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Some people are very purposeful and intentional about creating traditions. I’ve taken a different route, and it’s an approach and mindset that may serve you well in ultimately experiencing traditions (without making a big deal of them at the outset).

To explain, let me begin with the movie Major League II (1994), which I loved for obvious reasons (I live in Cleveland). There’s a scene in the movie where the manager (Lou Brown) is giving the team a pre-game pep talk, which goes like this:

“OK, we won a game yesterday. If we win today, it’s called ‘two in a row.’ And if we win again tomorrow, it’s called a ‘winning streak’ … it has happened before.”

I’m sure you are wondering what this has to do with traditions, and the answer is a great deal because this is precisely how my Dad and I created what is now the tradition of our annual trips together.

Many of you have read about or followed on Facebook my recent journey out west with my Dad – visiting so many bucket list sites via planes, trains and automobiles in Iowa, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. And while the places were special, what matters most is the stories shared, the conversations enjoyed and the memories created along the journey. What has struck me most about the comments and feedback I’ve heard during the trip and since our return is their focus on how amazing it is that Dad and I do these trips together.

In fact, so many people have talked about their envy of having these trips together with their mom or dad that I’ve realized these trips with Dad are far more unusual than I ever imagined. This year was our 8th straight year of taking a trip together, with all the previous trips involving visiting Civil War sites (a passion that Dad and I share). They have become a real tradition that we look forward to every year. But it didn’t start out as a plan or tradition – it just started. Here’s how.

Eight years ago, I was scheduled to speak in Gettysburg, PA, for a legal conference, and at the time it was going to be one of my first and largest speaking engagements in my brand new business. I do love Civil War history and had been fascinated with it for about ten years at the time, so I was already planning to spend a couple of extra days exploring Gettysburg’s history.

My Dad had also recently started to get interested in Civil War history, and I invited him to come to Gettysburg to hear me speak (for the first time) and to spend some time exploring. Dad accepted, and we spent a couple of days learning and experiencing all that Gettysburg has to offer.

In the spirit of the Major League II speech, we had our first win, but there were no plans for a second and certainly no intention or plan for a tradition. But there was a seed planted because when we left Gettysburg, one of us made a comment that it would be cool to go visit some other Civil War battlefield sites “sometime.”

Over the next year we had some conversations, and we ended up deciding to take another trip to explore Civil War history, and we also decided to take that trip on Labor Day Weekend. There were no discussions about future trips or traditions – just a plan for another trip, which we took the following year. Thus, we had done a second trip – another win.

It was on this second trip that we talked about the many Civil War battlefields and historic sites that we could visit, and for the first time we talked about making regular trips together. A year later, we took our third trip together, and during this trip we talked for the first time about taking a trip every year. In fact, the future trips would all include a discussion about “where are we going next year?” Thus, we had our third win – our “streak” – and that streak has become a tradition.

There have been no proclamations of tradition or even grand intentions, but rather a mutually expressed desire to take a trip together every year. This year we changed it up, going from a long weekend to a weeklong trip and going somewhere other than Civil War sites, but the intention is the same – to travel somewhere together to explore something new. And it’s fair to say that we now have a tradition that we both expect to continue as long as we’re physically able.

Why do I share all of this with you? For two reasons. First, to encourage many of you to take action to spend time with people you care about, whether it’s parents, siblings, children or friends. It may involve traveling and it may not, just as long as it involves spending time together and sharing conversations and experiences. So many people have expressed envy about this tradition that has evolved (not been created), and I’m encouraging you all to stop being envious and to instead just start and let what follows follow.

Second, to let you know that creating these types of experiences with other people doesn’t require a grand plan, vision or intention – it only requires some action to start. Perhaps what you start will continue, become a streak and then a tradition, but even if it doesn’t it will give you the amazing gift of time with someone you care about. And oh, the magic that you will experience!

