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Welcome to nc’s blog. Read, comment, interact, engage. Let’s learn together - recursively.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Forty years ago today Moe said, "I do."

Beginning to think she meant it.

Hoping she doesn't come to her senses now.

"Ain't no place that I'd rather be, sittin' next to you, sittin' next to me." - Alabama (the musical group)

Saturday, February 25, 2017


Optimal health cuts to the cellular level (both in personal health and in organizational health).

Adding bling does not and cannot improve our health personally.  No amount of superficial adornment (e.g., jewelry, make-up, designer clothes, etc.) can improve our personal health.  
The same goes for organizational wellbeing.  Fresh paint, new furniture, re-orgs, trendy software are all superficial adornments that do not and cannot impact the fundamental health of the organization.

To fully address our personal health and that of the organizations to which we belong, it requires the following:

  1. Careful attention and assessment of the inputs that may be impairing the outputs (i.e. health and wellbeing) - whether nutritionally, physically, culturally, emotionally, socially, or spiritually.
  2. Intentional learning about both the unhealthy antecedents and the alternatives that will reverse (not mask) the "illnesses."
  3. Personal and collective commitments to making the habitual changes necessary to move ourselves and our organizations toward optimal health - in effect, altering the inputs.
Consequential leadership (in the form of personal and organizational choices) is required to make those moves.

Everything else is just bling.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


I recently read Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton (2009).

This novel by MC was a bit off his beaten path of sci-fi works, and was found on his computer only AFTER his death in 2008.

Set in mid-1600s Jamaica, the lead character, Captain Charles Hunter (a pirate) embarked upon a venture to capture a Spanish treasure ship which was holed up in a South Pacific island fortress called Matanceros.

MC melds an interesting cast of characters with some of the usual human foibles (e.g., deceit, adultery, murder, greed, extortion, bribery, etc.) to create an entertaining tale of swashbuckling aplomb.

Sure miss the mind of MC, may he rest in peace.

Monday, February 20, 2017


Train wrecks are almost always avoidable, both the literal kind and the figurative kind.

Leaders too often run themselves off the tracks, by committing some very avoidable mistakes.  Here are some of the errors that regularly result in leadership train wrecks (the figurative kind):
  • We fail to notice, acknowledge, and enlist the many contributions/gifts of others.
  • We get so busy doing stuff that we neglect the necessary act of reflection.
  • We allow the pressure to cause us to quit being ourselves.
  • We try to diagnose and solve the problems by ourselves.
  • We think and act as if the rules don't apply to us, too.
  • We neglect to build adaptability into our plans.
  • We drift into the mindset that it's all about me.
  • We spend more time talking than listening.

  • We perseverate on the wrong metrics.
Not all train wrecks are fatal.  But some are.  

Notice that all the items in the list above are well within our power to control.

Friday, February 17, 2017


We all want to win, and win BIG.  The super bowl, a championship, bell ringer stock price (for today or this week), the grand slam, the sky-high IPO,...

Rarely, very rarely, is it novices that win the BIG GAME.  Rarer still is when the folks in position to win the BIG GAME accidentally find themselves there - the result of pure luck.

True success is built on disciplined and thoughtful attention to developing the habits that foster optimal performance.  Those hourly, daily, monthly, yearly habits produce LOTS of little wins along the way, generating an ever-lengthening record of success.  The accumulation of quite a lot of useful knowledge and expertise is a perpetuating derivative.  

Those wins take different forms - trophies, market share, customer loyalty, a loving family, peace, optimized health.  We get to choose the goals.

It's that record of little wins, purposefully pursued and achieved along the way, that position us for the BIG win(s).

So, the choices we make this moment, this day, this interaction COUNT.  They count a lot.

For the record.   

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


I recently read Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers by Mark Shepard (2013). 

In this book, MS makes the case that we should shift our agricultural focus from annual crops that are planted as monocultures (e.g., corn, soybeans, wheat, rice) to highly diverse and integrated ecosystems that primarily consist of perennial, woody plants (e.g., fruit and nut trees, fruiting shrubs and vines, and perennial vegetables).

