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LeadershipNow 140: April 2024 Compilation

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twitter Here is a selection of Posts from April 2024 that you will want to check out:

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Rearrange Your Brain Possible

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:18 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140


Possible: How to Transform Any Conflict


CONFLICT will always be with us. We’re human. William Ury says, “We actually need more conflict, not less—if we are to learn, grow, evolve. The problem is the destructive way we handle conflict—destroying relationships, lives, and resources. Thankfully, we have a choice.”

In Possible: How We Survive (and Thrive) in an Age of Conflict, Ury explains how to embrace conflict and transform it constructively to bring out the best in us—not the worst. From his own experience dealing with eminent civil war, coal strikes, boardroom battles, Cold War nuclear tensions, and his own family feuds, Ury has developed a framework to help turn challenge into opportunity.

Many conflicts seem impossible. But if you start from that assumption, that is most likely where you will end up—it’s impossible. But if you start from possibility, you might just end up with a practical solution to de-escalate the conflict. You become what William Ury calls a possibilist.

One of the problems we face when in conflict is that we get caught up in the past instead of focusing on what is possible—what the possible future could look like. We attack one another instead of the problem.

Possible does not mean a neat resolution. More often, it means gradual improvements in relationships that, over time, can make a difference. Relationships can be messy. Possible means finding ways forward where there seem to be none. It means creating little breakthroughs that can build into bigger breakthroughs over time. Possible means gradual transformation.

The core principle of possibilists is humble audacity. That is, the “audacity of our goals needs to be balanced with the humility of our approach.” Humility is important because, in the heat of conflict, it is exceedingly hard to be calm, patient, and listen. Humility helps us to learn and be creative.

The Circle of Possibility

Ury has developed a model that can, over time, help us develop a mindset for navigating conflict. It is a way to see, create, and act on new possibilities. It creates a circle of possibility around the conflict. It begins with the balcony and moves clockwise to the bridge, then to the third side, and around again until the conflict is transformed.

Circle of Possibility

Going to the balcony unlocks the potential within us. Building a golden bridge unlocks the potential between us. Taking the third side unlocks the potential around us. We need all three working together synergistically.

The balcony is first-person work; it focuses on I—the self. The bridge is second-person work; it focuses on You—the other. The third side is third-person work; it focuses on Us—the community. In difficult conflicts, we tend to skip over the necessary work on the I—the self—to point fingers at the You—the other: “You are the problem, and you must change.” We also often neglect to seek help from the Us—the community.

Ury carefully explains each section of the path with engaging and detailed examples. I will provide a brief overview here, but by reading it, you will discover a powerful tool for taking on your toughest issues and revolutionizing your interactions.

Go to the Balcony

Rather than reacting to difficult situations, we first go to the balcony. “The balcony is a place of calm and perspective where we can keep our eyes on the prize.” We go to the balcony by exercising three powers that we all have: the power to pause, stop, and reflect; the power to zoom in and focus our attention on what we really want to achieve (the interests that lie underneath our positions – the why versus the what), and the power to zoom out and keep our focus on the big picture.

The biggest obstacle to getting what I want is not the difficult person on the other side of the table; it is the person on this side of the table. It is me. When I react without thinking, I become my own worst enemy. I am the one who keeps getting in my own way.

Build a Golden Bridge

A golden bridge is a compelling invitation for the parties to cross the chasm of conflict. It begins with listening and discovering what the other party really needs and what they are most worried about. It is detective work. Listening for what is behind the words. Ury importantly notes:

In conflict, we naturally start with where our mind is, what our position is, what we think is right. Deep listening means leaving where our mind is and starting the conversation where their mind is. It means listening from within their frame of reference, not just ours.

Listening shows respect, and it is the greatest concession we can make, and it costs the least. We easily get confused about respect, often thinking that others have to earn our respect. Not so.

Showing respect does not come from weakness or insecurity but rather from strength and confidence. Respect for the other person flows directly from respect for yourself. You give respect to the other not so much because of who they are but because of who you are.

Building a golden bridge is where we get creative and turn an either-or dilemma in a both-and outcome. This is where listening becomes critical. “By delving deep into what people really want, we may discover that although the parties’ positions may be rigidly opposed, their interests may not be.”

From what we have learned, we make it easier for the other party to say yes. “Our job in difficult situations is to make it easier—more attractive—for the other side to make the decision we’d like them to make.” You want to construct a narrative that makes both sides appear to be the heroes to the people that they care about.

Engage the Third Side

We are all connected. We are part of a whole—a community. The third side is the side of the whole. It is each of us working together for the good of the whole. Instead of us against them, if we take the perspective of the whole, we use the power of peers to transform a conflict. The third side unlocks the potential around us to transform.

The third side involves three powers. “The first is the power to host—to welcome and connect the parties. The second is the power to help—to help the parties go to the balcony and build a golden bridge when it is not at all easy to do. The third is the power to swarm, which brings the full influence and leverage of the community to bear.”

