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.

 

“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

 

 

 

 

 

 Master farmer (and brother-in- law) David with a small part of his herd of naturally grown beef cattle.
Photo Courtesy of ohnemusbeef.com 

 

Leading Like a Farmer

I have an abiding relationship with the land. I grew up in farm country. Both my parents came from active farming families.

We lived in a small rural town where life revolved around the seasons, the soil, the crops, and the herds.

My dad started out in farming, but successive years of  prairie drought forced our family to move to the concrete jungle.

There, dad finished degree work and pursued a career as an educator.

A recent visit to my sister and brother-in-law’s cattle farm brought back a flood of childhood memories.

The old adage is true.

You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.- Somebody

Having that rich rural upbringing in my background helped shape my pragmatic, optimistic worldview.

(a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll)

Farming is a firm belief in the future. A belief that things will happen according to plan. That growth and change will come in due time.

As I followed my sometimes perplexing early adult career path, the profound common sense lessons from my rural upbringing stood me in good stead.

It helped bring things into sharper focus.

It wouldn’t hurt to think more like a farmer to be a better leader.

Yup, farmer. Just think about it for a bit.

They are faithful stewards of the land, working hard to produce everything that feeds us daily.

Here are five ways to approach your Leadership as a farmer would:

  1. Prepare the field (Master the context)

Farmers would never try to grow crops or herds in a barren place.

They do whatever is necessary to prepare nutrient-rich soil for growth.

Similarly, you can’t grow your career—or the careers of those you lead—if you’re in an uninspiring, stagnant or hostile work environment.

As leaders, we need to consciously create a safe place for others to flourish. We’ll foster trust and collaboration by modelling vulnerability, leading with empathy, actively listening, and encouraging open communication. To nourish our own careers, we need to adopt a growth mindset, allowing our curiosity to fuel lifelong learning.

  1. Begin with the end in mind. (Have a vision, strategy and plan)

A farmer would only plant a crop or start a herd with a plan that includes a clear understanding of their desired outcomes.

In growing your career, having clarity on what you want is critical to achieving it. Maintaining focus will help you do the things necessary to expand your experience and skill set.

When you can articulate your goals, you’ll have an easier time aligning your attention and intention to plant the seeds for continued growth.

The same approach works for helping your team grow, too. When you ask what each member wants to achieve, you’ll better understand their goals and create a plan to accomplish them.

  1. Having started – Let things grow

Micromanaging doesn’t work with plants, herds, or people. If you hover or over-control, you’ll impede progress.

Work teams respond in much the same way. Once you’ve helped plant the seeds and ideas for growth, certainly monitor, but avoid getting into the minutiae of every task. Empower your people to make their own decisions—even if they differ from those you might make.

 As a leader who steps back yet offers support and resources, you send a message of trust—and allows others to thrive.

Just as a farmer must be patient and allow their crops to mature before they can be harvested, a leader must be patient and allow their team members to develop and grow before expecting them to produce results. Remember that leadership growth happens steadily over time.

  1. Removing weeds.

Farmers know they must keep their fields free from weeds that threaten to invade and choke out their valuable crops or harm the animals.

When managing a team, one toxic employee can quickly destroy the morale of the most productive team. If you’re a solopreneur, unreliable partners or even over-demanding, taxing clients can take their toll if left unchecked.

Sometimes, the “weeds” you face aren’t people but outdated processes, services, or activities that drain your precious resources and prevent you from focusing on what truly matters.

When you say no to the people and things that don’t support your goals, you make room for those that do. It’s up to you to proactively assess the fields of your career and take action, pulling the pesky weeds early and quickly.

  1. Work real hard and learn from previous harvests.

Farmers know that forecasts can sometimes be wrong and that some form of setback will strike sooner or later. But when it does, they don’t give up. They use this knowledge to be better prepared.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work!” Thomas Edison

Every leader makes mistakes, but the ones who view their failures as learning opportunities thrive. The next time something doesn’t go as planned, set aside time to review where you went astray, what you learned, and what you can do differently in the future.

By thinking like a farmer, you’ll sow the seeds of Leadership and reap a bountiful career harvest.

Until next time- Lorne

Credit Acknowledgement: Adapted from a Forbes Article with a similar theme by Amy Blaschka 

 

 

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently we watched the people of the United Kingdom and others from around the world mourn the loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Both the funeral service and the procession that followed were tremendously moving.

As a very young boy, I saw the Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) pass by while I was perched on my father’s shoulders. It was her very first trip to our country. The palpable joy of the enthusiastic crowd that day left an indelible impression.

A short time later, I watched her Coronation speech on a very grainy early 50s TV broadcast.