While Dad and I always visit interesting places and learn many things, what matters the most is the time together just talking. I’ve learned so much about my Dad, about his life, about his perspectives and about my family on these trips – things I likely never would have heard and known without this time together away. Yes, you can do the same thing and have similar conversations without going anywhere, but there’s something unique about time away that stimulates different kinds and depths of conversations (partly just because of all the time together that we don’t usually get in our lives). You also have discussions about what you’ve seen, learned or experienced that seeds your personal discussions.

There’s no time like the present to just do it, and perhaps in the future it will become a regular experience, but there’s no need to worry about traditions. All you have to do is start. Then, when you’re together, give each person the greatest gift available – your full presence. And if you follow the wisdom of Lou Brown from Major League II, you might just end up with a couple of wins, then a streak and then a beautiful tradition.

If you’d like to receive these Daily Wake Up Calls every morning via email, join our community of different thinkers by signing up here. Please also join me on Facebookand Twitter.

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How often do you say some version of “I could never ….?” I know that I hear it regularly. I just completed my annual trip with my Dad – this time it was for 9 days out west and included an Amtrak train ride, 2,500 miles of driving (roughly the distance from Raleigh, NC to Los Angeles), and five states (Iowa, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota). I was sharing some of our experiences with a friend, and she asked, “Did you have hotel reservations made in advance?” If you know me, you know the answer was no, and in response my friend said, “I could never go on a trip without having my hotel reservations made in advance.” Hmmmm, “I could never.”

What are some of the other “I could never” statements that we make or hear every day?

I could never quit my job, even though I hate it.

I could never start my own business.

I could never tell my boss or manager what I’m really thinking.

I could never speak up with a new idea in a meeting when most of the group is supporting one idea.

I could never ask for what I want.

I could never take a trip to Europe.

I could never travel alone.

I could never be really honest with a close friend.

I could never ….

Are you getting the idea?

Somehow, we have come to believe that it’s okay to say “I could never,” but the truth is that when you say that phrase or others like it you have closed off the possibilities and likely blocked your own way to change.

I get it – “I could never” feels safe and comfortable – but the truth is that none of us really know what is truly an “I could never” situation. In fact, you don’t know your true “I could never” unless and until you experience that situation. None of us is perfect – that’s a fact – and yet we only find our truest limitations when we just do it or at least try it—sometimes more than once and sometimes for a longer period of time.

I just finished reading Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, which tells the story and lessons of a man who not only survived the concentration and work camps of World War II, but experienced and learned deep lessons about choices, attitude and overcoming what you thought you could never overcome or survive. He shares many examples of people who – prior to the concentration camp – had thought they could never do many things, and yet they did just those things when the circumstances required it.

None of us know what we could never unless and until we attempt it and give it and ourselves full opportunity to find out. Imagine how many people throughout history thought that they could never and yet, they ultimately did what they said they could never do. That is the place of innovation, of shift, of chance, of impact – when you think you could never, but you do it anyway. You try it out, whether because you’re bold or you perceive that you have no choice. In truth, you always have a choice, but when you say “I could never” you make it more difficult to exercise the choices that are always before you.

Saying that you could never do something or restrain from doing something is virtually ensuring that you are right. If all you want is to be right, then keep saying “I could never,” play small, be comfortable, avoid risks and let things stay mostly the way they are, including your experiences.

However, that’s not what leaders say or do. As a leader, I encourage you to eliminate “I could never” from your vocabulary and to embrace instead either “I will” or at least “I might be able to.” This shift will certainly change your perspective, your situation and your possibility, and that’s what leaders do.

If you’d like to receive these Daily Wake Up Calls every morning via email, join our community of different thinkers by signing up here. Please also join me on Facebookand Twitter.

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As I write this blog, I’m sitting in my hotel in Riverton, WY, with my Dad. He and I are on our annual trip, and this is our 8thyear. We started off doing Civil War history trips, but this year we decided to do some bucket list trips for both of us, including a train trip out west to Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. On our second day, we traveled to the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, IA. It wasn’t easy to get there and there’s not much to see, but it was SO worth it. We shot some cool videos of us walking in and out of the cornfield and each of us pitching from the mound. Amazing memories, but this blog is not about our trip – it’s about legacy, impact and a simple word that means so much more—Coach!

