I’ve been fascinated by the concept ever since I read about the Kaizen movement in the mid-80s.

It encapsulates the well-known saying,” A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The core underpinning concept emphasizes continuous improvement through small, incremental changes.

It’s been five plus decades of doing life, raising a family, building a business, being a husband, father, brother, friend and neighbour.

Working at “doing it better”  has always been a a part of my process.

Admittedly, I haven’t always nailed it.

The business world strives for improvement in terms of ” lean ” and “agile” business practices.

It’s equally applicable in manufacturing to enhance efficiency and quality.

The concept also applies to anyone seeking personal growth in various aspects of life.

Some examples would be personal goals for saving money, getting fit, or losing weight.

By adopting this mindset, we learn how minor adjustments in our daily habits and attitudes can lead to significant change.

Here Are Five Subtle Shifts I’ve Used In My Own Life

Find Ways To Add Value

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world,” Howard Zinn

Leadership is all about looking for small yet meaningful ways to contribute.

These could be simple gestures of support during tough times or creative solutions to minor workplace issues.

They must be done responsibly and within your capacity to deliver.

Each effort deepens relationships, enhances perspective, and strengthens leadership abilities.

Focusing on adding value, even in small ways, creates a ripple effect.

It leads to substantial positive changes in your organization and personal life.

Committing To Being Fully Present

Distractions are everywhere. Focusing and being fully present is a rare and valuable skill.

Cal Newport, author of ‘Deep Work,’ emphasizes the power of concentrated attention.

This commitment involves actively minimizing distractions to enhance effectiveness in both professional settings and personal interactions.

For example, at crucial meetings, I make it a point to turn off device notifications to engage more deeply with the discussion.

This simple practice contributes to more thoughtful contributions, decisions, and outcomes.

Similarly, dedicated time for family, friends or even personal projects can convey, “Hey, I’m here for you !”

Practicing presence means being physically, mentally, and emotionally invested.

This is an essential key for effective leadership and personal fulfillment.

Maintaining Focus on Ultimate Goals

“Begin with the end in mind,” – Stephen Covey.

This principle is central to Kaizen, emphasizing the importance of clarity in your goals and objectives.

My hobby foray into film-making and videography sharpened my storytelling skills.

Every good movie you’ve ever watched has a central plot, a good script that drives it toward a conclusion, – at least it should.

Each scene has been crafted in advance with storyboards, shot lists and well-acted scripts that effectively tell the story.

Even Shakespeare knew that it was not enough just to set goals; every good writer/producer must create a system to review and adjust goals regularly.

This might involve setting aside time each week to reflect on where you’re at in your story and make necessary adjustments.

Keeping your long-term objectives in clear view ensures that your daily actions align with your ultimate aims.

Continuous goal mindfulness and realignment keep you on track toward significant results in your career and personal life.

P.S. That’s what “My Three Words” is all about.

Actively Seeking Constructive Feedback

 “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve,” -Bill Gates.

This highlights the importance of seeking out and valuing feedback.

Bill’s openness to others’ perspectives was a cornerstone of continuous improvement and relevant to his leadership.

Holding an open and welcoming posture for feedback from colleagues, mentors, or even friends and family can provide valuable insights into your strengths and areas for improvement.

Good feedback comes in various forms, such as performance reviews, casual conversations, or structured mentoring sessions.

By actively seeking and reflecting on this feedback, you can identify areas for minor adjustments that can lead to significant improvements in your leadership style and personal life.

I know this was true for me.

Cultivating Self-Discipline in Small Ways

Admiral William H. McRaven had a distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Navy. That was followed by a 3-year stint as Chancellor of The University of Texas.

His advice: “If you want to change the world, start by making your bed.”

For him, this simple daily habit set the tone for a day of achievement and order, essential for tackling more significant challenges in life and work.

Similarly, implementing small, disciplined actions like regular exercise, mindful spending, or dedicated learning time each day can accumulate substantial personal and professional growth over time.

These small, consistent acts of discipline lay the foundation for more significant achievements and resilience, demonstrating the power of Kaizen in everyday life.

My challenge this month?

Explore the principles of Kaizen and how small changes can lead to significant results for you.

 I invite you to reflect on your own experiences.

What small steps have you taken in your leadership journey or personal life that led to substantial changes?

Please D.M. me your stories and comments.

Let’s inspire each other through our continuous journeys of improvement.

Until next time.

Bottom line up front: My Three Words  (Drumroll Please)

INSPIRE. LEARN. NETWORK

Like many things we humans fuss over, the concept of a New Year can be a wee bit scary.

“I didn’t do enough. I should have done more. I failed.”

I hear this quite often. It’s amazing how much angst we can shovel onto our souls at this time of year.

Mind you, January 1 is mainly similar to January 2 or 3. Days. Just days.

Some of you are “fast start” folks who tackle the New Year experience with gusto and zeal.

New systems. New processes. New habits. Get 50 things done this week, probably by Thursday.

Me? I prefer a more measured approach.

So, for the last decade or so, I’ve been intentional about figuring out three broad themes that are personally applicable in the year to come.

Then I distill those themes down to one word for each theme.

 It’s a re-assessment of my calling in the context of my life and my work.

 If you’re still getting familiar with this exercise, business writer and consultant Chris Brogan started it in 2006.

A lot of other folks are doing this. Just plug a quick search for #my3words and see what others are doing.

It may sound simple, but it can be challenging. Two isn’t enough, and four’s too many, so three words are about right.