To help, we begin by asking clarifying questions. Often, they will persuade themselves. Advice is different from counsel. Ury adds, “To offer counsel is different, in my experience, from simply offering advice. Advice starts from the advisor’s perspective. Counsel, by contrast, starts from the other person’s perspective.”

To help, you need to understand the local knowledge or context. It is easy to take what we have learned and impose it on the situation in the form of advice. General knowledge, if it is applicable at all, is sometimes hard for people to apply to their specific situation. “The trick is to blend general knowledge with as much local knowledge as possible.”

“To swarm a conflict means to surround it with a critical mass of ideas and influence. Swarming integrates the balcony, the bridge, and the third side.” The community can often persuade and influence a situation better than any individual can. Swarm is the power of the community acting together.

It is amazing to think of how many bridges we have seen burnt as a result of not applying these principles in conflict situations. We tell or demand rather than attract and guide. We go to the gutter instead of the balcony. We burn rather than build. We reduce everything to either-or rather than making room for the whole. Be a possibilist

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Conflict Without Casualties Have a Nice Conflict

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:46 AM
| Comments (0) | Problem Solving


Leading Thoughts for April 25, 2024

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


David Rock on listening for potential in others:

“When you listen for potential, you’re assuming that others have the capacity to answer the question for themselves; you then respectfully see how you can best make yourself useful. Listening for potential is a choice in every moment. By choosing to listen to people as successful, competent, and able to resolve their dilemmas, guess what’s likely to happen? They often solve their problems and get on with the job. Quiet Leaders listen for potential. They listen to people as though they have all the tools they need to be successful, and could simply benefit from exploring their thoughts and ideas out loud.”

Source: Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work


Roger Martin on our personal knowledge system dynamics:

“Personal knowledge systems are highly path-dependent. When a person starts in a given direction, that direction is likely to be reinforced and amplified, not diminished or altered. This can happen for good or bad. A narrow and defensive stance will lead to acquisition of extremely limited tools and extremely limiting experiences. Those experiences then feed back into the acquisition of even more limited tools and the formation of an even narrower stance.”

Source: The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:22 AM
| Comments (0) | Leading Thoughts


Four Essential Behaviors for Every Leader

Sean Lemson

HUMAN BEINGS are complex. Throw in complex organizations operating in complex markets, and you’ve really got to marvel at how it all comes together every day. In the face of all this complexity, there are four basic behaviors that leaders can adopt that will drastically improve their leadership and, by extension, the experience of those they lead.

1. Create Effective Organizations

A very common mistake I see leaders make is to conflate the terms effective and efficient. Efficiency is a focus on process, maximizing outputs while minimizing resources. In business, this often looks like keeping employees busy. Ken Rubin, an agile leadership visionary, has a fantastic analogy that I refer to often to explain the concept. In relay racing, there are four runners, with only one running at a time. One hands off the baton to the next. Rubin likes to say that if we treated relay races the way we treat our team members, we’d tell them, “I’m not paying you to stand here. I’m paying you to run. So go run up and down the bleachers while you wait for the baton.” However, the team that wins the relay race is the team that gets the baton across the finish line first, not the team that had runners running the most. The winners in business are the ones that deliver value the fastest.

Efficient organizations focus on the runner. But, effective organizations focus on the baton. Leaders who get this wrong design team formations to keep everyone busy while completely missing that the baton is on the ground much of the time. Ironically, the busier employees are, often, the slower their baton moves. Packing a freeway to 100% capacity is an efficient use of the pavement, but it’s a very ineffective way to move cars.

Great leaders never lose sight of the baton. They don’t obsess over employee utilization as much as they obsess about value delivery, and they create organizations and workflows that support that focus.

2. Lead Ethically

Unethical behavior by a single employee is often easy to spot and deal with. But when it begins to spread slowly across an organization, it can quickly become the norm for that company’s overall culture. Take this common excuse as an example: “C’mon, everyone does it — it’s the only way to get ahead here.”

This slow spread of unethical behavior is called ethical fading. It’s usually the result of an incentive or reward combined with a person who sees no way to achieve the outcome without cheating a little. One unpunished sellout can cause a trickle-down of shrugging and excuse-making. Before you know it, the entire company is now behaving unethically.

Great leaders set and hold the bar on ethics. They don’t allow their organizations to slip into ethical fading because they recognize that it’s one of the fastest pathways to a toxic culture. These toxic cultures, in turn, bring with them far-reaching implications for the company that are much larger than the original reason for the unethical behavior.

3. Connect People with Meaning

There are always parts of our jobs that we don’t enjoy. But what makes us persevere is knowing that our work has meaning. It’s that sense of meaning that inspires us to think of new, innovative ways to do the work. Great leaders have contagious and persistent connections with the meaning of the work — and hopefully, it’s more than meeting quarterly earnings goals.

