The One Strategy For A Flourishing Mindset

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This week I want to talk to you about the one strategy to have a flourishing mindset.

Just one, really? What could be the “One” strategy you can implement to have a flourishing mindset?

It’s really pretty simple. It is simple in construct but it can be harder to implement because it’s challenging in today’s hyper connected, always on and get more done, faster, cheaper and better world. Here’s my one strategy…get a fabulous nights sleep.

Ladies and gentlemen, I talk to people everyday that say they are exhausted. They say they are overwhelmed and have more worry, more anxiety, more apprehension about the world of work and that their to-do list is growing exponentially. In turn, the level of anxiety they feel is interrupting their sleep.

I heard a sleep doctor, Doctor David Chang say this, “the quality of your life throughout the sixteen, seventeen or eighteen hours that you are awake is directly linked to the quality of life you lead while you’re asleep.”

Let me put this in my terms: who I am while I’m awake dictates who I am while I’m asleep.

Generally, when busy executives have a negative mindset it is not because of a character flaw nor is it because they are less than. It could very well be that they are exhausted. So let me suggest that if you want to have a fabulous nights sleep and to feel well rested, don’t focus on the sleep…focus on your waking hours. Are you focused on the things you are grateful for? Or, are you focused on what you are frustrated by? What gets the majority of your attention while awake will also get the majority of your subconscious attention while you sleep.

If you are frustrated, can you reduce the frustration either by re-framing it or delegating it? Can you finds ways to reduce your frustration and in turn focus on what there is to be grateful for? When you reduce your level of frustration you focus on the things that are working and take that with you into your sleep life.

So, this week ladies and gentlemen, look at the sixteen or seventeen hours that you’re awake and determine where you are flourishing. Because if you’re not flourishing while you’re awake you’re not going to flourish when you’re asleep.

Mindset is not just for athletes, academics and cave dwelling mystics

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Having a positive mindset allows you to be significantly more successful in virtually any endeavor you choose to participate in. If you bring a positive mindset to your leadership, you will infuse stronger beliefs about what is possible, instill hope that the work you and others undertake will be beneficial and create optimism about the level of success that’s possible.

This is not blind naiveté or looking through rose-colored glasses. In my coaching and consulting work I’ve found that eighty percent of a leader’s success in creating greater business outcomes is mental. For example, there are leaders who believe that work is a long, slow slog through enemy territory on their belly with bullets flying over their heads. This mindset will produce lower performance one-hundred percent of the time. There are others that don’t have the best talent, but who knock the socks off their goals because of their positive beliefs and expectations.

I say this because there’s something I know about you and your team that you may or may not know. I know you and your team have within you more untapped potential, more misdirected energy, more talent that has never been exploited and more capacity for growth than you recognize.

Let that sink in for a minute. You have more potential; potential for greatness, than you recognize. That’s similar to having a Ferrari parked in your driveway but never driving it. That’s a waste of a finely tuned piece of automotive art.

In order to perform at the greatest level possible your mindset must be at the greatest level possible. How can you cultivate the greatest possible mindset? Here are my three strategies:

1. Stop settling. Far too often we settle for what we think is probable as opposed to chasing what’s possible. We’re playing not to lose as opposed to playing to truly win. I’ve done that and it’s a terrible way to live.

2. Get help. When someone has achieved what we want to achieve we should want to be coached or mentored by them. It’s time consuming and ineffective to spend time trying to learn the lessons they’ve learned through our own trial and error. We want to learn faster and more effectively from someone who we know can help us.

3. Be uncomfortable We humans are creatures of habit that try and avoid pain and discomfort whenever possible. We know that pain and discomfort are necessary to grow and flourish, but we avoid them. The vast majority of the people in health clubs are on automatic pilot when they enter the gym. They are not there to be uncomfortable. I know this too because without my trainer I would never work as hard as he pushes me. Why? Because it’s uncomfortable.

Which of the three strategies would you benefit most from implementing in 2016?

