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.

 

 

 

 

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..

 

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

There’s an old Project Management joke that describes the six phases on any large project

Unbridled enthusiasm,

Total disillusionment,

Panic, hysteria and overtime,

Frantic search for the guilty,

Punishment of the innocent and

Praise and honours for the uninvolved.

As with any good humour, there are some elements of truth and exaggeration in there somewhere.

 Perhaps you’ve even experienced some of those six phases.

 If you’re  like me  you want to be productive in both your  personal and professional life.

That often can seem like a daunting task.

How can we stay motivated and get things done in the face of adversity?

In his recent  book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”, author David Allen offers practical advice on how to achieve greater levels of productivity and efficiency while still enjoying life.

His approach, which emphasizes setting manageable goals, breaking tasks down into smaller parts, and staying organized, is one that can help anyone in their quest for success.

At its core, Allen suggests that becoming more productive starts with understanding our goals and deciding what it is that we want to accomplish.

Begin With The End In Mind.

 “You need clarity about what your outcomes are supposed to be before you do anything else.”  This allows us to focus on the steps that will lead us towards achieving these goals, rather than getting lost in the details.

Once we have our goal defined, Allen suggests breaking it down into smaller, achievable tasks. This makes each step of the goal more manageable and allows us to feel a sense of progress as we complete them.

The actual steps are as follows:

Capture – Collect all the tasks, thoughts and ideas that are buzzing around your head into a centralized system.

 Clarify – Take each item in the system and determine what action steps need to be taken in order to move forward with it.

Organize – Sort and prioritize these tasks based on urgency and importance.

Reflect – Regularly take stock of your progress, and see what processes can be improved or streamlined.

Engage – Finally, start taking action! Tackle the highest priority items on your list first.

Stay Organized

Staying organized is also key to staying productive. Often times, lack of organization can lead to wasted time and effort that could be better spent getting things done.

Having a cluttered desk or overstuffed file cabinets full of loose papers can really slow you down.

To combat this, Allen recommends creating a system of filing away important documents and notes that simplifies searching tasks quickly and efficiently.

Keep emails and messages handy and organized into folders on your computer.

Stay Motivated

Finally, remaining productive requires finding ways to stay motivated. This can come from simple practices such as taking breaks throughout the day, rewarding yourself when you reach milestones, and talking positively to yourself when faced with difficult tasks.

As Allen puts it,

“Productivity isn’t just about doing more; it’s about accomplishing meaningful work in less time.”

All in all, becoming a successful and productive person both personally and professionally does not have to be an impossible task.

By following the advice outlined by David Allen in his book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity”, we can learn to organize our minds and set achievable goals that will ultimately lead to success.

To quote Allen “Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.” So take some time away from your work to relax and regroup – it might just be the most productive thing you do all day! And remember –

“Nothing is impossible… except for maybe trying to do two projects at once!”

Productivity. It’s a tricky skill to master, but  once you master it, that can be a game-changer!

And if there is one person who knows how to get it done effectively and efficiently, it’s David Allen.

It’s essential to remember that any productivity system is only as effective as you make it. Just going through the motions won’t make you productive—you have to be consistent and put in the hard work in order to see real results.

Another gem from David Allen:

“You can do anything, but not everything.”

Until next time….

                                           YOUR THREE WORDS – GOT ‘EM YET?

I was recently invited to speak to a group of Real Estate professionals about “What Success Looks Like For You.” The organizers asked me to share based on my decades of business and leadership experience.

This presentation was a part of their annual planning and strategy for their business. 

Having begun my year-end review, this request was an excellent opportunity to reflect on the ups and downs of my own leadership adventure.

The funny thing is that after my seventy-plus trips around the sun, I don’t have any particular strong  feelings about being successful. 

I know the alternative really sucks, so it’s more about having a “success journey” than having arrived.

Examples of “success” in any field if examined, come after a ton of hard work, sacrifices made and obstacles overcome over extended periods of time.

I wrote more about that here  if you’re interested.

Admittedly, there are some very cool things I was privileged to be a part of. Even got some recognition along the way.

However, what jazzes me the most is navigating the here and now while looking ahead with a strategic intent to whatever is next. (hence the Blogpost title- Hey, What’s Next!)

All the people I regard as successful have found the fulfillment of a calling,  – something deeply personal and meaningful that energizes them and keeps them going.

My “more vintage” perspective is that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning, winning/losing and sense of calling never stops. 

Much of life and leadership success is keeping going with what you love and capitalizing on second chances.

