Monday, December 31, 2012

May Your New Year Be Revolting

Instead of making this new year a continuation of your same old typical routine (make lame resolutions, trudge along and settle), why not try something a little different...and possibly better?

Make it revolting.

Yes, that sounds strange.  But think of it this way:

Life changes.  Your lifestyle choices should change along with your continuously refining priorities and preferences.  You are not the same person you were 10 years ago - or even last year.  Why continue with the same (tired) approach to planning/living out your life? 

Instead, try taking a stand and revolting against anything that is holding you back from achieving your true potential!  Get righteously indignant!!  Be bold!!

Try something (ANYthing!) you've never tried.  This year, refuse to go through the motions of the usual New Year's Resolutions - and commit to a New Year's REVOLUTION!

Let go of the fear of failure and leap into something with a beginner's learning attitude.  (When was the last time you actually learned something NEW?)  Let go of being the poised, mature adult and experiment in a brand new arena.  Pick something you've always wanted to try, but "haven't gotten around to".  In fact, PLAN/TAKE ACTION on exploring things you haven't even considered.  You may discover a talent or interest you never knew - because you never experimented with that topic/hobby/pastime before.

Think of what amazing experiences are out there just waiting for you to take action!  The world is BURSTING with possibilities!  The Internet alone allows you access to limitless options.  Imagine what you can achieve!

But it all begins with YOU.  Are you willing to start a revolution this year?  You may find your efforts become the catalyst for that breakthrough you've been hungering for all these years.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Finding and Aligning To Your Purpose

I often get asked what the most important thing I've learned from spending 3 decades at Disney and other Fortune 500 companies.  Here is my answer - and a practical tool you can use toward the end:

Many thoughtlessly say that "Less is more".  This is not true.  More is more.  But that isn't the point.  Because "more" is not always better.  Better is better.  Period.

So, how do you make your life better?  By NOT wasting time on things that don't add value to you.  You've been settling for FAR too long - and with the new year approaching, this is a good time to prepare for your long-overdue breakthrough!

So, where do you begin?  How do you identify what "better" is for your life?

The complication is that Life gets full of distractions when we aren't crystal clear on our purpose and we end up saying "yes" to things that eat up our time and don't fully serve who we really are.

The proven solution is to get more focused on what you (a unique person with a unique purpose) should uniquely be doing to realize the unique reasons you are alive.  The challenge with this (and the reason more people aren't successfully living the life of their dreams) is that it requires the combination of THREE things:
  • What are you good at (your "natural" talents)?
  • What do you love (your passions that make you happy to lose track of time)?
  • What does the world need (and values enough to pay for)?
Take some time to clearly identify these three things.  Discuss with people that know you well and want you to be healthy, happy, and successful. When you can identify where these three areas overlap and take action to focus most/all your time there, I promise, you will see everything in your life get much better.  

Finally, when do you begin?  "Now" is almost ALWAYS the best time to start your breakthrough chapter.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

If You Can't Get Out Of It, Get Into It!

Life is FULL of things that we wish we didn't have to deal with. 

The question is: If this (painful) action is truly inevitable, then what can you do to minimize your suffering?

According to the most successful/happiest people, once you have exhausted any creative attempts to resolve the situation, the most logical next step is to simply accept that the uncomfortable experience will be happening.  Once you overcome any denial, there are actually TWO options that put you more in control of the negative situation, and can help make the most of it:

The first is: Initiate the action as soon as possible to get through it quickly.  This approach allows you to get the pain over faster.  Why put off dealing with it?  No sane person enjoys pain, and putting it off only adds more suffering.  The dread of anticipation actually magnifies the pain and prolongs it.  The wiser approach is to "rip off the bandaid" rather than drag it out.  The sooner you start, the sooner you finish.  Plus, you avoid all the painful "angst time" as a bonus!

The second is: Find/create enjoyment in the midst of it.  As bizarre as it sounds, this is actually pragmatic.  Minimizing the damage from a negative experience is a self-preservation effort.  Focusing your attention to any beneficial aspects of the situation - whether it is bittersweet "good for you" value or actual enjoyment of some kind - is better than the alternative.  Once you have learned your lesson, any additional suffering is a waste of time and unnecessary pain.  Again, pragmatic and logical.

The good news is that you can use BOTH tactics in every situation.  But it requires the courage and discipline to boldly take that first step.  Take control.  Be accountable.  Face life head-on - and you will have a better life as a result.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What Are You Proof Of?

In business and in Life, we eventually get down to a fundamental question: What do you REALLY believe?

This is a deceptively complicated question.  We all have a set of basic concepts about life that we claim to believe.  But do you really believe them?  How do you know?  It is rare (VERY rare!) that a person will actually go through the difficult - and risky - process of examining the answer to this question.  Despite the wise and timeless truth that the unexamined life wasn't worth living.

So how do you know whether or not you believe something?  The same way that others know whether or not you believe something: Your behaviors!

When we truly believe something, our behaviors consistently reflect that belief.  If someone claimed to believe in gravity, yet consistently clung in fear to fixed objects to keep from floating into space, any observer would have doubts about those claims.  Behaviors follow beliefs.

When we start to believe a new concept (whether that you can or that you cannot), our behaviors change accordingly.  If you believe something - REALLY believe something - you act accordingly.

What do we call someone who believes one thing and then does another?  Clinically, it is termed "mentally disturbed".  Commonly, it is called "a lack of integrity".  Either way, it is unhealthy - and should be unacceptable.

Make a gutsy move: Ask others what they think you believe.  (Be prepared, you may get a shock!)  Your values are leaking out as your behaviors.

Gut check: Consider a values-based cause you claim to support/believe in - such as "love for your family" or "commitment to your company" or "dedication to your spiritual beliefs" and then answer this BIG question:  Is there enough proof to convict you in a court of law that you, without a doubt, believe in that cause?  In other words, do your behaviors prove to anyone observing you that you truly believe what you claim to believe in?

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Safety Net or Hammock?

Preparing for a future that is never really known (until it is the present) can be a risky venture.  Putting back-up plans and "just in case" support mechanisms in place is a good idea to mitigate that risk.  After all, safety (and personal/organizational health) is important.

But we need to be careful about being too careful.

People often create a safety net of contingency plans that slowly, over time becomes a hammock of comfortable (low-risk) settling.  Playing it too safe, too often, is not healthy.  In fact, it actually becomes dangerous - which is, ironically, the very thing we set out to avoid.  What is originally intended as a safety net can (if we're not vigilant) become a hammock - that can lull you into complacency.  Which leads to a dull, listless life of settling.

