Friday, December 22, 2017

Let The Darkness Do Its Job...

Today earmarks the darkest, and longest day of the year welcoming the cold and dreary days of winter...and yet…consider this post from Eric Klein.

“The solstice is a turning point in the cycle of the year. In the silent, stillness of the deepest night – light is born. And the days begin to grow longer.

This birth of light is a symbol of the potential within each of us to find purpose, meaning, direction, and joy in life – particularly when things seem dark.

The winter solstice is a reminder that things always go dark – sooner or later. Darkness is not a mistake. It’s part of the natural cycle of growth and renewal. Every career has its winter solstice times – when there’s more darkness than light.

Few projects or creative endeavors follow a straight ahead path from concept to completion (despite planning a nice neat timeline.) The life cycle of creativity is a cycle – with ups and downs. Periods of light and periods of darkness.

The winter solstice is a reminder. We need to learn how to embrace and work constructively with the darkness. How do you know you’re in a winter solstice phase in your work or life?

You know you’re in a winter solstice phase when:

• The beliefs, attitudes, structures, and goals that fueled your past success stop working.
• The harder you push the slower you go.
• The self that you’ve been identified no longer fits who you need to be.

A winter solstice phase comes whenever it’s time to let go of ways of thinking and methods of working that no longer serve.

It’s time to let go.

During a winter solstice phase, your task is to empty your self, without knowing how you will be re-formed or what your vision for the next turn of the cycle will look like. It’s a time for not being sure. Not knowing.

Certainty and knowing precisely what to do are qualities of day light – brilliant sunshine. Not knowing is a quality of the dark. How can you move ahead when you don’t know what’s right and the old ways no longer work. This takes trust. Trust that only by letting go of old forms, can you make space for something new to be born. Trust in the darkness – recognizing that “those who dwell in darkness shall see the light. ”Trust that the old structures of selfhood need to be dismantled because to hold yourself (or the team, the project, the relationship) together at this point is to fight with your own destiny.

The way forward comes through letting go and surrender.

At the winter solstice, you shed the layers of thought, belief, and habit. You can’t make this shedding happen. You can’t power through or visualize your way out. Now is not the time for action but for stillness.

As you let go and release the old identity and way of being, the stillness deepens. It’s in this stillness that you can re-connect with that which is deepest within you. It’s the birth of light that starts as just a flicker. For it to grow, you can’t jump into action too quickly. You need to tend the emerging light – like you would care for a tender plant that’s just broken through the earth.

Light emerges from the silence.And as it emerges, you are infused with a new sense of what matters most. Your values take on new meaning and significance. Your sense of purpose feels real again.You’re ready to begin a new cycle of action.Even if the outer forms of your work and life appear hardly to change – you are a different person. And you bring a new vision to all that you do.

But, first you need to spend some time letting the darkness do its work.

  • What is it time to let go of? 
  • What or who can support you through the period of uncertainty and not-knowing? 
  • How can you make time for silence and stillness?” 
Hmmmm...certainly appears this is a self-serving post...hope I’m smart enough to heed my own advice...Time to let go...Be good to yourself...Merry Christmas...

Friday, December 15, 2017

Blessed Is The Learner

Don’t you find it curious that the more you learn the more you realize how much you still need to learn? If this is true, the question which pops into my mind is can anyone really “master” anything? Is mastery a final destination or simply a journey?

Arggggg…too much to think about on a Friday afternoon, but yet, how do you motivate someone who believes they have arrived? How do we motivate those we serve to reach further than their grasp allows? How do we embrace “continuous improvement” individually, and as an organization?

Now if you expect the answer to these questions, you won’t find them here unfortunately, as IF I HAD all the answers the universe begs to answer, guaranteed I’d be selling my books by the millions….but consider this quote, one of my favorites, which helps put a perspective on learning…

“Blessed is the LEARNER for he shall inherit the earth; while the LEARNED will find themselves beautifully equipped in a world that no longer exists.”

Let that rattle around your brain a bit this weekend…and be good to yourself….

Friday, December 8, 2017

Did You Get Your 10,000???