As long as we are still topside, till the very end, there is always another chance. 

That’s why I love each New Year. 

It allows me to see things from a fresh perspective, set the tone and make room for change.

Back To The Presentation:

After some personal introductions, it was obvious that I was with a group of bright, motivated business practitioners who were highly committed to their craft. 

They had already achieved what most would consider a fair measure of success. 

When I asked the question about their “why,” they all had a remarkably similar response.

Foremost was a genuine love for service to others with their particular skill set.

 Beyond that, a deep appreciation for their co-workers and a vibrant workplace culture that drew them in and kept them there. 

A third aspect was the personal freedom that this line of work afforded. 

Their responses aligned closely with the Japanese concept of “Ikigai” (pronounced ee-kee-guy), which roughly translates to “the thing you live for” or “purpose, meaning, or calling.”

It’s much more nuanced and robust than the North American concept of pursuing your dream or following your passion. 

It answers four basic questions 1. What do you love doing? 2. What are you really good at? 3. What does the world around you need? 4. What can the world pay you for? 

Finding Success In My Calling 

I re-assess my calling every year. It’s a part of my “three-word” exercise.

Some folks stress about “finding their calling. “

In my instance, it was my calling that found me. 

I’m a builder at heart. As a kid, I had a fascination with building things.

Whether it was building a tree fort, an airplane from an apple crate, or a box kite so big it would lift me off the ground. That one really freaked my parents out.

The point is I loved building things. 

After some vocational detours into teaching and marketing, I settled into a career in building things. Houses, stores and restaurants, apartments, you name it. I loved the whole process of providing people with a home.

Then a career-ending injury forced a change of plans.

For quite some time, I felt devastated and at times, quite despondent.

Gradually, with the help of influential friends and mentors, I discovered that the basics of being a good builder were readily transferable to building other things. 

Opportunities and second chances came knocking. I had the privilege of working with others to build entire organizations, systems, and communities. 

Fast forward to the present.

While circumstances and venues might change, the calling hasn’t changed.

As an Executive Coach and Consultant, I can co-create, scale up, and build things together with others.

Make Room for Change 

That’s what the annual Three Words are about.

My challenge every January is to come up with three words representing the year’s strategic directions. It may sound simple, but it can be challenging. Two isn’t enough, and four’s too many, so three words are about right.

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

That’s why I’ve thoughtfully selected three words that will serve as keys to my year. If you’re still getting familiar with this exercise, business writer and consultant Chris Brogan started this in 2006.

A lot of other folks are doing this. Just plug in #my3words and see what others are doing.

My Process

I spend time reflecting on the past year, what’s worked, and what has not. Also, what needed to be clarified and what needed to be added. But more importantly, I try to understand what I want the coming year to look like.

Sometimes, the words come out of my goals, so I’ll jot down words that capture my attention and accurately reflect my intention.

I usually discuss my goals and three words with my wife and several close friends.

That’s always helpful.

It shaped my ideas into something more tangible. It also reaffirmed that we’re in this together, and no matter what goals I have or the words I choose, they are meaningless without mutual support.

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.

Here Goes

My words are keys to positive change in the coming year.

I’ve settled on:

1. BUILD

2. RECONNECT

3. BREAKTHROUGH

Build: It’s a noun and a verb that packs some intention into what I do. Builder fits my role as a coach and consultant. My job is to come alongside my colleagues and clients, survey the landscape, lay a sure foundation, assess risks, recommend paths of action, and start following the blueprint. It fits my calling, and that makes sense.

It’s in my DNA. Sometimes it’s people or a team that needs building. Sometimes it’s a physical structure. But, of course, that’s always fun too.

Reconnect: This is self-explanatory. The circumstances of the past several years have meant I’ve lost touch with way too many folks. I’ve always relied on the benefits of networking. It’s so much more than developing valuable contacts. Networking gives me access to something bigger—the insights and knowledge of others. These insights, in turn, can spark creative thinking, leading to new ideas, products, and solutions. Who can say no to that?

Breakthrough: There are some long-term situations that I’ve been working on where things haven’t materialized the way I hoped. This one’s the hardest for me to explain because it’s personal. Achieving a personal breakthrough can be a challenging process, but it is also very gratifying. We’re all unique, so the steps to a personal breakthrough will look different for everyone, including me. Timing is also different for everyone, so it may need patience. Meanwhile, I’ll maintain a positive mindset, surround myself with a supportive network and hang in there.

