Stop Boring Me!

It’s 2:30 p.m., but it feels like 6:00. You’ve been in this seminar since sometime this morning and, while it’s been full of good information, you’re on overload and squirming in your seat. Can you relate? We all can. Later, when you try to bring all your carefully written notes back to your team at next week’s team meeting… they are likely to feel just the same way.

It’s 4:00 p.m., but it only feels like 2:00. This day can’t possibly be over! Where has the time gone? You were just getting started. That’s strange. There was no 300-slide PowerPoint presentation, no 20-page handout. Yet you’ve learned several pieces of great, useable information. You feel empowered and inspired to use it tomorrow. This was definitely one of the best speakers you’ve heard in years.

Data dump or inspired training? Which one would you rather sit through? If you’re like most of us, it is inspired training that results in participant-centered learning. Confucius knew what he was talking about in 451 B.C. when he said, “What I hear I forget; what I see I remember; what I do I understand.”

Do you want to breathe life back into your team meetings and training sessions? Then, make the shift from manager or lecturer to transformational trainer. Take the information and skills you want to relay to your team members and transform it from instructor-led teaching to participant-centered learning.

Bob Pike, an expert in adult learning and training, uses the 90/20/8 rule in his training sessions. No module they ever teach runs more than 90 minutes without a break. Participants are asked to participate with or review the presented material every 20 – 30 minutes, and they try to find a way to involve people in the content or change the pace of delivery every 8 minutes. This is based on Tony Buzan’s book, Use Both Sides of Your Brain. Buzan’s findings are that the average adult can only listen with attention for 90 minutes and can only listen with retention for 20. In a 2-hour team meeting, you have (6) 20-minute segments. The following is a simple formula to turn those segments into interactive learning modules that keep your team’s interest and help them truly learn rather than just listen. (And how much do we love that it nicely coordinates with Lionesses? A lot!)

C.A.T. – Chunk, Activity, Test

Chunk Content: There is no end to the content you might wish to teach such as improving phone skills or taking better x-rays, more complete data entries or understanding the business statistics and goals. Your objective is to have them do more than simply listen, understand, and agree. The key is to help them retain, perform, and replicate. Whatever the content, first break it into small, manageable chunks. For example, if you want to improve phone skills, divide that topic into four sections such as 1) introduction and rapport, 2) identifying patient concerns and needs, 3) offer appropriate solutions, and 4) get necessary information and resell value. Prepare the content to be taught in these smaller modules.

Activity. In advance, select a participation exercise for each of the four topic sections. After teaching/discussing one of the modules of information, create an exercise where the team members can get their “hands on the material” themselves. For example, you might do an exercise called “Each One Teach One” where participants teach their partner the new skill as if they had not heard it before. For the second topic section you might have each participant go to the board and add a possible question that might be good to ask a patient on the phone, creating a practice list of great questions. For the third topic section, create a “triad” with three participants in each group. One will act as a patient, one as the team member, and one as an observer. They role-play an easy scenario and rotate. This allows for a triple review and everyone gets the hot seat once. For the last topic section, use a “dice roll” where participants role a die and recall things that they have learned or will commit to doing better for every number they roll. In this formula, everyone has fun, learns, actively participates, and is engaged in mind and body.

Test. There are many kinds of testing mechanisms such as written “fill in the blank” reviews with group-designed questions based on the material, skills practice exercises, or even taping yourself or hiring a “mystery patient” service. It is in the fourth and final piece that you not only test the learning of the participants but, more importantly, the effectiveness of the trainer. If your group continues to struggle and fail at passing the test, it is likely that you should look harder at your ability to train, relay, and teach the information.

We can all recall at least one teacher in our lives that had a tremendous impact on our learning. Most likely they were different from the rest. They somehow made the material come alive for you and helped and encouraged you to continue to struggle until you had that feeling of accomplishment when you finally succeeded. Help your team (your students) get their hands on the material more often and more quickly. Stop doing the data dump and help the material come alive for them. Encourage them through the struggle of learning something new. If you want inspired learning, don’t just look to your students to become better learners, look to yourself to become a more inspired trainer and teacher. Then, you’ll find that you’re both looking forward to those team meetings and training sessions!