After my Dad left his first career in Major League Baseball, he went into business and eventually bought the business he had worked for, which he owned and ran for many, many years. However, his passion for baseball never left him, and in 1975 he became the head baseball coach at Wright State University (the third coach in school history, in only their 5thseason). Fast forward 30 years and you’ll see that this coaching position was more than a job (a supposed part time job while he ran his business), more than a career, more than a hobby – it was a calling. Over those 30 years, Dad’s Wright State teams went from Division II to Division I and won 866 games, and Dad was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007 (he proudly wears that ring every day). As if he didn’t have enough to do, Dad also founded Ohio Business Week, a week-long residential business and entrepreneurship camp for high school students in Ohio.

When I posted the videos from Field of Dreams Field, there were hundreds of comments posted, many by men who played baseball for Dad at Wright State and people who worked with him over the years. Here are just a few of the comments:

“Tell coach I said hi. Great man, not many better. Was always there for me.”

“Great for you Nisch. Very happy for you. You are a great coach.”

“This is awesome,great man.”

“Your dad is one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.”

“Awesome. One of my heroes.”

There’s that word – coach. Most of Dad’s former players refer to him as Coach or Coach Nisch, and it’s more than just a word. It’s a sign of respect and a label that was earned by caring for his players, mentoring them, supporting them, and growing them as young men, not just as baseball players.

In fact, one of his former players from the 1980’s has arranged for Dad to throw out the first pitch at the July 6thIndians game as a small way of saying thank you and honoring him. There will be dozens of people there to watch it, and many of them will be former players who are traveling to Cleveland from great distances to honor Coach.

Dad has done the same thing (coach, mentor, support and grow) in so many different ways throughout his life, whether it be at Wright State, through Ohio Business Week, as a Sunday School teacher, as the Youth Fellowship advisor at church, as a board member, as an employer and business owner, as a friend, or as a father. Make no mistake – Dad is not perfect and he’d be the first one to tell you so, but he has dedicated his life after professional baseball to coaching, mentoring and supporting, and that’s a legacy of impact.

Tomorrow (July 1) is my Dad’s birthday, and we’ll celebrate together here in Wyoming at Yellowstone National Park. I’ll be sharing the day with my Dad, because he was never Coach to me. I guess that’s the difference between playing for Dad and being his son. But in a way he was still a coach to me, just not in the traditional sense. Dad wasn’t around much for my sports, although he was always ready to coach me at home or to offer advice. More important have been the ways that he’s shown up and supported me during my adult life.

Without fanfare or recognition, Dad has always believed in me, supported me and had my back, even when I made some big mistakes and poor choices in my life. He’s always been there to bounce questions off of, and he’s always celebrated my experiences and rejoiced when he hears about a business success or a personal adventure. I didn’t always notice or recognize this support, but it was always there, and I now understand not only the many ways Dad supported me but the even greater ways he made sacrifices over the years for the family.

How about that legacy? Thousands of people have been touched or impacted by Dad because he cared, because he mentored, because he supported, because he believed in, and because he helped people grow. Perhaps that’s the true definition of the word coach, and that’s an opportunity for all of us. We all have opportunities every day to mentor, support, believe in and help people grow, whether it’s at work, with children, with family or with friends, and this is the way that each of you can create a legacy of impact.

When I think about my Dad’s legacy, it can be summed up in one word – Coach. Not bad, that word, that legacy, that impact. Here’s to the coach in you and to all the lives you will touch from this day forward. And to Dad: thanks for the lessons, Coach!

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If you’re like many leaders, your first response to this title is this: “Exactly, I have to lead like a parent because my people act like children.” If that’s your response, think again … if your people are acting like children, then they’ve likely been made to feel like children by you. It’s perhaps a harsh truth, but a truth nonetheless. More importantly, the concept of leading like a parent comes from the perspective that parenting essentials are strong foundations for effective leadership.

