Never Underestimate The Power of Asking A Question

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As the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive enters it’s penultimate week, I asked the participants an important question. When they entered the program 50% of participants said the performance improvement they expected from the program would be between 50% and 75%. The remaining 50% said their improvement would be between a 75% and 100% improvement. These are lofty aspirations; which I knew was possible, but didn’t think participants would see the potential as being that high.

I asked participants if they were on track to get the performance improvements they envisioned. 80% said they were. That is a very encouraging percentage and helped me learn two important lessons from asking this question.

The first lesson was to never underestimate the desire and drive people have to make a positive difference in their lives and the lives of those they work with. There is a deep thirst that the Mastering your Mindset tapped into that has people excited about changing the course of their personal and professional lives.

The second lesson was to trust my instincts. I had a “feeling” about what the program would create for participants, but my rational mind tried to hijack the process. Doubt entered my thought process, but my gut (and some client feedback) told me to start and make adjustments along the way.

One of the areas where my instincts was on high alert related to an idea that came to me out of nowhere and led to what is now called the Mindset Laboratory. I originally planned for a portion of the program to be a 20 minute Q&A, but during one call I envisioned a 20 minute interview / hot seat type of interaction where one person was interviewed by me and we brainstormed ideas for how they could more effectively and more rapidly deploy what they were learning. Everyone who has been in the hot seat has said it was fabulous and those that watched and listened learned at a faster rate also. Equally important, I learned a lot about each person and could personalize my recommendations. It was a win, win, win.

So, on this Monday morning, there is an opportunity for you to learn some important lessons also.

Hugh’s Monday Morning Mindset Challenge

1. Think through your week and identify one area where you are underestimating people’s desire to make a difference.

2. Think through your week and identify one area / project / aspect of your work where trusting your intuition can have a bigger impact.

3. Choose new and more powerful language to describe one of the two situations you identified.

For example, when you replace “I have to” with “I choose to.” This seemingly simple change will have a powerful impact on either situation. When you use the words I “have to” it is most often triggered by an external event or person that leaves you feeling obligated. When you use the words “I choose to” it is grounded in volition and purposefulness.

Choosing empowering words and language instills in you as well as others a belief that you are confident and capable of seeing the best in others and trusting your instincts to make people’s lives better. Being seen as confident and capable will lead to a positive and oftentimes surprising improvement in your performance.

How I lost my mind and then found it

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On Tuesday of last week we traveled to Rhode Island to meet with my mentor, Alan Weiss. We came to discuss our hopes, aspirations and plans for my business in 2017. There was one problem. I didn’t show up.

I was physically present, but mentally I wasn’t there. What happened?

The night before our meeting I had one of the worst nights of sleep in a long time. I slept for a total of ninety minutes. The night before that, the fire alarm in our hotel went off at 2:45am and we were thrust out of bed and into the lobby of the Crown Plaza.

These two nights of poor sleep meant I went to meet with Alan with both hands tied behind my back, and the two brains cells I had left were fighting for who would go to sleep first.

Right out of the chute Alan asked me a fundamental business question. “Hugh, how are your clients better off for having worked with you.” The answer I gave broke the cardinal rule for my work as an advisor to executives and entrepreneurs. I answered in methodology and not based on business value. Alan said in his best New York manner, “that’s not what I asked you. I asked you how are your clients better off?” I tried again. It didn’t work. I tried to answer his question again, and again wasn’t able to answer his question. After working with Alan for six years I know what comes next. A double barrel of Alan love.

In the seconds that followed my third and unsuccessful attempt to answer Alan’s question I felt inept. Actually, I felt afraid that Alan and Alyson would think I had lost my mind or 100 IQ points and that this time was going to be wasted. Alan was looking at me, as was Alyson, and all of the work I’ve done to align my thinking with a life of flourishing, joy and success disappeared.

But, actually, I didn’t lose my mind. I found it.

I found my mind after recognizing that one of the hardest things I’ve ever done is to stop worrying about what other people think of me. To be in the moment and show up as the best version of me I can. If the way I show up doesn’t please you, satisfy you, impress you or convince you I am worthy, well, frankly I could give a rip.

That’s what I did with Alan. I said, “Alan, I’ve not slept well the last two nights and am here on fumes. I need to regroup on our agenda and start in a different place. If we do that I believe I can get up to speed.”

Was Alan okay with this? Of course. Was I okay with this? Not until today.

