Let It Rest

As leaders, most of us are action-oriented. Something crosses our desk, we deal with it. An issue comes up with a customer, a vendor, an employee, and we take action. And, sometimes, especially in these times, it’s best to let it rest. Most of us feel a lack of control over so many things today that when something arises, that feels like something we can control and can do something about, we are spurred to take action. And same as before, Sometimes action is needed, and sometimes nothing is required. Sometimes, that annoying email doesn’t require a response. Sometimes, when a negotiation stalls the best tactic is to leave it be, or If the other side has already done that, let it rest. Sometimes, doing nothing is simply the best strategy. Two quick stories from two CEO’s I know: First, a long term negotiation on a contract has gone on for several years. As an outsider looking in, one might wonder, why not...
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Bridging the Communication Gap

When we think about communication, we tend to think in terms of what we say and how we say it.  While clearly the what and the how matter, equally important is our ability to bridge the gap, what psychologists have labeled psychological distance— gaps between ourselves and other people (social distance); the present and the future (temporal distance); our physical locations (spatial distance); and imagination and actual experience (experiential distance). In this HBR article, Rebecca Hamilton, suggests we use two specific strategies to reduce—or sometimes increase— psychological distance and thereby improve outcomes. First, she suggests we move from abstract to concrete.  In the case of temporal distance, for example, we can shorten the time frame. If we give ourselves less time to make a decision or take action, we are less likely to over analyze or procrastinate.  Conversely, if we want our team to take more responsibility, we could use more-abstract language, challenge them to develop ideas for increasing revenue instead of asking them to close more deals. Second, Rebecca suggests we consider substituting one...
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Let Things Unfold At Their Own Pace

As leaders, most of us are action oriented. Something crosses our desk; we deal with it. An issue comes up with a customer, a vendor, an employee; we take action. And, sometimes, if we let things unfold at their own pace, we achieve a better result. What?? Isn't that avoidance or procrastination or fear of confrontation or, or, or? Sometimes action is needed, and sometimes nothing is needed. Sometimes, that annoying email doesn't require a response. Sometimes, when a negotiation stalls the best tactic is to leave it be, or If the other side has already done that, let it rest. Sometimes, doing nothing is simply the best strategy. Two quick stories from two CEO's I know: First, a long term negotiation on a contract has gone on for several years. As an outsider looking in, one might wonder, why not bring this to closure. And, then we learn, it's been 20 years of negotiation, minimal dollars spent, many thousands at stake. Even if it eventually settles,...
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The Life Changing Value of Choosing

Working with CEOs over the last dozen or so years, I observed several common traits in those who successfully grow their businesses. I have written in the past about the importance of having a vision, having the right people, and having strong execution. Another more subtle characteristic shared by successful leaders... They seem to have an incredible "capacity". Webster defines capacity as... the potential or suitability for holding, storing, or accommodating  an individual's mental or physical ability the faculty or potential for treating, experiencing, or appreciating the facility or power to produce, perform, or deploy:  maximum output It's this facility for maximum output that I am referring to. The ability to take on more, to handle more stress, to be present regardless of outside circumstances, to simply do more. It's more than ability, it's well, capacity. And, here's what I observe... while these leaders may very well be able to handle more and do more than others, it is also their ability to choose....
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January Reflections Part II – Bold Subtraction

As January draws to a close, and we perhaps reflect on the goals we set, perhaps even create a new habit or two like Jerry Seinfeld (January Reflections Part I), is it also time to reflect on the nature of our goals? Most of us tend to think in terms of additions. What new thing do we want to do? Where do we want to go? What new accomplishments do we want to achieve? The challenge with adding, and not subtracting is, for most of us, there simply isn't room. So, before you give up and join the ranks of folks exiting the gym before Valentine's Day; or simply stop setting goals, as one of my clients recently said, "I put the same things on my goal list every year, seems silly to bother", is it time to consider instead, a bold subtraction? Here are some questions that may help answer the bold subtraction question: What did I give only my time, and not my passion, to last...
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Thoughts for the Coming Year

