My core philosophy over the years of training managers and developing leaders is based on the belief that Small Shifts in behavior over an extended period of time lead to less resistance and bigger results.  My book by that title used the framework of Sisyphus, the Greek legend that was doomed to forever rolling the rock up a hill, only to have it fall down again.  We don’t want this to be the leadership journey that you experience.

Each month this newsletter will focus on some important Small Shifts that you may want to consider.  They will be presented through a combination of my own experiences, lessons/quotes from critical thinkers in the field of leadership and coaching questions to stimulate your creative mind.  The last section will be a refresher from one of our learning sessions.

I. My Own Experiences

A morning gratitude practice frames the day in a way that allows you to keep the challenges in perspective, especially when most of the day is going really well and just a few things went off track.  I use this five minute video as part of my morning ritual,

When you start to notice your resistance to the perspectives of others step back, deepen your active listening and stay curious about their point of view.  The more you fixate on your version of the story, the less others will see you as a willing partner in problem-solving.

II. The Brilliance of Others

From Jordan Peterson, Clinical Psychologist and author of 12 Rules for Life.  Rule #4, Compare yourself to who you were yesterday and not someone else today.  Comparing yourself to others damages your sense of self while working to improve on your past self will fulfill you.
From Pat Lencioni, Leadership Guru and author of Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  “Great teams do not hold back with one another.  They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry.  They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisals.”  In order for teams to achieve this level of trust, there needs to be a safe enough environment that allows people to be vulnerable and transparent.  Leaders need to set this tone by being open and vulnerable themselves.

III. Coaching Questions…Committing to your next Small Shift…

  • What holds you back?
  • What’s in your control?
  • What’s one step forward?
  • If you are saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
  • If you could change just ONE thing right now, what would it be?

IV. Applying the Learning

Crucial Conversations – Don’t let the “pinches” turn into “crunches”; have those crucial conversations as soon as possible.  Remember to establish the mutual purpose and mutual respect.  When you notice that “safety” is lost, stop the conversation and shift from “content” to “conditions.” Discuss what went wrong and re-establish safety.  Failure to make this shift will undermine trust, lead to poor decisions and cost time and energy.

I. My Own Experiences

Over the last month I have made it a daily practice to read sections from the book, Peace is Every Step, by Thich Nhat Hanh.  Thich Nhat Hanh was a Vietnamese Thien Buddhist monk, peace activist, prolific author, poet, teacher, and founder of the Plum Village Tradition, historically recognized as the main inspiration for engaged Buddhism.  The subtitle of the book clearly defines its core theme, “The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.” The book provides you with so many fundamental “reminders.” In the rush and busyness of our daily lives it is easy to lose touch with the peace that is available in every moment.  We all need more peaceful moments!

I often tell people that I am compulsive about not being complacent.  Yes, in some ways you can say that this is unhealthy, but in other ways it keeps me learning.  I never want to let the things that I have become an “expert” on make me myopic to all of the things that I still have ahead of me to learn and understand.  I read more books and articles and listen to more podcasts on the topic of leadership and management that any other subject, even though I would consider myself pretty astute in that arena.  It is critical to have a “growth mindset” and never stop learning.

II. The Brilliance of Others

The Power of Listening – Ted Talk by William Ury, the author of Getting to Yes.  Ury is globally known as a master negotiator.  This very engaging talk reminds us of the key benefits of being an active listener, it helps us

  1. better understand the other side
  2. connect with other people
  3. get the listening that we are looking for from others

Just Breathe (Mastering Breathwork) by Dan Brule.  Dan Brule is the world’s foremost expert and renowned pioneer in the field of breathwork.  I came across this book as part of the learning from a 4-Day Breathworks Program that I participated in during a trip to Costa Rica last year.  The book provides dozens of breathing techniques that provide benefits for a wide range of issues, including: managing chronic pain, helping with insomnia, weight loss, anxiety, depression, grief; improving intuition, creativity, mindfulness, self-esteem and leadership, and much more.

III. Coaching Questions…Fostering ownership, care and commitment in others

  • What’s on your mind?
  • What else?
  • What do you want more of?
  • What moves you forward?
  • What’s the real challenge here for you?
  • What else can I do to support your success?

IV. Applying the Learning

  • Emotional Intelligence – which of the four core competencies are you working on?
  • Self-Awareness – don’t forget to take your emotional temperature throughout the day…your ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives, is the first step towards raising your EQ. 
  • Self-Regulation – are you aware of the events that trigger you into an emotional state…how are those emotions serving you…are they keeping you from achieving your goals?
  • Social Awareness – are you taking the time to understand the emotional makeup of other people and how your words and actions affect them.  It is important to try and understand things from others’ perspectives before responding.  What are their verbal and non-verbal cues messaging? Be non-judgmental in your reactions!
  • Social Regulation – If you raise your self-awareness, more effectively regulate your emotions, and seek to understand the emotions of others, you will be more proficient at managing relationships and building networks.  Find positive ways to influence others, demonstrate curiosity about them and, if you have a miscommunication or negative interaction, take accountability quickly and find ways to make the situation better.

