About Me

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2022


High energy can make us happy, more productive, and give us feelings of effectiveness. Low ebbs in energy leave us feeling ineffective and deflated.

Energy is not what someone else does to us; it's what we create for ourselves. The choices we make impact our energy levels. 

Some proven strategies that improve energy (and, outcomes) if done on daily basis are:

  • Eat and drink wisely (consider reading Greger's How Not to Die).
  • Build in sufficient rest.
  • Engage in "peace" pursuits (such as prayer, meditation, reflection).
  • Exercise and move (intensity not required...walking/yoga work just fine).
  • Focus time and effort on the BIG picture stuff (do good to/for others).
  • Say NO to more of the inconsequential things (gossip, TV, negative people).
  • Communicate with those we love (and who love us).
  • Share love, gratitude, and forgiveness freely.
  • Abandon judgmentalism and the desire to "change" others.
  • Get into nature, somehow (breathing fresh air and soaking up sunshine).
Our pursuit of betterness always starts "at home," looking in the mirror. 

BONUS: Positive steps toward energizing have compounding effects. Score!

Sunday, December 25, 2022


I recently read Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear.

This book is chock full of guidance for those who want to engage in a continual process of betterment, for themselves or for their organization.

My top takeaways were:

·       Forget about goals, focus on systems instead.

·       Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.

·       4 Laws of Behavior Change: 1) make it obvious, 2) make it attractive, 3) make it easy, 4) make it satisfying.

·       The two most common habit cues are time and location.

·       Environment matters more than motivation in habit formation.

·       The context is the fundamental habit cue, more than a specific trigger. 

·       It is easier to build new habits in a new environment because you are not fighting against old cues.

·       Regarding bad habits…it’s easier to avoid temptation than resist it.

·       Dopamine = desire. Dopamine is released when you experience pleasure AND when you anticipate it.

·       Our habits imitate those of three social groups: 1) the close (family and friends), 2) the many (the tribe), and 3) the powerful (those with status and prestige).

·       The normal behavior of the tribe often overpowers the desired behavior of the individual.

·       Walk slowly, but never backward.

·       When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.  

·       That which is rewarded is repeated. That which is punished is avoided.

·       Charles Goodhart’s Law: When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

·       Knowing that someone else is watching you is a powerful motivator.

·       From psych research, The Big 5 Personality Traits: 1) Openness to experience, 2) Conscientiousness, 3) Extroversion, 4) Agreeableness, and 5) Neuroticism.

·       Peak motivation occurs when working on tasks that are right on the edge of our current abilities.

·       Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery

My favorite quotes:

“Now for the interesting question: If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still succeed?” (p. 24)

“Small changes often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold. The most powerful outcomes of any compounding process are delayed. You need to be patient.” (p. 28)

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” (p.28)

“There are three levels of change: outcome change, process change, and identity change…The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.” (p. 41)

"The amount of time you have been performing a habit is not as important as the number of times you have performed it.” (p. 147)

“Researchers estimate that 40 to 50 percent of our actions on any given day are done out of habit.” (p. 160)

“Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean it’s the most important thing.” (p. 204)

“Boiling water will soften a potato but harden an egg…Genes cannot be easily changed, which means they provide a powerful advantage in favorable circumstances and a serious disadvantage in unfavorable circumstances…Habits are easier when they align with your natural abilities.” (p. 227)

“Anyone can work hard when they feel motivated. It’s the ability to keep going when work isn’t exciting that makes the difference.” (p. 249)

“The tighter we cling to an identity, the harder it becomes to grow beyond it.” (p. 250)

I read quite a lot of books. This one is in the top quartile of those I’ve read over the last 10 years.

Well worth your (or your team’s) time in the reading. And implementation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


My lovely bride of 45 years and I are farmers. We gently and lovingly care for the land, the plants, and the animals (domestic and wild) in our little corner of the planet. 

We are stewards. We think/act/farm with an eye on the sustainable "health" of the land and all the lives thereon/therein. The construct is called Permaculture -- care of the land, care of the people, return of surplus.

