Finding Leadership in Chess

Finding Leadership in Chess

Chess is a game that I can honestly say, that I’m ok at but would not do well against a seasoned player. I do love the concept of chess though. Utilizing the same starting resources with the winner being determined by strategic planning and ability to adapt to their opponent.  

We can find leadership in chess in a few different ways that wrap around strategic thinking. 

You need to understand everyone’s role 

The first step in learning how to play chess is to understand the roles of all the pieces (how they move, what they should do, priority, etc) so that you can actually begin to play the game. 

The same has to happen with your team in order to be effective in your job. Yes, it’s important to understand the literal job that they sit in and what that role encompasses on the team, but it’s just as important to get to know the person to understand what unique talents and abilities that they bring to the table. 

Knowing just about the role on the team without the personal context is like knowing only half of what each piece does. Can you still win? Sure, with easier challenges and opponents. You are going to be quickly taken out of a game though if you go in this way against a seasoned player. 

Learn your people’s passions, talents, and motivators to take their role on the team over the top. They can help you move your strategy in a way that you may not even realize right now. 

The best always think ahead

Good chess players are playing their turn, but they are thinking about several moves ahead. Playing chess can help you be a great strategic planner. 

I use the chessboard analogy quite a bit when teaching leaders about being strategic when they think about the future of their talent and the strategy of the team and organization. 

The idea is that you start with a hypothetical that is rooted in the real world and then you begin to play out how you would react and what your next steps would be. 

For talent, we typically start with the hypothetical sudden opening in a key role. Who is the next person? What happens if that option doesn’t work out? Who is the backfill for the new role? Who is the backfill’s backfill? You can quickly find out where your strengths and opportunities are with the current and future strength of your team when you run scenarios like this. 

For your business or goals, it’s a similar concept. Start throwing what-ifs into your work routine that are grounded in reality and probability. They can be rooted in business goals or maybe more soft skills in nature. If the business plan doesn’t take off like planned then what? How do I lead my people if someone were to, unfortunately, pass from COVID?

Running these with yourself and your team on occasion is always a worthwhile time investment. We actually call this type of exercise chessboard when we do it with other leaders. 

Things change and you have to adapt

Even the best-laid plans don’t always work out like they were planned to. Life happens! In chess, you may have to change your strategic plan and begin reacting and changing your plan based on an unexpected move from the other side that just occurred. 

Help your team see the changes before they occur and equip them to communicate their thoughts to you and the team as they occur. Some of the best companies in the US to adapt early to COVID saw what was happening in Asia and Europe and got ahead by beginning to change plans before it hit them. You’ll need to have a high degree of trust and respect built up between you and your people in order to be great here. They need to understand that you will value and take to heart their guidance and you need to trust they are thinking through things with the right mindset and have the right level of perspective for the issue at hand. 

On a smaller scale, think about how you react to the smaller changes that happen to you on a regular basis? Does it wreck your day or stop productivity, or do you make a quick plan, adapt, and move on? 

Handle change, both big and small, well to keep your plan moving forward. 

Just as in chess, you’ll be a better leader when you understand what challenges you’re up against (The other player) understand your team well (the pieces) that execute on your plan well while being flexible to adapt along the way. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Find the full Finding Leadership Series here

Finding Leadership in Michael Scott

Finding Leadership in Michael Scott

“Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”
-Micheal Scott

The Office continues to be a hit show years after the conclusion of the series. It’s both absurd and totally relatable. You’ve probably seen a little (or a lot) of Micheal in your supervisor and the likely experienced workplace drama that mimics the show to at least some degree. For leaders, you may see those cringe moments that Micheal has and can see yourself in those situations. Maybe it’s not to the extreme that he often goes to, but relatable nonetheless. 

As bad of a boss that Miachel was, we can learn a thing or two about leadership from him, to help us be more effective when working with others. 

Michael has a heart for his people

One of the most likable aspects of Michael’s character is how much he loves his team (except for Toby in HR). His misguided antics are often rooted in trying to save his people’s jobs, to do something to motivate his team, or to celebrate personal and professional success. 

What are you willing to do for your team? What would you sacrifice and what length would you go to take care of them? to take that challenge further ask the same question about each individual that you work with. 

A trusting and empowering leader is willing to put some risk on the line as well as their personal reputation in order for someone else to have a chance to succeed. Check your comfortability in letting others have the spotlight and understand where your personal boundaries are and how far your ego extends. You likely have room to further push for growth in this area. 

Michael celebrated the success of others

We’ve talked at length in the past about the importance of celebrating success (ep 143) and having fun with your team (ep 120, 192). Lee Cockerell, retired EVP of Disney World talked about the idea of sharing appreciation, respect, and encouragement on ep 200. He and I have shared examples of cheap and imaginative ways that you can have fun and celebrate others. 

Micheal and the office staff certainly lean into this idea. The Dundies are cheap annual awards that he would give out every year like the Oscars. People in the real world like them so n=mcuh that they by replicas and hand them out to others. The team also had a fun day with their own office Office Olympics. The medals were made out of paperclips and yogurt tins. Several people cherished their cheaply made medals because it held sentimental value to them. 

I love formal recognition programs. They certainly have their place in highlighting someone’s effort and impact. I think there is a large opportunity to recognize others in a more informal, silly yet sincere way as well. Whether it’s the Dundees, Lee’s green hot sauce, or my All That and a Bag of Chips Award, do something different to recognize others.  

Michael was available to his people and there when they needed him

There are many examples of Micheal being there for his people and having a personal investment in both their personal and professional endeavors. Pam had a high personal passion for art and got into a local art show. When she invited the office to the event, no one showed outside of her boyfriend who was very critical of the work. Michael shows up at the last moment and is truly impressed by her work. He buys her small painting of their office building and puts it on display outside of his personal office for the remainder of the show. 

How do you think Pam felt about her leader after that showing of compassion, care, and authenticity? 

Don’t’ let the hustle and bustle of the day or the fact that you aren’t physically with someone on a daily basis hold you back from being authentic and available to others. Check-in with your people on a consistent basis so that there is a consistent flow of communication to fill in the questions and gaps that people may have surrounding their work and expectations. Be sure to connect on a personal level as well.  Instead of asking “How are you?” start the conversation off with a follow-up to something personal that was previously shared. 

You will gain a lot of ground in garnering trust, respect, and admiration from your people when you show your investment in them on a personal level. 

