Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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One of the reasons why people repeat behaviors from the past is because of inertia. Inertia is best characterized as blindly repeating a task, process, or behavior because you’ve been successful in the past doing so. Inertia at its core is about maintaining the status quo and remaining comfortable.

While there are good reasons to repeat certain aspects of our work, preserving the past can become an inhibitor to creating a new and more desirable future whether for ourselves, our employees, and most importantly for our customers.

When it comes to remaining comfortable the vast majority of people have a peculiar ability to maintain the status quo even when the consequences for doing so can be deadly. For example, eighty-five percent of the people who have heart bypass surgery have returned to the exact same lifestyle and diet within two years of their surgery. That’s the same lifestyle that required them to have heart bypass surgery mind you. No matter how uncomfortable their surgery was; no matter how concerned they are for their future health and well being, the inertia of eating and exercising the way they did before surgery pulls them by the scruff of the neck back into their old habits.

1. What aspects of your work are non-negotiable and need to be preserved at all costs?

2. What aspects of your work, while successful in the past, need to be jettisoned?

Your answers to these two questions are an indicator as to the mindset you and your team have regarding change, growth and innovation. If you want to master the mindset that will capitalize on change, growth and innovation, register for my free teleconference entitled Mastering Your Mindset.

You can learn more HERE.

Mastering Your Mindset

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Video Notes:

Good morning everyone, my name is Hugh Blane and it is the Monday Morning Minute, and this week I want to invite you to a teleconference on September 26th which is a Friday at 9:00 am.

The teleconference is entitled, ‘Mastering Your Mindset.’ Let me make no bones about it, there are very talented people inside organizations that have an incredibly bad mindset. There is no positivity, there’s very little perseverance, they’re not playing to their strengths, they don’t have a clear and compelling purpose, they look at obstacles as things that are just overwhelming, and they feel that work is sometimes a long slow slog through enemy territory on their bellies with bullets flying over their head.

Ladies and gentlemen you can never achieve exemplary performance if you have that mindset, you know that. So on September 26th, on Friday at 9:00 am, I’m going to do a teleconference about what are the key factors that really allow people to manage what happens in between their ears in a positive way. No walking on coals will be required in this teleconference, you’re not going to have to do any trust falls.

We’re going to talk very practically and pragmatically about how you as a leader or team member manage your mindset. What are the stories you’re telling yourself? Are you listening to your greatest advocate on one shoulder or are you listening to your greatest detractor? Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to pull that apart and we’re going to give you strategies you can use so you can master your mindset.

The registration link is in the video notes, go there, click on the link, you’ll be taken to a registration page. It is free, I would love to see you there and you’ll have more information over the next four weeks but that’s what we’re doing Friday, September 26th. And I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

That is the Monday Morning Minute. I’ll see you next week, take care.

Click here for the teleconference


“Obstacles are the horrible things we see when we’ve lost sight of our goals.”

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Photo Courtesy of iStock Photo

We live one block away from Puget Sound. It’s a quiet beach community where the smell of salt air rolls up to our house and we watch eagles and herons flying fifty feet overhead.

One day last week, while sitting outside in our garden with my morning cup of tea, a crow landed on the power line and started squawking. No matter how hard I tried to ignore him the squawking continued for over five minutes. My attention was no longer on the beauty and solitude of the morning. Instead it was squarely on the intrusion being brought by the crow.

We all have a choice as to what we pay attention to. Here are ten things that when I pay attention to them my professional and personal life are richer and more rewarding.

1. The love and affection of family and friends.

2. The joy that comes from a deepening spiritual life.

3. Laughing as heartily and frequently as possible.

4. Having new experiences and seeing with new eyes.

5. Motivating and inspiring books, movies and music.

6. Providing value to my clients.

7. What’s working as opposed to what’s not working.

8. My talents and skills as opposed to my limitations.

9. What I can control and influence as opposed to what I can’t.

10. Not doing a thing. Simply being wholeheartedly engaged in the wonder of life.

What is it for you that when you pay attention to it it uplifts you and provides you with a more rewarding and enriching life?

How do you develop solid technical managers?

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Video Notes:

This week’s viewer question comes from Richard Gambril from the University of Tennessee. Richard, thank you for sending me your question. Richard asks, “How do you develop solid IT managers?”