The Farmer Continuum looks like this:

Long-term outcome optimization <<________>> Short-term outcome optimization

All farmers lie somewhere along that continuum, not necessarily on one of the extremes. 

Leaders can be thought of as People Farmers. 

A similar People Farming continuum exists. Leaders can take the approach of careful, thoughtful, long-term development and nurturing of the life-people and the land-culture within our spheres of influence. Or, we can attempt to squeeze as much as we can, as quickly as we can, from those around us.

Perhaps Permaculture is good practice in our People Farming roles, too. 

Just seems like good stewardship.

Sunday, December 18, 2022


Good questions stimulate deep reflection, often unexpected insights, and occasionally, transformational breakthroughs. Not-so-good questions do none of that. 

What's the difference?

Not-so-good questions...

  • Offend others
  • Diminish others
  • Feel judgmental
  • Seem interrogational
  • Stymie meaningful exchange

Impactful questions...

  • Invite deep reflection
  • Lead toward new insight
  • Convey value in participants
  • Generate safe and productive discourse
  • Accelerate learning (individual and collective)
It's not the question mark (?) that holds the magic. The intention of the inquirer makes all the difference. It starts with an assumption of...

"There seems something here we don't fully understand, and might be able to learn together."

Wednesday, December 14, 2022


Valence is a word that has a lot of versatility. It is commonly used in discussions of chemistry, psychology, biology, sociology, leadership studies, etc.

A cross-dimensional definition would be something like............Valence is the power to attract and make substantive connections.

If living a consequential life is a goal, it's not a bad idea to assess our valence factors.

Some interesting valence-related questions we can ask ourselves:

How well does my "vibe" attract the interest, engagement, participation of others?

What +/- valence ratio would others ascribe to me?

How might I better "connect" those within my sphere of influence?

In what ways does my valence positively impact our work as a team?

Sunday, December 11, 2022


Most of us tip the server when we visit a restaurant. That gratuity is a simple expression of appreciation for service rendered. 

Gratuity is a powerful force multiplier, and it need not be limited in its scope. We can acknowledge and honor the effort and commitment of others in MANY ways, both tangible and intangible.

Consider some common and impactful gratuitous enactments:

  • Embody respectfulness.
  • Say thanks, often and personally.
  • Be hyper-aware of the efforts and struggles of others.
  • Read and freely share the stories of iconic servant leaders.
  • Start meetings and engagements with expressions of thanks.
  • Reflect on our blessings, especially in the context of human history.
  • Donate -- time, money, effort -- to some kind of humanitarian cause.
  • Improve constantly, as result of lessons learned and noble intentions envisioned.

We're all only visiting this planet. Extending gratitude is a way to make that visit much more pleasant, for ourselves and for all those whose paths we cross.

May the Force......................................get multiplied.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022


Most of us work on teams, of one kind or another.

Teamwork is messy and challenging business. The larger the team, the more challenging the work.

The best leaders I know are masterful light shiners. They do that light-shining in several dimensions, all integrated, all the time. 

Here is that triadic Lighting effort:

  • Sunlight - These leaders insist on the cleansing, sanitizing, and clarifying effects of transparency and full disclosure. That "sunlight" engenders trust, fosters loyalty, and energizes improvement efforts.
  • Pin Light - These leaders know and engage with on a personal -- micro -- level the folks on their team and the stakeholders of their organizations. It's personal...every day, all day.
  • Flood Light - These leaders notice and publicly acknowledge not just the "wins," but more importantly, the effort and investment of the team members. They praise others profusely, authentically, loudly.
"Let your light so shine before men..." Perhaps there's an alternative secular meaning to that famous quotation.

Sunday, December 4, 2022


Some folks just give in, give up, choose the myopic and self-centric view, opt for pessimistic inertia. Being but one person on a planet populated by 8 billion humans, they take the view that we are but one grain of sand on a very large beach. How can/could we matter? 

On the other hand............