Did you get your 10,000 yet? I got over 13,000 yesterday...For those of you with FItbits or Google watches or step counters on your phone you know exactly what I’m talking about.  10,000 steps a day is the goal to achieve some sort of fitness without going to a gym. The surprising truth is that the 10,000 number originally appeared in the 1960s when a Japanese company started selling pedometers called manpo-kei, which literally translates to "10,000-step meter." Later, studies confirmed that people who take 10,000 steps have lower blood pressure, more stable glucose levels and better moods. The number quickly caught on.

As leaders, we often spend too much time sitting...sitting behind our desk, around conference tables, in our car, at wife reminded me of a recent article she read which declared that “sitting is the new smoking.” (CLICK HERE for article)

10,000 steps….approximately 5 miles a day...I know what you’re thinking...Good Lord...who has TIME to walk that much??? Well...I’m glad you asked!

In his recent Blog, Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell urges leaders to “Walkabout.” He encourages leaders to connect to their organization by taking fifteen minutes a day to walkabout with a specific intention. Here are his suggestions:

  1. Empowering walkabouts. “If you were the boss, what would you do (name a situation)?”
  2. Affirmation walkabouts. “You’re really great at … . Keep it up.”
  3. Accountability walkabouts. “What’s happening with (name a project)?”
  4. Give feedback walkabouts. “I notice … . The impact of that behavior is … .”
  5. Effectiveness walkabouts. “What might we stop doing?”
  6. Challenge walkabouts. “I’m counting on you to … .”
  7. Values walkabouts. Choose an organizational value and ask about it. “How are we recognizing initiative?” (If initiative is one of your values.)
  8. Learning from failure walkabouts:
  • “What are we/you learning from failure?”
  • “Where did we/you fall short last week? What did we/you learn?”
  • “What are you learning about yourself? Your team?” (With falling short in mind.)
  • “What are you learning about … ?” (Insert a topic)
      9.   Innovation walkabouts. “What would you like to try that we aren’t already doing?”

Full disclosure will NOT get your 10,000 steps in 15 minute “walkabouts”....but you will begin down a path that is healthier for you and your organization…

Be good to yourself...

Friday, December 1, 2017


Recently my wife and I returned home from a wonderful trip in Utah where we explored 5 National Parks, 3 National Monuments, and 2 State Parks in  matter of 10 days. For those of you who have never been to southern Utah, I highly recommend the trip. The scenery is mesmerizing, the stillness and vastness of the area makes one reflective while enjoying God’s handiwork.

I thought I’d share some of my “ah-ha” moments this trip provided….

THE PLAN - I had the “vision” of the trip, the number of days needed to make our trip in a reasonable amount of time, planned the budget, made the reservations for air, car, and hotel...everything was set...but while I had the overall plan mapped out, it was my wife who dotted the “I’s” and crossed the “T’s” executing the day to day operations as to what exactly we were going to do and see…. The ah-ha???? Every team needs a visionary with the “Grand Plan” who trusts others to do what they do best in executing the DETAILS of the plan.

TIMING - As an ameatur photographer I learned early on the importance of light. The red rock which was bleached out by the morning sun would produce amazing hues of red when photographed at sunset. Vacationing “off-season” produced challenges of expected conveniences such as finding restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores in short supply. The ah-ha??? TIMING IS  EVERYTHING.

SLOW and STEADY - We estimated that we hiked 25 trails and over 100 miles during our trip. Some were were easier than others...some with asphalt paved walkways, some with dirt and red sand, and some with nothing but rocks and kerins showing the way up the side of a mountain. Some 3-4 mile hikes took but an hour while others took half the day..the ah-ha???? Understand the challenges of your journey before presuming anything.

GOING ROGUE - For safety reasons, paths are usually marked fairly well. Going off the trail can lead to getting lost fairly easy as there is absolutely no cell service in these remote areas to rely on any help, and most trials had little to no other hikers. There were times, admittedly that we strayed from the designated path to experience a better view or a different challenge that made our journey unique. The ah-ha???? Sometimes it’s a good thing to go off the “beaten path” to experiences something new or accomplish something never done before.