This one is the most complicated of all 3, but it’ll make for an exciting year if it happens.

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?”

What Are your Words for 2023?

It’s your turn:

1. Please send me a note 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!

 

You got to know when to hold ’em,


Know when to fold ’em,


Know when to walk away,


And know when to run.

 

Kenny Rogers – The Gambler

 

Quitting, all too often, is cast in a negative light.

How many times have you heard something like:

“Winners never quit” and “quitters never win.”

Like many motivational aphorisms, there’s an element of truth in there somewhere, but it’s not the whole picture.

Most leaders I look up to as “winners” know how to read people, situations, and themselves so well that they know precisely when, why, and how to quit.

It’s what keeps them consistently in the win column!

Leaders who cast themselves as beacons of perpetual positivity and persistence sometimes get trapped by that mindset and find themselves unable to course-correct.

My favourite example of unbridled optomism and not knowing when to quit is the Black Knight  fight scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail

The overconfident Black Knight denies King Arthur crossing his bridge. A sword battle erupts. He loses all of his limbs in the process

“Tis but a scratch!” – Black Knight

“A scratch? your arm’s off!” – King Arthur.



“No, it isn’t!” – Black Knight,.

“Well, what’s that then?” – King Arthur

 (Black Knight pauses and looks down at his severed arm on the ground)

 

”I’ve had worse.”  
 


As the battle ensues, the Black Knight is reduced to a trash-talking torso 
hollering

“I’m invincible” and “Come back here. I’ll bite your legs off!”  

 

It’s a humorous (slightly gross) illustration of being overly optimistic, persistent, and not knowing when to quit.

 

While my worldview is generally upbeat, I try to ensure it’s tempered with pragmatism and a healthy serving of self-awareness.

Here are five scenarios that may serve as prime indicators that It’s time to quit.

Your Task becomes All-Consuming and Takes Over Your Entire Life

If there is any task or goal that has become so all-consuming it takes over all other areas of your life, then you might consider moving on from it. If you are devoting massive amounts of your energy, and the rest of your life is suffering, is it really worth continuing?

You Feel Stuck or Stagnant

Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut?

It’s been said that “a rut is just a shallow grave with the ends kicked out!”

Maybe your career or specific goals seem to have stagnated.

If so, this could be a cue that it is time to quit. Life moves fast, and if all you are doing is standing still, you could get left behind. Sometimes quitting a job or goal that keeps you stuck allows you to move forward in the long run.

There is an Obviously Better Opportunity

Some people are naturally very loyal. Whether it is a job, your own business, or just a goal you have been working on, it can be hard to give it up.

However, if there is a better opportunity around the corner, why not take it?

You aren’t giving up if you quit your job to take on a better role. You are levelling up.

You Feel Perpetually Restless and Unhappy

Do you find that you are miserable more than you are not?

Are feelings of regret, anger, or disappointment taking up a great deal of real estate in your brain?

This could be a signal that there is likely something in your life you need to quit.

It could be an unfulfilling goal, career, or relationship.

Once you figure out what it is, you will likely feel instantly better once you give it up.

Figure out what it is. Then, once you do, don’t be afraid to quit it and move on to something else.

Your Goals No Longer Align With Your Values

Things change, people change, and you change!

It may be time if your goals, career, or business don’t align with your values.

You can fool yourself for a little while (even a long while), but your actions not matching your values will catch up with you.

Your results will suffer, and you will never feel fulfilled. So if your goals don’t match your values, consider dropping them and setting a new version that aligns with who you are.

Choosing to quit and what to let go of looks different to each of us. It may mean letting go of stuff and clutter, a horrible job situation, or a previously valued relationship. Each case has different levels of difficulty, but you and your well-being will enjoy the benefits of healthy quitting:

You regain emotional energy.

Finally, arriving at a decision and deciding on a new course of action stops the energy suck. Trust me on this. I know.

You regain your identity.

Corrosive situations may leave you questioning who you are. Quitting and course-correcting allow you to rediscover who you are and dream about what you’d like to do with your future.

You open the opportunity for change.

Keeping yourself tied to the same situation because of limiting beliefs or fear prevents you from jumping on opportunities to get that new career or start a business. Let go of the fear and embrace the possibilities.

You rediscover your focus and joy.

Quitting and letting go clears a path to rediscovering what matters most to you and what brings you joy.

Moving forward to reach your goals often requires some quitting and letting go.

It’s vital to your success, so why not start today?

 

Until next time,