A different kind of folks choose to matter. They work to make themselves, and "things," better. They understand that hope is lovely, but insufficient. Making a better future takes intentional effort. 

MATTERers follow a fairly common and simple recipe. They zealously choose to:

  • Believe - in something bigger than themselves, and constantly seek to clarify and make sense of that grounding-guiding "vision."
  • Share - with others, both likeminded and not, those consequential beliefs.
  • Care - for themselves, for others, for the planet and universe with which we have been blessed.
  • Serve - in many ways, with eyes and hearts outwardly directed.
  • Start - now, in this moment, today, and every day hereafter. 
  • Focus - on their respective spheres of influence, however small or large. 
Yeppers. The key and repeated verb from above is "choose." Now is a good time to start. 

*Warning: There is no end in sight. Bettergetting and Bettermaking are daily disciplines.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022


The best leaders I know serve largely as Architects of organizational culture.

In very overt and transparent ways, these Architects are:

  • Futures-oriented -- They focus constantly on the "horizon" and help those around them do the same.
  • Clarifying -- Even when the ambiguities and contradictions of contexts muddle things up, they keep their attention on worthy and noble driving principles.
  • Relational -- They understand that how we treat each other is a powerful "attractor" in creating a sense of safety, belonging, appreciation, effectiveness, and value among/between organizational members.
  • Outcome-focused -- They provide operational discretion and support and forgiveness in abundance, so long as folks are achieving results (or authentically trying to).
  • Continually improving -- They invest heavily on better getting ... personally and professionally and collectively.
Architects understand that what is left behind is the legacy of what is being done today. 

What we build can and should convey beauty, resilience, ecological sustainability, social efficacy, and positive contribution.

Back to the drafting table...

Sunday, November 27, 2022


I engaged an 84-year old cowboy (Ben) in conversation during a luncheon not long ago. Ben was an interesting character, with bright eyes and a quick wit. He had been a working cowboy his entire adult life and a ranch manager for over 40 years.

Ben told me that he had "recently" quit breaking horses because he "didn't seem to bounce" like he used to. WHAT!?, I thought. Still breaking colts (and getting bucked off) in his 80s???

Though age (and wisdom) had called upon Ben to adjust his behavior and thinking to account for the realities of life, he was still exhibiting curiosity, vim, and vigor. He was, however, wisely aware that changing contexts require us to adapt.

A good lesson for us all: Get better at adapting to evolving realities/contexts. But never QUIT contributing and serving. 

How best can I continue to "bounce," even when some of the former "bounciness" is not available to me?

Wednesday, November 23, 2022


Every organization has its contrarians. 

Contrarians are habitual resisters. They disagree, oppose, block, slow, argue, distract, and disrupt...................simply for the sport of it.

Contrarians are not interested in outcomes or improvement. They are interested in "likes" and attention, more entertainers than contributors. 

The organizations that make consequential and consistent improvements, that change the world for the better, that are focused on serving well and pervasively and NOW...............somehow keep the contrarians on the margins (or in the closet).

A powerful contrarian repellant boils down to the cultural behavior leadership is willing to tolerate.

Sunday, November 20, 2022


According to leadership guru Dan Rockwell, "Wisdom is practical know-how. (Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.)" 

From observing others over the years it appears to me that wisdom gatherers fall into three categories:

  • Happenstancers  - With this group, little morsels of wisdom "stick" on and to them as result of simply living life. 
  • Attenders - This group shows up for "class" every day. They take the trouble to actually pay attention. They watch, they learn, and they apply the learning when appropriate. Their wisdom grows incrementally. They are present, and accounted for.
  • Seekers - This group adopts and embraces the HABITS of wisdom acquisition. They read purposefully, they watch intently, they tinker persistently, they listen deeply, they relentlessly engage with many wise others (across learning disciplines), they are on a continuous mission of "connecting the dots." They have learned the financial lesson of "compounding interest" and apply it adeptly to their wisdom "savings accounts." In short, their "nutrition" is LEARNING and their "exercise" is the application of that LEARNING.