Hey, I almost forgot! It’s also Music Monday (always the first Monday of the month) and so, just for some fun… enjoy Teach Me Tonight made famous by the iconic Dinah Washington and brilliantly covered here by the massive talent of Amy Winehouse:

Amy Winehouse – Teach Me Tonight

“Did you say I’ve got a lot to learn?
Well, don’t think, I’m tryin’ not to learn
Since this is the perfect spot to learn
Oh, teach me tonight

Let’s start with the A B C of it
Roll right down to the X Y Z of it
Help me solve the mystery of it
Teach me tonight

The sky’s a black board
High above you
If a shooting star goes by
I’ll use that star to write I love you
A thousand times across the sky

One thing isn’t very clear, my love
Should the teacher stand so near, my love?
Graduation’s almost here, my love
Come on and teach me tonight

I’ll use that star to write I love you
A thousand times across the sky

One thing isn’t very clear, my love
Should the teacher stand so near, my love?
Graduation’s almost here, my love
Teach me, please, teach me tonight”

“The illiterate of the future will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” 
~~Alvin Toffler

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The Cure for the Cancer

Last week, I wrote about the plague of negativity infecting our workplaces today. This week, I’d like to offer some relief for those of you experiencing it, whether from an individual or group of people, or as a fundamentally negative person yourself.

Motivational Speaker, Jon Gordon, refers to negative people who are unwilling to develop a more positive approach to work and life, as Energy Vampires. It’s such a perfect description because they definitely do suck the life right out of businesses, meetings, teams, families, communities, and otherwise enjoyable events.

Case in point: Years ago, my childhood friend and I traveled to Spain to tour with her son who was attending college there. As we waited to board a train bound for Valencia, we experienced an American couple running up behind us with unmanageable amounts of luggage. By their tone and volume, it was hard to miss how irked they were that the train was actually ready to board a little earlier than scheduled. As we boarded, they complained about the train being hard to roll their luggage onto, the limited space for storing their luggage, and the lack of employees to attend to their predicament in a timely fashion. When the man came around to check our tickets, they poured their complaints on to him and even after he left, they continued to speak loudly about how indicative this was of everything they had experienced so far in this country on their trip.

As my friend and I sat silently in the same car surrounded by other traveling Spaniards, we exchanged looks and had no trouble silently communicating our embarrassment at the negative behavior of the quintessential “Ugly Americans” with their entitled, grumpy attitudes. They were literally sucking the positive energy out of the train car. We had to make a determined effort to pull ourselves back into the experience we intended to have regardless of theirs.

I’ve had people say to me that they were born negative. That they have always been the one to see the proverbial half-empty glass. They sometimes refer to themselves as the “realists” among us. Even going so far as to insinuate that others who see the half-full version of life, often have their heads so deep in the sand, they risk tragic future outcomes. They tell me that they are often frustrated that they are tagged as a negative person simply because they call the truth as they see it without sugar-coating it. They aren’t willing to simply smile and pretend that it will all work out or that everything that happens is good, positive, or without a fair amount of pain.

I want to be clear. The half-empty glass exists. The half-full glass exists. They co-exist together and actually create a perfect whole. Before we make any judgements about which is better, let us agree that both are real. So then, it is a choice as to which one we focus upon. But which one delivers the greatest value to the future? I believe they both do.

Speaking, hearing, and understanding the truth of a situation is vital to improving it. The half-empty perception speaks to the truth of what has happened. The half-full perception sheds light on the future possibilities.

I’d like to suggest that the most balanced approach to creating a positive work environment is not avoiding reality or hard truths but rather developing the mindset and skillsets to reframe them into positive forward momentum and a positive impact on others. If you want to create a work (or familial) environment which operates with momentum, leaves a positive footprint, and creates a mutually enjoyable environment in which we can all do our work, then here’s the LionSpeak prescription:

1. Claim it.   At your next team meeting, make the announcement, draw the boundary line, and call your people to their highest selves. Make it clear that, starting today, this company will be built on a positive work environment with the goal of creating massive forward momentum for the work you’ve come together to do. Put yourself at the front of the line and make it clear that you will be held to the same high standard as everyone else.

2. Embrace it. Love is always the answer. Making people wrong rarely is. Most negative people don’t really strive to make a negative impact, they simply haven’t had the mindset shift or skills to transform their behavior to be more positive. We’ve all been guilty of some form of negativity and probably will be again, so embrace the humanness in the room and help the team to simply reset the counters and reach for a higher bar for themselves and others. Jon Gordon tells of a sign posted on the door of a team member at the company, Seventh Generation, which reads, “Energy Vampires Welcome. Expect to be filled up with positive energy.”