These leaders continually remind everyone — from the janitors to the developers at the company — of how their company is making a positive impact on the world and the role each individual plays in that impact.

Additionally, great leaders can spot the fire in us and learn to harness that fire for the company. They take a chance on our ideas and make it safe for us to fail while encouraging us to try. They see something in us that we may not yet see in ourselves. They connect our work to something we already enjoy.

4. Coach, Don’t Play

Good leaders stay off the field and let the players do the playing. They use the unique perspective afforded to them by their spot on the sidelines, combined with their knowledge of the game, to help the players make better choices. There’s a reason that professional sports teams pay millions of dollars for a coaching team. Coaches improve everyone’s performance on the field and, ultimately, the outcomes for the team.

One mistake I see companies make is trying to put their coaches in the game. I once worked with a company that decided to collapse its engineering organization by turning Engineering Managers into Managing Engineers, and oh, what a difference the word order makes. Managing Engineers are expected to have their hands on a keyboard most of the time. They’re super talented developers, so why not have them coding? There are two good reasons:

  1. These leaders are not honing the skills of leadership that the company will need later when they try to promote these leaders into roles where individual contributor skills aren’t what is needed.
  2. The employees on their teams aren’t getting the perspective and the political air cover they would get from leaders who could fully focus on the job. Instead, they compete with the work for the leader’s time.

This solution is an efficient one. It’s just not an effective one. Keep your coaches on the sidelines and use their afforded perspective to help the teams play better. These four key behaviors help leaders keep teams engaged, motivated, focused, performing, and innovating. If that isn’t a key goal for the leadership at your company, what is?

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Leading Forum
Sean Lemson is a leadership expert, executive and team performance coach and the founder of Motivated Outcomes, an organization devoted to improving performance, engagement, and leadership in today’s organizations. His new book is One Drop of Poison: How One Bad Leader Can Slowly Kill Your Company. Learn more at MotivatedOutcomes.com

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Bill Treasurer Truisms Uncommon Leadership

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:31 AM
| Comments (0) | Leadership


Look Again: How To Bring Back the Passion You Once Had

Look Again

WE habituate everything. The more often we experience something, the less we respond to it. It’s the way we are built. What was once exciting—a relationship, a job, a song—becomes unremarkable after a time. Where we once saw the need for change, we now shrug off and move on. Our brain stops responding to things that don’t change.

In Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There, Tali Sharot and Cass Sunstein ask what if you could, to some extent, dishabituate? What if you could once again appreciate what you now take for granted? How do we rekindle the love we once had? How do we become passionate again about changing ourselves or situations we now accept as normal?

Habituation works for us and against us. We need to habituate some things, but not everything.

Habituation to the good drives you to move forward and progress. If you did not experience habituation, you would be satisfied with less.

A delicate balance must be struck here. Habituation can lead us to be unsatisfied, bored, restless, and greedy. But without habituation (and dare we say some boredom, restlessness, and greed), we might have remained cave dwellers.

You habituate to things—a fancy car, a large-screen TV—but you don’t habituate to the joy of learning because learning by definition is change. One cannot habituate to change.

Relationships need time together and common experiences to grow stronger, but they also need some independence to keep the spark. As the saying goes, too much familiarity breeds contempt. (For what it’s worth, Mark Twain added familiarity breeds contempt—and children.)

We need some stability and sameness—some predictability—in our lives, but without some change, there is less learning, less growth, and less meaning. But we tend to stick with the status quo—the old and familiar—when we should be mixing it up, “even when it is possible and better to try something different.” Variety will increase the perceived goodness of our lives and trigger creativity. To maximize happiness, we should “chop up the good but swallow the bad whole.”

Variety will increase the perceived goodness of our lives and trigger creativity. To maximize happiness, we should “chop up the good but swallow the bad whole.”

Studies have indicated that “on average, you will be happier if you alter a situation you are thinking of changing; the very fact that you are considering a change implies that your current state is not ideal.” That doesn’t always mean leaving the situation; sometimes, it means putting more effort into fixing it. In short, “people are not making as many changes as they should.”

When bad things happen to us, habituation has a part to play in our recovery—our resilience. Rumination hinders our ability to habituate when we need to. Processing a negative event and obsessing over it again and again does not serve us well. We need to turn our attention elsewhere.

Rumination is typical of individuals suffering from depression. Many psychologists believe it causes depression. That is, an inability to let go of intrusive thoughts about failure, heartache, or minor disappointments leads to depression.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began to slow down, surprisingly, many people did not feel joy but anxiety.

People who previously could not imagine spending so much time at home, in part because they had habituated to working in an office, now could barely imagine working in an office, in part because they had habituated to working at home.