MS provides a compelling case, supported by a significant amount of data, that current conventional practices are not only unsustainable, they are in fact propelling us toward a completely degraded planet (and, thus, a human population with dim prospects for survival). 

MS reinforces his case by posing a series of questions for proponents of current conventional agricultural practices:  “Can you restore ecosystem function? Can you remove carbon from the atmosphere? Can you increase the populations of native pollinators, amphibians and other at-risk wildlife? Can you naturally aggrade soil over time without massive external inputs? Can you prevent runoff? Can you detoxify ground and surface water? Can you increase the numbers of wetlands?  Can you restore springs, prevent erosion and floods? Can you do any of this while only planting your crop once every thousand years?” (p. 183)  He argues rather convincingly that his methodology, called restoration agriculture, can answer all those questions in the affirmative. 

My favorite quote:  “We are responsible for the health and well-being of all life on earth, not just human life.” (p. 292) 

MS challenges a lot of conventional assumptions.  A very good read.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


I am blessed beyond measure (and can't explain why).  A huge part of that status, however, is due to the fact that I can count many Rocks among my mentors in life.  I've been pondering what makes those rocks ROCKS.  Here are some of the common attributes:

  • Big stuff oriented - They remain vigilantly focused on the substantive ideas and behaviors that make us all better and bring us together (and relentlessly choose to de-emphasize or ignore annoying trivial differences).  
  • Alignment - They persistently behave in accordance to what they speak (aka, integrity), and teach the same to their mentees.
  • Attunement - They pay attention to those around them, both of similar ilk and dissimilar, always seeking a better and deeper understanding of the Other.
  • Listeners - They have tremendous capacity to listen, ask good questions, and listen some more.
  • Hurtfulness avoidance - They understand that hurtful words cannot be rescinded (even if apologized for), thus they avoid them faithfully.
  • Lightness - They understand that none of us escape alive anyway, so they refuse to take themselves too seriously.
  • Lovingkindness - They have seemingly infinite ability to love and forgive.
To whom much is given, much is required...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


It doesn't matter what the leadership role is - parenting, teaching, coaching, business owner, manager, political office holder - the job is too big for one person.

Our success and effectiveness as leaders is dependent on three sets of collaborators: 

  1. Heroes - These are mentors past (alive or deceased, known personally or studied) upon whom we rely for wisdom, support, guidance, teaching, and tough love.
  2. Confederates - These are the folks who are aligned with us in the current struggle (e.g., spouses, friends, associates inside or outside our organization), with whom we can compare notes on strategies, challenges, support systems, next steps, and vision.
  3. Mentees - These are the folks (e.g., personal children, students, employees, professional peers) who depend on us (yes, you and me) for wisdom, support, guidance, teaching, and tough love.
A profound and common variable in our interactions with all three subsets is that WE, as leaders, must be intentional LEARNERS ourselves.  

Learning begets more learning.

Monday, February 6, 2017


In the song "Small Town Southern Man," Alan Jackson writes and sings that his protagonist understands that his  "... greatest contribution is the ones you leave behind."

Our legacy IS, in fact, those we leave behind, in the form of children and/or mentees.

Some important questions beg answering:

What have we taught them intentionally?
What have we taught them unintentionally?
What will we yet teach them with the time we have remaining?

Whatever those lessons (past, present, and future), they will most assuredly keep being shared for subsequent generations.

Teach intentionally, teach rightly, teach well... 

Thursday, February 2, 2017


Past, present, and future.
Up, down, and horizontal.
Right, left, and middle.
Front, back, or sideways.

We constantly live in three contextual states.  To make decisions and plans based on what we perceive in just one of those dimensions is a huge mistake.  Same goes for making decisions and plans based on data we collect from only two.

We are wise to constantly be scanning, collecting data,  gauging the contexts, and assessing the prospects using a 360 degree monitoring process.

Opportunities can pop up from anywhere.  So can threats.  

Periscope up!