3. Define it.  Make a list together of what negativity looks like in your environment as well as alternative behaviors. For example:

Shooting down ideas
Alternative: Create or adopt a brainstorming system to create a list of unjudged ideas followed separately by listing positive aspects of each idea along with potential challenges and necessary elements for success.
> Unresolved conflicts or feelings
Alternative: learn and commit to a system for addressing disagreements and conflicting opinions.
> Complaining, blaming, gossiping
Alternative: create a code of conduct which you all sign and to which you all agree, as well as practicing non-judgmental, positive responses to those who engage in this behavior in the future.

4. Manage it. Our experience is that teams who take a courageous, honest, and clear approach to changing a negative culture, don’t have difficulty getting the majority of people on board quickly. When people do break the code and the rules, don’t wait to address it. Decide if the infraction can be positively called out in public and corrected (as in a friendly reminder of our commitments) or whether it requires a more direct approach in private. For those very few outliers who doggedly hold on to their negative ways, you must be prepared to cut them loose. Our experience is that when the entire team is committed, most people who are proud of or righteous about their negativity will take themselves out of the team on their own. It’s uncomfortable and practically impossible for true negativity to survive in the bright light of a positive culture.

5. Enjoy it.  The rewards of building a positive work environment is experienced in the smiling, happy faces who greet you, the infectious creativity unleashed in meetings, the resilience in the face of adversity and setbacks, the confidence of working on a team who’s got your back, and the joy in successfully bringing the good work you were all called to do to a world which desperately needs it… and knowing you did it together as one positive, unstoppable team of positive professionals.

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
~~Mahatma Gandhi

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The Cancer of Negativity

Negativity. The terminal cancer of workplace culture.

Negativity is like a microscopic germ placed in a warm petri dish. Nestled in an environment with no defenses preemptively built in, it will grow, multiply, and spread so silently and slowly that it’s almost unnoticeable to others until… it’s deadly.

When a workplace has a tolerance for people who exhibit negativity, they become the unwittingly rich environment for bad things to germinate and take control. No one would say they want or support negativity or that it has a positive effect on any workplace. So why do we see it everywhere?

Well, first… what exactly qualifies as negativity? Here are some descriptors from the dictionary:

~ Unpleasant       ~ Disagreeable     ~ Gloomy             ~ Pessimistic
~ Unfavorable     ~ Hostile                ~ Disparaging     ~ Malicious
~ Opposition       ~ Resistance          ~ Negation

At LionSpeak, when we observe negativity in the workplace, we typically experience it as pessimism, passive aggressiveness, whining, complaining, gossiping, blaming others, and the constant shooting down of ideas without any alternative contributions. It also shows up physically as sour faces, rolling eyes, low energy, and mumbling under the breath.

If you think about it, being negative is lazy. Being negative means you don’t have to come up with any good ideas, you don’t have to take any responsibility for changing the status quo, you get to play the part of the victim, and you don’t have to muster any courage to handle unresolved conflicts or feelings.

When low energy, disconnection, and mumbling under the breath become the norm in a company… the business will suffer in countless ways. Clients notice and when they do, you will too… in bad or non-existent reviews, low sales acceptance, broken appointments, and low or no referrals. And, it’s a vicious cycle. So often when this occurs, we blame the economy, our industry, or our competition instead of the root cause.

During the last recession, many businesses suffered but some thrived. At LionSpeak, we observed an interesting commonality. The suffering in businesses was commensurate with the level of negativity, blame, and pessimism allowed to fester within a team. The thriving within businesses was also commensurate with the level of positivity, creativity, and optimism which was truly alive and maintained consistently within the team. And, there was one more important observation: Those teams that never missed a beat were the ones that had the strongest muscles already when it came to positivity. They didn’t start when the recession hit… they were already primed and ready. It was already a strong corporate value and a way of life.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore how to combat negativity in a positive way for all involved. But, for this week… know this: Extracting negativity in all it’s forms and with all it’s debilitating outcomes starts at the very top. The bottom line is that the leader of the team or organization must make it crystal clear and non-negotiable that negativity will not be tolerated or accepted. Period. And, then the real work begins in shaping your people and providing them with the mindsets, skill sets, tool sets, and support to do better once they know better. You’ll be surprised at the astounding turnarounds when the petri dish of your work environment no longer supports the germs of negativity and only fosters positive behaviors and attitudes.

