Food For Thought Friday

💡 What have you learned about yourself that you are committed to improving?

💡 You don’t need permission to choose you and what’s better for your well-being.

💡 Life will give you experiences to help you with your evolution. It knows what you need when you need it, and when you’re prepared to receive it.

💡 Whose speaking on your behalf? How accurate is their version of the things stated?

💡 Those on the sidelines are often more opinionated. Do you want a cheerleader or someone that really “gets” you?

💡 If you expect a lot, give a lot more.

💡 No matter how kind and loving you are, someone will find a reason not to like you. That’s ok. Do you.

💡 “No” is an underused word. Be bold enough to say it and know when to apply it to your life.

💡 Show respect whether earned or not.

💡 Leaning into vulnerability has its rewards.

Pick Your Battles Wisely

Life involves a series of challenges and choices. It only makes sense to choose your battles wisely.

We often dispute insignificant things when there are more important matters that beg for our attention.

No matter how well-meaning you are fighting the battles you think are of paramount importance, sometimes the battle is won when you back up and let situations run their course.

By doing so, you will be far more effective in getting your point across.

Fighting battles for the mere challenge is a waste of time and energy.

If the world came to an end today, would those battles have the same significance?

If the battle is not beneficial, and the stakes are high pending the outcome, avoid the conflict altogether.

Life rarely goes the exact way we may have in mind, and there will always be people who disagree with you or do things differently.

Reevaluate your priorities and understand that there will be battles not worth arguing over, battles you can’t do anything about, and battles that are frankly none of your business.

Decision Making

Decision-making is a critical life skill. Yet, the vast amount of information flowing to us often causes us to take shortcuts in our information processing.

It is human nature to process information in a way that supports our own beliefs. This is not inherently wrong as it helps us think faster and more efficiently. The downside is, we often speak with confidence about things we don’t fully understand.

Let’s explore some of the cognitive biases to be mindful of in our decision-making.

1. Confirmation Bias – Tendency to favor information that reinforces what we believe. You hear from several people that walking is better than jogging. Therefore, you’ll be more inclined to read articles that confirm this statement rather than articles offering a different opinion.

2. Anchoring Bias – Tendency to be overly influenced by the first piece of information obtained, no matter how reliable it is, and using it as a baseline for comparison. While shopping for a vehicle, the salesperson quotes you a price of $50,000. You return the following week and negotiate a purchase price of $40,000. This seems like a great deal considering the original price quoted. However, if $30,000 is the initial quote, $40,000 wouldn’t look like the best price after all.

3. Bandwagon Effect (“groupthink”) – Tendency for people to adopt a behavior or attitude based on what others believe regardless of the underlying evidence. Voting for the most popular candidate in an election because you want to be part of the majority.

4. Halo Effect – Tendency to be influenced by previous judgments of performance and personality. Assuming a good-looking person is also a good person overall.

5. Availability Bias – Tendency of people relying on information that comes to mind quickly and easily. Fear of a shark attack because you hear a lot about it in the news while you’re more likely to succumb to heart disease than being attacked by a shark.

6. Ostrich Effect – Tendency for people to avoid information they perceive as potentially unpleasant. Instead of dealing with a situation, some people prefer to bury their heads in the sand, like ostriches. Avoiding relevant feedback that could help you get a better understanding of a situation.

7. Recency Effect – Tendency to remember the first and last items in a series while finding it challenging to remember the middle. You’re in a meeting, and the speaker is explaining an important concept. This person speaks relatively fast, and you are unable to capture everything shared. As a result, you notice you only took notes of the first few words and last few words.

8. Choice-Supportive Bias – Tendency to remember our choices as better than they were, as we tend to over-focus on the benefits we chose versus the options we did not choose. Attributing more positive features to a favorite brand in favor of brands we have not experienced.

9. Fundamental Attribution Error – Tendency to assume a person’s actions usually reflect who they are as an individual. Assuming the reason a driver cuts us off is that they are selfish or careless when this individual may be dealing with an emergency.

10. Outcome Bias – Tendency to judge the quality of a decision made primarily based on how things turned out rather than analyzing factors that led to the decision. Making all of your decisions this week based on flipping a coin. If most of the outcomes are positive, you may think this is a great way of making decisions.

11. Illusory Correlation Bias – Tendency to inaccurately link an action to an effect. Believing that wearing a specific jersey will give your favored team a higher chance of winning.

12. Dunning Kruger Effect – Tendency to overestimate our competence in a specific area. You commit to learning a new language and learn the basics fast. Yet, you realize more progress is needed to become fluent. On the other hand, your friend studied the same language, learned a few words, and overestimates their ability to speak the language.

Keeping these biases in mind can considerably improve our ability to think critically.

Source: Adapted from ehl.edu / Graphic: Visual Capitalist

Motivation

There is no shortage of motivational messaging.

But, motivation extends beyond temporary stimulation that lasts up until the moment you scroll past a message, stop reading, or someone stops speaking and inspiring.

Motivation comes from a personal belief and desire to accept responsibility for your life and take the necessary action to achieve the things you seek.

Periods of frustration often reflect an urge to succeed in some area of your life.

By understanding what frustrates you, you’ll better understand what fulfills you.

The message behind your frustration is priming you to make a difference in your life by creating new and meaningful value.

