I burned the broccolini last night.
As world crises go, this was pretty minor. Still, it served as a useful metaphor for producing under pressure. (Hey, it was useless as a side dish, so I had to do something with it!) Follow me along on this, step-by-step, and you’ll see what I mean.
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- There’s always more pressure when we’re doing something unfamiliar (all other things being equal). A cardiac surgeon feels more pressure during her first open-heart surgery ...
My favorite quotation (and yes, the word is “quotation;” “quote” is a verb, thank you) from Harry S Truman (and no, there’s no period after the “S,” because it’s not an abbreviation; “S” was his entire middle name — my goodness, I’m being irritatingly picky today!) is this one:
“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
But my second favorite quotation from Harry S Truman is this one:
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“Not all readers are leaders…but all leaders are ...
You are surrounded by ingenuity that you’re not taking advantage of.
Most leaders are. And the reason most leaders are is actually pretty simple.
It’s because most leaders spend too much time focusing on How.
A leader should be focused on the What, and the Where. A leader should provide the destination, but not the route. Why? Two reasons.
First, as a leader, planning the route is a waste of your time and energy. Your greatest value is in creating ... Continue Reading →
Like you, I often hear people say, “Oh, I’m under so much pressure!”
When I hear this, I generally ask them what’s going on. And often the answer is something like, “Oh, nothing specific. Politics, paying the bills, this cold I can’t seem to shake. You know, just general stuff.”
What they’re actually feeling is stress, not pressure. Let’s look at the difference.
Stress is like the gray, overcast sky; it’s a state of being. Pressure is like the sudden, violent thunderstorm; it’s ... Continue Reading →
So there was that time when I told 500 geniuses to stop being so mentally lazy.
I was the opening keynoter for the annual convention of Mensa, the high IQ society. [Full disclosure: I’m also a member. I’m pretty sure I got in under some sort of Affirmative Action program.]
The reaction was, shall we say, mixed.
But I stand by my statement.
Now let’s be clear: I wasn’t accusing these people of not having brainpower. I was accusing them of not ... Continue Reading →
I still remember the first time it happened.
The first time I went home on a Friday night thinking, “We don’t have a show.”
You see, for roughly 15 years, Saturday was show day for me and my team. Together, we created Seattle’s legendary comedy TV show Almost Live! I was the Executive Producer. Every Saturday, we’d fill the studio with 175 audience members and tape an all-new show that would be broadcast, just an hour or so later, to about a ... Continue Reading →
Leadership is, at times, an honor, a burden, a privilege, a headache, a riddle, a mirror, a crisis, and a joy. Sometimes it’s two or more of these at the same time.
But leadership is first, foremost, and always, a responsibility.
A responsibility to whom? Ask any good leader, and they’ll tell you that they have, broadly speaking, three constituencies:
1. Their team
When a leader is responsible to the team, that leader:
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- communicates a clear and compelling direction for the team;
- shares the credit with ...
Do you have a Power Phrase?
[You: “I ate a Power Bar for breakfast. Is that the same thing?” Me: “No.”]
A Power Phrase is a concise phrase — one to five words — that encapsulates your highest self, the outcome you want to achieve, and/or who you want to be when you’re at your best in moments of pressure.
Think of it as a focal point, or a mantra if you like. Here’s why you should have one (or more than one; ... Continue Reading →
What’s your story?
Why are you in business? How did you start? What drove you to do what you do? If you work in a larger corporation, what’s their story? Do you know?
Your story, and that of your company is a great way to attract and engage customers (as well as employees) — and yet most of us never take advantage of this incredibly powerful tool.
I once worked for a 92-year-old woman with a voice that sounded like 50-grit ... Continue Reading →
What is it that defines a truly great leader? Why is it that names like Joan of Arc, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Mother Teresa resonate throughout history, while countless others are forgotten—or footnotes at best? How do you know when someone is a truly great leader?
How do you know if you are a truly great leader?
Here’s the test, and it may be a harsh one if you’re being honest with yourself:
Would your followers (your employees, your team ... Continue Reading →