Year by year, I’ve checked back and assessed progress against my words. Last year, my words were Build, Reconnect, and Breakthrough.

And without me striving for any particular outcomes, all of this happened.

It’s downright uncanny how this type of broad visioning works – and it does.

There’s nothing magic or weird here. Instead, it’s a way to incorporate a small success system by bringing consistent intent, focus, and clarity to my decisions and actions in the coming year.

A recent article in Bain and Co. caught my attention. It reinforced an idea I’ve been observing for some time.

Simply put, it’s this:

 

We live and work in a new era—where traditional leadership models are missing the critical element that this era requires: inspiration.

 

 INSPIRE : (From Merriam Webster)

This moving little word may be traced back to the Latin inspirare (“to breathe or blow into”), which itself is from the word spirare, meaning “to breathe.”

The definition of inspiration is the process of breathing life into new ideas. The very origin carries the sense that you can’t control or contain inspiration, like wind or air.

It evokes images from Genesis 2, where the Creator God breathes life into a lifeless form of man, shaped from the dust of the ground, and the idea of humankind becomes a reality.

Cool huh!

Inspiration connects to more creative concepts, like motivation, ambition, and artistry.

When comparing motivation versus inspiration, think of them as an effect and a cause: motivation happens after you feel inspired and want to put your idea into action.

However, inspiration, like happiness, can be a learned skill supported by a personal system. There’s no natural one-size-fits-all-all system here.

The personal systems for inspiration that I cultivate and maintain may appear quite ordinary, even boring, to some.

However, if wisdom is proven right by its results, then bam! I rest my case.

Activities that support inspiration include proper sleep, rest, exercise, time in nature, meditation, and learning new things.

Keeping an Idea Journal helps!

Then there are people who inspire me. Not just any people. A network of family, friends, and colleagues who are genuine, positive. and have my best interest at heart. (Like my grandkids)

People who uplift, encourage, and sometimes call me on my BS.

I call them my “spark people”.

You know who you are – so thank you.

LEARN

Somehow, inspiration and learning are siblings in my brain. I’ve never really gotten away from the “lifetime learner” posture.

Stepping away from a full-time CEO role to Executive Coaching and Advisory roles has been a perpetual learning curve.

Now, I’m helping to establish a charity foundation to address the pervasive housing crisis. Guess what! More learning.

My propensity to learn and grow in ways that help others is one of the things that keeps inspiring me.

 

NETWORK

This is both a noun and a verb that, in my case, involves people. It’s a carry forward of my last year’s word -Reconnect.

This is partly to restore the healthy people networks devastated by the Covid era.

80 % of whatever we do to sustain ourselves and grow happens because of our people network.

This coming year, I plan to reach out, grow, and expand my people network in new ways.

 

MY APPROACH

I interact with my three words each day. For example, I’ll jot them at the top of my planner page or workout calendar.

Doing this keeps them front and center, pointing me toward my goals and grounding me in the interim work needed to achieve them.

 

REVIEW THEM DAILY

The more you review your 3 words, the better. They help me decide stuff. For example, “Should I say yes to this project?” or “Well, how does this align with my intent?”

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

Some of you have been asking about my words for months now.

 (Right back at Atcha!)

1. Please shoot me a note about your words or share it wherever you like.

2. Use the hashtag #my3words to find other people’s shared experiences, and if you’re a last-minute person, don’t worry.

3. Start when you’re ready.

I look forward to seeing what this next year has in store for us all!

Until next time.

“If you don’t know where you’re going any road will do”

  Lewis Carroll

 

The Art of Personal Strategy

Hey there! Have you ever wondered how some people seem to navigate life’s complexities with grace and foresight? Well, the secret might lie in having a personal strategy. It’s not just some fancy business jargon but a practical, versatile tool for everyone.

Think of it as your very own GPS for life, guiding you through the winding roads and unexpected detours with confidence and clarity.

The Essence of Personal Strategy

A personal strategy isn’t just a to-do list or a set of New Year’s resolutions that fade by February.

It’s a comprehensive plan that aligns your deepest values, strengths, and goals with the reality of your everyday life. It’s about knowing where you want to go and having a realistic and flexible plan to get there.

Why Personal Strategy is a Game-Changer

Imagine sailing through life’s storms with a sturdy vessel under your feet.

That’s what a personal strategy offers. It equips you to make decisions that are not just reactive but proactive. It’s about being the author of your life story, not just a character swept along by the plot.

Adapting Business Strategy Frameworks for Personal Mastery

Here are three of my favourite Strategy Frameworks that I use in various business settings.

Each tool is designed to address different aspects of a problem.

A good general purpose framework is the tried and true SWOT analysis. This examines Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

An external analysis framework that has emerged in recent years is PEST. Political factors, Economic factors, Social aspects and Technology.

A third tool I like is the McKinsey 7S. This assesses internal factors. They are Strategy, Structure, Systems. Shared values, Staff, Skills, and Style.

It’s not too big a leap for these business strategy frameworks to be adapted and used for developing personal strategies.