There is a saying: "If you hit the target every time, you are too close to the target".  Growth requires challenging our abilities and capabilities. 

When was the last time you attempted to do something important to you where you had less than a 50/50 chance of success?  That always generates a higher level of focus, creativity, and effort...and growth!
So, what do you want - dynamic growth or letting yourself get sucked into a hammock of mediocrity?

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Inspiration or Irritation?

There are THOUSANDS of leadership books out there all spouting off about how, if you want to be a good leader, you must be a role model of excellence, quality, integrity, etc.  When done well, embodying these traits can be a faith-building source of encouragement.

But is it possible to over-do it?

In other words, are your efforts to be an excellent role model inspiring...or irritating?

When someone - even a role model - is not relatable, it can actually put off members of your team instead of engaging them.  Being completely competent in your behaviors is only half of the requirement of being a leader.  Unless there is a relationship with your team, your "good example" efforts can be seen as distancing you from their "mere mortal" results.

The solution?  Be a role model of humility.  Be a role model of honesty.  Be "real".  Share (appropriately) your shortcomings, your pain and concerns - in a way that they can identify with withOUT undermining their confidence in your or the journey you are all jointly traveling.  This will help them see that you are experiencing the same "reality" that they are challenged with - and you are choosing to strategically persevere and have a positive attitude through it all.  Just like they can.

So they continue following you and everyone benefits. 

Just a natural consequence of NOT being irritating - and, instead, being an inspirational leader.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Being A Sore...Winner?

No one wants to be a "sore loser" - a term we've all heard since childhood.  It describes a person who is hurt because they lost.

I'm in the midst of a big move - daily lugging heavy boxes (thousands of books!) and other assorted heavy items - and I've been sore every day for the past 3 weeks.  As the muscles throughout my body scream in revolt, something occurred to me:

Have you ever thought of anyone being a "sore winner"? 

Winners achieve as a result of hard work.  Hard work stretches your abilities.  This is why winners who are consistently successful are constantly striving to grow and improve - keeping them on top.

The natural consequence of pushing your capabilities is pain.  It is a pain that most people are not willing to endure.  When you talk with successful people, they will admit that the sacrifices made to achieve their goals hurt, but it was worth it. 

Every winner is sore, you just won't hear them whining about it.  Even when they (temporarily) lose, they understand that it is part of the progression (investment) towards ultimately winning. An investment that requires commitment, courage, and tenacity.  It is these three things that allow a winner to face the inevitable discomfort and gut through what it takes to realize their goals.

So, in the midst of all the challenges you are facing today - are you willing to be a sore...winner?

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Are You Living In The REAL World?

As we develop and grow our career, most people fall into a trap:

1. We tend to create a comfort zone that makes our workday easier.
2. Your Comfort Zone is typically full of people who think and act like you.  When others are comfortable with your Comfort Zone, they tend to not rock the boat either - meaning little confrontation or accountability.

So, what are the natural consequences? 

1. Being comfortable means coasting.  Coasting means going (slowly?) downhill.
2. Lack of brutally honest feedback means you are operating in a vacuum - disconnected with what's really happening.  All decisions are a result of informed choices.  Those choices are only as good as the information.

So, what's the solution?  We need to seek out sources of brutal honesty - by getting R.E.A.L.:

Review - What aspects of your current workday are you depending solely on information others give you about a situation?  Make it a point to experience that (customer experience, employee experience) personally as often as possible.

Engage - Create ways to connect with various types of people throughout your organization - in a way that cannot be predicted!  This will prevent you from being "handled" so that people are telling you what they think you want to hear.

Align - Consider your organizations Values and Vision.  Align your actions with those elements (in relation to your industry environment and the ultimate customer experience you desire) instead of only the immediate political circumstances you deal with close in.

Leverage - Use the support you have from the many different perspectives of your boss/peers/team to spark making the best FULLY INFORMED decisions.  Create an accountability of open communication (like posting your commitments/results status so everyone can see them as things progress) with the opportunity for everyone to comment freely.

Focusing on creating a REAL world  dynamic will keep you from staying in a make-believe world - and making dis-connected decisions that make you (and your operation) vulnerable.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Agile or Fragile?

The rate of change has increased dramatically over the past years.  Every day, it seems that another professional becomes the victim of being too-inflexible - and, therefore, becomes obsolete. 

People who don't actively stretch their ability to adapt and deal with ambiguity become fragile and break under the constant pressure of change.  The only way to thrive (not just survive) is to be agile enough to successfully negotiate the twists and turns that Life throws at you.
So, how can you accomplish this?

The most successful people have an interesting habit: They keep their "change muscles" flexible by purposefully attempting different things on a daily basis.

It can be as simple as driving a different way to work every so often.  Or going to a bookstore (or online) and reading a magazine/article on a topic you normally wouldn't ever choose to read.  This keeps your mind practiced in the way of absorbing and "filing" new/different information on a regular basis.

Or, take it to the next level by engaging a colleague/friend in a action-based "adventure" of something neither one of you have done before.  Take turns planning the "surprise" and benefit from adjusting on the fly.  Interact with people from a different culture.  Primarily use your non-dominant hand for a day.  Tackle an experience on your bucket list.  Whatever it is, challenge each other by testing your comfort zones and expanding your perspective on a myriad of topics/experiences you deem important.

The important thing when you "do new" is to keep it fun.  Make the challenge of CHANGE your new comfort zone!

And you'll never be fragile - or as vulnerable - again.

Think about it.  But more importantly do something about!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What's On Your Short List?

Do you ever feel like you are busy every minute of the day, and still don't have time to do things that are truly important?

One thing consistently successful leaders do differently and better than anyone else is taking action on the right (most important) things.  How do they tame the distractions that plague the rest of us?

They create their "short list".

It's a simple two-part process.  The first step is creating your personal short list of the most important non-negotiables in your life.
  • Values (The key driving forces of your life?)
  • Standards (The clear line that defines what is truly UNacceptable)
  • Goals (The absolutely MUST do things on your bucket list?)
  • Relationships (Who are the most important "long-term" people in your life?)
  • Belongings (what would you grab if your house caught on fire?)
  • Activities (What pastimes are the most important to you for optimal physical/emotional/spiritual/mental health?)
Once you identify your short list(s), it becomes very clear what to say "yes" to - and just as importantly, what to say "no" to.  Both of which keep you from wasting time and energy - allowing you to be the most productive on the things you care most about. 