Once we were habituated to being confined to our homes, “activities that seemed effortless before, such as getting up every morning and changing out of our comfy sweatpants into a dark blue suit, would now induce stress. We had spent months habituating to ‘pandemic living,’ as well as adapting our routines and expectations. Consequently, the prospect of changing once again filled people with dread. Change is hard because it makes us feel as if we are losing control. This is also true when changes are seemingly desirable.”

Change requires that we dishabituate to the status quo. It seems “that a failure to habituate many indeed be related to innovative thinking.” We can increase creative thought by inducing small changes to our routines and environments.

The authors probe the effect habituation has on our morality and values, our gullibility, social change, and risk-taking. We all experience this:

Risk habituation, is the tendency to perceive a behavior as less and less risky the more you engage in it, even though the actual threat remains the same. You find yourself taking greater and greater risks while feeling less and less scared.

Growth requires that we face the fear—the risk—habituate to the fear. We need to face the source of our fear again and again.

Without risk habituation, we might all be an anxious bunch paralyzed by terror. This is where habituation comes in handy. If you deliberately expose yourself to what scares you, your fear will slowly subside, and you will have the courage to expand your world.

Sometimes, there is value in underestimating our risk as entrepreneurs continually do to move boundaries and make progress—“so that, in the words of the great rock climber Alex Honnold, ‘objectives that seemed totally crazy eventually fall within the realm of the possible.’”

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Getting Unstuck Just Enough Anxiety

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:21 AM
| Comments (0) | Change


Leading Thoughts for April 18, 2024

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


Professor Mary Murphy on organizational mindsets:

“The question is not: ‘Are you a person with more of a fixed or growth mindset?’ The question is: ‘When are you in your fixed mindset and when are you in your growth mindset?’ At the organizational level, the question is not: ‘How can we avoid hiring fixed mindset people?’ The question is: ‘What triggers our employees to adopt more fixed- or growth-mindset views and behaviors? How can we shape the environment to encourage more of a growth mindset more of the time?’”

Source: Cultures of Growth: How the New Science of Mindset Can Transform Individuals, Teams, and Organizations


William Ury on how we become our own worst enemy:

“The greatest power we have in difficult situations is the power to choose not to react but to go to the balcony instead. The balcony is a place of calm and perspective where we can keep * our eyes on the prize.”

Source: Possible: How We Survive (and Thrive) in an Age of Conflict

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:16 AM
| Comments (0) | Leading Thoughts


How To Rearrange Your Brain for Success

How To Rearrange Your Brain for Success

BRAD JACOBS, CEO and serial entrepreneur—United Rentals and XPO Logistics—has made and kept a few billion dollars and aims to show us how to do the same in How to Make a Few Billion Dollars.

The most valuable part of the book for me was the first chapter on transforming how you use your mind. Here are ten ideas for rearranging your brain to achieve “big goals in turbulent environments where conventional thinking often fails.”


He begins with love. Why? Love “has a lot to do with getting your brain in the right place to make good decisions. Fast-paced business environments swing between ups and downs, with many stressful interactions. Love is in an expansive emotional state that allows you to neutralize conflict and get everyone to a better place.”

How do you get there? Through one-on-one gratitude conversations. Think about why other people deserve your gratitude and then sit down with them and let them know in a direct, personal manner.

Expect Positive Outcomes

Negative thoughts come to us quite naturally. The trick is not to let them control your thinking. Negative thoughts are often our knee-jerk reaction to a given situation. We need to acknowledge them and then reframe them in a positive light. Jacobs provides an instructive example from his family life:

When we put our kids to bed at night, we’d ask them the same question many parents do: How was your day? Sometimes, we’d hear the good, sometimes the bad, and sometimes the ugly. Then we met Martin Seligman, and he suggested asking children a slightly different question: What was the happiest moment of your day? We tried it. The change was dramatic—no bad, no ugly, just the good. And maybe because our kids knew the question was coming, they kept their antennas up all day with the expectation that the happiest moment could happen at any time. What an easy create an optimistic frame of mind!

What was the best part of your day?

Give Yourself a Break

Stop expecting unrealistic perfection from yourself and others. We sabotage ourselves all the time.

Our thought processes are full of all sorts of cognitive distortions, from catastrophizing (thinking of small problems as enormous impediments) to perfectionism, where anything less than perfect execution causes intense frustration. Another cognitive distortion is dichotomous thinking (having rigid or “all-or-nothing” views). By learning to recognize these thought patterns and course-correcting accordingly, I’ve spared myself a lot of trouble. I learned, for example, to turn my internal chatter to my advantage by reframing negative thoughts as useful data rather than objective reality.

I don’t take it for granted that I’m going to be successful. Unexpected stuff can happen at any time. A healthy fear of failure has kept me sharp.

If we understand that mistakes are inevitable, it will be a lot easier to “maintain your mental equilibrium as you pursue your big goals.”

Expand the Possible

Meditation, daydreaming, or thought experiments (the German term gedankenexperiments) can change how we relate to the world. During this time of mental calm, we can often find the best solutions, rejuvenate and become creative.