“I think that life is difficult. People have challenges. Family members get sick,
people get older, you don’t always get the job or the promotion that you want.
You have conflicts in your life. And really, life is about your  
resilience and your
ability to go through your life and all of the ups and downs with a positive attitude.” 

~Jennifer Hyman

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A Culture of the Heart

I spent a couple of rich, productive days with my dear friend, Mary Fox, recently. There are just certain people who consistently and effortlessly fill your bucket, and she is one of them!

Mary had just returned from a trip to Jamaica with her husband, and they stayed at a beautiful Hyatt resort on the island. In a conversation we were having about the idea of creating culture within a business and team, she shared how impressed she was with the sincere culture of caring exhibited by the entire staff at the Hyatt. She knew that most employees of large, luxury hotels are well-trained in customer service, and sometimes that results in a feeling of insincerity and over-compensation. But, at this resort, she somehow felt it was truly coming from the heart.

It took her a few days to notice that when she interacted with or passed by a resort employee, they would often put their hand softly over their heart and greet her or ask, “How can we take care of you today?”

When she thanked one of them for something, instead of the common, “No problem,” they responded with, “My pleasure” or with a simple, “You’re welcome.”

She noticed that their eye contact, focus, pace, and energetic connection was sincere and spot on.

All of these added up to a feeling of warmth, connection, and a sincere desire to serve. So how do we build a culture of the heart in our businesses?

First, you must define cultural and brand values for your business. Brand values dictate how you will behave with clients and the promises you will make to the marketplace. Cultural values define how you will behave with one another as a team and are internal promises you make for working within your company. Then, you train your people and arm them with the skills to be consistent and authentic when they deliver on both.

I believe it is highly likely that the Hyatt in Jamaica had clearly defined values both for clients and for their internal team along with some great training … and it showed.

This week consider what your brand and cultural values are for your business and team. How well have you communicated these values, and what training do you have in place to ensure that they are demonstrated on a consistent basis and in a natural and authentic way?

If you are looking for help in building a culture of service and teamwork, you must know how to coach your employees on an ongoing basis. You can learn these and other important leadership skills at our Leaders of the Pride workshops in San Diego and Ohio in 2019. Join Us! We’d love to introduce you to a whole new way of continually growing your team to greatness.

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job
every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
– Jeff Bezos

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Music Monday: From Now On

In high school, I was a member of the National Honor Society and, in turn, was also a clarinet player in the band, dancer on the drill team, cheerleader on the cheerleading squad, and sang as a member of my church choir. I tell you all of this to say that I had many great “team” experiences very early in my life.

But, by far, the most satisfying one came late in my senior year when a newly hired drama teacher decided to put together an acting team to compete in a sanctioned one-act play competition. I auditioned and landed one of the major roles in the play.

I’m not sure why this particular team endeavor was more powerful for me than the others. Many of the other teams I had participated with where larger and grander. But, only this one left me still wanting to participate in it, 45 years later.

The play was called Goodbye to the Clown and had only six characters. I played a grieving mother of a young boy trying to process the death of his father. The role required me to look much older so my director put me in a matronly dress, cooking apron, and brown wig… which definitely did the trick. You can imagine the uproarious laughter and snide remarks from my classmates when I walked on stage at the dress rehearsal before our entire school prior to the competition. I had thought I was ready, but that perceived ridicule caught me by surprise and shook my confidence. Our drama coach knew it.  The evening of our final practice, she took me aside and said,

“In all the years I’ve been coaching drama students, I’ve never met one that was more authentic in their role, more passionate about their performance or more committed to practice as you. But tonight, for some reason, you’re hesitant and playing small, and I think I know why.

Your classmates laughed at you earlier today for about 30 seconds when you appeared on stage. They did it because it was a shock for them to see you for the very first time 100% in character. Now, you’re allowing that short, initial, and understandable reaction to overshadow the 30 minutes that followed of intense performance in which you could have heard a pin drop. You’ve hyper-focused on a short event instead of the long game. 

As we compete, unexpected things are going to happen while you’re on stage. Whether it’s a surprising reaction from the audience, a prop malfunction, a lighting snafu, a stumble, forgotten lines by you or a fellow actor, or a coughing fit that suddenly steals your voice, your job is to expect the unexpected, stay in character, welcome it, dance with it, absorb it, move through it and use it to feed your passion for the work. Do that, and you’ll be a true actor. Do that, and we will be unstoppable.”

