The Power of Community

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On an early morning flight from Los Angeles to Augusta, Georgia I met Bert Sackman. Bert is an eighty-three year old retired mathematician and cultural anthropologist. He introduced himself by remarking that the shirt I was wearing reminded him of the musical Oklahoma. This is not the best way to engage me after getting up at 4:00am for a cross-country flight.

Moving beyond the Oklahoma musical comment Bert asked me what I did for a living. My curt answer didn’t dissuade Bert from further conversation. No, after learning more about my work he shared with me his research into drug and alcohol abuse and the power of community and it’s influence on the choices we make. My conversation with Bert had just become interesting.

Bert has done extensive research into the power of community and how communities influence the choices people make regarding the use of heroin. Specifically, his research and work for the National Institute for Health found that 95 – 97% of people who use heroin use heroin in functional ways. Functional means that they continue to work and maintain personal and professional relationships. 3 – 5% of people who use heroin end up abusing heroin primarily for medical reasons. They have in the common vernacular an addiction and cannot choose not to use heroin.

What was really interesting was his research with functioning heroin users who worked for the federal government. This group of people with high security clearances had “heroin parties” where the purpose was to help one another use heroin in “safe” and “functional” ways. If anyone started to exhibit abusive behavior the community rallied around the person and asked the person to change their behavior or leave the group. The peer pressure and fear of being kicked out of the group increased the likelihood of people choosing more “functional” choices.

My conversation with Bert reminded me that fostering positive choices can be enhanced with and through the power of community. By that I mean that the benefits of creating communities of like minded co-collaborators; people who inspire and help one another to make choices aligned with a higher hope, dream or aspiration. Communities can and do influence the choices members of the community make in powerful ways. The people you and your employees choose to spend time with influence your behavior and act as bumpers as to what you do regardless of whether you define it as positive or negative.

Bert reminded me that creating communities is a powerful tool for enabling positive choices. He also crystallized my thinking regarding the structure of my Mastering Your Mindset Intensive. I’ve integrated the power of community into the program in such a way as to help you make dramatically more positive and powerful choices by creating a community of like minded co-collaborators who are accountable and committed to making positive choices in their leadership, their results and their personal well-being.

The good news for you is that you will not have to wear a shirt that reminds people of the musical Oklahoma to experience the power of community. You simply have to make the choice to show up and surround yourself with 40 other people who plan on mastering their mindset in positive and transformational ways. Over the next four weeks you’ll receive instructions as to how you can access a very limited offer to join a Mastering Your Mindset Intensive cohort.

Three Dimensions of a Leaders Purpose

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Whenever I recommend having a leadership purpose to leaders the question will always come around to how will the leader know their purpose is a good one. My quick answer is that it will be three dimensional. The three dimensions of a compelling purpose are:

  1. It determines a leaders behavior. You’ll know you have a compelling leadership purpose when you have a big idea, a dream, hope or aspiration that is so important and compelling to you that it determines what you do and how you do it.

One of my clients recently clarified for his entire company that in order to live out his purpose fully he wanted to do something daily to make a positive difference in a customers and employees life. He wasn’t simply thinking of making a difference; he was converting the abstract intellectual construct of making a difference into something that would determine his behavior.

  1. It drafts employee engagement. Quite simply, disengaged, unhappy or unfulfilled employees will never provide any real or lasting value to a customer. Their disengagement, unhappiness or lack of fulfillment will remain a major barrier to a flourishing business until the leader creates an ideal future that is so compelling that employees get caught up in the same idea future.

What my clients know is that financial rewards are not a compelling purpose. For employees to agree to and engage with a leaders purpose it must engage the hearts and minds of the employee and speak to something bigger and more compelling that money. It must aspire to improving the quality of life for a specific customer. When a noble and compelling purpose is articulated employee engagement goes up by two fold and financial performance goes up by 350%. That’s the power of purpose.

