Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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All too often people think in terms of what’s not working as opposed to what’s working. They see the proverbial glass as being half empty as opposed to half full and expect the worst will happen. There are nine negative consequences to this type of thinking.

1. Our mindset shifts to playing not to lose as opposed to playing to win.
2. Our energy plummets as does the energy of those we interact with.
3. Our customers become reticent to engage with us fully.
4. Our ability to use our talents and skills in compelling and powerful ways is diminished.
5. We live in a place of scarcity as opposed to abundance.
6. Our creativity dries up.
7. Our personal relationships suffer.
8. Our health and well-being are eroded.
9. We attract even more of what we are thinking about.

I’m not suggesting that when there is an issue that is negatively affecting you, your team or your performance you stick your head in the sand and avoid the issue.

What I am suggesting is that even in the face of downturns, setbacks and the loss of your biggest advantage, there is an opportunity to convert what isn’t working into something that works even better.

Don’t believe me? Think of Viktor Frankl and his experience in German concentration camps and recounted in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Think of Thomas Edison and his 10,000 experiments with the storage battery. Think of Wilma Rudolph who contracted polio at age four and went on to win three gold medals at the Olympics.

Today, find one thing that you find exemplary, excellent or inspiring and keep that in the front of your thinking all day. Use it as a meditation of sorts for what is possible and what’s been achieved by yourself or others.

If you do, not only will you enjoy the day more, but you will accomplish more and be an exemplar to others.

What is the one thing you will focus on today?

The Five Minutes That Leads To Accelerated Performance

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk to you about the five minutes that lead to accelerated performance.

Five minutes can lead to accelerated performance? Yes! Let me tell you why. The five minutes that leads to accelerated performance is the five minutes you spend every day identifying where fear and anxiety resides in your professional life and in your employees professional life.

Ladies and gentlemen, when you are fearful or anxious you tense up. When you tense up you start using your rational mind to find solutions to making greater progress. That slows you down. It does so for athletes, for artists and for people in the world of work.

The five most important minutes you can spend is finding where people in your organization feel anxious and fearful-and address it. I’m suggesting that “addressing it” may be as simple as asking one question; are there any fears in your work life that I need to know about? Is there anxiety I need to know about? If there is, I want to let you know that wherever there is fear or anxiety my job is to help reduce it or eliminate it. I’ve had experiences that allow me to do so, and if I don’t know how to address your issue, I’ll find the person that can solve it.

As leaders, co-workers or colleagues, fear and anxiety is the death knell to accelerated performance. It slows us down and inhibits us. So, we have to find out where it resides and bring solutions that allow people to take a deep breath and say, “oh, you mean that this is not about perfection I can focus on making progress?” Yes, absolutely! “You mean to tell me if I just take a deep breath that it’s going to help me reduce my anxiety?” Yes, it will. That kind of conversation leads people to say, “okay, I can do this,” and when they say this you have cultivated hope and optimism as opposed to fear and anxiety.

I will promise you this, hope and optimism will always trump fear and anxiety when it comes to accelerated performance. This week if you want to have a more beneficial and productive work week, cultivate hope and optimism by eradicating and eliminating fear and anxiety. If you do that, you’re going to have a fabulous week.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Today is my 56th birthday. As I do on each of my birthdays I take an inventory of the last year and look for areas to celebrate. What I found exciting is seeing that my beliefs are more fully being acted on than they were in previous years. How did that happen? It’s quite simple. I wrote them down.

I’ve decided to share my list with you not to be self referential, but in the hopes that by seeing my list you’ll write down what you believe and that your life will become as rewarding and enriching as mine.

Here’s what I believe:

1. Worry and fear are lethal. They rob us of our energy, vitality and energy. Eradicating them via taking decisive action was a priority last year. Taking action helped sideline worrying.

2. My mindset is my greatest asset. What I think, believe and allow to enter into the grey area between my ears enables me or hinders me from living the best life possible. I wish I had learned this earlier in my life, but my mindset is the greatest accelerator to living the most rewarding and enriching life possible.

3. Overcoming resistance requires discipline. I experienced a lot of resistance when creating my transformational leadership program as well as when I write. Overcoming the resistance required a level of discipline I hadn’t mustered before. Discipline is an essential trait for living a rewarding life, but it requires, well, discipline.

4. Family and friends are a gift. It is easy and maybe even trite to say that the most important things in our lives are our family and friends, but in all honesty, the older I get the intimacy and connection I experience with the people that matter most to me are what make me a wealthy man.