When our small-town drama troupe managed to make it all the way to the Texas State Regionals, everyone, including us, was shocked. I was immensely proud to be one of two actors in our group to receive an all-star cast award.

It’s satisfying to be a part of delivering something really good which was born from dedication, sacrifice, coaching, and team work. It’s also extraordinary to feel moments of sheer joy and passion in your work. I felt that for the first time in a significant way with my drama teammates, and I’ve been chasing it my whole life since.

Imagine if your team entered a competition, performing against other teams, for the very best one-act, new client experience? What would you de-construct and re-construct with more precision, flexibility, refinement, creativity, and passion? What kind of practice would you commit to, and what kind of coaching would you seek so that you could land the winning performance no matter the expected surprises?

On this Music Monday (always the first Monday of every month), I’ve chosen From Now On from the movie, The Greatest Showman, which is performed in rehearsal by Hugh Jackman and cast. The song in and of itself is inspiring, but this particular clip always stirs my soul because it demonstrates how compelling passion can be when you are working on something that matters to you and to your community. It demonstrates how true professionals dance with the unexpected, how practicing and rehearsal make for premium performances, and how unstoppable you become when true passion meets raw talent inside an amazing team.

From now on… I hope you and your team will remember what it’s like to ignite this same kind of passion in your work, that you’ll enjoy the practice it takes to create and perform at your highest level, and that you will feel and know you are absolutely unstoppable.

From Now On from The Greatest Showman

I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind
Blow cold
A man learns who is there for him
When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold
‘Cause from then, rubble
One remains
Can only be what’s true
If all was lost
Is more I gain
‘Cause it led me back
To you

From now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
Let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on

I drank champagne with kings and queens
The politicians praised my name
But those are someone else’s dreams
The pitfalls of the man I became
For years and years
I chased their cheers
The crazy speed of always needing more
But when I stop
And see you here
I remember who all this was for

And from now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
It starts tonight
And let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on
From now on

And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!

From now on!


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Training for Success

Rapid growth, without the tools to sustain it, is a recipe for failure. Take Diane, for example.

Diane was one of the best employees we’ve come across in three decades of dental, healthcare, and executive coaching. Her official title was Practice Administrator. She was a magician — keeping the schedule filled, organizing productive meetings, keeping collections high and accounts receivables low, motivating almost anyone to start treatment, getting to work early— and she had a quick mind, great attitude, and a smile on her face. She was viewed as the “Office Manager” even though that job consisted mainly of managing vacation schedules, payroll, and some bookkeeping. She had never actually hired, fired, or disciplined any employee. She had never given a performance review nor had a coaching conversation with anyone. She did not set or review goals and had never seen a budget or a P & L statement.

One day she was called into the owner’s office to learn that he had purchased two nearby practices and would be consolidating them with his into one group practice over the next few months with future plans of adding more locations. He told Diane that because of the stellar job she had done for him and the way the team and patients loved her, he wanted to offer her the job of Practice Administrator… which was what she thought she already was… with a nice bump in salary and a few additional benefits. She would just need to watch over all three practices just like she had this one. Easy peasy, right?

Diane was flattered, excited, and anxious to help. She enthusiastically took the position… no questions asked. And, that was where the trouble began…

Over the past decade there has been a huge rise in the consolidation of healthcare, veterinary, and dental practices. To achieve economies of scale and compete with large MSO’s or DSO’s, many solo practitioners form small- to medium-size groups. This restructuring typically demands a new mid-level tier of management.

At LionSpeak, we have seen countless people promoted into these exciting positions because they were loyal, dedicated employees and very good at their jobs… be it scheduling, treatment presentations, hygiene, or chairside assisting. But, being good at a skill is not the same as being good at managing, growing, and leading a team of people. Those are different competencies altogether.

Without the proper tools, training, and ongoing support, anyone will struggle in a new position, especially if they are now in what we call the “sandwich position”… working directly between the owners and the team.

One of the most important skills a mid-level manager must master is the ability to have courageous conversations with co-workers, subordinates, and those at higher levels of leadership. They must be able to clarify, inspire, and coach their teams to higher levels of productivity and excellence. They must make sure their team members align with the owner’s vision and values. They must have crucial, sometimes hard, conversations with the leadership team when issues arise and clarification is necessary. But, they must also be able to handle these situations with grace, non-judgement, and from an emotionally-stable position, always setting the example for others on how to communicate like a pro.