Daydreaming exercises remind me that positive emotions matter, especially in chaotic business environments. When my energy is low, my favorite technique to rejuvenate and unleash creativity is to close my eyes and allow my attention to gently float in my brain.

Embrace the Problem

Jacobs’ mentor told him early on in his twenties as he unloaded on him with his problems, “Look, Brad, if you want to make money in the business world, You need to get used to problems, because that’s what business is. It’s actually about finding problems, embracing and even enjoying them because each problem is an opportunity to remove an obstacle and get closer to success.”

Problems are an asset. The bigger your ambition, the bigger your problems. “If your initial reaction to a major setback is overwhelming frustration, that’s understandable, but it’s also counterproductive. Once you’re over that moment, pivot toward success: ‘Great! This is an opportunity for me to create a lot of value. If I can just figure out how to solve this problem, I’ll be much closer to my goal.’”

Acknowledge You’re Not Perfect

There are three impediments to effective leadership:

  • The belief that you’re right, no matter what.
  • The belief that other people must hold the same opinions you do.
  • The belief that every inch of a potential course of action must be analyzed before you act.

Accept your imperfections and learn from them. Cut your losses, adapt, and improve. “If you resist embracing an imperfect situation today, you might lose the opportunity to capitalize on it tomorrow.”

Practical Radical Acceptance

If you accept your own imperfections, you must also accept the world as it is, not as you wish it to be. Win or lose, focus on the best thing to do right now. “Radical acceptance quiets the noise created by yesterday’s decisions and today’s wishful thinking. It allows you to make a logical, forward-looking decision based on what’s likely to happen next—that and risk management are the big, relevant considerations.”

Leave Judgment at the Door

“The path to radical acceptance begins with non-judgmental concentration.” It allows you to focus on the issue at hand. “Non-judgmental concentration trains your brain to realize that the people and things in your life don’t exist relative to you; they simply exist. If you can take yourself out of the equation, you’ll have a much clearer view. Uncluttered by judgmentalism, you can work more efficiently; because you won’t be as distracted, and you can think more objectively, too.

Think Huge

To win huge, you have to think huge. “Your goals should be bigger than what you currently think you accomplish, because that can actually help you achieve those goals.” Visualize and be specific about what and when.

Stay Humble

Arrogance keeps you from growing—advancing. “Thinking you know it all is a trap, because you don’t—at least I don’t. If you stay humble, you’ll keep advancing.”

That’s how you rearrange your brain for success. In subsequent chapters, Jacobs how to spot major trends, mergers and acquisitions (of which he has led about 500), building a team, competition, and more.

I wrote this book for people who want to work their tails off, outsmart the competition, put their customers on a pedestal, and make a lot of money for their families. These goals require creativity and an enthusiasm for change—qualities at the heart of entrepreneurship. You can foster this in any size organization, whether you’re the owner of a family business or the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company to create its next billion dollars.

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I Love Capitalism Shoe Dog

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:16 AM
| Comments (0) | Thinking


How To Build a Future Others Don’t See

The Bold Ones

INNOVATION is more about being bold than being disruptive. If you want to push your career and your organization forward, you need to get bold.

Using examples of some of the most extraordinary disruptors, Shawn Kanungo offers eight lessons to help you become bolder in The Bold Ones.

Bold Ones are those who are brave enough to fundamentally reinvent themselves, challenge norms, and revolutionize their worlds. Bold Ones think, act, and build for a future they see, one that others close their eyes to.

Disruption strategist Kanungo presents the mindset needed and the strategies to adopt to create your own path forward.

Success Is a Pitfall

Past success kills innovation. You become the expert. You get comfortable with the status it brings you. To innovate, you need to let go of those things. You must approach things as if you knew nothing. “If you approach problems with the same “mindset” accessed five minutes ago, I promise you, you’re starting to become an expert, ripe for disruption.”

Tragically poignant observation: “He was the gatekeeper of a world he didn’t understand anymore.” He clung to the status quo, going down the only path he knew, and missed what was coming. Don’t let that be said of you. We see this too often.

Chipping Toward Your Next Big Move

We are advised to stick to our core competency. “The intention may be good, and there’s clearly wisdom in focus, but if we’re not careful, we’ll fall into a trap, one where we hyperfocus only on a niche, missing where the world’s going, or our own unique skill set.” In a changing world, it is important to continually ask yourself, “Where am I burying my head in the sand? Am I focusing too much on what I believe is my core competency?”

How do you avoid this trap? Explore. “You’ve got to have enough input into your life, enough ideas circulating, and enough channels of information, that there’s a constant flow.” Move outside your comfort zone. Explore areas not common to you. Check out the fringes.