Over the last four days I’ve come to see that finding our minds is rooted in losing our minds. Losing the tight grip on how we are seen, perceived and the tightly constructed persona that we present in order to be seen as successful, intelligent and worthwhile. All of the gyrations I’ve gone through to manage this persona is BS. I have good days as well as bad days, and defining myself by how I engage in one meeting is a complete waste of time and saps me of energy for doing my best work. If not addressed quickly I revert back to old patterns that rob me of love, joy and connection.

If you ever find yourself in the same situation I have three recommendations of you:

1. Stop trying to please others. Do your best and move on.

2. Be in the present moment. The joy and fulfillment we all desire is never found in the past or the future. It’s in the here and now.

3. Take a baby step toward your ideal day or week. Your life is far more rewarding and enriching when you focus on progress and not perfection.

That’s what I did and it worked wonders for me. I trust it will do the same for you.

What other recommendations do you have?

Are You A Cost Center Or A Profit Center?

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Are you seen as a cost center to be minimized or profit center to be maximized? That’s a pithy question, but it’s also a very powerful question.

Cost centers are minimized because they don’t produce a lot of value. Profit centers get additional investments because leaders know that an extra $100,000 given to a particular department or person will be turned into $1,000,000.

Executives inside your organization are making financial decisions every day. Their question is similar to “Is this a valuable service or product that we should invest more money into? Or, is it not a value add and should we reduce our investment or spend it elsewhere?”

As an employee you want to be seen as a profit center. Not wholly in literal sense, but certainly in the sense that leaders see you as making a meaningful contribution to your customer. You want to be seen as a profit center so that if there are any additional resources to be given out, you would convert those resources into additional profit and performance for your organization.

How do you do that?

1. Cultivate a strategic business partner mindset. You’re not simply an employee. You now wear the moniker “Strategic Business Partner.”

2. Build your brand. Build your brand around being a strategic business partner. Think strategically about what’s in the best interest of the organization. Become known for fostering new and innovative ways of thinking.

3. Communicate passion for the customer experience. Talk about the customer experience relentlessly. Forget your methodology and become hyper-focused on what the customer is experiencing.

If you do those three things you will be seen as a profit center and your career will never be in jeopardy.

How To Create A Culture of Courageousness

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This week I want to talk about the number one strategy for creating a courageous culture. I was leading the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive webinar today and one of the questions asked was: “how do you promote, coerce, or condition yourself to move outside of your comfort zone and do something that might be labelled as courageous?”

That is a great question. It gets to the heart of what leaders are trying to do…have people move from the status quo to something much better. How do you do that? I suggest that courage is the secret ingredient. The word ‘courage’ comes from the French word coure, which means heart. That means you have to have heart for change.

I will contend that the best way to have heart for change, to do something that may be uncomfortable, is to have a much bigger yes. By that I mean you must have a purpose or aspiration that is compelling for you. Your aspiration must leave you announcing “I will not allow this to go undone” or “I really want to do this!” It’s then that you’ll find yourself doing things because you have a heart for them and because there’s a big idea, dream, hope or aspiration that’s compelling.

I also suggested that we each need to do something daily that is a little scary. If you get used to being on the edge and going beyond what’s normal, safe and predictable; doing something scary, over time you’ll build the habit of moving outside your comfort zone.

How do you cultivate a culture of courage? Have a much bigger yes and do something that’s a little scary each day.

The Ideal Perspective To View Your Results

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I want to talk to you about the optimal way to look at your results. We’ve been trained to look at our results as good or bad, right or wrong. This is a very binary approach that I don’t think is the right one. I believe it leads to judgement and harsh criticism, and most certainly doesn’t lead to doing our very best work.

I suggest you put this binary approach aside and optimize how you look at results by using the good, better, best approach. What does this mean?


The “good” response means that every result you get may not be the ideal result, but it’s a good result if the result teaches you something about your process or how you do your work. There is nothing wrong wth looking at a situation that didn’t play out the way you wanted and saying, “we got a good result because we accomplished A, B & C, we learned a lot, exerted a lot of effort and grew as a result.”


The “better” response is when you add “but there’s a better result that’s possible. If we modify what we do by implementing this new step or process we’ll get an even better result next time.


The “best” response happens when you add, “but if we did this we may get the best result imaginable.”

When in a leadership position, especially in a time when everyone feels overwhelmed and overburdened, it is easy and natural to default to ‘right or wrong,’ or ‘good or bad.’ Just tweak your thinking ever so slightly. When you do you will change the way people perceive their results, and you’ll continually find better and better ways to achieve your results.

Your Goals Are Eroding Your Performance

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This week I want to talk about why your goals are eroding your performance. Is that possible? It is. The number one reason why your goals are eroding your performance is that you’ve divorced your goals from a purpose.