PERSEVERANCE - While standing on the rim wall of the canyon peering at the valley below, one couldn’t help be reminded of the power of perseverance from the depth of the canyon wall carved by the might of the Colorado River, or seeing the flora thriving in the desert rock...the ah-ha??? Never give up...never give in...Perseverance is key as even water cuts rock...eventually…

ONE LAST AH-HA - Joys and challenges are meant to be shared...having the right partner along the way makes every journey a special one….choose I am one blessed man...

Be good to yourself...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Thanksgiving Blessing

A Thanksgiving Blessing

May you have a roof above your head
May your house be home to you,
your table filled with bread

May you have a soft and silent sleep,
all through the night
May your lover in your arms be your delight.
May you have enough to go around
May you have the wealth to know
what you can live without

May you have a full day's work to do,
and time to spend
With all your children’s kin
‘till your life’s end

A wall for the wind
And a fire for the cold
A coat for the rain
And a friend for the road

May you be at peace with who you are
And may you laugh and cry
with those around you near and far
May your heart be found by love that will survive
In all the changing seasons of your life

I’ll protect you from the wind
and I will find a shelter
In the night I’ll light a fire
so you won’t get cold
In the dark I’ll be around you
like a guardian angel
I’ll be there, cause together
we will walk the road.

Be good to yourself….

Friday, November 17, 2017

Follow The Yellow Brick Road

While preparing our house for our family Thanksgiving feast, I found myself tidying up our DVD collection when I came across one of my all-time favorites; The Wizard of Oz. I can’t begin to count the times I have watched this classic on TV in black and white, or going to Grampa's to watch it on his “color” TV. As an adult, I bought my first VHS player/recorder along with only one movie, and now I find myself rather reflective as I stare at the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy 75th Anniversary Special Edition.

As fond memories raced through my head I found myself beginning to draw parallelisms between the main characters and fundamental leadership characteristics. Consider:

Needing a Vision - Dorothy was certainly given a path to follow and a vision for where she needed to go. In spite of various twists and turns along the way, she never lost her vision and helped others find their path along the way.

Needing a Brain - Although most leaders are intellectual, it’s their wisdom that usually sets them apart. Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit...wisdom is knowing not to put tomatoes in a fruit salad…

Needing a Heart - William W. George an American businessman and academic, professor of Management Practice, and a Henry B. Arthur Fellow of Ethics at Harvard Business School, weighed in on having heart in a recent interview. “You might have a high IQ, but if you do not have an emotional intelligence, then you are not going to be successful. Qualities like passion, compassion, empathy and courage — those are all matters of the heart, and we can’t teach those in business school classrooms.” Which leads us to…

Needing Courage - Let’s be takes courage to put your dreams into ACTION. Without courage you can’t make a difference. Without courage you can’t have the right conversations that lead to change. Without courage you won’t even get off the starting block as a leader. But it’s how you show courage that’s the important point here. Winston Churchill said “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Wherever your “yellow brick road” takes you remember to have a clear vision, the wisdom to know when to regroup, the heart to help others along the way, and the courage to do and say what needs to be said and done…

Be good to yourself...

Friday, November 10, 2017

Generally Speaking...

As we celebrate Veteran’s Day, I’m reminded of two Generals who I tend to believe are among the greatest military leaders our country has seen during my lifetime.

The first President of the United States that I recall as a child was General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Although not noted for being a “politician” he was a leader who had the ability to identify problems, and areas of weakness, then find solutions and resources to “get the job done.”

He is associated with a number quotes regarding leadership. Among the most noteable for me is, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office."
Leaders who display integrity do what’s right, without wavering, without excuses, without placing blame. I find it curious that the word “grit” is embedded in integrity; reminding me that integrity doesn’t come easy for those seeking to live it.

The second great general who comes to mind never made it to the Oval Office, although I dare say I would campaign for him not matter the political party he’d align. Born in Harlem of Jamaican immigrants, raised in the South Bronx, educated in New York City public schools, graduating from the City College of New York(CCNY), where he earned a bachelor's degree in geology, participated in ROTC and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation.Colin Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years, during which time he held myriad command and staff positions and rose to the rank of 4-star General. His last assignment, was as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense.In January, 2001 General Powell was sworn in as the 65th Secretary of State.

Considered a no-nonsense, common sense leader,  Powell is credited with saying, "The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow."