The next step is to use your list as a guide in creating your schedule.  Start with plugging in the non-negotiable priorities on your list first.  Then, if you have extra time/energy, fill in the rest with the next most important things.  When you are done with your time (you can't manufacture more of it), you say "no".

Yes, there are consequences for saying no, but the most successful people share that the temporary discomfort created by that transition always gives way to a high-performance, more aligned life of integrity.

How do you prefer to invest your life - in the things that you are passionate about, or settle for less?  Nothing will change unless YOU change your actions.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Medicine Can Become The Poison

Life isn't perfect.  Sometimes mistakes are made.  If we aren't adequately committed to doing the right things to be healthy, we can become ill - feeling weak, miserable, and generally creating sub-par performance in everything we do.  In times such as these, the right medicine can help us get better.  When appropriate, this is a good thing to improve our well-being.  This also holds true (metaphorically) for organizations. 

The problem comes when the person (or organization) stops trying to take care of themselves because it's easier to depend (too much) on the medicine to make them feel healthy...instead of doing what it takes to genuinely be healthy.

In times such as these, the medicine can actually become like a poison - slowly undermining the person's ability to function effectively.  The body develops a resistance to the medicine, which causes the effectiveness of the medicine to diminish and the symptoms to get worse...unless the "dosage" is increased. 

Just like an addict of any kind, when the body expects a "medicine" to help it be happy/healthy, the natural consequences is a downward cycle.  It always continues to get worse until the person a) dies or b) decides to take on the hard work required to get "naturally" happy/ eating right, exercising, and practicing other good habits.  Enabling people can actually kill them!

The same holds true for organizations.  When a "medicine" (bailouts, subsidies, lack of competition, etc.) manipulates the company's circumstances and the business begins to depend on that support to simply survive every day, the medicine becomes a poison that will continue to undermine the health of that organization until it goes out of business or changes direction.  Building disciplined leadership, accountability to non-negotiables, engagement, integrity, and excellence throughout an organization is hard work - but it always results in success.

Here's the key: Ignoring a problem will not make you safer from it.  In business and in our personal lives, sometimes - if we really care enough - we have to show TOUGH love.

In what ways is your organization dependant?  Are you "coasting" through your workdays or actively pursuing improvement?  What would it take to conduct an "intervention"?

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some Complaints Show You're On Course

Complaints are a common occurrence in business - and in Life.  Too often, however, we make the mistake of compromising our actions because of the opinions of others.  Someone gets upset and starts whining about what you are doing (or not doing) what point do you "cave in" and go along with their request?

There are two considerations when making this decision:  1. Does the "complainer" have your best interest at heart? and 2. You, and only you, are in control of your decisions/actions.

First, there is a group of people that you "serve" - whether customers, employees, or friends/acquaintances.  When dealing with this group, ask yourself whether or not their agenda is for YOUR (or your company's) mutual well-being.  If not, disregard them - and anything else that doesn't directly serve you or your mission.  The reason they are complaining is for THEIR benefit, not yours.  If they care more about themselves than your sustainable good health, then they are a "cancer" (an organism that sucks life out of you and causes damage as a result), so remove them - or, at least, marginalize their contact with you.  You will have a far better future without them.

In the same way, you'll hear your competition howl about how they don't like something you are doing.  Unless the complaint is about something genuinely unethical or illegal, the hidden reason for their complaint is that your action is hurting their business.  Good!  (Remember: They are motivated by you losing!)  Upset "enemies" are not a problem - leading your organization by what pacifies your competition is a BIG problem!  If you are upsetting your competition it is an indicator that you are doing something that is improving your business and/or industry - and distancing yourself from their attempts to take market share from you!

Secondly, don't make the mistake of thinking others control your decisions.  Yes, they may have influence, but only YOU dictate the rules of engagement!  If you find yourself consistently doing things that are unhealthy to you, then YOU are the one responsible for making the unhealthy decision.  Catering to the whims of others and allowing those who don't care enough about you to have your best interest at heart is a sure-fire path to pain, suffering, and regret. 

So view complaints differently.  They are simply information and not always bad.  In fact, they may actually show you that you are doing something right!

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's Showtime...At The Oil Change Garage?!

Have you ever gone someplace and had an experience that was so unexpectedly enjoyable, you couldn't wait to tell people about it?

That's exactly the kind of response you want consistently from your customers.

What is required to create this kind of experience?  Exceed expectations with pleasant surprises.

I just had such an experience at, of all places, an oil change garage

So, what is the typical expectation when getting your oil changed at a garage?  That oily/dirty garage workers drain the old oil and fill new oil into your car correctly for a fair price. That they are competent and efficient.  Pretty simple, right?

I just bought a used car and wanted to get the fluids changed.  I decided to go to the same place noted by the previous oil change sticker in the window.  I had never been to a Valvoline Express Care station, but thought they might be able to provide some additional insight about the maintenance history of my car.

When I arrived, I had the typical expectations.  However, they were radically exceeded from the moment I drove into the parking lot.  Here's what my experience was like: 

An attendant walked out to warmly greet me as I began to park in a parking space - urging me to pull directly into the repair bay.  He and the rest of the team were dressed in a clean/professional uniform.  He guided me into the bay and they began a non-stop banter and flow of information.  It was more like Seattle's Pike Street Fish Market (Google it) than any auto garage I've ever seen.  Shouts of "Showtime, Bay Three!", "Electric a go!", "Thank you, sir!" reverberated across the garage as four separate specialists rushed around conducting a full diagnostic of lights/signals and other fluids prior to changing my oil.  They brought up my car in their computer system (next to my car), shared the extensive service history, and provided insights about the options for service now and in the future.  They provided a full-service oil change with all the bells and whistles (including payment and receipt) without me having to get out of my car

In less than 9 minutes.

Yes, I was impressed.  But even though it cost a few dollars more, it was way more than worth it.

And plenty of other people know about them now.  I'm now an unpaid promoter for Valvoline Express Care.  All because they spent the effort on things that didn't cost any extra to provide buzz-worthy service.

So, what low/no cost things can you do to create a "Showtime" experience for your customers...and get them buzzing?

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Next Opportunity = THE Opportunity?

Question: How many times in Life do you get the chance to start over and create the life of your dreams?

Answer: Every time you wake up.