You know the next question...

Wednesday, November 16, 2022


Oppressive environments mean one thing: lack of freedom.

Oppressive environments look like this:

  • Fly-under-the-radar syndrome
  • Commitment-less
  • Lack of energy
  • Risk aversion
  • Protectionism
  • Isolationist

Free environments look like this:
  • Energized
  • Transparent
  • Enthusiastic
  • Collaborative
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Innovative and creative

Talented folks have the FREEDOM to work where, and with whom, they choose.

While high quality systems are good and needful, they can never replace talented folks.

Leaders.............................take heed.

Sunday, November 13, 2022


ALL of us are teachers. Regardless of age, regardless of title, regardless of station in life.

Someone is always watching us. And they learn.

Our Watchers glean numerous things from that watching:

  • Ways of Thinking -- The way we think impacts our behavior. It has the same effect on our Watchers.
  • Ways of Behaving -- The way we behave impacts the way we think. It has the same effect on our Watchers.
  • Ways of Symbolizing -- The way we think and behave is modeled by exemplars we have chosen to emulate and manifestations/processes we have chosen to embrace. The same dynamic occurs in our Watchers. 
Through that triad we give our Watchers both permission and encouragement.

Whatever we decide to think, however we decide to behave, whichever symbols and exemplars we choose to highlight..............................is best done intentionally.

Someone is learning from our teaching. What we teach our Watchers, we teach their Watchers. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022


We all deal with problems -- in our personal lives, in our family lives, in our organizational lives.

Problems that are not addressed become an insidious drag on our resources -- mental, physical, emotional-spiritual.............whether we address them or not. 

In that case, why not pick one and address it?

Here's a good start. Ask and answer the following questions:
  • What is THIS problem?  (In just a few words, not more than one sentence.)
  • What is this problem keeping me/us from accomplishing?
  • What one action can I/we realistically take to diminish or eliminate this problem?
Today, take that step. Move the needle, just a little. Make it a habit. Repeat tomorrow.

Problem mitigation is 1/2 of the Continuous Improvement Process. 

"There's no crying in baseball!" (Tom Hanks, from the movie "League of Our Own")

Friday, November 4, 2022


I recently read Culturize: Every Student. Every Day. Whatever It Takes by Jimmy Casas (2017).

JS speaks to strategies that school leaders can enact to positively impact student learning outcomes, along numerous dimensions. He focuses a great deal of the book on concrete moves leaders can make.

My biggest takeaways:

·       A conversation is not just words flying – it’s body language, smiles, eyes, pacing and pausing…

·       Definition of Culturize: To cultivate a community of learners by behaving in a kind, caring, honest, and compassionate manner in order to challenge and inspire each member of the school community to become more than they ever thought possible.

·       Fairness necessarily means treating others differently.

·       Providing clarity lowers anxiety.

·       Power and rightness are not the same thing.

·       Tricky conversations are best had in person.

·       There is no excuse for not contacting the parent of a failing student.

·       Leaders own their morale.

·       Awfulizing is the habit of verbally bashing others, circumstances, decisions. 

·       Awfulizing = unwelcoming, rude, critical, provoking, cruel. 

·       Awesomizing = inviting, civility, accepting, deterring, compassionate.

·       Great change begins with self-change.

My favorite quotes:

“To often, however, we get stuck in the habit of simply managing a mediocre culture.” (p. 9)

“Your culture of your organization will be defined by the worst behavior you are willing to tolerate.” – Todd Whitaker & Steve Gruenert (School Culture Rewired). (p. 97)

A very nice read in relation to leadership moves dedicated to improving organizational culture. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2022


Those in leadership roles frequently feel the burden of that responsibility. It is real! To whom much is given, much is required.

Being the best leaders we can be requires us to spend some of our personal resources on self-care. If WE are not healthy and well, what makes us think we can lead entire organizations toward health and wellbeing?

From my observations of some particularly "well" leaders over the years, I deduce common forms of Leader Think in which they engage. 

