Archives For Leadership

Sage Kotsenburg is the 20-year-old American who won the first gold medal of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games being held in Sochi, Russia. His gold-winning event was Snowboard Slopestyle and the way that he won contains a lesson or two– even for those of us who don’t (willingly) leave terra firma while zipping down mountains.

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Kotsenburg won the event by nailing a trick that he had never tried before and also performing an original, self-invented grab of his board called the “Holy Crail”. Perhaps most interesting, though, is that the judges seemed unimpressed by the other atheletes who performed the technical “triple cork” trick .

Most who follow the sport assumed it would take at least two triples to win the event. Sage took the top spot and avoided the triple all together. The judges sent a message with their scoring – serendipitous style can supersede technical tricks.


Perhaps the “judges” in our world are longing to see our style. At some level, we can think of our customers, employees, coworkers, spouses and friends as our judges. They watch our lives unfold, one day at a time, they watch and they wait. They don’t assign numerical scores to what they see in our lives, but they notice when we break loose from the expected.

Break out of your comfort zone

It’s interesting that Kotsenburg grabbed the gold by successfully attempting a trick that he had never performed before. Growth alway happens just outside our comfort zone. How many times have I lived today just like I lived yesterday, only because it was familiar and felt safe?

Preparing for greatness

Systems and procedures have their place. Business, and life take shape with the building blocks of great products and valuable services. As a matter of fact, they often enable us to exhibit our style. Even Kotsenburg’s new trick was a combination of popular snow-boarding moves. Moves that no doubt he has practiced time and time again.

Today’s Olympics – will you simply compete, or shine?

What will you deliver to your world today? Will it look like your competitors offerings?Will it look exactly like the goods and services that you delivered last week? Last month? Last year?

Consider taking the known systems and processes of your work and trying something new. How can you repackage or re-orient your product or service that will catch the attention, and admiration of others?

People appreciate those who nail the technical ‘tricks’ of the trade, but they applaud and celebrate those who deliver with a style that is all their own. Can you say, “Southwest Airlines?” Maybe we should stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and strive to give the world something they’ve never seen by doing something we have never done.

Embrace your style –and don’t be surprised when you find yourself on the medalist platform.

……….Each year holds the possibility of a new dream.

……..Each month serves as a yardstick to measure our progress.

……Each week offers a game-plan to live intentionally.

….Each day beckons us to realize its gift.

.Each moment crystalizes into meaning as we recognize its worth.

Life, leadership and significance are determined by our reverence of each moment.

A Secret to Success

January 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

I was talking to a gentleman recently and mentioned the topic of habits. When I asked him about his daily habits, he responded with “I don’t guess I have any habits”. Now, to be fair, if he thought about it a while longer, and asked himself “What do I regularly do that is so routine that I do it without thinking?”, I bet he would come up with a list of habits.

Webster defines habit as:

Definition of Habit on brown background

I’ve started to get intentional about observing the successful people in my life. One conclusion that I’ve reached is that their success is, in large part, the result of their habits. If you think about it, the things that we do daily actually form the building blocks to the greater goals and aspirations that we have.

Athens bound

The olympic athlete doesn’t just pop up on our television screens and accept the gold medal. Every olympian has a story of daily routine where they sacrifice the normal on the altar of commitment. The trail of every successful person (whether athlete, artist or businessperson) is strewn with the breadcrumbs of intentional, daily pursuits that progress them toward their ultimate goal.

Notice that I said trail of breadcrumbs. I did not say pile of breadcrumbs. Because the windfalls in our lives — say winning the lottery, or a big inheritance – do not prepare us to stand on the medalist platform. It is the power of consistent preparation that ultimately elevates us to success.

Hmm, there could be something here…

A friend of mine has logged roughly 100,000 miles on his bicycle. He has ridden consistently for decades. When I first learned of this fact, I thought, “Wow – that’s a lot of miles – how unusual!” It dawned on me later, though, that the impressive statistic was possible because of his commitment to regular exercise. Could it be that part of my friend’s significantly successful life as a business owner and innovator is somehow linked to his faithful commitment to exercise? I think so.

You see, regular exercise kept his body healthy and his mind sharp. Being in shape no doubt boosted his confidence in life and business. His consistent aerobic conditioning boosted his energy and alertness at the office. He probably slept more deeply that his non-active friends. Early in his life, fitness became a habit. And the habit helped him achieve record-setting growth and success.


The power to change us, to move us in the direction of our goals, is packed into these mindless routines that we call habits. I believe that the habits that we choose to build into our lives are the biggest predictors of our future achievement.

Think about the results that you want in your life. Then back-track and ask yourself what habits will help you attain the results that you desire. There are no over-night successes. We must put in the purposeful work of today and repeat it over and over again.

Successful people are characterized by daily habits that other people avoid.

What habits have helped you? Do you need to build some new habits into your life?

The Law of Excellence

January 17, 2014 — Leave a comment
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Like the masterpiece of a fine craftsman, our excellent work creates lasting impressions. This is the law of excellence at work.