 

  1. SWOT Analysis – Your Personal Consultant: This is where you sit down with yourself and get brutally honest. What are you great at (Strengths)? Where could you use some work (Weaknesses)? What opportunities are knocking at your door? What threats should you be wary of? It’s like having a heart-to-heart with your most trusted advisor.
  1. PEST Analysis – Your Life Detective: This framework makes you an investigator in your own life. How do political upheavals affect your career path? What economic trends should you be aware of? Are social changes influencing your life choices? And how does technology play into all this? It’s about seeing your life in the context of the larger world around you.
  1. McKinsey 7S – Your Internal Symphony Conductor: Here, you’re orchestrating the various elements of your life to create a harmonious symphony. Are your personal goals (Strategy) in tune with your daily practices (Systems)? Do your relationships (Staff) reflect your core beliefs (Shared Values)? It’s about ensuring each part of your life plays the right note at the right time.

Historical Examples: Strategic Greats and Their Life Lessons

  1. Abraham Lincoln: The Strategy of Resilience- Lincoln’s life was a tapestry of triumphs and tribulations. His resilience in the face of personal and political challenges is legendary. He transformed his weaknesses into strengths, turned threats into opportunities, and ultimately changed the course of history. Lincoln’s journey is a powerful reminder that understanding and leveraging our personal SWOT can lead to extraordinary achievements.
  1. Marie Curie: Strategy in the Face of Adversity- Curie’s relentless pursuit of knowledge in a male-dominated field was nothing short of revolutionary. She navigated the social and technological landscape of her time with unwavering determination. Her life is a testament to how a deep understanding of the broader PEST factors can fuel breakthroughs, even in the most challenging circumstances.
  1. Nelson Mandela: The Strategy of Unification and Transformation – Mandela’s life is a profound study in the McKinsey 7S framework. His Strategy was the eradication of apartheid and the establishment of a democratic South Africa. His Style was characterized by forgiveness and reconciliation. Mandela’s Skills in leadership and negotiation, coupled with his Shared Values of equality and justice, were instrumental in transforming not just a political system but an entire nation’s psyche.

We have a strategic plan. It’s called ‘doing things’.

Herb Kelleher

Crafting Your Personal Strategy

How can you take these historical insights and weave them into your life tapestry? Start by doing a SWOT analysis on yourself. Reflect on the PEST factors shaping your world. Align your personal 7S – from your ambitions to your daily routines. The goal is to create a strategy that is as unique and dynamic as you are.

Bringing It All Together: Living Strategically

Creating a personal strategy is not a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process of reflection, adjustment, and growth. It’s about being mindful of the lessons from the past while staying agile and adaptable for the future. It’s about embracing change, celebrating progress, and always striving for alignment between your inner world and the outer reality.

Your Year of Strategic Living

As we embark on this journey of strategic living, let’s draw inspiration from the greats, adapt their wisdom to our modern lives, and write our own stories with intention and insight. Remember, the best strategy is the one that resonates with your unique journey and helps you navigate the complexities of life with confidence and purpose. Here’s to a year of insightful planning, bold moves, and rewarding achievements!

Until next time.

 

“Building Your Leadership Awareness.” 

Socrates sure started something when he came up with the quote, “Know thyself.”

Self-awareness seems to have become the latest management buzzword — and for good reason.

Personality Type testing has grown to a whopping two 2 billion dollar annual enterprise. 

A growing body of research suggests that when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and more creative.

We make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. We become more effective leaders with healthier organizations.

My years of being a practitioner, coach, and ever-learning student of leadership have given me a ringside seat to the power of leadership awareness and the effect that it can have. 

I’ve also witnessed more organizational traumas than I care to admit. Usually, it stems from a lack of understanding, or experience from a senior leader. 

Someone in a leadership role “wasn’t getting it!”

On occasion, I’ve been an unwitting participant. So consider this my “mea culpa” disclaimer. Also, social proof that I know of which I speak.

My personal interest in self-awareness started many years ago with a simple DiSC Assessment. DiSC Is an open-source personality assessment tool. It is one of many tools that are prevalent in the business realm.

Others include Myers Briggs, Core Strengths and Birkman, to name a few.

My Own Journey With This 

My first report was shock learning for me. You see, I’m an “off the chart” type D personality. People weren’t experiencing me as graciously as I thought they were.

At the time, I knew very little about nurturing this critical leadership skill.

I knew it meant significant internal leadership work for me to do – on me. Over time and with the help of others, I learned my default responses and was able to change and “flex my style.”

A well-researched research article in Harvard Business Review suggests that when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and more creative.

We make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively.

We all want that. Right?

It provides evidence of a direct correlation between the leader’s level of self-awareness and the organization’s level of health and effectiveness. 

 So, what are the pathways to greater leadership self-awareness?  

There are actually two broad, interrelated categories. 

The first can be called internal self-awareness. It represents how we see our values, passions, aspirations, fit with our environment, reactions (including thoughts, feelings, behaviours, strengths, and weaknesses), and impact on others.

Healthy Internal self-awareness is associated with higher job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness; it is negatively related to anxiety, stress, and depression.

The second category, external self-awareness, is more about understanding how other people experience us. Our personal UX. (User Experience)

Those who know how others see them invariably are more skilled at empathy and listening to others.

Leaders who figuratively can “walk in other people’s shoes” have a better relationship with them and are perceived as more effective in their leadership 

As with other things, awareness often comes slowly and progressively.

Hence, the term “dawning awareness.”

 

The infographic, courtesy of McKinsey, tells the story nicely. 

How do I get to level 5?

Here are a few suggestions that have worked well for me

Make feedback normal. Make workplace feedback safe and okay at team meetings. If you have made commitments to improve, take a moment to report on what you have done, and then ask team members to rate your progress on a scale of 1 to 10.