“I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart, I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.    Queen Elizabeth II June 02, 1953— London, England

  Each year that followed, she would address the world with her annual Christmas message. She would talk candidly about hard things going on in the world and sometimes in her own family.

Yet, her message was always one of wisdom, courage and gratitude.

She always built trust and inspired hope!

Even in her departure, there was a measure of grace and elegance.

Today she is being remembered as a world leader who consistently served the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth with grace and dignity. The crowds lined the streets, and millions more watched online to pay homage and respect. It says a great deal about her legacy and how she will be remembered.

We can only imagine the volume of change and turmoil she witnessed in her seven decades of leadership!

It might be my understatement of all time, but we live in uncertain times.

We’re witnessing one of the most rapidly evolving business and social environments ever seen.

There’s never really has been a time when people could be sure how things would play out. But now, with new powerful forces in motion, it’s dicier than ever.

What’s different now is that the volume and the pace of change have increased dramatically.

Well huh!! There it is.

In the midst of it all, people are looking to leaders for help and hope.

And that takes grace.

Much like authenticity, art, or love, -grace is hard to define.

But we sure recognize it when we see it.

Rocker/philosopher Bono (U2) says it this way:

Grace, she takes the blame

She covers the shame

Removes the stain

It could be her name

Grace, it’s the name for a girl

It’s also a thought that changed the world

 

In a recent book, The Five Graces of Life and Leadership, author Gary Burnison delivers a meaningful and thought-provoking exploration of leadership.

He emphasizes the five kinds of grace that leaders absolutely must have to lead their teams in today’s rapidly evolving world. He also happens to be the CEO of the iconic consulting firm Korn Ferry.

That fact alone grabbed my attention.

In today’s world, leadership is all about establishing community and connectivity.

People instinctively long to be part of something bigger than themselves. But, to have the grace to create this kind of leadership, we need greater self-awareness and a genuine connection to others.

To Burnison, G.R.A.C.E. is an acronym for what great leaders convey.

He calls us to be “radically human leaders with greater self-awareness and genuine connection to others.”

I love that “radically human” part.

The best leaders make their teams feel accepted, safe and secure that they’re headed in the right direction.

It includes insightful discussions on each of the five indispensable graces, including:

Gratitude–the mindset that elevates our spirits, boosts morale and lifts our hearts. It recognizes we’re not in this on our own. We need the help and contribution of others to succeed.

Resilience—that quality that allows us to weather the ups and downs and helps us achieve beyond our wildest dreams.

Aspiration–the knowledge that we can make tomorrow better than today. It elevates everyone’s vision around us of what’s possible.

Courage–the ability to understand and move beyond our fears. This requires us to ask hard questions of ourselves and sometimes others.

 Empathy–the understanding needed to connect with others from their perspectives and meet them where they’re at.

Like the late Queen, we all have a limited shelf life with an expiration date. It was only three days before her passing that she was swearing Great Britain’s new Prime Minister.

Like her, we also don’t have any control over when our time is up.

It begs the question …….. – How do you measure a life lived in grace?

Can you say you’ve lived a life of grace?

For me, it’s never been easy. I can’t pretend that I’ve been successful at it in any consistent way.

(just ask my wife)

Have you given yourself grace?

Giving yourself permission to forgive your mistakes, lapses in judgment, or hurtful behaviour is probably the most important of the Graces.

Extending that same grace of forgiveness to others is equally important!

Let’s face it, no one is perfect.

We all have to come to a point where we recognize our fragility and mortality and that we cannot always control outcomes.

Leadership and Grace

“A leader’s higher calling is to surround the organization with purpose.” – Gary Burnison

All of these qualities overlap and intertwine. For example, it’s difficult to be resilient without gratitude and courage.

Approaching each day with gratitude fosters a mindset of humility. You know you can’t achieve success on your own. Humility opens us to greater awareness and the ability to empathize with others.

Then add in aspirations. – That’s truly powerful!

As the leader, it’s your job to see the vision, be the vision and articulate what the vision looks like for everyone in the organization.

In Conclusion

 Here’s your mission, should you choose to accept it.

(This is a powerful exercise that I encourage my coaching clients to do)

Find some quiet time and space and write a letter to your future self.

In your letter, I want you to consider these questions:

What do you want to be known for?

 What accomplishments do you want to have achieved?

How do you want others to remember you? 

Be as wordy and as eloquent as you like. Then, when you’re done writing your first draft, set it aside.

Give it some marinade time and come back to it.

When it’s done, keep it close by and refer to it often.

This powerful tool helps you become the change that you want to see.

Until next time.

The Mentor Advantage

What’s the difference between coaching and mentoring? 