Michael Scott is certainly an over-the-top leader on The Office. Peel away the craziness and you’ll see a person that cares for others, know the power of celebrating wins and 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Find the full Finding Leadership Series here

Leadership lessons learned from the CIA with Marc Polymeropoulos

Leadership lessons learned from the CIA with Marc Polymeropoulos

We are excited to have Marc join us on the show today! I think you’ll enjoy his insight into how to lead in a crisis and other lessons that he learned while serving in senior roles in the CIA. – ZH

Marc Polymeropoulos retired in June 2019 from the Senior Intelligence Service ranks at the CIA after a  26-year career in operational headquarters and field management assignments covering the Middle East,  Europe, Eurasia, and counter-terrorism. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and he is one of the  CIA’s most decorated field officers. Marc is the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal,  the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the Intelligence Medal of Merit, and the Intelligence  Commendation medal. His last position was overseeing the CIA’s clandestine operations in Europe and  Eurasia. He is a respected commentator on foreign policy and intelligence matters and is widely quoted in both the US and international media.

Find Marc’s Book here!

Follow Marc on Twitter!

Be your own best boss

Be your own best boss

Sometimes, we push ourselves so hard to be a great leader of others that we forget about ourselves in the process. I’ve seen leaders burn themselves out, lose their passion, and have a drop in health among other things because they didn’t lead themselves well.  Here are some tips to help keep yourself on track and truly be your own best boss. 

Cut yourself some slack

I know a lot of good leaders that treat their teams very well. They are compassionate, forgiving, and lead with empathy towards others. At the same time, that same leader is extremely hard on themselves when they fall short of a goal or don’t meet the expectations that they set upon themselves. 

I know the type well. I used to be that guy!

Even if you aren’t a leader of people think about how you treat friends, family, and those you work with. It’s the same concept. Do you treat others better than you treat yourself?

Cut yourself some slack. Others aren’t expecting you to be perfect. Give yourself the same compassion and forgiveness that you give others. Being too hard on yourself doesn’t accomplish anything, but waste mental and emotional energy. You can dust yourself and get back out there to try harder without beating yourself up in the process. 

Map the deadends and hazards throughout your journey

You can learn just as much from the bad as you can from the good. Reflect back on your work life and think about those supervisors that were just awful. What behaviors made them so bad? How did they treat others? What were some of the other reasons that made it such a bad experience?

Your learnings don’t have to come from a bad boss. Pull from those bad experiences that you had with other businesses, times you’ve seen someone lose their cool or made a fool of themselves, you can even pick up the “don’t dos” from TV, the news, and especially social media. 

I would say my leadership drive and behaviors balance the thought of modeling great behavior and committing to not repeating others’ sins. An example of this comes in many of the change management pieces I’ve launched. They typically start from a very personal place of “I will be the last one to experience (Insert bad experience)” or if it’s someone else “No more (Insert name)”. If I say as a mantra “No more Mike Floyds” I don’t mean that I don’t want any more Mikes. It means that I recognize a bad experience that he had, and we will drive towards a change that eliminates the scenario or the possibility going forward. 

Following this frame of reference as you continue to grow makes you a better leader to yourself and to others. 

Push yourself for personal development

Sometimes we forget about ourselves as we push others to grow and meet their career goals. Map out and plan your own development. It’s great to have long-term aspirations that you want to achieve, so it’s great to think about yourself in yearly blocks as you work towards a larger goal.  How do you want to be different a year from now? What are some small things that you can work on to grow your effectiveness?  Some areas to consider include:

  • Furthering your education
  • Growing your experience in a new area
  • Increasing your depth of expertise in an area
  • Expanding your personal and professional network
  • Growing in a leadership soft skill – coaching, EQ, trust-building, etc

The servant leadership model says that your job as a leader to serve and support those that are under you instead of expecting them to serve you. That doesn’t mean you have to give all of yourself up in the process.  

Your people matter and so do you. be your own best boss and lead yourself well. You’ll take your leadership to a whole new level and have a deeper satisfaction in what you do. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Our 6th Anniversary Show!

Our 6th Anniversary Show!

Thank you so much for supporting us over the last six years! Today we have both Neha and Michael with me as we talk about lessons learned over the last year, a look back to the challenges we all have been through, a peek behind the scenes, and a look towards year 7.

Make a better tomorrow


Overcoming unconscious bias

Overcoming unconscious bias

Unconscious bias, or implicit association, plays a part in all of our lives and how we lead others. Last week we discussed what this kind of bias is and what the types of unconscious bias are. Today we are jumping into finding it in our own lives and then strategies to address it in an actionable way. 

Discover and recognize your unconscious bias 

It can be hard to see our unconscious bias. It’s called unconscious for a reason! Instead of tracking your brain for what basis you may have, look at it from a simpler perspective.

Think about the decisions that you make that center around people that you don’t give much thought to. Take a moment to think about the reasons that you made the decision that you did. Do you task a female leader as the one to provide emotional support when someone is going through a hard time, because you feel like women are more empathetic?  Do you put a male in charge of lofty sales goals because you feel like men are more goal-oriented and action-focused? 

Taking time to reflect and assess the root causes of some of your decision-making processes is s a great place to start in recognizing and discovering your own unintentional bias. 

Take the test

Harvard University can help you get a jump start in uncovering your unconscious bias through a free self-assessment. Once you enter the site, you can choose from 15 different areas of gender, race, sexuality, and a number of other things to assess yourself in. I know that I have an affinity towards our Native American population in the U.S. The assessment proved just that. While I consider native Americans and Whites equal, I have a slight automatic association of American with Native Americans and Foreign with Whites. 

Interestingly, more than 50% of the near 250,000 that have taken the Native American test first reported as viewing both groups equally, but only 20% completed the test that way. The majority found out that a majority of people have a bias towards Whites over Native Americans. 

Focus on the tree

There is a saying about people that miss the big picture that goes, “They can’t see the forest for the trees.” meaning that they get derailed in the specifics or something not important and in turn miss the big picture of what’s going on around them. To help in growing through your bias I want you to try to see the tree instead of the forest. 

The forest in the example is the collection of the characteristics of a person’s background that you believe to be true. Instead of focusing on all the preconceived notions and mental baggage that we attach to people, focus on the individual right in front of you. Let their actions and words stand on their own. Give them a chance to build trust and a reputation with you based on their own merits and abilities. 

Discuss and learn

After you have uncovered some of the biases that you may have, be authentic and vulnerable to discuss them with others, particularly with people from socially dissimilar groups. Many larger organizations are starting business (or employee) resource groups that bring together people with similar backgrounds or interests. Join up with some of these groups to learn more and challenge the notions that you have about them. 

If you don’t have BRGs or ERGs at your workplace, be mindful to introduce yourself to a different view online or in your community. As funny as it sounds, I think it’s easier to find this in the community than it is online. Your social media algorithms push content that aligns with your current thoughts and preferences and suppresses opposing views. (See The Social Dilemma)  You’ll need to go out of your way to find it on social media, but it’s out there. 

