“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

 

 

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….

Astoundingly Simple. Boringly Consistent. Still Magic, Nonetheless! (Part 11)

Winding down one year and starting the next is always an ideal time for reflection and thinking forward.

As a leader, having a robust goal-setting mechanism and consistent follow-through is critical to your overall personal and professional success.


My last article examined the rationale for having written goals.

 This month’s article will provide tools and tips to implement the goal-setting process.

There are many sound systems out there, but I’ll stick to the three I’m most familiar with simply because I know they work.

SMART(ER) SYSTEM

The first is the SMART system. It’s an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It first emerged in the early ’80s when the CEO of GE, Jack Welch, used it to enhance employee performance and time management while boosting job satisfaction.

In a nutshell, this technique advises creating a specific goal rather than using vague language (for example, swimming three times a week versus simply exercising more). You also want to be sure that your goal is achievable and relevant to your situation. So, make the goal big enough to challenge yourself but not so big that it will likely be out of reach.

In more recent times there’s been the been the addition of an E and an R representing Evaluate and Re- Adjust.

OKR SYSTEM

Another system being used successfully by organizations I’m familiar with is the OKR system.

OKR stands for Objectives and Key results. Introduced by investor and stakeholder John Doerr, Google began using OKRs in 1999 when they had just 40 employees. With more than 132,000 employees today, Google still uses the OKR approach to setting goals.

But why does such an innovative company as Google still use the same old approach from more than 20 years ago?

Why didn’t they switch their strategy to setting goals with something more innovative and fancy-sounding?

The answer is simple. When you foster a culture that cares about reaching ambitious goals and gives them a simple approach to achieving them, such as OKRs, they lead to success.

Adding needless complexity to such a smooth and easy-to-follow process may have killed Google’s success.

The beauty of this system is that Objectives define what you’re trying to accomplish, and Key Results measure if you’re succeeding. Objectives are best when they’re qualitative. Key Results are best when they’re quantitative. Moreover, Objectives and key results are applicable at the personal, team,  and corporate levels to synthesize and unify efforts toward a common goal.

Placing a reasonable time frame on all of the above makes it easy to see if you’re making progress.

THREE WORD SYSTEM

A third goal-setting system that is a personal favourite is the three-word system.

Simple, but never easy!

It’s a challenge each year to come up with three words representing the year’s strategic directions. But, of course, two isn’t enough, and four’s too many, so three is about right.

There’s nothing weird here. It’s just a way to incorporate a small success habit by bringing consistent intent, focus, and clarity to my decisions and actions in the year to come

That’s why I’ve been taking the time to thoughtfully select three words that will serve as keys to my year. If you’re unfamiliar with this exercise, business writer and consultant Chris Brogan started this in 2006.

A lot of other folks are doing this. Just check out #my3words.

My Process

I spend time reflecting on the past year, what’s worked or not, And what was unclear or perhaps missing. But, more importantly, I understand how I want my next year to unfold.

Sometimes the words come out of the goals I have set. Other times I will jot down words that capture my attention and accurately reflect my intention.

I usually discuss my goals and three words with my wife and 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 centre, pointing me toward my goals and grounding me in the interim work needed to achieve them.

Other Systems

Beyond the ones I mentioned, there are several other goal-setting systems and processes worth exploring, including HARD (Heartfelt, Animated, Required, and Difficult), WOOP (Wish, Obstacle Outcome, Plan) and others that may or may not have a cool acronym.

The point here is to have a system that works for you and your organization.

Six Tips For Getting Started

Reflect on where you’ve been.

As you consider where you want to go next, think about where you’ve been. How have you grown? What have you learned? On the other hand, do you need to let go of any behaviours or relationships to move forward? Keep in mind that we all make mistakes in our lives, but these “mistakes” enable you to grow. They aren’t mistakes as much as platforms for advanced learning.

Where do you want to go next?

Now that you’ve reflected a bit on how you got to where you are, it’s time to think about what comes next. And “next” can mean different things. It may mean simply the next area of your life you want to grow. Or it may be time-based, as in by “next month” or “next year.” So take a moment to add a timeline to your written goal. When do you plan to start implementing it, and for how long?

Write it down. Be specific.

Writing down your goals helps to make them more “real” and allows you to commit to them. Plus, it’s easier to keep track of your goals this way. It’s also important to be specific. For example, saying you want to eat better doesn’t give you a way to measure your results. But, if you say you want to start eating a plant-based diet and then specify steps to take, such as doing “meatless Mondays” each week for a month, you have made your goal specific and measurable. Keep a journal or perhaps a whiteboard at your desk. Simply seeing your goals in writing each day can help to keep you on track.

Divide your goals into categories.

Thinking in terms of categories can help you to examine your life in 360 degrees. First, you can decide on the categories you want to use. For example, consider goals for your life’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects. Or, you could be more specific and use categories like health, family, relationships, personal interests and hobbies, spiritual, work, and finance. Next, think about the areas you want to address in your life, and then write one to two goals in each category.

