Boundaries Do Have Consequences

As leaders in the 24×7 culture of the 21st century, we all must set boundaries. And they are different for each of us. Some of us like to stay at the office until the work for the day is complete and separate work time from family or playtime. Some of us want to be connected all the time, handling things as they come up. These folks prefer a more integrated life rather than a separation. Still, others want to be home in the early evening and choose to “catch up” later on when everyone in their family has gone to bed. There is no right or wrong; some of it is generational, some of it is just personal desire. And, what I have noticed, in the years I have been coaching executives, is that regardless of preference, setting boundaries is something many people struggle with. And people with young children struggle the most. People with families often agree to boundaries rather...
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Set Boundaries

As we come to realize that these "interesting times" are likely to be with us for some time, we are also beginning to accept that we must find ways to adapt. While the form that adapt and accept takes will be different for each of us, one thing is true for all of us; we must focus on what we can control, be mindful of determining what that is, and set boundaries. When I said this to a client recently, he asked me what I meant by boundaries, here is my reply. For those who see ourselves as servant leaders, especially those who are people pleasers, setting boundaries begins with putting ourselves first. It is only by "putting our oxygen mask on first" and following three key steps that we can be in service to others.   In today's world, this begins first with setting aside "me" time. Me time can include exercise, meditation, watching TV, whatever works for us to relax and recharge. Next, it's making time for...
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Just For The Record

Just for the record, we introverts don't like this any more than extroverts.  You are probably asking yourself, where is this coming from? I had a conversation last week with an extroverted friend of mine, during which he said: "I know you introverts are secretly loving this."  People often have the belief that introverts aren't social, want to be alone all the time, etc. etc. this isn't so. While the more introverted folks amongst us, may prefer time alone to time with others, the primary difference between introverts and extroverts is where we draw our energy. Introverts go within; extroverts tend to "think out loud." Another way to say this, introverts tend to need quiet time to recharge more often than extroverts do. All humans are social animals. The mental health toll of this shelter in place isolation may be more significant for introverts because for many introverts in analytical jobs, working at home means working alone, no zoom, no contact. And...
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Everybody Needs A Coach

“Everybody needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you are CEO, a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player, we all need feedback”  so says Bill Gates & Eric Schmidt in this 1.25min TED Talk. Perhaps a bold statement.  And yet, doesn’t every professional athlete and every famous performer have one?  You may be surprised to learn, so does every successful CEO, whether leading a Fortune 500 company or a privately held company. If you buy into what Bill and Eric are saying, and you are a: Soon-to-Be, or Newly Appointed CEO or Business OwnerCEO or Business Owner Wanting to Up Your Leadership GameCEO or Business Owner Considering an ExitExecutive Pivoting to EntrepreneurshipFormer Executive Considering Re-Entry Or perhaps, you are simply looking for clarity, to define where you are and where you want to be. Wherever you are in your journey, if you want the feedback that Bill and Eric talk about, and the accountability to get to your goals, now...
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The Choice

  The Choice The intellect of man is forced to choose Perfection of the life, or of the work, And if it take the second must refuse A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark. When all that story's finished, what's the news? In luck or out the toil has left its mark: That old perplexity an empty purse, Or the day's vanity, the night's remorse.  William Butler Yeats, 13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939 I came across this poem some time ago and was reminded of it in a recent discussion about "what matters". We often talk about achieving balance; we perceive that it is the stress of modern times. Yet this poem was written in the early 20th century, a reminder that this quest is the human condition, a daily challenge of choice.  Here are the questions that come to mind: Must we choose between success in life and work? Or is it the search for perfection of one or the other that forces the choice? e.g., Albert Einstein was portrayed by his biographers...
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Can You Forgive Yourself for Not Being Beethoven?

In interviews with Rolling Stone and CBS last year, Billy Joel shares why he stopped writing songs. "I just wasn't as good as I wanted to be. It was driving me crazy. And it was wrecking my personal life too, just not being able to be satisfied." That frustration led to a bout of drinking, he added. He went on to share that he once read a quote from Neil Diamond in which Diamond said he had "forgiven himself for not being Beethoven." In that moment, Joel realized, "my issue is,  I haven't forgiven myself for not being Beethoven." Am I enough? No matter how accomplished, this question often plagues those of us who are driven. Is it the asking of this question that is behind this word: drive? Without it, perhaps we would accomplish less. And yet, the question of how much is enough - money, legacy, career advancement, businesses, and stuff - is a personal one that each of us must answer for ourselves. The message for me in Billy...
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We Need Tools to Build

I've had more conversations about stress management in the last couple of weeks than ever. Is it perhaps the turmoil in the world? Turmoil in our government? Fears about a coming recession? Whatever the reason, what I do know is.... We acknowledge that we need tools to build a house or a car or any physical object. Do we have that same conviction about tools to build our psychic well being? Every person I know who achieves consistent success, consistently uses a tool to manage stress and achieve well being. In the beginning, it was all about positive "thinking".  Norman Vincent Peale achieved a legacy with his book, The Power of Positive Thinking. While positive thinking certainly works for some, and perhaps is enough for some, it doesn't work for everyone. What we have come to realize today, is we are all wired differently. Therefore, the tools we need vary based upon our personalities, our backgrounds and our life experiences. Recently two speakers have addressed this topic during my Vistage...
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The Gift of a New Year

A new year, a new beginning.  An opportunity to choose.. What is important to me? What important thing have I been neglecting? Health perhaps? What am I willing to change, perhaps stop doing, so that what is important actually gets my attention? What actions am I willing to take to turn my resolutions into actions and my actions into habits that extend beyond Valentine's Day? Elisa K Spain You can read more of my blogs and leadership quotes here....
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The Challenge of Perception Habits

Recently, I wrote two blogs about habits. The first, here, was about decision fatigue and how activity habits simplify our lives by reducing the number of decisions we have to make. The second, here, was about the dark side of habits, how our response habits can cause us to treat situations that feel similar as the same, even when they aren't. These response habits can result in unintended damage to our relationships. In response to the second blog, one of my readers reminded me of another habit that can impact our relationships, both with ourselves and with important people in our lives. I am calling this one, perception habits. There are two sides to these perceptions, our own and others. First on the self-perception. Here's what my reader shared: A while ago, I was at a party and people were talking about whether they liked vanilla or chocolate. I volunteered that I really preferred vanilla. A friend looked at me and asked, what are you...
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Another Form of Diversification, Expectation Diversity

Last week I wrote about ego diversification. And it reminded me of another sort of diversification, that of diversity of expectations. Whether in a personal situation, or a business situation, expecting one person to fulfill all our needs is usually a recipe for disappointment. Most of us long ago realized that if we spend 100% of our time with our life partner, the probability that they, or we, would get to have, do or be everything we want, is pretty close to zero. And yet in business, we often get caught up in looking for that ideal person. The one who has the style we want, the people skills we want and can perform all the functions we want. This is especially true of entrepreneur leaders because they themselves have such a diverse set of talents and strengths. Most entrepreneurs have a wide range of skills and abilities, and can do a wide range of things themselves. This diversity is what enabled them to start...
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