Luckily, these are not difficult skills to learn, though they can take some practice to master. Without these skills, understanding how the schedule works or how to close a treatment presentation won’t make much difference because newly promoted managers can no longer do it all alone, no matter how well they did it in the past. To accomplish the goals at this level, they need a team; therefore, they must master delegation, coaching, and growth techniques.

If you find yourself in this position now or you aspire to a management position in the future or you are thinking of promoting someone within your own business… set yourself and your team up for success. Invest in training and ongoing support to help them master the skills they’ll need to inspire, nurture, and thrive with the team they are called to lead.

This is what we do at LionSpeak. We’d love to help.

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning
into action rapidly is the ultimate advantage.”
Jack Welsh, former CEO of GE

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Winning When We Lose

We all love to win. But life and business are not fair. No one ever said they would be. We will inevitably lose sometimes. And, how well we lose says a lot about us.

In the past 15 years, I’ve organized, moderated, or sat on the judges’ panel of several outstanding speaker’s competitions and showcases. And without fail, there always seems to be a few sore losers. Either they weren’t selected to compete, they didn’t win the prize, or they received some critical feedback from the judges that they weren’t expecting or with which they did not agree. Ironically, most competitors were invited to speak at some major meetings, whether they won or not. But meeting planners have shared with me over the years, that how those speakers acted and reacted to a loss was a major determining factor in making the offer. People are watching us, on and off the stage of our life and work.

If you aspire to be a professional in any business or you just live an active, engaged life, you will experience some losses. Take these for example (and don’t ask me how I know): A potential client chose a competitor’s bid over yours. You weren’t accepted to the school or program to which you applied. A governing board rejected your fellowship or certification application. Another woman got the guy. Someone else won the competition. Another applicant got the dream job, or another employee got the promotion. A different speaker was selected for the program. You didn’t win the nomination or the vote.

What if we reframed these “no’s” into “not yet’s”? Then, we could see them as opportunities to not only improve but also to practice better and better personal responses. Professional character is forged by these occasions to get back up, learn and grow, and get back in the game. Learning to see the opportunities embedded in them is half the battle.

Here are some tips, not just for speakers but, for any of us when we experience a “Not Yet.”

  1. Be classy. Respond with grace, sophistication, and class. For example, send a personalized note thanking the decision makers for the opportunity. Mention how much you grew and learned from just going through the process. This shows that you respond to challenge with maturity and would be easy to work with in the future, especially when things go wrong… a fantastic reputation to carry you into your future for sure.
  2. Apply again. Be sure to say that you will be applying again next year or for the next opportunity, and you look forward to developing much more during that time. This shows that you are willing to roll up your sleeves, do the work, and try again until you win. Winning the long game almost always goes to those who continuously show up.
  3. Cheer for the winners. If you’re not selected for a competition or event, send an email and let them know you’ll be in the audience cheering on the chosen competitors or on the sidelines ready to help the person who did win. This tells the group or person that you are not a sore loser, but rather a collaborative, supportive colleague who knows how to play for the larger game and the entire team.

Think of your efforts in business and life as a marathon, not a sprint. Get in it for the long haul and be open to all there is to learn from both the “Yes’s!” and “Not Yet’s.”

“When I was a kid, my mother told me that if you could not be a good loser,
then there’s no way you could be a good winner.”

~~ Halle Berry

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On Your Mark… Go!

Okay. I’m doing it. I’m writing a book on Courageous Conversations. Yep. It’s outlined and the first chapter is complete. And, guess what I’ve discovered? Starting was the hardest part. I wouldn’t say that trying to write a book is the easiest thing I’ve ever taken on but once I got started, I almost instantly gained momentum.

In this new year, what’s the dream you’ve been dreaming about that you keep putting off until the “perfect time?” You know, when all the stars are aligned, all the other items are crossed off the list, or you’re finally skinny, rich, or more experienced.

Whether it’s becoming a speaker, asking for a promotion, starting a business, developing a new website, having that courageous conversation, creating a workshop, trying out a marketing idea, committing to an exercise routine, or writing that book that only you can write… start. Just start. Because starting creates momentum and momentum creates clarity, excitement, and growth.

