Monday, December 26, 2011

Profile of the True Entrepreneur

True Entrepreneurs create jobs where people can work and have a normal life, but they themselves live on the edge (where they prefer the view). They are driven to be free, control their own destiny, call their own shots, and create a successful business that supports their dreams and creativity.

True Entrepreneurs see opportunities others miss. They risk, fail and rise again until they achieve their destiny. They always stir the pot and push the edge. The security and consistency most people desire can be boring to them.

They have no guarantees of success. Nobody provides a bailout for their failures. They cannot collect unemployment. They often feel alone and misunderstood. Their lives and their relationships tend to be messy. They get bogged down in details.

It's easy to see successful ones like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. It's harder to see the home-town entrepreneurs who start their business locally, often on a hunch and a prayer. They need our support.  
True Entrepreneurs are driven to push the edge of what is possible and win. When they win, we win with more jobs, tax revenues and money to go around. Find and support your local Entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Responsibility vs. Accountability, Leading vs. Simply Being in the Lead

I have heard it said that your responsibilities always outweigh your rights. I believe this. Without engaging your responsibilities, you eventually lose your rights and often wind up being led by people who are less qualified to lead and who have selfish or ulterior motives.

I'd like to make a distinction between responsibility vs. accountability. Responsible is when it is your duty to perform certain actions or tasks in a competent and reliable manner. Accountable is when you are held liable for the outcome of certain actions or tasks. I look at it with the question: You are responsible to do, and accountable to who?

There is also a distinction between leadership vs. being in the lead. If you are simply in the lead, then others are happy to pass you or bump you out of the way. If you are a leader, then you are the kind of person others will want to follow.

A leader is responsible to get things done, but what about accountability? Where do the followers and leaders fit into the responsibility+accountability+leadership circle?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Who Cares but the Small Business Owner?

If over 80% of jobs are created by small business, what is being done to help small businesses hire more people?

As a business coach, when I ask business owners and entrepreneurs, “What has the government done to help your business?” they ALL said the same thing: NOTHING to help us and a lot to hurt us.

How about employment and taxes?

Employees are expensive. Hire your first employee and you come under government requirements for employment, and you have to learn all the rules or pay someone to keep you compliant.

Small business owners have to pay self-employment taxes, state taxes, federal taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes, payroll taxes, workers compensation taxes, unemployment taxes —tax money they could use to hire people, expand business and stimulate the economy.

What about companies that can make payroll but not make the tax payments? Why does the government close functioning businesses for not paying taxes which in turn puts all the employees on government assistance at taxpayer expense?

The small businesspeople ask, “Where is my stimulus check and my bailout money? I ask, “Who else cares enough to do something about it if you don’t?” 

Do your employees care?
Does your community care?
Does your government care?

If you are a small business owner, you've probably had to fight to get and/or keep what you've worked for and earned so far. You have supported your family, your community and your country by paying taxes and working your butt off, and if you are going to keep what you have earned you can't stop now. You still have to take the lead and lead the changes that will support small business that is the backbone of our country. 

I know you are creative and resourceful, you've had to be. Think about this: How do we get you out of the mess that the government, the banks and the economy have put you in?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Two Kinds of Leaders, Which Are You?

I have worked for and with many small business owners and entrepreneurs and have seen them suffer with cash flow, turnover, employees, partners, marketing and all the challenges of effectively running a business. Some change too fast, some not fast enough. I realized that many of the challenges had to do with the need to fully develop their personal leadership abilities. 
Basically there are two kinds of leaders: the kind of leader you want to follow vs. the kind of leader you want to pass and leave behind. Simply being in the lead can make you a target instead of a leader.
How do you become the kind of leader others want to follow? How can you learn to delegate effectively, accomplish twice as much in half the time and balance your life to include the freedom and success you want along with the kind of relationships you enjoy? 

The one thing people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them. When you look at the best and brightest who stay the best and brightest, most of them have trustworthy and reliable advisers and coaches who can watch what they do and reflect back to them how they come across, how they look, give them perspective and see if this is what they really meant. Do you have someone who is unbiased to do this for you?