We’ve all got unconscious bias. Understand what it is and how it impacts your leadership decisions on a regular basis. Use the techniques and tips above to begin addressing those ideas and become a more inclusive leader as a result. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Understanding Unconscious Bias

Understanding Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something that each of us deals with on a daily basis. If you had a flat tire would you ask a man or woman to help you? Who would you ask to help sew up a hole in your shirt?  Who is more likely to ask for directions if they are lost? These are just a few everyday examples of how our brain subconsciously connects the dots for us without us even realizing it. 

What is unconscious bias?

Unconscious bias consists of learned stereotypes about certain groups of people that we form outside of our own conscious awareness. It’s learned and automatic, unintentional, and seated deeply in our beliefs. It also affects our behavior and while we have a tendency to think unconscious bias is about race, it also includes, age, gender, orientation, and religious beliefs. 

Types of unconscious bias

Unconscious bias covers a spectrum of how you access and interact with others as an individual and how you operate and plan as a team. 

Affinity bias: Affinity bias is the tendency to gravitate towards people that are like you. We all have a few people at work that we gravitate towards more than others. It’s likely because there is some common link there. Maybe it’s shared interest, personality type, same life stage, or any number of other areas; those commonalities act as a subconscious magnet that draws you together. The idea itself is not a negative one, it’s when these relationships come at the cost of excluding others that you need to guard against them. 

Halo effect: The Halo effect says that you think everything about a person is good because you like them. This is a piece of unconscious bias that I consistently coach hiring leaders about when they are looking for new talent. Oftentimes, when we make bad hiring decisions, it’s because of a couple of things. 

A) Asked the wrong questions that led the candidate to the answer you wanted instead of motivation based questions that give you a good understanding of the person.

B) There was some kind of spark during the conversation where you connected and genuinely liked the person.

Pair the affinity bias of thinking they are good because you know like them with softball questions and you know have a recipe that allows the wrong fit to make it on your team. 

Perception bias: This is what you believe about a group based on stereotypes and assumptions which makes it nearly impossible to be objective about individuals. Perception bias is probably what most people think of when they about unconscious bias.  It’s the idea that you assume something about a person because of the group that they are affiliated with. 

We covered a story on how perception bias blocks you from being an empathetic leader on show 247: Roadblocks to empathy

Confirmation bias: This is a tendency to seek to confirm your preconceived notions about a group of people or an individual. We saw this flare-up immensely in the summer of 2020 through BLM protest, the coining of the phrase “Karen” and the lead-up to the election. 

I coach about this idea quite a bit when I do talent calibrations with others (A process where you rate your team and vet them with your peers and leader). These assessments usually around some kind of box that has different categories or ratings. I encourage leaders not to share about what box they put the person in, instead share strictly about their performance and potential. When we start out with “I put them here because….” you are laying a proverbial bread crumb trail that leads you to the pre-determined destination. 

Groupthink: This is the loss of self-identity in order to fit into a culture. Here you will mimick other’s thoughts, suppress your own opinions, and readily agree with the consensus of the group.  

Groupthink destroys creativity, leaves potentially large holes in your strategy is not going to be holistic in its approach, because it doesn’t consider other opinions or perspectives. This one requires some courage and vulnerability in order to overcome on the part of the participants. Organizations will sometimes put a limit to the time an assembled team is together or rotate new members in, in order to combat this trap that teams sometimes find themselves in. 

Next steps

Next week we’ll cover some tips in order to start overcoming some of your and your team’s unconscious bias and assumptions. In the meantime, I would encourage you to think about the above list as you go throughout your week. Think about your interaction (or lack of interaction) and put it through the lens of some of these types of biases. This will be the start of you increasing your effectiveness as a leader while opening yourself to new perspectives and talents of others that you may not have recognized yet. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Early failure can lead to future success

Early failure can lead to future success

You have more failure than success. Doesn’t that feel great to be affirmed in today? Well, I am right there with you; in fact, we all are.  Your failures can often lead to a larger success when we handle them the right way and use them to help us focus our efforts in a different way. 

Researchers from the Kellogg School of Management studied two groups of scientists. One group barely missed receiving valuable grants, while the second group barely made the cutoff to receive the grants. Five years later, the group that “failed” was more successful in getting papers and studies published than those that received the grants. 

Here are some ways that we can turn our early failures into future successes. 

Hold no regrets in failures

For some people, the very thought of failure makes them uneasy. The thing is that life without risks is a boring one and one that can leave you with regrets. Be willing to let go of pride and ego to take some risks (EP 153) in your life. 

30,000. That’s the day number of days that a human lives. Leave no space for regret of what could have been and hold no regrets in something you tried and failed at.  Celebrate the effort and experience of the journey instead. 

What can you learn from the failure?

Many teams and organizations hold a debrief session after a project or program launch to determine what went well, what went wrong, and what could be improved upon next time. In the military, we called these AARs (After Actions Reviews) and would have them after missions and events. 

Be sure to perform an AAR on yourself and your team when things don’t go as planned. Your failure is a goldmine for knowledge and experience that can be used in either the next iteration or adjustment as you pick up and move forward. 

AARs are also a great way to help you refocus as you dust yourself off and get back at it. When I raced competitively, I would do my own mental AAR to determine what went well and what I could improve on if things didn’t go my way. I learned a lot of lessons in my early races that led me to be much more successful in the years to come. 

Create a growth mindset

Rather than avoiding failures, acknowledge that they are going to happen and help you and your team push forward because of them. Some way that you can help create a growth mindset here include

  • Creating a space of trust and respect that allows you and others to take risks and fail without a negative consequence to someone’s reputation. 
  • Lean into your emotional intelligence to help you bounce back from a failure. Being intentional to stay in a positive frame of mind will help you as you learn and adapt from the failure. 
  • Focusing on your practice, persistence, and purpose will help you identify learning opportunities and identify areas of opportunities that you may have missed otherwise. 

What about the true stinkers? 

Some people may say that not all failure can lead to future success. What about the truly awful ideas and things that didn’t catch on? Think about Google Glass, New Coke, Windows Vista, and other product flops. What can learn about colossal failures? I would say that those failures led to future success because they showed the creators what not to do. Sometimes you should totally change direction because the failure shows you that the path that you are currently on is the wrong one.

Letting go of an unsuccessful idea or path frees you up to tackle something else totally new and exciting. 

The only time failure is truly a failure is when you don’t learn from it. When failure happens, dust yourself off, learn and adapt and use the failure to fuel your future success. 

Make a better tomorrow. 


Communicating vision to others

Communicating vision to others

Communicating the vision for your team or organization is one of the most important things that you can do as a leader. Without a focused vision, employees can become lost in the meaning of their work, become unproductive, and have a higher chance of leaving to work for someone else. 

In a Gallup poll, only 41% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they know what their company stands for, and only 27% strongly agree that they believe in their organization’s values.

If so few people connect to the company’s values, then how can they connect to the vision? Here are a few tips to help you communicate your personal and organizational vision to others. 

Start with your values and purpose

Your people want to know that you have a clear plan for everything that is going on around them. 