  1. It drives customer delight. I recently took my wife and in-laws to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, the 909 in Burien, Wa. We asked Chase, our waitor of choice for four filet mignons. He informed us they didn’t have any, but that the owners brother, who runs a restaurant five blocks away might have some. He called and asked if they had four and three minutes later came back and told me they would drive over and pick them up. He then asked, “how would you like them cooked?”

This act took between five to ten minutes and delighted all of us. This type of service is what makes us raving fans of the 909 and has us telling everyone we know about the amazing service and food at the 909.

 Monday Morning Mindset Challenge

  1. Are your employees setting out to delight your customers?
  2. Which dimension of your purpose is working well for you?
  3. Which dimension of your purpose is not working?
  4. What area needs addressing in order for you to reach your strategic objectives?

Why You Need A Coach

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When I was twenty-five years of age I was hired for a big new job and I thought I was the big guy on campus. I went out and purchased new clothes, found a new apartment and even purchased a new car. I really thought I had made it.

Within ninety days of being on the job the CEO called me into his office and said, “Hugh, you may be smart and talented, but you’ve ticked off every single person in the corporate office. I cannot have someone like you working here, but I will give you ninety days to correct this. If you do you can have a long and prosperous career here. If you don’t correct the relationship with all of the individuals in the corporate office you’ll be toast. You’ll be gone. Am I clear?” I walked into the CEOs office thinking I was a hero and walked out a zero.

But, I was really fortunate because I had a family friend who was a healthcare consultant. I explained the situation to him and he said something I’ll never forget. He said, “Hugh, what got you into this situation is your thinking and what’s going to get you out of this situation is your thinking.” I asked “what do you mean?” He said, “you seem to think that leadership is all about you and that you’re the big guy on campus (which I did) and you seem to think that everyone should be working to make your life easier as opposed to you making their lives easier. You don’t really have a servant/leadership mindset. You’re going to be the problem as opposed to the problem solver.”

That hit home. I asked what I should do. His advice was for me to go and apologize to everyone and you ask them for their help. I did exactly that. I said to every person, “it’s been brought to my attention that I’ve really ticked a lot of people off, and I’ve come across as arrogant and opinionated and that it’s my way or the highway. I want to apologize, and if you’ll accept my apology, I also want to ask for your help in correcting this situation. What can I do to repair the relationships and make it better?” I did that with every single person in the corporate office.

Now lets fast forward nine months. I made the changes necessary and remained employed. Yes, I made it beyond the make it or break it ninety day period. I repaired the relationships AND was promoted to regional manager where I was now over four businesses, not one.

That’s how dramatic an improvement a coach or a mentor can have. I was inches away from being fired, but a coach/mentor came alongside me and helped me see things from a different perspective. They gave me a strategy that if I implemented it would improve the quality of my relationships immensely. Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot solve our problems by ourselves. Leadership is never a solo activity. We need an outsiders perspective.

Here’s my bold claim: you should have a coach or a mentor because you will make more progress faster and it will be sustainable.

Where do you need a coach or a mentor? Where do you need someone to come alongside of you to have a candid conversation about what’s working and what’s not working? I have benefited immensely from having a coach or a mentor, and I have been fortunate to be asked to be a coach and mentor to others. This week figure out where you need a coach or mentor and look for a resource you can trust to help you get where you want to go faster and with great zest. If you do, you will experience unprecedented growth.

Your Ideal Day Is Waiting For You

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Each week the Monday Morning Mindset strives to help you create the mindset that is instrumental in creating your ideal week. Today, I want to talk to you about creating your ideal week.

I had two conversations within the last two weeks with engineer friends who work for a very large airplane company here in Seattle…they will go nameless. One of the things they’ve both said is that the company purports to put “people first.” But what’s become evident over the last five years it’s really more about “profit first” and people are secondary. Work has become a four-letter word for them and work is a slog to get through to the end of the week.

That is unfortunate, because I think there is an ideal day and an ideal week that is waiting for all of us. What needs to be present for you to have an ideal day? I believe there are three aspects of an ideal week you can benefit from. I also want to help you map out your ideal day. Here’s what I know.