They may struggle the first few times you do it, but frequency will overcome timidity. The more regular you make it, the less risky it is.

Engage with a coach or mentor.

This may sound a tad self-serving because it’s what I do. (I am not looking for more work at this point) The more important part about this is that it works!

Ask someone you respect who’s candid and straightforward to be your informal coach. Meet regularly to request feedback. Make the coaching relationship public to demonstrate your sincerity about improving.

If you can afford a good Executive Coach, the Return On Investment can be significant (788%, according to this Forbes Article) 

Having a multi-source feedback system that you’ve nurtured over time yields multiple dividends.

Until next time.

 

PS if you enjoyed this, you might like Building Trust Through Feedback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve all been there—

standing on the precipice of expectation, heart filled with hope and eyes fixed on a vision.

 

The exhilaration of a new project, the buzz of a fresh idea, or the thrill of an ambitious goal. Yet, the wind doesn’t always blow in our favour.

The ground beneath sometimes shifts, leaving us grappling with confusion, frustration, and even self-doubt. These moments, when our expectations hang in the balance, teetering between realization and disappointment, are the crucibles of leadership.

Navigating the intricate corridors of leadership, we often find ourselves charting courses led by aspirational visions. After all, isn’t it an important part of our job to encourage and challenge others to pull together toward a common purpose?

While this inspires us and others, it can sometimes be clouded by unmet expectations and unforeseen challenges.

When such disappointments arise, how we respond reflects our leadership acumen.

Having a grip on our own expectations is foundational.

Before setting out on any leadership venture, it’s vital to ascertain foreseeable challenges that may lie ahead. Sometimes, our ambition and enthusiasm might be racing towards an overly ambitious deadline. The key lies in recognizing these moments and recalibrating our approach, mainly if others are involved.

It helps to have well-defined personal goals and challenging yet attainable goals for our team. Beyond that, how we interact with others is pivotal in outcomes. Reflecting on the roles, goals, processes and people around us often offers clues and insights into how we function as a team as we strive toward

our preferred future. I usually have to remind myself that colleagues and co-workers can only give you what they’ve got, and sometimes there’s a shortfall.

Adaptability is a hallmark of strong leadership when the inevitable occurs and disappointments happen. Like a ship navigating turbulent waters, the key isn’t to avoid the waves but to adjust our sails and find a path through. However, during these storms, we must not become our own harshest critics. Instead, recognizing each setback as an opportunity for growth provides us invaluable wisdom.

Assumptions, often made with the best intentions, can lead us astray.

By promoting open communication, we ensure a mutual understanding that keeps everyone aligned. Furthermore, in today’s connected age, we must remember that platforms like social media showcase highlights rather than whole stories.

Constant comparisons to others can distort our perceptions, so grounding ourselves in reality is essential.

Some leaders strive to minimize setbacks. This usually backfires, and team members begin to lose trust. Preparing for setbacks and dealing with them as they happen builds our resilience. Keeping in mind that our leadership journey is as much about responding to others as it is about steering the way helps foster mutual respect and understanding.

In conclusion, disappointments, while challenging, are an inherent aspect of our leadership journey. Rather than viewing them as insurmountable obstacles, we can see them as gateways to new perspectives. Every disappointment can lead to newfound insights, attitudes, and realities, like a traveller discovering an uncharted path. We often stumble upon richer landscapes and deeper understandings through these very challenges.

The art of managing expectations isn’t about avoiding disappointments but about leveraging them as stepping stones to a brighter, more informed future.

To our continued growth, resilience, and fresh horizons,

Lorne

Photo by garrett parker on Unsplash

Imagine you’re in charge at the helm of a ship, but your compass equipment isn’t calibrated correctly.

You’ll likely veer off-course, blithely sailing along unaware that critical course corrections are needed.

Just like you navigate a ship with a compass, leading a team without effective feedback is much like  sailing blindfolded. It can quickly lead to disaster!

Feedback is the compass that guides you and your team toward your shared goals, fostering a culture of trust and nurturing fruitful workplace relationships.

The Power of Feedback

Feedback is crucial for several reasons. First, it creates a clear line of communication between leaders and their teams, illuminating the path to objectives and aligning the efforts of all involved.

Furthermore, it drives professional growth, pushing us to refine our skills and expand our competencies.

Lastly, when delivered effectively, feedback builds a culture of transparency and trust.

Navigating the Feedback Seas

I recognized very early in my leadership career that I would need to foster various forms of feedback loops to suit different situations and individuals.

Each situation and each person was uniquely different,

Here are some different types of feedback that I’ve found to be very useful.

  1. Motivational feedback focuses on encouraging team members and acknowledging their efforts. This type of feedback can be particularly effective when dealing with challenging tasks or during periods of change.
  2. Developmental feedback offers the opportunity to improve an individual’s skills and competencies. It’s about identifying growth areas and providing the support needed to reach new levels of mastery.
  3. Constructive feedback involves providing specific, actionable suggestions on what an individual or team could improve. It’s not about criticism; it’s about helping people reach their full potential.
  4. Intrinsic feedback comes from within an individual. As a leader, you can help team members tune into their self-awareness and reflections.
  5. External feedback comes from outside the individual and is often in the form of evaluations, reviews, or assessments. This feedback can help employees understand how they’re perceived and how their actions impact others.
  6. Negative feedback can come across as criticism, but it can lead to significant growth and improvement when done right. It’s all about the delivery! Hard things can be discussed in a matter- of- fact manner with a tone of respect.
  7. Positive feedback acknowledges and reinforces the actions that contribute to the success of a project or organization. It can help to boost morale, improve productivity, and increase employee engagement.
  8. Immediate feedback provides a real-time learning opportunity right after a behaviour occurs. This kind of feedback is impactful as it allows for rapid adjustments.
  9. Delayed feedback conversations occur after some time has passed. It allows for reflection when feedback needs careful thought or when immediate feedback may not be suitable.

