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Posted by on Sep 30, 2015 in Blog, Leadership | 0 comments

Leadership Reexamined

Thanks for joining us on our Leadership Series journey! Next week we will wrap-up the series.

We received some interest in digging further into this idea of “doing what reality requires.” This week, we would like to revisit that concept and hopefully dissect it further.

I am going to let you in on a little secret about myself – I had a stunning basketball career that included some epic battles with Magic Johnson and Larry Byrd!

Trying to guard Magic was like nailing jello to a wall – the things he could do with a basketball!  And Byrd, he just had a grit that was terrifying!  Man could he battle. Unfortunately, I was past my prime before Jordan hit the scene so history will never know. I did hit some shots that were daggers to the hearts of those guys.

Clearly this never happened in reality; the context for this was just a 7th graders imagination – and pretty harmless!  Research says it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert. Yup, that’s the right number of zeros – ten thousand.  So to become an expert you have to have two things, talent and time.   Magic, Byrd and Michael Jordan had both.


The 10,000 hour rule holds true in all areas … The Beatles, Bill Gates, Tiger Woods.   Sure, some natural talent doesn’t hurt but studies are even showing that practice is more important than natural talent!

Of course, like everything else, there is one exception to this rule and that is personal opinion.  Everybody has one!  When you combine this with the emphasis on individual greatness (read more about this in our earlier blog) and our easy access to information through technology, you end up with discord instead of discourse.

We have forgotten the difference between knowledge, understanding, and the ability to create something new! Knowledge requires mere exposure; understanding is just describing something that already exists, but CREATING, well that takes 10,000 hours. One can know a lot, understand a little, but may not be able to create anything!

So what does this have to do with leadership?  Leadership requires us to know a lot, understand some, and (this is the critical piece) CREATE!! A constant and thoughtful examination of our opinion is necessary for effective leadership. Humility and power under restraint, guide us.  Questions such as “Do we need to defer to a colleague?  Do we need to ask for help?  Do we need to step aside and let someone else lead?” determine how we act.

When interacting with others, ask yourself what you have to contribute. Is it an opinion that needs to be examined?  Have you put in the time to weigh in?  The strongest teams allow for others to share and contribute…are you giving others equal time?

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Posted by on Sep 23, 2015 in Blog, Grit, Happiness, Leadership, Resilience, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Leadership takes Humility

I can’t believe we are to Morsel 7 of our Leadership Series! If you didn’t catch the previous morsels, you can click here to view Morsel 1 and Morsel 3.

Last week we looked at the importance of grit (Morsel 5) and how to build it: if you are expressing more gratitude, then you are building grit!!

This week, we are going to discuss the other key element of Leadership: Humility. You see, leadership is actually pretty simple; it just takes grit and humility.  “What?” you ask. “How can that be? But if it is just made up of two things, then that sounds easy?”

Yes, I know, we can be pretty skeptical of simple, but it is because we are confusing “simple” with “easy”!  They are not synonyms!


Let me take a moment to differentiate between the two…Weight loss is a pretty simple concept made up of primarily two things- 1) eat less, 2) move more.  I don’t know about you, but when my alarm goes off at 5:00AM, it is far from easy to crawl out of bed and head to the gym.  That’s simple but is definitely not easy!  Keep that in mind as we continue our discussion on leadership.

Now let’s talk about humility.  I have been contemplating humility a lot lately and stumbled on this definition: “humility is a clear perspective and respect of one’s position in context” (Thanks, wikipedia!

Another way to say that might be that humility is the power and strength 1) to consider some one else’s idea or position AND to consider that you might actually be wrong and 2) take a clear look at your role and rise to the occasion.