“If you give the world your best, the world gives its best in return.” Good words: for the aspiring middle school flute player, the studying college student, the busy housewife, the first time employee, the struggling writer, and the executive looking for the next rung on the ladder.

There are principles in work and life that are so consistent that you could call them laws. One of them is the Law of Excellence. Our best work invites the best results, the best opportunities, the best careers, the best relationships, the best experiences, etc.

Sometimes when we are discouraged about our situation, it is easy to blame outside circumstances or others for our condition. Most likely, though, the solution to our problems is staring at us in the mirror.

What good news! This means that we are not at the mercy of the whims of others. Rather, we can improve our current situation by acknowledge and applying this simple law.

We can progress toward the people we want to be by tapping into this Law of Excellence. Don’t settle for good enough, don’t compare your work to your neighbors.

Simply ask yourself, “Is this my best?” When we take the time to produce our best work, we are actually defining the type of opportunities that we’ll have tomorrow.  Doing your best work is a pretty cool way to chart your future!

My Best always trumps Good Enough.

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January brings with it a sense of newness. The old has gone. The new is come. We have a clean slate. It seems like anything is possible.

One way that I tap the powerful sense of expectancy at the birth of another year is by setting goals. I’ll have to admit, over the years, I have been a yo-yo goal setter. Some years I do, some years I don’t.

This year I dug into it with intention and great focus. Here are a couple of things that I’ve observed that have helped me renew my commitment to have goals.

Firstly, I’ve noticed that the people who accomplish the most in business and life set goals. One of my best friends gets very intentional about setting goals each year. His faithful practice in the area has resulted in notable growth in his personal life and business. For him, it has become an annual process that serves to clarify his focus and direct his energy throughout the coming year.

Author Tom Corely has done some extensive research to determine the differences in behaviors between the wealthy and the poor. For five years, Tom studied the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 people living in poverty. His findings are noteworthy, and one of the key differences that he discovered was in the area of goal setting. He found that 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.

I have come to realize that part of my hesitance in goal setting is the way that I view success and failure. If I set a goal, then I either successfully accomplish it, or I don’t, and if I don’t, then I’m a failure, right? At times I have felt this way. The logical conclusion to this way of thinking is – Why set goals, they just serve to set me up for failure. If I don’t set goals, then I won’t fall short – because there is no standard for measurement.

Here is the change in thinking that I’ve had about goals. Instead of setting me up for failure, goals actually determine the direction and motivation for my future success. If I set a goal that stretches me, that challenges me to become and do more in an important area of my life, then I’m well on my way to success. If we don’t set our sights on what we truly want to accomplish – the odds of failing to achieve our desires are REALLY high. On the other hand, if we set our sights on what we truly want and articulate that through a written goal, our odds of significant progress go WAY up!

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We aim above the mark to hit the mark.” What if we get to the end of this year and look back at our goals and find the we did not fully reach our stated goals? I can almost guarantee that even in this case, you will have accomplished much more than if you had not set your goals at all.

Could it be that when we review our goals we should look at how far we’ve come instead of only where we want to end up? Let’s give ourselves permission to change the way we think about goal setting.  Consider setting some big goals this year – and anticipate celebrating your progress at the end of the year.

In my next post, we’ll continue our focus on powerful goal setting.

Unlikely Gifts

December 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

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What we tend to avoid, may indeed be a gift.

The bitter cold creates our love of the crackling fire.

The physical ailment sets the stage for our grateful steps of recovery.

The full schedule leads up to the rejuvenating vacation.

Pronounced thirst precedes the sweetest swigs of water.

The drapes of the darkest night pull back to unveil the brightest dawn.

The very existence of the unpleasant enables the recognition and enjoyment of the good.

If today, in your work or life, you are facing a bitter north wind,

hold on, keep going, your efforts are the kindling for the fire that will warm your tomorrow.

Your Next Step

November 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

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The power of the next step.

The next step we take, takes us closer to our goal.

It takes us farther from our last setback,

…closer to our next success.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Where do you want to go?

Do you know?

Answer that question, and your next action will most likely be to take the first step.

Showing Up

November 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

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All successful people have a habit of showing up.

Sometimes you show up, because you have to.

Sometimes your boss is you.

You realize that the old adage about showing up is half the battle is true.

Showing up is the important first step.

Sizing up, shoring up, boosting up, sprucing up… — all follow showing up.

Finish Strong Friday

November 8, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Life has its ebb and flow.

There are times to sow, and times to reap.

There are times to work, and times to play.

Focused Fridays precede Super Saturdays.

Here’s to Finish Strong Friday.


Unlikely Teachers

November 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Losses are teachers, if we will listen.

Sometimes we ignore their lessons, and the costs mount.

Pride can block our ability to hear the truth that echoes from our losses.

It robs us of the opportunity —

…to evaluate what happened

…to take responsibility for our role

…to learn what to do next time

…to learn what to avoid

…to lead.

Humility is the cotton swab that tackles the Pride problem.

An attitude of humility helps us —

… to ask better questions

… to listen more

… to focus on what, not who

… to discover

… to learn

… to grow

… to change

… to lead.

Subdue pride, model humility and lead by learning from your losses.