Short, sweet and to the point. People simply believe what we DO. When we blend these two beliefs together we have a solid foundation from which to lead as a leader with integrity who is able to “walk the talk.”

My sincerest thanks to veterans, past, present, and future, who have served our country so that we might enjoy the freedoms which you so valiantly defended. God Bless America…

Be good to yourself...and to those you serve...

Friday, November 3, 2017

86,400 Is All Each of Us Has...

How many times will we be reminded that old Mother Nature is stealing an hour from us this weekend as we “Fall Back” to Daylight Savings Time?

Time…such a powerful word.  It seems as though we never have enough of it.  In some cases we want to shave a hundredth of a second off a particular event, only to wish that we could add hours to another.

In his book, First Thing Every Morning, Lewis Timberlake gives us his observations on the subject for our consideration – my thoughts are highlighted in parentheses:

First: Nobody can manage time. But you can manage those things that take up your time.  (It’s OK to tell a team member that you’re in the middle of something – to come back later – like AFTER work or during their lunch. You’ll be surprised how much faster that meeting goes)

Second: Time is expensive. As a matter of fact, 80 percent of our day is spent on those things or those people that only bring us two percent of our results. (Not sure what research supports this, but the point IS well taken. Take an honest look of how much “bang for the buck” you’re getting with a project or relationship and make a conscious decision to proceed or simply “cut bait.”)

Third: Time is perishable. It cannot be saved for later use. (As my dad would say, “There’s no time like the present.”)

Fourth: Time is measurable. Everybody has the same amount of time…pauper or king. (It is not how much time you have; it is how you use it.)

Fifth: Time is irreplaceable. We never make back time once it is gone. (True, but hopefully with each passing day we LEARN from time spent on how to be better in the future.)

Sixth: Time is a priority. You have enough time for anything in the world, so long as it ranks high enough among your priorities. (Revisit your goals, professional as well as personal, prioritize…some things ARE more important than others…your actions ARE stronger than your words…)

So my friends…how will YOU use the 86,400 seconds you have tomorrow?  Each second is a precious commodity to be used wisely.

Be good to yourself…

Friday, October 27, 2017

Oh Boy...Here We Go Again...

Here we go again…Halloween is just around the corner with all the ghosts, axe murderers, and goblins preying on innocent neighbors to give them treats or be punished with a “trick” which simply takes the form of vandalism. Do I sound cynical? I suppose I do as I really have a difficult time seeing the “good” in this particular “holiday.”
When you think about it, holidays typically bring out the GOOD in people…in families. It’s a time to draw together to count blessings and be of good cheer. I know I’m in the minority on this one as EVERYONE LOVES Halloween…I’m just the poster boy of the Halloween Scrooge.
That being said, I searched the web to see if there were any positive correlates between leadership and the celebrated holiday.  Here are 6 lessons to be learned as presented by West Chester University in Philadelphia.
  1. Hand Out Treats - Although people aren’t going to go door to door asking for handouts as kids do on Halloween, leaders should look for opportunities to give out “treats” on a daily basis. This doesn’t have to mean candy or financial rewards. People thrive off of positive feedback and recognition, and will put in extra effort knowing that their contributions are not only noticed, but acknowledged and celebrated.
  2. Inspire creativity - Every Halloween, we see people come up with the most creative costumes. People are more willing to participate and bring new ideas to the table when creativity is accepted and encouraged. As a leader, it’s important to be confident in your own creative capabilities and give others the opportunity to bring out their creative side as well.
  3. Stay Determined - Just because you don’t get the candy you want, doesn’t mean you give up on trick-or-treating. It may take two, three, sometimes more tries until you get what you desired. Leaders set their eye on the end result, without losing focus or hope when things don’t turn out as expected.
  4. Don’t Fear the Unknown - Halloween is full of spooky scare tactics. Although leaders are often faced with “scares,” they do not let these fears define or limit them. They do not dwell on the unknown, the “what-ifs.” Instead, they focus on overcoming their fears.
  5. Never Walk Alone - When you walk alone, you tend to stride down the “safe streets.” Having others there can encourage you to branch out to new roads, opportunities, and concepts. Leaders walk in sync with their people, and listen and entrust them along the way.
  6. Don’t Forget to Take Off Your Mask - While it’s fun to take on a different identity for a day, it’s important not to lose sight of your authentic self. Leaders must be consistent and transparent in their identity in order to gain the trust of others.
Hmmmm…maybe there ARE “treats” that even I’m able to take away, without tricking anyone…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, October 20, 2017

Are You Growing...Or Rotting On The Vine?