Common Sense Principles for Feedback Conversations

Despite the types of feedback, its delivery is critical. Here are some principles to bear in mind:

  1. Empathize: Treat your team members as individuals, not just employees. Be mindful of their feelings and viewpoints.
  2. Be precise: General feedback can lead to misunderstandings. Make your feedback clear and actionable.
  3. Encourage dialogue: Feedback should not be a one-way street. Cultivate an open discussion to guarantee understanding and agreement.
  4. Make it relevant and timely: Feedback should be given appropriately and directly correlate with the recipient’s actions.
  5. Focus on behaviours, not the person: Feedback should address actual activities, not be a critique of the individual.

The Voyage to Better Leadership Through Feedback Loops

Effective feedback loops empower leaders to better understand their team’s needs and provide the proper guidance, support, and motivation. Leaders who embrace the power of feedback create a culture of continuous learning and mutual respect, ultimately enhancing performance.

In essence, trust is forged through clear, respectful communication. Leaders who are adept at giving and receiving feedback not only establish an environment of faith but also enhance their credibility.

So, if you model gracious feedback as a regular part of your leadership practice, it can be the compass that steers you and your team toward success, fostering trust and enriching workplace relationships along the journey.

Until next time.

 

PS like this ?  You might enjoy  https://lorneepp.com/how-graceful-is-your-leadership/

 

 

 

 

Shift Happens!

If you been in leadership for any length of time, something egregious takes place and you are impacted. You get that “run over by a bus feeling”. Trust is lost.

Trust breaches come in all shapes and sizes. You never quite know when and how it’s going to show up. Regardless of the cause or circumstance, it hurts. Eroded trust, causes rifts in relationships, and stymies effective teamwork.

You can’t control when you get thrown under the bus, but you can choose how to understand and respond.

Trust Shattered, Trust Rebuilt: A Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Betrayal in Professional Relationships

Trust is the silent force that creates a harmonious and productive working environment. A fragile yet crucial element binds teams together, driving efficient collaborations and forging strong professional relationships. When that trust shatters, the echoes of the fall can impact every facet of work dynamics, leading to an atmosphere filled with suspicion and doubt. As a leader, comprehending the roots of such breaches and the road to restoration can help heal wounds and revive the organizational spirit.

Delving into the Roots: Why and How Broken Trust Occurs

Trust is violated when actions defy expectations, leading to a betrayal that can occur for several reasons in the professional world.

Inconsistency is often a prime suspect. Leaders who do not “walk the talk,” fail to honour commitments, or do not consistently enforce policies breed an environment of distrust. Colleagues who fail to fulfill their responsibilities can also tarnish the reliability factor, causing the trust to falter.

The stark violation of ethics, such as dishonesty or hiding crucial information, also significantly fractures trust. Such actions are deemed as betrayals because they don’t just strain the professional relationship but attack the personal integrity of the parties involved.

Power misuse or authoritarian behaviour can further poison the trust well. When people in positions of authority misuse their power, subordinates may feel exploited, leading to resentment and a breakdown of trust.

Any Powerful Emotion Can Be the Cause Behind Betrayed Trust

Emotions can cloud judgment and fuel irrational behavior. Sometimes a perceived situation isn’t based on reality. That doesn’t matter. As long as a person believes they can benefit in some way, and their benefits are greater than the damage they’re going to cause in their mind, they can rationalize taking action.

Common biases like over-optimism, conviction bias, or superiority bias often kick in and fuel the process

Forgive, Remember, and Overcome: The Pathway to Trust Restoration

Overcoming the consequences  of broken trust necessitates a healing process involving acceptance, understanding, and mutual efforts.

Recognition is the first crucial step. The offending party must admit their misstep and its implications. This openness can clear the fog of misunderstandings and exhibit a sincere commitment to mend the strained relationship.

Subsequently, the act of forgiveness takes centre stage. The injured party must be able to forgive the offender without necessarily erasing the episode from memory. Remembering is not about holding grudges, but rather, it serves as a reminder of the lessons learned.

Creating a Safe Path: Guardrails and Tips for the Trust Restoration Process

A few healthy guardrails must be set in place to navigate the terrain of trust restoration successfully.

Constructive Communication: Open, honest, and empathetic dialogue about the incident, its consequences, and how to move forward is crucial. This channel can resolve misinterpretations and set the right expectations for future interactions.

Consistent Actions: Actions speak louder than words. The party that broke the trust should consistently exhibit reliable and trustworthy behaviour to reaffirm their commitment to change.

Shared Objectives and Responsibility: Identifying common goals can help to realign focus, uniting both parties towards a larger purpose. Setting defined roles, responsibilities, and accountability mechanisms can bolster trust along with shared goals.

Transparent Practices: A transparent work environment minimizes misunderstandings and potential trust violations. Regular status updates, a culture of feedback, and open-door policies can promote transparency.

Defined Professional Boundaries: Clear professional boundaries can prevent future conflicts and trust breaches. These include setting and respecting expectations about job roles, work etiquette, personal space, and workload.