Why We As Americans Need A More Global Perspective

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Last week I attended a lecture about Syria and the Middle East. The lecture was delivered by Rev. David Nazar, SJ who was recently appointed by Pope Francis to be the Rector of The Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. The Oriental is a Catholic funded University that teaches Eastern Christianity to people of all faiths from around the world. The Rector is similar to a university president.

Fr. Nazar is an expert in Middle East Studies and made the discussion about Syrian and Middle Eastern refugees come alive. For example, one of the key points in his presentation is the fact that Syria had a population of 10,000,000 people before the Arab Spring and now there are 5,000,000 people living there. The sheer volume of humanity leaving the country; likely never to return, is staggering as are the demands on the European countries assimilating the refugees.

I walked away from this lecture with three shifts in my thinking:

1. I want to learn more about the Middle East, its history and the cultural, religious and political aspects of the region. If I don’t understand the Middle East I cannot comment on the dynamics intelligently. One book that was recommended to me is A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin.

2. I have copious amounts to be grateful for. I live a life that is comfortable beyond measure and live without the threat of death from tyrannical dictators. My family has not traveled thousands of miles by any means possible in the hopes of gaining refugee status and I’m not struggling to learn a foreign language while also trying to support my family. That is an amazing and even herculean feat.

3. As a Catholic, the Catholic Church; and especially the Jesuit’s, have an intellectual rigor and are far more welcoming about divergent faiths and perspectives than I knew. Father Nazar spoke both lovingly and eloquently about all faiths and role modeled religious tolerance and acceptance.

No matter how stressful and tumultuous our week is going, we must create the white space to master how we think and perceive the world around us while becoming more informed about the world around us. When our mindset is closed to new ideas and perspectives we live a closed and limited life. When our employees and coworkers have a closed mindset the opportunities to provide meaningful value to customers, patients and our most important constituents is stunted.

Thank you Fr. Nazar. You changed my perspective of an important issue and I’m grateful for your ability to expand my thinking with insight, compassion and eloquence.

Monday Morning Mindset Challenge:

What part of your personal and or professional life would you benefit from changing your perspective? What is the one action you can take to do that this week?

Say Hello To The Monday Morning Mindset

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Wait, did you just say the Monday Morning Mindset? Yes, I did.

I’m changing the name of the Monday Morning Minute to the Monday Morning Mindset and I’m doing so for two reasons. One, I haven’t done a Monday Morning Minute in a minute in quite some time. I just find the construct of doing a minute long Monday Morning Minute too limiting, and besides, people have said to me that they would like for me to expand on ideas. So, this artificial construct of the Monday Morning Minute is going to be jettisoned. I’m still going to keep the videos short, so don’t expect anything too prolonged. I’m changing it also because I believe that mindset is the critical determining factor in someone’s success.

For example, you’ll have no doubt seen two two people with the same pedigree, talent, skills and experience, but the one with the mindset of, “I will do whatever I need to in order to be successful” or “I will play to win, as opposed to playing not to lose.” The person who has the “yes, I can” mindset is going to flourish in the world of work, in their personal lives and in their community life. I want to be a catalyst for you to create the mindset that allows you to be supremely successful in whatever endeavor you want.

Let me start this Monday Morning Mindset with this idea: every thought you have, every word that you utter, every action you take…has within it the potential to transform yourself, others, your team, your performance, your community and your family.
Yes, changing the way you think about something changes your experience and changes your performance.

In the Monday Morning Mindset I want to talk with you about changing your thinking and your mindset. I want to come alongside of you and give you one thing each week that will lead you to believe you can change your thinking…because when you change your thinking you can and will become more successful.

So ladies and gentlemen, if that sounds interesting to you, then continue to watch the Monday Morning Mindset. If it doesn’t, there is an unsubscribe button on the bottom of every email. I don’t want you to unsubscribe, but I do respect your time and only want to provide you with content that is valuable.

I hope that you will continue to watch because if you master your mindset then you’re going to master the world of work, you’re going to master your personal life, and you’re going to master your community life. You have to get your head in the game to become supremely successful and I can help you do that.

