Keys to well-being

What’s Your Authenticity Quotient?

 Ok I made that up, but I’m pretty sure it’s a thing.

It has to do with your personal leadership credibility.

We all know about IQ. It’s your Intelligence quotient score derived from some standardized tests.

So if we can quantify that, it’s not too big a leap to apply “quotient” to other important things 

Like FQ – Frustration Quotient. How frustrated am I ?
Or TQ – What’s the level of Truth in this situation?
Or B.S.Q -What’s the level of …well you know.

There are many other Q’s and I could go on, but will resist.

I’m Talking AboutAuthenticity Quotient”

It’s like your personal credibility rating, or integrity score but so much more.

I’m surprised at how many leaders have a specific work persona and a whole different person shows up elsewhere. And it surprises me when these same leaders seem shocked or confused when their employees don’t trust them, don’t like them, and can’t really wait to work elsewhere.

Authenticity in leadership is one of those things everybody declares to be super important.  Many groups and organizations I work with have an “authenticity lingo” baked in to their core values (I.E. authentic culture, authentic relationships etc.)

To me, when someone self-references the word in anything other than an aspirational context, they’ve broken some sort of spell. The moment you have to self -declare a trait like this, you’re probably not a representative of that trait.  It’s something you either are or you ain’t. At its essence, it’s one of those rare know-it-when-you-see-it qualities that if you have to spend a lot of time talking about it or trying to analyze it, it simply evaporates.  Like wind, you can’t see it, but you’re highly aware when you see its effects.

Before diving in, I’ll offer a soft disclaimer. Nobody’s appointed me official spokesperson on “authenticity”.  But if that job existed– how cool would that be? I can speak for myself and offer some good examples of authenticity that I’ve observed.

I firmly believe that leadership is more important than ever before, yet true leaders are in short supply. There’s also a huge crisis of confidence in leaders.

I firmly believe that leadership is more important than ever before, yet true leaders are in short supply. There’s also a huge crisis of confidence in leaders. Something weird happened with the rise of the internet. Our humanness, relationships and accountability got reduced to a bunch of 0’s and 1’s, making sketchy leadership all the more possible. With multi-media bombardment and the rise of “truthiness” (thanks Stephen Colbert), we find ourselves increasingly attracted to the wrong type of charismatic leaders. 

I know of nothing more valuable, when it comes to the all-important virtue of authenticity, than simply being who you are.” Charles R. Swindoll

Here are some hallmark characteristics of authentic leadership at work: 

  • Genuine  leaders practice confident humility. They know themselves. They know their strengths, understand their virtues and recognize their limitations. They stand by their convictions, but are quick to admit their errors. They seek help and feedback from others. When wins happen, they share the spotlight with others and applaud their contributions.
  • Genuine  leaders embrace their own life story and share it easily. They are comfortable in their own skin and learn from their experience. Somehow they are able to connect the dots backwards in order to move forward and inspire and motivate others. Genuine leaders don’t derive pleasure or satisfaction from the opinions of others. This allows them to move unaffected by fear or favour following a direction from within that’s aligned with their principles and values.
  • Failure is an ever-present option. Genuine leaders master the ability to bounce back with resilience, turn setbacks into opportunities and convert fear into wisdom. Pragmatic, optimistic leadership  when combined with sheer grit and a positive “stick to it” mindset can be contagious at times  when the chips are down
  • Authenticity strives for  the good of others and speaks truth in kind and appropriate ways. Genuine leaders build high quality relationships and networks that are  marked by trustworthiness, empathy and relentless reliability. Ben Franklin (U.S. Founding Father, author and inventor) began his morning routine with the question ”What good shall I do this day?” He ended it with “What good have I done this day?”
  • Genuine leaders lead by example and build culture and community around shared truths and values that others can buy into. They have a knack for zeroing in on our core elements: spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional. These four elements are the basis of all our capacity for self-improvement. This does not mean authentic leaders are “soft.” In fact leading in a forthright manner is critical to successful outcomes, but it’s done with empathy; directness without empathy can be cruel.
  • Genuine leaders lead with an eye on the future and deal with today’s problems without compromising the future. They realize that to nurture individuals and to nurture a company requires hard work and patience, but the approach pays large dividends over time.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brene Brown

Being authentic is a work in progress and an endless process of growth.

It always starts with a critical and honest look in the mirror. Authentic leaders believe that there is always room for improvement and never stop.

Conclusion :

Building and maintaining your AQ is hard work, but it pays off in the long term. It is like exercising: While you are training, you feel tired, but you know it is good for your body. Staying authentic in leadership and life is not easy, but it can be observed, measured and learned.

Until next time!

Here for you. 

Burnout.

Not only is it a career-killer, it’s seriously bad for your health.