It’s a question I often get asked.

This time the question came from a young CEO inquiring about one of my interactive learning sessions.

Much like harvest gold or avocado-coloured appliances, formal mentoring is something one doesn’t see much anymore. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not valid or necessary.

For centuries the idea of mentoring was considered a cultural norm. It was the time-tested way to learn one’s craft and get ahead. But, first, one would go into a line of work under an ‘apprenticeship’ arrangement where they would work under someone with more experience to learn a trade. This was simply a very formal arrangement that holds the seeds of what modern mentorship looks like today.

A quick search reveals that the major business publications like Forbes, McKinsey, and HBR are now touting the superior benefits of finding the right mentor for leaders who want to grow.

If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before. – J Loren Norris

My short answer to the question is that today there are some similarities and overlaps between formal coaching and mentoring approaches.

However, there are also some distinct differences.

Mentoring can be personal and long-term, helping the mentee reach their overall potential as a person and as a professional.

On the other hand, coaching is more likely to be more short-term and aims to improve a specific skill set of the person being coached.

Beyond that, the differences lie in the expertise and skill level needed, overall focus, questions to be answered, and the desired outcomes.

A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability in you than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you. – Bob Proctor 

As an Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach, I incorporate the best elements of coaching and mentoring into my working relationships.

One reason I regularly write about leadership topics is to foster long-term mentoring relationships to share with colleagues and clients.

 In today’s world, we put much value in being a self-starter, getting our own lives in order without help from anyone else.

There are some aspects of life where we feel we might be looked down on if we ask for help.

We have this limiting belief that we should be able to do it all on our own, that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But in fact, just the opposite is true.

The reality is that recognizing you need help usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence. 

But let’s face it. When you first embark on a new journey, whether professionally or personally, you feel much better when you have someone you can approach when you need help.

  • Someone you can talk to about your goals.
  • Someone who not only listens but can ask questions from earned experience when you get stuck
  • Someone with insight and intellect who is there for the sole purpose of helping you to get ahead.

  Finding a good mentor can help you:

  • Boost your leadership and communication skills.
  • Deepen the knowledge you already have.
  • See things in a new way.
  • Become more aware of the needs of others.
  • Feel more self-assured and confident

 You see, mentors are incredible individuals who have a sincere desire to give back to the world.

They want nothing more than to see you succeed and have the tools to help you do it.

Depending on the situation, it’s essential to recognize that mentoring can be a paid or unpaid arrangement.

The truth is that mentorship is necessary if you want to get ahead.

Mentorship could be considered the original life- hack. LE

 It holds all the shortcuts and gets you where you want to go faster than you could in any other way.

So we all need mentors, whether we realize it or not.

In retrospect, I’ve benefitted enormously from the mentors who have spoken into my life.

 I try to recognize and honour them whenever I can.

On the flip side, I’ve also found incredible value in being a mentor. I love sharing my experiences and observations with people eagerly looking to improve themselves or achieve new goals.

That is the beauty of mentoring.

It’s a relationship where we can both give and receive for mutual benefit and advancement in our lives.

Until next time,

Lorne

For more resources on this topic, drop me a line, and I’ll send you my guide:

(Free for the asking)

SEARCHING FOR GUIDANCE

20 Things To Look For When Seeking The Perfect Mentor

Three Strategies to Combat That “Not Doing Enough”Feeling

The Unhealthy Comparison Merry Go Round 

Face it. We all play the comparison game. It’s how our caveman software works.

The grand illusion you and I are subjected to each time we spend time online is what success supposedly looks like.

When you scroll through social media posts, you may feel compelled to compare to a perception you see.

Unfortunately, people mostly share the shiniest version of what they want you to see. Skills are highlighted, and flaws are hidden. Wins are exaggerated, and losses are downplayed. Doubt and anxiety are rarely featured in social media posts. Defeated heroes and failed CEOs rarely sit for interviews.

Reality dictates that most things are more challenging than they look and not as fun as they seem. It’s also true that everyone has bad days, and no one has a picture-perfect life. We get a highlight reel of what people want you to know about themselves to increase their own chances of success. Unfortunately, we tend to compare that to the worst parts of ours.

When you compare others’ portrayal of success to yours (or lack thereof), you do yourself a disservice. Revisit what you want to get out of life and go for it. Success to you may be freelance writing from your van as you travel the country. That is perfectly ok and worth pursuing.

Antidote: Recognize when you find yourself on the unhealthy comparison Merry Go Round. Then just hop off it! 

Expectation Management

Leadership is all about managing expectations: Your own and that of others.