Here are six personal tips on how to respond to broken trust

1. Remember that your response shapes your reputation – Above all else, remember this point: how you choose to respond to the situation will significantly shape your reputation. Take the high road and respond with integrity, empathy, and professionalism. Don’t let someone else’s unprofessional behaviour goad you into responding in kind. Trusted leaders know that at the end of the day, all they have is their integrity.

2. Don’t react defensively – Defensiveness only escalates the situation and lends weight to unjustified criticism. Getting heated up over friendly fire gives emotional control to the other party and limits your ability to respond rationally and thoughtfully.

3. Listen to understand, not to refute or defend. Our most common instinct when we experience broken trust is to zero in on the fallacies of the other person’s comments and formulate a response to protect ourselves. Instead, resist the urge to focus on the micro elements of what’s being said.

4. Consider the source – Probably the sagest of all advice regarding betrayal. You can rest easier if the betrayer is prone to dramatization, criticizing others, being egotistical, or other unpredictable behavioural patterns. However, suppose the perpetrator is known as a steady, stable, trustworthy professional who has personally supported you in the past. In that case, you should take stock of their feedback and explore it further.

5. Understand the circumstances– It’s helpful to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand their motivation for unfair behaviours. Is the person unhappy? Stressed? Insecure? Vying for power or control? Frustrated? Is there a significant amount of change happening in the organization? Criticism increases dramatically. Criticizing and blaming others is a defence mechanism to deal with the fear of being asked to change. Even though you’re the target, remember that unfair criticism is often more about them than you.

6. Remember that you are more than this event – It’s easy to get down on ourselves when we experience the fire of criticism from colleagues. Most people strive to perform well and do what’s right, and when a boss or colleague criticizes our efforts, it hurts deeply. Depending on our personality and emotional makeup, it may lead to anger, bitterness, stress, resentment, self-doubt, and pity, to name a few. Remember that this too shall pass; in the big scheme of things, this is probably just a blip on the radar. Keep focused on all the positive things in your life, such as the people you love, those who love you, the successes you’re having at work, the joy you experience from your hobbies, your spiritual faith, and the support of your family and friends.

As the American writer Elbert Hubbard said,” the only way to avoid conflict is to do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing”.

Getting wounded by a breach of trust stinks; there are no two ways about it. But remembering these principles can help us keep things in perspective and maintain a strong defence when we’re thrown under the bus.

Until next time..

Note: This is not the actual bridge in my story, but a very close facsimile.

 It happened some years ago but it was an adventure I’ll never forget. I was exploring a rugged and remote part of my province. My trusty truck was pulling hard in the steep terrain, and my fuel supply was dwindling.

My map showed me an alternate route that would get me back to civilization (and fuel) much sooner than going back the way I came. It meant crossing a fairly large river, but the map showed a bridge – so no problem, right?

It was almost nightfall when I got to the river. Guess what – the road led right onto a timber railway bridge!

I felt that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. My heart rate went up a notch.

This required some “thinking about it.”

Pulling aside, I made myself a cup of tea. Somehow that helped.

Looking more closely, the rails had 2×6 planks installed on either side to accommodate vehicle traffic should anyone be nutty enough to attempt a crossing.

 I started “walking the plank” on either side of the rail to check if it was sturdy enough. It seemed to be.

There’s no turning around or backing up with the truck, camper and loaded trailer on that narrow plank. Not an option.

There were no guardrails. The slightest deviance from the plank could tip the whole rig into the swift flowing waters.

My next thought was, “What if an oncoming train happens?”

Somewhere in a Western movie, some guy would always put their ear on the track to determine an oncoming train.

It worked in the movies, so I decided to try it. Nothing to be heard.

Taking a deep breath, I started the engine, aligned with the track, and started slowly and carefully inching across.

It was the longest twelve minutes of my life, my heart thumping every moment of the way.

In retrospect, as sketchy as it was, I had to trust that the bridge would get me from here to there.

I had to trust my driving skills to not go off the rails.

 I had to accept a reasonable risk of no oncoming train.

Trust is the cornerstone for building relationships and running our businesses.

It’s like a bridge, connecting us to others, facilitating communication and collaboration, and strengthening our bond.

It allows us to traverse the otherwise vast chasm of unfamiliarity, misunderstanding, and insecurity.

Just like many types of physical bridges get us from here to there, types of Trust can be viewed on a continuum.

At the one end there’s a tightrope which only allows fragile, one-way traffic. This might represent a relationship or business venture just beginning to build Trust. Next would be suspension bridge, or a hastily erected Bailey bridge over a washout and so on.

At the far end, a substantial, four-lane bridge accommodates high-speed, multi-directional traffic.

This could symbolize a well-established relationship or a successful business partnership where Trust is deeply ingrained and mutual.

Here are a few examples.

The Fragile Tightrope: Picture a trust bridge resembling a tightrope, swaying precariously with each step. This delicate construction permits only one-way traffic, making it essential to tread carefully. In relationships where Trust is fragile, any misstep or breach can easily send the participant tumbling down. It’s like walking on eggshells, constantly second-guessing intentions and actions. This kind of trust bridge limits openness and can create an atmosphere of suspicion.

The Swinging Suspension Bridge: Moving along the trust bridge continuum, we encounter a swinging suspension bridge. This structure allows for limited two-way traffic, enabling communication and interaction. Although the bridge may sway with the winds of doubt or uncertainty, Trust remains intact, albeit with some wobbles. It requires continuous efforts to maintain balance and address concerns promptly.  