Personal business leadership is one niche I have been successfully coaching since 2001. Your personal challenges at some point will tend to become your business challenges. The abilities that get you to one level can sabotage you from getting to the next. You have to lead yourself, and you have to do it well.

How well are you leading yourself? 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Salute to the Business Owner and Entrepreneur

There are many words to describe being a business owner and entrepreneur. You might have to fill every role from boss to slave. You are free to do as you will, but are bound by rules and responsibilities. You have tremendous dreams and creative ideas, but not enough time and resources to make them all come true. You bear all the risks of losing everything you’ve invested and gained, but must make sure employees and taxes are paid whether you get paid or not.
One day you might wake up and realize you did not create a business, you created a job from which there is no escape. You cannot afford to get sick or take time off without the business suffering.
Another day you might see that sales are up and things are running smoothly, and then you realize you have won the battle of business, but lost the war for your soul. Nobody really knows you, it can feel like you are very much alone.
You do your best, you provide jobs, you contribute to the community in many different ways. And if you are successful, there is always someone ready to steal your success and rob you of what you have rightfully earned. I understand that being a business owner can be hard. I appreciate what you do and the sacrifices you have made. 
I would love to hear your stories of struggle and success if you care to share. Others are encouraged by seeing they are not the only one.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Never Ever EVER Stop Networking for Your Next Job or Opportunity, Or Else

I have heard the similar story from so many of you. Things happened that you did not expect, you found yourself out of work or out of business, then you finally found the opportunity your wanted, life was getting back to normal, and then you got laid off or things fell through. Again.

I understand because five times I have been downsized, smart sized, laid off, department eliminated and all the other terms that mean your life is thrown into chaos because you suddenly have no income. There is life after such upheavals, but you can't just sit and wait for the world to recognize how talented or needy you are and come to your aid. This is what friends are for... What?

Yes, most opportunities are found through your network of business and personal friends. We assume they know what we need if we are out of work, but they don't unless you get clear on what you want and teach them. Note I said teach them. If you teach them you want a job, then any old job they send you is a favor. Why not teach them to send you the opportunities you truly want to have?

If you want a better job, you better teach me what that means for you. If you just got a new job, you better teach me to keep looking out for your next job. If you own a business, you better teach me to help find your next customer or your next star employee. You also better teach me what you don't want or else I might point you to the wrong opportunities.

And you have to do this by networking with me, and with all the other important folks in your network.

How bad can it get? I had a neighbor who moved clean across the country to start his new job. He paid to uproot and move his family, buy a local house, get the kids in school and get ready to go to work. He showed up for his first day at work to be told that his job had just been eliminated.

The lesson here: Never ever EVER stop networking for your next job or opportunity. Teach your network what you want and also what you don't want.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Quiet Time of Listening for God

Having been a Quaker in what was an unprogrammed style of worship, I was used to sitting for an hour or so while waiting on the Spirit to lead our time. We did not rely on a hireling minister to set our agenda, but trusted God to minister among us firsthand. I recall it took me about three Sundays when I started just to get rid of the noise in my head and be able to "center down."

Often times, various attenders would stand and speak, pray, sing. It was a time to find the quiet place in our souls, and to share from this place whatsoever we felt clear to share. More so, it was a place to hear the still small voice of God speaking to me from within or through others.

I recall one instance when I stood and shared my fear of my smallness in tackling some big things to come and then sat down. A short time later, a Friend stood and spoke that we must not despise small beginnings. Then another stood and spoke that there are no insignificant actions. In the quiet of finding God, both of these dear people spoke courage and support to my condition.

We become noisy people. We fill our minutes with the noise of great busyness, technology and conversation. We neglect the quietness and confidence in God wherein we find our strength. Yes, let us be noisy and joyous and engaged, but let us not neglect the quiet where we find ourselves and know who we are on the journey.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Six Important Things About You

#1            Without You, Nothing Else Is Possible
After all, we are talking about YOUR career and YOUR life, and if you don’t show up, nothing will happen.