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


The Five Strategies For Making Faster and More Effective Decisions

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Almost everyday, I work with leaders who make complex and important decisions in increasingly nuanced and demanding environments. What interferes with them making the most effective decisions is two fold. It is the leaders schedule which is oftentimes filled with back to back meetings, and more importantly it is a lack of a clear framework for making more effective decisions faster. If you want to make better decisions faster I have six strategies to help you do so. that.

Strategy 1. Be crystal clear about the desired outcome. If a leader and their team are not crystal clear about the desired outcome that stems from a decision there isn’t a snowballs chance in Hawaii that an effective decision can be made. Today I had a conversation with a leader who after hearing of a senior leaders admonition that an initiative “could not fail” asked the best and most pressing question. What does failure mean to them? How would they know we’d failed in this area? Without answers to the question about what failure means to the senior leader the propensity of employees is to try and discern what failure means. Guessing in this situation is a recipe for under performance.

Strategy 2. Communicate the decision criteria. What are the must have’s and nice to have’s of your decisions? When purchasing new uniforms one leader pointed to unit costs, quality of uniforms, delivery options and payment terms as his decision making criteria. Marrying these decision criteria with a clear process for comparing one option to another is essential. Are the terms more favorable or less favorable? How will quality be measured? How will we evaluate our current total cost with the new total cost? Keep in mind most everyone will know the what and why of decisions. What they lack is the knowledge of how decisions will be made and measured.

Strategy 3. Clarify the risks associated with a decision. In corporate America, if the risk associated with a poor decision is a loss of $500.00 the need for a clear decision framework is negligible. If the risk of a poor decision is $5,000,000, then knowing the variables that are risky and the probabilities of those risks materializing is a crucial aspect of effective decision making. This strategy requires using an if/then framework. If A happens then we will do B. The ability to think in advance about the risks of important decision allows you to mitigate the negative consequences if they occur.

Strategy 4. Involve trusted and respected people in the decision. When you surround yourself with people who are trustworthy and respected your decision effectiveness and speed increases dramatically. With a high regard for a persons talent and skill and the ability to rely on them to follow the above strategies effectively, your ability to make decisions faster goes up dramatically. One leader recounted that while his team was new in their roles and were rapidly learning the in’s and out’s of their responsibilities and departments, he trusted and respected their instincts and valued their perspectives in ways that made decision making easier.

Strategy 5. Eliminate all distractions. Making faster and more effective decisions requires jettisoning multi-tasking. While on a conference call yesterday I noticed the amount of time between me asking a question and my client giving me an answer was increasing and that the quality of his answers was decreasing. When I asked about this I learned of an important text he received and how he was having to respond while trying to maintain the quality of the conversation with me. This interaction reminded me that having uninterrupted time is a luxury for many leaders and that eliminating distractions is crucial to making the best decisions possible.

Which of these five strategies will help you make faster and more effective decisions?

Why Consensus is Killing Your Performance

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This week we are going to talk about why consensus is killing your performance.

Let’s define consensus: in the world of work consensus means we make sure everybody is in agreement about the solution to a problem before moving forward.

The only problem with consensus is that it kills your performance. Why? Because consensus is trying to minimize the issues associated with some people thinking smaller about issues while others are thinking bigger. When you think smaller you are concerned with certainty and probabilities. When you think bigger you are concerned with opportunities and possibilities. When we strive for consensus what we’re doing is we are lowering the big thinkers perspectives while trying to raise the small thinkers perspectives. We do this in the hopes of finding a middle ground everyone can agree is how to move forward. While this sounds respectful and pragmatic don’t let the idea deceive you! This type of thinking simply gets you to par. It’s not innovative, it’s not creative, it’s not something that’s going to differentiate you with your target market.

So, what do you do? You cultivate something called “Creative Abrasion.” You remind people that what’s required to create an incredibly valuable pearl is a grain of sand inside an oyster. The abrasion that the sand creates releases mother of pearl that is built up over time and creates the much sought after pearl. Creative abrasion can also be the grain of sand that will create a much sought after pearl inside your organization also.