Earlier this year, burnout was recognized by the World Health Organization as a significant workplace health hazard. That officially makes it “a thing“.

https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/

The term “burnout” was first coined in the mid-’70’s by American psychologist Herbert J. Freudenberger, who used it to describe symptoms he had experienced: “exhaustion, disillusionment, and withdrawal resulting from an intense devotion to a cause that failed to produce what he expected. In earlier times it was generally termed “nervous breakdown” or emotional exhaustion”

Burnout today refers to a collection of different physical, emotional, and mental reactions that occur in response to prolonged stress and overworking. Surprisingly, experts can’t agree on an exact definition.

While I sort of knew about burnout, I never thought it would happen to me. Even-keeled and rarely stressed out, I thought I was Iron Man in this department and nothing could break me. Burnout carries a stigma as a sign of weakness and since I am not weak, I couldn’t reconcile how burnout could come knocking at my door.

My energetic “Type A” approach to building a career I that I loved, led to deep down fatigue – the kind that doesn’t go away with a good night’s sleep. I was getting snappish and reactionary around trivial things and feeling increasingly grim about the future.

The Car Crash You Don’t See Coming

Burnout is an insidious condition that sneaks up on you. It happens slowly, over a lengthy time frame. The consequences can be life-altering.

That’s why it’s so important to spot the hazard signs and symptoms early.

Symptoms could include:
– Chronic fatigue and a sense of dread about what lies ahead on any given day.
-Insomnia. In the early stages, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep one or two nights a week.
– Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention. Lack of focus and mild forgetfulness are early signs. Later, the problems may get to the point where you can’t get your work done and everything begins to pile up.
-Physical symptoms may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting, and/or headaches (all of which should be medically assessed).
-Getting sick easily and often
– Vague anxiety. Early on, you may experience mild symptoms of tension, worry, and edginess. As you move closer to burnout, the anxiety may become so serious that it interferes with your ability to work productively and may cause problems in your personal life.
-Depression. In the early stages, you may feel mildly sad and occasionally hopeless, and you may experience feelings of guilt and worthlessness as a result. At its worst, you may feel trapped and severely depressed and think the world would be better off without you. (If your depression is to this point, you should seek professional help immediately.)
– Unreasonable anger. At first, this may present as interpersonal tension and irritability. In the latter stages, this may turn into angry outbursts and serious arguments at home and in the workplace. (If anger gets to the point where it turns to thoughts or acts of violence toward family or coworkers, seek immediate professional assistance.

Could you be burning out?

“Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.” Michael Gungor

Understanding Three Varieties of Burnout

I didn’t realize there are different types of burnout but thanks to the American Association of Psychological Science, here they are:

  1. Overload burnout

With overload burnout, the tendency is to work too long and too hard work in an amped-up search for success. Sleep, personal health, and overall well-being are sacrificed in hot pursuit of ambition. Business is worn like a badge of honor even though it’s stressogenic.

2. Under-challenge burnout

Less understood, the “under-challenge” can cause burnout. Feelings include feeling unappreciated, boredom, and a lack of learning opportunities. When there’s no passion or enjoyment in work. Coping mechanisms include distancing, indifference, cynicism, avoidance of responsibility, and overall disengagement.

3. Neglect burnout

This subtype of burnout stems from chronic feelings of helplessness at work. There are feelings of incompetence or falling behind on the demands of the job. This results in stasis, passivity, and low motivation.

The Causes

In a 2018 research piece, researchers at Gallup identified 5 leading causes of workplace burnout.

https://www.gallup.com/workplace/237059/employee-burnout-part-main-causes.aspx

5 Causal Factors Leaders Should Be Aware of
These five factors were most highly correlated with burnout syndrome in the study:

  1. Unfair treatment at work
  2. Unmanageable workloads
  3. Lack of role clarity
  4. Lack of communication and support from the management
  5. Unreasonable time pressures

De-Risking Burnout

Burnout is not inevitable.
You can prevent — and reverse — burnout by changing how you manage and lead yourself and those who rely on you. If you don’t address the root causes of employee burnout in your organization, you won’t have a healthy environment that empowers your people to be and do their best.

What to Do

As a leader, it’s particularly important to spot the signs and symptoms of burnout early, because it’s associated with numerous health problems. The human and corporate toll can accumulate fairly rapidly.

Also, as a leader, you can set an understanding and respectful tone on how this gets addressed. This is a human problem not a “personnel issue.” Here are some practical steps to take.

