People Never Change Around Here!

People Never Change Around Here!

Turns out that’s not quite true. In fact, people can change quite dramatically. Recently, I read about a psychological study on people in their 70’s. If any generic group would be set in their ways, surely it would be those people past retirement, yes? So this is what researchers did: The year was 1979, but the researchers set up a house to look like it was 1959 – the décor, the radio, the tv, the shows playing on the radio and tv…everything was set to look and feel like 1959. Then, they put a group of 70-somethings into this home and told them to go and live for five days as if it were 1959 — as if they were whatever age they were in 1959. When you talk about your family, talk about them as they were in 1959. When you discuss politics, discuss the politics of 1959. Watch the shows and dance to the music of 1959…   And they did.   Now, when they entered the house, they were in varying levels of health. Some used canes and couldn’t carry their own bags; others had heart or vision issues or high blood pressure. The catch for these five days was that they were told they would receive no support from the facilitators. If they had canes and couldn’t carry their bags upstairs, they had to figure it out — carry one shirt at a time if you must, they were told. They just had to manage. For five days — just five days. Can you guess what happened? Remarkable and measurable improvement was made with ALL residents! Some who entered with canes walked out on their own accord! There was physical and mental improvement...
The Flexible Oak

The Flexible Oak

Unconditional Presence: The Oak Tree was an article last week from one of my favorite newsletters, The Daily Groove by Scott Noelle.  Noelle is an amazing Parent Coach — and oh, how I wish I could be the parent he writes about!   As a leadership coach, however, his article today really caught me. On the one hand I agree completely, especially in the context and spirit with which it was written.  Oh, to be that rooted, that grounded, that confident in one’s position!  As a parent, it has great value and gives your children a solid, safe & stable foundation to push against. The question I began asking myself, however, is whether this translates equally to leadership. After all, doesn’t leadership call on us to be flexible — at least on some level? Even if, as a leader, I am not “standing against you,” or taking your behavior personally, if someone runs into us, into our vision, into our ‘leadership,” we don’t want to damage them in any way. We don’t want them to get hurt. When is it right for a leader to be solid like an Oak Tree — and when should we be more flexible, bending with the influence of your team, of lessons learned, or of direct challenges? Leadership challenges us to walk a weird and fine line between a solid oak standing powerfully in its position, and the flexibility that allows you, your team, and your organization to adapt. After all, Darwin taught us: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” What does it look like for you to be a solid, flexible, and adaptable oak? It’s a tough question. If you want to work on...
Do You Have Permission To Fail?

Do You Have Permission To Fail?

Have you heard this one? If you can’t give yourself permission to fail, you can’t give yourself permission to succeed.   Put another way: If you’re unwilling to be wrong, you can’t be right. The amount of times this has shown up in my life, and the lives of my clients this past week, has been remarkable. We’ve become such protectionists, wanting to protect ourselves from harm and embarrassment, and in doing so we hold ourselves back. There is no way you can be your very best and show up for those you lead in the most powerful and meaningful way if you are unwilling to be the whole and real you: warts, beauty marks; stumbles, high jumps; mistakes, wins and all. It’s vulnerable, I know. What will people think if I blow it? Will I lose the respect of my team? Will they laugh? …Maybe. So what?   As long as we refuse to give ourselves permission to be wrong and make mistakes, we’re swimming with an anchor around our neck. We will never go as far or as fast as we could without it, and worse — it wears us out prematurely. What I have found working with my clients is how our behavior can dictate, or at least influence, how others experience our shortcomings. If we are willing to laugh with them, see the shortcomings as stepping stones, learning moments, and opportunities to grow, the odds are others will, too. And in turn, they will become more willing to risk great things knowing that failure has an upside. However, if we are beaten down, embarrassed, self-conscious, and judging ourselves unworthy, the odds are: they will, too.   Remember, being whole and owning all of us, our wins and our mistakes, isn’t a sign of weakness —...
How To Have Those Tough Conversations

How To Have Those Tough Conversations

We talked last week about accountability, but what happens when someone fails to live up to their end of the bargain and it’s time for “the tough conversation?” Ouch! A client of mine got a new job a couple months back, that, in many respects, was exactly what she asked for: Management Responsibility. It’s incredibly exciting; she loves the role and she’s building a proactive sales department out of a team that largely saw themselves as order-takers. But as much as she loves the job, one of those team members has proven to be…well…difficult. He doesn’t support the team, he fails to follow through on commitments, his CRM records are woefully out of date, and worst of all, clients and prospects have begun sending emails about his behavior and how they do not want to work with him. No one else in the company has ever received such an email — and he’s gotten three. Now, for someone who is kind and caring, who has given him the benefit of the doubt, who has worked hard to educate him to the benefits of the new systems and to understand his perspective, who’s tried to be creative on how to engage him in a manner that aligns with his values…this is hard to take. He resists accountability and proclaims the numbers should speak for themselves, but unfortunately, his numbers are silent and under performing everyone else on the team. And he still refuses to change course! How do you bring up issues like that? How do you talk to someone who isn’t living up to their expectations or their responsibilities? Three steps...
Accountability Scares the CRAP Out of Us!

Accountability Scares the CRAP Out of Us!

I’ve recently started meeting with an accountability partner, and it’s got me thinking: Setting goals we can be held accountable to is a surprisingly difficult task. In fact, one of my newest clients made an interesting comment on the topic: “If I keep my goals ‘squishy’ and undefined, no one can hold me accountable.” It’s true, isn’t it? The more specific you get, the more obvious it is to those around you if you miss the mark. I can relate to that. That’s why I need an accountability partner! I need to be called out on my “squishiness” and held to a more effective and empowering standard. This is what gets in the way: in order for accountability to work and have value, it requires us to be seen, which is an intensely difficult and vulnerable feeling for most people. Isn’t that why public speaking is our greatest fear in America? You are wholly, vulnerably seen. If you stutter, stammer, misspeak, or mess up in any way, everyone can see it. Because you’re visible. How does that old saying go? “Better to remain silent, and let people think you a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Without precise goals, expectations, and objectives, people can’t prove we’re foolish. But the moment we get specific and let other people in on the details, we’re vulnerable. What if we fall short? What if we mess up? What if we can’t do it? We open ourselves up to that judgement running rampant in our culture. It’s truly one of biggest obstacles keeping a lot of people from getting serious...