So, did you wake up today?  Good!  Then you have an opportunity to make some changes that get you closer to experiencing your dreams, hopes, desires, and purpose. 

The next question is: Will you?

Looking back on EVERY good experience in your life, you may notice something - that each time, it was a result of initiating action.  You'll also likely notice that most (if not all) breakthroughs came as a result of trying something more than once.

You never know when the next opportunity will result in being THE opportunity that realizes your desired goal!

So, consider this a reminder and an encouragement:

1. Get clear on what you really want out of Life.  Focus (and REfocus!) every day.
2. Be open to exploring and discovering how to achieve it.  Every day.
3. Have the courage to take that first step.  Every day.
4. Keep going.  Every day.  Until you are successful.

Yes, it IS just that simple (though not always easy.)

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Is Your Organization Healthy?

Organizations are much like organisms.  It is important to stay healthy to be most effective and happy.  When was the last time yours had a "check up"?  Perhaps it is time for your business to check your vital signs and other indicators of health?

First of all, the best (whether individual or corporate) understand a basic truth: Health is NOT just the absence of disease.  Instead, true health is the presence of vitality! 

Consider your current organizational symptoms.  Is your operation getting optimal results?  Is there dynamic, principle-based leadership throughout the organization?  Do all the different "parts" (operational functions) interact effectively with each other?  Are there indications of illness in one part of your company that is negatively affecting the rest of the business?

One way to think about your organization is similar to how your body operates.

The Brain - Unclear/unhealthy focus "directs" the rest of the body (Leadership must provide a compelling vision, standards, and communicate guidance to all parts of the operation).

Various physiological functions (lungs/breathing, blood/circulatory system, food/digestive system, protection/immune system, etc.) all must work together like departments/divisions of a business to walk, talk, and accomplish anything.

Ask yourself some questions:

1. If you had a physical problem that was causing you pain or limiting you significantly, wouldn't you do something (ex. visit a medical specialist) to correct that situation?  Why wouldn't you do the same for your business?

2. Is your business operating at peak health?  If not, what are you "feeding" your company?  Does it have a healthy "diet"?  Does your operation have proper balance?  Are you "working out" and challenging your business to improve and grow?  Are all the different functions aligned and working together properly to ensure the best outcomes?

3. How are you (and your colleagues) participating in your well-being?  Do you have a plan that serves your "body" so you can best serve those customers that you were born to serve?

Take your vital signs and consider the health path you are on now, and where it is leading you.  Then make a decision about your corporate lifestyle.  Will it lead to where you want to be in your future?  Will it allow you to leave the vital legacy you want to leave?

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

**For world-class results, get proven solutions by contacting former Disney business performance experts at 1-888-MDJONES/635-6637 or online at

Monday, July 23, 2012

Screwed By My GPS - Thank Goodness!

On a recent road trip covering a couple thousand miles, I had several interesting experiences...all starting with what should have been a direct route through the mountains of North Carolina/Tennessee.

Should have been.

Relying on the new technology, I plugged in the address of my next destination and chose to go where my phone's GPS guided me.  It wasn't until I was an hour into the drive when I concluded I wasn't "on the right path".  I pulled out my trusty paper map and discovered, sure enough, I was deeply into what my GPS thought was the "better" scenic route - adding about an hour onto my drive.

After some choice bad words, I realized that backtracking would add even more of a delay, so I opted to forge ahead on the same winding mountain roads I was on.  Then a very interesting thing happened...

I started to experience...things.

Not in a weird, mindless, hypnotic, imaginary way (sorry, no moonshine on this trip).  But in a "let go of any preconceived notions and simply experience what is happening" kind of way.

Yes, it was a much longer route, but it was, indeed, a much better route as well.  I was amazed at all the "new" I started to enjoy. 

New sights.  New sounds.  New inspiration.  New insights.  New attitude.  New hope.  New enjoyment.

And it all started out with me cursing out my phone.

Kinda like Life.  Sometimes routes that, at first glance, start out looking like a mistake, can actually be a better path.  Just because it isn't what we anticipated doesn't mean it's less valuable.  Being open to Life's surprises can offer a gift we would never enjoy otherwise.

Perhaps instead of grumbling, we should experience unexpected changes in our "plan" more open to what IS there than what ISN'T (our original plan).  We may end up with "better" after all.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Buen Camino!

Are you yearning for an adventure?  How about one that is an internal adventure as well?

There is an experience that has been commonly described as "life changing" by nearly everyone who has attempted it.  It involves about a month of time, a lot of personal effort, and the willingness to take the first step...and a lot of steps afterwards.

The adventure?  The famed El Camino de Santiago.  A 500 mile walking pilgrimage across northern Spain and/or parts of France.  Similar to the Appalachian Trail in the U.S., the Camino de Santiago crosses countless villages, 4 mountain ranges, and expansive stretches of open country that allow for a unique life experience. 

The external adventure is definitely worth the price of admission, but it is the internal adventure that makes the experience life-changing.

Adventurers attempt "El Camino" for many different reasons, but all find that the time spent in deep thought creates a clarity of insight(s) that forever enhances the quality of Life afterwards.

So, how much is THAT worth?

Along the journey, a common phrase is "Buen Camino", (which literally means "good path") is generally received as "good luck and happy travelling".  It also has a deeper meaning - an acknowledgment that you see a person who is searching for "perfection".  This is related to the "pilgrimage" intent.  Becoming your best self - what God intends - is the goal.

How are you "doing" your life?  Are you merely existing and going with whatever happens by default?  Or are you purposefully living your unique life by design?

Whether it is a month-long pilgrimage across a foreign country or simply a series of daily meditative minutes to yourself before you start your day, I hope that you take some time to ponder HOW you want to live your life's journey - so you have a "Buen Camino"!

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tourist or Traveler?

During a recent international project, I spent an entire day (each way) at several airports.  During the process, I noticed there is a definite difference between the people flying around the world.

In all cases, people are going from where they are/were to where they want to be. Transportation, in it's basest sense, is simply a means to an end. A way to progress - to achieve movement toward something we want.  In this way, the person is more of a passive "tourist" - just along for the ride.

It's not just the difference between business travel and pleasure travel.  It extends to HOW a person experiences the journey...and Life.

There is a significant difference in the WAY people move from place to place.  Whether for business or pleasure, some people actually seem to be engaged in the process of traveling - gaining additional value from the experience of "getting" to the destination.  I consider these people to be more of a "traveler".

