I had the great privilege of having lunch recently with a retired and aging former college professor of mine. He was in good spirits sharing the many adventures he had taken since retiring about 18 years ago often quoting some great philosophers and thinkers in his stories. I loved the way he weaved in his youth, his family life, his academic life into all the experiences creating stories where I hung on to every word. His stories were rich in content and pure in spirit. I only had about 90 minutes with him and it made me wonder how many more stories I could have heard had we had more time and subsequently, what would happen to these stories, so full of amazing and timeless lessons for any generation or person, once he passed? Afterwards, I wondered if his knowledge would be used to its optimal potential or simply be taken to his grave. Continue reading
According to Yves Morieux of the BCG Institute, annual productivity increase peaked in the business sector in the 1980s at 3%. In the 1990s, it dropped to 2%, to 1% last decade and continuing to decline this decade. It is worth noting that this steady decline is occurring during the most revolutionary changes in the workplace both in terms of technology and maturity of management principles. How is this possible and what role are you playing in it? Continue reading
The term currency is used to describe a purchasing power. Money, the most commonly understood currency, is used to acquire all kinds of stuff, for example. But is it the only purchasing power, currency, you have? What about imagination? Could imagination be used to acquire stuff? Why not? You could be creative with an idea and provide a solution that then enables you to acquire another’s confidence, love, respect or freedom to pursue other endeavors. So imagination does have purchasing power and in certain roles and certain times, is the most powerful purchasing power. If there is a problem that needs to be resolved, a solution that needs to be acquired, then it more likely that creative thinkers will have a higher purchasing power than actual money. I am not devaluing the role of money, merely making the case that there are other currencies at your disposal that need to be valued just has highly as money.
It is rare to see a 3-minute video on any subject and understand everything about that subject. So here is Colin Powell simplifying Leadership in the most simple and powerful way in 3 minutes ….
Steve Jobs said that ‘more was accomplished by moving ahead with incomplete plans than by waiting for perfect plans before moving forward.’ Others have argued to “not let perfection get in the way of progress.” Entrepreneurs will tell you that they make many mistakes with their initial “brilliant” idea before they land on the one that is a hit with the market. “Fail fast” is an operating mantra for many successful businesses that have disrupted their industries. So why then is it still not acceptable, both personally and institutionally, to try new things at work where the probability of failure exists?
I often ask people to share their most salient experiences of the past year. In most cases, they were experiences that resulted in meaningful dialogue with someone else. In some cases, it was actually just that – catching up with an old friend or relative who knows you really well and reminiscing on pleasant memories, some being silly or embarrassing ones that you can laugh at now but perhaps not at the time. Great conversations really are spices that make the meal of your bigger life taste so much better. But you probably already knew this. So what about having those same type of conversations … with yourself? Continue reading
You must subscribe to the argument that you learn and subsequently grow by finding out what you do not already know. Seems logical. After all you already know what you know. The pursuit of the unknown is therefore the real key to learning and growing. But how do you go about finding the unknown when it is … unknown? Is it possible that what you think you do not know, is in fact based on what you know, and not a true account of what is really the realm of the unknown? I think yes. Given this, substantive learning is then limited by what we know and can only be pursued by exploring sources of the unknown which in large part are from people and experiences not just slightly different than your norm, but substantially different.
I’ve been counseling/coaching kids since college. So when I had kids of my own, I started volunteer coaching them in a myriad of sports and happy to say I am coming to the end of my time with both as I pass them onto to more seasoned coaches. I am currently coaching my son, Hunter, in basketball at the Y where kids of all levels are welcomed. The picture is our current team and you will note we have only one female. She has never played basketball and is on a team where most of the boys are quite good. In all my years coaching, I cannot recall falling in love with a team the way I have with this one. Why? Continue reading
As we approach the end of the calendar year, it is the usual time to reflect on this year and think about next year. Here are a simple set of questions to ask yourself.
2015: (1) What are my regrets (2) What were my happiest moments (3) What advice would I give myself.