“Do you consider yourself green and growing or ripe and rotting?” This is a question that is attributed to the late Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds. It’s an intriguing question.  Let’s be honest, most of us would like to believe that we continue to be green and growing. But are we? How do we know that we’re simply not ripe and beginning to rot on the vine?
Author Marlene Chism outlined the following 7 signs as evidence of growth in her recent blog:
  1. Your beliefs are still evolving.
Beliefs are formed from birth. As we evolve, gather additional information, reflect, our beliefs are changed subtly or, in some cases, substantially. If we are growing…we are still evolving…
  1. You can see different points of view.
If we are growing we’re learning. The more we learn, the more curious we become. The more curious we become, the more likely we are to consider other points of view. That’s not to say that we agree with all different points of view, but that we can at least see “the opposite side of the coin.”
  1. You are willing to stop unproductive habits.
As we all know, the first sign of insanity is to do what we’ve always done and expect different results. If we are truly growing, we are constantly re-evaluating our effectiveness and stopping those habitual habits that prove to be unproductive. A sign of growth, according to the author, is the willingness to stop habits (even the enjoyable ones) that stunt growth.
  1. You consciously build productive habits.
Makes sense that if we’re identifying our nonproductive habits that we should consciously build productive ones. New habits require us to DO something, which may be very uncomfortable at first, but we know that it IS in our best interest. It becomes a habit when we no longer think about it, it becomes part of our routine.
  1. You grow thicker skin.
A sign of growth is that you no longer take things so personally. Instead of anger getting the best of you, you take a deep breath, ask clarifying questions and realize that debate, differences of opinion can be a healthy way to move forward. You realize that the whole world is NOT against you…
  1. You achieve more than you thought possible.
By definition, growing is becoming larger or greater over a period of time…to increase. A sign of continuous growth is looking back and seeing how far you’ve come…and a desire to keep moving forward.
  1. Your definition of success changes
I believe this is directly related to the first indicator. As our beliefs are honed, experiences gained, we no longer need to “keep up with the Joneses.” As we grow, we find that success isn’t measured by “things” but rather by our state of being, the kind of relationships built, the growth of those mentored under our watch. Someone once said, “Success is not measured in the amount of dollars you make, but the amount of lives you impact.”
So…are you green and growing or ripe and rotting? The choice is really up to you. I must admit, I’m in various stages of this growth chart and there are times I need to regroup in certain areas (I guess that’s a good thing to realize if I am going to continually grow.)  However. as I read and re-read these 7 indicators of growth, they all seemed to revolve around LEARNING…hmmm…I guess if we’re not learning…we are indeed rotting…
Be good to yourself...

Friday, October 13, 2017

So...You've Gotta Ask Yourself One Question...

For those of you who are superstitious you’re well aware of today’s date and all that it encumbers. Friday the 13th falls at least once a year and for really bad years can fall as many as three times in a given year. Today marks the second and last Friday the 13th for 2017.

SO you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?  Well do ya…?” Of course, there are two types of luck…good and bad…Interestingly we all know someone on each end of the spectrum…how can one person fall victim to so many “unlucky” mishaps while the next person seems to fall into a pile of manure only to come out smelling like a rose?

Is luck simply a mindset? There are those who would suggest that when we
BELIEVE in a particular ritual or superstition, it’s that belief or trust that boosts the certainty of the outcome. Believe that breaking a mirror will bring bad luck and everything that goes wrong will be magnified by that lousy mirror. Rubbing a rabbit’s foot might be just what you need to help boost your confidence which has a way of cascading a positive effect in your mental state which helps performance.

It’s no coincidence that organizations succeed when leaders provide their people with a greater sense of purpose to believe in. The power of conviction is not to be ignored. When we believe, trust, and are committed, our brains can override uncertainty, or, conversely fan the flames of certain doom depending on if we believe in “good luck” or “bad luck.”

SO you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?  Well do ya…?”

Be good to yourself…