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July 2010

Become Unnoticeable to Be Noticed

One thing I know from playing sports all of my life is that the most talented team or individual doesn't always win. Victory goes to those who play to win by using sound fundamentals, minimizing mistakes and maximizing their brains. I've won a lot of games by just playing smart. Smart leaders can win this way too.

Frequently as an entrepreneur and as a leader within several nonprofit organizations, I encounter people who run late for appointments, fail to follow through on commitments and exhibit carelessness with their written communication. Sloppiness abounds in these fundamentals and it boggles my mind how many people don't play life to win.

To further illustrate, consider a small choir ensemble. No matter how great the music selection, one off-key singer taints the whole performance and listeners leave with their only memory being how they cringed during certain moments of the song.

One bad note overshadows a potential masterpiece.

Have you ever thought about how habitually neglecting the basics affects your effectiveness?

If you want to set yourself apart as a great leader, start by avoiding the "cringe" factor. Don't let someone count you out before you get a chance to show them your skills.

Play smart.
Be on time.
Use spell check and spell people's names correctly.
Keep and remember your promises.

These are the little things anyone can do.

Excellent leaders excel in the little things and become noticed for being unnoticeable. They set themselves apart by doing the things everyone CAN do, but don't. Things like being on time, being conscientious and being trustworthy can take you far. Don't let them take you back.

What off-key notes taint your performance? What one little thing can you correct today for maximum impact? What leadership fundamentals would you add to my list? Leave your thoughts in a comment below.

The Best Worst Speech: Thoughtful Thursday

Speaking up about high stakes emotional issues takes a lot of thoughtful pre-planning. Proper timing and proper word choices are essential. Get it right and you've deepened a relationship and made forward progress. Get it wrong and you've got an even bigger mess to clean up.

Today's Thoughtful Thursday post concerns one of the worst times to communicate-when you are angry. Consider the following:  


Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.-Ambrose Bierce


1. What difficult conversation do you need to have in the near future? How can you best prepare for the conversation?

2. How long do you need to wait to "cool off" before having the conversation?

3. What recent conversation do you regret having? What could you have done differently to cause a different outcome?

A Salute to Everyday Courage

My coaching clients are some of the most courageous people I know. While they don't typically put themselves in physical danger like police officers, firefighters or military personnel, they put themselves at risk every day by taking on new challenges and stepping out of their comfort zones.
I admire them. Every day.
My clients risk:
  • realizing that the truth they thought they knew really wasn't true.
  • facing surprised reactions from others to behavior changes they've made.
  • learning that they may really be the cause of their own issues.
  • losing sleep because of excitement over new possibilities.
Every day I encourage someone to do things differently than they've ever done before. All of my clients rise to the occasion, and for that I salute them. Additionally, I'm consistently challenged to improve and reflect because of them.
My clients' courage to go for their goals at all costs inspires me. When I hear of their successes, I smile from ear to ear...and then ask myself "What will YOU challenge yourself with this week?".
People who hire coaches are willing to risk the comfort of the status quo for the hope of a better tomorrow. They are courageous. How courageous are you?

Looking Within: Thoughtful Thursday

When someone asks you to share something about yourself in an initial introduction, what do you say? Do identify yourself with a job title or life role, or do you share character traits about yourself that contribute to everything you do?

If you are like most people in Western culture, you share the former rather than the latter because our society places a premium on doing (what we do), rather than being (who we are). Have you ever though about how much who are affects your potential to do?

I think Ralph Waldo Emerson thought about it. Check out his words below and reflect on the questions that follow. If you have another question to add to my list or a thought you'd like to share, please share in a comment below.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson


  • What lies within you?
  • What within you contributed to things behind you?
  • How might what lies before you change if you changed one thing about yourself today?


Capitalize on Your Pain

No one likes to suffer loss or face troubling circumstances, yet painful times produce the most fertile learning soil. Think about it. When we are happy, we don't often ask "why" and desire things to change. We want things to stay as they are. We think quite the opposite when things don't go our way.
Pain is an opportunity for positive change. I'm often heard saying to my clients, "If you are in a terrible situation, you might as well use it as opportunity to learn something." What pain might you learn from today?
The next time you find yourself wondering "why me?", instead ask yourself the following questions and take time to write out your answers:

  • What was my part in the situation?
  • What does my response to the situation say about who I am? Do I need to change?
  • How might this circumstance be used to prepare me for future endeavors?
  • What core beliefs or values of mine are being challenged?
  • How might what I believe need to change to more accurately reflect reality?

True transformation requires changing who you are so you can change what you do, and produces significant, lasting change. Transformation happens when we embrace what we don't enjoy and instead use those times as inner growth opportunities. 

To what life circumstance might you apply the above questions to today? What works for you? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

Making Choices: Thoughtful Thursday

None of us will ever have time to do all that we want to do or need to do when we want to do everything. That's why it is so important to have a process in place to enable us to make the best choices for what to do.

Today's quote for Thoughtful Thursday will challenge you to be thoughtful about doing. To best do, we must stop doing. Here's the quote:

You have more to do than you can possibly do.You just need to feel good about your choices.- David Allen

Think on these questions today and share your thoughts if you like. We are all in this together!

  • How do you decide what to do next?
  • How often do you say "yes" to the good choice rather than the BEST choice?
  • How could your decision making process be refined so you do more of the BEST?