No Action … is Action

actionA few years ago, my son and daughter got into a typical sibling brouhaha. I was in an adjacent room and could hear the entire exchange. It was a low-level issue, to me, and I chose to let them work it out. About 30 minutes later, my son walked into the room I was in and appeared shocked to see me. “What?!” he yelled. “You were here the whole time? Why didn’t you say something? You always take her side!” Right or wrong, he felt terribly betrayed by me. I have told this simple story many times at leadership conferences on just how powerful an action of ‘no action’ can be to followers. Continue reading

Workplace Athletes

teamsportsAs someone who lives both in the business workplace and in the professional sports world, I often get asked what the similarities and differences are between the two. I have answered this question in many ways but now realize that the biggest difference is in Performance Management.  The professional athlete gets constant feedback (statistics on each game) and it is objective. In golf, for example, the athlete can look at about a dozen different personal statistic at the end of each weekly tournament. Her coach can show actual video of what she did well and not so well. And very quickly, a plan is put together to address that weakness within hours or days. At the next tournament, the same thing is done and she may have fixed the problem from the week before but the feedback shows different issues and the focus changes to improve the new issues. This constant cycle of feedback is what creates the bedrock for that one competition where the magic happens. So let us juxtapose this to the professional worker who also gets paid, like a pro athlete, for her performance.

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Happiness – Part 3

happinessThe key objective of the first blog on this topic was to define or redefine happiness from something that you pursue, to something that you eliminate – fear. For the second blog, it was to identify 3 distinctive scenarios of causes of that fear – yourself,  others and situations – or perhaps any combination of these. In this final part, let’s focus on removing fear specificallly from each of those scenarios. Continue reading

Happiness – Part 2

happinessLast week, I offered a simple neurological definition of Happiness – the constant pursuit of eliminating fear in how we feel, think, and do. This week, let’s discuss where and how fear manifests itself so that you can recognize those experiences both as they occur and preferably, before they occur. There are three distinctive scenarios for causality of fear: (1) those that we cause (2) those that others cause and (3) those that a situation causes.  Any of these causes by themselves can release significant levels of cortisol – the opposite of the happiness hormone. Any combination of these or worse, all 3 together, can result in debilitating trauma that can cause long term or even a permanent state of unhappiness where no amount of happy moments can result in happiness. The absolute worst case scenario is when as a result of this, you, as an initial victim, now become a perpetrator and create a cycle of unhappiness. These are reasons to really understand just how powerful of a positive impact removal of fear can have on your life, happiness, and performance.

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Happiness – Part 1

happinessThere has never been a shortage of ways to describe happiness. If we are lucky enough to have our basic needs (Maslow) of food, water, shelter and security met, then the pursuit of happiness comes into play. Because we have some form of “power” after meeting these basic needs – a purchasing power, a hierarchical power, a physical power, etc – we want to naturally use that power to pursue or in most cases, purchase happiness. The scientific studies and evidence correlating happy workers to productive workers and high degrees of innovation are abundant and at least 40 years old. There is indisputable evidence suggesting that happy workers or athletes outperform those that are not. It is therefore, worth making Happiness a workplace discussion topic. That is why it has been the most popular class at Harvard University. This is Part 1 of a 3 part Series on Happiness. Continue reading

Can’t to Can

CantAdmittedly, this topic has been well chronicled in the leadership space. There are wonderful stories of the journey from “can’t” to “can” from people – everything from weight loss, to athletic achievements, to financial success and personal happiness. You would think by now there would be a well-defined methodology for everyone to follow to convert their Can’ts to Cans but there is not. Each person’s history is different as are so many other variables like motivation, support structure, and skills. Even if you manage to successfully take an endeavor from Can’t to Can, then there is the stickiness factor – how long can you live in the new Can world and avoid what many regrettably do which is to regress to the Can’t. Here are some tips on this complex personal tribulation. Continue reading

Do a Social Media Cleanse

cleanseThis time of the year is quite popular for crafting life, career, and health goals. Media is replete with ads catering to this annual ritual. One popular activity is to do a nutritional Detox or a Cleanse. I am not qualified to evaluate these but they do trigger a different kind of cleanse that is relatively new. I do it many times a year and recommend it you. I call it a Media Cleanse. Continue reading

Choose your 2015 Competition

competitionI want you to pick your competition for 2015. Go ahead – write it down. Who do you want to be better than in 2015? If your answer was another human being, then you have under performed already and arguably already lost. Continue reading