Your goals and ambitions need to be based on reality. If they are unrealistic, you will be perpetually stressed and criticizing yourself.

If the timeline for reaching your goal is unrealistic, consider adjusting things to be more realistic.

Consider what you want to get out of life and go for it.

When It comes to having expectations of others, I’ve learned to definitely have them and hold them loosely. When others perpetually disappoint us, it’s easy to grow frustrated. If your team or colleagues are underperforming against your expectations, it’s time to ask yourself how you expected them to act and why. People can only give you what they’ve got.

Disappointed expectations often stem from flawed assumptions. For example, I might assume someone understands what I’m conveying and what I expect, only to discover I’m dead wrong.

Proceeding without an agreed-upon assumption checklist is a sure-fire way to have things go wrong later. On the other hand, you will rarely be disappointed if you go into every situation with well-informed assumptions.

Antidote: Have a robust feedback eco-system. Every good leader I know has their own pipeline to reality. This allows for well-informed assumptions, decision-making, and planning.

Shorten the To-Do List

This might be too simple, but as we know, simple isn’t always easy.

So, often we feel inadequate simply because our to-do list has grown too long.

Learn to divvy things up according to priorities. Then, choose three items that you would feel accomplished if you could only get those tasks done today.

Why three? Well, two’s not enough, and four often is too many.

But hey, – you do you and decide what works.

It helps to remember that life is a journey. So we often get caught up in attaining the goals, and we fail to enjoy the detours and scenic viewpoints along the way. It might be time for you to look back at how you have grown as a person while pursuing goals, even if you haven’t quite reached them.

I’ve found it helpful to journal accomplishments that I can be quietly proud of.

Not in a “hey look at me” kind of way but in a “yeah, I got to do that, and it’s pretty cool !” kind of way.

Even small achievements are worth celebrating. Celebrating how far you have come will boost your morale and set you up for more success. For example, maybe you got in a 30 min daily walk for the last two weeks after being a couch potato for months. That’s an activity win to get excited about.

Antidote: Keep a viable running to-do list but make sure it’s not stressing you out. Journal the good things and accomplishments you’ve been privileged to be a part of.

Until next time,

Lorne

Turning Your Endings into New Beginnings

This recent article in the New Yorker caught my eye.

Soon I was laughing out loud.

Let’s just say I relate. After all, who knew I’d be pursuing a new career after my 70th birthday and lovin’ it.

Changes!

I’ve seen a lot of them. Whatever era you hail from, there’s an iconic playlist anthem about starting over. Whether it’s Stevie Nicks (Landslide), David Bowie (Changes), or Beyonce (I Was There), changes and fresh starts play a decisive role in our lives.

The global pandemic is winding down, and there’s a lot of “churn” and foment happening.

Starting over. Reboot. Makeover. Shot at redemption. Fresh Start.

Call it what you will. We’re at that point again.

Not every New Beginning comes about because we want it. Sure, many do.

We can get excited about moving to a new place or starting a new job. But sometimes, the process of a Re-Do can feel more angsty than positive. We might be leaving someplace where we’d rather stay. Even if the outcome is good, proper, and necessary, there are always memories and baggage to sort through. The new beginning which follows can feel more overwhelming than exciting.

So, how do you cope with these situations? How do you do it in such a way as to take something positive away from experience?

It’s not quite as complicated as you might think. And no, it’s not just a matter of a fresh mindset, though this can help. Sometimes your endings will take a little more work to shift them into new beginnings.

Here’s my brief guide.

Start with Saying Goodbye

There comes a time when you will have to let go of the past to make friends with the future. It’s really up to you what this looks like. Some people find journaling about the process helpful. Others need to process verbally and talk things through. Depending on your circumstances, counseling or coaching may be a good idea. Whatever you decide, remember to give yourself time to process. Some baggage takes a little time to unpack. It’s never good to rush the “goodbye stage.”

 

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” –  “J.P.” Morgan

Look for the Silver Lining

OK, maybe this fresh start wasn’t at the top of your list, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t an excellent opportunity to accomplish something you’ve intended to do—Hunt out the good in the situation. Who knows, it might be you even have reason to celebrate this fresh start you didn’t see initially.

Get Your Head on Straight

Once you’ve started looking forward, it’s time to assess the situation. What are your options? What do you need to accomplish, and what would you like to do? The great thing about a fresh start is it’s a chance to fix other stuff too. For example, you might need to move right now, but this doesn’t mean you can’t work on a few other things on your wish list, such as making sure you’re moving somewhere with a home gym or workout option nearby to create a new exercise plan.