#2            In Your Life, You Have Requirements
What are your non-negotiables? What are your negotiables? We tend to be more concerned with everybody else’s requirements: for the job, for the loan, for the dog and the rest. You have requirements too. Can you state the primary requirements for your own life?

#3            Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First
You have to be wonderfully selfish to be overwhelmingly generous. Otherwise you can wind up with nothing to give when it truly counts. Do other people keep picking off your time, energy and resources? Learn to say, “No, but thanks for thinking of me. I am not going to join one more committee.”

#4             You Already Attract Something
Do you like what you attract? What else would you like to attract? Are you attracting problems? Does the piano fall on you when you walk down the street? Are you the rare Problem Free Zone that takes care of things when they first show up?

#5            To Get “There” Find Out Where You Are “Here”
When you want to span the gap between here and there, you have to know where “here” is. If you are in Philadelphia and want to go to Atlanta, a map from Abilene to Atlanta will not be what you need. Are you ready to build your bridge?

#6            The What and the How Follow the Who
The usual questions of, “What do you want and how do you want it,” distract from the real question: Who are you? If you don’t address the Who, eventually the What and the How won’t matter.

Conclusion: Who You Are Determines Everything Else
If you are not happy, chances are at least one of the following applies:
You don’t know who you are, where you are going, you don’t attract the right things, don’t take care of yourself, your requirements are not being met, and you don’t show up for your own life.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What Are Your Requirements for How You Want to Be Treated?

When I ask this question, most people give me a blank stare. You are used to meeting requirements of your job, your friends, your family and everyone else, but what about your own requirements? Yes, if you are reading this, YOU have requirements too. What are they—and how do you get them met?

Let’s start by identifying your own requirements. You have to know what these are if you are going to be sure they are being met. Here is a list to use as a starting place for your own list. Knowing your own requirements is a first step in communicating and getting them met.

To be respected
To be heard
To be loved
To adventure
To have peace
To serve others
To succeed
To make money
To have quality, nice things
To be healthy
To be happy
To improve yourself
To be appreciated
To have status and recognition
To lead
To learn
To create
To decide
To discover
To have fun
To be faithful
To have faith
To be important
To have space
To have good friends
To contribute
To make a difference
To work hard
To play hard
To belong
To achieve your mission
To have choices
To be free
To be generous
To seek God/spiritual depth

What would you add to your own list?
Now that you are thinking about your own requirements note that you might need changes your relationships, your job, your business, and other areas of your life. This can take some strategizing and involve taking risks. It can take several steps between here and there. First, make your list of requirements. Then consider what you need to do to get them met without compromising your standards.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How Do You Want to Be Treated?

There are only two ways people learn to treat you: 

1- What you teach them
2- What they get by with

If you don't like the way someone is treating you, ask yourself what you have—or have not—taught them. For example, You can ask some people to stop calling you a name you don't like. If they stop calling you that name, then you have taught them your preference and have relieved your pain. Note that you might have to teach the lesson more than once for it to take hold.

If they don't stop, then you can consider: is it because they are unable to stop, or are they unwilling to stop? In either case, you can decide to put up with the name calling, or you can decide to distance yourself from these people, or you can decide to completely end your relationship or engage other options depending on how upset you are.

Here are questions to consider:
    How do you want to be treated, or what do you want to change?
    How will others have to change for you to be treated better?
    How likely are others to cooperate with your request for change?
    What amount of risk are you willing to take—could you lose a friend, a job or something important to you?
    What will you say and do to politely teach others your preferences?

You might want to do the Clean Sweep Program. This 100-item checklist has helped thousands of people eliminate what they tolerate and create the life and relationships they really want. Find the Clean Sweep at —about half way down the page in the Program section. Let me know your score from your first pass, I bet you get at least 10 points.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

To Be Rich or To Be Poor: Which Attitude Describes You?