Take 2014 Inventory

chklistsThe next two weeks are my favorite time of the year. It’s the holidays and for most, work slows down and many take time off. It’s also the end of a calendar year which is a perfect time to take inventory of 2014. Here are list of questions that I invite you to answer – I recommend having at least three responses to each question. Put them down in a document that you can refer to regularly – preferably on your mobile device. Continue reading

Coach or be Coached

coachEveryone has the capacity to coach someone else at something – whether it is coaching kids in a sport, an after school program, friends, family, neighbors, people that you work with or those that work for you. There is a skill set or knowledge you have acquired that someone else could benefit from. There are many benevolent reasons why this can be both personally rewarding as well as having a positive impact to the recipient – coachee. If that is not enough reason, then consider a much more self-serving one – it will make you better at just about everything you want to do. How so?

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Where do you store your learning?

brainlearningWhen I ask anyone if they are smarter now than they were five years ago, the answer is always “yes!” I am told that the reason is that in the past five years via all kinds of life experiences and training, they have learned a great deal. Alrighty then. Where do you store all that you have learned – not just in the past five years but the past 10 or 20 years? If your answer to this question is “my brain” – then know that you have greatly diluted the value of the very experiences and learning you have earned.

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Power of Past & Future … not just Now

happyRecently I had a healthy exchange with a good friend on the topic of happiness. She leveraged the Eckhart Tolle premise of happiness being only in the “now” – the present, and as such, not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. I have had several issues with this premise for many years despite being a fan of Tolle.

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The topic of courage has been explored for perhaps centuries.  It would appear there really is not much more to uncover. We all know what it is, why it is important, and have no problem recognizing it when we see it. Yet, I wonder how many of you have ever been asked this question: “How courageous are you?” How many of you have ever verbally answered that question to an audience? How many of you have asked that question directly to someone else? How many of you know how to answer that question? For a character attribute that is associated with the ability to overcome challenges, daily and difficult ones, it is important to have answers to these questions.  Continue reading

Start-Stop VS Increase-Decrease

DIn coaching executives and athletes, I have come to learn that any change, especially behavioral change, is just hard. Establishing the case for change is relatively easy as is finding the right plan and tools to make the change. But then to actually do it (change) and maintain it, is where old habits tend to win over desired new ones. So here is a better way to make change (improvements for yourself) an achievable endeavor in a sustainable manner.

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Work as a Race Day

ironmanThis week, I will be attempting to complete my second Ironman Triathlon. For those not familiar with the race, it is a 2.4 mile swim in the Tennessee river, following by 116 miles (4 more than normal) of a bike ride across Tennesee and Georgia, and then a 26.2 mile run (marathon) in the downtown Chattanooga district. All of this starts around 740AM on Sunday September 28th, and has to be completed by midnight. The central premise of my last book ( was that these endurance events are as much an emotional endurance test as they are a physical endurance test. How might this be connected to what you do at work this week?
During the race, I only have three resources: (1) what I know (2) what I am carrying with me and (3) what is around me. The last resource is one that is grossly underutilized and can often be the game-changer especially in tough times. In a race, an athlete is only allowed to use nutrition and hydration that is provided by the course at stations set up on the bike and the run. But that is not what I am talking about. Think of ALL the OTHER resources like music, wind, beautful weather, a scenic farm or hill or home, people cheering you and volunteers there helping you, to name just a few. All these resources are there and I try to engage with them using my five senses but also by actively engaging with them. I do not know this for sure, but I am fairly certain I have the world record for saying “Thank You” to volunteers in a Triathlon. In fact, I often point my finger at each person I say thank you to and look them in the eye. Sometimes there are many volunteers at a station and even kids handing out water and I will purposefully slow down to engage with them. Almost 100% of them time, the response from the volunteer is a positive one. Acknowledgements like “you’re welcome” or “you’re looking great” or “you got this” and they are always smiling back to me. I know that those comments were directly and specifically for me. The hormonal impact on by body watching those smiles and hearing those responses for me I can literally feel all over my body. This in turn keeps my negative thoughts away, and still allows me access to my brain where all race-day decisions will be made.
Your career is an endurance race. An important day at work could be your metaphoric race. Or it might just be a tough day. What if on this day, instead of you expecting people to come to you to cheer you, you proactively went and found compliments to give out to those around you. like my “thank you?”  All the people around you and all the places around you are no different that those on my race. They are underutilized. This week, make it a point to notice everything great about your trip to work, about the people around you and the geography of your workplace. Then use your 5 senses to engage with one in each category. See you feel after – specifically if you feel more empowered to tackle your day. Oh by the way, if you want to track me on Sunday – go to and insert my bib# 775! Thank you!