Declare Your Independence

One of my favorite books and one I recommend to all my clients is Necessary Endings, by Henry Cloud.  In this book, Cloud uses a metaphor of rose bushes and compares them to our businesses, careers, and lives. He explains that a rose bush cannot support all the buds it creates. The beautiful ones only become so because of pruning. Cloud describes three types of pruning: pruning the good but not great branches, pruning the sick branches, and finally pruning the deadwood. Perhaps the last two types are obvious, albeit sometimes hard to do in life. The first made me pause; really, I need to cut off some good branches for my rose bushes to flourish? As I think about Independence Day, I am noticing the parallel between necessary endings and independence. For some of our forefathers, my guess is the relationship with Great Britain was good but not great. It certainly had benefits to go with the taxes and other challenges. And...
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Is It Capacity Or Is It Making Choices?

As an Executive Life Coach for CEOs, I've seen several common traits in those who have successfully grown their businesses. I've told stories 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 to which I am referring, the ability to take on more, handle more stress, be present regardless of outside circumstances, or simply do more. It's more than ability, it's, well, capacity. And, here's what I observe. While it appears that these leaders can simply handle more and do more than others, they also can choose. To make a choice and accept that when...
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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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There is as much fun in getting there…

Occasionally there are small moments in life that leave a lasting impact. Years ago, I was sitting on a bench at the old Union Station. An old man sat down next to me, and we engaged in conversation. I asked him where he was headed, and he replied with glee, "San Francisco!" "Wow," I said, "that is a long way to go on the train." His reply: "There is as much fun in getting there as there is in being there." This man's answer has stayed with me, and I often think of him in these situations: When I am too focused on getting to the outcome When it's time to pause When it's time to remember to be in the moment In The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, by Desmond Tutu and Dalai Lama, these two extraordinary seers inspire us with their tales of being in the moment and experiencing joy, even in the face of adversity. I wonder...
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The Way

Most of us learned "the way" early in life. Some of us learned it from our parents, some from our teachers or other adult role models. The way we learned was the way they did it. We observed, or they told us, how to live our lives; and in what order to do things. Typically it went something like this, get an education, get a job, get married, pursue/advance in a career, have kids, retire, enjoy our grandkids. For some, this may still be the way, and for more and more people, this is only one of many choices. Today we have more choices, and for most of us, a longer time frame during which we might choose multiple ways. For example, I know a grandmother who became a lawyer in her 70's; and recently heard about an architect who became a restaurant owner in her late 40's and a physician who became a professional singer. So, as you think about your way, whatever stage of life...
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You Pivot™: You’d Look Great in a Mercedes

Jim started out living the American story. He grew up in a middle-class home in the suburbs, married his high-school sweetheart, went to business school, and got a job in corporate America.  When he started having children, four before he was 34, finances were tight. He was driving a used Dodge Omni, 30 miles each way to work. On the way home on Friday night, if it was a good week, he bought a six-pack of Heineken, and at the end of the bad weeks, he bought a six-pack of Old Style. Something had to give.  Jim was making less than he needed to support his family and certainly less than his business school friends. The cataclysmic event was when he asked his boss for a raise and learned he was at the top of his pay scale. This conversation spurred him to look for a new job. At 29, he became the seventeenth employee and one of seven founding partners of a startup...
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What is Your Team’s Us of Identity?

In a recent conversation with a friend, he shared his experience as a member of two different peer advisor business groups. My friend was saying that the second group seemed to lack the intimacy of the first. When we dug deeper and explored the differences between the two, here is what we uncovered. The first group had been together for a long time and was homogenous. The members were all male, all from the same socio-economic class, and all about the same age. On the other hand, the second group was diverse with gender, race, ethnicity, background, economic class, and other differences. In a previous blog on this topic, With Diversity Comes Diversity, I share my experience in building diverse teams. What is missing in this previous story are the questions my friend raised, "What was different about the second group? Why didn't it have the same level of intimacy as the first?" I believe Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks gave us the answer in his...
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