If you currently do have established Values and a purpose statement, reinforce and reintroduce those to your team. Begin tieing in your projects and work to that purpose, understanding, and set of values that your group holds. 

If you don’t have established values, or if they need to be updated, spend time with key stakeholders in your organization or group to establish those.  Avoid working through this process alone, as you’ll miss opportunities due to blind spots that we all have in our professional lives. 

Build a good foundation that you can build your personal and company’s vision off of. 

Say it again

The same Gallup poll also said only 23% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization’s values to their work every day. 

It’s not like 77% of leaders and companies have never said a word about their values or vision for where they want to be. It’s likely that they said something early on, felt like it was communicated, or understood and moved on from it. Here are a few reasons why you need to keep communicating the vision to your team on a consistent basis.  

They forget: Even if you put your values on posters in the office and make everyone use your vision statement in their email signature, they will forget about the overall vision of the organization. Think about all the distractions that happen to you on a daily basis. Those same types of distractions happen to everyone else on a regular basis and they need to be drawn in and refilled with purpose and vision to keep it top of mind. 

The team changes: Perhaps you do a big visionary push a few months ago that was well received. That unified consensus quickly fades away as new people come on. Without that consistent cadence of vision casting, the team will eventually be filled with a majority of people that never heard your message. 

The environment changes: Things change constantly. Look no further than 2020 to see how we can start with great intentions only to be thrown a curveball that no one saw coming. When shifts happen around us, we can sometimes question if the vision or purpose still applies. Communicate to your team during challenging times to solidify that vision for them. 

We pay attention to what our leaders say. Communicate often about vision so that others have a clear understanding of what it is and that it is important to you and for them to be successful in their roles. 

Always show them the why and the WIIFM

Help your team understand the why behind the decisions that you make as a leader. It will help them with understanding the need to change and will increase their buy-in to a change. 

When communicating your vision for others, tie the action into the WIIFM (What’s in it for me). Show the person what benefits will happen for them as you work together to fulfill your mission and vision both on small scale and large scale goals. 

Communicating vision is a constant process with your team. Just like a rudder on a ship, a proper vision may seem small in the big scheme of things, but it can steer you to your destination and without it, it doesn’t matter how big of an engine you have. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Act with diplomacy and tact

Act with diplomacy and tact

Sometimes we have incredible ideas or thoughts that would make a world of difference in the business and people or around us, but end up sabotaging ourselves in our communication and vision casting to others. 

It’s essential to show diplomacy and tact when working with others through projects, plans, and life. Diplomacy is the act of letting someone else have your way while tact is your ability to get your point across without making an enemy or hurting a relationship. 

Focus on the golden rule

How often have you seen a video online of someone acting crazy and just thought, “Why can’t people just be nice to one another?” As easy as it sounds following the golden rule when dealing with others can be a challenge sometimes. 

  • Double down on the power of courtesy and politeness. Your likeability factor will go along way in helping carry you and your message or thought to completion. 
  • Remember that being friendly doesn’t mean that you have to be a pushover. Remain professionally assertive to advance your point while also valuing the relationships in the meeting.
  • Leaning in on the golden rule will also lead you towards a tendency to communicate more subtly to influence others. Subtlety can sometimes be just as powerful s being direct and to the point. 

Empathy is the bridgebuilder

Listening empathetically to other people’s opinions and insight can certainly help you as you interact with others with tact and diplomacy. We recently did a small series on empathy and its power in your leadership (EP 245-247).  Here are some additional tips to help you utilize empathy in these moments.

  • Listen with an empathetic ear as others share. Put yourself in their place to fully appreciate where they are coming from. Instead of focusing on a rebuttal, ask additional questions around getting clarity from their perspective. 
  • Think empathetically before you communicate with others. Save yourself some time and grief by thinking through how your communication will impact those it’s aimed at. This will help you frame the message better and perhaps any change some aspects of it preemptively to better match the audience. 
  • Look to turn more statements into questions. This tactic helps the other person begin to build a bridge back to you. It also helps in building buy-in and ownership in what the topic is about. 

In heated moments lean in on self-management

You have likely physically felt the moment in a meeting where things are taking an undesirable turn. Your heart starts racing, you feel your skin heat up or you notice subtle changes in your body.  You can’t lead yourself with tact and diplomacy if you let your emotions run you over.  Strengthen your self-management so you can handle those challenging and sometimes surprising moments.

  • Focus on your tone, pacing, and speed of your voice. Your words may be saying one thing in the situation but how you are saying it may be a different story.  Slow down instead of keeping the speed up to get the point across. (EP 202)
  • Just like your voice, grow self-awareness of the physical ticks and tendencies that you have so your body is communicating the same message that your words are.  (EP 186)
  • Shut down the voice in your head telling you to speak up more to get your point across. Be mindful to listen more than you talk. 
  • Maintain your composure when you are criticized. No one is going to like every single aspect of your world-changing thoughts and ideas. (Or at least they shouldn’t). Make sure that you keep your composure so that you don’t look like a sore loser or unstable when the heat is applied. 
  • Have awareness around your sarcasm, snarkiness, and demands that you have on others. 

Be the diplomat that others look to in meetings and negotiations. Acting with diplomacy and tact will increase the value of your word, the level of influence that you have on your organization, and your career and earning potential. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Tips to keep your best people engaged

Tips to keep your best people engaged

We sometimes think of employee engagement as a one-way street. What do we have to do as leaders to make sure that our people are productive in their roles? Yes, engaged employees are typically very productive, but they see engagement as a two-way street and more of a relationship. How engaging are you with your people? 

You don’t have to be a leader at the top level to champion engagement with your team. In fact, you can build a very strong and engaged team right where you are by focusing on a few key areas. 

Safety & Security

Safety and security will always be the foundational need that every employee wants whether they readily admit it or not. People want to know that they are secure in their role on your team and in the larger organization. Know, that doesn’t mean you have to say, “Scott, I wanted to just affirm you and say that your job is secure.” While that might be appropriate during a merger or acquisition if you said that every week, it would cause all kinds of stress for the person. 

Focus on communicating clearly and often about change so that your team knows that there is a plan in place. Be honest and transparent during these communications, otherwise, people will fill in the gaps with their own interpretations which can cause unneeded drama in the workplace. 

Social Connections

The last 18 months have been taxing and challenging to just about everyone in the labor force. One of the immediate opportunities that we saw as large work populations suddenly found themselves in a remote world, was a lost sense of connectedness to others. 

  • Support and build a network of peers: Connect your team to other peers that may be separated by geographical location or business unit. Think outside of the box when it comes to networking. Look at professional organizations with like-minded interests to help further your employees’ connections to others. 
  • Put your social efforts on the calendar: Be formal even in the informal to ensure that you are meeting people’s social needs. Whether it’s scheduling an outdoor meet-up, an online hangout, or larger events, be sure not to leave the social aspect up for chance. 