That’s embedded motivation.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Who are you becoming?

💡 Indecision is a decision.

💡 The right time is now. Do it now!

💡 Resist the temptation to make excuses.

💡 Sometimes it’s ok to say nothing.

💡 The truth is often uncomfortable.

💡 Ask for advice versus an opinion. One creates a partnership, the other produces a critic.

💡 Help someone who can’t help you back.

💡 Overthinking is a problem. Failure to think is doom. Exercise balance.

💡 Remember, active minds have constraints.

Limiting Beliefs

What is the danger of limiting beliefs? We sell ourselves short without trying.

Let’s look at some limiting beliefs.

“I don’t have a good memory.”

Saying we don’t have a good memory is a convenient excuse to forget. The solution is finding an optimal way to store information in our brains.

“There is too much information out there.”

Many people spend a significant amount of time reading commentary on a position they hold – never realizing how much they are missing.

Others realize that reading everything is unsustainable and tend to overvalue information they’ve spent a great amount of time consuming.

Instead of reading everything, identify the key variables that can impact your progress.

“All the good ideas are taken.”

Companies have been starting and competing with different ideas, variations, and strategies for centuries.

“We need to move first.”

The answer is not as black and white as this statement. The iPhone wasn’t first, it was better. We have to break each situation down into its component parts and see what’s possible.

“I can’t do that; it’s never been done before.”

Think Elon Musk. A better bet is to look at what could be and plan for that.

Our thinking improves when we stop making assumptions and subscribing to limiting beliefs.

Adapted: FS Brain Food No. 396 | Photo: Tony Robbins

Because I Said So

Following someone else’s ideology is mentally easier than thinking for ourself.

Who remembers hearing as a child “Because I said so?”

As adults, it turns into “Because that’s how it works. “

We hear this often enough, we stop asking questions.

Or, if we reject dogma, we are often viewed as a problem.

First-principles reasoning (breaking down complicated problems and generating original solutions) cuts through dogma and helps us see the world as it is and what is possible.

One way to establish first principles is through Socratic Questioning. This disciplined questioning process helps establish truths, reveal underlying assumptions, and separate knowledge from ignorance. Here’s how:

1. Clarify Your Thinking – Why do I think this?

2. Challenge Assumptions – How do I know this is true?

3. Find Evidence – What are the sources?

4. Consider Alternative Perspectives – What might others think?

5. Consequences and Implications – What if I am wrong?

6. Question the Original Question – What conclusions can I draw from the reasoning process?

If we never learn to take something apart, test the assumptions, and reconstruct it, we end up trapped in the way things have always been done.

Adapted: FS Brain Food No. 396 | Photo: Control Life for Success

Self-Beliefs

The most significant judgment you make each day starts with looking in the mirror.

Its reflection does not lie, and breaking the mirror does not change who you are.

We spend countless hours maintaining our outward appearance when we should be doing more to develop our inner character.

We all have a mental picture of who we think we are.

Naturally, there is a part of us that would like to believe we are smarter, more attractive, giving, and morally better than those around us, but these self-beliefs can often expose us to weaknesses in other areas.

When we become confused about our self-identity, we open the door for problems to enter.

Until we understand who we are, we will not comprehend where we belong.

We also become stagnant in our growth when surrounding ourselves with people that confirm what we believe to be our self-identity.

Stepping outside of our comfort zone helps shatter the assumptions we have made of ourselves and reveal areas of improvement.

Isn’t it time we shed the labels of who we think we should be and gain a clear sense of who we are?

Food For Thought Friday

💡 You have to get over living in the temporary shelter of your own mind.

💡 When your heart is in a safe place, you can live anywhere.

💡 The deeper you dig, the more real it gets.

💡 Trust is one thing that changes everything.

💡 If you don’t know, just say you don’t know.

💡 Growth escapes those stuck in doing things the same old way.

💡 What happens to you and through you, outshines what happens to you.

💡 Miracles are “crazy” to those without inner vision.

💡 Substance is the key to life.

💡 Be thankful for your triggers. They reveal areas where you are not free.

Word Remix

How do our words help us connect with others?

What we say and how we say it can influence how we are received and elicit powerful reactions.

While an extensive vocabulary is helpful, our communication with others should be simple, clear, and understandable.

Take into consideration that there are five generations in the workplace, team members who may speak other languages, and varying education levels.

To master the language of leadership and human connection, we must be able to adapt our communication style when necessary.

The words we use at work, in conversation, or feedback is paramount.

Which would you prefer?

▶ What went wrong? [or] What worked?

▶ Why did you do that? [or] Help me understand your decision.

▶ Yes, but. [or] Yes, and.

▶ That will not work. [or] Let’s discuss if we can make that option work.

▶ I should have. [or] Next time.

▶ Do you understand? [or] Are we on the same page?

Effective communication is a critical component of our effectiveness as leaders.

The words we choose can either empower or tear down, inspire or paralyze, connect or disengage.

Generalizations

My daughter and I recently had a conversation about her plans after graduating from high school.

She referred to the Class of 2022 being the last graduating class of its kind.

Naturally, I wanted to know what this meant.

She described the freshmen and sophomores in her school as being a “different breed” and gave examples of their lack of maturity.

I found this to be quite amusing in consideration of my parenting struggles.

