A simple way to be a better leader – Part 1

In the past few days I saw a simple truth about the language of leadership. Ned and Nancy were trying to get their son to get into the pool.  Their son, Niles, was scared of the water. "Do you want to get in the pool?" asked Ned.  "Do you want to try to stand on the first step?" Niles froze at the decision point.  He was anxious and uneasy.   His answers came non-verbally.  Niles stopped and backed away from the pool's edge.   Parents are leaders.  The leaders were putting the child … [Read more...]

Follow the leader

I walked down the row of cubes.  Someone from my team grabbed me.  "They did it again.", they said.  We had another team that we worked with.  We didn't see eye to eye.  We didn't have mutual respect.  It seemed each team thought the other team was a bunch of idiots.  I got fired up.  I'm insulted the other team.  I'm sure I "should" all over them.  - They should do this, They should do that.  I'm damn certain I cursed.  I'm sure I poured gasoline on the fire.  The fire burned higher.  The … [Read more...]

Do you lead by example?

My mentor, Phillip, asked, "Where'd this thing with you putting your hands in the pockets come from?"   I didn't know the answer.   It appeared that I just picked up a habit of sticking my hands in my suit pockets.  And I didn't know why.  A no-no in the world of presenting is hands in pockets. John, the other trainer I was working with said, "I'll take responsibility for that."  It turned out that he has the habit of sticking his hands in suit pockets. The week before I spent 40 hours in … [Read more...]

Leadership is a contact sport

I don't enjoy playing basketball shirts vs skins.   I just don't enjoy sweaty men pressing and bumping into me. It affects my commitment level. I don't play as hard. It's not fair to my team for me to play and not be committed to the contact required of the game.  When shirts are on, I'm in. I'll throw my elbows around with the best of them.  Shirts off, I should walk away. Adam said, "That's not easy." I asked Adam whether being a good leader is easy or hard. He said, "Hard."   One of … [Read more...]

The problem with the perfect plan

I was listening to Car Talk on NPR.  Click and Clack were following up with a caller from an earlier show.  The caller wanted to transport a chicken coop via the highway on a snowmobile trailer.  Click and Clack told him it wouldn't work.  They were right. Chicken Coop guy's perfect plan was changed in real time as they tried to implement it.  They managed to move the coop with the snowmobile trailer.  But not where they needed to move it.  The snowmobile trailer died in town after a valiant … [Read more...]

Would you rather be needed or wanted?

The exercise started.  I was getting up to work the room.   A thought struck me.  "They don't need me."  I was hit with a sense of deflation.  It was a "What's the point?" moment.   I was at Boot Camp.   The irony, or hypocrisy, I'm working at a program built to help people find purpose and meaning.  And I'm struggling with my purpose and meaning.  We're human.  It happens. I spent a few moments looking at the situation.  The conversation with myself went like this:  "You're right.  They … [Read more...]

Find meaning and significance in life

The breeze blew firmly off the lake. We sat. The breeze brushing briskly in our faces. The hot sun bathing us from behind. Our church met at the Lake this weekend. We celebrated the lake's 100th anniversary. Andrew, our Pastor, started speaking. He suggested that we all want to have a life that was meaningful and significant. He was right ... at least to me. I want to have a life filled with meaning and significance. Sometimes I have it. I just finished another Boot Camp. I saw lives … [Read more...]

Stand still or step forward

Do you want to succeed?  Of course you do.  Who doesn't?  Even if you have a fear of success, somewhere inside whispers a voice that yearns for success.  I've tried to suffocate mine with a pillow.  But it keeps talking.  I've come to accept it.  Your definition of success might be different than mine.  You still have a definition of success.  You might as well pursue it. You will screw many things up on your way to succeeding.  If you don't, you probably won't be succeeding.  You might as … [Read more...]

Life is Long. Today is Short.

A  journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step. - Lao Tsu A thousand mile walk is about 1,800,000 steps.  Sounds like that would take forever.  I bet it goes by a lot quicker than we'd think.  It goes by one step at a time.  The time will go by whether you take the journey or not.  It all starts with a step. Life is the longest thing you will ever experience in this world.  It goes by quicker than we'd think.  It goes by one day at a time. I want to live the life of a lifetime.  I … [Read more...]

Be smart. Write better.

The screen flashed the report.  It told me that I write at a post-graduate level.  It compared my writing to insurance documents.  I was proud.  I scored high.  No one could follow a single 62 word sentence I wrote.  But the computer told me I was smart.  Truth was I was being dumb.  I made things overly complex to feel smarter. I remember teachers coming to ask me what a word I used meant.  They didn't know the word (It was "Reify").  I thought I was smart.  Truth was I was being dumb.  I … [Read more...]