Particularly "well" leaders...

  • Hold zealously to their principles.
  • Remain relentlessly committed to acts of service.
  • Doggedly pursue continuous improvement, personal and collective.
  • Engage in disciplined "exercise"_intellectual, physical, and emotional-spiritual.
  • Ask excellent questions, grounded in curiosity and in relationship building.
  • Engage and meaningfully connect with many others.
  • Model and expect respectful behavior.
  • LEARN daily.
How leaders think is how leaders lead.

Sunday, October 30, 2022


Pursuing excellence is tricky business.

Many folks find the pursuit of excellence offensive. Here's why...
  • It requires deep thinking about an ambiguous future.
  • It produces as many questions as it does answers.
  • It challenges assumptions, encroaches on dogma.
  • It requires extra investments of effort and time.
  • It exposes mediocrity and averageness.
  • It means shaking up the status quo.
  • It requires continuous LEARNING.
  • It is extremely uncomfortable.
  • It is risky.
And yet, some folks pursue excellence anyway -- zealously.

Sign me up!

Monday, October 24, 2022


I recently read Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World? by David Geurin (2017).

This book was as much about pedagogy and engagement as it was about affecting future- and life-ready students. But, of course! Are those not inextricable entanglements?

My biggest takeaways:
·      NEVER………...delay gratitude.
·      In schools, desks in rows is “the cemetery effect.”
·      In learning task design, avoid the trash can finish.
·      Learning task designer is the teacher’s premier role.
·      If we can’t change our mind, we can’t change anything.
·      Could I sell tickets for my lessons? (Are they that good?)
·      Writing improves our thinking; thinking improves our writing.
·      Unless we can do something useful with our learning, it is meaningless.
·      People complain about two things: 1) The way things are, and 2) Change.
·      If everyone in my workplace had my attitude, what kind of place would it be?
·      Embed the standards in the learning; don’t let the standards BE the learning.
·      Charles Schultz: “Life is like a 10-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use.”

My favorite quotes:
“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than is expected.” (p. 46)

“If our students master every standard but do not discover joy and passion in learning, we have failed them.” (p. 64)

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker (p. 65)

“We don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey (p. 106)

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” —C.S. Lewis (p. 179)

A good read for educators. An excellent book for team studies.

Sunday, October 23, 2022


We -- all of us -- are connected, whether we want to admit it or not. 

Easily seen are the ecological connections of nature and the underlying interdependence that goes with them. Social versions of that same interconnectivity and interdependence also exist. We are inextricably connected. That is more the case now than ever in human history. 

Are we not richer, wiser, more understanding, when we consider the viewpoints, and the antecedents of those viewpoints, of others? 

Purposefully keeping our "connections" open, and expanding our network of connections is an excellent way to grow, and learn, and get better.

LISTENING is an excellent way to make others comfortable connecting with us. It's a learnable skill.

BONUS: Eric Bibb nicely captures our connectedness in his song you can listen to HERE.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022


Getting better. On purpose. Every day.

Easier said than done. But it always starts with reflection. It's hard to purposefully move toward improvement (either personal or collective) until/unless we turn the mirror on ourselves. That mirror-gazing is both a look at what exists in this moment, and a look over the shoulder at where we've been.

WHY - Why have we thought and acted as we have been? Are those moves in alignment to where we want to go and what we want to be in the future? 

WHAT - What needs to change today to bring us into that alignment? Some "stuff" likely needs to be halted, and other "stuff" needs to be ramped up.

HOW - Knowing the WHAT leads to the HOW. The required changes in habits don't occur on good intentions. Action of some kind is required. We need to be clear about how we intend to make those moves.

WHEN - We can't eat the whole elephant in one bite, but we can move the needle a little today (how's that for mixed metaphors?). NOW is the time.


(Tomorrow we can re-evaluate and revise as needed. It's sort of like continuous improvement.)

Sunday, October 16, 2022


When we create targets -- goals, outcomes, expectations -- in life or work, we are faced with a series of decisions about how to hit those targets.