5. Having a purpose is a game changer. I believe that there is a purpose residing in all of us. When I found mine thirteen years ago it changed my view and experience of life both personally and professionally. Knowing that my purpose is to enable human flourishing permeates every aspect of what I do and fills me with conviction and enthusiasm.

6. Life is to be savored. Savor is the perfect word for how I want to experience life. Life is precious and comes with absolutely no guarantees. When we savor each day we wake up recognizing that the day is a fabulous blessing that may not be repeated. Jump in and savor every moment.

7. Faith and belief are transformative. My spiritual life was the most rewarding part of last year. I cultivated my faith with vigor, curiosity and a deep enthusiasm. My faith transformed my understanding of what making a difference in the world looks like and propels me forward to enable human flourishing in ways I never imagined.

8. Work is not a four letter word. Not unlike with my mindset, I choose to make work something that is rewarding and enriching. My work can uplift the human spirit in the world of work…by choosing to do so my work life fascinates and uplifts me.

9. My health is a choice. I have a choice every day as to whether I exercise and eat well. When I do my health and well-being are improved. Health has always been a priority, but over the last year I’ve come to believe fully that I can remain healthy and vibrant for years to come. Alyson has changed my diet in positive ways and I want to maintain this level of health because number ten is so important to me.

10. Travel is essential. Travel eliminates biases as well as opens up new perspectives about people, cultures and how we are all interconnected. It is essential to get outside of the safe confines of what is known safe and predictable and traveling to other cultures is enables a global perspective and is a world of fun.

11. Hope, optimism and encouragement is in short supply. Because many people have a mindset that is filled with fear, worry, negativity or even pessimism, there is an opportunity to plant in the fertile soil of their imagination a seed of hope, optimism or enthusiasm. My friend, Brian Walter, calls doing so Assertive Optimism. That’s brilliant and something I believe I can do also.

12. Money means nothing. For forty years I had a terrible relationship with money. I thought whatever money I accumulated would be taken away from me. That was a birthday gift my parents gave me. But the meaning of money comes from the meaning I give it. Gone are the days of having a scarcity mentality. This last year elevated my belief in viewing my company, my work and money as a catalyst for improving the lives of my clients, my family and friends and the charities we support. This belief is uplifting and liberating.

13. Forgiveness is a gift to me as well as to others. Saint Ignatius in his examination of conscience says that forgiveness is the only path to wholeness. Far too often we walk around with anger or resentment from events twenty years ago. One of the healthiest things we can do is to learn how to forgive ourselves as well as others. When we do we experience wholeness and happiness.

14. Love is the problem and the answer. When there is an absence of love there is a degradation in the quality of the relationship we have with people. When I’m not loving towards my family or friends I treat them poorly and dismiss them. When I love them in ways that allow them to be the very best they can be our relationship flourishes. Maybe that I will master this in my 57th year.

Why A Positive Mindset Produces Positive Results

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After 25+ years in consulting and coaching I’ve found that the most successful and positive people I’ve worked with have a compelling purpose for their personal and professional life. A belief that acknowledges that thoughts and feelings influence their behavior, and that through their own choosing, they can be a purveyor of positive, uplifting, hopeful and enthusiastic beliefs that benefit themselves, their employees, their organization and their customers.

Being a purveyor of positivity allows for the following benefits:

1. During times of change and uncertainty positive people have the mindset that converts obstacles into opportunities for greatness.

2. Positivity fosters creative thinking. Rather than obsessing on what would happen if negative consequences transpired, the alternative becomes the focus. What if these positive things were to take place and we were able to capitalize on them?

3. A positive mindset allows you to experience the world from an abundance perspective as opposed to a poverty perspective.

The moment a leader changes his or her mindset their entire leadership changes. Your mindset as a leader, that which happens in between your ears, is one of the most powerful leadership tools you have available to you.

Thought provoking questions:
1. What part of your mindset is helping or hurting your individual performance at work?
2. What part of your mindset is helping or hurting your team performance?
3. What part of your mindset is helping or hurting your personal relationships?

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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People believe the message when they believe the messenger.

Believability is everything
Believability is the pinnacle of leadership development efforts. When people listen to and believe what a leader says the person listening is more likely to take positive action that’s aligned with the leaders direction. When people act in accordance with a leaders message, their words don’t simply enter one ear and make an exit through the other. The leaders words become the catalyst for something highly important in leadership terms; the believing, knowing or doing of something valuable.

Believability in real terms
The controversy over Rachel Dolezal, the embattled former president of the chapter of the NAACP in Spokane Washington is a real world example of how important believability is to different constituents.