  1. Create a “psychological safe space” to talk about it.
    Encourage discussion of specific concerns. Work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Be realistic about setting goals for what must get done and what can wait.
  2. Don’t do this alone.
    Encourage those impacted to reach out to their co-workers, friends, loved ones, or even you as their manager, for the support and collaboration that will help them cope. Recommend to your team that they utilize an employee assistance program if they feel stuck and unable to approach you. These and other relevant services can help with employee burnout.
  3. Engage in relaxation activities
    Either suggest or help involve your employee or co-worker in exercise programs that can help alleviate stress. This can include group runs or cycling, or more gym-related activities such as yoga, meditation or tai chi.
  4. Get some exercise and sleep
    Carving time for physical exercise is known to help relieve stress. Regular physical activity can take your mind off work and help restore broken sleep patterns.
  5. Mindfulness.
    This may not be for everyone, but mindfulness is a great way to alleviate stress and stave off burnout. Mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment. In a job setting, this practice involves facing situations with openness and patience, and without judgment.

Conclusion
Burnout is a real thing. It happens when you least expect it.

In my instance, I caught it early and was able to turn it around. This came with the help and support of my wife, friends and a very smart family doctor.

Others aren’t so lucky.

You may toil for years at the same pace and suddenly found yourself in the middle of burnout without even seeing it coming. It’s good to love your work. But you have to love it in moderation. If you don’t, burnout will make you hate it, and that’s harder — much harder — to bounce back from that.

Let’s have a great month of August!

Lorne

Is This You?

Your day has barely begun and already you are off track. Suddenly it’s nearly noon and the things you intended to do are totally sidelined. This wasn’t how the day was supposed to go. An urgent email came in, a client called and left you a cryptic voicemail, a panicked co-worker with a deadline is asking for your immediate assistance.

These are real life scenarios that people face every day. It can be stressful and overwhelming.

Whatever you’re doing right now there’s a good chance you’d rather be somewhere else or doing something else, even if it’s your dream job.

Maybe you work from home and are getting sidetracked by picking up around the house. There’s something that needs to get finished, but procrastination set in and you haven’t even started. You’ve got homework for a course you’re taking, a critical presentation to prepare for, or a difficult conversation with your significant other. 

This is the stuff life is made of. It’s really tempting to blow these things off. But you can’t.

Your approach to anything is your clue to how you do everything. 

My recent read through Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work:Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted Worldinspired some of my own thinking about my approach to work. I love it when someone writes about what I’ve been thing about and absolutely nails it.

His premise is that we’ve entered an era of unprecedented distractions. We’ve lost our ability to focus deeply and immerse ourselves in complex tasks.

He makes the point that this is a highly valuable lost skill and presents three concepts that help us focus more than ever before.

We’ll save those for later, o.k.?

I found it helpful to Identify, quantify, and put some healthy boundaries around these three types of work in my years as a CEO.

It creates mental accountability and peace of mind knowing I’m spending appropriate amounts of time doing the right things.

Now Onward to the Three Types of Work 

First off, it’s all work, and there’s inherent value and nobility in work that is well done.

Sometimes on the road to where we want to be, we wind up doing things not because we want to, but because circumstances dictate that we have to. Often starting out in our first jobs, we’re introduced to the shovel, the broom or other mundane chores.

“There’s nothing shameful about sweeping. It’s just another opportunity to excel- and learn.”- Andrew Carnegie 

1. The first is what I call “Sustaining Work”.  

It’s that tedious, soul-sucking, mind-numbing, eye-blear-ing, part of your job that comes with the territory. Every job description I’ve ever seen has a “not-fun” factor. In earlier times this was referred to as “toil”. The stuff that simply has to get done or there will be consequences – usually negative.

Whether you’re a parent, an entrepreneur, or a CEO, diapers need to be changed, reports need to be filed, data needs to be entered and someone else’s messes need to be cleaned up. It’s one of those self-existing facts of life that just “is”. Much like coping with weather, gravity or taxes, you don’t particularly have to like it, but having a healthy attitude with the bigger picture in mind certainly makes necessary, non-productive work more acceptable

2. Next up, there’s “Good Work”. 

This is where we should be spending the bulk of our time. Ideally, Good Work should marry your purpose with your job description. It aligns your soul with your goal. After all, this is what you signed up for, right?

“Good Work should marry your purpose with your job description, and your soul with your goal.”

It’s surprising how many people, glance at a Job Description, sign an Employment Agreement and promptly forget about it.

Lack of role clarity on the JD leads to squishy, unrealistic expectations and a lot of angst.

Fuzzy Job Descriptions are the third leading cause of employee burnout according to Gallup research. See http://bit.ly/2Y8fowY

Having a well-crafted Job Description brings focus, clarity and direction on a day-to day basis. This is where you’ll be spending the majority of your work time. This is your Good Work.

3. Thirdly, there’s “Great Work”. 

If you’re progress-oriented and visionary, like me, this is the type of work that really floats the boat. It’s where the magic happens. It’s the leading edge of moving things forward.

Great work is hard.