Ladies and gentlemen I love to periodically rattle your cage. I do so in the hopes that I will creatively unsettle your current thinking and in turn create something valuable for you. I’m fired up about creative abrasion because far too often the thinking inside organizations is thinking safe and is rooted in thinking about playing not to lose as opposed to win. I think this is tragic. It’s tragic for the human psyche, it’s tragic for your customer and it’s tragic for your performance.

To accelerate performance your organization needs more creative abrasion. Done respectfully not in a way where you hit people over the head with a 2 x 4. I’m not suggesting that, but I am suggesting that there is a significant error made when you try and lower the bigger thinking inside your organization. Doing so is a magnet for creating something vanilla and undifferentiated.

Monday Morning Minute Challenge:

When you infuse creative abrasion inside your organization you create pearls. Pearls for your customer, pearls for your performance, pearls for your employees. This week find a way to infuse creative abrasion into your organization. When you do that, you’re going to have a fabulous week, and you’re going to increase performance substantially. Say goodbye to milquetoast performance!

The Antidote To Thinking Small

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This week I want to talk to you about the antidote to thinking small. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s not mince any words…when you think small, you perform small. When you think bigger, you perform bigger. When you think bigger, you have bigger results.

The antidote is really quite simple. Read the biographies of people who have accomplished something noteworthy. Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Madeline Albright, James Madison and John Adams for example. Reading about people who have noteworthy accomplishments to their name shapes your thinking and your behavior…both of which shape and form your results.

If you want to perform at a higher level you have to infuse into your thinking the stories of people who have done noteworthy things. If you learn from then you will not have to reinvent the wheel. The one book that I am really excited about right now is a book called, “A Slave No More.” It is written in the first person by two former slaves who escaped to freedom during the civil war. That, ladies and gentlemen, will be an interesting read because people who have escaped from slavery to freedom is have something compelling to teach us.

If you want to think bigger, read bigger. If you do, you will perform at a higher level.

Hugh’s Monday Morning Challenge:

Identify one person from history that has inspired you. Read a biography about them and identify one trait or characteristic that they had that you want to emulate.

The Vacuum of People Skills and How To Fill It

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Two businessmen in business suites facing off with boxing gloves

Have you ever met, talked with or interacted with someone who after really, really frustrating you you wanted to punch them out? We all have. When you consider all of the factors that frustrate you about working with others you will undoubtedly find that it is their behavior and the corresponding way they make you feel that is the issue.

When someone’s behavior is different from ours; they like to do things quickly when we like to do things methodically, we don’t describe the other person as different we label them as difficult. And therein lies the problem for teams and leaders. When one person has a core belief that their way of doing their work should rule the day they will see the other persons way of doing their work as an impediment to them doing their best work.

There is one central message here. If you want to become a person of positive influence you will have to learn to focus on the impact your behavior has on people and not your intent with people. Impact is what determines the level of trust and respect in all professional and personal relationships. Technology has advanced at an unprecedented rate, for leaders and teams however the advances on the people side of the work has faltered like an unreliable wireless network.

Hugh’s Challenge for Today:

1. Quickly and without too much advance thinking identify the top ten things people do that really frustrate you when working with them.

2. Review your list and choose your top three most frustrating items.

3. Review your list a second time and identify the top three things other people would say frustrates them when they work with you.

4. Admit you can be as frustrating to others as other people are to you.

5. Identify one item from your lists and brainstorm one or two behaviors you will adopt that will reduce your frustration with others as well as the frustrations others may have toward you.

Step #4 above is a big step. If you can’t do step #4 the likelihood you’ll take this challenge is small.

Are you up for the challenge?

Three Strategies For Creating Your Best Year Ever

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Let me start by wishing you a belated by “Happy New Year!” I hope your holidays have been both enjoyable and rewarding.

This week I want to talk to you about your best year ever. Can you imagine your best year ever? What would that look like for you? If having 2016 become your best year ever is of interest to you this is the perfect conversation to have on January 4th.