What we know
What has been reported over the last week is that Rachel is a white woman who has changed her skin color, her hair style, her dress and jewelry to embrace an identity as an African American woman. She has submitted job applications where her ethnicity was listed as African American, and she has sued a traditionally black college for discrimination; she claimed she was being discriminated against because she was white.

Here’s what I believe about Rachel:
1. I believe Rachel did a tremendous amount of positive good and advanced the NAACP’s agenda. She undoubtedly made a positive difference in many people’s lives.

2. I believe her when she says she identifies with being black; a term she prefers over African American.

3. I believe the man she identified as her father is a father figure to her and may in some ways act more like a father to her than her birth father.

4. I believe she has convinced herself that her identity transformation; however real or imagined to others, is being blown out of proportion primarily by the media and also be detractors of the NAACP.

5. I believe Rachel has little or no concept of the negative consequence she is experiencing because of the good she accomplished.

6. I believe there are many in the African American community that see Rachel as someone who took stereotypes of African American women and exploited them for her own benefit.

7. I believe our own individual world views will determine whether Rachel is a charlatan or a well-meaning saint.

But, I also believe:
1. Rachel’s public persona, brand and repute has been damaged to the point that what she says now will come across as stubborn and delusional.

2. Rachel’s long-term ability to do good and make a difference in people’s lives will remain compromised until she acknowledges her actions and asks for understanding and forgiveness.

3. Rachel is parsing her words so closely that I am convinced she is nowhere near ready to come clean and ask for forgiveness.

4. Bringing suit against a traditionally black college for discrimination; claiming she was discriminated against for being white, speaks to a deeply ingrained narcissism and or personality disorder.

5. Rachel needs an exceptionally talented therapist.

What you should know
Recognize that as leaders, whether at home or in our personal lives, believability / credibility is the cornerstone of influence. If leaders want long-term positive influence people must see them as honest, trustworthy, competent and inspiring. Rachel may be competent and inspiring, but without honest and trustworthy all bets are off.

What is your opinion of Rachel?

Choosing Between Ability or Effort

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Video Notes:

Ladies and gentlemen, if you had to choose between ability and effort in a new employee, or in a whether to give someone a promotion, which would you choose?

If you had a choice about who to give a promotion to and you had two candidates to choose from which would you choose? One person has a lot of ability, but doesn’t exert much effort. The other person has less ability but will work their tail off. Which person would you give the promotion to? If it were an new employee who would you hire? Who would you engage as a strategic partner? Who would you allow to invest in your organization? Someone with ability, but who doesn’t exert themselves, or someone who exerts the maximum effort imaginable but has less ability?

Nine times out of ten I will choose the person who is willing to work their tail off. You see this in professional sports. There are athletes who is incredibly talented and who have a lot of skill, but they don’t have the work ethic necessary to achieve the highest level of proficiency in their sport.

If you want to have a more effective workweek, focus on effort and less on ability. Specifically, focus on exhibiting and cultivating the maximum effort…giving your last full measure of devotion as Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg address. Keep going, keep persevering, and cultivate grit, determination and perseverance. Why? Because that’s what wins the day. If you cultivate effort and the corresponding grit, determination and perseverance you are going to be supremely successful.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Whenever teams or individuals considering doing a project there is a tendency to think about the project with a fixed / stable mindset as opposed to an exploratory / growth mindset. When projects are undertaken utilizing a fixed / stable mindset the benefits and value derived are less than optimal and not noteworthy. To ensure you and your team are thinking bigger about your work and your impact there are eight questions that need to be answered to ensure success. They are:

1. Is the project being considered, if supremely successful, capable of having core customers proclaim that this project has transformed their work? If your not striving to transform customers work positively then you’re thinking too small.

2. Is this project capable of having our customers exclaim “wow, you guys are indispensable?” If yes, why? If not, why not?

3. Will this project require us to stretch our thinking, accelerate our learning, and grow in the value we provide to our customers? Or, are we doing rudimentary work that needs to be completed in order to maintain the status quo?

4. Does this project scare us? If not, it may not be big enough in scope and or value. When we’re scared, we’re moving beyond our capabilities and stretching the limits of what we are capable of.

5. Are there other organizations doing this kind of work already? If so, are we catching up with them? Catching up is not thinking bigger. Or, are going to be the first organization to do this type of work? If we are, that’s thinking bigger.

6. By completing this project, will we differentiate ourselves as a team or organization? Will our repute or brand be enhanced by completing this project? If not, how can we think about this project differently so as to appreciably enhance our credibility and repute?