This week, decide on your race and put your running shoes on. Walk up to the starting line. Set your gaze upon the finish line out in the distance and go. My friend, Stephanie North Mohan, just completed her first (and she says, her last) marathon. She posted that she saw a T-shirt that said, “DLF is better than DNF is better than DNS.”

Dead Last Finish is better than Did Not Finish is better than Did Not Start. Start now… right in the middle of the imperfect world you’re living in… and let your momentum caring you to the finish line.

“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’
Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have
at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”

~~George Herbert

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Music Monday: Welcome to my Revolution

We made it! 2019. Despite political upheaval, super storms, and dire predictions, we have somehow miraculously made it into the New Year… as we always do.

On this first Music Monday of 2019, I chose “A Brand New Year” by SheDaisy. It’s a perfect song for the start of a new and pivotal year as it’s not so much about resolutions as it is about revolutions.

Here’s the thing: There’s a groundswell happening… A quiet revolution, of sorts. I, and lots and lots of people I know, can feel it just under the skin, fermenting, bubbling up, ready to uncork like a New Year’s champagne bottle. It’s the recognition of flow.

Like a river which divides and separates to flow around a boulder in its path, prosperity and success is flowing all around those boulders of reality that other’s keep warning you about… all we have to do is get in it and let it take you quickly, effortlessly, and joyfully to everything you want and are capable of creating for yourself. And, when we momentarily “pop out” (which you will!), all you have to do is get yourself right back in.

Even better, there’s a peace that comes with being in this invisible but palpable flow. When I’m in it, I’m not really tempted to convince others about its existence all that much or argue about what the future holds or what they believe. I’m too busy enjoying the great ideas that are flowing almost effortlessly, the fun work, and the crazy good opportunities, lucrative projects, and stunning contacts that present themselves as seemingly serendipitous and lucky coincidences.

You may be asking, “How do I get myself into this flow of abundant propensity? How will I recognize when I’m in it?” Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way about getting and staying in the flow.

Believe. First, you must believe it exists at all. Most of us got in here on faith. We wanted something so badly or felt such a deep calling from within, we just jumped! And in that scary, exhilarating free-fall, we recognized we wanted to be there more and more, and we learned some disciplines that put us in, keep us floating, and get us back there every time we pop out.

Notice how you feel. Next, you must get in touch with and learn to be guided by how you feel. When you feel positive emotions, you’re in the flow. When you feel any negative emotion, you’re out. Simple as that. The trick is to notice the negative emotions and get good at finding ways to feel better about whatever has triggered the negative. It’s become a fun game for me and keeps me in the flow a lot more.

Love what is and enjoy dreaming of more. Engage in a daily practice of total gratitude for what you currently have and what you’ve already accomplished. Then, include in this time a quiet connection with what you really want, visualizing it and feeling the excitement of its unfolding. It will show itself to you, and it will feel incredibly good.

Swim alone. Next (and this is one of the most challenging and important step!), you must recognize this is a singular game. You can’t do it to please, spite, compete with, or impress anyone else. It must emanate from a personal, internal passion and fire which can only be realized by doing it your own way in your own time. Release what anyone else thinks about it or how poorly or how well anyone else is doing with the same or similar dream. The key to being in the flow is the discipline of bringing your attention to what you want, blessing everything you see and anyone who comes into your circle and disconnecting from the demands or expectations of others.

Get to work. And finally… you roll up your sleeves and get to work. Happy, joyful, exciting work. In the flow, it feels clear who you should call and who to ignore; what projects to work on and which opportunities to seize. Out of the flow, it can feel overwhelming and fragmented. In the flow, working from your core, you hardly want to stop. Out of the flow, you can’t wait to be done. In other words, using your own internal compass to decide what steps to take and what opportunities to say “yes” or “no” to. Again, in the flow, you’ll KNOW.

You might not know when you are out of the flow (at least not immediately), but you sure know when you’re in it! There are so many delicious choices and opportunities everywhere you look that, at times, it seems impossible to select just one, but you know you will and you’ll know somehow it will be just right.

I couldn’t be more excited or more certain that 2019 will be a pivotal and substantially successful year for me, my team, and anyone living their lives from the flow. It takes belief. It takes courage. It takes commitment to live from our own knowing and not anyone else’s.

I’m wishing you a year ahead of living and working from within the flow of abundance which already exists, is already flowing all around you, and is just waiting for you to jump in!


