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Sunday, August 22, 2021


I recently read The Obstacle is the WAY: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday (2014).


I didn’t realize it until the very end of the book, but RH was really describing Stoicism. Interesting that I’ve never thought of myself as Stoic, but clearly, I have some Stoic tendencies. That, I think, is a generally good thing.


My top takeways:

-Difficulty and crisis make us better, or worse. It all depends on how we respond to them.

-NOT panicking is a learnable skill, and a quite necessary one. It is fundamental to the training of astronauts.

-Emotion almost never has the power to change a condition or circumstance.

-Things that are in my control (assuming I choose to): Emotions, judgements, creativity, attitude, perspective, desires, decisions, and determination. 

-Replacing fear with process is key to self-regulation (and organizational regulation).

-In truly important matters of strategy and deployment, have Plan A, and Plan B, and Plan C, and…

-Premortem is the act of exercising hindsight, in advance; an excellent strategy formulation technique.


My favorite quotes:

“…Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel…described what happens to businesses in tumultuous times: ‘Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.’” (p. 3)


“We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us. My choice is to wear out.” – Theodore Roosevelt (p. 71)


“If you’re not humble, life will visit humbleness upon you.” – Mike Tyson (p. 140)


I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Confirmed much of what I already believed and gave me interesting insight into some areas that I had not considered.

Sunday, August 15, 2021


Abstractions help us make sense of real stuff. 

A map of India is not really India, but it helps us have a better understanding of India. A map can never give us a complete understanding of India. We only approach that awareness by actually experiencing India. (A lifetime is not long enough for us to completely understand India, or ourselves, for that matter.)

We use all kinds of abstractions in our sense-making: maps, pictures, concepts, symbols (as with mathematics), categorizations/labels (as with race), and WORDS.

Yes, the words you are reading are abstractions for the ideas that are currently rattling around in my brain. They are not the actual thoughts in my head, nor are they the realities I am describing. They are simply coding mechanisms for those realities.

We often err by mistaking the abstractions for the real stuff.

A prime example is when we falsely believe that talking about doing something is somehow the equivalent of getting it done.

It's quite important that we know the difference. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021


The best leaders I know are as much coaches as they are anything else. These wise folks commit huge portions of their time to the development of the folks around them.

In that process, these astute leaders skillfully deploy some exceptional coaching up strategies:

Noticing -- They observe carefully the processes, the people, the interactions, the dynamics. Noticing is a discipline.

Inquiring -- They ask powerful and deep questions that not only cut through the clutter, but also compel thoughtful and reflective thinking in response.

Listening -- They listen a hole right through you when you're talking.

Engaging -- They are very busy people, but when they are present, they are fully present. 

Learning -- They are constantly learning about themselves in order to be better servants and learning about others in order to better serve them.

The development of those within our sphere of influence might well be the most important thing we do each day. Coaching others up is a learnable skill, and it always pays dividends for both the coaches and the coached.

Sunday, August 8, 2021


The best leaders I know have some notable difference making attributes. Almost all are learnable skills and/or mindsets.

Those impactful leaders exhibit the following attributes:

-Integrity -- What they DO matches what they SAY, consistently, persistently, reliably.

-Emotional-Social Intelligence -- They know themselves, they self-regulate effectively, they understand others, they are excellent at relationship management (see the writings of Daniel Goleman). 

-Betterness Focus -- They are deeply and energetically committed to improving themselves, the teams on which they serve, the communities they inhabit. 

-Courage -- They are not afraid to try new things, consider new perspectives, engage with those different than themselves, rigorously test their own assumptions, speak the truth. 

-Transparent -- They consistently convey humbleness, willingly show their vulnerabilities, and seek the advice and counsel of many others. They neither traffic in secrets nor engage in low-level conversations. 

-Voracious Learners -- They understand that LEARNING (both personal and organizational) is the basis for all the bulleted items above; thus they relentlessly pursue more knowledge and better skills.

As I review the list above, I see that I have much work still to do.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021


There are always those who cause us heartburn. It doesn't really matter who we are or what position we hold, some folks have a way of causing us heartburn.

When we find ourselves in positions of leadership, however, it seems the the number of HeartburnTistas (HTs) increases disproportionately.

Consider the following measures in dealing with HeartburnTistas:

-Engage. Engage the concerns and address the issues raised by HTs transparently and respectfully. Selfish and unhealthy movers are most uncomfortable in environments of openness and rigorous discourse. 

-Reflect. The pushback of the HTs often comes from a place of legitimate concern. Seeking deeply to understand their position, interests, and motives often reveals to us much about our own.  

-LEARN. Resistance strengthens us -- intellectually, physically, and emotionally-spiritually. We will certainly improve ourselves and our organizations if we effectively address, or adapt in response to, any legitimate challenges the HTs present.

Though it is tempting to want to curse, punish, fire, silence, and/or discredit the HTs, we are wise to avoid plunging off the cliff right along with them.

Sunday, August 1, 2021


 We all learn, every day, in millions of ways.

We learn when we read, when we observe, when we consider, when we discuss, when we listen, when we attend, when we ..........

However, nothing matches the learning efficacy of when we DO something. There is sticking power when we actually remodel that room, assemble that tool, plant and grow that garden, train for that competition, speak those sentences in another language, calculate the area under the curve, etc. John Dewey was on to something in the 1920s and 1930s when he was advocating for experiential learning. 

The late Dr. Phil Schlechty often reminded us that, "Students don't learn from work students don't do." Indeed. What PS didn't specifically note in that assertion is that "students" come in all ages. His assertion holds, regardless of age. We learn best when we actually DO something.

Applying ourselves to a worthy task/skill requires a lot of and from us, namely effort. 

Those investments of effort - the doing - always pay powerful dividends - LEARNING!