Let’s test this premise by exploring an example of a parenting decision and seeing how it translates into leadership. Imagine that your son or daughter is typically a B student, and comes home with a report card showing three A’s and three B’s. Which of the following is your initial response?

  1. I knew you could do better. If you had worked just a little harder, you could have gotten all A’s. Let’s see if you can do even better next semester.
  2. That’s fantastic. Congratulations on a great effort and a great result. I’m excited for you.
  3. That’s fantastic. I’ve been noticing how you’ve been much more focused and working harder this last semester. Congratulations on a great effort and a great result. I’m excited for you.
  4. What did you do differently this past semester to achieve these better grades? If you can do that consistently next semester, you’ll be able to do this all the time and probably improve all your grades.

Hopefully, you chose either number 2 or number 3, but let’s assess the difference between the four responses. An initial key point is that every one of them comes from a place of wanting your son or daughter to improve their results. In addition, each of them has an element of encouragement, but the message and likely impact of each is very different.

Number 1 has an element of recognition in it (“I knew you could do better”), but it quickly moves into the so-called encouragement and telling the child that what they did was not good enough (work harder, and the expectation is for all A’s). I’m guessing that most children would not feel encouraged by this response.

Skipping to Number 4, it’s both less effective and more effective than Number 1. It’s less effective because it offers no recognition of the effort or success. It’s more effective because it’s intended to help the child learn what the difference was in achieving their results, continue the improved results and get even better results in the future. However, the absence of any recognition will likely leave the child feeling dismissed and deflated, hearing a message that their achievement was not good enough (and likely that theyare not good enough).

Hopefully, it’s clear to you that Numbers 2 and 3 are the most effective and empowering responses, but there is a difference between them. While they both express recognition, appreciation and encouragement, Number 3 is more effective because it includes more details of what you’ve observed in their efforts, which does a better job of communicating the message that you’re seeing the child (and their efforts), and that goes beyond the more general appreciation and recognition.

You’ll notice that neither response includes something about being proud of them, and that’s on purpose. Connecting pride with success can communicate a message that you’re only proud of them if and when they have success. Instead, it includes the phrase “I’m excited for you,” which is about them and not your opinion of them.

Now that we’ve explored these parenting examples, let’s compare this to a leadership opportunity in the workplace. Imagine that your team member has improved their productivity in some measurable way. Which of the following is your initial response?

  1. I knew you could do better. If you had worked just a little harder, you could have improved your productivity even more. Let’s see if you can improve even more over the next month.
  2. That’s fantastic. Congratulations on a great effort and a great result. I’m excited for you and the team.
  3. That’s fantastic. I’ve been noticing how you’ve been much more focused and working harder this last month. Congratulations on a great effort and a great result. I’m excited for you and the team.
  4. What did you do differently this past month to improve your productivity? If you can do that consistently next month, you’ll be able to do this all the time and be a more significant contributor to the team.

I’m hoping you would again choose Number 3 for the same reasons listed above. Notice that I’ve added a reference to the team, which lets them know that they’re not only part of the team, but that their efforts and results are making a difference for the entire team.

As above, Numbers 1 and 4 have the same likely negative or disempowering messages and impact in them. This is obvious when we look at these alternative responses, BUT think about how often you as a leader default to Number 1 or Number 4 and miss the opportunity to uplift, encourage, bless and empower your team members. This often happens because we’re in a hurry to get to the next thing or the next improvement opportunity, which is why team members often complain that they do not feel appreciated, seen or valued. They also regularly report feeling like their efforts and improvements are never enough.

Just like the role of a parent, the good intentions are there – to support your team members in improving for their benefit and for the entire team – but these good intentions miss the mark. Perhaps, it’s because we as leaders too often think that our adult team members don’t need to be encouraged and supported like children. And that’s the miss.

Your team members are not children, but the core of parenting is about loving, nurturing, supporting, encouraging, teaching and empowering our children to believe in themselves, to improve and grow, and to achieve. Isn’t this precisely what we want for and from our team members? This is certainly what leaders do.