Trusting Relationships

Trust is a little more complex than the self-reflection question that asks, “Do I trust you?” There are four types of trust: Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy, and Self-Orientation. An employee that would rate you and your relationship as high in these four areas will be all-in when it comes to your leadership. 

  • Time is truly an investment: As uncertainty, change, and crisis grows around you, invest more time in your people to build upon the trust that you have. Being visible and available to your team makes a world of difference for people. 
  • Build a trusting culture: Culture starts with you. Create an inclusive and safe space for your team by modeling the behavior that you want others to follow. Lift people up, encourage individuality, and support people as they take risks in their role. 

While breaking trust is a quick ticket to a drop off in engagement, it can be earned back to a degree if handled correctly (PTB 174: Turning around a bad reputation)


We all long for a sense of purpose in work and in life. Without a personal purpose to a larger impact on our work, we become unengaged, unproductive, and will eventually leave the team. With a strong sense of purpose, employees can navigate complex change and uncertainty while tieing their work to the larger goal of the group.  

  • Share purpose stories: Share stories that showcase examples of how people are living their purpose through tough and uncertain scenarios. 
  • Make it part of your daily dialog: Link the “why” to the “how” for those on your team. Remember that a great leader will consider the journey as being just as important as arriving at the destination. Look for consistent ways to communicate purpose to your team through emails, meetings, and calls. 

Remember that everyone is different in their needs in order to be fully engaged in the workplace. Take time to identify those individual nuances and dial in a great strategy to keep your people engaged and satisfied so that they can have a long career under your leadership. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

How camping can improve your leadership

How camping can improve your leadership

I camped out quite a bit growing up and reconnected to camping this last year. I loved it as a kid, but I think that I appreciate it even more as an adult. Camping is an activity that can truly add value to your leadership journey and can help you make a significant adjustment in your stress levels. 

Camping pulls you out of your normal routine

Routines can be a good thing. In fact, we recommend them, especially in the morning. (PTB #237) It’s also healthy to break out of your routines from time to otherwise you can become stale, complacent, and become stuck in rut without even realizing it. 

Camping likely changes everything when it comes to your normal routine. You’ll be outside more, and you rely on technology less. Camping is also a chance to build lasting memories because of just how different the experience is from your normal day-to-day activities. We talk in Ep 244 that our desire for more time can really just be a desire to create more lasting meaning and memories. Camping is certainly one of those activities where you are guaranteed to create lasting memories for yourself and anyone that you bring along with you on the adventure. 

Camping eliminates the noise and distractions

Emails, phone calls, meetings, more emails, to-do lists, even more emails! Your work, school, and home life are constantly pulling at you for your attention. 

We get so covered up in the noise and distractions of our lives that we become numb to it. I know the power that camping has to eliminate the stress and noise but I usually fail to appreciate its value until I go back out again. Meetings, emails, and the stress of life simply don’t matter out in nature. The only thing that does matter is the moment that you are in when you are there.  Head out to the wild when you need an impactful escape from the stress in your life. 

Camping gives you a fresh perspective

We’ve talked at length about how exercise can help clear your mind and give you a chance to innovate and be creative. Camping offers many of the same benefits here. With the earlier advantages mentioned above, you become freer to focus on other things. 

Slow down and appreciate nature, your surrounding, and the life that is happening all around you. In scouts, we teach that part of being reverent is taking time to appreciate these types of things that we miss in the busyness of our normal day. 

Camping a great time to take stock of your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, to be creative, and to reflect and be thankful for the things you have in your life. 

Camping helps your planning skills

You may think that the idea of camping is all well and good, but the thought of it is overwhelming. Where do I go? What do I bring? How am I going to eat? All fair questions. Let me encourage you that there are many different levels of camping from car camping, to off-the-grid backpacking trips. Regardless of the level you choose, each type of trip takes some level of planning. 

Preparing for a trip is much like planning for a vacation. You should slow down, think through the different scenarios that you may face, plan for the weather, and build in a backup plan or two. 

Camping can be equal parts planning and learning moments. There hasn’t been a time that I have come back from a camping trip, either learning how to do a process better, prepare better for the unknown, or learned from a mistake that I made. 

Get out there and enjoy a camping trip, whether that is in a cabin in the mountain’s valley or a tent in a secluded part of the forest. You’ll reap the benefits of breaking away from the stress of life and come out with a deeper appreciation for yourself, nature, and others. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

How to be miserable

How to be miserable

What a year it has been! COVID-19 feels like it has been around forever at this point, but it was just a year ago when countries across the world began to lockdown.  Since then the job market has tanked, civil unrest and protests began to happen across the globe and natural disasters were a constant news item. 

Numerous reports and studies have shown our collective outlook and morale fell off a cliff over the last 12 months. Here are some tips to become miserable. 

Isolate yourself

We’ve talked at length in the past about the pull and power of isolation. For many, our way of work has totally changed and as a result, we are more isolated than we ever have been. Prolonged isolation is not good for you mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. 

Be intentional in your week to have time where you interact with others in some fashion. Even if that means turning on your camera during video calls and getting out where you can see some people. (walk in the park, grocery shopping, etc) Get out there and reconnect to the world the best that you can. 

Frame circumstances in a “Why me?” format

These types of people think that the world is against them. Traffic is always bad, they can’t catch a break and if it can go wrong, it will go wrong. When you are at the end of your rope it’s easy to latch on to this idea and thought. I know that I have before during times that I have reached that point. 

The “Why me” state of mind really is just that….it’s a state of mind. Everybody has unforeseen things and circumstances happen to them, but it’s how you handle it and approach it that makes all the difference.  Approach each circumstance with positive intent and what you can do you quickly overcome what’s before you. Not so much what you can’t do, but instead what you can do in the situation. 

Why mes also seem to see more bad things happen to them because they are looking for them and are very sensitive to them. It’s like a model of a car that you suddenly see around town after you bought that same model. You didn’t see them before because you didn’t have the awareness or were looking for them. Give your mind and emotions and break by letting go of the search for unfortunate things that pop up in your week, both big and small. 

Eat much, move little

Well, I can say that this one got me over the COVID year. I had dropped quite a bit of weight and was preparing for my favorite race of the summer and then it was canceled. For about 3 months, I stopped running and starting eating….everything! It took a good bit of effort to get back on track and I still go back and forth some of my progress here. 

Here is another example of changing work and habits that impacted us over the last year. We just stopped getting out of the house nearly as much as before and as a result, stopped moving. 

Find some time throughout your day to take a few short breaks to get up and move around. Go for a walk during lunch. Spend some time outside at night and in the evenings. Go on a campout. Whatever that looks like for you, get and move some. Your stress will go down and you’ll feel better on several different levels. 

