Handbook for 2010: Thoughtful Thursday

To quote a friend and one of my favorite networking gurus, "common sense is not always common practice".  We have good intentions to live our lives to the fullest, yet somehow in the day to day "fire fighting" we lose sight of our longer term goals.

Today's thoughtful Thursday comes to you in an excerpt of common sense ideas from a "Handbook for 2010", inspired from a blog post I received today from Andrea Nierenberg. Like Andrea, I aspire to live by a similar version of this "handbook", of which I'm sharing the section regarding personality today. I believe doing each of these well will increase our leadership capabilities tremendously. Take a look.  

11.    Don't compare your life to others... You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12.    Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control.. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13.    Don't over do.. Keep your limits.
14.    Don't take yourself so seriously.. No one else does.
15.    Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
16.    Dream more while you are awake
17.    Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need..
18.    Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with His/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19.    Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20.    Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
21.    No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22.    Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.  Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23.    Smile and laugh more.
24.    You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree...

NOTE: If you want to see the full list, click here.

Now, think about the following:

  • Which of the above do you need to focus on today?
  • What will you do today to devote more attention to it?
  • What support do you need in achieving your goal?

What would you add to this list? As always, we'd love to hear from you.  Leave your thoughts in a comment below!

Competitiveness: The Leadership Edge

Competitiveness is defined as tenacity, boldness, assertiveness and a willingness to win in all situations.  Naturally competitive people have a leadership edge in the professional world because the world is a competitive place. Those who aren't so inclined often feel left behind their more tenacious counterparts.

So are less competitive people destined to be second class leaders? Absolutely not. For the less driven at heart, competitiveness can be learned. And as with all strengths, being competitive has its drawbacks too.

We all have our issues.

I know all too well that being competitive can be both a virtue and a vice. My parents can tell you stories of my temper tantrums as a little girl when losing at miniature golf, bowling, and board games on family game night. My competitive nature has caused many a frustration in me and those around me, but it has also been the source of my greatest successes in life and in leadership.

When harnessed properly, competitiveness can result in sustained progress toward a goal. Competitive people are:

  • able to clearly see and define goals
  • instinctively appreciative of competition and the associated reward for winning
  • able to see critical path elements toward reaching goals
  • willing to learn new skills and adapt attitudes.

How competitive are you? Do you make everything a win-lose type of game or do you rarely "keep score" because it just doesn't matter? If you don't know, ask your friends about yourself.  They WILL know. Or, contact me for help with an assessment tool to help you develop that leadership edge. I love to help people win.

Tips for Developing Competitiveness

  • Define three main goals in both your personal and professional life. Plan three action steps for each goal and follow them through to completion.
  • Learn to lose. How can you acknowledge that your time to "win" is further down the road? How might this change your attitude about a current "loss"?
  • Thoughtfully answer the following: Why do I deserve success? What can I do to be more deserving of success?

Now its your turn.  Do you have anything to add to this post?  Share with us by clicking the comment link below!

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?

Your Moment of Truth: What Will You Choose?

Moment of Truth: A crucial or decisive time, at which one is put to the ultimate test.
We all deal with moments of truth when we face crucial decisions that could change the course of our lives forever. Do you remember the movie "The Matrix" and the red or blue pills? In the movie, our soon-to-be hero, Neo, is put to the ultimate test when Morpheus shows Neo two pills, a blue and a red one, and gives him a choice:

Blue pill: Forget everything and go back to the status quo.
Red pill: Learn the truth and step into your destiny.

We are no different than Neo in that we are all on a journey towards significance whether or not we consciously realize it. However, all of us aren't as courageous as Neo, are we? Neo took the red pill and left the status quo behind. What would you do?
Some people are afraid to search for meaning in their lives because they will have to do something with their discovery. After all, something happens inside us when we finally uncover the purpose for our lives...what we were born to do.
Suddenly, we realize we need to redeem the time ahead of us. Envisioning our purpose or "promised land" puts us in an interesting position because we find ourselves between the "here" and the "there". We know where we are and yet we see how things could be. Tension builds and we face our moment of truth.
Our moment of truth in leadership and in life exists at the boundary between current reality and our "promised land". It is here where we see new possibilities and where we must ask ourselves:

  • What will I do with what I now see?
  • What will I do with what could be?
  • What keeps me from entering in to the promised land?
Today, you are Neo. You can choose the blue "pill" of the status quo or the red "pill" of possibility. The choice is yours. What will you do?

Tired of the status quo or curious about what your "moment of truth" might look like? Call me for a free consultation today at 913-219-7844.

Getting Things Done: Ready, Set, DO!

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

Ready...Set...DO. Today is the final step in the series highlighting David Allen's Getting Things Done process for stress free productivity. You've made and reviewed your lists and have some valuable time available. It is time to finally get something done...to DO.

The goal in the "do" stage of David Allen's process is to "move from hope to trust in your actions" resulting in an immediate increase in your speed and effectiveness.  Allen gives us three models for making choices that when integrated into your routine, will help you feel good about your choices.  Following is a brief synopsis.
1.  Choosing Actions in the Moment (consider the following of each task, in the order below):

  • Context
  • Time available
  • Energy Available
  • Priority

2.  Evaluating Daily Work:

  • Doing predefined work
  • Doing work as it shows up
  • Defining your work

3. Reviewing Your Work:

  • 50,000+ feet: Life
  • 40,000 feet: Three- to five-year vision
  • 30,000 feet: One- to two-year goals
  • 20,000 feet: Areas of responsibility
  • 10,000 feet: Current projects
  • Runway: Current actions

There is definitely an art to getting things done.  Everything must be considered in its proper context as it interrelates to the rest of our lives.  We need to consider both the immediate, mid-term and future when choosing what to do. Those who master the art of productivity set themselves apart from the rest in all that they do.  How will you set yourself apart today?

Want to start from the beginning of the series? Below are links in order.  Happy DO-ing!

  1. The Art of Efficiency
  2. Collect the "stuff" representing your "to do's"
  3. Process what you collect
  4. Organize results of processing
  5. Review results as options "to do"
  6. Do the best thing to do 

Now, tell me what you think of the process. What experiences have you had in getting organized & productive? Share your thoughts in a comment below.