Richard, I’m going to assume you don’t want them to become better technologists but you want them to become better people managers. If I’m right, then I’ve got three suggestions for you.

#1. Remember, trust and respect as a manager is always garnered by your behavior and how you interact with people. It is not garnered by just having ‘manager’ or ‘leader’ as your title. What I suggest is that you understand that trust; being trustworthy, holding a persons confidence, doing what you say you’ll do, respecting other people’s opinions, respecting their perspectives, is a foundational piece all managers need to understand. When I build trust and respect with those that I’m trying to lead I’ve got the foundation in place.

#2. Develop the mindset that people are motivated by their self-interest not by my self-interest. My second job as a manager, after building trust or respect, is to find out what’s important to my constituency so I can marry it with the objectives and the results I need to achieve as a manager. It starts with what are their self-interests and then I determine how to marry with that with my business objectives.

#3. Always strive to improve your employee’s condition. No matter what you do, remove the stress, strain or barriers that are getting in the way of your employees doing their best work. You have to improve their sense of satisfaction, their sense of success, their sense of wellbeing. What you want to do is empower your employees in such a way that they can do their very best work.

If you’re a manager and you come with those three things, if you come with a strong desire to build trust and respect, if you come with a keen understanding of other people’s self-interest, if you come with a bias towards helping other people improve their condition, I believe, Richard, you can be supremely successful.

I hope that answers your question. Ladies and gentlemen, that is the Monday morning minute, I hope you have a fabulous week, and I will see you here again next week. Take care.

This Weeks Rapid Action Challenge:

List three ways you will improve your employee’s condition with week? As soon as you list three action items, immediately start doing one of them. Not later, but immediately!



“Improvement begins with I.”

Arnold H. Glasow

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Photo courtesy of iStock Photo

What’s important to you? I mean really important to you. When you know what is important you can set priorities that are meaningful. But for many leaders, what’s important are their business metrics. These metrics, while very important, are not what drives all of a leaders decisions though. What drives their decisions are aspects of who they are that are below the conscious thought process while at work.

If you want to know what’s important to you as a person and as a leader, there are twelve questions that can help you.

1. What do you read, study and watch?

2. Who are the people you admire and want to emulate and why?

3. Who are the people you choose to spend time with and why?

4. What do you regret and why?

5. What places do you want to visit and why?

6. What businesses do you frequent and why?

7. What websites do you visit and why?

8. Who do you envy and why?

9. What opens your wallet and why?

10. What causes you joy and or sadness and why?

11. Where do you spend your time and why?

12. What causes you to be thankful and why?

These are not the typical questions asked of leaders. These questions are for leader who recognize that the more they know about themselves the better equipped they are to lead themselves as well as others.

Thank you Father William Watson, SJ of the Sacred Story Institute for being the catalyst for these questions.

Changing Your Behavior

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Video Notes:

Good morning everyone, Hugh Blane with the Monday morning minute.

Would you like to change your behavior? If you do I have three suggestions for you:

You have to wake up, you have to grow up and you have to show up.

Waking up asks you to wake up to the impact your behavior has had on people in the past – the positive as well as the negative.

Growing up means you take one hundred percent responsibility for your behavior and own this whether you like it or not. It’s my behavior and I own it.

Showing up comes after you’ve done the two previous steps. You can then ask yourself how do I want to show up in the future? What behaviors do I want to exhibit to get the best outcome possible?

Ladies and gentlemen, if you do the above you will have a very successful week because you are showing up in full context of what has happened in the past; what’s worked and what hasn’t. You will take full responsibility for the past. These two steps are prerequisites to showing up in truly meaningful ways that will sustain you in the long term.

That is it ladies and gentlemen. l hope you have a fabulous week and I will see you again next week.


This Weeks Rapid Action Challenge:

Take fifteen minutes and answer the following three questions:

  1. What four words best describe the impact I’m having with people? List two positive and two negative.
  2. Am I fully willing to take ownership for these behaviors?
  3. How do I want to show up moving forward?



“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

Woody Allen

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Young female office worker
Photo courtesy of iStock Photo

Are your employees exhausted or exhilarated by the work week they’ve had so far? If you’re in a leadership position you need to know the answer to this question.