Don’t change

Simply be miserable by not changing.  You may be saying that you are miserable because of all the changes that have happened in the last year! I hear you, what I am saying is to continue to change and adapt to your new environment. 

Find ways to push yourself to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This year I have taken up learning morse code and have a plan to get back where I want to be physically while continuing to lead in civic areas across my city. There is nothing worse than putting yourself in a tough spot and then resigning yourself to your situation. You change instead of sitting and waiting for the circumstances to change. 

Being miserable is easy. Take the four tips above and you’ll be well of your way. We all have a choice when determining our own level of satisfaction. Choose to keep pushing forward even when it’s tough or you don’t know the direction. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Profiles in Leadership: Sophie Scholl

Profiles in Leadership: Sophie Scholl

Just because so many things are in conflict does not mean that we ourselves should be divided.
-Sophie Scholl

Scholl grew up in Nazi Germany where she began passively resisting the teaching and programs as early as 13-years-old and through a small group of friends eventually lead a passive resistance movement centered around the philosophy that was a counterpoint to the Nazi propaganda machine. She held true to her beliefs as she was eventually caught and executed for high treason at the age of 21. 

Sophie Scholl is a powerful example of integrity, accountability, and passion and she modeled several leadership characteristics that we can learn from today. 

She leaned into her talents to contribute to the right cause

Scholl was no warrior. Rather than trying to defect to the Allied side during WWII, she leaned into her talents to make an impact where she was. She and a small group of friends began a passive resistance movement against the Nazi regime by writing articles and distributing leaflets around central Germany and the local university. The group and publication became known as the White Rose and several publications were distributed during the summer of 1942

What difference can you make? It’s sometimes hard to see how we as individuals can impact large-scale issues like climate change, racism, and false narratives. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with the enormity of the situation look at your skills and talents. What are you great at or love to do and how can you use that skill and passion to contribute in some way? 

The White Rose was a group of 5 kids and young adults who wrote, printed and distributed the material. During the spike in Black Lives Matter protests in the Spring of 2020, a high schooler in the Atlanta suburbs organized his own protests that saw hundreds of people unite from all walks of life. Don’t underestimate the level of impact that you can have on others.

She spoke up at a time that mattered

As time continues to separate the most current generation from at atrocities of the Nazis and the circumstances that led to WWII, people sometimes assume that the whole country backed the misguided values and mission of the Nazi leadership. That was certainly not the case. Sophie Scholl was one of many citizens in the country that voiced their concern and call to resist as the regime expanded across Europe. 

Groupthink is the way of making decisions that discourage individualization and creativity. It has destroyed organizations, toppled governments and in the age of social media, led to people taking up sides with groups that they never should have been a part of. 

Speak up to share your opinion in group meetings and gatherings. We conduct talent calibrations where leaders discuss their team with their peers and supervisor and talk about each individual’s performance and potential and we always learn new things about people in each session because we encourage everyone in the room to share their insight and dealings with the person currently being discussed. We can put up blinders when it comes to our people and as we lead strategically in both our personal and professional life. 

Be intentional to break up groupthink if you see it manifesting itself on your team and have the courage to step up and make your voice heard. 

She was brave and accountable

Sholl and the rest of the White Rose were arrested for distributing the sixth leaflet at the University of Munich on February 18th, 1943. The group was making a run of dropping off the sixth leaflet through the main building on campus. They had a suitcase full of the printings and left stacks outside the classes so the students would find them after class was over. Sophie found a few remaining copies still in the suitcase and threw them from the top floor down into the atrium. This unplanned action was observed by the university maintenance man, who reported them to the Gestapo

They were arrested and taken into custody where the interrogator initially thought that Scholl was innocent. After her brother confessed, Sophie assumed full responsibility in order to protect the rest of the White Rose. The Gestapo moved quickly in the case. In just 4 days after the arrest, the group was put on trial, found guilty, and were executed by guillotine. 

Scholl could have easily denied her involvement and may have gotten away free, but instead, she took responsibility and it ultimately cost her her life. Accountability is not always about life and death consequences, but your integrity and word do hold value. What is your word worth to those around you? (EP 179)

Your team, family, and friends are counting on you to hold onto your integrity. If you believe in something, be willing to stand up for the idea or value during tough times. Instead of lashing out when standing up for your value and position, own your stance, and present it in a caring and empathetic way. 

A few interesting facts

  • The sixth leaflet that was being distributed when the White Rose was arrested, was smuggled out of Germany and made it back to the UK. They in turn mass-produced the document and airdropped it over Germany. 
  • The school where the White Rose was caught is called Ludwig Maximilians University and is still in existence. Today a memorial to the group sits outside the main building that they were caught at. 
  • Although not as widely known in the US, Scholl is much more recognized in Europe. Her legacy lives on in several films, literature, plays, and music. 
  • Sophie was one of six siblings. Her sister Elisabeth married Sophie’s long-term boyfriend after her execution and lived 100 years nearly to the day. She passed away on Feb 28, 2020.

Lean into your talent and passion to leverage your values to impact others. Follow your conscience as you break up group think, own your intentions, and embrace accountability for yourself and others. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Profiles in leadership: Robert Baden-Powell

Profiles in leadership: Robert Baden-Powell

The real way to gain happiness is to give it to others. 
-Lord Robert Baden-Powell 

Robert Baden-Powell is the father of the scouting movement that eventually grew to be the largest and most significant youth movement of the 20th century. Millions of scouts owe at least some of their success to principles and lessons that they learned in the scouting program as a youth. 

While he turned out to be an inspiring leader, he started out just as many of us do, trying to find his place in leadership and the world. 

He chased his Calling only to find it somewhere else

Baden-Powell seemed to always be chasing his Calling as a young adult. He was a serviceman in the English Army, serving as a scout, spy, and several different leadership roles. He was also a prolific writer and wrote many books wrapped around hunting and military characters. Throughout most of Baden-Powell’s career he thought that if he had combat experience, he would be validated in his leadership. 

He got that experience in South Africa while his troops defended a small town of Mafeking from over 7000 Boers for 217 days and the age of 43. Baden-Powell finally got the acclimation and respect from his peers following the event, but it was the campaign itself that was the beginning of his true Calling. He found a passion for developing youth in Mafeking by creating the Mafeking Cadet Corps to take care of the smaller tasks around town. 

As you chase your own Calling (Ep 161) Be willing aware of the changing environment around you. What’s changed around you? How have you changed over the years? Do you have new passions or talents that you didn’t have several years ago?  Callings can change…and maybe you aren’t following your lasting Calling, but your Calling for now. Be willing to let go of or use the old to help move towards future growth and impact. 

He was a leader who thought about the future

During his last military assignment, Baden-Powell attended the annual Boys Bridge drill ceremony in Glasglow. Here William Smith, founder of the youth group, asked Baden-Powell to rewrite his book Aides for Scouting for a younger audience. This spurred him to publish articles and magazines about the topic and he hosted the first scouting campout. He was truly inspired to help future generations develop their character and skill to become great citizens and leaders. 

