Honesty and humility…

MJ was the best baller we’ve ever seen, most would agree. He’s not such a great GM and nobody wants him as their coach. Today, I reminded one of my star athletes that he needs to demand the ball more and stop acting like a coach with his team. You see, my client has recently made his peace with his performance – he kinda stinks as a coach. So, he’s moved himself into a role more fitting of his skills, more suited to his personality, and his systems performance is ticking up as a result. All that this change required was honesty and humility. Sound easy but it’s not.

Leader, remember this, a coach is known by the athletes and teams he/she builds. Just because you were great as an individual contributor doesn’t necessarily translate to your greatness as a coach. So, look critically at the athletes your attracting and building. Unlike MJ, those of you in the world of business don’t have a built in expiration date due to your body. You just gotta make your peace with your ego and play your role. My star athlete has taken a step back and his system a step forward. Good…

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The art…

Today, while practicing with a client turned friend, a familiar tune came streaming in the background. The song is titled The Scientist and was my introduction to the band, Coldplay way back in the day. My mind took me back in an instant. Good art does this, doesn’t it…

This particular song took me back to a moment when Miss called me into the office to take a listen. You see, she had just heard this tune and immediately knew it was right up my alley. She pulled me in and I was hooked. Miss gets me and little moments like this one remind me how good it feels to be understood. Remember, the way we give the gift of understanding to another friend is in a thousand insignificant moments like these. It wasn’t long before Miss and I were standing in the front row at the now deceased Polaris Amphitheater taking in Coldplay live and amazed at how much Chris Martin reminded us both of Schroeder from the Peanuts gang. FM, baby.

So, someday, when you participate in BTL team practice and we make you listen to the song titled Talk you will have an understanding that music, art, and film are an integral piece of BTL practice because business, kinda like life, is more art than it is science. Of course it’s both but most of us have forgotten we’re artists in addition to accountants, lawyers, business owners, athletes, producers, presidents, or whatever other work identity  you call yourself. I’m an artist and an entrepreneur. I can’t sing, dance, paint, or illustrate. When I write, I mean when I really throw up the thoughts that came from the day’s work, my fingers tickle the ivories and thoughts are thrown into words and phrases that just pour out of me as if sent from above. They may not connect with you worth a nickel, but they bring clarity to my mind. The blank screen becomes kinda like a canvas and clarity comes more often than not. Like most artists the aim is not to create something popular or poignant – the aim is the art.

So, today, in practice after practice, the art came and many a picture was painted. People left with something more than they had. Heads nodded and hands were shaked. Laughs were shared and emotions stirred. It was another good day hanging out and performing art with friends I’ve known awhile and clients who soon will be more – more like friends, that is.

You, friend, are an artist. I hope you’re singing your song and hanging with friends. Good…

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Preparation, energy, and effort…

If circumstances dictate your motivation, circumstances will dictate your performance. You cannot control circumstances or other people. You can control you. If your aim is to become elite, focus on what you can control – your preparation, energy, and effort.

As Tyler Joseph commented regarding Twenty One Pilots performance, “We performed at Madison Square Garden, the same way we performed when we had five folks in the audience.” Tyler and Josh have been bringing their best since they began their band. Do not fall into the trap of only getting up for the big games, the top ranked opponent, or during crunch time or quarters end. Excellence demands that you give every day your best effort and continually open yourself to new learnings and new ways. Remember, you don’t rise to the occasion – you slip to the level of your training.

Last night in practice 34 with a team of grapplers we learned why some people get up when they’re wrestling guys like Logan Steiber (4 time NCAA champ) and why guys like Logan get up for each match as if it’s against guys like Logan Steiber. And, we learned the elite find a way to mentally detach from outcomes while staying fully engaged, energized, and giving that last 1% of effort.

If your performance depends on your circumstances, your performance is only going to be as exceptional as your opponent/market/competitors. Rise above circumstance and motivation, especially motivation brought on by outside pressure. You cannot control what is outside of you. Do not allow circumstances to dictate your peformance. Focus on competing with your best self, on your best day, and bring it. Focus on your preparation, energy, and effort. You’ll get better, you’ll see. Good…

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The courage to fight to win…

Yesterday a client and I invested some time in the courage essential. I frequently reflect on my life and my mind naturally wanders to where I’m worried, afraid, and anxious. Normal. The need is for courage – acting in the face of these same fears. Sometimes, maybe even oftentimes, the need is to stand, be with, be still, and as I look at my life these seemingly inactive moments are some of the hardest. I’m better at MOT that call for active movement than MOT that necessitate sitting, waiting, standing, or being patient. Sitting (rather trying to) with my bride these past few months has caused me to realize how impatient I truly am. Kinda sucks to admit…

One of my clients (Kyle) recently asked me to read his soon to be released book titled Fight to Win. The book tells the story of his son, Tyler, and his fight with a death sentence cancer – stage IV burkitts. The book is all about the courage of Tyler, a teenager turned into a man too early. He underwent chemo up to 18 hours a day for stretches of nearly a month at a time. He nearly killed himself in his fight to win. Against massive odds, however, he won. His dad writes well about what he witnessed. Here’s an exerpt to give you a taste. Amazing and Sobering…

“The next morning I woke up as the nurses were taking Tyler’s vitals. Kathy and I were still not in agreement on the next steps. When the nurses left, Tyler did what he had done many times. With the wisdom and courage of a child, he gave us the clarity we needed. He said, ‘Dad, it’s just like Iwo Jima.’ Two nights earlier, we had watched Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima movie. The USA bombed the island, but the enemy retreated into the islands massive cave system. So the ground troops were sent in, entering each cave, never knowing what awaited them. The only option was to make their best guess, and proceed with confidence. If they were wrong , they would die. If they were right, they might live.