Paradox of Piracy

Take a lesson from the greatest pirate of them all—the notorious Chinese pirate Ching Shih. “When you aim for the fringe, you ultimately attract the masses.” She inspired loyalty among those who had been marginalized by others. The paradox is “if you want to go broad in the long run, you’ve got to start by thinking niche in the short run.”

If you inspire the underdogs, you will find the deepest loyalties.

Disruption Is a Joke

It’s a joke until it’s not. A disruption always begins as a seemingly silly idea. “To drive the most value, you must go against the crowd and, simultaneously, be right in your contrarian ideas. You might be wrong a lot more than you’re right. But the one time you’re right will pay off big.” Always be willing to ask yourself (and your team), What are we missing? What if we’re wrong? And What if they’re right?

Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret

Innovation means discovering, not inventing. Discover what’s hidden—secrets. There are three kinds of secrets you should be on the lookout for: Obvious Secrets (Obvious secrets are loopholes-small little anomalies that, once exploited, offer immediate and real value. Ask bolder questions.), Hard-to-Find Secrets (Go outside your entire company to dig deeper into the customer psyche. Follow humans around to understand why they do what they do. In particular, pay attention to humanity’s oddest habits.) and finally Deepest, Darkest Secrets (To find these secrets you’ll need to wander outside your industry and consider broader trends in human behavior, or how an idea can be borrowed from one field and placed into a new context.).

One True Fan

You only need to deliver to one true fan. Create something “catchy.” Look for that shareable angle and then overdeliver to that one true fan. Respond to every interaction individually. No exceptions.

How to Engineer a Hot Streak

Science tells us that you are likely to experience a hot streak after a period of intense exploration. Hot streaks are not random. “The soon-to-be hot streakers first allow themselves to charge up by experimenting in a variety of areas, with varying degrees of success. After exploration, the individuals then prune back their efforts, laser-focusing on what they’re most talented at. And then they execute.”

If you want to engineer a hot streak, you need to do something to get it going. Jump in.

Disrupt a Culture; Leave a Legacy

To disrupt a culture, you need to do something that is bigger than you. Create powerful visuals, become great at telling stories, invite others in, and think big, but don’t get too far ahead of your audience. Never get past what they can tolerate at the moment.

Story tip: “The greatest stories don’t just provide the needed inspiration, but offer a touchstone, a point from which people can add to create their own story inside your universe.”

You don’t need to quit your job to innovate. Speak up. Be curious and ask, “Why do we do it this way?” Keep asking.

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Ideaflow Fear of Looking Stupid

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:20 AM
| Comments (0) | Creativity & Innovation


Leading Thoughts for April 11, 2024

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


Chris Deaver and Ian Clawson on co-creating:

“The dark truth of success is that if we make it all about ourselves, our own egos, our individual performance, it eventually breaks down. It won’t have staying power. Most of us have experienced the reality of bosses or corporate cultures that go it alone, pushing agendas on us rather than building with us. Startups know this feeling. People running full speed toward their dreams know this feeling. But it’s fleeting. It doesn’t last if it’s not built with others, co-created.”

Source: Brave Together: Lead by Design, Spark Creativity, and Shape the Future with the Power of Co-Creation


Adam Grant on personality and character:

“Character is often confused with personality, but they’re not the same. Personality is your predisposition—your basic instincts for how to think, feel, and act. Character is your capacity to prioritize your values over your instincts.

Knowing your principles doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to practice them, particularly under stress or pressure. It’s easy to be proactive and determined when things are going well. The true test of character is whether you manage to stand by those values when the deck is stacked against you. If personality is how you respond on a typical day, character how you show up on a hard day.”

Source: Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:10 PM
| Comments (0) | Leading Thoughts


How to Make Wise Decisions

How to Make Wise Decisions

WE ALL MAKE bad or certainly less-than-stellar decisions for any number of reasons. Sometimes, there are too many options to choose from. Or, conversely, we don’t bother to explore other options than the ones in front of us. We easily create narratives to fit our interpretation of reality, cherry-picking the information that gets us what we want. And these are just the more common challenges we face.

So, what do we do?

In Wise Decisions, Jim Loehr and Sheila Ohlsson take us through some science-based approaches to help us make better choices. The starting point for good decision-making is perhaps obvious but easily overlooked and ignored, especially amid the rush of life. Our health is the foundation for good decision-making.

Our holistic health—mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual—is the vital starting point for sound, thoughtful, and measured decision-making. We simply cannot take in, consider, and thoughtfully process multiple streams of relevant information, both tangible and intangible, when we are anxious, depressed, sleep-deprived, sedentary, isolated, and self-medicating with wine and M&Ms!

Good decision-making is a process of reflecting and responding rather than reacting.

We all hear something that can be vital to making good choices, but it doesn’t always get through. We block it. Inside of us, we have a gatekeeper who decides what gets through and what gets blocked. The authors call it our Y.O.D.A. – Your Own Decision Maker.