When times get tough for the country, we often hear the cry to raise taxes on the rich, and there is a feeling somehow that the rich do not deserve to be rich or that they are obligated to take care of the poor. But if we look at the extremes of rich vs poor, what are some of the differences we find?
The rich use money as a tool for creating wealth, the poor use money as a means to buy comfort.
The rich buy education (not necessarily from schooling), the poor buy entertainment.
The rich look for opportunities, the poor look for jobs.
The rich expect a return on investment, the poor expect entitlements.
The rich fail and rise again and again, the poor fail and accept that this is how it is.
The rich will work days, nights, weekends and holidays to be successful, the poor want a 40-hour regular work week with benefits.
The rich push themselves to get ahead. The poor try just to get by.
The rich want to control their own destiny. The poor want to be taken care of.
The rich have the money to create businesses that provide jobs, the poor spend what they have and still can not provide for themselves.
I know this sounds rather blunt, but the success stories often have a bluntness about them. You have people like Nido Qubein who came to the USA with $50 in his pocket, and now owns several successful businesses and is the President of High Point University — or Dr. Ben Carson who grew up in poverty, but his mom turned off the TV and kept him focused on his opportunities until he became one of the leading neurosurgeons in the world.
What makes the difference between those who rise from poverty to success and having money vs. those who stay poor? How do you lead yourself to success in the face of adversities?
References: From the Trash Man to the Cash Man by Myron Golden, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Journey to the Life You Want

I remember waking up one day and thinking, “I really hate my job.” It was a good job that thousands of people would want, but I was drying up on the vine.
Simply put, either you have the life your want, or you don't. 
If you don’t, what is something you can do every day to take a step towards your best life? For me, the answer was to start getting clear on what I wanted, and to start looking for it. One small thing I do is most everyday I take a few minutes to review my priorities and my task list, and another thing I do is to affirm my own five main requirements:
1- Help other people
2- Make a good living
3- Set my own schedule
4- Be a good father and husband
5- Do this in the context of my faith in Christ Jesus
You have requirements too. Have you ever written them down? Have you taken some positive steps towards fulfilling your own requirements?
On the other hand, If you already have the life you want, I’d truly love to hear about it. What does your life look like and how does it bless your soul?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

People Passion for Your Purpose?

People can be passionate about the same thing for different reasons. For example, one person can be passionate about banking because they can help people succeed with their business, another can be passionate about banking because they can make a lot of money. One will take higher risk in order to help people, the other will not take the same risks for concern of losing money. In some cases, the driving force behind their passions will not be compatible.

I believe it is best to start with someone who already is passionate about what you are passionate about, and together see if your passions can drive you to accomplish the same results for compatible reasons. --Otherwise you could end up in a war of passions where people do the right thing for the wrong reasons, or do the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Passion without purpose is misguided.
Passion without competency is ineffective.
Passion without integrity is manipulative.
Passion without boundaries is destructive.
Passion without unity is chaos.
Passion without action is wasted.

It is best to begin united in doing the right passionate things for the right passionate reasons.

You can explain, plead, compel and reason, and perhaps you will help others find a passion for something that is already there, even if it is a passion against what you want to do.

But if there is no passion in their hearts for your cause, how can you stir up something that is not there?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Where did all the money go?

Where did all the money go? In all the hardships we have endured in the past two years of what is being called the worst depression since the great depression of the 1930's, what happened to all the money?

Where did all the money go?
Did it just disappear, or did it go into somebody's pocket?
Who do you think would know?
Is it sitting in a stash, or in accounts where they could sock it?
--Whoever has it, sure is keeping quiet.

Where is all the money now?
It's not in my small business, and are my taxes due?
What will my government allow?
If I cannot pay them, then is my business through?
--And the government have to pay my employees with more money it does not have.

Where must all that money be?
Who got us into this, and what is their lame defense?
Did they care anything for you or me?
Or were they greedy in the fullest sense?
--Somebody made out like a legal bandit, but legal does not make it right.

Where does the money need to go?
To those who carelessly spend, and will spend more than before?
Are they not reaping what they sow?
They spent it all, why do they demand more?
--In the end, the thrifty and frugal worker ants save the foolhardy grasshoppers, again.

Where will the money give benefit?
Can the poor invest, or spend it all and still have need?
Will the rich give jobs, or simply get?
Who will save us, will we take heed?
--We have trusted until we trust no more.