If you want to witness a fundamental shift and improvement in your team members’ engagement, commitment, performance and outcomes, make your own shift and lead like a parent.

If you’d like to receive these Daily Wake Up Calls every morning via email, join our community of different thinkers by signing up here. Please also join me on Facebookand Twitter.

Parents helping their children with their schoolwork

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I was recently talking with a friend about a difficult situation in her life, and she said, “I just need to figure out a different way of coping with this.” When I heard those words, it immediately struck me that coping differently is not the answer – in that situation or generally – and I realized that the concept of coping is just another way of dealing with people or situations, but it’s not a solution. It also struck me that coping is a form of doping – avoiding or masking the issue, relationship or situation in order to get by or cover it up.

What I’ve discovered is that coping is an attempt to escape or avoid and that a better strategy is to instead change my perspective on the ways that I participate (or not) in a situation or the ways that I experience a person or circumstance. Instead of doping by coping, I can instead shift myself and my perspectives.

In order to better understand the disempowering nature of the strategy of coping, consider that coping is just another word for all of the following:

  • Tolerating or putting up with
  • Avoiding
  • Suffering with or through
  • Ignoring
  • Waiting and hoping for someone else to change
  • Minimizing the impact of
  • Enduring
  • Telling yourself that you deserve to struggle, suffer, or be treated poorly

With this new perspective, consider that every time you cope with something you are doing some or all of the foregoing, and none of them serve your best interests.

While people, situations and relationships can be complex and have many layers, I offer this simple list of shifts to differently address or navigate them (rather than avoiding and coping).

  • Be Direct– Directly and honestly address the person or the situation. There may be risks, but this creates the best opportunity for a positive change in the outcomes and your experience.
  • Focus on Impact – Rather than telling someone what you think of them, tell them how their behavior or the situation is making you feel and the impact it’s having on you. This is the only way to help someone else understand their impact and hopefully to achieve some shift or change by them.
  • Create Boundaries– You only cope with things, people and situations that you are a part of. By setting healthy boundaries, you can separate yourself from and refuse to participate in the situations you are currently coping with or the people that are consuming your energy and time.
  • Seek to Understand – When we are involved in difficult situations, there is also typically some element of personal and relationship issues. Rather than coping with someone else, instead seek to better understand their perspective and be open to the possibility that they may be going through their own situation that is driving their behaviors and interactions with you.
  • Assume the Best– Absent direct evidence and admissions to the contrary, assume the best of other people’s intentions and actions. Too often we assume the worst, and this assumption rarely (if ever) serves you, the interaction or the relationship.
  • Honor Yourself – When you choose to cope with a situation, your actions indicate that you believe that you have to cope or deserve to cope (consciously or unconsciously) with poor treatment. When you choose to take care of yourself either by separating yourself or directly addressing the issues or the people, this is a form of honoring yourself and communicating to yourself that you are worthy and don’t deserve to be subjected to the situation or the people.
  • Ask for Help– From my experience, this is the most difficult for most of us, but it’s a great alternative to coping. When you’re coping you can often feel alone, and asking for help or support will not only give you some different ideas but you’ll also feel the support of another person.

These shifts may not always be easy to implement and live out, but they are simple enough, and they can guide your choices whenever you’re struggling with a situation, person or relationship. When in doubt, remember that coping is just another form of doping, and doping never serves you beyond the brief moment.

If you’d like to receive these Daily Wake Up Calls every morning via email, join our community of different thinkers by signing up here. Please also join me on Facebookand Twitter.

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I love history, and I recently came across this fabulous quote from General George Patton:

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

Yes, it seems simple, but the important question is whether you practice this wisdom in your leadership.

I regularly interact with business owners, partners and executives – so-called leaders – and they uniformly tell me that they empower their people – that they let their people do their jobs. However, when I start to peek under the covers (and actually talk to their people), I often uncover that their leadership reality is different. While they claim to empower rather than directing their people, they most often tell their people what do to AND how to do it.

