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New Energy

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“Thoughts create a new heaven, a new firmament, a new source of energy, from which new arts flow.” - Paracelsus, a Swiss German Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general philosopher who lived from 1493 to 1541.

Today we are going to inspire you with new energy.

Have you been lethargic? If you are one of us up here in the North East, fed up with and drained by this awful winter, there is good news ahead. The blackened snow banks are melting and this spring-like weather is giving us a new start.

Creating new energy in your work is important. We otherwise tend towards getting bored, stale or burnt out if we keep doing the same things the same ways. New energy also inspires people around us to work more effectively on the goals and projects we share with them.

I invite you to look anew at your situation. What’s a new way of looking at the work you do? If you are in a role of transformational leadership, look at the people whom you lead and ask them if there are new directions you can take them.

You cannot do this on your own. Ask people, “What’s something new we could be considering if fear or other obstacles weren’t holding us back?” “How can we cut a new path without destroying the solid foundation that works?” Getting into an inquiry and collaborative, innovative dialog with your team will give you a burst of zest as you come up with new ideas. Then start implementing the best of those ideas.

If you are in a role of business development or in sales, what’s the new vitality you can bring to your relationship with potential clients? What’s something you haven’t shared, either professionally or personally, that could make the difference between them hiring your company versus the competition?

What’s something new or refreshing you can do with existing clients that will show them that you have an extra level of passion for their satisfaction? That new kind of conversation will bring you new vitality, energy and affinity in all your working relationships.

And, what if you are on a path of career transition and are feeling a little stuck? You’ve been trying all sorts of ways to get your resume noticed and it hasn’t created any waves. What if you bring some new energy to the work you’ve been doing? Spruce up your resume with a new format, or layout, or add a picture.
What new level of energy can you bring to the game of helping other people in your network? What kind of new questions or energy can you explore with recruiters who may present you for new opportunities as they arise?

Bringing in new energy will make you feel great about what you are up to.

So what about you? What situations are you now inspired to breathe in new energy?

Inclusion vs Autonomy

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I start with two quotes today. Unlike my usual Thoughtful Kickstarts, these are not famous pearls of timeless wisdom from past sages. But they will sound familiar to you:

1. “Leave me alone so I can get my work done.” as said by practically every worker; and

2. “How come I was excluded from that meeting?” probably exclaimed by someone you know at some point.

Today we discuss two elements a leader has to manage to get the most out of the team - fostering autonomy and including people. Whether you are in a position of transformational leadership, in a business development role, or if you are exploring leadership in your next career transition, it helps to understand the necessity of these two opposing energies. There is a balance to be struck for each individual.

Inclusion is key. Important information and ideas have to be exchanged in a timely way and in language that is clear. This means keeping people in the loop and keeping lines of communication open. It is easy to find out if this is being done. Ask people if they are getting the emails and the invitations to meetings that they should be getting. Ask if they are feeling excluded or passed over and how that is affecting their work and their working relationships. Support them in making the connections and changes that need to be made. See what reminders need to be sent to keep people in the flow so that teamwork is vibrant in your organization.

Meanwhile, recognize that some people are better off left alone at times so they can keep their nose to the grindstone. It is a little harder to recognize who these workers are. They may not speak up to say that they are not needed at this meeting or in that email chain. So, it might be up to you to ask people what are some situations in which you can reduce the amount of communication they are getting.

Where would it be more efficient for us to give you a couple of bullet points of some of the key facts and let you go off and do your thing? People are very motivated when they are trusted to do what they do best and left alone more often to do their work.

How about you? Who are some key people in your world with whom you are inspired to explore inclusion and autonomy?

Leading with Clarity of Purpose

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“Favor comes because for a brief moment in the great space of human
change and progress some general human purpose finds in him a
satisfactory embodiment.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Today we explore the impact of purpose on motivation, inspiration and culture.

Career analyst Daniel Pink, Al Gore’s former speechwriter, now New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author says that purpose at the work place is a key to motivation. People, who are paid a decent salary, are more likely to do thoughtful, innovative and more productive work if they know why they do what they do. As communal, tribe-oriented beings, we are usually inspired to contribute more powerfully when we have a sense of purpose to our own work and to the energy we expend in collaborating.