I. My Own Experiences

Daily Task Recalibration – It is easy to let the day control you and fall into the trap of others’ priorities; their urgencies.  One way to combat this challenge is to step back at the start of each day and reset/recalibrate your task list.  What’s most important to you to feel successful today?  What expectations must you follow thru on?  What commitments do you need to renegotiate based on the time you expect to have available today/tomorrow?  The sooner you have clarity on what’s important to you, the better you will be able to prioritize the things that come at you from others.
Overcoming the Tsunami – Many of you have seen my graphic of the tsunami (of workload).  It is about to wash you away, take away any sense of accomplishment, and leave you with a feeling of overwhelm and exhaustion.  Like in a real tsunami, you need to quickly get to higher ground. The path to higher ground includes

  1. Planning ahead.
  2. Maintaining a growth mindset.
  3. Being very clear about your top priorities.
  4. Proactively seeking support from others.
  5. Taking the time to delegate tasks that should not be on your plate.

II. The Brilliance of Others

Mastery by Robert Greene – I recently completed the book Mastery and wanted to quickly summarize the three core lessons.  The most effective path to Mastery combines three critical approaches

  1. Reconnect with Your Primal Curiosity; rediscover the roots of what fascinates you by using journaling to see what you gravitate to.
  2. Value Learning Above All Else; make a trade-off (sometimes it may mean temporarily foregoing financial rewards) and seek prime learning opportunities.
  3. Broaden Your Skill Set – gather skills and look to combine them in unique ways.

For me this is all about taking off your blinders, staying out of the “doing” rut and being the builder of your impactful future!

III. Coaching Questions…Fostering ownership, care and commitment in others

  • If you could change just ONE thing right now, what would it be?
  • What’s the FIRST (or easiest) step you could take to make that change happen?

IV. Applying the Learning

DISC – Are you speaking in “paragraphs” when others listen in “bullet points?”  Do you provide little information in advance of a critical conversation and don’t understand why certain people don’t get on board quickly?  Do you judge the quiet people around the table to be disinterested?

We all have different communication styles!  During our learning around the DISC Assessment you gained a deeper understanding of your primary and work adjusted styles.  It requires the power of observation and active listening to recognize and adapt to the styles of others.  As a reminder:

  • D stands for Dominance – High “D’s” want you to bottom line it, they are very assertive and driven towards goal-achievement.
  • I stands for Influencer – High “I’s” are energized by connecting with people, speak in paragraphs and can forget about “why we started the conversation in the first place.”
  • S stands for Steadiness – High “S’s” prefer to complete one task at a time, they value consistency over speed and value being part of a team.
  • C stands for Compliance – High “C’s” want to receive lots of information ahead of time, they are slower decision-makers and tend to be risk adverse.

We need a good balance of all of these styles to make the most effective decisions.


I. My Own Experiences

Happiness Planning – I recently listened to the Rich Roll podcast in which he interviewed Behavioral Social Scientist, Arthur Brooks, on the topic of “Cracking the Code to Happiness.”  Brooks recently released a new book, titled, Strength to Strength (a NY Times bestseller).  Almost 64 years into life and, like many of us, I continue to search for the deeper meaning of life, success and happiness.  I was highly impacted by both the podcast and core lessons from the book.  In fact, I am working on my “Happiness Plan” for the coming years.

There are five core pillars to my plan;

  1. Living Healthy
  2. Intensifying Learning
  3. Deepening Connections
  4. Making Impact
  5. Supporting My Family’s Future

If you want to talk about your Happiness Plan reach out anytime.

II. The Brilliance of Others

Ten Ways to Have a Better Conversation (Ted Talk by Celeste Headlee, Radio Journalist) – Success in business and in life is closely tied to how well you talk (and listen) to people.  In this very well-watched Ted talk from 2015, Celeste Headlee provides a very engaging list of ways to improve your communication skills.  Most amazing for me is what’s occurred around us since she delivered the talk in 2015.  Needless to say, it has not gotten any better!  The best way for each us to make a positive impact is by being the best communicator one conversation at a time.  Here is the video link:

The Past is Not Predictive & Act As If – (Trevor Moawad, Sports Psychologist). Here is the video link:  First of all I want to thank my friend, Danny Wood, for sending me this video.  It is a great story of the power of mindset and the importance of mental conditioning.  Unfortunately, Trevor recently passed away after battling cancer.  In the last year of his life he co-authored a book, Getting to Neutral: How to Conquer Negativity and Thrive in a Chaotic World.  I have not read it yet, but the reviews are very favorable.  YouTube Trevor for some great video clips.