One of the things I regularly share with leaders is that their positional power often leads to directive leadership rather than their desired empowering leadership. Here are several different examples of ways that leaders respond and disempower their people when a team member comes to them with an idea, suggestion or solution:

  • “Have you thought about this way of doing it?”
  • “That’s a good idea, but have you thought about this way of doing it?”
  • “Here’s how I would do it, but you do what you want”

While the leader’s responses seem to have some openness to the team member’s idea or approach, the positional power behind their response is often heard as a directive, and following the leader’s idea is certainly the safest approach.

That’s what I love about Patton’s comment: “Tell [your people] what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” Inherent in this mindset is trusting your people and allowing them to make mistakes. As I often tell leaders, many times your team member’s ideas may not be the same as yours (or as good), but their ideas need to be good enough some or most of the time. Otherwise, they will stop creating, solving and figuring things out. Instead, they’ll just do what you tell them to do.

If your people are not solving, creating and initiating on their own, take a closer look at the ways you’re communicating with them and responding to their ideas. If you are a leader – a true leader – you’ll make it clear to them that you want them to be their own leader, tell them what you want accomplished and let them surprise you.

When your people surprise you, you know you’re leading. When you choose not to tell your people how to do it, you’re allowing them to lead. When you choose not to direct, you are growing your people. Are you ready to let your people lead?

If you’d like to receive these Daily Wake Up Calls every morning via email, join our community of different thinkers by signing up here. Please also join me on Facebookand Twitter.

Business development – Closeup of hands holding seedling in a group

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It’s easy to talk like a boss and just as easy to be the boss. It’s also easy to talk about being a leader, but it’s often difficult to actually be a leader. Perhaps this is why we have plenty of bosses, but precious few leaders. However, differentiating leaders from bosses is both simple and easy, as I discovered in writing out this list of differences.

Boss

Leader

  • Drives employees
  • Depends on authority
  • Inspires fear
  • Says “I”
  • Blames for breakdowns
  • Knows how it’s done
  • Uses people
  • Takes credit
  • Tells
  • Says “Go”
  • Quick to tell you what you did wrong
  • Too busy to give feedback
  • Hero
  • Tells you the way
  • Catches you getting it wrong
  • Listens when there’s time
  • Knows what you do
  • Believes in himself / herself
  • Cares about objectives first
  • Covers his / her back
  • Coaches employees
  • Depends on earned trust
  • Inspires people
  • Says “We”
  • Owns breakdowns
  • Shows how it’s done
  • Develops & grows people
  • Gives credit
  • Asks questions
  • Says “Let’s go”
  • Quick to tell you what you did right
  • Makes time for feedback
  • Humble
  • Invites you to lead the way
  • Catches you getting it right
  • Makes time to listen
  • Knows who you are
  • Believes in you
  • Cares about people first
  • Has your back

I suspect that most of you won’t disagree too much with these lists and the way that I’ve sorted them between being a boss and being a leader. If you do challenge my lists and sorting, I wonder what your people would say about your choices.

If you mostly agree with my lists and sorting, then I wonder where you would score as a boss versus a leader. However, how you score yourself is irrelevant since the only score that matters is how your people score you. If you think your score matters most, it’s likely because “you’re the boss” and that’s part of the issue.

What I love about the above lists is that the distinctions are fairly clear and there’s not much allowance for you to hide or pretend about your leadership. Yes, perceptions are perceptions (and they are the reality for the perceiver), but the simplicity of the concepts laid out above offers the clarity that’s needed in assessing our leadership (and in determining your team members’ experience with you).

Leadership might be challenging, and being the boss is easy, but the differences between the two are simple. Which will you choose?

If you’d like to receive these Daily Wake Up Calls every morning via email, join our community of different thinkers by signing up here. Please also join me on Facebookand Twitter.

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We all know the story of the Titanic – the unsinkable ship turned out to be sinkable, and as a result over 1,500 people died in this preventable disaster. While the movie Titanic romanticized the tragedy, the facts speak volumes:

  • The Titanic’s total capacity of passengers and crew was 3,547 (2,222 passengers and crew were actually on the Titanic).
  • The lifeboats on the Titanic were sufficient for 1,178 total passengers and crew, and there was space available for enough additional lifeboats for the Titanic’s total capacity.