To be your best advisor possible, Y.O.D.A. should be preloaded with critical life coordinates such as core values, beliefs, and purpose in life. Your own resident advisor holds the keys to extraordinary decision-making.

Wise decision-making requires that we preload the control center in our brain our Y.O.D.A., with a complete grasp of who we want to be and what matters most to us. These values become the reference points that guide the decisions we make.

Wisdom is the acquired ability to rise above the immediate demands and stresses of the moment; to make decisions that are grounded in transcendent values, core beliefs, and high ethical standards; and to achieve real and enduring perspective on the issues question.

Those preloads need to be protected. There are always forces at work that can derail our thinking and compromise our choices. We must guard against corrupted input by reflectively analyzing and scrutinizing all information before letting it in to our control center. “When a belief is consistent with what we deeply want or need, we are less likely to scrutinize its authenticity.” We are not as rational as we think we are. Rather, we are “emotional creatures who have the capacity to be rational. Our emotions run the show in life, and our capacity for logical thinking serves to moderate the flow of emotion.”

When we reflect, process, frame, and reframe life experiences work for us rather than against us, we keep our hands firmly on the proverbial cognitive steering wheel. And this is precisely how we maintain a sense of control when the storms of life are raging. What’s the mind is also real in the body at a molecular level, and the stories we tell ourselves can either help or harm our health and, hence, our decision-making capacity across life.

Our emotions signal to us that something important requires our attention. It signals a need to pause and reflect. Should I act on them or not? “All emotions, whether we think of them as good or bad, are a fundamental part of being human. The goal is not to feel joy, inspiration, and happiness 24/7, but rather to identify all our emotions and to manage the resulting feelings in a way that way that enhances our overall health and well-being.”

Stress, of course, has an impact on our ability to make sound decisions. Stress causes us to overthink and hyper-focus on the issue at hand. What we need is perspective. Without a view of the bigger picture, we often resort to poor thinking and behaviors that we rationally know don’t serve us well.

Seeing only a sliver of the story, usually the bad part, too often results in a form of mental inflexibility and rigidity that can completely undermine our ability to make sound decisions. When stress levels are excessive, and we fail to buffer the stress with sufficient recovery, we tend to fall back on old and well-trodden behavioral paths. This happens because our narrow aperture simply doesn’t allow any other viable alternative to rise to the surface.

During particularly stressful times, it is important to stay connected to others. And as stated above, we need to buffer stress with sufficient recovery or restore the energy consumed by the stress. The authors break down ways to do that:

Balancing physical stress with recovery involves #healthy nutritional input, hydration, exercise, strategic movement, sleep, and intermittent periods of rest.

Balancing emotional stress with recovery involves intentionally summoning positive emotions, such as joy, optimism, love, gratitude, inspiration, and inner peace.

Balancing mental stress with recovery involves allowing the neurons that have been firing repeatedly to rest by focusing on something entirely different.

Balancing spiritual stress with recovery involves reconnecting with your most cherished values, purpose in life, and core beliefs.

The more our personal view of reality and the sorties we tell ourselves align with the world as it really is, the better the choices we will make. “When we fail to recognize that a piece of incoming data is faulty, the stories and beliefs and the decisions built upon that data will also be faulty. The stories we form in life, even those we consider foundational, perhaps even sacred, can be contaminated by biased data and faulty interpretation.”

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Difficult Decisions How to Make Better Decisions

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:17 PM
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Leading Thoughts for April 4, 2024

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


General Gordon R. Sullivan on the power of reflection:

“Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore said that he had been reflecting, asking himself three questions: “What is happening? What is not happening? How can I influence the action?” Moore’s behavior captured the essence of strategic leadership. Moore was scanning his environment, thinking about his situation, then determining his best course. The future was winning the battle, simply parrying each thrust. The genius in Moore’s approach lies in his second question. By reflecting on what was not happening, he opened his mind to broader opportunities, to see the full range of his options. He was better able to anticipate what might or might not happen next and to plan his moves to best advantage. When asking can I influence the action?” he could thus envision a far greater range of responses than if he had simply been thinking in terms of action and counteraction.”

Source: Hope Is Not a Method: What Business Leaders Can Learn from America’s Army


Fred Kofman on transcendent leadership:

“Transcendent leaders work to align the individual purposes of those under them into a larger collective purpose that makes each individual larger as well. They align their best efforts with the organization’s in natural ways that other systems can’t lead them to do. It is the difference between rowing and sailing. A boat moved by mere muscle is no match for one moved by wind. A boat propelled the wind flows in harmony with the natural forces. An organization that moves forward by formal authority is like a rowboat. One moved by a transcendent purpose is like a sailboat with the wind behind it, filling its sails.”

Source: The Meaning Revolution: The Power of Transcendent Leadership

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:07 AM
| Comments (0) | Leading Thoughts


First Look: Leadership Books for April 2024

First Look Books

HERE'S A LOOK at some of the best leadership books to be released in April 2024 curated just for you. Be sure to check out the other great titles being offered this month.