The Substantial Highway:  This is the trust bridge at its strongest—a steel and concrete four-lane highway built to withstand the tests of time and traffic. This bridge enables fast and reliable connections, fostering openness, collaboration, and mutual respect. Trust on this scale allows for smooth two-way traffic, ensuring effective communication and meaningful relationships.

When the Trust Bridge Becomes Blocked, Compromised, or Broken: Just as real bridges can encounter roadblocks, detours, or even collapse, trust bridges also face challenges. When Trust becomes blocked, it obstructs the flow of communication and understanding. Misunderstandings, unfulfilled promises, and hidden agendas can lead to a traffic jam of emotions.

When a Bridge Collapses: The immediate feeling is denial and disbelief. You’re caught off-guard, especially if the bridge had appeared solid and sturdy. You may stand incredulous on one side of the chasm, wondering how such a sturdy structure could fall so unexpectedly.

Anger soon follows, kindled by the hurt of betrayal and fanned by resentment towards the person who let you down and perhaps even towards yourself for not seeing the signs.

The broken bridge also leads to anxiety, as you’re stranded, unable to reach the other side, unsure how to rebuild or find another way. Thoughts of lashing out might bubble up, but they only lead to more destruction and less resolution.

Financial damage might occur, especially if the trust bridge was between business partners or in a marital relationship where finances were intertwined.

Moreover, the stress caused by a betrayal of Trust can manifest as physiological symptoms such as loss of sleep or appetite. In some cases, individuals may even resort to thoughts of self-harm or harming others, showing the severity of the psychological impact of broken Trust.

In its aftermath, a bridge that once stood firm may be left in ruins. Moreover, the relationship might be terminated, as rebuilding a fallen bridge takes more energy and resources than building a new one.

The effects of this broken Trust may spill over into other relationships, contaminating them.

As a result, you might start questioning other bridges, even those that are well-built and sturdy, casting doubts on their stability.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen R. Covey

To mitigate these adverse effects, it is crucial to diligently maintain our bridges of Trust. Frequent checks and balances, open communication, and mutual respect are the pillars that uphold these bridges.

 Friedrich Nietzsche once said:

 “I’m not upset that you lied to me; I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

Therefore, let’s work to keep our bridges strong because they are not quickly rebuilt once broken.

However, even when a trust bridge breaks, it’s essential to remember that it’s not the end of the road.

It’s a lesson, a warning sign that helps us build stronger, more resilient bridges in the future.

 “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” Isaac Newton

So, let’s focus on building bridges of Trust, nurturing and maintaining them because, ultimately, these bridges connect us.

Without them, we are but islands in a vast sea.

Until Next Time.

Hey – If you found this article helpful, you might also enjoy this one

(Just click on this title)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just the other day, I caught myself reminiscing about the good old days of floppy disks and dial-up internet.

Ah, that ding-ding sound of “You’ve Got Mail!”

But, as much as I love a good jog down memory lane, I’m grateful for the progress we’ve made.

Thanks to our rapidly evolving digital landscape, we now have access to an abundance of knowledge at our fingertips.

So, what better way to “carpe’ the diem” than by becoming a lifelong learner?

The Lifelong Learner:

I recently came across a fascinating PDF (which I will refer to as the “The Lifelong Learner”)

The article eloquently and succinctly highlighted the important benefits of embracing learning throughout our lives.

The document reveals that lifelong learning not only enhances our personal and professional lives but also contributes to our overall well-being.

I already know what you’re thinking:

“Great, another thing to add to my never-ending to-do list.”

But fear not, my fellow knowledge-seekers!

The beauty of lifelong learning is that it can be pursued in a variety of ways – from attending workshops to reading books to listening to podcasts.

It doesn’t have to be a chore; it can be an enjoyable journey of growth and self-discovery.
As the renowned Albert Einstein once said,

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”

This sentiment perfectly encapsulates the essence of lifelong learning.

The Zone of Proximal Development:

Coined by psychologist Lev Vygotsky, the ZPD is the sweet spot between what we can do independently and what we can achieve with guidance.

In other words, it’s where the magic happens!

Initially the Zone of Proximal Development referred to early childhood learning where it provided  a framework for teaching tailored to each child’s individual needs.

By identifying a child’s Zone of Proximal Development, teachers and parents could provide appropriate challenges and support to help the child learn and develop new skills.

The concept of  ZPD is equally applicable to leadership development in adults!

In this context, the Zone of Proximal Development is the range of skills and abilities that a leader can develop with the help of a mentor or coach.

Just like in early childhood learning, learning in the Zone of Proximal Development in leadership development requires a balance between challenge and support.

The ZPD  concept perfectly aligns with the idea of lifelong learning, as it encourages us to continually push our boundaries and seek new challenges.

As an Executive Leadership Coach, I often witness the power of the ZPD firsthand.

Picture this: A seasoned executive, initially reluctant to embrace new technologies, suddenly finds herself leading a team of digital natives.

With a little guidance and support, she flourishes in her newfound ZPD and becomes an innovative force within her company.

Voilà – a lifelong learner in action!

From Experience:

Now, if you’re still not sold on the idea of lifelong learning, let me share a personal experience.

A few years back, at what some might consider a “more distinguished” age, I wanted to up my game skills in the area of videography and independent film-making.