Where will the money finally fail?
Some things have no price, without a price how are they bought?
Where will you find your life for sale?
Where in eternity will you be caught?
--We have come to think it is the money that saves us by buying us what we want and need. It’s not the money.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How We Humans Get Ambushed By Our Words

Have you ever thought you communicated something so very carefully and clearly, only to find that if there was a way to be misunderstood, somebody would misunderstand you?

A long time ago, a fellow named Alfred Korzybski questioned how come engineers can communicate so accurately about technical things, yet the general population misunderstand each other so often? The answer lies in how words get their meaning. For example, if I say, "I do this because I love you," and then punish you for being disobedient, then you would associate the word love with punishment.

Understand that words have meaning only as we associate a particular word with an object, action or event. The problem is that your experiences with a word are unique to yourself, and are at least a little different from mine. This is why we miscommunicate such as when we agree to meet at the coffee shop downtown and I got to the one on Elm Street and you go to the one on Main. We communicated a message that we both understood, and assuming we are both sane people, the result was an un-sane action.

Korzybski also noted many ways that the very nature of our language can ambush us. He identified errors in language such as:

= Sameness - the assumption that all objects in the same category are the same. "If you've seen one horse (or kid, executive, drug addict, car, etc.), you've seen 'em all."

= Allness - the assumption that once you know about something, you know all you need to know. For example with the damaged nuclear power plants in Japan, the designers assumed they knew all they needed to know to make the plants safe in an emergency, yet a tsunami damaged the plants and created an unforseen emergency that will take decades to fix (if fixing is even possible).

= Permanence - the assumption that things will not change. We base our lives on the false fact that there will always be jobs, clean air and water and enough to eat.

= Abstraction - a way to answer without giving a specific answer. For example, ask a politician what he/she will do about the downturn in the economy that has hurt so many people, and you can get a more general (and abstract) answer like, "We are taking immediate actions designed to enhance economic recovery." This usually means that the average citizen can't understand what the politicians are doing, so trust them...

To improve how we communicate, we still need to define our terms to each other and be as specific as possible. After all, putting the peanut butter on the bread does not mean to set the whole jar on the bread.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Finding Your Happiness Place in Career and Life

It can be a struggle to find your happy place —the meaningful and  joyous place in life where you feel like you fit and thrive. One of my coaching clients called me to say he found his happy place, and it took me a few moments to realize the depth of this simple statement. I realized that so many of us are not in our happy place.

Simply put, either you have the life your want, or you don't.

If you have the life you want, great! Do you want to tweak it to a higher level of perfection?
If you don't have the life you want, what would your best life look like?

It had taken this client about two years to find his happy place. We had coached together three times during this two years, and each time we coached he gained further clarity of who he was and what he wanted versus what he did not want.

Before this, he had a good job, but the job did not support his longings and dreams. In our relationship, he discovered what he needed, and he understood why his job would never meet those needs. He wanted something better for himself and his family, and he wanted it bad enough to strategize, prepare and go find it. And he found it.

What a joyous thing to find your happy place.

Are you in your happy place with the life you want? Do you have a vision for what your happy place looks like, or at least a vision of how your current place is not it?

What step, small or large, will you strategize and take towards your happy place?

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Start Young and Keep Climbing Before It’s Too Late

One of the most inspirational people I have never met in person was Fred Smith. He was known to have mentored many well-known people such as Zig Ziglar. Before he passed I was able to talk with Fred on several occasions, and I still receive a weekly email from his organization on his wisdom and experience. Here is part of a great message from Fred:
      So many people settle for a lower, comfortable plateau than they could attain by maintaining a "tension forward" to a higher plateau. True achievement is not a straight line up, but in steps.  It is a process of taking one step and then plateauing for assimilation followed by another step and a plateau. This continues through a productive life.
     In the Christian life many of us settle for a lower level than we should.  One of my favorite theologians, Ray Stedman, said when I asked him "what are you going to teach Sunday?" replied, "I am going to tell my people to stop praying for what they already have." 
     In business I have seen the sad case of very talented individuals' not being discovered until too late. Some motivational speakers tell their audiences, "It's never too late."  The fact is - it can be too late.  Young people should be encouraged to start as early as possible on this climb to higher levels. The principle of compound interest makes it wise to pay now and play later.
How would you define a productive life for yourself?  Are you moving ahead or on a plateau?  Do you keep praying for what you already have?  Are you looking for talented people to help them develop more quickly? You might check Fred’s web site for thought provoking readings from time to time at

