The Case for 5 Minutes of Gratitude a Day

Gratitude is an attitude – a mental and emotional, even spiritual acknowledgment that something’s going right.

It’s also a capacity booster.

This isn’t a new age thing. It’s practical. And you might even thank me for it.

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It’s time to tell your story

In every human culture, stories are used to pass down knowledge, history and wisdom. They are used to entertain, inspire and motivate. And they are used to connect people through recognizably similar experiences.

So why don’t more leaders share personal stories?

  1. Sharing personal stories will make me vulnerable (like that’s a bad thing).
  2. People only need facts and data to do their jobs, I don’t have time to tell people stories.
  3. People aren’t going be interested in my stories.

If you are holding back from sharing stories for any of those reasons, here’s why you need to get over them. Continue reading…

Teachers and Stories

Everyone has a story. Your experiences and your perspective make you uniquely you. The stories you tell yourself, and the stories that you tell others shape your character – the way you show up in the world.

My son Oscar recently reminded me that your stories also shape the experiences and perspective of the people around you. Oscar has a new teacher. When we asked him what he thought of her he said, “She’s awesome!”

“She told us a story about how when she was our age she had a cat that fell in the toilet bowl!”

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BCB Commuinicator: Inspiring Action with Emotion

Chris Obst’ article Inspiring Action with Emotion, published by BCB Communicator magazine is posted here with the permission of the publisher.

In the article Chris explains how effective management comes from both the head and the heart.

I learned about resting from racing

My journey to do the Test of Metal epic mountain bike race started on January 1st. I was thrilled to be one of 1000 participants who got a limited entry spot that sold out in 22 minutes.

The training on and off the bike began then. It really was fun to get in better shape and better at biking at the same time. It was a great feeling to be focused on a physical test like this at 46. It also took a toll on my family life. For the last few weeks leading up to the race, I was AWOL on the home front a few times a week for 3 and 4 hours rides. Continue reading…

How excellent are you?

Leadership excellence is about being able to inspire and grow your highest leverage assets: trust, respect and loyalty.

In good times and bad, everything flows from those three levers.

When you think about great leaders you have known, or admired, my guess is that you would give them all high scores in what I call the 4 C’s. Continue reading…

Management and energy insights from the slopes

I spent last week skiing with my family at Whistler, and the holiday inspired me to write something a little different this month!

1. Try an idea out. Push it a few times, if it still isn’t working try another idea.

chris-and-kidsOur trip started with a plan. My wife and I wanted to take the kids on a spring break ski week at one of the family-friendly resorts in the Okanagan. Our friends had raved about them.

But when I started calling around to make reservations (a few months ago) every place I called had problems. They were booked, or they didn’t get back to us. Continue reading…

Train to be a gold medal leader

I have to say, ever since the Olympic torch relay ran past my house, I’ve been stoked about the games. (I hope my American and European readers willThe torch indulge me if a little Canadian pride sneaks into this email).

Did you see Alexandre Bilodeau win Canada’s first home-gold in the men’s moguls on Sunday? Can I tell you why I found it so exciting?

As Stephen Brunt wrote in his Globe and Mail article, “That great moment didn’t happen by accident.”

Bilodeau won because he trained hard. He won because he took risks no one else took. He saw opportunities no one else saw. One commentator said, “In his gold medal run, Bilodeau skied hard, fast, and on edge, walking the thin line between greatness and disaster.”

Great leaders also have to ride that edge. We also have to train. We also have to focus. We also have to get comfortable being uncomfortable walking the line between greatness and disaster. Continue reading…

Tap into an underexploited energy source: Your emotional energy

We all possess four distinct, yet interconnected sources of energy: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Most of us have a pretty good read on our physical and mental energy levels.

Energy reservesPhysical energy is about what your body can handle: you know your physical energy is low if you fall asleep on a conference call, or if you are dragging your butt to meetings.

Mental energy is about what your brain can handle: you know your mental energy is high if you’re able to analyze a dense report, or if you can make creative connections throughout the day.

Emotional energy is about what you can handle emotionally. It is often indicated by a person’s stress threshold, their breaking/boiling point, their ability to maintain a positive outlook, or their ability to motivate themselves and others. These are all critical factors for high performance at work and at home. Continue reading…

Brand yourself as a great leader

When I coach, I have a number tools that I use to assess clients. I use different tools for different reasons. But I’m excited about a new Personal Brand Assessment that I’m using to help people:

1) see what impression you leave with people

2) look at what you are doing in your career to consciously cultivate your brand or unconsciously sabotage it Continue reading…

My life is more than half over

Is your life more than half over? Mine is.

