November 2016

Mind Games

You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

–Marcus Aurelius

I’m often reminded of the wisdom we all possess when talking with kids, including my daughter. She was troubled by how often another girl in her class was awarded “Outstanding Owl” by her teacher. It’s the highest honor a student can achieve in a given day and, let me tell you, they covet each and every “O-O” bestowed upon them.

But Ella didn’t think the other girl deserved all the recognition. And she thought the teacher was overlooking her. It wasn’t fair. It made her angry with the other student, even her teacher.

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If You Have to Hack the Holidays, You’re Doing It Wrong

Lifehacks are great. We all want faster/cheaper/easier/smarter ways of doing things. I can appreciate a good hack here and there.

Sometimes, however, we want to implement those hacks for their own sake. And that’s stupid. It is. Shut up. It’s stupid. I’m seeing too many e-newsletter and blog article subject lines that cater to and reinforce the harmful idea that you can “win Thanksgiving” and some shit.

Win your next feature release. Crush your workout. Balance your damn checkbook like a boss. Awesome.

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5 Reasons Habits are Magic

I have baggage around the idea of habits. “Creatures of habit” are boring, are they not? They’re the ones who make good marks for con men and assassins in the movies because they’re predictable.

Personally, I like to keep my would-be assassins guessing.

Of course, I don’t live in a movie and nothing so exciting is likely to come my way– not unless I lay the groundwork for exciting things to happen. So, although habits do not appeal to me emotionally, I know rationally they carry tremendous power. Some might say habits have all the power.

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Frozen Yogurt?! Don’t WASTE my time!

This is one of my favorite quotes ever. It sums up my feelings of owning your choices about as clearly as anything could.

Several years ago, a student in a training I was running relayed a story about one of his colleagues walking up to the soft serve dispenser in the company cafeteria. She was after a satisfying treat to wrap up her lunch break, and apparently was less than enthusiastic about what she found.

“Frozen yogurt?! Don’t WASTE my time!”

Frozen yogurt to me (and clearly others, like that disgruntled cafeteria diner), is a half-measure. It’s pretend ice cream. There’s no point. If you’re going to half-ass a solution and pretend it’s the real thing, better to skip it altogether.

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An Experiment: Listen Better Immediately

I’ve got listening skillz. If I really concentrate, exercise self-control and call on my training of long ago when I was a counselor for troubled kids… or my consultative sales training after that… or my dog behavioral therapist training after that…

OK. I should have listening skillz. Because I was really good at all of those things.

But I don’t employ my skillz nearly as often or as well as I should. It doesn’t come naturally to me. Maybe because I’m a middle child of five. Who knows. Doesn’t matter.

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How to Never Waste a Meeting (Part 2)

Yesterday, I shared the TTAP method, a simple way to get clear on meeting structure. TTAP helps to reduce frustration for everyone involved by creating some “ground rules.” Of course, ground rules don’t get anything done.

Today, I want to add the juice that makes meetings really work. It’s not fail-safe (because people aren’t), but it’s damn close.

Oh, and it’s super-sexy, too.*


Who owns the meeting? The next task? The outcome? If you aren’t prepared to make one individual responsible for the outcome– or take that responsibility yourself– what is it you’re meeting about? To gossip? Complain? Talk in circles?

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How to Never Waste a Meeting (Part 1)

Why do meetings get such a bad rap?

The very idea that two or more people sitting down to talk about something is inherently flawed, is silly. It says more about communication skills than it does about the act of communicating face-to-face. I happen to like meetings because they can accelerate progress.

No joke.

More than 10 years ago, I was taught a trick that serves me to this day, so long as I commit to using it. It’s kind of magical, really. (But only if I use it.)

Thank You, Time, Agenda, Purpose

It’s called TTAP, pronounced, “tee tap,” and there are several ways to use it.

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What triggered me to turn it all back on again.

The conditions had to be right.

It wasn’t just one thing. It wasn’t waking up and deciding it. In fact, it was weeks of feeling the pull, until the pull finally moved me to act.

Look, I love to think I’m smart, driven, self-motivated and an all-around kicker-of-ass. Sometimes, I am. But not often enough. Not often enough to fulfill my ambitions. And it took becoming a more public figure to turn that switch on again.

This isn’t to say I’m a public figure in the large sense of a politician or celebrity. My work is public in that I engage with new people I don’t know all the time. My job is to provide guidance, and at the same time, live by example.

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On Starting Again…

Wow. Didn’t expect that to happen.

Alight. If I’m really honest. I kinda did expect it: I haven’t published to my blog in six full months.

Granted, I went on vacation, started a business (this), and pieced together some freelance and consulting work that chewed up more hours than I expected. But here’s the thing: those are stupid excuses. Writing is good for me. So is exercise (which I’ve barely done). It’s necessary to tend to those needs.

There’s a certain rhythm to a day, a week, a month and a year that, taken together, tell a story. My story has been that I’m out of balance and, in the long run, something will fall apart because of it. Our bodies, minds, businesses and relationships are all little interdependent ecosystems. When we sacrifice the health of one for the sake of the other, despite our best “effort,” we limit our capacity to do and be more.

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