My personal guideline when traveling is to be "unplugged" - free from the tyranny of the Internet and computer files.  One of the reasons I enjoy traveling so much is that I'm able to connect to the smallest (valuable) details of the process, and purposefully experience those Life-enhancing moments that create a life that is truly lived (rather than merely existing.)

In some cases, I interact with people.  In others I just observe and ponder.  I've found that Life's biggest/best insights are a result of simply taking the time to ponder.  When was the last time YOU planned some "pondering time" into your schedule...and actually DID it?

Are you just a tourist going through your life?  Or are you an engaged traveler?

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Same Tools + Better Use = Better Results

One thing I've been surprised to learn from working with the world's most successful companies: They don't have any "secret" pixie dust that magically helps them achieve consistent success.  In fact, they have the same resources any other organization has in their industry.

So what sets them apart from the rest of the pack?  Strategic execution.

World-class organizations simply focus their significant efforts in a disciplined way that naturally get superior results.  

Of course, simple isn't usually easy.  But it IS do-able.

Here's the basic roadmap:
  • Identify and institute the non-negotiables that make you different and better than anyone else in your industry.
  • Develop your leaders and hold them accountable for being consistent role models - in every way.
  • Develop and engage employees so they can effectively work together as a team on the right things.
  • Understand, engage, and WOW your customers with attention to the details they care most about.
  • Be better today than you were yesterday.
Of course, the "pixie dust" includes a lot of hard work.  More than the competition is willing to do.

The good news?  After you gain momentum, it gets easier.  A LOT easier.  

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Camel's Milk Considerations

Recently, I was in the United Arab Emirates having breakfast at a buffet. I normally have mixed feelings about buffets - but one thing I enjoy is the opportunity to sample new foods at "no additional cost".

On this day, I was surprised by an offering of "camel's milk".  Next to the dispenser, there was a card listing the attributes of the novel milk product - including the nutrients and other data.  So, I couldn't help but try it out.

Was camel's milk better?

Well, first, let's define "better".  Yes, there was a long list of comparative data between camel and cow - mostly favoring the camel's milk (according to the biased Arab country/hotel).  Then there was the taste factor - actually tasted pretty good.  "Stronger" (different than I'm used to as an American), but not distasteful. I didn't have to pay any extra for it, so that wasn't an issue.  I didn't have to go to any additional effort to drink the "new" milk - it was next to the other types of milk.

Apparently, "is it better?" isn't such a simple question after all.

The formula for determining the value of anything is this:
The Promise (expectation) must be less than the Experience (The combination of: 
the Person delivering the service,
the Place the service is delivered,
the Process of the service delivery, and
the Product/Service itself.

And this experience must be be greater than the Price to the customer (the true cost is the cumulative total of the money, time, and effort required of the customer in obtaining the experience.)

All in all, at the buffet, I'm happy to select camel's milk - as long as it doesn't cost me more.

The bottom line: If I have to actually pay extra (in any way), the difference may not be "better" enough for me to change my choice (and buying behaviors).

A lesson for any of us wanting to create a "different AND better" competitive edge for our customers.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Different Culture" or "Bad Service"?

When in unfamiliar environments, we often have "different" experiences from what we are used to.  For example, when waitstaff does something that you, as a customer, is uncomfortable with, is it the differing culture that is the culprit, or is it legitimately bad service?

Of course, we all benefit if we are constantly aspiring to engage in new cultural experiences from the different perspective - all for the sake of genuinely improving our abilities to embrace that valuable diversity (while still not denying our own culture - which is the topic of a different conversation!)  What if, in the face of an unfamiliar environment, the "foreign" delivery of service is uncomfortable to the customer?  The question is: At what point can we rightly judge a service experience was good or bad?

The issue here is twofold.  First, you will benefit by being open-minded about the natural tendency to feel a little uncomfortable with anything different from your standard experience.  Is the discomfort simply because you aren't used to it?  Sometimes an experience isn't good or bad - it is merely different.

Secondly, the bottom line in any service situation is that the customer dictates the standards of quality.  The customer alone is the one who determines if the service was good or bad.  For example, if someone who had never been to a city before went into a five-star fine dining restaurant and was completely unfamiliar with etiquette and the use of silverware, etc. and a typical five-star service was delivered - without consideration of the wants of the dining customer - and that "uneducated/ignorant" customer disliked how they were treated, it would rightly be categorized as a poor service experience.  The key to this scenario is that the server was not considerate of the guest's desires.  That alone dictates whether or not the service was good or bad.  If the customer walks away unhappy, then it was bad.  Period.

This illustrates why it is so vitally important to truly understand the guest's point of view.  We cannot appropriately exceed their expectations until we know what the criteria is.

Are you delivering "service" based on your criteria or that of your customer?

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How To Jump Start Your Breakthrough

Do you ever feel stuck - like you're in a rut or hitting a block preventing you from taking things to the next level?  Here's something I've discovered works every time (so far) to shake out the cobwebs...

Whenever I need to come up with something new and different - whether it is a big (potentially painful?) decision I'm not wanting to take action on, or a creative breakthrough that's missing for me to push beyond a plateau I've been on - I've found it helpful to physically do something that disrupts my "temporary business as usual" life. 

Doing something that scares you (emotionally or physically) is a great way to forcibly shift your focus. 

We've all had some unexpected experience that really shook us.  Afterwards, there is an adrenaline rush and shift in thinking that can only come from having a different perspective.  After this dramatic (good or bad) experience, it can almost feel like your brain gets re-wired (which may not be far off, according to several scientists who study such things) and you see your current situation with a fresh, new clarity you didn't have before...which is an invaluable position to be in!

My suggestion?  Don't passively wait around for one of these extreme experiences to coincidentally happen.  Do it on purpose!

For example, when I get to one of those "dry spots" in my life, I schedule an activity like skydiving.  For me, the physical danger/challenge forces me to get profoundly focused on the real-life implications of "jumping out of a perfectly good airplane".  It certainly clears up the sinuses and gets the blood pumping in a way few other things do.  Personally, I enjoy "daredevil" type activities, but it also holds true for emotionally dangerous activities as well.

Is there a discussion you've been needing to have but have been hesitant?  A decision/big step that you need to make that is intimidating?  DO something to schedule (by design!) an "I can't believe I'm doing this" experience.  It always (for me) becomes a catalyst that rips me out of my rut and allows me to have the breakthrough I desire.

So...what would get YOUR blood pumping?

