Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Finding Quiet

I will be launching a new service in January 2018 that will help you create clarity around your goals, certainty about what to do, and help you provide a greater impact on your work environment.

In the meantime, I’d like to share a free PDF containing a useful personal prioritization exercise to help you get started.



I hope you can join me on this journey!

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to find some quiet.

Extended, undisturbed quiet.

The conversation you are going to have will be between you and a piece of paper.

And you want to be alone.  No other inputs.

No friends. No phone. No computer.  Nothing to distract you.

You want to hear the chatter in your head.

Just keep an observational distance from it.

Easier said than done, I know.


Some of the techniques I have used to find quiet space:

  • Early morning – first thing.  Before the coffee has kicked in.
    • My brain is less noisy then + I lean towards morning person, so few people are bothering me at that time.
  • Late evening after everyone has left.
    • More for night people.  I haven’t been nearly as successful with this technique.  But then, I’m a morning person.  I also find that I am either mentally burned out at the end of the day or over-stimulated and my brain has a gajillion things going on, and I can’t concentrate.
  • Hide in an unused conference room out of main traffic areas.
    • Schedule it as “strategic planning” on the conference room calendar and block off your calendar.
      • It IS a meeting – you don’t need to tell them it’s a meeting with yourself and the voices in your head.
    • If you have to have someone else schedule it for you – just tell the scheduler you will send invites separately
    • Alternately – you could just check the schedule, then squat in the room
    • Don’t use more than 1 hour for this. Ideally 30 minutes. Don’t be a room hog.
  • Take an actual lunch outside the office alone.
    • Best done during a beautiful day outside.  We could all probably use the Vitamin D.
  • On travel – conference – hide in a hallway away from the action for a few minutes
    • It’s a productive way to spend the time between sessions vs. checking your email. Just once.
    • In my experience – my slowest email times during conferences tend to be between the keynote and the first breakout session.  Depending on your circumstances, that optimal time will change.
  • On travel – client sites – leverage hotel time
    • Again, I find the change in environment helps.
    • I also don’t have the distractions on the road that I do at home.
    • When was the last time you saw something entertaining on TV anyhow?

The following techniques are less ideal.  You want to take whatever comes up and write them down in one notebook dedicated to this task.

  • Voice recording during the commute.
    • Most of us commute alone.  Most phones have voice recorder functionality.
    • I prefer writing because I know that for me writing stuff down sticks.  This technique is more “in a pinch”.
  • During lines and waits – using the note tools on your phone
    • This is the “being alone while in a crowd” technique
    • This technique has the bonus of making you look “busy” so no one bothers you.
  • Taking a notebook to the gym.
    • I lift weights – so this works for me.  I write stuff down during rest periods if something comes to me.
    • Lift heavy enough – the mind clears real nicely.
    • The change in environment also helps.
    • Many gyms have daycare (for those of you with children)
    • This won’t quite work with running, treadmills, rowing, etc.

Finding quiet may be the hardest step in finding personal clarity.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

2018 Will Be Epic!

Those who know me well know I don’t get excited very easily.

I’m excited!

I will be launching a new service in January 2018 that will help you create clarity around your goals, certainty about what to do, and help you provide a greater impact on your work environment.

In the meantime, I’d like to share a free PDF containing a useful personal prioritization exercise to help you get started.

I hope you can join me on this journey!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

An Argument for Sandboxes

Over the US Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I encountered a TED talk done by OK Go.

In the talk, they explain that they don’t have ideas, they find them.

Or, more accurately, they have an idea that might be interesting – then spend a healthy chunk of their budget experimenting to see if the idea is viable, and then creating a plan against what they discover.

This is different from most of the projects I’ve been on, which assume that it HAS TO WORK.

If you have 18 minutes, this is well worth your time.

And if you have an EXTRA 6 minutes, this is a fascinating behind-the-scenes for one of their more complicated videos.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Importance of Having Many Aligned Visions

The most impactful teams I’ve been on have been teams filled with people who share the same vision.