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oops – Your Integrity in Getting a Job

Hard economic times try our courage and integrity. With so many looking for work and often in desperate straights to find a job, it is easy to find qualified people to fill a position, but when times get better, will you be able to keep them?
On the one hand, you need a job to pay your bills. On the other hand, turnover reduces the company stock price by an average of 38% - this is very expensive to employers. Both are looking for ways to survive. The candidate just needs a short-term job until something better can be found, the employer needs a productive long-term employee for the continuance and profitability of the company.
In the interview process, both put on their best face. Both want the process to work in their favor. As employer, if I hire the wrong people, then I have to deal with troubling factors such as their impact on the rest of the team who has to cover for them, with the loss of service to customers and prospects, plus all the time I have to spend managing this person who just does not fit. As candidate, what does it do to me to take a job to survive, knowing that I don’t plan to keep the job?
Self leadership tip: If you need a job, focus on the ones you would want to keep.
Question: Is it really ok for people to take a job to pay their bills when they know they will leave as soon as they find something better?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Best Is the Enemy of the Good -???

    I enjoy learning from a —variety— of reading sources. I came across this quote from General George S. Patton while reading Patton on Leadership: Strategic Lessons for Corporate Warfare, "The best is the enemy of the good." The idea is striking in its simplicity: if we wait until something is the best it can be, we might lose the opportunity to be/do/have it at all. If something is good, sure it can be better, and who can tell when the best is really the best it can be?
    For example, Apple used this concept in developing the Macintosh computer. The Mac was a good computer when they put it into production, and they knew it was not the best it could be. They also knew that no matter what they did, it could be better. The advantage they had was the ability to quickly respond to the marketplace and continuously adapt towards what the customers wanted. If they had waited until it was the best, they might have run out of the resources to bring it to market at all. 

   How often do we stop because we are good, but not the best? We look at others who we see as being a better athlete, musician, dancer, business person, widget maker or whatever, and we do not engage with the good we can contribute or enjoy. The best need not be the enemy of the good.

Self leadership tip - When something is good, acknowledge it is good and do not apologize for it not being the best.

Question: What are you good at but don't do because you're not good enough? —Like me playing banjo and singing 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

True Entrepreneur vs. Business Entrepreneur Defined

In coaching business people, I find that there are two types of entrepreneurs. You have the Business Entrepreneur (Business E) who is basically a good business person who has learned to do entrepreneurial things. Then you have the True Entrepreneur (True E) who is driven to do entrepreneurial things because either they are born this way or they develop a personality for it.

How do you tell the difference between the Business E vs. the True E? Here are some of the usual (but not always) characteristics of the True E.

• High energy, optimistic, enthusiastic
• Can be decisive, forceful and impulsive, everything is urgent
• Big Picture focus, hate dealing with details and paperwork, disorganization is common
• Frustrated easily, and especially if losing time or control, can become angry or belligerent
• Generally are very likeable, but misunderstood, relationships are often strained
• They enjoy living on the edge, which can wear out the people around them
• Highly competitive, and always play to win
• They see risk as opportunity and adventure, enjoy high risks that others would avoid
• They have more ideas than time and resources to develop them
• Old research: True E’s fail 3.8 times before they succeed; failure is the price they pay for their education, and they rise from the ashes to the next opportunity
• They are sought after for their excellent sales abilities. 93% of highly successful (read $ix-figure) sales people are True E’s