2016: (1) What do I not want my regrets to be (2) What will be my happiest moments (3) Who are 3 new people I want in my life.
Over the next few weeks, take serious time to answer these questions. Write the responses as though you were going to share them with your confidant, and then share it. The future will always be unpredictable but answering these simple questions could eliminate a good bit of that unpredictability.
Recently, I took a swim lesson from a new coach. It is the off-season for me as a triathlete and a good time to focus on technique. She watched me swim for several minutes after which I asked her what needed to be fixed. She paused and then uttered magical words to me:”There are a million ways to tell you but I am trying to figure out what will work for you.” I have held a long-standing belief that little knowledge understood is much more powerful than perfect knowledge not understood. And herein lies a powerful communication tip for anyone in the business of knowledge transfer – speak to be understood, not to be heard.
In the current age of 24-hour news and the interconnectedness of so many previously disparate sources, it has become routine to look at news and almost on a daily basis, finding compromising revelations about other people, products or companies, especially those in the spotlight. People that had a certain persona are turning out to have everything from previously unknown character flaws to committing unimaginable atrocities. We are talking of not just movie stars, politicians or athletes, but of local mayors, clergy men and business leaders. Anyone and everyone relevant to you. People that were once revered new seem fallible. It seems like hypocrisy is becoming quite difficult. Of all the layers to all these stories, the one that intrigues me the most is whether our loyalty should be to people or to a set of values? Continue reading
Yogi Berra, one of my favorite athletes, passed away last week. I never saw him play and to be honest, never even heard of him until I was in my 20s when I learned about his famous quotes before learning about him. My first reaction to his quotes was that these were incredibly powerful thoughts from a sports psychologist, not from an athlete. The one that I use very often and almost every time I speak is: “Wherever I go, there I am.” There is such immense wisdom and neuroscience in these six words as it relates to how we live our lives, and the activities we pursue to find higher performance or happiness. It debunks the myth of compartmentalization which for decades with espoused by employers, bosses, coaches and people. This foolish and inaccurate idea that we can and should “shut off” certain parts of our lives so that they do not interfere with other parts of life when in fact, it is neurologically impossible to do so. In other words, wherever you go, there YOU are. ALL of you.
The contrast between “acquiring” and “discarding” is one worth exploring this week. In the pursuit of success, the widely-held assumption is that we must “acquire” – a degree, a title, a role, amount of money, a home, a certain type of car, certain skills, etc. We hold this assumption not because it is true, but because it is reinforced by societal norms. In order to get a degree, for example, there are schools where you can get these. In order to get a title, there is a corporate ladder to climb. In order to get the house of your dreams, there are things to be done to make money to acquire the home. In other words, there is no shortage when it comes to the “acquisition” part of the success journey. But where do you learn to discard? Discard your bad habits, discard negative people or experiences in your life, discard past trauma, or discard things you no longer need? I argue that the ability to “discard” is actually more important, especially as you get older, in the pursuit of success. Continue reading
Many years ago, I asked one group to carry two 50-pound weights in each hand up a flight of stairs knowing many would be challenged by the physical task and sure enough, we subsequently engaged in all kinds of reasons why the challenge would seem unattainable. I then went to another group of similar skills and proposed the same task but this time, with 100-pound weights. This time however, after about 5 minutes of the same type of despondent dialogue as with the first group, I changed it to 50-pound weights. The second group, assuming they had just gotten a huge break with lesser weights to carry, then proceeded with excitement to a significantly higher completion percentage than the first group. Many psychologists have done this kind of study in the past with almost identical results. What can we learn about leadership from this? Continue reading
Giving feedback continues to be one of the more challenging tasks for many leaders. Recipients struggle with the process just as much, as emotional temperatures typically rise during the process. It is my contention that the primary onus of this process belongs to the giver of the feedback. I have noted that all too often the feedback given has not gone through the due diligence process required so that it is in fact received for its intended purpose – for improvement. I call this feedback Gossip Feedback. This feedback usually starts with “I heard that” or “Someone said” or “I feel that” and lack credibility and objectivity. Continue reading