Archives for February 2015

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my wife’s car to be serviced, I overheard a conversation between a man and woman that illustrated the choice we have when dealing with adversity. The man, in his late sixties, had fallen head first and bruised his face and lost several teeth. His speech was slightly slurred as his lips were swollen. A friend walked in and after seeing him expressed deep concern. The conversation went like this:

Her: Oh my word, what happened Paul? You look as though you’ve been attacked by a brick wall.

Him: I stumbled and fell face first into a table. I wasn’t able to catch myself and that’s why the big bruise and missing teeth.

Her: I am so sorry, that’s awful.

Him: Thank you, but the prognosis is good. Once the swelling goes down they’ll fix my teeth, the bruises will go away and I’ll be as handsome as ever. But, you know, I’m not one to cry over spilled milk. It happened, I’ve got good medical care and I’m already starting to recover.

Her: Well, yes, but that’s a nasty bruise. And you could have more damage than a bruise and missing teeth. Have you had a specialist look beyond the bruising?

Him: No, that’s not necessary. I have a good doctor that I trust, and besides, I’m already on the mend and if something comes up later I’ll deal with it then.

Her: Paul, have you heard about all of the people who are misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed? You really should have a specialist look at that.

Him: (Laughing), Thank you, but I’m comfortable with the care I’m receiving and not one to go looking for problems that aren’t there.

Her: I heard about this woman who had a breast exam and was told she was all clear only to find out six months later that she had stage three breast cancer. She should have at least had a second opinion, maybe even a third. Don’t you think that would be wise for you to do the same?

Him: Are you suggesting I have a breast exam? (Laughing) I appreciate your concern, but I had an accident, I have a good doctor and am already healing well. Tell me, how are you doing? (Changing the subject)

There are two ways we can respond to personal adversity. The first is that we can accept that something regrettable, unfortunate or painful has happened. We can then get the appropriate expertise to address the situation and then take positive action as Paul did. Paul was certainly aware of “what” had happened and “why” but was more focused on “how” he could heal in the best way possible.

Another way to deal with personal adversity is to focus on the negative as Paul’s friend was. We can remain hyper-focused on the “what and why” and look for a deeper more troubling aspect of the regrettable, unfortunate and or painful event. Paul’s friend didn’t mention his positive attitude in the conversation and by ignoring it missed an opportunity to affirm his positive approach to healing from his injuries.

Is knowing why something happened an important aspect of overcoming adversity? Yes, without question. But, the more we focus on why something happened the more we remain stuck in the past. The more time we devote to how we can overcome the adversity and do so with power, grace and gratitude the faster we will move forward.

My recommendation is to quickly understand why something happened, and equally as quickly, move to the powerful and empowering how can I take action that will positively help me.

In what area of your professional or personal life do you need to move on quickly? If you’d like to learn how to do that, you can download a copy of my Mastering Your Mindset teleconference here.

Seven Steps To A Compelling Leadership Brand

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One of the most beneficial activities I have my leadership coaching clients participate in is my Brand Audit. Specifically, they answer three leadership branding questions:

1. What is their default brand?
2. What is their desired brand?
3. What is their designed brand?

My brand audit involves the following seven steps.

Step 1. Define your Default Brand. The starting point for building your leadership brand involves writing four words or phrases that you believe best describe your leadership. Don’t overthink this; simply capture what you see is the essence of your leadership. This is your default brand from your perspective.

Step 2. Create a list of eight to ten people you trust and respect. They can be colleagues, managers, coworkers, direct reports, former employees, and or friends. Your list should be a list of people whose opinion you value.

Step 3. Ask for their insight. Call and or speak in person with those on your list and let them know you are involved in a leadership activity that requires candid feedback. As someone you respect, his or her assistance in seeing your leadership from an outsider’s perspective is essential. Specifically, ask them to provide you with four words or phrases they believe best describe your leadership. It can be a one word descriptor such innovative or inspiring. It can also include phrases such as “can do attitude.”

This step will capture thirty-two to forty words that represent what others see as your leadership brand. Review the words you received and compile a list of themes or patterns. Similar words or synonyms should be distilled into a one-word descriptor that best represents what you believe is the tone and or feel of the words.

Step 4: Clarify your brand from others perspective. The overarching objective of step four is to clarify your leadership brand / reputation from others perspective and to distill the feedback you received into the fewest words possible. To do so, whittle your list down to a list of four or five words that best represent your leadership from others perspective. After completing step one through four you will have your Default Brand from your perspective as well as the perspective of others.

Step 5. Look for gaps. Determine if there is a gap between the personal descriptors you generated and the list generated by your observers. Ask yourself the following questions:

a. Am I being seen in ways consistent with my goals and aspirations?
b. Is my list of descriptors (both my own and from my observers) distinctive or simply the price of entry for being in my role?
c. What is the upside and downside to my leadership brand / reputation?
d. Am I excited about the words used to describe me, or am I neutral?

Step 6. Define your Desired Brand. YOur Desired Brand is exactly that. The brand you want to be known for and that will enhance your influence and reputation. You determine your Desired Brand by asking yourself the following questions:
1. What is it that I want to be known for?
2. What traits, characteristics and or values are essential and or non-negotiable to me?

This step is less about logic and what’s probable; it is rooted in articulating your highest hopes and aspirations for you and your leadership.

Step 7. Define your Designed Brand. After determining your Desired Brand, ask how you can behaviorally live your Desired Brand. What behaviors will you exhibit in order to be seen as your Desired Brand? Again, ask yourself if the behaviors you’ve identified are distinctive or simply necessary for being in your role?

These seven steps take courage to undertake. It especially takes courage to see ourselves as others see us, to isolate the gaps and to venture into a new way of leading that is more effective and rewarding.