Many more characteristics (both positive and negative) of a True E have been identified. I have written articles, and there are books if you are interested in learning more. The True E’s have been studied to the extent that they have a testable and easily identifiable profile, especially useful in hiring champion salespeople. I use a personality test (assessment) that allows you to identify a True E profile in just a few seconds. The True E personality is truly amazing. Find helpful entrepreneurial info at

Self-Leadership tip: If you have the characteristics of a True E, it is normal to feel a mix of excitement and adventure along with a sense of being different, misunderstood and at times alone. 
Question: Do you believe entrepreneurs are born, or developed?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fears of Leadership: Not Knowing

There is a fearsome, dramatic scene in the movie U-571. The junior officer of a US submarine takes command of an enemy submarine with a few members of his crew. This submarine is damaged, they are not familiar with the controls and only two of them can read the enemy language. Suddenly faced with a crisis, his men ask what to do? His reply, “I don’t know.”
As a leader you don’t always have to know. You do have to be able to find out.
The chief engineer took the young officer aside, asked for permission to speak and said, “Don’t you dare say to them boys, ‘I don’t know,’ those three words will kill a crew.” What happened then?
In one crisis after another, the young officer never again says, “ I don’t know.” He rallies his crew and calls for information, he calls for options, he engages their minds and their hearts to do what must be done.
Because he was “not knowing,” he learned to seize the opportunity to learn from those around him, to take their contributions and move forward. He was able to turn “not knowing” from a weakness into a strength.
As a professional business and personal coach, I have become very comfortable with not knowing. It allows me the opportunity, adventure and even fun of exploring the knowledge, wisdom and greatness of my clients, and to put their strengths into play to reach their goals. Not knowing can be a powerful strength in calling for options, rallying your crew and discovering possibiliites not obvious beforehand.
Self-Leadership tip: Shift the fear of not knowing into the adventure of finding out.
Question to consider: What are some situations where what you already knew prevented you from finding out other facts you needed to know? What happened?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fears of Leadership: Failure

A competitive mountain bike racer once said something like, “If I see the tree, I hit the tree.” Fear of failure can lead you to focus on the wrong things, and then you will surely fail. Fear of failure can cause you to stop just short of success. Fear of failure can blur your vision and you miss a great opportunity.
Often our fear is of the unknown. Get the facts, calculate the risk and then you can choose: take the risk, don’t take the risk, or pass the risk to someone who sees it as an opportunity.
And what if your best is not good enough? General George S. Patton once said, “Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” If you, fail, fail knowing you have done your best, and plan to bounce high.
Self-Leadership tip: opportunity and risk usually go hand in hand. Do not be stopped by your fear of failure, but get the facts and decide for yourself if something is worth doing.
Question to consider: At what point do you stop gathering facts and decide to move ahead or not?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fears of Leadership: Not Placing Well, Not Looking Good

Leadership carries a lot of expectation, many from yourself as a leader. One expectation you might have is that you always have to look good in front of your followers, your peers and everyone else in general.
If you don’t speak well in front of an audience, if you don’t have a good golf game, if you don’t place well in your efforts, if you have chinks in your armor, then questions might arise like are you worthy to lead —or are you really a human being with imperfections all human beings have? Depending upon your leadership situation the picture you paint for yourself can be damaging.
What made the difference for baseball great Babe Ruth? He set a record for 714 Home Runs that stood for decades.  We don’t so much remember that he also held the record of 1,360 for the times he struck out (including 30 times in a World Series). This record also stood for decades.
Self-leadership tip: If you hide your weaknesses they are more likely to ambush you. Embrace your weaknesses, and find someone who will value the honor of covering your weakness with their strengths.
Leadership question: What are some leadership weaknesses you have seen or experienced, and how can they be covered rather than covered up?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fears of Leadership: Getting Blindsided