We’ve been working towards limiting the use of generalizations and words such as:

😬 Everyone

😬 Always

😬 Never

It is not uncommon to encounter similar generalizations made in the workplace.

Imagine someone from your team stating that “everyone is upset with the recent change.”

👉 What is the risk of making hasty decisions with insufficient information?

The best approach is to ask questions such as:

❍ Who is everyone?

❍ How many people does that include?

❍ Why did they choose you as a messenger?

❍ What is the reason they are upset?

Exercising caution before respeonding can be the difference between success or failure in your communication.

Gathering more information will also help you discover the best course of action.

👉 What are some of your experiences with generalizations?

Food For Thought Friday

💡 What’s your expectation for today?

💡 What you don’t know can be your greatest strength. It enables you to do things differently than everyone else.

💡 Respect the feelings of others even when it differs from yours.

💡 Know when to move in silence. Less tell. More show.

💡 Avoid spreading negativity. Treat it like the noise it is.

💡 Self-awareness is half the battle.

💡 Do it to make a difference, not to make an impression.

💡 Solving problems with money is the least creative solution.

💡 People often understand what they want to hear, not what you mean.

💡 There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you had enough.

Behaviors Are Contagious

There’s more to life than good or bad.

For example, if a wealthy person is miserable and a poor person is happy. Is the wealth or lack thereof good or bad?

So much of our stress comes from labeling the challenges we encounter throughout our lives.

💡 The “why” of life has infinite answers.

When life doesn’t go as planned, we as human beings tend to give more weight to the negative.

For example, you just had the most exquisite meal at a highly rated restaurant. As you walk to your car, you step in a pile of dog poop. What happens next?

You are in control of the way you look at life.

Choose wisely.

Behaviors are contagious.

Creating New Stories

I came across an article this weekend that touched on facing today’s fears, living today’s dreams, creating new stories, and understanding ourselves. The lessons that follow help to move us to those ends.

1. If you want to change the world, you have to fall in love with what already is. The same goes for changing yourself.

2. Listen to your doubts. They not only teach you of your fears but also your wisdom.

3. It’s okay to claim all is well amid doubt and confusion and to be happy despite challenges.

4. Your feelings are your choice. What manifests after may not be. Choose wisely.

5. What you say does not determine your honesty, but why you say it.

6. Never decide until you have to.

7. Take full responsibility for your life and never forget to have fun.

8. Always see work as play and play as important. Soon you won’t know the difference between the two.

9. The trick to being in the right place at the right time is knowing you already are.

10. The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living them at once, however humbly, to any degree you can.

Source: Mike Dooley

Pet Peeves and Over Used Phrases

Pet peeves. We all have them. Here are some ways they play out in the workplace.

🙄 Adopting a “We have always done it this way” attitude.

🙄 Failure to make decisions.

🙄 Micro-managing.

🙄 People not delivering on their promises.

🙄 Knowingly, overstating capabilities.

🙄 Being assigned a goal with no authority or resources to achieve it.

🙄 Not responsive to calls or emails.

🙄 Leaders who hold staff accountable, but not themselves.

What’s one of your workplace frustrations?

Photo: managersorbit

Food For Thought Friday

💡 What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Bet on yourself.

💡 Busy is a decision. Make time your friend.

💡 There are some rules you cannot break – your personal standards.

💡 Perspectives change everything

💡 There is pleasure in helping others grow. If you’re there to help, you’re there to win.

💡 Decisions made in anger can yield a lifetime of regret.

💡 A good mood goes a long way.

💡 Let go to get what you want.

💡Peace of mind plays an important role in our daily lives.

💡 Never trust appearances.

Providing All The Answers

My daughter is taking classes virtually, and I am working remotely.

As a result, I noticed a pattern developing as it pertains to her schoolwork.

She was asking me questions every five minutes (exaggeration) about something she could have easily looked up.

I put a stop to that quickly.

What is the risk as leaders if we consistently provide all the answers for our team?

🔻 It shifts responsibility and their sense of ownership.

🔻 It hinders thinking and creativity.

🔻 It robs them of the opportunity to grow.

Naturally, leaders should guide their teams. Here are some ways to do that.

✔ Provide input for the options presented.

✔ Ask open-ended questions that do not embed the solution.

✔ Identify if someone else is better suited to answer the question.

Leaders often feel that they must have all the answers.

Successful leadership is about motivating people to do things that they otherwise would not have done.

By resisting the urge to provide an immediate solution, we create an environment filled with more trust and collaboration.

Why?

Why do we tend to take greater responsibility for our successes than we do our failures?

Why do we overestimate our positive qualities and underestimate our negative ones?

Why do we cling on to messages like “you messed up” versus “I appreciate you”?

Why do we look for the negative even when good things are happening?

Why do we talk the talk but don’t walk the walk?

Why do we complain about the monotony of our lives yet choose no course for correction?

Why is it the more connected we are, the more isolated we feel?

What are some of your thought provoking Why’s?

Food For Thought Friday

💡 There’s more to discover beneath the surface. Dig deeper.

💡 You need people who can tell you what you don’t want to hear.

💡 Be the best version of your authentic self.

💡 The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, not someone else.

💡 Avoiding reality is to your detriment.

💡 If you have life, you have purpose.

