January 23, 2017
You’re almost a month into the year.
Did you start chasing your goals at a sprint?
I’ve finally started running my years like I run my races.
Here’s what happens…every time:
- Gun goes off
- Race begins
- Runners pass me by
Immediately, I drop to the back of the pack.
My mind starts taunting… How are you gonna feel coming in last?
I have a choice: stick with my unglamorous pace or rush ahead in a blur of glory.
I stay the course.
As the miles pass by, guess who reappears?
Those same runners who sprinted ahead at the start.
One by one I pass them.
They aren’t having much fun. They’re struggling. Hurting.
Victims of their start.
Finishing strong is a lot better than starting fast.
So, if in the early dawn of the year you’re already out of breath, have a cramp in your side, and the road ahead seem daunting…
Perhaps you started too fast.
Allow yourself to recalibrate your pace.
You’re less than one-twelfth of the way through…
Slow down. Enjoy the journey. Finish strong.
January 16, 2017
If corporate America were a pro sports team, most people would be injured.
The best coaches provide their team with ample time for recovery after intense performance. The best leaders should too…
High performance on the field requires the same discipline as high performance in the office:
Balancing work with rest.
When the scales are off for too long, diminishing returns from the mind, body, and spirit are inevitable.
Leaders who apply balance cultivate innovation, creativity, and energy.
Leaders who push their team to the point of exhaustion end up with people who are stagnant, unimaginative, and burnt out.
Our culture at large values hyper-activity and scoffs at the idea of rest.
Perhaps that’s why levels of workplace well-being have plummeted over the last decade.
Don’t take the bait. Make it a priority to schedule intentional rest periods for yourself and your team.
That means actually utilizing your personal days or simply taking that lunch hour you have a habit of skipping…
Put yourself on your calendar. Rest works.
January 10, 2017
The default answer to all our problems…
Not for you.
Not this year.
Challenge yourself not to learn another thing in 2017.
Instead, apply what you already know.
Rather than attend another conference, read another book, listen to another podcast—put into action the best of what you’ve already learned.
We’re participating in the most collectively educated culture in history. Everyone has increased access to knowledge. It no longer gives you an edge.
Want to change your world? Stop learning and start doing.
Knowledge isn’t power; application is.
December 27, 2016
Sitting on our deck with vapors rising from our morning coffee, my wife and I enjoyed the colorful leaves dancing among the treetops.
Their choreography was captivating.
Then, as we often do, Sarah and I indulged in unconventional conversation.
“Has anyone ever seen the wind? I mean, if we asked someone, ‘tell me what the wind looks like,’ what would they say?”
Yet we don’t argue about the existence of the wind. Why?
We believe in the wind by seeing its effect on our surroundings. We believe in the wind by feeling its effect on us.
Sarah and I never saw the wind that day. We didn’t need to.
We saw its influence on the trees. We felt it on our skin.
It was a simple lesson in faith: Belief in what is beyond our sight.
Faith has a way of making our lives more beautiful.
What areas in your life and work are in need of some beauty?
Open your eyes to what is just beyond your sight and enjoy a little faith today.
December 12, 2016
I listened to it replay over and over and over again.
So many times, I could recite it from memory…
Word. For. Word.
All customer service professionals are still assisting other customers.
Please remain on the line for the next available service professional.
You couldn’t help hearing that in a monotone automated voice, could you?
When did this happen?
Surely customers have never demanded the half-dozen keypad options that lead to nowhere.
Elaborate computer generated voices that force us into a game of 20-questions, never has been, or ever will be, a meaningful customer service experience.
Call it what it is: Customer Disservice.
Disservice leads to dissatisfaction, and a dissatisfied customer is on the lookout to purchase what you offer from someone else.
Seize this opportunity to distance yourself from the hollow hype that proclaims, “buy from us, we’re different.”
Instead… be different.
If you don’t like talking to robots, you can bet your customers don’t either.
November 28, 2016
“I deleted my work email account from my phone.”
An executive coaching client was filling me in on his recent promotion. Navigating the learning curve involved an overabundance of information. The obligations of his new responsibility threatened to invade every aspect of his life.