III. Coaching Questions…Fostering ownership, care and commitment in others

Five Powerful Questions:

  1. What does success FEEL like for you?
  2. What does it MEAN to you?
  3. What’s standing in your way?
  4. What if you had goals for ten years from now?
  5. What is the one thing you could do, right now, to move you towards those long-term goals?

IV. Applying the Learning

Raising the Bar on Accountability: Key Lessons from Who Will Do What by When – Accountability is the pathway to improved results so getting better at fostering accountability is a key management skill.  I took the eight core lessons from the book to create an Eight Step Process to Foster “Integrity”.

  1. Be aware of your perspectives, biases, preconceived notions as you enter the conversation
  2. Provide sufficient context for all requests – the WHY!
  3. Complete all steps in the agreement process; the full WWDWBW
  4. Allow room for the negotiation of agreement terms; assist in the prioritization process
  5. Ensure clarity; check for understanding – ask Open-Ended Questions
  6. Discuss breakdowns, failed agreements and the critical steps to move forward
  7. Listen for “victim language” and point it out
  8. Acknowledge success

I. My Own Experiences

Happiness Meditation – I try to start every day with a short meditation along with my morning stretch.  As I shared in the last newsletter I have been working on my Happiness Plan.  To support this focus, I found a great 10 minute guided meditation called “Unconditional Happiness.”  What a great way to start your day with a focus on happiness. Here is the link:

Core Value Alignment – Anyone that has known me for a while understands my deep passion around core value alignment.  For the last 22 years, I have used my core values as a key determinant in decision-making, relationship-building and managing stress/challenges.  My top six core values are, freedom, honesty, respect, growth, curiosity and impact.  It is very clear to me when I am not aligned with my true self as defined by those values.  There are many ways to uncover your core values.  If you’re interested in receiving a copy of my core values exercise reach out and I would happy to send it to you. For now, think about when you are “in the flow” and everything feels right.  There is a good chance you are acting in alignment with your values.  Lastly, some say that your values are an “ethical GPS to use to navigate through life.”

II. The Brilliance of Others

Jay Shetty – I recently listened to a podcast in which Jay Shetty was interviewed about his book, Think Like a Monk.  At the end of the podcast I immediately went online and bought the book.  So many incredible lessons so I will just share a few here.

  1. Our identity is wrapped up in what others think of us – or, more accurately, what we think others think of us.
  2. Group think is the practice of thinking or decision-making in a way that discourages individual responsibility.
  3. The less you fixate on everyone else, the more time you have to focus on yourself.

Jay spent three years in his early 20s at an Ashram studying to be a monk.  There is so much practical learning in this book.

Rich Roll podcasts – If you have not listened to the Rich Roll podcast, start now!  He is an amazing interviewer and is focused on all things related to wellness; health, fitness, nutrition, art, entrepreneurship & spirituality.  Here are links to two of my favorite recent ones

Chip Conley –

Terry Crews – 

Let me know what you think!

III. Coaching Questions…Fostering ownership, care and commitment in others

  1. What work are you most excited about?
  2. What obstacles stand in your way of doing more of that work?
  3. What can I do to support your work in a way that enhances your level of fulfillment?

IV. Applying the Learning – Applying the lessons from Leadership and Self-Deception

  • So what is Self-Deception? Self-deception is a process of denying or rationalizing away the relevance, significance, or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument. Self-deception involves convincing oneself of a truth so that one does not reveal any self-knowledge of the deception.
  • This biased view of problems can hinder our ability to make effective decisions and erodes our leadership abilities.
    When we are “In the Box”, we view and treat others as objects.  When we are “Out of the box”, we view and treat others as people, with equally important wants, hopes and dreams.
  • We often don’t do what we know we should.  An act contrary to what we feel we should do for another is called an act of “self-betrayal.”  Self-betrayal is the germ that creates the disease of self-deception.
  • Based on the learning, as leaders it is important that you focus on:
    • Improvements, not perfection.
    • Staying “out of the box”.
    • What you can do for others, not what they’re doing wrong, or what they’re not doing for you.

I. My Own Experiences

Energy Breathworks – Many of you know that I have taken a number of courses that focus on Breathworks and have recommended the book, Just Breathe, by Dan Brule.  I would like to share a link to a great breathing exercise to use when you need to boost your energy and want to do it naturally.  It is a fairly advance practice so don’t get frustrated if it takes you a few tries before it becomes more natural.  I do this practice before any afternoon training sessions to make sure I have the energy and focus to impact the room.  Here is the link:

The Importance of Seeking Feedback – Are you seeking feedback from those that you interact with or support on a regular basis?  There is nothing worse than having blind spots.  Those are the things that others “know” about you, but you fail to see in yourself.  It should always be our goal to minimize those blind spots.  I was very excited to see the results of a recent survey I sent out to many of those that I have been coaching.  It will help me take my game to the next level and better align my perceptions with those who are receiving my support.