💡 How do you know it’s working?

💡 Discover the genius hibernating in your brain.

💡 Imagination unleashed goes beyond the limitations of the past.

💡 Quiet, calm deliberation disentangles every knot.

Karma

Karma is a B$&@! How many times have we heard this one?

Karma in Sanskrit means action. For every action, there is a reaction.

In business, this shows up in the way we:

👉 See ourselves.

👉 Treat others.

👉 Handle our resources.

👉 Develop our teams.

The Twelve Laws of Karma offers wise words for work and life.

𝟏. Cause and Effect – What you sow is what you reap.

𝟐. Creation – What we focus on is what we create.

𝟑. Humility – Accept what is, let go of what was, and make changes towards what will be.

𝟒. Growth – Our growth can happen over any circumstance.

𝟓. Responsibility – Our lives are of our own doing, nothing else.

𝟔. Connection – Everything in the Universe is connected, both large and small.

𝟕. Focus – One cannot direct attention beyond a single task.

𝟖. Hospitality and Giving – Demonstrating selflessness shows our true intentions.

𝟗. Change – History repeats itself unless changed.

𝟏𝟎. Here and Now – The present moment is all we have.

𝟏𝟏. Patience and Reward – A patient mindset will reap the highest reward.

𝟏𝟐. Significance and Inspiration – The best reward is one that makes an impact.

Source: Michael M. Reuter (TML)

Food For Thought Friday

💡 We are what we remember.

💡 The most valuable thing you have is your attention.

💡 You can’t prepare for the future if you don’t remember the past.

💡 The great obstacle in life is often ourselves.

💡 Who are You? What do you do? Who do you do it for? Why do you do it?

💡 Your direction is more important than your speed.

💡 Failing is a byproduct of trying to succeed

💡 How are you helping others grow?

💡 Everybody is an expert in something.

💡 All experiences are individual no matter how similar they may seem.

Image: Fabrik Brands

Core Qualities

Our core qualities are effortless. It’s partly nature and nurture. They color what we see, how we behave, our interactions, etc. If we can express these core qualities in our work and daily life, we probably feel good. In actuality, it may be difficult not to exude these qualities.

What comes along with our core qualities? Consequences.

⚠ The first consequence is our pitfall. Too much of something good can have an adverse effect. If determination is our core quality, pushiness may be our pitfall.

⚠ The second is our challenge. Not being pushy requires patience. Interestingly, we often look for our challenge outside of ourselves (E.g., A patient partner).

⚠ The third is too much of our challenge becomes our allergy. Some people are so incredibly patient it may come across as passiveness. Determined people are allergic to passiveness.

The Core Quadrant can help us understand our idiosyncrasies.

For example, if your child or mate is your challenge, the consequence is that they are also your allergy.

Being able to identify and look beyond what unnerves us helps us see the beauty and value of others.

Adapted: Daniel Ofman – YouTube

Speak Up

How often do we say what we think?

What is the risk if we do?

Many people feel they will be judged or face consequences if they say something that goes against popular opinion.

So they offer up something politically correct or adopt a code of silence.

👉 How does this play out in the workplace?

Imagine having a manager who notoriously assigns pressure-filled deadlines. Team members are stressed but are hesitant to speak up because the manager’s philosophy is those who cannot handle the pressure don’t belong in the role. Silence makes the situation worse. Team members feel powerless, and complaining becomes commonplace.

When we don’t speak up, it can give the appearance of approval.

There are certainly times when we should be silent, but other times when we need to get out of our comfort zones and say something.

Adapted: FS Brain Food No. 388

Commitment

Dear Leaders and Managers,

Are you committed to creating a culture of trust and collaboration?

If you answered yes, when was the last time you asked your team members:

✔ What are two to three things I can do differently to improve my leadership?

✔ How can I make our working relationship more effective?

✔ How are things going for you since we last spoke?

✔ What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?

✔ How can I support you?

✔ How’s the morale around you?

✔ How aligned do you feel with the company mission, vision, values?

✔ What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

✔ Are we providing enough growth opportunities for your role? If not, what’s missing?

✔ What’s something you want the C-Suite to know about you?

✔ What is one thing about our product or service you would improve?

We depend on people to help move our companies forward. When there is an absence of trust and collaboration, people are less willing to come together and often make disappointing progress.

It makes sense to have an authentic curiosity about the people we are delegating responsibilities to and to provide a safe environment to give/receive genuine constructive feedback.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Our greatest enemy can be our thinking.

💡 You’re only as good as your worse day.

💡 Don’t look for excuses not to be kind.

💡 The busiest people often make the worst decisions.

💡 Things that aren’t your fault can still be your responsibility.

💡 The discipline to listen when you feel like talking is underrated.

💡 Are you investing time with the right people and priorities?

💡 Expertise is not a weapon to wield. It’s a resource to share.

💡 A shift in mentality is a shift in life.

💡 Thinking better requires carving out time to think.

Image: Merrimack Valley Magazine

Accountability

Imagine a world with no accountability.

😱 That’s a pretty scary thought!

In a business environment, how do we create the conditions for holding our team members accountable?

✔ Clear Communication – How many times have we misinterpreted the meaning of what someone said and vice versa? Asking open-ended questions, listening actively, and ensuring agreement on the topic, helps reduce risk and strengthens the relationship with team members.

