Fight or flight? This way or that way? Yes or no?
Each of these three questions describes a brain under pressure. Could be your brain, could be mine. When it comes to pressure situations, we all tend to default to the same mode: a binary mode.
In other words, when we’re under pressure and need to make a decision, we all have a tendency to simplify the situation to two choices, and ... Continue Reading →
It’s great when people agree with you, isn’t it? It’s a wonderful validation — of your thoughts, your ideas…of you. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Yes, it’s great when people agree with you.
Except it doesn’t move the needle. Especially when the agreement comes too early.
There’s a great scene in the old TV series The West Wing. Leo McGarry is the Chief of Staff to liberal Democratic president Jed Bartlet. In this scene, Leo is offering a ... Continue Reading →
Let me give you a hypothetical high-pressure situation.
You’re the pilot of a small, single-engine airplane. You take off, alone, in this single-engine airplane, and head out over a large body of open water. At about 800 feet above this water, your single engine starts to sound funny (and not in a “ha-ha” way), and you notice you’re not gaining altitude at the rate you should be. At around 1200 feet above the water, your single engine quits.
This is a high-pressure ... Continue Reading →
We all love the “oh-so-cool” person who can just “wing it” in any situation, don’t we? That’s why we admire (and secretly want to be) James Bond — the guy who can go through a brutal, life-or-death fight with armed assassins, and then thirty minutes later stroll into a high-stakes poker game (in a perfectly-tailored, freshly-pressed tuxedo, of course) looking like he just had a facial and manicure.
We all want to be the person who, off-the-cuff, always says the perfect ... Continue Reading →
Engagement drives results.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? When your team is more engaged, you get better results. But it turns out the reverse is just as true, if not more so.
Results drive engagement.
When I was producing my hit comedy TV show in Seattle, my team and I would look at the ratings every week. It was a point of pride for us that we were number one in our time slot for ten straight years. Seeing the numbers there in ... Continue Reading →
I saw a moose yesterday.
He wasn’t easy to see. He was standing among some aspen trees and was camouflaged by shadow. But I saw him.
I’ve spent the past week driving and hiking through the Grand Tetons and parts of Yellowstone. Wildlife here is abundant — and elusive. While you can occasionally see a moose or bear leisurely crossing the road, more often than not, you have to look for them. This means you have to do two things if you ... Continue Reading →
I’m a big fan of delegating work. I’m not always good at delegating work, but I’m a big fan of it. In general, you should delegate work that:
- you aren’t good at doing
- you don’t like doing
- keeps you from doing the work you should be doing
Like I said, I’m a big fan of delegating work. But you know what I like even more than delegating work?
Most of us, when faced with an unpleasant task, do one or more ... Continue Reading →
I have a friend (really!) who’s going through a bit of a personal crisis right now. He just got a new job in which he’ll be leading a team of about 25 people. He’s very well qualified for this job. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that his entire life has been leading up to this job. He is, in my opinion, the perfect person for the job.
So what’s the crisis?
“I’m not sure I can pull it off,” he ... Continue Reading →
Crystals. Shamans. Dream catchers. Nehru jackets.
Those are the images some leaders conjure up when you mention the word meditation.
“That’s a little too woo-woo for me,” they say. “I really don’t have time for 60s hippy stuff. I have real pressure to deal with.”
Yes, as a leader, you do have real pressure to deal with. Which is exactly why you should count meditation as one of your most important leadership skills.
Look, if you think of meditation as…
Continue Reading →
- … sitting cross-legged in a ...
I gave my first university commencement address yesterday. And then, two hours later, I gave my second one. (The first was for the graduate degrees; the second was for the undergraduates.)
Speaking to an audience of 5,000-plus people is a cool experience and a big responsibility. It requires years of experience speaking to hundreds of smaller audiences. It’s not for amateurs.
At least, that’s what I thought.
That’s what I thought until I heard the speeches from four of the graduates (two per ceremony). ... Continue Reading →