If you have any questions, or would like help working through these seven steps on a guided basis, drop me an email at or call me at 206.829.9413.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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There is a deadly drug flowing through the halls, corridors and conference rooms of many organizations. It costs nothing monetarily to buy, but it’s cost is exceedingly high on self worth and well-being. What’s the drug? It’s the drug called approval.

We all have a need to feel included or affiliated with others. For some, their circle of affiliation is less than five people and for others five people seems stiflingly small. There is a world of difference however between a need for affiliation and needing approval.

Affiliation has healthy boundaries and allows people to create relationships with likeminded people who share a common interest. Approval on the other hand infuses neediness and bartering into the relationship. Bartering in the sense that if I do this then you’ll like or approve of me.

When leaders need the approval of those around them there are three problems that will need to be addressed.

1. They’ll drain the energy and diminish the performance of those they work with. This type of leader is an emotional vampire and is avoided whenever possible. Effective collaboration is impossible and so work arounds are implemented. This is inefficient and unproductive and leads to underperformance.

2. They’ll inhibit creativity, innovation and growth. These leaders don’t have difficult conversations about legacy issues due to their fear of being seen as unpopular. In turn, they are unwilling to push the boundaries of what’s possible and they accept the status quo.

3. They’ll stifle personal and profession enthusiasm for work. These leaders don’t share the spotlight and extol the benefits, talents and skills of those they work with. In turn, colleagues and employees feel marginalized and lose enthusiasm for their work.

If you are a leader who needs approval I have one suggestion for you. Hire a coach or therapist. You’re doing more damage than you are good and you need to change this pronto.

If you are an employee who works for a leader like this I have one suggestion for you. Find a different boss. This leader will not change unless they take my suggestion above to heart. And being that they are not reading this blog post it’s time to move on.

If you are an employee who needs your bosses approval, please see suggestion number one above.

Why did I write this post? It certainly is not because I needed your approval. I wrote this because all too often I see leaders not taking the action required because they’ve confused approval with respect. Yes, its nice to be liked. But what I suggest you have running through your veins is respect and not approval.

One Word That Will Change Your Results Instantly

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Video notes:

This week I wanted to share with you the one word that has been the most transformative word in both my professional life and in my personal life. It’s a simple word. You’ve heard me use it before. It’s a word that I actually love using. The word is gratitude.

I want to be very honest with you. My business is flourishing, my personal life is flourishing and I attribute it to the level of gratitude I have infused into my thinking over the last six to nine months.

What do I mean by that?

You’ve heard me say that before your head hits the pillow what you should do is write down three things you’re grateful for and that you should look at those three things and say, “I am very grateful these things happened.”

I started to tweak things ever so slightly. What I’m now doing is I’m using my gratitude list to plan my next day. This is a new twist that I’m using. What I do is start planning my next day based on the three things I’m really grateful for. I bring a deep sense of gratitude to the things that I want to have happen in the future, and I repeatedly visualize those things with clarity and confidence. I do that because when I look back over the weeks and months at what’s happened, I am assured that they will continue to happen in the future.

So ladies and gentleman, gratitude, it has transformed my professional and personal life, and it can do the same for you.

So, two things this week: start doing your gratitude list before your head hits the pillow; three things that you are really grateful for. The next morning: use the three things you’re grateful for from the previous day and use them as a catalyst fro what will happen in the future. And be assured ladies and gentlemen, with gratitude almost anything is possible.

That’s the Monday Morning Minute, I hope you have and fabulous week, a grateful week, and I’ll see you here next week. Take care.

The Five Reasons Mediocrity Has Crept Into Your Organization

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Video notes:

There are five reasons why mediocrity has crept into your organization.

#1. You have the wrong metrics. I will venture a guess that if mediocrity is inside your organization you have become metric-centric. If you are metric-centric you are focusing on either financial metrics or technical metrics, but you’re not focusing on the number one metric which is how engaged and truly passionate your employees…that’s number one.

#2 You don’t have a clear purpose. The overwhelming evidence ladies and gentlemen is that companies that have clear and compelling customer centric messages and purposes outperformed their counterparts by a ratio of ten to one…that’s number two.

#3 You have the wrong mindset. You have a mindset that says; we’re playing not to lose as opposed to playing to win. You have a poverty mindset, as opposed to an abundance mindset.

#4 There is a lack of leadership credibility. This happens when leaders say one thing and do another. They stand on the sidelines and tell people what to do but don’t act as role models, get their uniforms dirty, and get into the thick of things and make things happen. Their leadership is not compelling. That is number four.

#5 There is no trust and respect inside the organization. There is no trust, ie: that I can rely on you to help me as a team member or a teammate. There’s no respect for the talents and skills that I bring to the organization.

Review these five contributors to mediocrity and rate yourself on each one. Rate yourself and then decide which one you will start fixing today.

That ladies and gentlemen is the Monday Morning Minute. I hope you have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you here again next week. Take care.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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There are four questions transformational leaders need to be able to answer positively and affirmatively. They are 1–10 questions where one is low and ten is high. You won’t have to share your answers with anyone unless you choose to, so be honest. Here you go:

1. On a scale of 1 – 10 how clear are you as to your leadership purpose?

2. On a scale of 1 – 10 how much energy and enthusiasm do you have for your purpose?

3. On a scale of 1 – 10 how fully are your talents and skills being utilized in your current role?

4. On a scale of 1 – 10 how much value do you believe you are bringing to your team and organization?

Which question did you answer with the lowest score and what are the implications of that answer?

Which question did you answer with the highest score and what are the implications of that answer?

What are your observations from your answers?

What’s the one thing you can do today to help positively influence your scores?