✔ Consequences – One size does not fit all. Take the time to understand the drivers and motivators of each team member. Establish clear expectations in writing to avoid reactive behavior. E.g., Cut costs by (%) in the marketing department by (date). Identify checkpoints to monitor progress and offer support as needed.

✔ Focus on Facts and Observable Behavior – Providing feedback is an intricate process. E.g., During today’s meeting, I observed in your presentation that your sales calculations were off, and you were unable to answer questions on one of the slides. As a result, we will have to postpone making a final decision until next week. What can you do to ensure we have the correct information?

What are some ways you hold other’s accountable?

Dreams Unfulfilled

We have all spent time with people who talk about the amazing things they plan to do.

Yet, it never seems to come to fruition.

It is not because their heart isn’t in the right place, or their sole intent is to deceive you.

More often, they are letting themselves down.

Many dreams go unfulfilled because we are waiting for the ideal conditions before taking action.

If we wait until we think we are sure of the outcome, we won’t accomplish much.

Rather than seek to change too much at once, appreciate the mini victories along the way.

Buildings are built brick by brick, books are written word by word, and pennies add up.

Taking action is the most critical step toward success.

Otherwise, it may be another amazing story about the things that never happened.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Reputations are fragile. One incident of bad behavior lingers indefinitely.

💡 Chasing after the perfect solution leads to paralysis.

💡 Compliment and complement people more.

💡 Our greatest challenge is the mindset of people.

💡 Discipline is more reliable than motivation. The former can be trained, the latter is fleeting.

💡 We’re all biased to our own personal history.

💡 Imagine what would happen if we focused on what we like vs. what we don’t like.

💡 What is the cost of not doing something right?

💡 When you show up, bring all of you. Be exceptional.

💡 Happiness is an inside job.

It All Starts With You

I took this picture approximately eight years ago in Los Angeles, CA.

The caption “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” immediately got my attention.

While this sign is an advertisement for a musical, it is also something we’re all familiar with: Our innate desire to change others.

Since taking this picture, I’ve changed States, mates, and professions.

Along with these changes came lessons learned and opportunities gained.

More importantly, I acknowledge that I am a common denominator.

Maybe we wouldn’t have to work so hard trying to change others if we first change ourselves.

Maybe we should let go of our version of who we think others should be.

Have you ever noticed how people complain about the weather, yet, they have no control over it?

Have you ever witnessed someone having a hard time letting go of the past when there is no way to recover it?

Do you realize that we cannot change the fact that change is inevitable?

Can you meaningfully help others if you can’t help yourself?

Change starts with you.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.” ~ Gandhi

Success

One of my favorite quotes is: “All that we are is a result of all that we have thought, the mind is everything, what we think, we become.” ~ Buddha.

Mindsets play a significant role in how we navigate life. While we are encouraged not to compare ourselves to others, there are characteristics that successful people exhibit that can be to our benefit.

Self-Motivation – Successful people are emotionally connected and determined to bring their vision to life. They intuitively adapt to difficult situations and don’t wait around for supervisory instruction. They are excited about their goals and driven to achieve them.

Accountability – Successful people don’t make excuses for bad decisions. They focus less on people’s opinions and more on finding solutions. They respect the truth vs. sugarcoating.

Cognitive Ability – Successful people break problems down to extract the critical components. This enhances their ability for future planning, resource allocation, and problem-solving.

Emotionally Neutral – Successful people remain unaffected by surface-level emotions directed at them. They are not easily derailed by criticism, nor seek validation or affirmation from others.

Self-Belief – Successful people develop skills needed and maintain a mindset that reinforces achievement at every level.

Adapted from: Barrett Riddleberger

Decisions

Have you ever become exhausted from watching people and listening to their opinions? That’s where critical thinking comes into play. There is a lot to be learned from others. The key differentiator is making informed decisions. We naturally gravitate to the beliefs that are similar to ours. We will even go out of our way to support these beliefs.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. In doing so, there are questions it would be wise to take into consideration.

𝟏. What am I supporting today, to build a better tomorrow?
𝟐. Am I doing what’s right in the grander scheme of things?
𝟑. In what ways does this information create value?
𝟒. Is this helping me make a difference? And, for whom does this make a difference?
𝟓. How does this inspire others to do more?
𝟔. Do I care? In what way?
𝟕. What would the world look like if there were identical representations of me?
𝟖. How would I feel on the receiving end?
𝟗. Am I holding myself up to the same standards that I hold others accountable?
𝟏𝟎. Do I show empathy and compassion for others that are not like me?

When all else fails, ask yourself:

🌟 What skeletons do I have in my closet that would contradict all that I advocate for and preach?

Blind Spots

What do blind spots cost you?

From a driving perspective, it can cost you an accident and higher insurance rates.

From a leadership perspective, it can cost you a career and put your organization at risk.

Everyone has blind spots, no matter how self-aware we think we are. Think about it. When we ask others to describe us, it tends to lean more towards the positive (e.g., empathetic, resourceful, adaptable, etc.).

What do we often do with the unsolicited negative descriptions of us (e.g., arrogant, selfish, bossy, etc.)? We chalk it up to the messenger being out of their mind.