Take a Reality Check

Not everything on your wish list needs to be dealt with immediately. Some things might require funds or other resources which aren’t available just yet. Others are simply too much of a fresh start all at once. There’s a lot to be said for pacing yourself and not setting yourself up for failure. What’s reasonable here?

 

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” —Steve Jobs

Take Stock of Lessons Learned

If you’re being thrust into a change, chances are you didn’t have the optimal outcome in whatever was just ending. The good news? You can still take away something good from experience. So, before you get too deep into the fresh start, take a moment to ask yourself what you learned from the previous situation. There are lots of knowledge nuggets in endings that will serve you well going forward.

Adopt the Choice

No one likes being told what to do. If you feel like this fresh start is being forced on you, it can easily lapse into resentful feelings of victimhood regardless of the good you’ve found or the goals you’ve set. There comes a time where you need to step back and say, “Yes, I do want a fresh start,” making this situation your choice. This puts control back in your hands. Whatever happens from here is more like you want it to be.

Adjust Your Mindset

No fresh start will go well if you harbor resentment over the change. This is especially true if you feel forced into things. It might be you have to do some things you’d rather not initially, but this doesn’t mean you can’t embrace the change and still get some good out of it. Start looking for the best outcomes. If you need an added adjustment to the situation, try making a list of all the positive things which can come from having a fresh start right now. Find an outcome that excites you and makes you feel better about this Fresh Start.

 

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

Know What to Hold Onto

You don’t need to ditch every aspect of your life because you’re engaged in a new beginning. There are things from before which were good and will be valuable moving forward. Take stock of these things, making a list if necessary to remind yourself you already have some great resources you can use in this fresh start.

Take Breaks

New beginnings can be draining, especially if there’s a lot of physical or mental work involved. Schedule some breaks when possible to prevent burnout or overwhelm in the new situation.  A little playtime can do wonders for keeping your spirits up. The nice thing? You don’t have to go all out on these breaks. Even an afternoon outside or with friends can change your mood for days. You get the most benefit from breaks when you take them regularly, so be sure to add them to your schedule nicely spaced out. That way, they come often enough to be beneficial, but not so often as to keep you from making positive strides on your fresh start.

Try Again

Sometimes the most daunting thing about a fresh start is the actual getting started. You might find yourself holding back, not wanting to take chances, and certainly not volunteering for new activities. While this might seem sensible, it’s the worst thing you can do. New beginnings are all about taking chances and trying new things. The way to get started and find a better attitude? It may take a few false starts but accept you won’t be perfect at whatever you’re trying to do, especially not on the first try. Remind yourself it doesn’t matter if you fail. This gives you another opportunity to learn.

You like that, right?

Try a Mission Statement

If you’ve come this far, you’ve set some goals for yourself and even feel like you have a reason for this fresh start. You may want to take this information and turn it into a personal mission statement that outlines your goals and what you want out of this next chapter. Why? Sometimes everyone feels discouraged, and it’s this statement which you’re going to come back to time and again to re-energize yourself. So it might help write this down and post it where you’ll see it and feel inspired throughout your day.

Appreciate Your Strengths

Look, you just came through a tough time, and you’re still going. This alone is worth more than anything else on this list. So take a moment to realize just how far you’ve come and how wonderful it is you’re moving forward.

Take it One Step at a Time

Nothing happens overnight. There will be various stages to your fresh start, involving many smaller goals and lots of small successes. Celebrate each marker as they come, and you’ll feel like you’re getting somewhere (because, of course, you are!)

 

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

Ask for Help

Hey, no one ever said you had to take on a Fresh Start all by yourself. There’s a lot to be said about support systems. Invite trusted individuals into your process by letting them know what you’re doing and asking for their encouragement. If you have mentors, go to them for advice. Or find a mentor if you don’t have one already. Remember, the key here is you want support for your New Beginning. The last thing you need is to “get the stink eye” from people who will only be critical or put down your efforts. This is the perfect time to create boundaries and keep those out while at the same time keeping your tribe close to where they can encourage you the most.

Persist

How are you at being stubborn? If you’re still not feeling it and are struggling to get going on this Fresh Start, the best thing you can do is just keep plugging away. Go back through your list and remind yourself of everything here. Try again and keep trying. The funny thing is that this persistence will pay off in the long run, especially if you can maintain a positive attitude and be open enough to try new things. Sooner or later, the fun will creep in, and you’ll realize just what a glorious opportunity this is. In the meantime, the very fact you’re still carrying on is something to take pride in.

Don’t be afraid of new beginnings. Don’t shy away from new people, new energy, new surroundings. Embrace new chances at happiness. L.E

You’re still in the game, and you’re still trying. So take a minute to give yourself a hand for being amazing!

Until next time .