#1. Love comes first. I know that for an ideal day to be present we have to love what we do. If I needed a surgeon, I want a surgeon who loves surgery. I don’ t want someone who simply likes surgery. Yes, you can be a good surgeon if you like your job, but you can be a REALLY good surgeon if you LOVE your work. For me, my ideal day starts with doing something I love doing.

#2. Talent comes second. My ideal day allows me to use my talents and skills every day. That doesn’t mean my days are a cakewalk. It means my day can be challenging, but because I’m learning new talents and new skills I overcome my challenges and can be successful.

#3.Value is essential.  My ideal day always involves doing something that is of value to someone in such a way that they appreciate. I strive to hear “it was really helpful for you to be involved in this project and I’m grateful for your insights.”

When you think about it, these three aspects of an ideal day, even though expressed differently for each of us, make for an ideal day. What would you add to this list? By making your own “ideal day” list and crafting what your ideal work looks like, the likelihood of your achieving it goes up appreciably.

Now, the two individuals I mentioned who are exasperated with management that has profit first, it may not be possible or it may be harder there, but they can articulate in context of the environment they work what they love doing, how they will use their talents and abilities to the best of their ability, and how they will provide value to others. When you and I do this I believe you’ll achieve your ideal week.

The Transformational Gift

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This week I want to talk to you about the transformational gift.

Sometimes when we give gifts, we think that we should go out and buy a nice bottle of wine, some flowers or chocolates, maybe even a new watch. We try and think of the person we’re giving the gift to and what they’d like, but the transformational gift is not a thing.

The transformational gift is our presence.

Yes, the transformational gift we give to others is not a thing, but rather an experience we share with someone. I realized this first hand recently when my wife, Alyson, who has become enamored with stand up paddle boarding ask me to give her the gift of my presence.

Alyson has purchased two stand-up paddle boards within the last two months. One is a flat-water board and the other is a board that can be ridden in rougher waters. She came in from paddle boarding and in preparation of her fiftieth birthday said, “Do you know what the greatest gift would be for my fiftieth birthday?” I said, “No, what’s that?”

She said, “the greatest gift would be for you to be out on the water with me on a stand-up paddle board.” “Hugh, it’s gorgeous! I see fish swimming underneath my board, I see herons and eagles flying overhead in the gorgeous blue skies…and I’m getting great exercise. It’s just gorgeous! And the one thing I want more than anything is for you to be out there with me. I know you’re never going to get into stand-up paddle boarding in the same way I have, but I love it so much that I want the love of my life to experience it with me. That would be the greatest gift.”

What Alyson didn’t know at the time was that she transformed my thinking substantially about gift giving. She gave me the gift of saying, “I love you and I don’t need or want more things. What I want is to spend time with you and I want you to enjoy this with me.”

I am in turn going down to Hood River, Oregon next week for the third time in three month to buy a stand-up paddle board from Eddie at Big Winds. Eddy has helped us so much that he is now one of our new best friends and I’m sure he’ll be on our Christmas card distribution list.

I want to remind you that it takes a shift in mindset to say that the gift I’m going to give someone is to simply to be present with them, and that by doing so I’ll cultivate a memorable experience.

Sometime our presence needs to be transactional. For example, I’m in your presence because I have to communicate something to you about an expectation or a task that needs completing. Yes, that’s necessary.

But the greatest gift is when I don’t “have to” spend time and communicate with you, but rather I choose to spend time with you. Imagine hearing, “I want to spend time with you.” That is a transformational gift.

Ladies and gentlemen, this week if you want to shift someone’s mindset, either in your personal life or your professional life, spend time with them. Don’t go in with an agenda, just be fully present with them. If you do that, it will be transformational.