7. Would the most noteworthy industry periodical write an article about us based on this project? Or, would it go unnoticed by the national press?

8. Is this project being considered with a playing to win mindset or a playing not to lose mindset? Playing to win always requires thinking bigger.

Which of these eight questions is most important to you and your team?

The One Person You Need In Your Life

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk about the one person you need in your life. There’s one person that for me has been the biggest blessing I’ve ever received, and that came when I married Alyson Sharron eleven years ago. Last Friday was our eleventh anniversary, we celebrated with a dinner at home and one at a new restaurant and had a wonderful weekend. When I have an anniversary I like to reflect on the importance of the moment and why it’s important.

Over the weekend I realized there are five things Alyson brought into my life that I did not have prior to marrying her. These five things have allowed my personal and professional life to absolutely and unreservedly flourish. I believe you will want someone in your life to provide these to you also. Here they are:

#1 I have someone who absolutely cares about me in a very personal way. She loves me, she cares for me, she wants to make sure my needs are met. She cares very much about me as a person.

#2 She is the kind of person that wants the very best for me. She looked at me and said, “I believe this is what you’re capable of,” and it was bigger than what I first imagined. So you need someone that wants the very best for you and can sometimes help you see that.

#3 They will flat out tell you the truth. You may not want to hear the truth, but this person will tell you the truth in a way you can hear it, at a time you need to hear it the most.

#4 They will support you in successes as well as in failures. Now, we have had some failures over the last eleven years, but we’ve had more successes. Alyson has never allowed my failures to drag me down and she doesn’t allow for my successes to raise my head up into the clouds. She supports me in the best way possible.

#5 The one person you need in your life is someone you trust and respect and that you will listen to.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we need to have someone in our life that will exhibit these five traits and characteristics. It doesn’t have to be a spouse. It could be a partner, it could be a friend or a business associate. It doesn’t matter who they are or where they come from, we just need someone like this in our lives.

Now if you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t have someone like that right now, Hugh” there are two things you can do:

#1 Cultivate exemplifying these five traits to someone else. Generously give them to someone else and buy doing so you will attract them into your life.

#2 Find a coach or a mentor. There are times where my coach or mentor will provide these five traits for me, and it’s an incredibly valuable piece of my day to have a conversation with him.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the kind of person you need to have in your life. I’m fortunate to have a person like this and I want that for you also. If you have any questions about how to do this write and let me know. I’ll walk you through it.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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When something that is helpful, beneficial or desired is undertaken, barriers or obstacles pop up to test our commitment to the goal. To overcome these obstacles shifting from one mindset to another is crucial. There are nine mindset shifts you need to make in order to be more effective. They are:

Hugh’s 9 Mindset Shifts
1. This is a struggle becomes this feels awkward, but it’s an excellent growth opportunity for me.

2. This is hard becomes accomplishing something important can be hard, but it gets easier with time and persistence.

3. I’m stuck becomes I haven’t figured out my next move yet, but I will.

4. I can’t do this becomes I can do anything I set my mind to. Here are two examples where I’ve persevered and been successful.

5. I don’t have time for this becomes I can make time for things that are important to me and this is important.

6. I’m not doing this right becomes this may not be perfect, but I’m making progress and that’s what counts.

7. People must think I’m stupid becomes the people who matter most to me know I’m smart and tenacious.

8. If “they’d” stop ABC I’d progress becomes I can’t control what people do. I can choose my response. What’s my best response?

9. I should quit becomes No way! My greatest challenges always produce my greatest achievements.

Which of these nine mindset shifts will serve you well this week?

Mastering Your Leadership Message

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk to you about mastering your leadership message.

I’m going to do a shout out at the very beginning of this Monday Morning Minute to my friend and colleague Brian Walter. Brian shared with me his five aspects of leadership messaging ten, twenty or thirty years ago and they are well worth knowing about if you want to have a message that is compelling and that garners commitment.

Ladies and gentlemen, you’re all communicating a message, but you are doing so accidentally and not purposefully. Transformational leaders don’t do that. They are ON message and they STAY ON message.

So, how do you stay on message? There are five things that you want to think through, and have answers to before you start communicating. You’ll want to know this:

What is it I want people to think, feel, know, believe and do with my communication? When you answer these questions clearly it allows you to purposefully decide how you will communicate with the people that matter most to you. Specifically, you’ll know how you will stay on message and how you will behave in order to be congruent with your answers.

Ladies and gentlemen, what is it that you want people to think, feel, know, believe and do? These are absolutely essential questions for you to answer in order to have a truly transformative week.

Answer those questions and you’re going to have a fabulous week.