If different individuals use the same unfavorable words to describe you, there’s a high probability it is a blind spot.

We often view ourselves differently than others. Imagine my surprise after completing a 360 Assessment. Areas I wished to improve were ranked as strengths by others. Whereas, areas I felt more comfortable with revealed that some tweaking could be to my benefit.

Some leaders take for granted that being in business for a significant period, means they are doing everything right. When in reality, they are often one disruption away from closing their doors.

Blind spot leadership ultimately costs team performance, customers, and future growth.

Graph: Tech in Common

Mindset

Imagine riding down the highway knowingly exceeding the speed limit, and out of nowhere, a cop signals you to pull over. Do you immediately get upset? Do you offer up an excuse? Or, do you accept full responsibility for the speeding ticket the cop later hands you?

Now, let’s say the reason you were putting the pedal to the metal is that you were rushing to be on time for a meeting. You arrive at the meeting late, and human nature wants to provide a reason why. Depending on the audience, you may blame it on getting a ticket en route, or if you choose not to divulge your business, you may blame it on the traffic. Either way, the blame continues.

Blaming people or circumstances is easy. Taking responsibility, not so much. There is a saying that when you point the finger at others, three fingers point back at you.

When unfortunate events happen to you, how do you react? How does your mindset play into it?

A passive mindset is an assumption that life happens to you, and you’re not responsible.

An active mindset means you take ownership and are responsible for the things you control.

Adapted from FS (Farnam Street)

Perception or Reality

When we hear statements like:

“Why is this happening to me?”
“This isn’t fair.”
“This can’t be true.”
“It shouldn’t be this way.”
“Story of my life.”

Someone’s perception or expectation is not meeting reality. What are your options at that moment? As the late Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

We all see reality through a personal lens shaped by our beliefs, culture, religion, experiences, etc. And our perception of reality often dictates our behavior. When we refuse to allow any flexibility in our attitude, we close our minds to possibility and sometimes the truth. Self-defeating statements don’t change the situation. It only makes the experience more painful.

Old Dog, New Tricks

A year ago, I welcomed a four-year-old (32 in human years) untrained Yorkshire Terrier into our family. It has not been the smoothest transition, but we have made great strides. There is an adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that doesn’t hold up well if the old dog wants to learn.

Growth is possible for everyone, no matter their age. We cannot define people by their past, and their history is not always a predictor of their future. We must let go of unrealistic expectations, which isn’t easy to do. I have gone from my home smelling like potpourri throughout, to the smell of dog urine in unexpected places. Yet, I am appreciative of the continued progress our Yorkie makes with consistent training.

Leadership is about enabling the full potential in others regardless the age or history. In this era of longevity, making assumptions about the learning capabilities of a multi-generational workforce is a mistake. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Be realistic that it may take a little longer than a young dog. But, once that old dog learns, it’s there for the long-term.

Uncertainty

I, like many others, have had to regroup from the changes that 2020 has brought about. Finding ways to balance the unpredictability of my career and the “new normal” called chaos is not for the faint of heart. Despite the challenges, I realize that inaction is a waste of time and will get you nowhere fast.

When we overanalyze and fight for never-changing security, we stop experiencing the full array of choices life has to offer during our journey. Many of us have an obsessive desire to know what is happening now and what tomorrow will bring. Wondering what the future holds is a tough question at any age. Instead of trying to figure it all out, get comfortable with the discomfort of uncertainty.

There is an ancient Japanese Philosophy called Wabi-Sabi. It is a mindset that embraces the unpredictability of life, and it teaches us to celebrate the way things are instead of how it should be.

Life is unpredictable. And that’s okay. Embrace it. When nothing is certain, everything is possible! Our plans for tomorrow, next month, or next year may not unfold as we expect. But it is imperative to take action and keep moving forward.

Illustration: The Ready

Food For Thought Friday

💡 The only thing we can count on is what we do today.

💡 If you think there is only one way to do something, you lose.

💡 Your greatest accomplishment may be helping people accomplish great things.

💡 Your greatest failure may be preventing others from achieving greatness.

💡 Your inner attitude does not have to reflect your outward circumstance.

💡 Patience is the hardest when we need it the most.

💡 The most extraordinary experience you will ever have involves you.

💡 Leadership is a way of being, not just something we do.

💡 You cannot learn from a mistake you do not acknowledge making.

💡 What would you do in a world with no constraints?

Knowledge vs. Experience

The internet provides us with vasts amounts of information, but does it help us truly understand? Information overload doesn’t result in more wisdom. If anything, the opposite occurs – information without the proper context and interpretation only muddles our understanding.

There’s a difference between knowledge and experience. Obtaining knowledge requires some sensory input: reading, watching, listening, and touching. In contrast, experience comes with time, exposure, and practice.

For example, we may recognize a written language just by looking at the characters, but we will not understand it unless we take time to study it and put it to use.

We may also know something intellectually, but our intuitive thoughts, feelings, and emotions can cloud our understanding and shortchange our experience.

Chinese philosopher Confucius sums it up well: “I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand.”

Illustration: Hugh MacLeod / Gapingvoid

Personality

Human behavior can prove to be a mystery which is one of many reasons that personality assessments are becoming increasingly commonplace. If you’ve ever taken one, you may have been surprised by some of its findings. While these instruments are helpful, they are not a perfect science.

