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

Sunday, October 29, 2023


Most of us come to believe that Offense is about scoring -- points, dollars, clients, etc. And, Defense is about protecting something -- property, goal lines, savings, market share.

Much has been written about Offensive and Defensive strategies, whether the topic happens to be football, finances, politics, or war.

The best tacticians don't look at Offense and Defense as mutually exclusive constructs. They understand how to deploy Offensive measures with Defensive outcomes as the objective. Similarly, these wise strategists also figure out ways to apply Defensive measures as tools with Offensive efficacy.

Winning, regardless of the competition in which we are involved, cannot be viewed only through a dichotomous and bifurcated lens of simply playing Offense for awhile, then shifting to Defense for awhile. Life (and, in reality, most games) require that we be playing both at the same time. 

Almost always, using Offense as Defense and vice versa, has to do with managing the clock or the calendar. TIME is a resource, too.

We are wise to understand the tactical advantages of being ambidextrous in the application of Defensive and Offensive measures. 

Be warned: Continuous LEARNING is required...

Wednesday, October 25, 2023


Leaders burn out, a LOT. We cannot do great good for others if we do not take care of ourselves. If we deplete ourselves, we and many that depend on us pay a price.

Just as we are responsible for the health and wellbeing of our stakeholders -- internal and external -- we are also responsible for our own. 

That means attending to our own health and wellbeing on three fronts: 1) Intellectual/Cognitive, 2) Physical, and 3) Emotional/Spiritual.

Knowing who we want to be has everything to do with how we take care of ourselves. If we do not embed habits of self-care into our daily lives as leaders, we will most certainly burn out (or in some cases, burn "through"). With that, our opportunity to leave the world a better place is lost.

TODAY is a good day to abandon bad habits related to self-care. TODAY is also a good day to adopt some healthy ones.

Sunday, October 22, 2023


Rituals have a binding effect on us. One of my former pastors claimed rituals as the "thread" that binds us to our ancestral "tribe," whatever beliefs that tribe subscribes to.

Certain faiths have well-established rituals, certain universities have long-standing rituals, certain fraternities/sororities have deeply entrenched rituals, and even certain families have powerfully engrained rituals.

When our rituals serve to bring us together around highly moral tenets and noble aspirations, they can serve as powerful attractors. That magnetism "pulls" us toward higher thinking, exemplary behavior, extraordinary effort, and relentless commitment.

When the rituals of social groups are intended to bind us in healthy ways, to do good to/for others and the earth, and to serve humankind in positive ways, they are worthy and noble undertakings. Sign up, invest, and play hard.

When the rituals of social groups are intended to do harm to others, or exist solely for the self-interests or positive outcomes for that particular group......................................consider resigning from the group and finding better ways to spend your time.  

Wednesday, October 18, 2023


Two of the hallmarks of exemplary leadership are Vulnerability and Transparency.

Being Vulnerable as leaders does not make us "wobbly" (to channel Margaret Thatcher). On the contrary, it positions us to more authentically engage with both our internal and external stakeholders.

Vulnerable Leaders look/feel/sound like this:

  • They openly share what they DON'T know, expressing a deep desire to learn more (from whomever and wherever that learning can emerge).
  • They know they can't do it all, and thus, freely ask for help from others.
  • They LEARN constantly, which signals to others that continual learning is both OK and an expectation.
  • They model that leadership compels one to be a servant, not a master.
  • They emanate the understanding that we are all intertwined and interdependent on one another. 
When I was pretending to be an athletic coach (decades ago), I noticed that the preponderance of the individual accolades that flowed once a season was over went to those athletes on successful TEAMS

We, as individuals, are most successful when we are contributing team members. Leaders are only one component of the TEAM. Being a Vulnerable Leader accelerates TEAM performance.

Sunday, October 15, 2023


I recently read Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison, by Shaka Senghor (2017). 

In this book, SS takes us through his life journey from a middle-class neighborhood in Detroit to the downward spiral he experienced as a crack dealer and his subsequent imprisonment in the Michigan correctional system.


My top takeaways:

·       I hear often hear urban settings referenced as “food deserts.” It seems to me they may also be “hope deserts.”

·       The need to survive drives ALL of us. Some have a very short menu of options to achieve that end.

·       Anger and despair are two of the most powerful motivators known to humankind.

·       Seven years in solitary confinement: I cannot imagine.

·       The ability to read and access to literature are exit tickets for many (or any) who are trapped in desperate situations.

·       Redemption is like an open door, there for anyone. The choice to enter (or not) is ours alone.

·       Love, exhibited through kindness, has power we cannot imagine.


My favorite quote:


“That’s why I’m asking you to envision a world where men and women aren’t held hostage to their pasts, where misdeeds and mistakes don’t define you for the rest of your life.” (p. 263)


I cannot remember how/why this book came onto my radar screen. It will forever live in my memory.


As nation, we can do better. As a person, I must do better.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023


PLEASE? Don't give us speeches.

I was advised by a valued counselor many years ago that the most effective communicators are not the ones who give speeches, but rather, they're the ones who tell stories. After having adopted that practice, I now know what makes a story so compelling and a speech so mind-numbing: Stories help us make an emotional connection.

When we share three points, a poem, and a prayer (the traditional speech formula).....


When we display spreadsheets full of data and start talking about the shortfalls or shortcomings.....


When we distribute a binder full of information and pablum and history and projections and.....

We pretty much guarantee that we'll lose half or more of our audience.

HOWEVER, when we tell a personal and powerful short story that has embedded in it the point(s) we'd like to make, most of the audience is seeing with their eyes, listening with their hearts, and making connections with their brains. That's because they almost always have similar stories that they have lived, experienced, maybe even survived.

When we tell a story that generates thinking, we activate LEARNING.

Learning is PERSONAL. Always has been. 

Sunday, October 8, 2023


Who we choose to BE is far more important than what we choose to do, and orders of magnitude more important than what we say.

How do we go about choosing who we want to BE?

An impactful guiding question: How will my existence on the planet make it a better place for ALL people?

Once that question has been carefully examined, we can begin scheduling our days/weeks/months/lives. Focusing our time, effort, and resources on the truly important things is the ONLY thing that moves us closer to who we want to BE.

And tomorrow......we ask that question of ourselves again.

Get better. Everyday. On purpose.

Friday, October 6, 2023


Help is hard to find. Good help is nearly impossible to find.

In those precious windows of time when we successfully attract and add exceptional talent to our Team(s), it's an excellent idea to try to keep them on the Team.

Consider the following moves to hang on to talented team members:

  • Early and often, share the WHY of your organization with those folks.
  • Clarify the OUTCOMES you aspire, and have clear metrics around which you are tracking those outcomes. Then, let those horses run.
  • INTERACT often with those players, listening closely to their thoughts. Time is the most precious resource we have as leaders; giving as much of it as we can to valued team members is a force multiplier.
Bonus points go to those of us who can avoid micro-managing. When we engage in that practice.......................we'll be looking for replacements for our talented folks in short order.

Sunday, October 1, 2023


A valued friend of mine shared a lovely concept with me this week. (I'll call him Bob for purposes of anonymity.)

Bob told me that he had been advised at a young age by valued mentor to take the following approach to life:

Whenever you have the opportunity to help someone, take it. For it may never come around again.

Yeppers. A simple tenet to make the world a better place. 

We could begin today...