II. The Brilliance of Others

Chip & Dan Heath – core lessons from their book, The Power of Moments.  I highly recommend this book written a few years back.  The focus of the book is to deeply define the four elements of creating memorable moments;

  1. elevation – experiences that rise above the routine
  2. insight – moments that deliver realizations and transformations
  3. pride – moments that commemorate people’s achievements
  4. connection – moments that bond us together

If you go to their website you will find many great resources and summaries of their books.

III. Coaching Questions…Fostering ownership, care and commitment in others

  1. What, if any, items are inhibiting your growth?
  2. What can you do to overcome those blockers?
  3. What are you doing when you feel energized at work?
  4. What conversations are you holding back from having?

IV. Applying the Learning

Managing Your Personal/Professional Brand – Your personal brand is how you are experienced by others.  It represents the experience you strive to deliver to those with whom you interact.

  1. Designing Your Brand starts with raising your self-awareness.  Answer these questions?
    1. What are three things that others consistently experience when having a relationship with you when you are at your best?  When you are at your worst
    2. Identify 3-4 people from whom you can get honest, productive feedback.  Is your perspective accurate?  What are the gaps?  What are you prepared to do to strengthen your brand?
  1. Having a healthy and effective brand is important for many reasons, including;
    1. It sets a standard for others
    2. Helps build trust
    3. Supports a Growth Mindset.

I. My Own Experiences

I recently attended a one week program at the Modern Elder Academy (MEA) in Baja, Mexico (  Now don’t laugh, this wasn’t an “old persons” retreat.  At MEA, “elder” equates with “wisdom.” In fact it was a week of connecting with amazing people who are experiencing some kind of transition in their life.  The real focus of transition at MEA is the move from an “ego-based” life (one dominated by the “what” we do, to a “soul-based” life (one dominated by “why” we do things).  In essence, how do you maximize your impact on the world with the wisdom you’ve gained over the years?


The program I took was called “Cultivating Awe: How to Make it Your Superpower.”  The topic-focused sessions were facilitated by Dacher Keltner who is about to release a book on the subject next week, Awe, The New Science of Everyday Wonder.  The overall lesson that I want to share with all of you is that understanding and experiencing “awe” in our daily lives can have a powerful impact on our health, happiness and relationship-building.  Here are two YouTube links to Dacher’s presentations on the topic:

II. The Brilliance of Others

Ray Dalio is an American Billionaire investor and founder of one of the largest privately-held companies in the US, Bridgewater Associates.  His professional journey is filled with many incredible highs and lows.  His book Principles – Life and Work describes the systems that he has designed to shape meaningful work, meaningful relationships and the world’s most successful hedge fund.  Here is an animated summary of those core principles:

And a talk by Ray on the topic:


III. Coaching Questions…Fostering ownership, care and commitment in others

In this month’s newsletter, I wanted to share the Appreciative Inquiry model that was created to help you plan a practical way to approach change.  There are five stages to the model:

Stage One: DEFINE – What is your focus?  What do you need to know or do?

Stage Two: DISCOVER – What is knowledge or wisdom that already exists and can be leveraged?

Stage Three: DREAM – What is the imagined future; the possibilities and aspirations?

Stages Four & Five: DESIGN & DELIVER

1) What have we heard? Key themes from feedback about past strengths, current energy, challenges and future dreams.

2) So what does this mean for where we are heading? This is about creating a shared understanding of the overall picture from the different messages; and

3) Now what? Gather together those that provided input and agree to what actions could happen next

IV. Applying the Learning – Navigating Through the Layers of Conflict

The longer you wait to resolve the issues or breakdowns you face, the more challenging it is to find resolution.  There are many potential layers to work through in order to have the relevant conversation; one that leads to a decision, a fully defined agreement and a move forward. Yes, also one that builds deeper trust in the relationships.

  • The first layer of complexity are the individual obstacles – those that lie within us (our self-esteem, EQ, IQ, values, experiences, etc…). 
  • The second layer are the relationship obstacles – this includes legacy events, positional power, conflicting styles, reputation, etc.
  • The third layer to navigate are the environmental obstacles – the physical setting, company culture, internal politics, the general mood, etc.
  • The fourth layer is the one that we usually are most observant of, the informational obstacles – our different perspectives, opinions and/or observations of the facts.

If we can properly navigate through all of these layers, we can fully focus on the “issue at hand.”  What decision do we need to make?  What commitment are we looking for from others?  What do we need to do to move forward in a way that supports the parties shared success?