I enrolled in some part-time courses at a well-known international film school.

Here I found myself surrounded by a group of enthusiastic twenty-something creatives.

They came with all the add-ons like tats, piercings, and unusual coloured hair.`
(Disclaimer- just reporting, No judgement here)

There I was, the proverbial “old dog” learning new tricks. My much younger counterparts acted as both my guides and fellow students.

This personal adventure taught me a lot about cross-generational laughing and learning.

My younger colleagues and I bonded over our shared passion for life, good coffee, and storytelling.

Our differences in age, experience, and perspective only enriched the process.

Today, I’m glad to say that I’m still in touch with friends from that learning cohort.

We continue to support and inspire each other in our creative pursuits.

As the celebrated author and motivational speaker, Brian Tracy, put it,

“Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.”

My Call to Action:

So, my fellow aspiring lifelong learners, let’s embrace the journey and dive headfirst into the Zone of Proximal Development.

Whether it’s picking up a new language, exploring a new hobby, or mastering the latest technology, remember that the pursuit of knowledge knows no age or bounds.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a short screenplay to write.

Lights, Camera, …Action!  (I always get kick out of saying that )

Until next time.

 

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” – B.B. King

 

Photo by Johan Godinez on Unsplash

Saying “yes” to something significant in life or business can be downright daunting.

It requires a leap of faith, a willingness to face the unknown, and an inner conviction that it is the right thing to do. It can be scary, especially when we are accustomed to saying “no” to opportunities that push us outside our comfort zones. However, when we muster the courage to say “yes,” we open the door to a range of possibilities that can transform our lives in ways we never imagined.

Here are five transformative  things that happen when you’re inspired to say “yes” to something significant in life or business:

Overcoming the Predominant Human Tendency to Say No

The first and perhaps the most significant thing that happens when you say “yes” to something important is that you overcome the predominant human tendency to say “no.”

We are predisposed to seek comfort, security, and familiarity. We avoid risks and stick with what we know. Communicating “yes” requires stepping out of our comfort zones and facing the unknown. It is a powerful act of courage that can be transformative in itself.

Overcoming Misgivings and Fear of the Unknown

Saying “yes” can also help you overcome misgivings and fear of the unknown.

Of course, it is natural to have doubts and reservations when facing something new and unfamiliar.

However, saying “yes” means acknowledging and facing those doubts and fears head-on. It requires a willingness to take risks and push through the discomfort. By doing so, you can develop resilience, self-confidence, and a sense of empowerment that can carry you through other challenges in life.

Overcoming Self-Doubt

Saying “yes” can also help you overcome self-doubt. Self-doubt is a common human experience and can be a significant barrier to personal growth and success. It can cause us to question our abilities, worth, and capacity for change.

Saying “yes” to something highly important requires believing in yourself and your potential. It means recognizing your strengths and your ability to learn and grow. You can develop a greater sense of self-confidence and self-esteem by taking action despite self-doubt.

Aligning with Your Values

Saying “yes” to something significant also requires aligning with your values. Values are the guiding principles that shape our decisions and actions in life. We feel a sense of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment when we align with our values.

Saying “yes” to something that aligns with your values can give you a sense of direction and purpose that can be transformative in and of itself. It can help you stay focused and motivated even when faced with challenges and setbacks.

You Create Opportunities for Success

Saying yes to something new and important creates opportunities for success. By taking on new challenges and expanding our skills and knowledge, we increase our chances of achieving our goals. We create new networks and connections that can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations.

Opportunities for personal growth and betterment can have a ripple effect on all areas of our lives. We become more engaged and fulfilled in our personal and professional relationships. We are more likely to take on leadership roles and make a positive impact in our communities. We become more empathetic and understanding of others, and we develop a greater sense of compassion and gratitude.

Success is not always guaranteed when we say yes to something new, but by taking on new challenges, we increase our chances of success. We learn to be more resilient in the face of failure and setbacks, and we become more persistent in the pursuit of our goals.

Figuring it Out

Of course, saying “yes” is just the first step. Then comes the fun part of “figuring it out”.

Once you have committed to something significant, you will likely face various challenges and obstacles. You may have to figure out how to navigate unfamiliar terrain, learn new skills, or overcome unexpected setbacks.

My wife loves the challenges of living off the grid for several months of the year.- particularly the figuring it out part.

 She’s found that problem solving in this setting can be an enriching and gratifying experience. It requires creativity and a willingness to adapt and change course when necessary.

In Conclusion

It’s a principle I strive to live by: say “yes”, then figure it out.

Life and leadership lessons can be found in the most unexpected places, even in a lighthearted family movie like “Yes Day.”

While saying “yes” to everything in real life could lead to disastrous consequences, the film highlights the importance of flexibility, compromise, and the power of saying “yes” to new experiences.

As a leader, it’s crucial to be open to new ideas and be willing to try different approaches. However, it’s also important to set boundaries and communicate effectively to avoid chaos.

 Also, opportunities in real life don’t come gift-wrapped in safe, comfortable, packages. They usually require  that you commit first, then do whatever is necessary to ensure that your effort is successful.

Ultimately, “Yes Day” teaches us to find a balance between saying “yes” to opportunities and knowing when to say “no” to protect ourselves and those around us.

How about you? What opportunity is in front of you right now that feels a little intimidating? Is there any place where you need to say yes, then figure it out?

Until next time ….

PS – If you wind up saying “yes” too much, you may want to read The Too Busy Trap