While I invite you to consider having a clear sense of purpose about why you want to produce results yourself, I also invite you to consider as a transformational leader how to evoke a sense of purpose when developing the culture of your organization. Begin thinking about how you engage people in knowing and feeling the reasons why they contribute to the organization? What are the values and qualities that people will contribute if they give their all, believing it will make a difference?
You can start by asking people these questions:

• What is in it for you if you do a great job?
• What values do you stand for?
• What uniquely valuable qualities do you think you bring to the company when you’re doing your best job?
 Sense of humor? Camaraderie? Deep analysis or detail orientation? Sense of urgency? Fun?
o What do you contribute to a team that inspires everyone to do better, be more productive and/or work more innovatively?
• How do you bring your best self to the organization?
• What would unleash your passion?

Having conversations about any or all of these themes will create a powerful new clarity of purpose for you and your team. Your relationships will flourish as well.
So what about you? What kind of questions will you ask your team to inspire them to an inspiring purpose?

Your Own Private Idaho

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“You're living in your own Private Idaho
Living in your own Private Idaho
Underground like a wild potato.” The B-52s, a new wave band formed in Athens, Georgia in 1976.

Today I invite you to get out of your own private Idaho. “Get out of that state” as the song exclaims - meaning that state of mind that limits you.

This B-52’s 1980s hit seems to be just a silly dance song with strange lyrics. But it has a powerful message about getting out of your own limited space and trying something new.

I did just that two Saturday nights ago by seeing the band at the beautifully restored concert hall, The Capitol in Port Chester.

I’ve been a musician virtually my whole life – at least 45 of my 50 years on the planet. That includes 12 years of classical piano training and over 35 years of playing in bands. I confess to being something of a musical snob and I’m very picky about the concerts I go to. I have a strong, deep seated preference for groups with lush harmonic qualities and thoughtfully crafted lyrics. The B-52’s would be at the bottom of my list of bands I would want to see.

However, I was invited by a dear friend and decided to have some fun with it. And fun I had, along with some exciting discoveries. If you have been reading my blog you know I am not a stranger to having fun at the work place. Fun reduces stress, cuts absenteeism, gives people purpose and actually improves productivity. Fun is a phenomenal energy to harness properly in the work place.

And the B-52’s certainly figured out how to do that with their careers – just goofing around, with weird lyrics and making jokes. Having fun is what they do professionally. That’s all. And they have had a terrific career for being authentic about it. They roused the crowd in Port Chester that night, and while they did, they reminded me and inspired me to always go beyond the frontier of limiting thoughts and beliefs. Let’s go where energy abounds. Planet Claire perhaps!

So I got out of my own “Private Idaho” that night and I invite you to look for yourself in your career, in your role of transformational leadership or in business development. You may not need executive coaching to figure out that it’s time to blast off!

So how about you? What new and inspiring action can you take on this week that will be a breakthrough out of a Private Idaho in which you’re stuck and out into an empowering direction?

The Next Level of Leadership

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“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – the late Warren Bennis, American author widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership studies.

Today we are talking about the next level of leadership as it relates to succession planning. I’ll be presenting more on this subject to Chief Executive Officers and owners of family businesses on.Feb 10 at the Harvard Club in NYC for the Wilson Conferences "The Liquidity Event".

If you are a business owner or a business executive, you know that there will eventually be a transition in ownership. You can create sustainability and a greater value for the enterprise by grooming the next tier of leaders. Sustainability in this context is securing within the culture of the company a set of guiding principles and conversations that lead to unbreakable growth orientation. That may be important to you if your financial exit strategy includes a residual payout or annuity. You may also feel strongly about leaving a powerful legacy for your business.

There is no right way to do this. Instead, you will be consistently exploring, reading, learning and conversing with people who have a stake in the business. Search for, build on and create strong commitments to the core values of your business. Some of these values could include integrity, innovation, respect for community and high standards of excellence.

When you put time and attention into preparing yourself and others for your transition to the next level, you also create a freedom for what’s next in your life. You might want to immediately explore how to apply all the things you’ve learned having become the great leader you are now. Consider conversations with an executive coach or a career coach, even if it seems that your next transition would be out of what is traditionally considered a career and is commonly known as retirement. To stay vibrant, healthy and fulfilled as a human being, you need to find a new purpose and set of commitments for the next chapter in your life. There’s a new vision for you to create for yourself to turn into reality as a leader and as a person. So what about you? What is the legacy you are leaving behind and how will it inspire people?

Heck Yes - Trusting Your Instincts

“We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. … And the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct. It is a good instinct if you don’t distort it and pervert it.” The late Martin Luther King, civil rights fighter.

Building on last week’s blog on decision making, today we explore the instinctual decisions we make in any day-to-day moment.