My 45th birthday was a couple of weeks ago. When I factor in family history, increased life expectancy, and everything I do to take care of myself, I still come up with 90 as a likely final buzzer. So as of 10 days ago, there’s just no getting around the fact my life is more than half over. Continue reading…

No More Workarounds

Recently, a very good client asked me “does everyone know about workarounds?”

Workarounds are the extra steps you, or your staff, take because something, or more likely someone, is getting in the way of the ideal work flow in your department.

Here are some examples:

The report should go to Ned for review, but he holds everything up. Everybody knows the report will sit on his desk forever and when he Workaroundsfinally gets to it, he’ll miss things. You give it to your superstar to check over, even though it isn’t her job. WORKAROUND

Manage your energy: for everyone’s sake

Energy is contagious. If you come to work in a funk, your team can’t help but feel it. If you come in with positive, forward-looking energy, and you demonstrate that zeal all day long, your team will start to ride that wave with you.

Check CheckCheck, check, is this thing on?

Get in the habit of doing an energy check before work, before meetings, before big events and even before you head home.

Take a minute to think about your physical energy, your emotional energy, and your mental energy. Continue reading…

Post-visioning action

Did you try Marc Allen’s visioning exercise? I blogged about it last month. If you have it on your to-do list, really, get on it.

If you did it and you have your action steps, I hope you are moving on them.

This month I’m all about getting things done. Continue reading…

Work to your ideal: Marc Allen’s Visioning exercise

Visioning isn’t just for business owners, executives, creatives or mystics.

This kind of work can be used to chart a course for your personal success, the success of your team, or even a specific project.

Marc Allen’s Visioning Exercise

  1. Turn off your inner critic, just for a moment. Go with your gut and give your creative self the floor – it’s just a moment.
  2. Write a description of your ideal scene. Imagine yourself 1 to 3 years down the road and see yourself living your ideal scene. (Careful you aren’t writing someone else’s picture of success. This is about success on your terms.) Continue reading…

My experience with visioning

Do you know what your ideal scene looks like? Last week, I discovered mine.

It’s no newsflash that I love what I do. Coaching, speaking engagements, workshops, writing, all these aspects of my work serve my clients and they serve me. That works!

But this summer I had some opportunities to explore, and some decisions to make. My coach asked me, “How will you create what you want?” That proactive approach is right up my alley. Instead of just reacting to what’s coming, imagine what you want to create and decide what opportunities fit into that picture. Continue reading…

You’re Number 1: self-care

Safety Instructions“In the unlikely event of a sudden change in cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the compartment above your seat. To activate the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you, place it over your mouth and nose, secure the elastic strap around your head and breathe normally. Please secure your own mask before helping children, or other passengers, who may need your assistance.”

People come up with a lot of reasons why they have to put themselves last. So it is interesting to consider that international policy requires people to take care of themselves first, and help others second. Why do they do that? Because anyone who needs your help, needs you at your best. Continue reading…

Be the Change!

Truth: We are all the victims and benefactors of our environments.

You, as a manager, have the power to be the change that you want to see in your corporate culture. You, as an enlightened leader, have the responsibility to be that change.

The last time you had a meeting with your boss, how did it go? Did you leave the meeting feeling empowered to do great work? Was it rushed, or all over the place? Did your boss give you anything meaty to chew on? Or was it micro-management mania?

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Client Story: His business is growing and so is he

Last week I met with a friend and past client. He looked great, and it was no surprise to hear how well he and his business had been doing. I found myself asking, “So what’s next? Any plans to grow?”

His answer was astonishing, “I plan to enjoy what I’ve built.”

Now, don’t be fooled. This isn’t a man who is resting on his laurels. He has created a phenomenal situation for himself. Continue reading…

Be their coach

As a manager, you set the bar for your team. But how often, and how well, are you coaching them to get over that bar?

Some managers set the bar, tell their staff it’s there, and then react when people hit or miss.

Great managers set the bar and start coaching their team to succeed – giving them every advantage and opportunity for personal and professional development. Continue reading…