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Prove That You Care

While working with a client group recently, one of the partners of the firm said something memorable while we were discussing family.  He said "You are only as happy as your unhappiest child".  This is a profound comment - indicating that when you truly care about the well-being of someone important in your life, then you aren't satisfied until they are healthy and happy.

I also believe this applies to business.

Think about your employees or your customers.  Are they all healthy and happy?  What is their quality of life?  Are you satisfied?  If not, are you doing anything to help them be healthier/happier?

Our inner values leak out as external behaviors.  If you genuinely value someone else's well-being, people around you will notice - because you will talk about it and you will make DOING something about it a priority.

Do you legitimately care about the health and happiness of your external customers?  (You should!  The future of your business depends on it!)  If so, you must ensure that they are taken care your employees! 

You are modeling behaviors for your employees.  They will treat customers outside your company patterned after how they are treated internally.  So, what would others say about your level of care for your employees?  Are you truly invested in helping them maintain a sustainable level of health and happiness? 

Saying you care is easy - and not worth much.  The real (and strategic) test of whether or not you have integrity is how you demonstrate (in other words, prove!) your true commitments.

People are watching.  And your business results are hanging in the balance.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Are You REALLY Connecting?

We have a major problem facing us today that most people are unaware of.  This plague is wide-spread and is negatively affecting our relationships, our ability to communicate, and our personal well-being.

The issue?  We think we are connecting with others and we're not. 

Human beings are hardwired to be social creatures.  We seek to reach out and connect in any way we can.  Proof of this is how we are using today's technology.  Think of the many high-tech tools that have been developed to help us connect: Phones...The internet...Email...Texting.  The list goes on and on.  People are using these options to fulfill the primal urge to connect with others - but are failing miserably.  Why?

People have mistakenly viewed the passing of information over these technical venues as connecting when, in fact, in many ways, these tools have served to further distance ourselves from those we wish to most engage.  We are "touching base" with one another - sharing information and assuming that this effort is "connecting" us...but then being disappointed that we don't feel more connected afterwards.  Sound familiar?

The reason is that the technology strips out most of the human element.  The emotion/feelings - the actual humanity of the other person is simplified ("dumbed down") into electronic bits.  Ones and zeroes.  There's no eye contact, no touching, no real time body language...only data.  NOT the stuff good relationships are made of.

This superficial "transaction" leads to the atrophy of our relationship muscles.  Ironically, in the midst of us "connecting" with people all day long on social media, we become less genuinely connected than ever before.  What a shame.  And what a disaster for our human race.

There's nothing wrong with using technology as a tool.  The problem comes when we expect it to be the foundation of a REAL human relationship.  That requires humans who actually interact.  In REAL life.

Technology can start the conversation, but really connecting requires meaningful, personal contact.  Put down the device and make time to put REAL life into your relationships (and life).

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Being Adaptable Is A Weakness?

We all deal with life's ever-changing circumstances.  Often, we hear that "going with the flow" or "getting along" can help grease the "gears of the community machine".  While it is true that being adaptable can be a valuable strength, it is also true that a strength overdone actually becomes a weakness.

Certain things, such as principles, are constants (and rightly so) and, therefore, should never be compromised.  To do so, ultimately, invites a lack of integrity - which leads to ineffectiveness and sub-optimization.

Adapting to certain things in life is all well and good, but it should be a conscious decision based on the bigger picture.  Overdone, too much compromise leads to settling for the status quo.  Settling too long leads to a rut.  Ruts never lead to growth and good health.

The key consideration is whether or not adapting for short-term gain allows for long-term growth.  If two people cannot collaborate for some reason, then compromise CAN be a fair option, but ONLY if there is an agreement to revisit the situation with a commitment to continued mutual growth. If all interests are not served by the decision in the long-run, then the "loser" is settling for mediocrity.

And being sub-par is NEVER healthy.  Finding that "sweet spot" of being adaptable enough to adjust effectively to the every day changes is critical to success.  Simply latching on to adaptability as a way to get through life with the least confrontation merely guarantees a life based on the lowest common denominator.

Something NO one will ever get passionate about.  Ever.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

New Projects Goal: Thrilling...and Terrifying?

One of the Producers of this year's Academy Awards made a very interesting comment. He said "I know a project is a good one when I'm 50% thrilled and 50% terrified."

What a surprising...and profound statement!

Imagine if that were your new criteria from now would your career change? We love the thought of experiencing the thrill of making a difference and achieving things that we are passionate about. Then, couple with that the terror of not being completely in control - of not being sure how to accomplish what must be done to be successful. Maybe even not even being sure that you have the skill or resources or (whatever) to pull it off without "going down in flames".

Wow. Kinda intriguing, eh?  For me, it sounds like a pretty good definition of being fully alive.

Actually, if we really analyze our very best moments - when we've done transformational things beyond our expectation - we have done just that. We expect to be able to do what we currently can do...but that never stetches us or causes us to grow. The only time we can really exceed expectations is to attempt more than we can successfully this moment.

The striving for a risky goal just out of reach is what builds skills, knowledge, and ability...and reveals character.

How far we go depends on how much we grow. How much we grow depends on how much (and how often) we risk beyond our current abilities.

Isn't it interesting how a single comment can be a catalyst for deeper thought - and, if we choose to truly act - an improvement in behavior/direction.

Now excuse me while I go terrify myself...

Think about it...but more importantly, act on!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Doing" World-Class

One of my greatest disappointments - and frustrations - is how people view the success of legitimate world-class organizations.  I often hear how "normal people" can't possibly hope to achieve the amazing results of such industry leaders because of some supposed "special" abilities, resources, people, or circumstances that all others do not have.

To that I say "What a load of garbage"!

Working directly with dozens of Fortune 500 companies, I have seen first-hand exactly what they do (and don't do) to achieve the outcomes that everyone marvels at, and one thing has become evident: Other than some technical patented widget/process/design, they all have the same access to resources as you or anyone else.

An outrageous claim?  I challenge anyone to identify one thing they have that you don't (besides the scale that results in success over a period of time).  They have offices, computers, paper, phones, budgets, products, customers, employees, leaders, money, time, etc.  Just like you do. 

The only significant difference is the WAY that they utilize those resources.

They have better results than anyone else because they approach all the same issues that you have (leadership, teamwork, passion, time management, creativity/innovation, hiring, training, communication, recognition, etc.) BETTER than anyone else.  Period.

The other thing world-class companies do consistently better than anyone else?  How they implement.

If you examine every huge success and you'll discover a series of actions that created the ultimate outcome. 