Cancer is also an invisible enemy. Tumors smaller than a million cells, about the size of a grape, are undetectable. Tyler’s body had been bombed relentlessly, but we still had no idea where all the cells were hiding. Tyler said, with eyes of pure courage – ‘We can’t stop. We keep going, killing every cell, one by one.’ Courage is an amazing thing. It requires a unique blend of two opposing ideas. You must love your life so much that you are willing to endure incredible pain to save it. Simultaneously, you must take life-threatening risks that cause others to freeze in their tracks. What if we all had the courage of children? What could we achieve, if we were willing to live fearlessly? If we were willing to believe in the impossible, and never worry about failure?

A life of courage demands our full attention, energy, and engagement. The future is unknown, and our options are never safe. We must have the courage to pull the trigger. This time Tyler made the decision. He fearlessly looked at death, as he passionately fought for life.”

Thank you, Kyle and Tyler for modeling the way. Your courage inspires me. Your love of life helped you cheat death. God, help me love more passionately and live more fearlessly. God, help me give the gift of belief to my family, friends, and clients. God, help me give courage. God, help me marinate in your words; the worlds, not so much. God, help me have the courage to fight to win like Tyler.

God, help me…

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Illustrators version 2.0…

You work with liars. The higher up in any system you get, the more lies find you. Sadly, most leaders reciprocate. The best way to know if you’re being lied to is not to have the suspect take a polygraph test. Polygraph, according to Webster’s, is a synonym for “lie detector.” This, in and of itself, is a lie. A polygraph test simply measures the autonomic nervous system signs of arousal like blood pressure spikes, sweating bullets, your heart pounding out of your chest, and stuff like that. It’s not very scientific and less accurate than a trained eye. The problem is it takes too long to train the eye to master this craft so we’ve accepted a cheap substitute instead. Funny, huh.

The best way to know when you’re being lied to is to study the “body language” of those you interact with the most. Funny, most of the deadly deception in the world of work doesn’t come from the competition, it comes from colleagues. The best body part to study is the face. The face doesn’t lie for a brief second – a really brief micro-second. Problem. It takes too long to train the eye to master this for most. Moving down.

Illustrators, according to Paul Ekman, the “father of the face,” and guru of the science behind body language, are your best bet for detecting the lie. People all illustrate when they can’t find the right word, want to add emphasis to the words they got, and all of us develop a habit in how we do it. In other words, if somebody you work with is comfortable talking with you, they will illustrate in a very comfortable, default kinda way. Study this. Memorize their tendencies. Know default settings. Most people illustrate with hand jesters, arm crossings, leg shakes, and large body movements away or toward. These are easier to read than the micro expressions of the face. Study here…

When people get pissed their default illustrators go up. Same when they get excited and enthused. People illustrate less when they’re bored, saddened, an when they’re having trouble deciding what to say. If somebody is measuring their words and thinking too much they stop their normal illustrators. Study the illustrator patterns of the people closest to you and when you detect a change in their default, you have struck a nerve somehow. This doesn’t indicate a lie. However, you’ve caused some kinda distress in somebody close by. Start digging. Be clear, concise, and direct with your questions and trust your gut when filtering the response. You may dig up a lie or two.

Most corporate cultures are not a culture of truth. Most are a culture of cya – a culture of lies. I’m re-reading a great book by Paul Ekman titled, Telling Lies. It’s filled with good science, tough to digest, much less assimilate. Most people won’t like it because it’s not candy, and it’s not an inspiring, uplifting topic. The truth is, if you’re leading anything, you’re being lied to. Can you imagine the value of detecting a few?

God, help me trust first and tune into the warning signals at the same time. Help me to trust you..

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Choose better…

You and I are in a constant state of becoming. We know this when we slow down to take notice of the journey of our lives. We are becoming, my friend. We are becoming the decisions that we make. Fact.

We become the decisions we make. Slow down and reflect on your decisions today. You are becoming your decisions. You choose. Your choices have consequences. God, help me choose better. God, help me…

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Do hard things 2.0…

“Life is difficult.” M. Scott Peck

“Pain is inevitable. Misery is a choice.” Me

“Life is struggle.” Karl Marx

“Life is suffering.” Buddha

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Jesus

All righty then, I guess we can pretty much agree on the notion that life is hard. You and I will know we’ve made some semblance of peace when we begin to find joy in doing hard things well. You can do what is easy now, and life will eventually get hard. You can do what is hard now, and eventually life will get easier – eventually you will learn to do hard things well. Pain is inevitable. Misery is a choice. You choose. Your choices have consequences.

Slow down and reflect. What kinda choices are you making? Did you choose to do the hard thing in front of you or push it off on another? Did you choose to do the hard thing with your problem? Did you choose to do the hard thing with your wife? Did you choose to do the hard thing with your team? Did you choose to do the hard thing with your life? Slow down and reflect, friend.

Wanna learn to do hard things well? Start doing them poorly now. Do hard things. Good…

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