Time has a way of tempting us to focus on the here and now and not worry about the future. Let the future worry about itself! That train of thought and behavior costs people relationships, careers, and happiness among other things. As a society, we are currently dealing with the impact of climate change, inflation, and debt loads in part because of past generations.  Clean up the past and pave a way for the future. 

  • Understand what’s important to those around you and help support them in turning their dreams and goals into a reality. Leverage your network, resources, and time to build up others to greatness. 
  • Always take care of your future self. Do something today that helps you when you wake up in the morning. I thank my past self all the time for taking care of me. I’ve also got to continue paying it forward as well. 
  • Slow down to reflect on what’s truly important today and what is just a distraction at the moment. We waste a lot of time and energy on things that simply won’t matter in a few years from now. Focus that energy on things that will carry you forward instead. 

His communication started from where the other person was

“See things from the boy’s point of view.” 

Baden-Powell was often quoted in his teaching about leading from the perspective of the boy. The program would only be successful when it met the youth where they were and instilled leadership and citizenship principles on their terms.  As he expanded the scouting program over the years to younger and older children, he was mindful to adapt the material to the child’s changing needs and wants as they grew up. 

“Can we not interpret our adult wisdom into the language of boyhood?”

Sometimes we have a tendency to start our communication from our point of view, but Baden-Powell knew that it was essential to start from the other person’s position and life stage in order to connect a message. How often from the other person’s perspective and work to guide and inform them instead of starting from a distant point and trying to pull the people to you?

Your success rate in communicating vision and change will increase as you think about your audience first and work from there in crafting your strategy and message. I doubt scouting would have taken off it was a bunch of formal meetings and lessons as opposed to learning activities, camping, and other outdoor adventures.

A few interesting facts

  • In 2019 Boy Scouts of America controversially began allowing girls to participate in the program. Powell himself was supportive of girls in scouting. Over 8,000 had joined in 1910. He later convinced his sister Agnes to organize their own movement. It was called the Girl Guides. 
  • In some countries in Asia, Scouting is an official institution and is run with firm military discipline, as opposed to the laid-back, volunteer-parent atmosphere seen in the US. While there are general understandings and shared values, how the program administered varies by country. 
  • Earning your Eagle Scout badge has its privileges. You get an automatic promotion in the military when you enlist in the US military, as well as special discounts, scholarships, and other benefits that follow you for the rest of your life. 
  • 11 of the 12 people that have walked on the moon were Eagle Scouts.

Continue to chase your purpose while building yourself and others towards the future and communicate in a way that connects with your audience. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

What to do when someone breaks your trust

What to do when someone breaks your trust

Trust is the most highly valued commodity when it comes to relationship building, both in your personal and professional life. Your level of comfortability, authenticity, and transparency are all heavily influenced by your level of trust in someone.  So how do we react when someone breaks our trust?

Lean into self-management during the moment

Self-management is a part of emotional intelligence is all about how you act, react, or don’t respond at all to people and situations. You’ll especially want to strengthen and lean into your self-management skills in heat of the moment when you’ve found out that there has been a break in trust. 

Think of breaking trust like accidentally dropping a mug and breaking it. It was fine just a second ago and now it’s in pieces on the floor. Having poor self-management would be like you stomping on the mug and breaking it even further rather than taking a moment and starting to clean up. How you react at the moment can cause further damage or can re-direct the conversation on what positive steps can be taken next. 

Take some time to heal and reflect

No one should expect a larger break in trust to be immediately forgiven. There is likely a lot of hurt, questions about other topics you trusted the person with, and now a reluctance to continue to trust that person.  

It’s ok to take some time for yourself and give yourself and the other person time to reflect on what the break-in trust was and why it happened. Schedule time together to continue the conversation after you’ve had a chance to look at the issue holistically. 

Be willing to forgive and move forward

There are going to be times when someone breaks your trust and either they won’t admit it or won’t be willing to apologize for what they have done. As hard as it may be, you’ll need to get to a point, eventually, where you are willing to forgive the person and move on. 

I had an earth-shattering break in trust in my father that led us to not speaking for several years. After I accepted that he wasn’t going to apologize, I found myself looking for closure. I reached out and we cleared the air and this led to us starting to rebuild our relationship. That same year he passed away suddenly. I am so thankful that we were able to reconnect and begin to move past the issue. 

You never know when the dynamic of a relationship will dramatically shift. Take it from me, letting go and forgiving someone is much more powerful than holding on to anger and resentment. 

Give them another chance

I’m not advocating that you immediately give the person back all the trust and respect you had for them prior to the incident. Instead, give them small chances to rebuilt trust and earn the right to get back to the point that they previously were with you. 

Even though they are the ones at fault, you have the power to allow them to rebuild a mutually respectful relationship again. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Maybe you have broken trust with someone. Be sure to check out our podcast- Betrayal of Trust (EP 47) to hear actions that you can take to earn someone’s trust back

Culture Fit Vs. Personality Match

Culture Fit Vs. Personality Match

The term “culture fit” is used with increasing frequency as more companies and teams begin to actually live out their values. In prior decades those values often hung on the walls of the office but never held true meaning. Today they are used to focus their employees and are used as a gateway to secure the newest generation of workers entering the workforce. 

But what culture is fit anyway? Many hiring managers and recruiters use the term generically when finding a reason not to bring on someone. Are you looking for someone that truly matches your culture and values or are you looking for someone that you would want to hang out with?

Focus on the right match

Patty McCord, former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, shares several stories on how the company was successful in its early days of scaling up by looking for the right matches in unconventional places instead of staying in the traditional lanes of recruiting and culture fit. 

As I look back on my career, some of the best hires that I’ve had have come from unconventional places. Sometimes it was from a totally different industry and other times it was from a vastly different personal journey.  Focus on what the person values as well as their problem-solving ability and teachability. If those are aligned you are likely going to have an unstoppable team member join the group. 

On the flip side, I’ve hired some people that I thought would be a great fit personality-wise that ended up disappointing me both in their performance and their potential. Take the time to ensure that match is solid before advancing a future teammate. 

Mix personalities for the best teams

On the surface, it may seem like you want to align the personalities of the people with the leader for the best results. A study from Harvard Business Review suggests that the opposite may be true.  Introverted leaders were more effective at leading extroverts and extroverts were better fits for leading introverts. 

Introverted leaders were more likely to greenlight and support extroverts’ out-of-the-box thinking and ideas. Think about the dynamics here for a moment. A great introverted leader is reflective, thoughtful, strategic, and likely has good self-awareness. It brings balance to the extroverted team member’s approach and the introverted leader leverages the talents and passions of others that they don’t have.  When an extravert leads another extravert, they will sometimes compete for ideas, are more likely to push their own perspective, and may want more oversight into a project. 