Why Separation Is Preferable To Unification

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This week I want to talk to you about why separation is preferable to unification. You may have noticed that separation has gotten a bad rap. There are several reasons for that. There is the bad rap that came from the separation of the races in the deep south, and there was the separation that can from Bernie Madoff engaging in separating  people from their money.
But there are really good aspects of separation. There is the separation of wheat from the chaff. By removing the husk; the inedible portion, we’re left with the corn. There’s the beneficial act of separating the impurities in our water so we can ingest healthy water.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to suggest that there are three things you need to separate yourself from this week in order to be really successful.
#1. Separate yourself from low expectations. The very first thing you want to do is separate yourself from people who have low expectations. These are people who are willing to settle and who don’t have the same aspirations as you do. They want to coast and they are content with the status quo. Ladies and gentlemen when the status quo becomes attractive or acceptable curiosity and innovation go out the window. You want to separate yourself from people like this.
#2. Separate yourself from people that believe failure is bad. Failure is not a permanent blemish on your character. Rest assured, there are people who are incredibly successful that look at failure as simply the next step in achieving something extraordinary. You want to unify yourself with people who believe failure is not bad and separate yourself from people who see failure as a terrible thing.
#3. Separate yourself from victims. Separate yourselves from people who see themselves as victims, that they believe someone is doing something to them. These are people who don’t take responsibility for their actions and that don not want to be held accountable.
Ladies and gentlemen, you do not want to be separated from the above types of people, and while many organizations admonish leaders and teams to work together, if you are trying to achieve optimum performance you have to separate yourself from these types of people. People who want to raise the bar and are striving for something extraordinary typically do not believe life is a struggle and believe they can be better next week than they were this week. This mindset attracts similar mindsets and is repelled by the opposite. Unification is not the answer in all cases; separation is a great answer to accelerating performance.
I ask you this week: where do you need to separate yourself, or where do you need to separate some of your team, so they can perform at a higher level? Answer that question and you’ll have a fabulous week.

What You Really Believe and Why It Matters

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I want to talk to you today about beliefs. I want to do so as a catalyst for you to clarify what you believe. Why? Because I believe if you get clear about what you believe, you can then focus on making it become more real.

To that end I’m going to role model what I believe you can benefit from doing.

I have fifteen things that I believe.

#1 I believe love makes the world a better place. Every major faith tradition believes that the world in which we live was created in love and for love and that we have a responsibility to live in alignment with that principle. I believe that love does make the world go round, but far too many of us forget the importance of love.

#2. I believe that generosity stems from gratitude. I think that when people are not grateful for what they have they hold on to what they have and are not generous with other people emotionally, spiritually or financially.

#3. I believe that to those who much has been given, much is expected. I have been incredibly blessed in my life, and I believe that in turn it is my role, my responsibility to share what I have learned with other people so that they can benefit accordingly.

#4. I believe we need to retire the word retirement. The statistics are that when I reach the age of sixty-five with and I’m reasonably healthy that I will live to ninety. I cannot imagine sitting dormant; as many people believe retirement to be, doing nothing for twenty-five years. I love what I do and as long as I am making a contribution to the world why would I stop?

#5. I believe we need to jettison the Golden Rule. Yes, jettison the Golden Rule and embrace the Platinum Rule instead. The Golden Rule says that I’ll treat people as I want to be treated. The Platinum Rule says that I will treat others in the way that they want to be treated. I believe we should do that as long as it is in accordance with our values and we are not violating them to do so.

#6. I believe we’re growing or dying. If we are not growing we are dying. If we’re not learning something new and thinking differently, we are decaying. Yes, grow or die.

#7. I believe in experiencing beauty daily. Whether in artwork or in a natural landscape, seeing beauty enriches us and uplifts our soul. Every day we should look at something beautiful and allow it to stir our soul and enrich our lives.

#8. I believe mindset trumps skill-set. I believe there are incredibly talented people who never reach their full potential because their mindset is tainted with issues from the past that have not favored them well. Their mindset soils everything that happens to them.

#9. I believe in creating value. Each day we should strive to create value for others; our customers and our employees yes as well as for ourselves. We should create high levels of value and stop looking for a deal. When we do we’ll receive value in return for what we’ve created.