True leaders, or leaders with humility understand that there is a start and stopping place to how much they know and can do and that in fact, they NEED others around them to help. Humility then, is not a weakness, but a strength. It is actually power under restraint.  Read that again…POWER UNDER RESTRAINT. When I think about power under restraint, people like Rosa Parks, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. all exhibited true humility.  They understood what was required of them in the moment (whether that was refusing to give up a seat on the bus, committing to deal with injustice through non-violent demonstrations, or deliver a speech that would be heard literally around the world.)  But at some point, even they needed others. Without other civil rights supporters, Rosa Park’s action would have been in vain and a speech isn’t a speech if no one is listening.

I also can’t help but notice that they did NOT have a preoccupation with their individual greatness. In fact, all three of these leaders were more concerned about the welfare of others than their individual greatness.  I wonder if that is what trips us up so much … our cultural is obsessed with individual greatness. Isn’t that what motivates stars on reality shows? Aren’t they looking for fame and recognition or some sort of individual greatness?

How much greater could we all be if we had a clear perspective of our situation and what was needed from us in that moment? Maybe the most powerful thing we can do in a given moment is be quiet … recognize that maybe, just maybe, by letting some one else contribute,  we are exhibiting humility and looking to the greater good – not just our individual greatness.

Maybe you have yet to recognize your leadership potential. Sure, maybe your title doesn’t say leader, but think about the effect you have on your tribe (the people in your inner circle at work and/or home).

Beginning TODAY…Show great power with restraint. Recognize when it is you need others.  Really listen to the contributions of others (I mean really listen – not just thinking about what you are going to say next!). Be aware of your own leadership potential and when you have something to contribute…do it with humility!

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Posted by on Sep 16, 2015 in Blog, Grit, Happiness, Leadership, Resilience, Uncategorized | 0 comments


Three weeks ago we began a Leadership Series. Last week we covered the third morsel: Leadership is not a Commodity. Did you take time to think about how to develop the leadership skills you need for your reality?

This week we are moving on to the fifth morsel: GRIT.

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In the immortal words of Mike Tyson, “Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the face!”

How true is that? Don’t some of our biggest disappointments truly hurt? Don’t these disappointment have a physical affect on us?

I love riding! No, not a bicycle, a HARLEY! No matter what kind of bike you prefer, you know there are only 2 kinds of riders … Those who have been down and those who are going down.  It’s just part of it!

Life is kind of like riding.  You have just been punched in the face and are down, or you WILL be punched in the face and WILL go down.   Now, before you get all depressed, there is good news!!!

You can get back up, but it takes GRIT! (Use this worksheet developed by researchers at UPENN to determine your GRIT level). Unlike personality measures that can’t really be changed, the good news is, you CAN change the amount of GRIT you have!  How you ask? You find it in a place you might not expect … happiness! “Ahhh, wow,” you say? Yep, pretty cool…

But, when I say happiness, I am not talking about the emotional experience of happiness (smiling and laughing).  There is so much more to happiness.  Aristotle’s definition describes it best: human flourishing!  What does this have to do with grit?  Happiness and resilience(grit) are actually 2 sides of the same coin.  As we become more aware of what true happiness is, and we develop the habits to experience more of it, our grit increases at the same time!

So how do we increase our happiness and grit?  It might be simpler than you expect. Research shows that gratitude is a game changer!  Not just feeling gratitude but expressing gratitude!  Tell a friend how much they mean to you; thank a colleague for the privilege of working with them; notice how unique your child is and tell them about it! Be intentionally thankful about even the littlest of things each and every day.

Do it today and start increasing your grit! Remember, Happy…Matters!

See you next week!

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Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in Blog, Leadership, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Leadership is Not a Commodity

Two weeks ago we began a Leadership Series. Last week we covered the first morsel: The Enemy of Good is Better. Did you think about what tissue you are damaging in your own life by trying to make things perfect instead of letting things be good enough? Two weeks ago we began a Leadership Series

This week we are going to look at Morsel 3: Leadership is not a Commodity. (If you remember, there are 4 morsels numbered 1, 3, 5, and 7).


As we continue on our journey together to discover more about leadership, I can’t help but reflect on this modern culture we find ourselves in.