It requires periods of concentrated focus and extra effort with no immediate dollars attached. Just ask anyone who has ever stayed up late banging out a thesis, promoted a new idea, or helped an organization move through a crisis.

As a coach and consultant to visionaries, I spend a great amount of time assisting them in executing their aspirations. Visionaries are big thinkers, risk takers, and trailblazers who exhibit great amounts of faith. They seem to live and think in the future. These qualities make them admirable. Often they are the driving force behind societal changes. I personally draw inspiration from these leaders because of their courage and resilience.

The shadow side of visionary leaders, particularly those with a driven, pace-setting, or autocratic leadership style, is that they tend to burn out or blow up the people around them. The job gets done, but there’s a good chance that there’s a trail of bodies left in the wake.

How It Breaks Down Time-wise 

Being somewhat (ahem) analytical, I tracked these three categories in my own work life over a period of years.

In my setting, with some fluctuation, it usually balanced out to abou20% Sustaining Work, 70% Good Work and 10% Great Work.

Great visionary work is critical to any meaningful enterprise. A small dollop of big a vision, rolled out in a consistent way, goes a really long way to keeping your team and the organization motivated and inspired. As exhilarating as it may be to spend time with shiny new ideas and our head in the future, it can be very tempting to overdo it in this zone. It can be mentally exhausting

Often in the past, I’d catch myself getting away out ahead of my team or my board as I focused too much on the future. Not good.

Enter Mr. Newport and his “deep work” concepts.

“In almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits.”
–Cal Newport  

He wisely recommends allowing 5 hours a week for this type of work.

Here’s the How-To-Get Started Part

  1. Train your brain to be better at focusing (example: put your phone away after dinner)
  2. Set aside time for deep work (example: dedicate five hours a week for deep work)
  3. Adopt a tiny habit that signals to yourself that you take the ability to focus seriously (example: quitting a social media service)

Once you get some traction on getting started, it gets easier and you can keep it going.

A related article you may find interesting: http://bit.ly/2YqveU5
(Dealing With My Monkey Brain)

Got ideas or a different experience around this?
Shoot me a note. I read all my emails.
I’d love to hear from you.

Lorne 

Dad

Father’s day is the opportunity to reflect on the dads in our lives and the lessons we learned explicitly or not. There’s the dumb jokes, socks in the sandals and failed attempts at a mustache, obsession with enough fiber, and other quirky things that stick out.

Now well into my own adulthood, I have a fresh appreciation of the things he was trying in his own way to teach and model.

Dads are easy targets. We all have one. Fatherhood as a meaningful societal topic has been seriously downgraded by decades of comedic ridicule. Whether it’s Fred Flintstone, Archie Bunker, Homer Simpson, or Peter Griffin, media dads are consistently portrayed as inept, overweight simpletons who bumble through life in varying degrees of self-inflicted crisis or dysfunction.

Essential dad qualities like character, integrity, deep care for their family, self- sacrifice and hard work seem in short supply in media portrayal.

For most of my growing up years, my dad was austere and somewhat distant. He had grown up in a devout, disciplinarian, matriarchal somewhat dysfunctional family. He was the only son in a family with five sisters. Grandchildren (like me) were considered second class citizens to seen and not heard. 

I was a precocious and rambunctious kid, continually getting into things. By all standards, I had a great childhood, but it seemed like I was always in on the verge or in some sort of trouble. Approval or any display of affection was in short supply. That was his way. It was how he was raised.

It wasn’t easy for him. The war years hijacked his career ambitions of being an educator. He tackled a variety of jobs to make ends meet. There was a failed attempt of making a go with the family farm, then hardware store manager, itinerant heavy duty mechanic for farm equipment and then chicken farming and egg production. It wasn’t ‘til his early forties that he revived his dream of being a teacher and we moved cross country to a new job in Ontario.

As I moved through my teens and young adulthood there was a gradual softening and growing acceptance. By my late twenties, we had a valued friendship with genuine dialogue. We enjoyed time together.

These days, being a dad myself, I’ve come to appreciate the deeper life lessons that were imprinted earlier on.

I learned relentless consistency, especially on things that are important. This life lesson has broad application leading to good results in so many areas. For him, it was regular oil and filter changes and regularly scheduled vehicle maintenance as per the manufacturers’ guide.

Long after he wasn’t able to drive and the memory was getting sketchy, I’d get quizzed on whether various vehicle things had been properly looked after.

I learned to work hard. He worked hard at whatever he set his hand to. Today’s information age seems to offer a “life-hack” for just about everything. The never changing reality is that most things that are valuable come on the other side of a ton of just plain hard work.