#10. I believe people live in fear. Fear has become pervasive, and based on past experiences drag around the past. I believe fear stifles all creativity. In my own life I have had to jettison fear because it was a large part of how I grew up. I think there are far to many people walking around living in fear.

#11. I believe in assuming positive intent. There are people we will interact with that will not to be the best of interactions, but we should assume they had no ill intent. People are not out to take advantage of us.

#12. I believe society has fostered a victimization and entitlement mindset. There are people who believe they should have the same outcome in life as someone else. Just because you are able to go into business does not mean you should have the same outcome. Each of us is entitled to the same starting point, but not the same finishing point.

#13. I believe that being overwhelmed is a choice. When we lack clear priorities, roles, expectations and what we can say yes and no to, when we have not focused on the critical few things that absolutely have to be done we will feel overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed can be overcome by making one or two choices that allow us to feel empowered and in control.

#14. I believe that life is for savoring. I believe there is so much beauty to see as well as interesting people to meet in interesting locations that we cannot marvel at the worlds around. And yet, many people are simply surviving and not savoring life. I think that is a terrible way to live your life, and that ladies and gentlemen is a mindset issue.

#15. I believe I can help you live a more rewarding life. Without question I have a fabulous and what I call a very blessed life. I believe that in some small way by doing this list of what I believe I may help you compile the five, ten, fifteen or twenty things you believe. I believe that by doing so you will get clear about what you believe and in turn focus on making those things become real.

I also hold the belief that some of you will share this with someone important to you, and that by doing so you will help someone live a more rewarding and enriching life. Writing your list can be a life enhancing and powerful exercise.

Ladies and gentlemen, when you get clear about what you believe, you’ll hyper-focus on them and you’ll make them become even more of a reality…and I believe that makes for a fabulous week.

What Beliefs and Perceptions Have to Do with Behavior

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Oftentimes, we look at someone’s behavior that’s different from our own and say, “that’s bad behavior or I don’t like their behavior.” When we judge someone’s behavior as less desirable than our own we create a barrier between the other person. This barrier reduces our leadership influence and effectiveness.

When you are a leader or in a position of influence or authority, I suggest you not do that. I recommend you no longer look at a persons behavior and instead look at the beliefs and perceptions that drive their behavior.

If we want to influence how someone behaves, we can do so more effectively when we modify a belief or perception the person holds. When beliefs of perceptions change behavior follows suit.

Let me give you an example. If an employee believes that by walking into work their work life is going to be a long slow slog through enemy territory with bullets flying over head, and their perception is that nobody cares that they’re in the battlefield, their behavior will be protective and uninspired. They will not be concerned with what happens to customers or other employees because they’re in hunker down and self protection mode. If you as a leader were to look at their behavior you’d likely determine they’re disengaged, disrespectful toward others and lacking concern for the customer. If you did you’d be missing the bigger picture. You’ll have gotten trapped in focusing on their behavior as opposed to what drove their behavior.

You and I have beliefs and perceptions that are not serving us well. As a matter of fact, there are aspects of your behavior that are not conducive to you accomplishing what you want to accomplish. But you can’t perceive these limiters and need a vehicle for seeing your beliefs and perceptions in a new light.

A vehicle for shedding light on your behaviors is my Mastering Your Mindset Special Report. If you have not downloaded your copy please do so. Outlined in the report are nine negative thinking habits that will help you uncover the beliefs and perceptions that are hindering you from performing at the very highest level possible. Below is a link for you to download it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to make a counter-intuitive recommendation to you this week. If you want to change someone’s behavior, don’t pay attention to their behavior. Pay attention to their beliefs and perceptions and try and alter them in some way. Provide a new perspective, a new data point, a new insight from a trusted colleague. When you do their behavior will change automatically.

This week, remember that the greatest leverage you have in securing higher levels of performance comes from changing the beliefs or perceptions about higher performance.