But why have enough lifeboats if you believe that the Titanic is unsinkable and invulnerable?

Another fact we know about the Titanic disaster is that the culprit was an iceberg, and a critical fact about icebergs is that only 10% of their mass is above the water (90% is under the water and not clearly visible – but we know it’s there).

You’re probably now wondering what the Titanic and icebergs have to do with leadership and business (and life itself). Here are three simple and valuable lessons.

  1. Believing that you or your business are invulnerable is naïve and dangerous.
  2. Like an iceberg, most of your true problems and issues are below the surface, and your solutions must address the real issues, not the surface issues.
  3. Denial and overconfidence are not effective strategies for building your business or your team – in fact they are set-ups for unexpected setbacks (big and small).

What issues are you ignoring in your business or life? What solutions are you developing for surface issues, rather than focusing on the problems and challenges that are beneath the surface? What people, team or business issues are you overlooking or underplaying?

We can never see or know all of the issues that are beneath the surface, but we’re certain to miss them if we’re overconfident or unwilling to be internally honest in assessing our issues and their impact.

Are you watching for icebergs (and their 90% under the surface)? Are you ignoring or downplaying red flags or tolerating people or issues?

The Titanic was believed to be unsinkable, but now we all know better, and over a thousand lives were lost. Your Titanic thinking might not actually result in a loss of lives, but lives and opportunities will be impacted. So I ask you, are you or your business the Titanic?

If you’d like to receive these Daily Wake Up Calls every morning via email, join our community of different thinkers by signing up here. Please also join me on Facebookand Twitter.

The post Are You the Titanic? appeared first on Jeff Nischwitz.

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This past week I was gifted in several conversations with flashbacks to various movie scenes that spoke to me about critical leadership and life truths, and one of these was from the movie Airplane! (1980). While the film is nearly forty years old, many of you will be familiar with it and its iconic character – the inflatable autopilot named Otto. We can all agree that the inflatable autopilot was intended to humorously heighten our sense of fear – our lives are in the hands of the inflatable Otto – but it’s a great metaphor about the ways that our businesses, teams, relationships and lives are put at risk when we go on autopilot.

There are many ways that our autopilot can show itself, both personally and professionally:

  1. We’ve Always Done It This Way– When you fall back to the way or ways that you’ve always done things, whether consciously or unconsciously, you’re putting yourself on autopilot and failing to explore opportunities or problems with fresh eyes and ideas.
  2. Doing The Same Thing Over and Over – Similar to the above, this form of autopilot relates to the definition of insanity – doing the same things over and over and hoping for different results. In Number 1 above, people get stuck continuing to do things that previously worked (in part). In this form of autopilot, you keep repeating behaviors designed to fix or correct something even when they don’t work.
  3. I’ve Got This – We’ve come to believe and often expect that leaders will have all the answers and never need help (or ask for help), and this blind spot is another form of autopilot. When you fail to see the need for help or support or when you fail to ask for it, you are flying your business and your life much like the inflatable Otto.
  4. Ignoring Emotions – Many of us believe that the best decisions are made intellectually (in the head), and yet we know that most decisions are primarily or heavily emotional decisions. Ignoring your emotions in your interactions, communications and decisions is a significant form of leadership autopilot.
  5. Stop Growing – You don’t always have to do more, but you can always be more, lead more and impact more, and growth is a life-long journey. If you start thinking that you’ve arrived, that you’ve figured it all out or that you know it all, then you are on autopilot and everything around you is at risk. Everything!

You may not be flying a plane, and Airplane! was indeed a satire, but the lessons are the same – we can all end up on autopilot, often without realizing it. Catch yourself and catch each other on your team or in your relationships, let the air out of the autopilot (and autopilot thinking), and keep growing, learning and impacting. Otherwise, you should be very afraid, especially when you realize who (or what) is at the helm in your business, relationships and life. We all have autopilot in us, and it’s up to you to resist the autopilot temptations or to make sure to turn off autopilot as soon as you realize that you’re on it.