I learned to love deeply. Dad’s relationship with mom was a 70-year love affair. They both acknowledged having viable “other options” when it came to life partners. Well into their eighties, it was an on-going inside joke for them as they speculated about how things might be different if they had decided on marrying so and so. Invariably this conversation would dissolve in laughter.

He gave me versatility and grit. He taught me by example that with intention, focus, patience, and determination I could master new competencies. His forays into various jobs and enterprises were born of necessity.  I meanwhile, had the blessings of many options.

There are many other things, too many to enumerate.

God blessed me with a great dad and I’m grateful.

(Don’t Try This Alone)

“As humans, we’re hardwired to connect with others. Direct contact matters: tight bonds of friendship and love heal us, help children learn, extend our lives and make us happy. -Susan Pinker

It felt like I had won the lottery. At least what I imagined that would feel like.
An unexpected windfall of riches and resources suddenly deposited on my side of the ledger.

Work friends threw a farewell party for me and quite the party it was! The venue was stunning. The food was exceptional. The memories flowed in animated conversations.

We were major shareholders celebrating a long- term investment of time, effort and relationship that had gone well.

I had given leadership to a bunch of ordinary radicals and visionary misfits who like me were determined to make a difference in this world in the housing and healthcare sector.

While It was about me and our time together, in so many ways it wasn’t.

Most of us had worked side by side for many years. Others were newer to the scene. Through it all, we enjoyed fights, jealousies, pettiness, arguments, faith, tears and tragedy, laughter and joy. You know, – all that confounding pile of human-ness that comprises genuine community.

Some of us watched each other’s kids grow up. At times, we vexed each other beyond words, then managed to pull it from the brink, forgive, reconcile, hug it out, and refocus.

In the end, it was a celebration of compound interest in invested lives.

Here’s the Math Part 

As a kid, I disliked math. It didn’t help that I never had a good math teacher.
Besides, my active juvenile brain was saying “way too boring!”

The irony is that now I work with math every day. I appreciate the unyielding inerrancy of good math.

Whether you’re arguing a parking ticket, buying truckloads of concrete, or convincing a board of directors these budget numbers really work, you’ve got have the math right or you’re dead in the water.

Math done right doesn’t lie!

One of my favorite math formulas is the one for exponential growth:

 

Here’s the Standard Compound Interest Formula

“A” is the ending amount, “P” is the beginning amount (or “principal”), “r” is the interest rate (expressed as a decimal), “n” is the number of times compounded in a year, and “t” is the total number of years.

It’s the formula for the compound interest that savvy investors have employed for centuries. Some have called it the eighth wonder of the world.

Let me explain it this way:

There’s a picturesque pond with a small patch of lily pads. The little lily patch doubles every day.

 

If it takes forty-eight days to cover the whole pond, how many days to cover half of the pond?

Our linear way of thinking screams twenty-four. Wrong!
The answer is forty-seven days.
Compound interest is difficult to grasp because it is difficult to think exponentially. In other words, we think by 1 + 1 + 1 = 3.

The compound interest principal uses exponential thinking.   Just like the lily pad, it takes forty-seven days to cover half of the pond and BAM!

Only one more day to accomplish what was done in the previous forty-seven.

What if we applied the same mathematical law to the social currency of our relationships? 

Here’s the Relationship Part

In her 2014 book “The Village Effect” psychologist Susan Pinker provides compelling evidence of our need to invest in face to face human relationships.

From the flap: “As humans, we’re hardwired to connect with others. Direct contact matters: tight bonds of friendship and love heal us, help children learn, extend our lives and make us happy. Not just any social networks will do: we need real in-the-flesh encounters that tie human families, groups of friends, and communities together.

In one of the lengthiest longitudinal studies ever, Harvard researchers undertook a multi-generational 75-year study. The Grant and Glueck study tracked the physical and emotional well-being of two socio-economic groups: 456 poor men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study), and 268 male graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939-1944 (the Glueck study). You can read all about the 1 Secret To Leading A fulfilling Life.

Bottom line?

You guessed it.

The clear message that we get from this 75-year study is this:

Good relationships matter, Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Being a world-beater in a chosen field, or having tons of money just plain doesn’t matter in the long run.

Begs the question: Can a precise law of math be applied to the social currency of relationships?

From lived experience, I’d say a resounding “yes”!

Only one minor caveat. Our flawed human nature messes the variables somewhat, but in general, the principle still works fine.

Author James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits” says

Time will multiply and compound whatever you feed it.” 

That goes for regular deposits in our portfolio of relational investments.

Something to Think About. 

What if we asked investment type questions around our relationships?

What is my investment timeline? Am I prepared to be patient?
What is my tolerance for risk here?
Does this investment pay dividends? Am I happy with the results?
Can I ride out a reversal?
Am I comfortable with the costs associated? (time, effort, emotional energy)
What is my strategy for allocation? One-time invest? Regular deposits? Both?
Do I double down, reinvest, buy and hold, or cash out?