We’ve gotten confused about the difference between goals and purpose. The vast majority of people are overwhelmed, overworked and overburdened. In this state it is easier to focus on the goals and transactional aspects of work. This happens simply by walking in the front door of your office. When you arrive at the office you are likely addressing issues and solving problems from the moment you walk in the door. You have a long to-do list and do your work, do more work, then more work and then even more work without any white space. You’re a human doing as opposed to a human being.

Because goals and purpose have been cleaved and separated the energy and drive that needs to be infused into goals is missing. So what do you do? I have three suggestions.

#1 Articulate your purpose. I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that each person has in them a hope, dream or aspiration. Something they have known about for a long time and that they are excited to accomplish. It’s something they would regret if on their deathbed they knew they hadn’t accomplished it. When they started their business or went into their line of work, there was a hope, dream or aspiration they followed. That hope, dream or aspiration needs to be articulated.

#2 Articulate your value. When you think of your purpose, what is its benefit to your constituents? How is their life better? How is their life transformed positively? Articulate your value clearly, because when you know what your purpose is and when you know how you are positively influencing the people around you, it gives you the energy and drive to do my third suggestion.

#3 Think bigger. Bold statement alert. The vast majority of you watching this don’t think big enough. You don’t have a compelling purpose, you’ve not articulated your value and so what you gravitate toward are smaller goals than what you are capable of. I want you to think bigger and increase your goals by 25%. If you increase them by 25% you may have a moment where your sphincter muscle contracts sharply and you shout “I don’t know how to do this.” If you do say that, that’s the right place to start. You’ll be forced to say, “wait a minute. If my purpose is compelling and I’m creating high levels of value, thinking smaller is a habit and not a reality.

Ladies and gentlemen, articulate your purpose, articulate your value, and start thinking bigger. When you do that your goals will become transformational. They’re going to transform your work life, your home life, your community life, and you will have so much more energy and drive to accomplish them.

The Power of The Word Because

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The word because is a powerful word. We do things “because” they provide a benefit or value. We choose to live in the neighborhood we do because of its proximity to schools for example, or we drive the car we do because of the fuel economy, reliability or horsepower. We are also in relationships or do business with companies because of an experience we have with them. In all of our decisions is a because.

Since because is a powerful word transformational leaders want to know the answer to the question of employees…why do you work here, because once they know the employees because answer to the question, they can capitalize on that and create more of the same.

You also want to know why your customer’s choose to do business with you. What’s their because? The moment you identify a compelling because from a customer you can exploit it and more purposefully cascade your response to their answer throughout your organization. How do you find out what your customers because is? You ask them one simple question: what is the most enjoyable, valuable or rewarding part of doing business with us?

Talk to as many customers as you can and learn first hand your customers because. Review your list of answers and identify which you can do in highly differentiated ways.

Do the same with employees. Knowing why your employees work at your organization allows you to learn what’s most important and enjoyable about working with you, and once identified, you can use it to transform your business to higher levels of performance.

A Leaders Most Powerful Words All Begin with The Letter “I”

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When you were in grade school, did you ever hear “hey four eyes!?” It was an exclamation yelled by an insensitive or cruel kid to another kid wearing glasses. It was supposed to be funny, but ended up being hurtful to a kid who was insecure and uncomfortable wearing glasses.

But there are four eyes that can be really helpful to us in the world of work where we oftentimes feel overworked, overburdened, and overwhelmed. The four ’eyes’ are four of the letter ‘I’ which stands for information, insight, impact and
Implement. Here’s what I mean.

Information: Each day you will see or learn something by gathering new information. It is easy now with 24/7 news cycles, social media platforms and emails that total 300 per day. For example, you may have new information that reports new employees coming from a referral from a current employees has dropped by over 50% in the last six months. You may also have data that points to trend pointing even lower. Depending on the frequency of reporting it is easy for many leaders to experience information overload. When they do the remaining three steps will be neglected or given little effort.

Insight: What helps with reducing information overload is to stop for fifteen minutes at the end of the day and review your new information and ask what the two or three most important insights are from the information. This might be a tactical issue or it might be a cultural issue. For example, employees are less interested in the new compensation plan that was rolled out six months ago and are no longer referring friends and family to the company.

Impact: Once you’ve seen your one or two insights, you ask what’s the impact of each one of these insights? Does one insight carry a greater impact than another? Will one insight carry a greater impact with the customer than another?
Is one insight going to impact employees more? The impact of a new compensation plan that results in fewer new employees coming from referrals impacts the bottom line by increasing recruiting costs from headhunters and or agencies as well as creates a dynamic where employees are less likely to create the customer experienced desired.