I see and work with people who are worn out, beaten down by the onslaught of their work and who are ready to give up. When people are exhausted, the implications for you, your organization and customer are significant. When employees are exhausted they:

1. Get derailed by small minor issues
2. Are less capable of thinking long-term
3. Have lower levels of creativity
4. Become forgetful
5. Work in slow motion
6. Prioritize going home over strategic priorities

The above does not mean you have lazy employees. It means you have employees who are preserving what remaining energy they have in order to survive until the weekend comes.

The poet David Whyte recounted a story where he asked a friend to give him advice about feeling exhausted. His friend said, “the antidote for exhaustion is not rest. It is wholeheartedness.”

Employees who are exhausted need to be supported by their leader in three primary ways:

1. Acknowledgement. Every employee needs to know they are heard and valued within the context of what they’re experiencing. If leaders cannot start by empathizing and acknowledging what employees are experiencing the spiral of exhaustion will surely continue.

2. Connnect work to a greater purpose. In order for organizations and employees to thrive there must be a compelling reason to come to work. Without a compelling purpose work becomes a long slow slog through enemy territory. Leaders have to keep a compelling reason clearly in every employees mind.

3. A plan: Employees turn to their leaders for guidance and direction. Leaders must be able to point the way to a more rewarding future. Without this direction employees lose all hope for a better tomorrow.

Employees who are worn out, beaten down and ready to give up are incapable of providing leaders with the customer experience and results they want. Leaders in turn must be able to support their employees in the above three ways.

Which of the above three do your employees want and need from you?

The glorious moments in life…

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“The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success,
but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a
challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments.”
Gustav Flaubert

Monday Morning Minute Best Practices

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Video Notes:

In this Monday Morning Minute I’m going to answer a viewer’s question. This question comes from Molly over at Microsoft, and Molly said, “Hugh, can you suggest or share some of the best practices about how people use the Monday Morning Minute?”

Molly, I want thank you for that question because there is a best practices I want to share with you. I’ll share mine and then open this question up on my blog for other people to share how they use it and see what we can learn.

Hugh’s Best Practice:

People who use the Monday Morning Minute successfully earmark fifteen minutes to watch the Monday Morning Minute. They watch the Monday Morning Minute, either the short sixty-second long ones or the three-minute variation, and take the remaining time to think through my three “I” questions.

  1. What is the insight I gleaned from the Monday Morning Minute?
  1. What’s the impact this insight can have on me or my team or my performance?
  1. What’s the one thing I’m willing to implement based on my insight and its impact?

This Weeks Rapid Action Challenge:
Take fifteen minutes once this week to watch the Monday Morning Minute and ask yourself the three “I” questions above. And ladies and gentlemen, it’s important to take this type of action within seventy-two hours of watching the Monday Morning Minute because then your learning will be more pronounced.

So Molly, that’s what I have seen, but I’d like to hear from others as to how they use the Monday Morning Minute. Do you use it within a team or organization? Go to my blog, tell us how you use it and share your best practices.

Thank you again Molly. Have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you here next week. Take care.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Everyone wants to achieve a higher level of performance. Whether as a project manager, an individual contributor or team leader. That’s a given. What’s not a given is an unwavering focus on what higher performance means and looks like to us as individuals as well as to our key constituents.

Higher Performance
Image courtesy of iStock Photo

To help you clarify the most important results you can achieve in service of higher performance, I’m sharing the questions I ask clients to help them get clear. Without answers to these questions your work can be haphazard and urgent as opposed to targeted and important.

You DO NOT have to answer all of these questions. You should use them solely as a catalyst to think creatively about the most important results you want to achieve. Keep in mind that senior executives want to know that you can answer these questions.

1. How do I see performance improving in my department, team or organization?

2. Ideally, in a world without any barriers, what would I like to accomplish?

3. What is the one thing, that if I were to do it, would lead to an exceptionally positive difference for my organization?

4. How can my customer be better served?

5. What can I do that would leave my boss saying, “I love having you on my team?”

6. What can make my employees lives significantly better, more productive or easier?

7. What precise aspects of my work are most troubling to me and I would be remiss if I didn’t address them?

8. If I had to set priorities now that would have a significant positive impact on my team or organization, what three things must be accomplished?

9. What is the most important result my organization is pursuing, (ROI/ROE/ROS/ROA/Shareholder Value) and how can I help us achieve them?