Something to Do

Check your list.
See who matters
Do the math
Invest regularly and often

The windfall of rich benefits will astound you!

PS. A deep heartfelt thank-you to all of you who made my farewell bash such a memorable time. I’ll cherish your kindness forever. 

As usual, I’m thrilled if you check in with me.
Call, text, email, smoke signals.
Here to help.

Until next time
Lorne

Hi there !
 
If you’re new to our tribe, (even if you’re not) here’s the deal.
My name is Lorne and top of each month I’ll send you my very best ideas and truth powered concepts. 

Why?

I’m a slightly irreverent, non conforming, modern day elder with a strong bent to make a dent in today’s messed up world.

One of the best ways I do this is by 
helping us become better servant leaders and difference-makers right where we’re at.

I write about the business of life, leadership, community and relationships and how that all intersects with our quirky human nature.

Basically, I’ll tackle anything that gets us down the road toward our vision of service to others.
Hopefully this is a bit of “leadership jet fuel” that serves to inform, inspire and  focus us for the month ahead.

BTW. Did I mention I like coffee? I’m still working my way through that monster bag of Torrefaction Foncee’ espresso beans that Margaret brought home last month. It brews up nicely with “crema”. It’s that tawny, caramel-y layer of micro foam that occurs when you get the just right amount of super heated hydraulic pressure forced through roasted and ground-to-perfection beans. It’s a sort of holy grail for true espresso lovers.

My tastebuds are doing the mamba right there in my mouth.
Stop it guys! 
                                             

Ok. Take a moment and get yourself a cuppa whatever you love. I’ll wait right here and enjoy mine.  
Once you’re back, we can walk through some important ideas together.

Deal?


What’s in Your Backpack?

I love this story.

It’s about four people on an aircraft that has only three parachutes.
There was a genius, a minister (rabbi, imam, priest, spiritual advisor of your choice) a Boy Scout and of course, the pilot. 

Sure enough, about an hour into the flight, the engine catches fire.

The pilot, highly trained in emergencies, promptly locks the controls, grabs one of the parachutes, says “follow me” and bails out. 

The genius stands up and says, “I’m the world’s smartest man! The world really needs me” 
He grabs one and jumps out leaving the minister and the scout.

The minister looks at the boy and says, “Son– you have your whole life before you. You take the last parachute.” 

The scout answers “Don’t sweat it, mister. The world’s smartest man just bailed out with my backpack!”



Stuff happens!

There are emergencies happening all around us. We often stake our entire future on the survival gear that we’re carrying. These could include good works, possessions, faith, money, education, training, grit, merit or status. 

Fact is, we all go through life carrying stuff around with us. Not all of it is useful or good.

There’s the stuff we’ve latched on to that we can’t seem to let go of.
Other stuff we hang onto because we think it defines us and somehow or make us cool or special. 

There are experiences and traumas that leave an indelible mark. Memories are very real. They can linger in the pathways of our brain for years, sometimes decades. When triggered, they can unleash a flood of cortisol- fuelled “fight or flight” emotions.

At age eighteen, I was involved in a horrific car crash. My friends and I were able to walk away with only stitches, a broken ankle, and deep bruises. That didn’t lessen the emotional impact. 

Huddling dazed and shaken beside the road, we watched as the grotesquely twisted, pancaked pile of metal erupted into a flaming fireball, lighting up the rainy night sky. We could have been in there.
I relived the moments of the crash in slow motion again and again in the form of nightmares for years to follow.

It was an event that left me profoundly changed in ways I didn’t immediately understand. It infused me with an awareness of the fragile preciousness of life.

The dawn of each new day, every pleasure, every pain, every second is a gift.

Each relationship and each human interaction no matter how fleeting has eternal value. It left me with a fierce, deep-down resolve to fully live each day with intent, meaning, and purpose.

I mention this as an example. It’s now a distant memory and I rarely think of it anymore. It just became a part of me. It’s part of the everyday survival gear I carry, 

On a side note, to this day this experience informs my engrained defensive driving habits You never know how fast you’re really going until you leave the road and start crashing into stuff. 

Trust me on that one.

When it comes to real life backpacks, I’m a huge fan.

 It’s my favorite aisle at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Being fairly active, I have a dedicated “go-bag“ that keeps me organized and ready for just about everything I do. My video gear bag has everything I need to capture great stories. My fishing backpack has entirely different stuff than my hiking bag. My book bag of dog-eared reads and my Kindle is always nearby.  My work backpack has everything I’ll need for that particular workday. Daypacks, overnighters, weekenders. The list goes on.

There comes a point when I need to get down and dirty, dump everything out and re-assess my stock of baggage items I carry.