Personally, each year, I reevaluate the areas of my life and hone in on my overall goals— personal, professional, and financial. Then, I make a specific goal for each to be accomplished by the end of that year. Then, every year, I try to advance my goals further, which results in growth over time.

Push yourself a little beyond your comfort zone.

When you set a goal, think big. By placing your goals a little further than your current ability, you will set yourself up to stretch. This may cause a feeling of anxiety. Instead, channel that energy to help propel you forward. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone will provide enough challenge to keep you motivated while also being realistic. And if you don’t quite hit your goal, that’s OK. Chances are you still will have grown more than you would have if your goal were less challenging. Surprise yourself!

Get Started and Set Milestones

Once you have all of your goals and tasks and their start and end dates mapped out, you can get started on working toward them. Follow each step you plan for yourself and try your best to stay on track.

The more you do in one direction, the more momentum you gain.

On days when you feel bombarded with work or personal events, push and motivate yourself to follow through with hitting your goals.

It can be helpful to picture how fulfilled and accomplished you’ll feel in the long run once you’ve successfully hit all the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Until next time.

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.

When Life Gets Upended

 

 “If things are getting better, why don’t I feel better about things?”

Admittedly, my best leadership articles often flow directly from questions that leaders ask in workshops, webinars, or one-to-one: No fancy fare or clickbait-y headlines. These are just leadership questions that need answers.

This question came from a young woman who had taken on a senior executive role in her organization before the global pandemic.

You may be a long-time reader whom I’ve had the privilege of working with personally.

 Maybe we just haven’t had that opportunity yet, so this is my way to assist, advance, and encourage you in leadership scenarios you now face.

Quality leadership is a deep abiding obsession for me (in a good way). As an ever-learning practitioner, I want to keep getting better at it. I try to live up to what I write about, teach, and coach.

 I write about what it means to lead, communicate, and coach well and the necessary inner work that has to take place for that to happen.

Now back to the question and my shot at the answer.

Effective Self Leadership When Life Gets Upended

As the pandemic-fuelled crisis subsided, my client realized feelings of emptiness and even vague apprehension. She’d weathered the storm quite well throughout the prolonged crisis but was having trouble shifting gears and moving on.

I, too, have sometimes felt that way in recent times.

The pandemic was a wake-up call that life is way too short and fragile to be wasted for many of us. Lockdowns meant we had time to reflect and reassess our priorities, particularly our relationship with work.

We can’t ever avoid the trough of the change curve, but everyone has a distinctly different emotional response to what’s going on.

Fact is, we all get our fair share of life-altering events thrown our way. These could include illness, accidents, business/career failures, relationship failures, and the death of loved ones.

We usually can get through most of these disruptors with relative ease. We adjust, draw on our support networks, and move on.

But what happens when you get a pileup of two, three, or four or them?

Then things can rapidly become disorienting and destabilizing for us.

What’s different about the last two years?

The pandemic represents a massive, collective life quake.

For the first time in a century, you, me, and the entire planet is going through the same disruption at the same time.

Two years of mind-numbing uncertainty, stress, and isolation have had a “piling on” effect that made edgy people edgier, angry people angrier, and crazy folks get even crazier.

How else does one explain the recent rise in hate crimes, mass shootings, and folks being all-around more angst-y.

As a leader, how do you bring clarity, hope, and direction to those you serve through your leadership?

The best way to help your teams, colleagues, and clients who may be in crisis is not to be in crisis mode yourself. So instead, it’s back to the “inner work of leaders” thing.

Some ideas and strategies for effective self-leadership:

  • Adopt the “Just fly the plane” strategy from one of my favorite books the Checklist Manifesto.    

           (What to do in case of engine failure)  I wrote about that here.

In times of extreme crisis, as pilots run through worst-case scenarios,
they need a reminder to focus on the most important job they have, flying the airplane.

  • Don’t try to “boil the ocean” by taking on too much.

Pause for a moment and take your bearings.

Just consider how extraordinary and gloriously unlikely your

circumstances may be right now.

Better yet, you get to do this! (the alternative sucks)

  • Make room for the human side (yourself and others)

Trying to be stoic doesn’t help deal with the realities of change.

Be honest with yourself about how change is affecting you.

Make room for a wide range of emotions from others.

Allow yourself to envision some of the possibilities that change can bring.

  • Catch the vision of what could result from all the change.

Thinking forward and daring to dream even a little bit sparks hope in the human spirit.

  • Celebrate the smallest of wins! 

Take things (and days) one at a time.

Focus on the things that truly matter and bring you joy

Find ways to help and support others less fortunate.

Our choice to lead means an opportunity to take on more responsibility.

Why? There’s something worthwhile that needs doing. You have the skill and the will to do it.

When a long-term challenge happens quickly, it helps to have some short-term strategies to get you through to the good stuff.

You’ve got this!

Until next time- Lorne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 .