The noted psychologist Harvell Hendricks once said regarding relationships, “we all come into relationships with high hopes and a history.” Harvell was referencing that we all want the very best for the relationship we have, but we bring in our history with others and that’s what makes our relationship troublesome.

We all are entering 2016 with high hopes and a history. Your history may preclude you from believing that the idea of having a best year ever is even possible. But, If you are attracted to finding yourself on December 31st of 2016 saying “this was a fabulous year!” there are three things we have to do.

#1. Reframe your past. You have to be able to look at the negative events in 2015 and before and say, “it may not have been ideal, but here’s how I’m going to view these events and what I’ve learned.” In choosing to focus on what is positive you become highly resilient and shapes your character in positive ways. This can be hard at times, but reframing negative experiences into positive ones is incredibly powerful and within our control.

#2. Reclaim our future. In order to have high hopes for 2016 there must be hopes, dreams, aspirations or big ideas that have grabbed hold of you and that you have said yes to. Big dreams or aspirations leave us acting like a gambler who goes all in. In that moment the conversation is “under no circumstances will I take no for an answer on this type of personal and professional life in 2016. This is the life I am claiming.” When you do this there’s no way out and there is no backdoor. When you say, “I will accomplish this.” you have reclaimed the idealized 2016 you have in mind.

3. Recalibrate your present. Recalibrating your present requires discerning what things you should not do again in 2016 and what things you absolutely should do again. This strategy requires recalibrating what worked and what didn’t work over the course of the last year. What was something that accelerated your performance? What created hope for you, and what created anxiety? Identify the areas of your present that will get in your way and do whatever you can to reduce them or eliminate them. Find those things that are going to help you create greater growth and really double down on them.

If you reframe your past, reclaim your future and recalibrate your present you can have the best year ever.

Hugh’s Monday Morning Challenge:

The most revolutionary act you can ever take is to claim the life you want and to move toward it with faith, confidence and a deep sense of resolve. Today, articulate the life you want to claim and share it with the one person you trust and respect the most. By bringing this ideal life fully into the light of day you are resolving to live your best year ever.

Happy New Year!

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It is December 28th, and we are 3 days away from wishing each other a Happy New Year.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to make the suggestion that you do not declare any new year resolutions this year.

You and I both know what happens when we declare a resolution. Within a few short weeks we’ve gone back to our old ways. I’m going to suggest that when one year turns over to the next there is one important question that we need to ask ourselves. The one important question is:

2016’s Most Important Question
If today were December 31st, 2016, what will my life look like? What do I want it to look like personally, professionally, physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually…what do I want my life to look like? And then you follow that question with what is the one thing I can do to make those things happen?

Ladies and gentlemen, businesses have strategic plans, but too often we don’t have a strategic plan for our life. What I think really must happen is that we disavow ourselves of any kind of notion of resolutions. Resolutions do fit, but not at the beginning of determining what our best year ever will look like.

Let me suggest that the most important need we all have is is to know what we want our life to look like and what we’ll do to move toward that life. If what you want is compelling for you; if your life looks uplifting, if it is something that engages you, if it is something that inspires you, if it is an idea that has grabbed hold of you and will not let go, you don’t need to worry about resolutions. You will be drawn toward it in powerful ways.

Too often we come to the new year thinking, thinking, thinking as opposed to feeling. We intellectualize our hopes and dreams. We need to stop “thinking” about our ideal life and start feeling what it would be like to live a flourishing life in 2016. Once we have that clarified, then we will make promises and we will set priorities that propel us forward.

Ladies and gentlemen, stop making New Years resolutions. Start envisioning a flourishing life that is so compelling for you that there is absolutely no way you could say no to it.

I also want to thank you for another 52 weeks of your engagement, your comments, your willingness to take a few minutes out of your single week and just devote yourself to living a more rewarding and enriching life. I am honored to be a part of your week. Thank you for joining me, and I really look forward to helping you flourish even more in 2016.

Happy New Year everyone!