The vision of what the team needs to accomplish aligned with each of their personal visions.

That alignment wasn’t something they were “persuaded into.”

Each individual member was clear on what he or she wanted.  The individual then chose (often consciously) to be on the project because it helped them achieve their personal goals for themselves and allowed them to do something to create the world that they want to see.

When a personal vision aligns with a project vision, the team member more quickly sees how he or she can help bring the vision into form using his or her skills and experience.

These types of teams, I’ve noticed, go through the Forming, Storming and Norming phases of teambuilding pretty quickly.

I also tend to observe more instances of individuals collaborating and helping.

Any arguments that occur are around how to approach a problem and tend to be respectful vs. why they are doing the project in the first place or political posturing.

You can encourage people to buy in.

It’s a lot nicer to work with people you don’t have to persuade in the first place.



Thursday, November 23, 2017


On this US Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks:

  • To my clients.  I’ve learned a lot from each of them during these past 18 months. And I am grateful that they have allowed me to make a living doing things I love to do.
  • To my network. I am so grateful for the time, conversations, feedback and encouragement to continue on this path.
  • To my family. Your support, love, and wisdom have made this somewhat unexpected journey much easier.  Being an entrepreneur was never a life goal of mine, it just seemed like the best thing to do at this point in my career. I did not expect everyone to be such awesome cheerleaders and so enthusiastic about my taking this path.  I am (and will be) forever grateful.
  • To my friends.   I’m very fortunate to have many friends who also happen to be professionally accomplished and have a breadth of experience.  Even better, they are willing to take a look at my projects and give constructive feedback that makes my work that much better.  Oh yeah, and they get me out of the house every once in a while.  Thank you for your enthusiasm, wise advice, and encouraging me to wear something other than yoga pants on occasion.
  • To my accountability partners (Brian, Julie, David, Judy, Kevin).  Thanks for holding me accountable as I start doing scary new things I have never done before.  Accountability partners are a key ingredient for me to successfully get things done. The fact that these people are willing to spend their time and energy to check up on me means a lot.
  • To Cally, the dog. Thank you for reminding me to get outside every once in awhile.
  • To Ryan.  My success or failure in this venture directly impacts your life.  The fact that you have more confidence in my ability to succeed than I often do means the world to me.  Thank you for being my Chief Organizational Psychologist. I love you!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Aligning Personal Vision with an Organization

As I move through the middle to end-stage of my career, I’m realizing I don’t have many project cycles left.

As a result, it’s become clear that I have to make sure that an organization’s values and vision align with my personal values and vision.

The quality of life that results when my personal values and vision align with the organization is much higher.

Furthermore, the organization gets more of my energy,  higher quality work, and a better attitude.

I don’t think I am alone here.


The late Sir John Whitmore, in the introduction to his 5th edition of Coaching for Performance  (affiliate link), felt that organizations are beginning to reconnect their business to their purpose.

As the people who get stuff done, we can help support this by choosing to work with organizations that have that connection to their purpose.

We are in an era where job stability is an illusion and there is a greater expectation that we will have multiple jobs over the course of a career.  In some areas, job tenure is even seen as suspect.

Because we have more mobility, we can choose where we spend our time and energy.

Let’s support organizations that understand that working for people, planet, and profit is a triple win.

Let’s support organizations that see their employees and contractors as humans rather than cost centers to be reduced or “resources” to be used.

Let’s choose mindfully the places where we provide our energy and labor.

What are your values?

What is the vision you have for your life?

What is the organization’s vision? Does it match your vision for yourself and the world?

What are the organization’s values?  Do they match your values?

Are the behaviors, choices, and rewards in the organization in alignment with the stated values?

If there is a disconnect between your personal values and vision and the organizational values and vision, how bad is it?

What can you do to close that gap?