Issues with personality testing arise when companies use them to

👎 Deny employment.

👎 Deny promotions.

👎 Label others as one thing or another.

👎 Excuse unbecoming behavior.

👎 Measure the skill set of others.

Today’s workforce is experiencing a shift in identities. Not only is it one of the most diverse in our nation’s history, but it is also causing us to rethink the effectiveness of different types of assessments as it relates to unconscious bias, a multi-generational workforce, and new social norms.

The results of an assessment should not overpower proven results, verified references, and years of successful experience. Assessments provide us useful information, not make us bad people. Someone with an outgoing personality doesn’t mean they’re going to be best suited in sales. An introvert may be just as successful because they’re generally more inclined to listen – which is a critical trait in sales.

It’s worth noting that assessments have their place in organizational management. They offer a framework for helping us understand more about others, how we approach certain situations, and our preferred management style.

For example, the DISC model represents:

➩ Dominance (Red) – How you respond to problems and challenges.

➩ Influence (Yellow) – How you influence others to your point of view.

➩ Steadiness (Green) – How you respond to the pace of the environment.

➩ Compliance (Blue) – How you respond to rules and procedures set by others.


How could you benefit from better understanding your behavioral preference and its impact on others?

Ambition

Ambition is a mighty quality that motivates us to reach beyond what is considered possible. Whether we recognize it or not, many people are quietly ambitious. Some have internal ambition where they strive for personal success (e.g., entrepreneurship), and others are externally focused, where they strive for collective success (e.g., organizational growth).

While ambition has its ugly side, it is an essential ingredient for success. To better understand the nature of your desire, ask yourself:

1. Purpose. What is the motivation behind what you desire to achieve? E.g., Money, power, honor, helping others)

2. Vision. What do you aspire to achieve within a reasonable time frame?

3. Metrics. How will you measure how you are progressing towards your vision?

4. Priorities. What actions will you take in pursuit of your vision?

5. Promise. How will you hold yourself accountable?

6. Values. What guiding principles dictate how you accomplish your vision in good times and bad?

7. Behaviors. How will you act day-to-day and in the long-term to implement your vision and live up to your values?

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Where you are today is a direct result of a decision you have or have not made.

💡 Don’t be an “if” thinker. Be a “how” thinker.

💡 Honesty provides others freedom of choice.

💡 Is the source of the problem internal or external?

💡 How you see yourself is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

💡 Naysayers are good at what they do and never cease at their work.

💡 Wanting to make everyone happy is a setup for disappointment.

💡 There is no timeline as to when you should have everything figured out in life.

💡 You don’t need a prestigious title to perform a significant role.

💡 Where there is ignorance, society does not advance.

Gratitude

A few weeks back, I was in line at a fast-food restaurant. When I reached the drive-thru window, the cashier informed me that my order was paid for by the passenger ahead of me. When I looked up to give thanks, the driver had already pulled off.

Small gestures have long-term impacts, and we often take these acts of kindness for granted.

Many of us are familiar with the term pay it forward. So much of life is about giving, receiving, and repaying. It could be something as simple as holding the door open for another. There have been occasions when I have done so, and the individuals failed to visually or verbally acknowledge it. These rare instances don’t deter me from living a life of gratitude. It just reveals that some people are not comfortable with openly expressing it for one reason or another. Paying it forward does not come with conditions.

Just imagine a world without gratitude. There would be no meaningful relationships, medical science, technological advancements, nature’s architecture, or a plethora of other luxuries we experience.

Human happiness is dependent on gratitude. It enables us to receive and motivates us to return the kindness. Challenge yourself to pay it forward and watch how your life unfolds.

Life Lessons Continued

Part 2 of 2: Practical lessons that stand the test of time. What lessons can you add to the list?

16. The more you know, the less you fear.

17. Don’t let weeds grow around your dreams.

18. Think twice before deciding not to charge for your work. People often have less value for something given to them for free.

19. Remember that ignorance is expensive.

20. When declaring your rights, don’t forget your responsibilities.

21. Everyone you meet wears an invisible sign that reads “see me” and “hear me.”

22. Life’s changes rarely give warning.

23. Never let the odds keep you from pursuing what your heart desires.

24. Every age brings new opportunities.

25. Never underestimate the influence of the people you have allowed in your life.

26. Stand out from the crowd.

27. Don’t expect different results from the same behavior.

28. Question your prejudices.

29. See detours as an opportunity to experience new things.

30. Don’t live with the brakes engaged.


Adapted from Life’s Little Instruction Book

Life Lessons

With so many shifts happening throughout the world, there are some things that withstand the test of time: Life’s Lessons. What lessons can you add to the list? Part 1 of 2.

1. Choose work that is in harmony with your values.
2. Commit yourself to constant self-improvement.
3. Don’t waste time grieving over past mistakes. Learn from them and move on.
4. Judge your success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health, and love.
5. Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.
6. Seek opportunity, not security. A boat in a harbor is safe, but in time, it’s bottom will rotten out.
7. Be decisive even if it means you’ll sometimes be wrong.
8. Take charge of your attitude. Don’t let someone else choose it for you.
9. Start meetings on time regardless of who’s missing.
10. Improve your performance by improving your attitude.
11. Every person that you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.
12. Do not expect others to listen to your advice and ignore your example
13. Do the right thing, regardless of what others think.
14. Give as much attention to what is positive in your life as you do the challenges.
15. Don’t dismiss a good idea simply because you don’t like the source.


