mouth?

Are there ever times you find yourself talking out of “both sides of your mouth?” You’re about to experience me model this conundrum.

Those of you who know me know my passion for having vision, targets, and beginning with the end in mind. I want to know where it is we’re going, how we’re going to reach our objective, and a way to assess our progress. Reaching and exceeding the primary target is the ultimate objective. 

But yet…

I just read a quote that made me pause to ponder…”Remember…it’s the JOURNEY…not the destination that’s important!” My mind began to think of the travels I have taken and memories which revolved around the numerous side trips along the way; the final destinations rather a blur by comparison. 

So what is it I REALLY hold to be true? Perhaps it is the old chicken and egg dilemma as there is no chicken without an egg and certainly no eggs without the chicken…journey…destination…..

What do you think? Just askin…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, January 2, 2015

Looking back to look forward...

As we prepare for the NEW YEAR, it’s always a good idea to reflect on the year gone by. Below are 20 questions to ask yourself. Be honest…there are no right or wrong answers, but if we truly believe in “life-long learning” then we need to embrace opportunities to reflect and to learn from the past or run the risk of history repeating itself…


1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
5. Pick three words to describe 2014.
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2014—don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you. (If you’re not married, have fun guessing the answers from other friends and family, or just skip this question.)
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2014—again, without asking.
8. What were the best books you read this year?
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
19. What was the most valuable thing you learned this past year?
20. What needs to change for 2015 and how will you begin?
If we do nothing, we’re destined to simply repeat history…beginning a new year gives us the opportunity to shape our future…just sayin…Happy New Year!
Be good to yourself…