All do-able (they proved it by doing it - with NO superhuman powers.)
All started with a first step (which was followed by every other step until they succeeded.)

The truth is that ANYone can attain world-class results...IF they improve HOW they approach their business.  Stop working harder on things that don't optimize your potential and start adapting proven success practices - then improve them daily to stay on your A-game.

Want help?  Go to for proven results.

Think about it.  But more importantly do something about!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Good Memories Are Built

Think about all your fondest memories. Your first kiss. Your favorite vacation. The time your life changed for the better.

Imagine what it would be like to NOT have those memories.

Imagine what it would be like to have MORE fond memories.

So, what causes these valuable "I'm a better person because I experienced that" memories?

To figure this out, let's break it down:

  • You recall them because they are significant.

  • They are significant because you were involved.

  • You were involved because you opted to be actively engaged in the activity.

  • You were actively engaged because you took the risk - the first step - in embracing whatever (and wherever) that activity would take you.
Bottom line: All these great memories are the result of you initiating (or at least responding to) whatever the NEW activity was. If you hadn't been open to trying that new experience or had the courage to take those steps to be involved, you would not have those memories.

And what a shame that would be. Especially since enjoying those memories are simply a result of something YOU control: Actively trying something new.

So, you want more memories? You want a fuller legacy? Get more active. Consider those dreams you've had about visiting a special place or connecting (or re-connecting?) with someone or attempting that new thing that you've always wanted to try. Those memories won't happen until you take that first step.

And there's no time like the present to create more good memories. (You're worth it!)

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Whatchu Lookin' At?

I recently had an odd experience while walking my dog. We were in the back yard playing fetch with her favorite ball when I threw it and it bounced off a birdbath and ricocheted into a flower bed. My dog proceeded to run around, sniffing, and looking (unsuccessfully) for the ball in the wrong part of the yard.

She's not the smartest dog (we refer to her as our "special needs dog"), so wanting to help her out, I walked over to her, got her attention, and energetically pointed to the bushes where the ball was saying "Look!"

Well, she looked alright. At my pointing finger.

Over and over again. Me saying "Look! Get it! There it is!" followed by my dog, consistently, keeping a laser-fixed stare at my finger.

I realized that the action of my hand/finger moving towards the target (her favorite ball) actually distracted from her prize. She was so fixated by my pointing, she failed to see the more important thing I was pointing at.

Then I thought how people sometimes get the same way. Instead of looking at the valuable prize (wisdom, insights, etc.) we often get so enamored with the pointer (a brilliant expert, a dynamic speaker, etc.), we miss what they are working so hard to point towards.

Bottom line: Those people/things in our lives that provide direction are usually not the answer. They are merely pointing to the answer. It is up to us to look in the right direction for the actual insight itself. If we fail to do this, we will fail to get that prize we ultimately desire in life.

And it's almost always better than a slobbery old ball.

So, where are YOU looking these days?

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fatal Benchmarking Mistakes

Much has been said of benchmarking – the act of looking to best-in-class companies and measuring yourself against their methods. Of course, the expectation is to gauge how you compare with industry leaders, identify where you can improve, and adjust your methods to achieve those same best-in-class results. Most fail because they are going about benchmarking in the wrong way.

The second most common mistake is to simply adopt what the benchmark is doing. This often fails because your culture and/or circumstances are different than the benchmark organization. The better approach is to adapt their methods so they make sense in your unique situation. Consider how you can improve the best practice by tailoring it to your business.

But the biggest mistake, by far, is that people tend to focus only on the benchmark’s tactics. Attempting to copy present-day actions will certainly help – but only in the short term. The problem with this approach is that legitimate industry-leading organizations are continuously improving. To adopt a best practice and stick with it will only ensure that your competition will eventually pass you by. A fatal mistake.

The key characteristics of world-class companies that make them different and better are not just what they do – but how they think! Why do they consider things the way they do? What are the priorities? What are the non-negotiables? How do they create consistency when circumstances are constantly changing? How do they deal with all the swirling details that we all have to juggle and, with essentially the same resources, achieve better results?

When you benchmark the right way, you gain insights that matter – and that make a long-lasting improvement to the health of your business. The choice is yours: tap into the solutions that will spark your sustainable breakthrough or adopt a short-term approach that will struggle to gain traction and will ultimately fail.

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Key To Progress

We all want to achieve better results. There are hundreds (thousands?) of books and "experts" out there selling how "attitude determines altitude" - and other ridiculous babble. Let's be clear: No one ever got better results simply because they went to their internal "happy place". Puh-leeeze!

The simple truth is that nothing ever improves without action! The ONLY way to realize progress is to move. Do. Initiate. Start. Act!

Here's proof: Think about the times you've been most productive in your life. Even a simple example like spring cleaning.

What gets the best results?

1. You identify the criteria for what you want to keep and what you want to remove.
2. You get in motion. Every moment you are grabbing something and then not letting go of it until it ends where it will go. Trash. Sell. Donate. Store. Keep. It doesn't matter what you grab - what matters is that you DO something.

And keep at it.

No painful, drawn-out mulling. Grab object. Consider criteria. Place in proper category.

Decide. Action. Decide. Action.

Very soon, things begin to shift. Yes, things don't always look pretty at the beginning, but soon you see progress...which becomes motivational...and, ultimately over time, results in achieving your goal.

Not because of some complicated "secret" or "intention" (puh-leeze!) But because you took that first step.

Followed by the next step. And another and another.

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Priority: Plan or People?

No one argues that having a plan is important to the success of any business. As the saying goes: "Plan the work, then work the plan".

But in this world of limited development resources and finite time, it is vital to prioritize our efforts to ensure the very best results. So in the midst of the battle for your attention, which should be the default choice when the line is drawn in the sand?

Develop your Plan or develop your People?

World-class companies have an insight about this dilemma. They've seen how circumstances constantly shift and change - requiring our plans to adjust as we go. Sure, the general direction of our strategy may remain the same, but the fact that we have to evolve the plan in order to stay relevant is an indicator - much of what we plan never happens because of future adjustments. Arguably, the time/energy invested in those parts of the plan that evaporate is wasted. So, the answer is:

Develop your People!

Here's the reason: A team of "robots" waiting to be told what to do when circumstances call for changing the plan is always a losing proposition. If we develop our team so that they can adapt to any situation; they can work together effectively despite the ambiguous circumstances, and create value. Then you have a resource even more valuable (because they execute) than a well-intentioned plan. In fact, they can be trained to actually develop plans and make relevant/in-the-moment decisions as they encounter the unpredictable forces of your hyper-competetive workplace.