Adapted from Life’s Little Instruction Book

Delegation Gone Wrong

There is an assumption that delegating is simply turning something over to someone else and suddenly being free from that responsibility. Delegation is not about dumping tasks on others. There is an art to it. Here are nine delegation mindsets to avoid.

1. Being too possessive.

“This is my baby” “I’m the most qualified person for this task” and “He/She doesn’t take it as seriously as I do.”, are some of the countless arguments for avoiding delegation. For managers, this attitude is especially harmful as they get trapped in their day-to-day business, losing time for strategic thinking or other issues. Transferring relevant tasks saves time and motivates teams to deliver excellent work.

Delegating is sometimes letting go of the idea of perfection. The thought that when you do it yourself, it will be better quality and get delivered faster, does not help your team grow.

2. Overwhelming people.

Take care not to delegate tasks that employees are over- or under-qualified to do. Challenging employees is motivating, but projects that overwhelm them make little sense. On the other hand, it’s okay to assign a task to someone overqualified from time to time. However, if it happens too often, it will be demotivating. Consider delegating to the person who’ll provide the best result or who wants to develop skills for the future. If you’re unsure who best meets these criteria, ask.

Dare to delegate the tasks employee likes to do. The return on learning is more rewarding when employees discover for themselves what they’re good at, instead of you telling them upfront. You might be surprised to uncover some hidden talents in your team.

3. Not officially responsible.

Once you’ve given someone responsibility or authority for a new project, everyone else should be made aware. Only then can employees act with determination. Letting them know they have your support, provides them the confidence to perform the task.

4. Unclear definition of a project.

When employees don’t know the objective or the framework of the assignment, it will be difficult for them to be efficient. Provide as much information as possible and agree on a schedule. Not all employees will tell you when there is a lack of clarity, so it may be helpful to ask what their next steps will be. Never send a task by email, post-it note, etc.

Delegating means setting clear goals and granting a flexible path to achieve those goals.

5. Constant meddling.

It can be challenging relinquishing control of a task. Refrain from micro-managing and expecting the job to be completed in the same manner you would do it. Otherwise, it shows a lack of trust and the ability to achieve good results.

6. Lack of positive control.

Although employees should work autonomously, the final responsibility is yours. Establish milestones for the project to ensure they’re advancing with the assignment and offer help to remove any obstacles.

A positive control is only possible with a clear briefing, set expectations, and SMART goals.

7. Passing on unpleasant activities.

Don’t fall into the trap of only passing on unpleasant tasks. Doing so gives the impression that you want to avoid grunt work. As a result, employees will feel misused because the transfer of small jobs implies that “Your working time is less valuable than mine.”

8. Waiting until the last minute.

The “I can do it myself” attitude can backfire when closing in on a deadline. Now you need help and risk abusing someone else’s time. When we rush through a task, we risk the quality of the finished product. Last-minute delegation creates frustration and is demotivating. Delegating tasks in advance allows employees to prepare.

9. Not giving feedback.

Don’t forget to give honest feedback when the task is complete. Feedback ensures that employees benefit and can develop skills in the future. Saying thank you also shows that you appreciate their commitment and work. These kinds of gestures make it more likely that they will want to work with you in the future.

Attitude

1. Good values attract good people. Who you are is what you attract. If you want to attract better, do better.

2. Don’t lead by fear. It’s better to be respected than feared. Inspire others to become the best version of themselves. Show tough love when needed.

3. Call yourself a teacher. Actions speak louder than words. Invest your time and energy in helping others reach their full potential.

4. Emotion is your enemy. Uncontrollable emotions hold you captive and weaken your effectiveness.

5. It takes ten hands to make a basket. We are not put on this earth to only serve ourselves.

6. Little things make big things happen. Details matter. Have a vision, set a path.

7. Make each day your masterpiece. Be present, and give your best daily.

8. The carrot is mightier than the stick. Incentives and praise are more powerful than fear and punishment.

9. Make greatness attainable by all. Your legacy lives in the success of your followers.

10. Seek significant change. Dream big. Set your goals high. Never settle for the status quo.

11. Don’t look at the scoreboard. Instant gratification leads to short-term results. Keep your eye on the end-game.

12. Adversity is your asset. There are many opportunities in failure. Resist the temptation to blame.

Source: John Wooden

Blaming Others

You cannot run away from yourself, so blaming others is worthless. You are responsible for your thoughts and actions, as well as what unfolds before you. As long as you blame others, you will continue making the same mistakes.

It is not uncommon for us to shift the blame to someone else to avoid feelings of guilt. Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve the underlying issue. When you encounter trouble, take inventory of your attitude and behavior and see if that could be the source of the problem.

Check Your Attitude

A quick temper spreads fast and can cause you to take unimportant events too seriously.

For example, road rage, someone racing to be first in line, or encountering disgruntled people throughout your day.

Although these types of situations can make your blood pressure rise, you must remember that your inner attitude doesn’t have to reflect your outward circumstance.

We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control our attitude towards it.

It’s the attitude you choose that shapes your personality.