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 →
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 →
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 →
This morning I flew from Seattle to Chicago for a speaking engagement. During the course of that trip, these three things happened:
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- The 40-ish-year-old gentleman sitting behind me on the plane, while seemingly perfectly healthy in all other respects, was apparently unable to get into or out of his seat without the semi-violent assistance of the back of my seat.
- The woman immediately in front of me on the down escalator, upon stepping off said escalator, just stood there lost in thought—unaware, ...
There are few things more challenging to a leader than having to lead your team through a major change. You hear all the usual whining from your team:
- “But we like it the way it is!”
- “It’s too hard! It’s weird and uncomfortable and messy!”
- “We don’t know what it’s going to be like on the other side!”
Honestly, they sometimes sound like babies, don’t they?
Fine then. Let’s talk about babies. Specifically, let’s talk about birth.
[You: “This is getting weird.” Me: “Stop ... Continue Reading →
They are the heroes, the icons, the legends. They are the leaders in sports, science, and business who “rise to the occasion.” The ones who “do their best work under pressure.” People write books and make movies about these singular luminaries.
The only problem is that it’s not true.
Despite what we’d like to believe (because it makes for a great story), people do not “rise to the occasion.” “Rising to the occasion” implies that some people do their best work under ... Continue Reading →