The One Thing Better Than Good Intentions

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I was talking to a colleague earlier this week. Like me, she runs her own business. She told me that one of her “beginning-of-the-year” practices is to sit down in a quiet place, with a cup of coffee and a pad of paper, and write down her intentions for the new year. She sets intentions in several areas of her business: income, number of clients, marketing strategies, and others.

Sounds good, right? Making intentions, and setting them down on ...

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How to Become a Master of Your Work

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I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you either are, or you want to be, good at what you do. I’m going to take that even further and assume that you either are, or want to be, great at what you do.

But are you committed to becoming an absolute master? Possibly one of the greatest of all time? And, if so, how do you get there?

My brother-in-law Steve has a Ph.D. in musicology. He’s ...

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3 Sure Fire Ways to Get the Best From Your Team

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Eddie was a screw-up.

Everyone at the burger place where I had my first job knew it. Eddie just couldn’t seem to do anything right. And because he always screwed up, the rest of us expected him to screw up.

Or might it have been the other way around?

Might it have been that Eddie screwed up because we expected him to screw up?

And might you be inadvertently creating an Eddie on your team?

The truth is that people tend to rise—or ...

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What You Call “Practice” Might Be Hurting You

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I used to play a lot of tennis. I was never terribly good at it. For example, some serves are referred to as a “weapon.” Mine was referred to as a “gift.” But what I lacked in quality, I made up for in quantity. I played a lot of tennis.

I suppose I got incrementally better over time, but I never improved substantially. Why?

Because I wasn’t intentional about improvement.

You’ve probably heard the phrase practice makes perfect. This isn’t quite ...

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Don’t Be Just a “Good News” Leader

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I never liked firing people.

That may sound like a normal, human response to an unpleasant task, but I’ve known people who actually enjoy it. (One particular TV news director comes to mind.) Ogres like that aside, though, most of us don’t like this uncomfortable, but necessary, part of leadership.

The fact is that leadership is, to a large degree, about doing the uncomfortable things. In fact, if you’re comfortable in your leadership, you’re probably not leading.

Many times, though, leaders try to ...

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What Lorne Michaels and I — and You — Have in Common

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There is a phrase that Lorne Michaels, the creator and Executive Producer of Saturday Night Live, and I both share. I didn’t know we shared it—I thought it was original with me—until, several years ago, a friend told me that it was Lorne’s quotation. Well, it was mine too, before I knew that it was also Lorne’s, but let’s not quibble. The phrase is:

“We don’t go on the air because we’re ready. We go on the air because it’s 11:30.”

Like ...

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Why It’s Okay If Your Team Members Don’t Like Each Other

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Have you ever worked with someone whom you just plain didn’t like? I think we all have, at one time or another. For example, there are moments when I really hate my boss—and I’m self-employed!

The good news is that liking each other is not a prerequisite for an exceptional, productive team. Granted, if you are fortunate enough to work in a team where you all like each other, that’s great! It’s a bonus. But it’s not vital.

What is ...

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Did You Know That Mowing the Lawn Can Lead to a Cure for Cancer?

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If you’re wondering why your team doesn’t seem to be engaged in their work (which, according to Gallup, describes 68% of the American workforce), it may be because they just don’t give a crap about their jobs.

And that’s partly on you.

Among the needs that virtually all of us share is the need for purpose. We all like to feel like we’re a part of something bigger. And, sadly, many leaders do an absolutely terrible job of helping their ...

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Want Better Ideas? Then Stop Brainstorming!

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I used to be a fan of brainstorming. What could be better for generating ideas than gathering your team around a table, presenting the challenge, and then letting the ideas flow! No bad ideas here! Just open the mental floodgates and let the brilliance pour out! Each idea sparking another, and another! Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Except it doesn’t work.

Brainstorming—despite the positive press it’s gotten, and still gets—doesn’t work. Why? Two words: human nature.

As humans (sorry puppies, I’m speaking ...

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3 Steps to a More Collaborative Team

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I was just listening to an interview with one of the world’s top leadership experts, my friend and colleague Mark Sanborn. He was asked how leadership has changed over the past several years. Here’s what he said:

“The biggest change I’ve seen in leadership is not among leaders but among followers…. The principles by and large haven’t changed, but the people whom we lead really don’t think of themselves as followers. They think of themselves as team members or collaborators.

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