As we begin to wind down our business lives for the holiday season and focus on next year, I am continuing a tradition I started 2 years ago, with a wish for peace and understanding between us during the holidays and into the new year. In this spirit, I am sharing a blog written by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Author, Professor. Repairing​ ​the​ ​Ties​ ​that​ ​Bind The divisions among us seem to increase daily. How do we begin to heal? How do we enter our festivities with goodwill toward all, not just toward the folks who think like we do? Since the 2016 primaries, as psychologists and psychiatrists, we have listened to people voice innumerable variations of, “I can’t talk to ….” People solve this problem differently; some opt to spend less time with family; some determinedly keep the conversation away from political and social issues; others are baffled that their family’s values of charity and religious principles co-exist with policies...
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Perspective

Last week I attended "Tribute to the Stars", a Cara event celebrating students of achievement. The name Cara might be familiar to you, as each year on Giving Tuesday you hear from me asking you to join my match for this wonderful organization that supports people through the process of "getting their lives back". Every time I attend a Cara event or visit their morning motivations, I am reminded of the importance of perspective. Last week was no exception. At this event, I was fortunate to be seated with several students, one of whom I had the opportunity to speak with for some time. His name is Kyle. Kyle started in the program a couple of months ago and I asked him what led him to Cara. He then told me that in order to continue receiving food stamps, he was required to enroll in a job training program. Kyle was fortunate to find Cara, because what Kyle realized he needed more than anything was recovery and confidence building....
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What is a Big Deal to Some, Leaves Others Scratching Their Heads

In this increasingly sensitized world we live in, we find ourselves in a place of wondering. Wondering, how what we say will be interpreted. And on the receiving end, we may be offended by comments from others and wonder at a minimum, how could this person have been so insensitive. Layer on to this, differences in cultures and while some may hear a comment as a big deal, the sender may be left scratching their head. For me the solution lies in dialogue and seeking first to understand. Understand what others are sensitive to and what life experience may have led them to feel as they do and understand why others may be left scratching their heads. Sometimes, it seems so obvious, and yet it isn't. By way example, Trevor Noah shares this story in his recent autobiography. According to Noah, in South Africa, where he is from, children are taught that Hitler was a powerful man, the atrocities he committed are left out of the...
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How Do You Know When to Go With the Flow?

Option 1 _ Sometimes, the best thing to do is to go with the flow and let things play out. Option 2 _ Sometimes, the best thing to do is to choose a desired outcome and lead others toward that outcome. How do you decide? In my experience, business owners have the tendency to choose Option 2. Owners get to decide the outcome they want and when passionate about that outcome, they choose to lead others toward it. Similarly, professional CEOs, especially those leading PE owned companies, generally choose Option 2. They have a clear mission from the PE board, have incentives that are aligned with the board, and therefore choose to lead others toward their desired outcome, leaving as little to chance as possible. On the other hand, my experience with executives is, it varies. And, since executives have both their careers to think about and their business to think about, they have two situations for which this choice must be made. Some executives are willing, and...
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Not Asking Has a Price Tag

We Vistage chairs often talk about the importance of staying curious, of asking questions. Often as leaders we tell ourselves that the only "cost" of being directive vs. asking questions are soft costs. For example, we make assumptions that are wrong and have to start over when we learn we are headed in the wrong direction. What about the hard costs of heading in the wrong direction? What about when we as leaders, march into a new area, or start a new initiative, everyone follows, and we are headed in the wrong direction? Money is invested and then we have to start over. If only we had asked a few questions up front, we tell ourselves afterwards, the price tag associated with the failure might have been avoided. This TED talk, titled simply, "If you want to help someone, shut up and listen!", by Ernesto Sirolli, brings this point home in a global way. Ernesto Sirolli is a noted authority in the field of sustainable economic...
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