Is this still useful? Does it bring me joy or cause anxiety? Is this essential for my well-being or survival?


Does it help me help others?

If you ever meet my friend, Nita, there’s a couple of things that’ll stand out. You’ll note she is smallish and compact with a cheery disposition and a winsome smile. The other thing you’ll note is her ginormous backpack that she packs around like some kind of urban Sherpa. 

When I ask her “Nita, what all do you have in there?”, she smiles mysteriously and says “oh,   …many important things.“  

Every time she heaves it up and slings it on, there’s a moment of teetering uncertainty until the load centers, balance is regained, and off she goes.
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She recently admitted- “Sometimes, when I can’t find something in the house, I just have to remember to check in my backpack and quite often, there it is.“

I may never know what’s in Nita’s bag.

I do know whatever it is, it’s definitely working for her.


What kind of baggage do you carry?

When it comes to life’s baggage, each of us carries something different. 

If you’ve ever been wrongly accused, cheated or abandoned, you might have trouble trusting.
If you ever were made to feel ridiculed or put down, you might have trouble feeling acceptance or worth.
The more you know about your own personal baggage, the better equipped you are to handle situations that arise. 

Life can certainly become burdensome at times. We all know this is true. Carrying the dead weight of the wrong kind of baggage just makes matters worse. Have the right stuff in your backpack for life. Recognize what needs to stay behind.

Something to think about.

Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough. -Charles Dudley Warner

Have a great month of October!
Until next time.
Lorne 

Hi there!


I hope you’re geared up for a fun, relaxing Labour Day holiday! 
 
One of the things I look forward to (even on holidays) is bringing you my best ideas and truth powered concepts that help us become better leaders in our work and in our lives. It’s focused in our vision of service to others and reflects our values and current realities. I send this out at the top of the month to be a bit of “leader fuel” that informs and inspires us for the month ahead.

One of my little writing rituals is to have something handy beverage-wise, preferably caffeinated. Right now, I’m enjoying a Torrefaction Foncee’ espresso from my trusty stove topper.
I think that’s French for “a whoopee load of tasty good.”                                                          

It sounds real fancy, but Margaret bought a big honking bag at Costco. Why? Because it was on sale and she knew I’d love it. She’s right about that. She usually is. 

So grab a coffee or whatever, settle back, and let’s spend a few moments together and work through some important stuff.
 

Little Game-Changers 

Definition
 
Game -Changer NOUN                       
A person, event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current way of doing or thinking about something and profoundly alters outcomes.
 

Sports fans are familiar with that goal that turns the tide and wins the game or that star player who brings a level of skill and grit that makes for a winning team.  

“Game-changer” people in sports and in business are highly valued and sought after because they influence outcomes and tend to make everyone around them better.  
 
There are also little game-changer words and phrases that if practiced every day, can make for a winning team and fuel big outcomes. Anyone who has ever tried to start a campfire from scratch knows that you need a bunch of small sticks to get a blaze started and then add some more ‘til the bigger logs catch.

Like those bits of kindling, If you work these little phrases into your conversations, I guarantee they’ll help fuel some bigger conversations and better outcomes.
 
Here are a few little “game-changers” I’ve used effectively along the way.
 
Try ‘em. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the outcomes 
 
First on the list: 
 
“Here’s what I’m thinking.”
 
Quite often, you’re in charge of something that involves a group initiative or moving a plan forward. 
 
That doesn’t mean you’re smarter or know more than everyone else.  
 
When you let people know what you’re thinking and explain why it frees up the lines of communication and invites a response. 
 
It also opens up the possibility of dissension, maybe criticism but that’s ok. It also paves the way toward a creative dialogue that improves new ideas and fosters better suggestions.
 
Having authority or title can create an illusion that you are “right,” but collaboration engages everyone. It certainly helps everyone pull together in the same direction.
 
“I was wrong’
 
“There have been situations where I come up with an idea that I thought was a brilliant plan to improve things or solve a problem in our workplace.  
 
On paper, it looked perfect. In practice, it didn’t work out.

When that happened, I had to go back and say, “I knew you were thinking this approach wouldn’t work. You were right. I was wrong.
Let’s go back to the drawing board on this
At the time, I felt bad thinking that maybe I had lost the respect of my team. 
 
It turns out I was wrong about that, too. 
 
Later one of my newer co-workers said, “I didn’t really know you that well, but the fact you were willing to admit you were wrong told me everything I needed to know.”
 
When you’re wrong, say you’re wrong. You won’t lose respect–you’ll gain it.
 
“That was awesome.”
 
No one ever gets enough praise. 
No one. 
So when someone has done something well say, -“Wow, that was great how you did that.”
Add some details. “I especially appreciate……”
This works retroactively as well. “You know, I really liked the way you handled that situation last month…”
That makes just as positive an impact today as it would have at the time. 
 