Hugh’s Monday Morning Mindset Questions:

1. What beliefs or perceptions do you have that are holding you back?

2. What’s the impact your beliefs and perceptions are having on others?

3. What strategy from the Mastering your Mindset Special Report will help you address these issues?

6 Steps to Getting Clear

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Clarity is essential to improved performance. Leaders and teams must have clarity about the objectives to be achieved, the methods for achieving the objectives and whose responsible for driving progress toward the objectives. Without this level of clarity progress is stalled.

This came to mind after several interesting conversations last week. One conversation involved being approached to be the keynote speaker for eight hundred people at an annual conference for one of my clients. I spoke with the individuals charged with vetting speakers, and they outlined the desired leadership subject matter and thought I was a perfect fit based on my Transformational Leadership Program.

But before I commit to speaking to an audience I always ask to talk with the executive responsible for the success of the event. I want to hear first hand what they want audience members to walk away thinking, knowing, feeling, believing or doing.

On this call I learned that the ultimate goal of the event is for people to work better together. I mentioned that this was different from what I heard earlier. “Well, if you go to our website you’ll see that what we’re saying aligns with what’s listed on our website for registrants”. When I visited the site the primary focus I found was how to overcome obstacles.

After additional calls and meetings to get clear as to how I can help make their conference a great success, I realized that there are six aspects of getting clear; whether you are planning an event for eight hundred people or for a meeting of eight people, you must have clarity in to make progress. They are:

1. Clarify the purpose. The first question is, ‘what is the purpose of being together?’ What is it you really want to accomplish and or what are you striving toward?

2. Clarify the results. How will you know that you’ve been successful? What’s the end result and what will people say afterward?

3. Clarify the required skills. What skills or experience do you need? If you need a keynote speaker, do you want them to have a message focused on leadership, teaming or overcoming obstacles?

4. Clarify the time frame. What’s the time frame for making decisions or achieving milestones?

5. Clarify who is accountable. Who’s going to be accountable for certain decisions and or budget issues?

6. Clarify the reporting process. How are you going to communicate and report to everyone the progress you’re making toward item number one?

When you get clear you will accelerate toward that which you want to accomplish.

Hugh’s Key Question
Which of the above six aspects of getting clear do you need the most help with? If you were to have clarity around this issue, what would be the impact on your performance?

Converting A “I want a deal” Mindset To A “I want The Highest Value” Mindset

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Do you have a “looking for a deal” mindset or a “looking for value” mindset?

I was involved in a conversation the other day where someone asked my wife about purchasing a standup paddle board, and if by attending an event she recommended they could get a good deal. This conversation piqued my interest because the person asking is a successful business owner and someone with a positive mindset.

I believe they asked the wrong question. As a successful entrepreneur they should not ask if they can get a deal. They should ask whether by attending an event they can find a standup paddle board that provides them with the highest value.

This is an important distinction. When we look for a deal, what we are looking for is either a reduced price or for someone to add something to the pot as a sweetener. A two for one deal for example or a 20% discount.

When you go through your day with a “looking for a deal” mindset you cannot simultaneously cultivate a “looking for the highest value mindset”. High value relates to something enriching, rewarding and beneficial or valuable. It’s something with a high return on investment.

One of the principles we live by at Claris Consulting is the high value / high return on investment principle. For example, if a client invests $10,000 with us we want to turn the $10,000 invested into $100,000 worth of value for the client. This ROI mindset permeates all our interactions and conversations.

If you are going through your professional life looking for a deal you are not looking for, creating and communicating value. The people you interact with pick up on this subtle clue and in turn try to get a deal from you. They look for a deal with regard to your fees, and in turn your revenue and profit goes down.

If you want to increase your fees, revenues, and or profitability, you should stop focusing on getting a deal and start focusing on providing extraordinary value to the people that matter most to you and that are willing to pay you a commensurate fee for the high value you undoubtedly provide.

This week, invert your mindset. Start thinking about how you can create and communicate extraordinary value in each conversation you have. When you focus on the value of your high return on investment ideas, products or services, your revenue, profitability and performance will go up.