If you’d like to receive these Daily Wake Up Calls every morning via email, join our community of different thinkers by signing up here. Please also join me on Facebookand Twitter.

The post Are You on Autopilot? appeared first on Jeff Nischwitz.

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Recently, I wrote about the role and impact of tolerance in your leadership (and life), offering this truth:

“Your leadership, your relationships and your career are not defined by what you preach, but by what you tolerate.”

I’ve gotten a great deal of push back and resistance to this position over the past year – not denying its truth, but offering up all the “reasons” for the tolerance. That’s the thing about this truth – reasons (aka excuses) don’t change the fact of the tolerance and its impact. In fact, I’d say that the things, people, situations and behavior that you tolerate in your life and leadership have the most profound impact and are the biggest obstacle to you having what you want and achieving your objectives.

I admit that there might be long-held reasons or beliefs for your tolerance, and certainly there are always risks or fears that drive the tolerance. As a result, I’ve gotten many questions about what to do about tolerance. I’m not naïve, and I’m not suggesting that everyone (including you) must immediately stop their tolerance (although that might be the answer).

Rather than leave you dangling with your tolerance, I’ve developed the following six step assessment process for you to use for your tolerance (your “T” factor).

  1. Assess the Tolerance– This involves getting clear and honest with yourself about exactly what you’re tolerating. This is not the time to focus on the reasons or excuses for the tolerance – just be honest about what exactly you’re tolerating in people, situations or behaviors.
  2. Assess the Impact – While this may seem like an easy process, most of you have never gotten clear on all of the impacts that are flowing from your tolerance. This again is time to be really honest about the impact (direct and indirect) that your tolerance is creating.
  3. Assess the Risks – This relates to the reasons and excuses that you’ve been making to justify your tolerance. We typically tolerate things, people and situations because of the risks and fears associated with taking action to reduce or eliminate whatever is being tolerated. The best question to ask for this part of the process is “Why am I choosing to tolerate this person, situation or behavior?” Focus on the risks – what you’re afraid might happen – of addressing or ending the tolerance.
  4. Assess the Win – This is something that many of you never do when it comes to tolerance. This involves focusing on the wins (the benefits) that will occur if you choose to reduce or eliminate the tolerance. In other words, in what ways will things be better without the tolerance?
  5. Consciously Choose – Now that you know the real costs of your tolerance, what the risks and fears are, and what the wins / benefits of reducing or ending the tolerance are, it’s time to choose. Consciously choose whether to continue the tolerance or to take different actions to eliminate or modify the tolerance. Most of your tolerance is happening without you ever fully contemplating the foregoing, and once you have gotten this far in the assessment process you’ll be in the best position to make a clear choice – to continue to tolerate or to eliminate the tolerance. At a minimum, you’ll now be making a clear decision instead of a default reaction to people, situations or behaviors.
  6. Let It Go – This is a big one – once you make a clear and conscious choice regarding your tolerance, even if you decide to continue with the tolerance, let the decision go and live with it (and its impacts). Once you’ve consciously decided to continue with tolerance, there’s nothing more to fret about or contemplate – you’ve decided to tolerate and to experience the impacts. While your tolerance has impacts, it makes no sense to continue to worry about your tolerance if you’re consciously choosing to tolerate with full awareness of the impacts, risks and potential wins. Let it go!

That’s it – a systematic approach and process to assessing your tolerance, the drivers of it, the opportunities beyond it, and the opportunity to make a clear choice. That’s what leaders do in their businesses, with their teams and in their lives.

You may continue to tolerate, but take this big step forward by fully and honestly assessing your tolerance. Claim your leadership by owning your tolerance, and decide!

If you’d like to receive these Daily Wake Up Calls every morning via email, join our community of different thinkers by signing up here. Please also join me on Facebookand Twitter.

The post A Tolerance Process appeared first on Jeff Nischwitz.

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