Plans are vital - however People trump the Plan every day of the week. So do both - but place the priority on your people. An A-Team will always find a way to achieve the extraordinary.

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Have you ever noticed how often companies seem to focus on the wrong things? For example, look at any company's policy/procedures and ask yourself the question: Is each one of these bureaucratic hoops to be jumped through for the benefit of the customer...or their company?

We've all seen the little rubber wrist bands with acronyms - standing for a wide variety of thought-provoking causes. Here's an acronym that reflects a cause that all successful business people are passionate about:


It actually has two distinct meanings. The first meaning is What Would Your Customer Want? This is critical guidance when faced with solving a problem or making any decision during your work day. If your customer is always the center target of your focus, and you take into consideration how your decision/action will affect them, then you are already well beyond what "ordinary" businesses do. You become different and better!

The second meaning is the next most important meaning - What Would Your Competition Want? Make no mistake - your competition wants you to be average, predictable, slower, less attentive, less engaging, less efficient, more greedy, more selfish, and less thoughtful about your business. The reason is so you will make it easier for them to win in your industry. The reason it's important to know what your competition wants is so you can do the opposite! They want you to zig? Then you should zag!

Just a quick reminder about two things to consistently consider to achieve consistent success. (Feel free to make some bands if you'd like!)

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Considering Consideration

There seems to be a lot of concern recently about a lack of consideration in society. In particular, I find it very interesting to see a bizarre (and incorrect) application of the concept.

The politically correct (and logically INcorrect) interpretation is behaving in a way that will never offend or be contrary to what the other person wants. That is not being considerate. That is called "acquiescence. I just call it "caving in". Either way, it inappropriately disregards your opinions - which makes it INconsiderate of you, now doesn't it?

Being truly considerate begins with mutual respect. Mutual, as in TWO way. Always doing what the other desires is not mutual. Placing the other person in a position worthy of respect and consideration is good, as long as it is accompanied by an equal value on your own worth. In fact, undermining your value for the sake of others (who might be unreasonable or too easily offended) is a perverted sense of humility. This erroroneous position does not respect the diversity that YOUR perspective brings to the situation. (Isn't it interesting that some people, in the act of "championing diversity" actually deny people's opinions that differ from their own.) That lacks integrity.

The correct interpretation of being considerate is simply being aware of the other person (in thought, word, and deed) and literally considering how your behaviors could impact him/her before you take action. Once you have sincerely taken them into consideration, your behaviors are a separate issue.

Bottom line: Consider the impact your behaviors have on others, but have the courage to honestly act on YOUR legitimate preferences. They are JUST AS valuable as ANYone else's. Of course, the WAY you do this is the key. Open, honest, and diplomatic dialogue is important for developing healthy relationships that create mutual benefit. To be genuinely MUTUAL, everyone (YOU included) must be considered.

Think about it. But more importantly do something about!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Are You Misspending Your Life?

We are all faced with a particular dilemma each and every day: Not enough resources to accomplish the things we want to do. Every day, we face choices. Each day, we make decisions.

Are you who you always wanted to be - living the life you always wanted to lead? Are you getting the outcomes you hoped for most?

With every tick of the clock, we invest a second of our life that we can never get back. We have limited time, and other resources: Energy (you have to sleep sometime), Money (we always would prefer more), Knowledge (what have you learned lately?), Skills (have you made the effort to master the abilities you need most?)...the list goes on.

Interestingly, there's a similarity among people that have their act together. Almost all have had a significant emotional/life-threatening experience (whether themselves or a loved one) that motivated them to identify what really, deeply, profoundly, personally matters to them in life. These foundational truths become the priorities for every decision they make. Being aligned internally creates the integrity we all see from the outside.

There is no reason to wait for a life-threatening experience! Commit to investing the time and effort to be introspective. Ponder what makes you unique. Consider what you value most in life. These will direct you toward your purpose. Once you have those "north stars" to guide you, you can determine how to maximize (say "yes" to) the activities that create your dreams and minimize (say "no" to) those activities that do not contribute towards your unique purpose.

Don't squander another minute on behaviors that don't get you the life you desire most. You don't get a second chance. And your first/only chance is slipping away every moment you delay...

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Proactively Reactive?

I had a very interesting discussion with a senior leadership team I've been coaching. Like many of us, they are in an industry that fluctuates wildly based on changes in the economy, technology, competition, and marketplace preferences. There were some strong opinions about being "proactive" versus "reactive".

The common thinking is that being proactive always trumps being reactive.

As is so often the case, common thinking is wrong.

Don't get me wrong, being proactive is a very good thing under the right circumstances. The problem is that many leaders mistake being reactive as a bad thing. Like anything else, the truth is that a person can react well or poorly.

Reacting merely comes from experiencing something that is unexpected. Given that Life is constantly changing and we can't control everything, the most effective approach is to be able to react well when the need arises. Yes, be proactive with those things that we can influence in advance (which should be much of the time), but be open to adapting/reacting when the situation warrants it.

In a way, it is a lot like the Leadership versus Management argument. The truth is that both are valuable skills - assuming they are used properly as needed. Lead well whenever you can. Manage well those things that need to be managed.

Just do them well - regardless - and you'll be fine.

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Nice Is NOT Enough!

It seems that people have become more focused on service as a competitive edge. That is good. The problem is that, compared to proven world-class companies, they are going about it all wrong.

To truly provide superior service, you need to provide more than just niceties. Training on how to smile and say please and thank you will not create an engaging, value-added experience for your customers. In addition to developing a caring relationship with with them, you have to provide legitimate expertise that helps them accomplish whatever they can't do on their own. (Think about why they are looking for your products/services in the first place!)

What the most successful know: It's not either/'s both/and.

Not only is service you provide critical, but the way you provide that service is critical as well. Pretty much anyone can provide one. It's only those who can succeed in both aspects will have the competitive edge and triumph in their industry.

So, do an informal assessment today (preferably with your team...and your customers!) - How does your product/service compare to your customer's expectations/wants? How does your offerings compare to their other options (your competition)? How does the experience (how you serve them) compare to their expectations/wants? How does it compare to the other options?

If you want to exceed all their expectations and earn their loyalty, you'll need to deliver excellence in all aspects of their experience...with both relationship AND expertise.

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!