Go see “Selma,” the film about Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership of the civil rights movement. I had the distinct pleasure and honor of seeing this amazing film on Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday last week. One scene was particularly riveting and timelessly relevant.

At the first attempt to march across the bridge from Selma to the Alabama capital of Montgomery, where George Wallace’s governance was thwarting the black population’s legal right to vote, men, women and children, were viciously beaten by state troopers. But King won a court ruling making the march legal and the activists attempted the march again. Halfway across that same bridge, state troopers stood aside to allow the marchers across.

It looked as if the activists were going to have a free pass. However, King paused, contemplated the moment and knelt in prayer. Without a word, he stood up and walked back through the crowd effectively cancelling the march.

His instincts, he explained later, were that while they might have been able to proceed for that moment, their route would have been shut off from food and resources, potentially causing more harm to his community than a brutal attack. That intuitive and forward thinking decision may have saved lives and allowed the movement to build the extra levels of support it needed.
Sometimes we have decisions to make and in the moment we must follow our instincts. My good friend and fellow weekly audio blogger and attorney extrairdubaure , Sabra Sasson, told me recently, “If a decision you are making doesn’t feel like “Heck Yes!”, then don’t bother.”

Imagine your transformational leadership career, your business development efforts and in your personal life if every decision you make is either a “Heck Yes!” or “Heck No!”. If your attitude is between those two convictions, then follow my blog from last week to do the research on bigger decisions. For now, consider taking fear out of the decision making equation and begin practicing getting in touch with your intuition so all of your decisions are “Heck Yes!” or “Heck No!”.

So what about you? What kind of life will you create by only saying, “Yes,” when you can say, “Heck Yes!”?

Making Powerful Decisions

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In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. - Theodore Roosevelt
Being decisive is key in every aspect of your business, and in life in general. Whether you are a transformational leader, or a C-suite executive, or a business development professional or whether you are looking to make that big decision of a career change, it’s wise to recognize how powerful a decision maker you are. Every day we make hundreds of decisions and over time many that change our lives.
If you have a big decision to face and are finding yourself challenged, consider these steps:
1. Set a deadline for when you will make that decision so you can frame up the rest of the decision making process. It’s motivating and generative to begin with the end in mind.
2. Organize and gather information and insights about possible aspects surrounding the decision and feelings you have about it. Do some research alone and some thinking in conversation with people who you feel connected with. Gather and organize notes, knowing that you’ve got a decision making process in place. You will feel unstuck. Keep working on research and conversation.
3. On the day you have to make your decision, explore and review all of your information. You may want to create a representation of each of your options and display them on a table or the floor. As you move your attention to each option, check in on how you feel and the choice that gives you the most energy. Consider the question, “What is my best next move?”.
4. You will feel your answer clearly if you’ve done complete work. If not, then your best next move might be to bump your deadline (it’s YOUR life after all) by a week or so, and fill in any missing pieces. Clarity unfolds along the way.
When you’re ready and you’re clear, you simply choose, commit and start or continue planning, -with a big smile, of course.
Then it’s up to you to make that decision work. That’s what we do every day in being creative and resourceful.
Or as Dr. Phil McGraw from Oprah’s gang would say, “Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.”
So what about you, what big decision will you make powerfully this week, this month or this year?

Keeping Cool As a Leader

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“Calmness is the cradle of power,” the late American novelist and poet Josiah Gilbert Holland who also wrote under the pseudonym Timothy Titcomb.
Great leaders stay calm and confident in a crisis.
For example, a client of mine, recently on vacation in Costa Rica, got stuck in a small, steamy hot elevator with fourteen members of his family. They were afraid that they were going to run out of air. My client initially told everybody to calm down. But telling people to calm down just reminds them that there is something to panic about. People react to their circumstances more than they react to directives.
Then my client pulled himself together and said, “I’ve got this. I know what to do. I’ve been in this situation before.”
And by establishing himself as the calm confident leader, he actually caused a calm in the elevator. He took action, a small step, prying the doors open a bit. He asked his daughter to press and hold the bell because it wouldn’t ring unless someone was holding the button.
He delegated jobs to other people in pairs to help them keep each other busy. This is especially important to remember when you have a crowd to manage.
When a man from the hotel responded to the alarm, my client asked him for his shoe. This helped because the whole family was wearing flip-flops. With a solid shoe, they were able to hold the outer door open to let in cold fresh air until help came.
Later, the family acknowledged my client for saving the day.
He instead gave credit to every one of his family for their calm state of being in the crisis. They kept the calm, he said. There is a Chinese proverb that says great leaders make people feel like they did it themselves.
To summarize:
1. Establish yourself as the calm, confident leader.
2. Keep people busy. Give them jobs. They feel some sense of control in a situation that would otherwise feel out of control.
3. Give credit to people for their role in the situation.
So what about you? How can you bring calm confidence to your current challenges so you can attract the support you need to reach your goals?