I admired Steve’s candor:
“I was constantly drawn to work emails at home. Even though none were an emergency, I ended up distracted from my family and lying awake at night. So… I deleted it.”
Steve did what so many of us should do—exercise control over at-home work distractions.
Life/work balance is not possible without boundaries.
Don’t get me wrong: Technology isn’t the problem. Our misuse of it is.
Phones are amazing tools to connect us with anyone around the world at any time. The question is: Are we utilizing them when we should be connecting with the person right in front of us?
- How is your use of technology getting in the way of your life/work balance?
- What is one healthy boundary you can set this week to prevent your device from becoming divisive?
November 14, 2016
What’s all that mess?
This exact blog with:
Difficult to read isn’t it?
We don’t write that way. It’s more important that people understand our message than it is to squeeze the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of space.
The same rule applies when we speak.
So why, when speaking in front of a group, do we often spew words as quickly as we can?
Dousing an audience with words, data, and slides rarely results in a memorable message that leads to purposeful action.
Speaking at a meeting is both an honor and a responsibility. Give your words space to breathe. Give your key phrases room to impact. Embrace the power of pause.
If you want to be heard…better yet, be understood… give ‘em space.
October 31, 2016
When your mind has excess time to ponder a circumstance, your thoughts can become crazy and destructive.
This is most evident when you’re waiting to hear back from a potential client, a job interview, or a date.*
As time passes and you don’t hear a response, irrational voices begin to hold your mind hostage:
- “I’ve emailed them three times, they must think my proposal is worthless and way overpriced.”
- “They said they’d get back to me last week with their final decision. They must have selected someone else.”
- “They never returned my last 2 voicemails. I’m way out of my league. I’m going to stop bothering them.”
Stay the course and you’ll uncover that your negative conclusions are rarely true. In actuality, people are just like you: Busy, distracted, and overwhelmed.
Be patiently persistent. Keep following up. Have faith.
They don’t hate you. They’re busy.
*DISCLAIMER: There is an exception to every rule. If you have indeed waited an extended period of time to hear back from a potential date or friend request…chances are they do hate you…and they’re not busy.
October 17, 2016
They’re what got you here and what can prevent you from moving forward.
As a child, did you like the know-it-all? As an adult, your response is probably the same.
The belief that you must always have an answer morphs into the dreaded curse of knowledge.
Fortunately, there is a cure.
It takes confidence to stop supplying answers and start seeking them.
Developing the skill to ask good questions takes persistence and practice. The four parts of asking a skillfully crafted question involve:
- Words – Most questions elicit a simple “yes/no” answer. Instead, use questions that provoke dialogue to gain understanding of what others think. To accomplish this, begin your question with words or phrases such as, “What…” “Why…” “Tell me about…” or “Help me understand…”
- Tone – The tone you choose creates the energy behind your words. Voice tone determines whether you sound judgmental or curious. Select the proper tone of voice so others feel safe bringing their thoughts/ideas to you.
- Gestures – Facial gestures and body language are visual reinforcements of your intent. Your face communicates, “You bore me” as easily as it states, “I’m interested in what you think.” If you want people to be open and honest with you, be sure your face gives them permission.
- Silence – This can be the toughest part. If you really want to hear what others have to say, be patient and wait… wait… wait. How long? Until they’re ready to speak. Resist the temptation to jump in and save them. The best way to honor someone after asking a question is to sit in the silence with them. It’s only awkward if you’re awkward.
Everyone has answers. Few people use well-crafted questions as a way to effectively listen and learn from others—allowing them to share their knowledge and expand yours.
Are you ready to differentiate yourself in your next conversation?
October 3, 2016
They’re born as thoughts.
They mature into beliefs.
Fully grown, they have the power to influence our attitude and behavior.
Two of the most prevalent lies that trap us are the conditional proclamations structured in the form of:
“If/then” and “When/then”
- “If I was the boss, then things would improve around here.”
- “When I get a bigger house, then I’ll feel successful.”
Here’s how these lies work: ‘if’ and ‘when’ are in the future. We, however, exist in the now. Believing these lies cause us to live in a constant state of deferred happiness.
There will never be a golden day or a magical circumstance that has the power to make us happy. It is simply a choice offered to us in the current moment.
Are you choosing the truth of now our the lies of later?