9780063317444Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Wellbeing by Laura Mae Martin

Google’s Executive Productivity Advisor offers insights on how to make the “new way of work” work for you, providing actionable steps to optimize your productivity, accomplish more, prevent burnout, and cultivate a harmonious work-life balance. Every day, tens of thousands of Google employees, from executives to interns, rely on Laura Mae Martin’s tips and best practices for how to make the most of their time. Now, with Uptime, Laura brings her unique approach to productivity and well-being to anyone who wants to be more effective and experience “calm accomplishment,” whether at work, at school, or in their own personal lives.

9780593716717Co-Intelligence: Living and Working with AI by Ethan Mollick

Something new entered our world in November 2022 — the first general purpose AI that could pass for a human and do the kinds of creative, innovative work that only humans could do previously. Wharton professor Ethan Mollick understood that humans had developed a kind of co-intelligence that could augment, or even replace, human thinking. Through his writing, speaking, and teaching, Mollick has become one of the most prominent and provocative explainers of AI, focusing on the practical aspects of how these new tools for thought can transform our world. In Co-Intelligence, Mollick urges us to engage with AI as co-worker, co-teacher, and coach. He assesses its profound impact on business and education, using dozens of real-time examples of AI in action. Co-Intelligence shows what it means to think and work together with smart machines, and why it's imperative that we master that skill.

9781394243228Mentorship Unlocked: The Science and Art of Setting Yourself Up for Success by Janice Omadeke

What is a mentor? Why is having a mentor crucial to success? Or how do you make sure that you're a good mentor? In Mentorship Unlocked: The Science and Art of Setting Yourself Up for Success, veteran entrepreneur and innovator Janice Omadeke delivers an insightful discussion of mentorship, including what it is, how to find a qualified mentor, and how to make mentorship work for you. In the book, she explores the mentorship advice that helped her start a groundbreaking company after studying entrepreneurship and strategic management at MIT and Harvard. You’ll find practical steps you can take to build your own plan for finding the right mentor for you, or for becoming someone else’s trusted advisor.

9781400337842Think This, Not That: 12 Mindshifts to Breakthrough Limiting Beliefs and Become Who You Were Born to Be by Josh Axe

Perhaps you're busy but still feel empty. Maybe things haven't turned out how you'd hoped, and life seems stale and unfulfilling. What if you could wake up every morning excited about your purpose, knowing you're fulfilling your greatest potential? A more meaningful life is within your reach, and it starts in one place: your mind. Living with a mindset of false narratives will keep you stuck, locked in a prison of unpursued dreams and goals. But cultivating a new mindset based on what is actually true will set you free—free to start exploring and growing beyond the limits you thought you had. In Think This, Not That, Dr. Josh Axe unpacks the top twelve mental barriers holding people back from realizing their potential and becoming the greatest version of themselves, and contrasts each one with a new empowering mindset.

9781523006618The Generous Leader: 7 Ways to Give of Yourself for Everyone’s Gain by Joe Davis

Leading successfully in a world full of disruption means building more than technical skills. Yes, you must deliver results, but to run a successful business you need people—and people today want leaders who can and will work to see beyond themselves and only the bottom line—you must learn to lead with your heart. Being vulnerable with your staff is intimidating, but when connecting with people not only will you grow as a leader and a person, but your business will grow as well. Bringing your authentic self to your leadership takes courage and commitment, but you reap profound benefits from heart-led generous acts. This book presents 7 ways to give of yourself for everyone’s gain. As you build your skills with the guidance from this trusted reference, success will spread from your generosity to the people you work with, to your organization, to your own career and even society. There is no more powerful leader than a generous leader.

9781637632796Awaken Your Potential: 10 Ways to Unlock Greatness by Chad L. Reyes

Today’s institutions are facing a serious, global crisis that threatens to destroy how we work, live, serve, and play. No, it’s not a health or financial crisis; it’s a leadership crisis. Organizations around the world are lacking effective, competent leaders who know how to make a significant personal investment in both their organization and the people within it. More importantly, this generation of leaders isn’t awakening the untapped potential within their teams. That is a problem—perhaps the problem—that leads us into dull, dreary workdays and wholly ineffective, unsatisfying work. It’s time to change that. Leaders aren’t born; they’re equipped!

More Titles

9781797223650 9781636983080 9781637744840 9780593796375

For bulk orders call 1-626-441-2024

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“Miss a meal if you have to, but don't miss a book.”
— Jim Rohn

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Whats New in Leadership Books Best Books of 2023

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:21 AM
| Comments (0) | Books



Books to Read

Best Books of 2023


Leadership Books
How to Do Your Start-Up Right

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Leadership Books
Grow Your Leadership Skills

Leadership Minute
Leadership Minute

Leadership Classics
Classic Leadership Books

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