Starting the Year Boldly

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“You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.” Kahlil Gibran “The Prophet”

Today we are going to help you kick off this new year powerfully. Let’s get 2015 off to a great start and ensure extraordinary success everyday. Here are some tips:

1. Set bold goals. If you haven’t already set your goals for this year, well it’s a little late but not too late. Find time this week to reflect on your past year, including your setbacks and losses, any consistencies you should be proud of and, of course, your biggest victories and profess. Then set bold goals for this year. Stretch beyond what you have done before, beyond what you think you can do while staying within the scope of what you think is do-able. If you have bold goals every week to achieve, you’ll be motivating yourself everyday.

2. Set an empowering context. Set a theme for the year. Maybe this is the year you double your income. Or maybe this is the year of love and adventure. Or this will be the year of wealth creation. What words represent your values and inspire you? For example, some of mine are integrity, fun and prosperity. Write yours onto a goal sheet and look at them everyday for inspiration.

3. Set up structures. These will support your goals and your year’s theme. For example, you could have a daily or weekly reminder to review your goals. Perhaps you’ll set up appointments with people early this year to talk through your challenges and help you achieve your goals. These may be with financial advisors or cash flow specialist or a personal life coach or business coach. If you set up the structures that will support your goals or your theme, you will be more likely to celebrate your goals every night.

So what about you, what are you going to do to set up your year for extraordinary success?

The Pursuit of Sustainable Success

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Problems, setbacks and challenges are a part of life and a certainty in business. It’s important to put a structure in place that builds resilience in the face of problems. Without resilience you are more susceptible to having your results and your happiness at the mercy of circumstances which are always changing.
We all do and we all will encounter problems in our pursuit of sustainable success, whether you are a transformational leader of a growth-oriented company, a business development professional working with clients or seeking to advance or transition in your career. A person building a sustainable career or business continues to innovate, grow and thrive through the ups and downs of a changing world. You don’t want to be a flash in the pan.

Here are a few ways to be consistently resilient:

1. Think of your issues as challenges. Challenges bring out the best in you. Finding the solution to a problem is an exciting opportunity.

2. Expect setbacks and problems. Embrace them. After a brief period of being upset, remember that it doesn’t serve you or anyone else to stay upset. If you have something unexpected or unpleasant to deal with, prepare to gather the facts, and re-read item #1 in this blog.

3. Gather the facts. Take the time to really make sure you know precisely what you’re dealing with. Sometimes problems go away when we find out the simplicity of something missing or broken, that when replaced or repaired, does restore workability. For example, a client of mine once turned around a major pricing issue by recognizing that her company’s customers were more interested in bundled pricing than they were about component prices. She led the sales team to create new conversations to customize product bundles, which deepened the relationships with customers. The results include increased revenue, market share and profit.

4. Turn challenges into games. Be a leader with a spirit of sportsmanship. Your contagious optimistic attitude will inspire energy, innovation and teamwork. And have faith in the possibility of winning. You and your team are infinitely creative and resourceful. Empower yourself and your team in that confidence and you’ll see fabulous performance.

5. Be crystal clear about who will be responsible for what tasks in solving the problem. As you take the time to solve the problem thoroughly, don’t’ go it alone. Also, have an eye for, and conversations about, putting systems and structures in place to prevent the same issue from happening again.

There are additional emotional elements to being resilient, but it ultimately comes down to remembering that although you’ve had challenges in the past, you must be doing something right.
Believing that you and your team will prevail goes a long way in good times and in tough times.

So what about you? What are you struggling with that you can handle better with a powerful attitude. How can you to overcome your next challenge in a way that is sustainable. What’s an issue you can convert into a winnable game?

If you’d like to discuss anything along these lines, give me a call – I’d love to explore any matter with you.

Welcome! The purpose of this blog-cast is to provide thoughtful perspectives on leadership, team dynamics and peak performance for leaders and top producers. You'll start every week with savvy, upbeat and focused insights every Monday (read and/or listen) to produce exciting results by Friday (and beyond). Enjoy!

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