Most of those decisions fall into one of two categories:

Speed -- How fast and with what intensity are we going to pursue those outcomes? 

Accuracy -- What variability in achievement/performance levels are we willing to tolerate?

Increased Speed almost always means decreased Accuracy. Increased Accuracy almost always translates into decreased Speed. 

Knowing WHY we have chosen the targets is the starting point. When we are very clear about WHY we are trying to achieve whatever it is we deem worthy of our time, effort, and resources, then it's easier to find the right balance between the Speed at which we pursue it and the Accuracy tolerances we are willing to accept.

If we don't know the WHY, then neither Speed nor Accuracy matter much -- unless all we're doing is checking off boxes and writing reports.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022


Influencing others is tricky business. The late Dr. Phil Schlechty often reminded us that the members of our organizations are "volunteers." We must earn their engagement and effort (not demand it).

Leadership guru Dan Rockwell believes that winning over those volunteers boils down to two things that we must convincingly convey:

1. Warmth - Do others perceive us as kind, caring, friendly, honest, and service-minded?

2. Competence - Are others convinced that we are thoughtful, discerning, skillful, influential, and have sufficient positional power to deliver? 

Stakeholders (internal and external) are constantly judging us against those two standards (whether they know it or not). 

The number of "yes" responses we garner to each of those indicators in the two listings above is directly proportional to our effectiveness as leaders. 

Note: Warmth precedes Competence for good reason...

Tuesday, October 4, 2022


Rarely do I re-post a blog. This one from 2015 was on my mind today...


Trace Adkins recorded a song in 2011 titled "Just Fishin'."  

The song describes a father taking his young daughter fishing.  While she believes the experience is all about fishing, the father understands the experience to be intentionally multidimensional.

My younger years were filled with those experiences that I thought were simply "fishing trips."  Perhaps you also have benefited from the wisdom, the guidance, the mentoring, the relationship building, the solace, the teaching of a beloved parent/grandparent/great grandparent, embedded in the simple activity of fishing (or sewing or cooking or gardening or building stuff).

As time has passed, the shoe has increasingly been on the other foot.  More and more I find myself sharing important nuggets of life-wisdom through the profound acts of fishing or playing cards or gathering eggs or walking in the pasture.  Little do they suspect.  They think we're just fishin'.

Here's the song.  


Sunday, October 2, 2022


I used to believe in coincidences and random events. No longer. I have come to view the encounters I have with others, even in this space, as being Providentially directed. 

My clarity of understanding in that regard, though embarrassingly late arriving, triggers reflection on the subsequent responsibility I bear in these encounters. 

Here we are. It is no accident. Our minds and spirits are somehow, inexplicably, intertwined at this moment. 

How do/can I make your life and experience more positive as result? 

I'll do my best to bring blessings your way. (It runs both ways, you know.)

Feels like there might be magic on the other side of this Divine Appointment... 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022


We often perseverate on getting our message (or product or idea) out into the marketplace.

The first stop, however, is internal marketing.

If we fail to convince or persuade our own tribe -- family, house of faith, business, campus, team -- of the importance and efficacy of whatever it is we're trying to promote (whether tangible or intangible), then the likelihood of it gaining traction is minimal.

There are several upsides to marketing "at home" first:

  • Valued team members can help us improve the "product"
  • The internal discourse can help us clean up and tighten the messaging
  • The team members (if we win their support) will likely use their individual networks as force multipliers.
Note #1: The willingness of the internal team to actual "listen" to us is directly proportional to the quality of the relationships we have developed with them.

Note #2: Every conversation, every email, every memo, every exchange is a marketing opportunity. Intentionality is a must.

Happy marketing...

Sunday, September 25, 2022


Who among us does not deal with discouragement? Stuff happens, and usually in multiples. There's no need for me to generate a list of discouragement causers: We can all do that for ourselves, without help.

How can we deal with discouragement? Consider the following...