Implement: Once you’ve identified the impact from each of your insights you choose one strategy for implementing this week. You identify the one most important next steps to address the information and insights you’ve gleaned.

Hugh’s Key Insight:
Successful leaders recognize it is easier to use the 4-I’s for a technical or transactional aspect of their work; a broken process or a product that’s shipped poorly. Where it’s more nuanced and transformational is with the mindset, relational, cultural and interpersonal aspects of the work. What can the 4-I’s tell you when you have employees that lack confidence in their leader? What are the 4-I’s when you are Volkswagen or Wells Fargo leaders and you are before congress addressing the deception your company has perpetrated?

The 4-I’s are not hurtful as the four eyes comment was in grade school. Instead they are actually very helpful for leaders and teams to stop and work through important issues. When you take even short periods of time to evaluate the information you have now that you didn’t have before, what the insights are from the information, what the impact is or can be and what’s the one thing you will implement moving forward, you’ll be more decisive, more discerning and more successful.

Mastering Your Mindset Intensive Registration

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Just a quick reminder that the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive registration closes today at midnight PST. The current pricing of the Intensive increases by $200.00 on Tuesday morning.

You can register using this link.

I have been asked for a tool to measure mindset. If you’ve asked yourself about your mindset and whether a Mindset Intensive is right for you, the assessment below will measure your level of engagement, positivity and effectiveness. If you’re not content with your answers, the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive will help you make a dramatic and positive impact on your answers.

Hugh’s Mastering The Leadership Mindset Assessment

The following ten questions represent the ten leadership mindset dimensions. Answering these questions can help you gauge your ability to lead with clarity, confidence and commitment. On a 1 through 10 scale, (one is low and ten is high), please rate yourself on the following.

  1. I have a clearly defined and communicated leadership purpose
  2. I am currently and actively engaged in growing my leadership mindset AND skill-set
  3. I devote a minimum of 10% of my workweek to thinking holistically and strategically
  4. I set, pursue and accomplish my priorities with fun and enthusiasm
  5. I track leadership results and share them with a trusted partner weekly
  6. The people I interact with most say I infuse hope, confidence and optimism into the workplace
  7. I read broadly and welcome opposing viewpoints and perspectives
  8. I’m committed to having a positive impact on one persons life, both personally and professionally, daily
  9. I am comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity
  10. I am having fun, love life and savor my personal and professional life

Your score out of a possible 100

What are the implications for this score?

What question received the highest and lowest score? What are the implications for these questions being rated high and low?

Have a fabulous and prosperous week!


Taking Out The Trash

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Every Tuesday at eight o’clock in the morning, Waste Management comes and removes our trash. When I saw the trash being removed today I thought that there is not a chance I would leave the trash inside our house because it would be unsanitary, it would stink up the rest of the house and it would be unhealthy.

Then I thought if we remove the unhealthy, unsanitary and stinking trash, why do we keep the unsanitary, unhealthy and stinking trash that sits between our ears? The part of us that has been called our stinking thinking.

Stinking thinking is a particular way of thinking that no longer serves you well. For example, I used to have a belief that when it came to accomplishing work or tasks it was an “all or nothing” proposition. It was black or white as to whether I accomplished my work. Yes, I wanted to be effective and accomplish my work, but it became unhealthy when I thought accomplishing every single aspect of what I thought was possible was the goal. If I didn’t, I was a failure.

I know this sounds crazy, but in the early part of my thirties I thought this type thinking would lead me to being more successful. It was stinking thinking. With help I learned how to remove it.

You may ask, wait a minute, how do I jettison all of my stinking thinking? That’s a great question.

Last week I announced the final seats for my Mastering Your Mindset Intensive starting on October 13th. I am very excited about this program as the response has been beyond enthusiastic and there are only a few seats left.

The Intensive is in essence a community of people who will convert negative / stinking thinking into positive / performance enhancing thinking. This is NOT a walk over hot coals and shout platitudes type of process. It is a pragmatic leadership, performance and profit improvement process.

One client learned how to implement their new product strategy in half the normal amount of time based on the techniques in the intensive, and in turn increased their profitability and customer satisfaction in this area by 25%. The CFO said this was a $500,000 impact over 18 months.

The Intensive will show you how to do the same. And if you want to learn how to dramatically increase your leadership and your effectiveness and your impact, the Intensive will do that too. You will learn how to jettison ‘stinking thinking’ and you will choose from 27 strategies to master your mindset in transformational and positive ways.

Click this link to learn more and register.