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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Why Do We Make Mistakes?

To close out 2018, I’ve asked Dr. Andrea Simon, Vistage Speaker and corporate anthropologist, to write the following guest blog, "Why Do We Make Mistakes?" This blog seemed a fitting conclusion to my recent series on habits. We’ve all been told since childhood to learn from our mistakes. In this blog, Dr. Simon offers us her perspective on the science of making mistakes. We learn why making mistakes makes us smarter and our brains bigger. And why, despite our efforts to learn from them, we continue to make them throughout our lives. See you in the new year. Elisa K Spain You can read more of my blogs and leadership quotes here. *************************************************************************** Mistakes are a natural part of life - there is no way around that. There is no person, alive or dead, who hasn't made any mistakes throughout their life. The most significant difference, however, is between those who can learn from their mistakes and those who can't. We may try to even go as far as...
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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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The Second Arrow

Last week my Vistage CEO group had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Srikumar Rao who presented his Creativity and Personal Mastery Workshop. Dr. Rao has been one of the top-rated and popular professors at many top Business Schools - including Columbia, Kellogg, Berkeley, London Business School and Imperial College. The message in Dr. Rao’s presentation: we create our own happiness. Some call it mindset, he calls it creating and living an alternate reality. One of the most powerful stories he told was one from Buddhist teachings. It is said the Buddha once asked a student: If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful? If the person is struck by a second arrow, is it even more painful? The Buddha then asks, Then why did you shoot the second arrow? Most of us react to this statement with “huh?” Dr. Rao illustrated the second arrow with this story. A woman goes on a date with a man she met online. They were both looking forward to the date...
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The Power of Habit, Avoiding Decision Fatigue

How many times during the day do we pause and ask ourselves what was I intending to accomplish today, how did I end up here? According to one study, the cause of this is decision fatigue. Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. Conversely, the more of our key behaviors we can put under the automatic and more efficient control of habit, the more likely we are to accomplish the things that truly matter to us. How different would your life be, after all, if you could get yourself to sleep 8 hours at night, exercise every day, eat healthy foods in the right portions, take time for reflection and renewal, remain calm and positive under stress,...
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Healthy CEO, Healthy Business

I recently heard a CEO say, “when I am healthy, my business is healthy”.  I have been thinking about this CEO’s statement in the context of CEOs I have known or observed over the years. My reflective observation is, he is right; there is a strong correlation between the health of the leader and the health of the business. In the public company arena, we see the impact on stock prices when the CEO becomes physically ill. In the private company arena, where most of the CEOs I work with reside, those that focus on their health and fitness are the ones that lead successful companies. I have watched CEOs move from poor mental and/or physical health to good health and back again and observed the company performance move in tandem. Years ago, I worked with a CEO whose company growth had stalled. He brought me in as an advisor to help him get the company back on a growth track. While certainly...
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Sometimes Things Are Not As They Appear

Sometimes Things Are Not As They Appear

We make assumptions daily, mostly about other people. These assumptions enable us to take shortcuts and keep us moving forward. Or so we think. We assume a person attended or didn't attend an event because... We assume a person responded to us a certain way, because... We assume a person took an action or didn't take an action because... What if instead of assuming, we, as CEO's and leaders, paused and asked: What is the reason you made this choice or took this action? When your customer complains about "service", do you probe to understand what is really going on? When we see something, as the TSA reminds us, do we say something? When an employee behaves a certain way, do we ask what is going on? When I was a young driver, I learned this leadership lesson from a police officer who pulled me over for passing him on the right, when he and another officer were stopped - blocking both sides of the road. He asked me...
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Crawl? Walk? Run? Fly?

Crawl? Walk? Run? Fly?

Hard to know when to walk, when to fly, when to run or even when to crawl. In this fast paced world we live in, our tendency is to default to run. And, my sense is, there is a place for each. The challenge is to let things unfold at their own pace. Here are some questions I ask myself, when I remember to pause, to determine what pace fits best with the given situation: If I am feeling a sense of urgency, what is driving it? If I slow down the pace, what benefits/costs will result? If I speed up the pace, what benefits/costs will result? What will happen if I choose to observe rather than act for some time? Elisa K. Spain  ...
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Leadership Quote: If I Had Only One Hour To Save The World…

Leadership Quote: If I Had Only One Hour To Save The World…

This month's leadership quote: "If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution." -Albert Einstein How often do we jump in and start solving things before we know what the problem is? When we process issues in Vistage, the set goal is question, question, question until the person whose issue it is finds their own way to the solution. And yet, it is so tempting to jump in with answers. Socrates, like Einstein, tells us that wisdom comes from asking the better questions, defining the problem. Perhaps us lesser mortals, have the opportunity to be just as wise...by pausing, asking questions, defining the problem, and letting the solution emerge rather than be told.   Elisa K. Spain  ...
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Leadership View #12:  Watch For (Perhaps Unintentional) Malicious Obedience…

Leadership View #12: Watch For (Perhaps Unintentional) Malicious Obedience…

Leadership View #12: Watch for (perhaps unintentional) malicious obedience... Early in my career, I learned this valuable lesson. I had the opportunity to lead a transition of a client reporting group from a fully manual process to a fully automated process. This area was the last functional area to be automated in this company (guess that tells you how long ago this was). When the previous manager left in the middle of the systems conversion, I was asked to take over. As those of you who have led systems conversions know, it is never a smooth process and there are many long hours that are just part of the process. On one of these long nights, the senior person on the team came up and asked me how to calculate a certain number. I didn't know the answer, and I didn't ask him if he knew the answer, I simply guessed. And, I ass-u-me-d, he would tell me if I was wrong. See...
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