As capitalists, we often ask “is there a way to monetize that?” (whatever “that” is)! Making money is great (I personally, can’t wait until I can get my next Harley!)  I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask that question, but it seems this question has become the driving force among those in leadership. What I am saying instead, is that there is SO MUCH MORE to consider.  We think about the money and forget to ask some very important questions:

  •     What exactly am I monetizing?
  •     What impact will it have on our lives?
  •     How will I achieve it?

Just because we can monetize something doesn’t mean it makes the world a better place. Sometimes it is those things we can’t monetize that have the largest impact!

Think of a few of our greatest leaders… Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln? Did they ask “How are we going to monetize that?

No! They simply met the demand that reality asked and we will never ever forget them. That’s called legacy! Try to put a value on that!

Who else comes to your mind?

Leadership cannot be monetized, but we try!  When we Google “leadership” we find a plethora of courses we can quickly take and earn a certificate in leadership. Stop and think with me for a minute…does this even make sense? That’s not at all how leadership works! Leadership can only be developed in the lab of life (among people) not from studying a book and taking a test!  It’s cultivated by daily brushing up against real life mentors and real-world experiences!

Think about it …. are you preoccupied with the certificates and courses, or are you surrounding yourself with people that care about your growth and development as a leader? Don’t we all know that person who expects us to respect and follow them because of the letters behind their name? (You know who I’m talking about…). Maybe you even have a bunch of fancy letters behind your name (you know who you are (Ph.D., M.S., J.S., LCSW, CFRE, PE). Many of us do, and that’s great, but earning the letters is the easy part. It is proving ourselves at a true leader, one whose leadership was not bought but earned that is the true challenge!

This week, before pursuing another degree or certificate or signing up for another course, think about the demands of your reality.  Is that really the best way to meet those demands and develop the skills you need? Perhaps you could seek out a mentor instead? I bet you already know someone who has the skills you desire and would be happy to mentor you for free! You won’t earn a new certificate to hang on your wall or add to your resume, but you will have something far greater, the respect of those around you and the skills to meet the demands of your reality.  And as a result, you too will leave a legacy!


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Posted by on Sep 2, 2015 in Blog, Happiness, Leadership | 2 comments

The Enemy of Good is Better

Last week we began a Leadership series. We outlined 7 (really 4) morsels of leadership. These are morsels because these points are not the entirety of what makes a good leader. And frankly,  someone ALOT smarter than me would have to tell you all there is to say about leadership. I just know about the morsels.

If you recall from last week, the first morsel is the enemy of good is better.

I know, I know…I admit when I first heard this I thought it was, well…STUPID!  If fact, when it was first stated to me I took it upon myself to say that out loud. I mean seriously, there is even a book many of us have read and bought into that states the complete opposite! Give me a second, I’ll explain…weight-lifter-882365_1280

I remember , I was in session with a surgeon many years ago. In our discussion he said “the enemy of good is better.” And that’s when I said those magic little words,”that’s stupid!”  (Take my word on this, don’t say that to a surgeon! ) He went on to explain in a quite condescending tone, a suture is intended to hold tissue together to prevent bleeding and promote healing; that is its ONLY purpose, its job. Its job is not to be the most perfect little suture that the world did see!  In fact, if you go back and try to make it perfect, you will damage tissue!  If the suture is good enough, IT IS GOOD ENOUGH!

It got me thinking about some of my own patterns. I remember in college getting a 97% on an exam. Awesome, right?!  That’s not the way I saw it. That was 7% too high!!  I studied way too long!  I could have stayed out at the bar a little longer the night before and talked to the hot girl next to me and maybe even have gotten her number! An A is an A whether it’s a 90, a 95, or a 97!  Now that wasn’t true for all my classes; in some I wanted that 97. But others, eh!…Maybe this isn’t the best example, or one you want to share with your college kid, but you get the idea!

So now it is your turn to chew on this a bit. This week, consider where in your life are you damaging tissue.  Where can you give yourself a break and let good enough be good enough? Trust me, in the long run you will be happier!

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