Praise is a gift that cost us nothing to give, but it is priceless to the recipient. 
 
Start praising. 
The people around you will love you for it–and you’ll like yourself a little better, too.
 
Say “Thank-you” and “You’re welcome.”
 
Think about a time you gave a gift and the recipient seemed uncomfortable or awkward. Their reaction took away a little of the fun for you, right?
 
The same thing can happen when you are thanked or complimented or praised or even if someone says “have a nice day”
 
Don’t spoil the moment or the fun for the other person. 
 
The spotlight may make you feel a little uneasy, but all you have to do is make eye contact and say, “Thank you.” Or make eye contact and say, “You’re welcome. I was glad to do it.”

Don’t let thanks, congratulations, or praise be all about you. Make it about the other person, too.
 
“Can you please help me?”
 
When you need any kind of help just ditch your ego and say, sincerely and humbly, “Can you please help me?”
 
You’ll usually get a positive response. And in the process, you’ll show vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen–which, by the way, are all qualities of a great leader. And a great friend.

“I’m sorry.”
 
We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize and ask forgiveness for: 
words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, or show support…
 
When that occurs, say “I’m sorry” and “please forgive me.” 
 
Don’t follow the apology with a disclaimers. 
But I was really mad, because…” or “But I didn’t think you were…” or any statement that places even the smallest amount of blame back on the other person.
 
Say you’re sorry, say why you’re sorry and take all the blame. No less. No more.
 
That way you both get the best shot at starting over.
  
“Can you show me?”
 
Advice is temporary; knowledge is forever. Knowing what to do helps, but knowing how or why to do it means everything.
 
When you ask to be taught or shown, several things happen: 
 
You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice; 
 
You show you trust his or her experience, skill, and insight; 
 
Don’t just ask for input. Ask to be taught or trained or shown.
Then you both win.
 
“Let me give you a hand.”
 
Many people feel that asking for help as a sign of inadequacy or personal failure. So, many people hesitate to ask for help.
 
Truth slap!
We all need help.
Don’t just say, “Is there anything I can help you with?”  
Most people will automatically reply  “No, I’m all alright.”
 
Be specific. Find something you can help with. 
 
Say “I’ve got a bit of time now.  Can I give you a bit of help figuring that out.?” Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous.
 
Model the behavior you want others to display.
Then actually roll up your sleeves and help.
 
 Find appropriate ways to say “I love you.”
 
Not in the mushy romantic sense, but in the sense that conveys “I have a great deal of respect for you” or “I think highly of you”.
 
Some time ago, I got an email from a colleague who I had worked with for many years, 
 
 It started this way. “I’ve been meaning to say this for some time now but there didn’t seem to be a good opportunity so here goes.  
 
From there on she went on to say some very affirming things and how she appreciated our work together. She acknowledged that she had learned a great deal from me and how she would always value our great working relationship and how proud she was of things we were able to accomplish together.
 
The email ended with “And no, I don’t want to borrow any money, or your car or anything 😉 m just finally telling you what I’ve thought for some time now.” 

Well.. you can imagine the effect that had on me. To this day It has a lasting impact.
 
The point is, we all have people who are super important in our life and when you have the chance, let them know. 
It will create a meaningful moment that will last a lifetime. 
 
One final thing to say.
 
Nothing.

There are times where the best thing to say is absolutely nothing. If you’re upset, frustrated, or angry, stay quiet. 
 
You may think verbal venting will make you feel better, but it never does.
 
That’s especially true where your tenants or co-workers are concerned. 
 
Results come and go, but emotions and feelings remain in the pathways of our brain for a very long time.
 
If you criticize someone in a group setting, it may seem like that person will eventually get over it, but inside, they never really do. 
 
Before you speak, spend more time considering what others will think and feel in response 
 
You can easily recover from a mistake of faulty information or genuine misunderstanding. 
 
You’ll never recover from the damage you inflict on someone else with words that are hurtful.
 
Be quiet until you know exactly what to say–and exactly what effect your words will have.

There you have it. Nine little game changers.
 
You may have little game- changers of your own going on. Shoot me a note. I’d love to hear about that. 
 
My thirty-day game-changer challenge. 

Try these phrases out for only thirty days, and if you’re not completely satisfied, I’ll provide you with a total money back guarantee.

For the first three people who write back to me with their own game – changer experience, I’ll buy you a taco. Yup, you got that right. I’ll buy you a taco wherever you are. If it works out, we can go for a taco together.

If you don’t like tacos, we’ll figure something else out. 

Drop me a line at epp@me.com. or lorne@morethanaroof.org. I’d love to hear about your game- changer experience this September. 

Until next time. 

Have a great September!
Lorne