My most successful teams were ones that were built very intentionally around bringing in other personality types, backgrounds, and life perspectives. We all held the same core values desire to meet our goals, but it wasn’t too uncommon for people on the team to have different reasons for wanting to get there. 

Check your culture

It’s good from time to time to step back and check your culture. Is your culture different from your values or mission? Is your culture wrapped around a personality type instead of a philosophical way on how you go about your business?

I hear the phrase, “We want good, high energy, people” often when I’m helping a leader or group build, or rebuild, a team. While great people are what we are all looking for, starting with a preconceived notion of what that person looks and acts like only limits your ability to find someone that truly fits the role. 

If you’ve seen the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, you know that that company’s culture is such a part of the movie that is its own character in the film. Driven solely by behaviors and personalities as opposed to the right fit. 

Avoid letting “culture fit” drive additional bias as you bring on new people. Your business and team will benefit as you bring in people that match your values while having a different perspective. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Be more wrong: How failure makes you an outstanding leader with Colin Hunter

Be more wrong: How failure makes you an outstanding leader with Colin Hunter

Colin Hunter is an Author, Mentor, Coach, and the Founder and CEO of Potential Squared, an international business that specializes in creating playgrounds to disrupt the way people are led. Three areas of focus include: Building Leadership Capabilities, Strengthening Functional Capabilities, and guiding Innovative Cultures.

Colin generates a lasting professional impact with those he works with and is renowned for being what they and he calls refreshingly direct, lighting inspirational fires to drive change. He facilitates, mentors, and coaches individuals and teams in the areas of leadership presence, personal brand, change leadership, innovation, strategic dialogue, creating board-level influence, and earning a seat at the executive table. With the use of actors, cutting-edge virtual realities, and a new leadership framework, clients have shown award-winning differences in the ways they lead. Colin prides himself by practicing what he preaches with being wrong more and learning fast from it.

Tips to manage stress

Tips to manage stress

Stress is something that we all deal with on a daily basis. It’s not a matter of if you have stress today, it’s more a matter of how much stress you have today. Your body, mind, and effectiveness begin to take a hit as the scales begin to tip into unhealthy levels. You’ll need to be able to identify how stress manifests itself in you and then ways to bring it back into balance so that you can remain healthy and effective for yourself and others. 

Signs that you may have too much stress

Your body is and will communicate to you when you are feeling too much stress. There may be times that your mind discounts just how much you are carrying, but the body will always tell you the truth. Here are some signs that you are carrying too much stress:

  • You are more irritable, you anger more easily or you have restlessness. 
  • Decision quality decreases.  You may begin to make more mistakes or bad decisions
  • You have a feeling of being overwhelmed, unable to focus, or unmotivated
  • Your frame of mind begins to change. You may feel like a less positive person or your outlook and demeanor begins to change. 

Your body will also give you physical clues that you are under stress. For me, my left eye begins to twitch. It started when I was in my early 20s and running a business. It honestly freaked me out at the time because I thought that there was something seriously wrong with me. Today, it acts as an alarm to tell me I’m starting to redline my stress levels. 

Tips to manage stress

There is not a magic pill that you can take to wipe away and reduce the stress in your life. It’s often a combination of a number of small things that get you back in a healthy balance

  • Exercise, exercise, exercise. (ep 170) Get out there and do some physical activity to clear your mind and relieve that tension in your body. 
  • Find an accountability partner to help keep yourself on the right track. (ep 191). They can often give you an unbiased opinion and insight that can fill in gaps in self-awareness. 
  • Learn to say no when you reach your capacity and limits. Stress can quickly come as you overextend yourself for a period of time. 
  • Cut the noise. There are other things in your life that are adding stress to you that you can easily cut off without much impact. Too much time reading the news, the things that you look at on the internet, or our social media apps can be adding unrecognized stress to your life. Look at what media you are consuming on a daily basis and re-evaluate how much you take in. 

Stress is not all bad

Stress is not totally bad. Stress in the right doses is actually helpful for you. It pushes your sense of urgency, creativity, and ability to get the job done. Instead of spending all of your energy on eliminating all stress, pick out a few of the tips above to put some balance in your life, and keep moving forward. 

Remember that you do need some stress, just not all of it. 

Recognize stress as it begins to reach unhealthy levels and begin putting activities and behaviors in place to help mitigate the impact. Also, be on the lookout for stress in those around you. As you see it grow in others, pull them aside, and offer your insight and assistance. You may be a catalyst for a positive change in a person’s life. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Improving through competition

Improving through competition

Competition handled correctly can be a huge motivator and call to action in both your professional and personal life. Look at NASA who is seeing a massive resurgence and breakthroughs as it pushes further into space exploration. Break down all the science and it comes down to one strategy for them: competition. 

NASA has held competitions for everything from rocket delivery systems to space toilets. They win by getting the best solution to the challenges that they face in their mission, while individuals and teams grow in innovation, knowledge, and experience in new and exciting ways. 

Competiton can originate in many forms

Think about your life or your organization and you can probably find many different types of examples of how the competition helped to push you and others to be better. There are several places to start as you build competition for yourself. 

Performing against others – This is probably the area that most people think of when it comes to competition. All sporting events are about competing against an individual or team. In the business world, a great example is the space race happening between companies in the U.S. 

Time – Sometimes it’s not about how high you can run up the score, but how you can perform a set timeline or how quickly you can complete a task or project. Time is a great way to push you and your team to innovation, progress, and new growth. It’s also a competitor that never sleeps!

Efficiency – Again instead of a score, this competition is all about being the least wasteful, or most effective. What’s the best way to carry out the task or complete the project?

Quality – Sometimes the winner is not about who cranks out the most, but who delivers a better product or experience. You’ll see this type of competition in the business world when it relates to customer satisfaction scores, employee net promoter scores, and other sentiment grounded reports. 

Become a master at situational awareness

One of the lessons from COVID-19 was that those that were able to weather the proverbial storm did so because they were adaptable, but also because they could see what their competitors were doing and reacted accordingly. Just as you can learn from best practices in what your completion is doing, there are just as many lessons in what they are struggling in. 

Dig into the whys of both ends of the spectrum. What is making them successful and why are they struggling? Learn the lessons from both and look to your unique talents, perspective, and gifts to see how you can improve upon the ideas. 

Handle internal competition the right way

Internal competition has a bad reputation at times because it’s often not handled right. You can turn teammates into enemies and the mentality from a collective group to individual success if you don’t create the right environment here. 

Be mindful as you create scenarios that lead to internal competition to ensure that you are rewarding your best talent while keeping the team dynamic strong and healthy. 

Embrace competition as you make you and your team better leaders in your field while building teamwork towards a shared goal. 

Make a better tomorrow.