Welcome to my revolution, baby.
Lucky you, lucky me
The way we were meant to be
This is my one resolution and I make it with no fear
It’s never been so clear
Second chance is what got me here
To live, to love, today
‘Cause it’s a brand new year!

SheDaisy – Brand New Year (My Revolution)

“My revolution
Welcome to my revolution
My revolution, my revolution,
my revolution, my revolution
My revolution
Yeah, yeah, yeah –

Learning to turn the outside inside out
(inside outside inside out)
Having the courage to find what life is all about
Loving so purely can surely melt a frozen heart
Knowing sometimes all over’s
The perfect place to start

Welcome to my revolution
Lucky you, lucky me
The way we were meant to be
This is my one resolution and I make it with no fear
To live, to love today
‘Cause it’s a brand new year

Seeing the world through rose-colored eyes
Yeah, this is my one big chance and
I’m gonna take it twice
With the past down below,
I know love lifted me up here
So I’ll take a breath, kiss the sky, toll the bell
‘Cause it’s a brand new year

[Repeat Chorus]

Resiliently reclaiming me
Refining my recovery
Untwist my fate, unlock the gate
Let’s make a little noise
‘Cause it’s a brand new year
Oh, welcome to my revolution

[Second Chorus:]
Welcome to my revolution, baby, yeah
Lucky you, lucky me
The way we were meant to be
This is my one resolution and I make it with no fear
It’s never been so clear
Second chance is what got me here
To live, to love today
‘Cause it’s a brand new year

Lucky you, lucky me
‘Cause it’s a brand new year
Oh, oh, lucky you, lucky me
‘Cause it’s a brand new year
Welcome to my revolution
Lucky you, lucky me, yeah, yeah
Welcome to my revolution
Lucky you, lucky me, yeah, yeah
Welcome to my revolution.”

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Music Monday: An Instrument of Peace

I’m not Catholic, but I love many of the beautiful traditions of the Catholic faith. My favorite is the lovely story and mythology surrounding the 13th century Italian Saint Francis of Assisi, the church’s patron saint of animals. My mother always had some stone version of St. Francis in her flower gardens, usually surrounded by birdfeeders and birdbaths. Often the real birds, which she loved so much, would sit perched on top of or next to their stone likenesses on the statue, all of them wrapped in the tender embrace of the Saint’s arms. I could never look at that scene without feeling a quieting in my soul. My father fondly, albeit a little irreverently, referred to him as “Frank” which always tickled my mother and is still our family reference to my own saintly version who resides in and presides over the birds and blooms in my flower garden at the Ranch.

Francis of Assisi was considered the first Italian poet by literary critics. The anonymous 20th century prayer, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace, is widely attributed to his earlier writings. He was known for many beautiful qualities, one of which was finding and seeing the good in every living thing, person, and situation. The words of this famous poem reflect that trait. The poem was part of the daily prayers of Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, and the current Pope Francis. It was recited by Margaret Thatcher on the doorstep of #10 Downing Street when she was elected Prime Minister and is considered the “Step 10 Prayer” for members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Though it’s not officially a Music Monday, I’ve decided to recycle a song I’ve written about before…. Sarah McLachlan’s hauntingly beautiful version of the Prayer of St. Francis… for several reasons. First, like every year, 2018 has had its fair share of tragic events. Given the complexities of finding answers and actions which would make a positive difference for our future, it’s easy to feel impotent and helpless. If I allow myself to stay in this negative space though, I never feel creative, certain, or empowered to create any change.

On the other hand, if I turn my attention to the impact that I can make within my small sphere of influence, and I focus my attention on the heroism, selflessness, and love I see revealed in many of those stories and events, I find amazing inspiration and creative ways to respond or contribute. This prayer speaks to that choice.

Secondly, this song is sung not only by Sarah McLachlan but also by a choir of teens who attend her School of Music, supported 100% by donations of money and gently-used instruments by average people like you and me to provide intensive, after-school music programs to under-privileged and at-risk children. It’s a testament to what one person, and many aligned in a common vision, can do when they make others their focus. It shows us there is still so much good in the world being done and being shared. This poem also speaks to that.

And lastly, it’s the dawn of a brand new year, and that’s always a good time to remind ourselves that where there is darkness we can sow light, where there is despair we can sow hope, and that it is in giving that we receive.

Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis

“Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.

O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive-
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

To learn more about this inspiring music program
for under-privileged and at-risk children
or to make a donation to the
Sarah McLachlan School of Music, click here.

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