Wow, you didn’t see it coming and the bus ran over you. Did you get thrown under the bus, or did you step in front of it all on your own?
When you are a leader, you are expected to see all, know all and be all, but things keep coming at you.  What about that new competitor product that bumped yours to third place, or the trusted colleague now vying for your job,  and that project where the costs just doubled? What about the board member who used to support you and just voted against everything you want to do?
Getting blindsided is not uncommon in business or personal areas. What do you do about it? Can you open communication channels throughout your organization so you can get firsthand information (like the undercover CEO)? Are you networked throughout your industry or area of expertise? Do you know what three companies would like to hire you?
Self-leadership Tip: Never, ever, stop networking within and without your organization. Keep appreciating the people who have helped you in the past. Build bridges that keep you connected.
Leadership question: What can leaders do to maintain and improve trust, teamwork and communication in your organization?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In Leadership and in Life, the –Who- You Really Are Determines the Rest

Is it true that you develop into who you are by force, chance or choice?
Did your parents make you do things like study piano or mow the yard? Did some opportunity appear and you fell into the good fortune of business or love? Perhaps a combination where you made your choices and had a plan, but the wheel of chance threw you into a different path and you were forced to do things differently? Did you come to a fork in the road of life and… which did you choose?
Because of all this, you grew into the unique person you are today, and you have unique opportunities because of —Who— you are.
Who you are determines what you do and how you get to do it. Who you are opens up the options and opportunities you will attract into your life. Who you are evolves as you clarify and pursue your purpose and possibilities in life.
Therefore: know Who you are.
Self-leadership Tip: One leader I know realized one day that all of his “friends” were on his payroll. He decided to expand his circle to attract friends he did not have to pay --he changed himself to attract something different and better into his life. If you don’t like what you are attracting, then who do you need to become?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Entrepreneur Property Laws

Get ready to be amused or horrified. There are business entrepreneurs and there are true entrepreneurs. The difference is that a business entrepreneur tends to be astute in considering the options and opportunities to engage. The true entrepreneur is hard-wired to engage most anything that looks like an opportunity (some old research from Tulane shows that entrepreneurs fail 3.8 times before succeeding).
I found the list below in a day care center and realized it applied to true entrepreneurs. When I share it with true entrepreneurs and the people who work with or for them, they all laugh at its truth, recognizing that Toddler Property Laws also apply to entrepreneurs.
Toddler Property Laws (for Entrepreneurs)
1. If I want it, it's mine.
2. If it looks like mine, it's mine.
3. If I give it to you and change my mind later, it's mine.
4. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
5. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
6. If it's mine, it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what.
7. If I am doing or building something, ALL the pieces are mine.
If you work with or for a true entrepreneur, how does this affect you? If you are a true entrepreneur, how does this apply, help or hurt you?
Self-leadership Tip: The more you have (it’s mine), the more you have to track and oversee. Lead yourself to stop spreading yourself so thin and consider: what do you have to let go of before you can pick up something more worthwhile?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Here’s How to Get an Extra Two Weeks a Year

How would you like to have an extra two weeks of time each year to put towards your personal success? It is amazing how time adds up --and wastes away. One study found that the average US citizen spends 20 minutes a day looking for their keys, executives spend 40 minutes a day looking for a piece of paper they had a while ago. I will show you how 10 minutes a day adds up to a week per year.
Say the average month has 20 work days time 12 months = 240 work days a year. This multiplied by 10 minutes a day = 2400 minutes which is 40 hours: a whole work week. Ten minutes per day equals a whole work week per year.
Consider this. Depending on who’s numbers you use, every minute you spend planning saves between three and twelve minutes of execution. A fifteen minute daily planning time can save you 45 minutes to three hours a day, which equals at least 4.5 weeks per year —sounds pretty incredible? How can you take advantage of this phenomenon?
There are two sides to this coin. First, what in your day can add up to at least 20 minutes a day you could save? Second, what will you schedule for at least 20 minutes a day that will lead to your success as a daily habit?
How can you eliminate what you tolerate?

  • Cut 10-20 minutes from a long conversation.
  • Teach others to clean up after themselves.
  • Focus on what you can control.
  • Use a daily checklist daily checklist to keep on track.  
  • Unclutter and organize things that waste our time.
  • Politely set better boundaries with people and situations that waste our time.
  • —Continue with your own items…

Self-leadership Tip: Lead yourself into saving 20 minutes a day, how will you use this 20 minutes every day to your advantage? This gives you two weeks…