  • Rest - slow down, watch the sunrise, toast the sunset, listen to some lovely music
  • Reset - change physical positions, change environments, change focal tasks frequently (no more than 90 minutes per)
  • Reflect - reassess, re-prioritize, re-learn (or learn anew)
  • Connect - reach out to those you love and love you back (even if briefly)
  • Celebrate - the stuff gone well, the folks who "show up," the many blessings and people that frequently go unnoticed
  • Serve - somehow meet the needs of another (or others), no matter how small the gesture
  • Move - walk, jog, bike, swim, yoga,...something that gets Mind-Body-Spirit into the action together
  • Pray - connect somehow with the God of your understanding
Any one of those things will help dissolve discouragement. 

Multiple of those strategies is downright liberating. 

ALL of them.........is a force multiplier.

May the FORCE be with you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022


Leadership is a team sport. 

How can the leader manage the organizational attention, and the team, in order to pursue the Vision and achieve the Goals?
  • Clearly articulate the Vision and Goals in an easily understandable way.
  • Relentlessly keep the Vision and Goals as the focal point of effort.
  • Chunk the work out; all team members must have clearly articulated skin in the game.
  • Calendar regular conversations with team members about their progress.
  • Remove unable or unwilling team members gracefully and quickly. 
Job 1: Focusing the attention of the organization on the Vision and the Goals. 

Job 2: Execution toward Vision and Goals achievement.

Job 2 is harder than Job 1. That's the part where the TEAM has to produce.

Saturday, September 17, 2022


I've held several posts over the years that had the word "Interim" hung in front of the title. 

Sometimes the expectation for interim service is to fix problems, to clean house, or to "burn it down," so the next non-interim will have a cleaner slate to work with. In effect, the interim serves as a hired Gunslinger.

Other times, the interim is hired to calm stormy waters, to heal open wounds, to quietly mend fences. I think of these interim servants as the PeaceMakers.

Frequently, the interim is a person that wants the job without the word "Interim" hung in front of the title. These are the Campaigners, who engage in politicking and coalition building, with an eye on creating the fewest enemies possible during the window of interim service. This the trickiest of all versions of interim-ness. Keeping everyone happy is a very tall order.

Occasionally, a servant leader will don the title of Interim __?__ purely from a heart of service. They agree to help the organization survive, improve, and prosper. They engage in the difficult work of continuous improvement with the long view, in a short-term role. I think of these interim servants as the BetterMakers.

Really, we are all just Interims. We're only visiting this planet for a short period of time. 

I wonder how others will view our service as Interim?

Wednesday, September 14, 2022


We all just want to be more effective as leaders.

As we move and grow and learn and stretch ourselves along the journey to more effectiveness, we sometimes hit potholes in that pathway.

Here are some of the potholes that slow our journey toward betterness:

  • We spend more time talking than listening
  • We forget to notice and acknowledge the good work of those around us
  • We get focused on the little stuff at the expense of the BIG stuff
  • We opt for convoluted/complex systems instead of the most easily navigable
  • We abandon growing others and ourselves due to "time constraints"
Note to self: Dodge the potholes.

Sunday, September 11, 2022


We all influencers others. Except in the rarest of cases most of us desire that our influence has some sort of positive outcomes connected to it. 

While we don't have to possess a "title" to influence others, those in recognized leadership positions are afforded disproportional opportunities to affect positive outcomes, and vibes.

There are some concrete things we can do to make ourselves and the organizations we lead move toward betterness:

  • Focus on the best in others
  • Shift the focus from blaming toward collective resolution
  • Build bridges, not walls
  • Assist with the work, don't take over the work
  • Recognize, acknowledge, and model servant leadership
When we choose to do the opposite of those things, we should not be surprised at the the disharmony that results.

Getting better, every day, on purpose. 

We can.

Sunday, September 4, 2022


Accomplishing our organizational goals rests heavily on a lot of Talking and a lot of Doing.

Some folks in the organization are excellent Talkers. Some are superb at Doing. A precious few are good at both Talking and Doing.

Leaders are wise to assess (sooner rather than later) the skills of team members in this regard. Placing them strategically in roles that optimize their "gifts" is a consequential act of leadership.

A placement hierarchy to consider when assigning roles:

  1. TalkersDoers >> place in positions of leadership responsibility
  2. Doers >> place in positions of operational responsibility
  3. Talkers >> place in positions of some responsibility (if and only if their Talking is aligned to and advances organizational goals)
Note: Talkers whose talk is disruptive, toxic, or distracting should be marginalized or removed, with haste. The damage they do is a tax on the organization.

Thursday, September 1, 2022


Early in my professional career I often told the athletic teams I coached that "Attitudes are contagious."

I believe that more strongly now than I did then (after several decades of observation).

Regardless of our status or role, we most certainly have an impact on the attitude, the perspective, the mindset of others. That impact can enrich and improve their day, and ours. Or it can be an energy deflator. WE get to choose.

My lovely bride of 45 years (Moe) and I often reminded our daughters as we were raising them of the following: "You can be unhappy if you want. Just remember, nobody else cares -- much."

What are some ways we can be contagious in a positive way?

  • Smile - for some reason, or no reason
  • Listen - with real interest
  • Be thankful - and express it
  • Engage - connect with others authentically
  • Care - and show it
  • Serve - to make things better
Force Multiplier: Seek out and hang with others who choose to be happy. 

Everybody wins when we choose to be positively contagious.

Sunday, August 28, 2022


Some titles come with the assumption of leadership skill: CEO, Director, President, Chair, etc.

Some leaders wield influence in informal, yet powerful ways. Many title-less yet impactful leaders traffic their thinking and behavior through the media of influence.

What a blessing when the influencing comes coupled with the title!

What a complete disaster when the title comes completely devoid of the ability to influence.

If no one is following (or if the following is purely the result of forced compliance) then it's NOT leading.

Leaders are wise to take a reflective and thoughtful look in the mirror each day (both to self-examine and to see if anyone is following).

Sunday, August 21, 2022


When has learning ever NOT been blended?

The "stickiest" learning occurs when the attention of the learner is directed repeatedly, over time, and via many media toward the desired learning outcome.

The best teachers figure out how to bombard the learner with that cacophony, in invitational and engaging ways (NOT through threat, coercion, and compliance).

After all, both learner and learning task creator are continually in the process of LEARNING. Another way to think of blended learning, maybe?

No end in sight.

Thursday, August 18, 2022


Leaders grapple daily with the stuff....

the What?

the Why?

the How?

the When?

The most important question stem, however, is...

the Who?

At the end of the day -- or the reporting period, or the project launch, or customer satisfaction -- it's the people in our organization that make us what we are. 

That performance and/or perception can range from Yuk to Blah to Yeah Buddy! It all comes back to the folks on our team.

A very worthy question for us to ask ourselves as leaders:  Why in the world would smart, capable, talented, creative, and innovative people CHOOSE to work with us?

Because they can. Those kinds of folks really can CHOOSE the team they play on.

Our people ARE our brand.

Sunday, August 14, 2022


A leadership analogy...

Evangelists = Pray fervently + Preach like a beast + Seek and save the lost + Bolster and teach the flock + Add more flock + Forge (fleeting) relationships + Speak truth with a sharp edge + Craft solutions to abstract problems + Receive support from the flock + Travel to the next flock + Repeat

Pastors = Pray fervently + Preach like a beast + Seek and save the lost + Bolster and teach the flock + Add more flock + Forge (lasting) relationships + Speak truth with a softer edge + Craft solutions to concrete problems + Receive support from the flock + Live with and among the flock + Share in the daily struggles of the flock + Resolve conflicts within the flock + Manage the business of the flock + Move the flock toward espoused goals + Repeat

Now replace the word Evangelists above with Consultants/External Coaches.

And replace the word Pastors with Managers/Internal Coaches.

All four leadership roles are tough and necessary. 

Living with the flock, however, is trickier.