Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously

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There is a mindset shift I see as beneficial for the majority of people. The shift is to stop taking ourselves so seriously.

There is Buddhist saying that recommends we hold in one hand the belief that we are powerful and can create many wonderful, positive and beneficial outcomes. In the other hand we are told to hold that we are meaningless and powerlessness.

I am not an eastern mystic, but I do believe there is something to be said for doing our very best each day to positively impact those around us while also cultivating levity, playfulness and fun. Not the levity, playfulness and fun of a kindergarten class at play time, but rather a levity, fun and playfulness that dispels angst and anxiety.

This is especially important in the world of work where nine times out of ten it is not life and death. Some of you reading this will say, “actually, work for me is life and death. I’m an emergency room nurse or I’m a surgeon and I am confronted daily with life and death situations.”  If that’s the case, you have an even greater need to infuse levity, fun and playfulness into your life.

We all need an ability to pull away from the harshness of the day and to watch a funny movie, to tell a joke or to have something that brings happiness, joy or wonder into our lives. Without this ability to not take ourselves so seriously work and life becomes a long slow slog on our belly through enemy territory with bullets flying overhead.

Today, what is the one thing you will do to laugh, smile and not take yourself so seriously?

The One Most Powerful Strategy For Greater Leadership Success and Satisfaction

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I want to share with you the one strategy I’ve found that will help you become more successful and more satisfied. Can you become more successful and more satisfied with just one strategy?

Yes, and here it is: name and claim your expertise. When you name what you’re really, really good at and that compels and excites you, you are going to accelerate toward it’s achievement.

Let me give you an example. I am the expert at converting human potential into accelerated results. I have no misgivings about naming and claiming this and know it isn’t hyperbole. It is also not my ego speaking. It is a recognition that my flourishing business is rooted in my client experiences and that’s what allowed me to name and claim my expert status.

If you and I were having a conversation over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, as the expert in converting human potential into accelerated results I might even say, “I can help you create more dramatic performance improvements, more rapidly and more reliably than you ever imagined possible.” I can say that with utmost confidence and sincerity.

What do you say your expertise is when having a conversation with someone? If I asked you, ‘what are you the expert in,’ how would you answer the question? Don’t hesitate. Tell me what it is that you are the expert at doing.

Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you get clear about your expertise, the moment you claim it and name it, you’re going to accelerate towards it. But if you cannot or do not name and claim your expertise you will not accelerate your performance.

This week, the one important question for you to answer is: what am I the expert at doing? Whether in medicine, technology, manufacturing or consulting, what are you the expert at doing? Get clear on that this week and you’ll cut the time it takes for you to achieve success appreciably.

Yours in speed.


An Explosive Idea To Dislodge Underperformance

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C-4 is an explosive. It is malleable and can be shaped and formed to whatever area needs to be blown up. There is an explosive idea for organizations, leaders and team members which is also called C-4 also. This C-4 stands for:  Championship Caliber Customer Choices. 
Let me pull that apart and put it into two distinct segments. Championship Caliber. The difference between a champion and an amateur is that an amateur will do something simply for the sheer enjoyment of doing it. They’re not concerned with whether there is a win in column at the end of playing. They also do things with an amateurs mindset. By that I mean the commitment is not to continual progress, but rather about enjoying the ride. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let me juxtapose that with champions.
Champions look at every single thing they do and ask, “is this going to help me or hurt me in my pursuit of being a champion?“ They look at a championship event in the future and acknowledge that if they want to be successful or to win they will need to be disciplined in their thinking, physical training and their diet and nutrition. They are not only disciplined, but bring a rigor to the journey toward their championship. Inside an organization that means that you as a leader, executive, board member or team member have to cultivate a championship mindset when it comes to your work. That’s the first two C’s of C-4.
Then we come to Customer Choices. I believe that every organization is structured around one idea which is that you have to delight your customer. You have to make their life so easy that you become indispensable. With that said, customer choices is included because there are choices you are making that are not in your customers best interest. You’re making choices to continue to do things because they’re comfortable. You may make decisions to stay in a particular market because you don’t have another market to go to or because it serves your own well being and welfare and puts the customer second.
My work to help leaders and organizations become highly successful starts with knowing your customer so deeply that you know what they love, where they spend time, what they buy, find valuable and enjoy. You know everything there is to know about your customer and everything you do is designed to make their life easier. By doing so you become indispensable to them. C-4 is a choice and one that you have the opportunity to cultivate inside your organization every day.
Monday Morning Mindset Challenge Questions:
#1. Are you as a leader doing championship caliber work? Is your mindset that of a champion? Are you striving to be a champion in one aspect of your leadership?
#2. Are you looking at all of the customer related choices you make and eliminating any aspect of your work that does not serve the customer well?
That’s Championship Caliber Customer Choices…how are you doing with C-4?

Happy New Year

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Are you looking forward to 2017? We have finished celebrating the holidays and have entered 2017. You can look at 2017 with dread or with the expectation of multiple resolutions that will allow us to have a better 2017 than 2016.

I don’t think that’s the best way to approach 2017. When we do, we are human doings going through a checklist and making sure everything is accomplished properly…as opposed to a human being, using all of our faculties to create a truly flourishing 2017.

How do you create a flourishing 2017? I have four strategies I want to suggest this week.

#1. Dream bigger. Whatever dreams you have for 2017 take a moment and think bigger them. Imagine increasing them by 25% or even 50%. What does an even bigger dream look like? Dreaming bigger is the catalyst I use for interrogating reality and getting outside of the safe, comfortable and known. When I’ve thought bigger than at first I’ll know I’ve go bigger when I muse, “how would I go about doing that!?”

#2. Choose wiser. Be ruthless in your choices. Be ruthless in who you spend time with, what books you read, what conferences you attend and what development opportunities you take advantage of. Make sure the choices you are making are aligned with your dreams also. When there is a misalignment your success will be stalled.

#3. Believe deeper. There is a belief in each one of us that says “I am capable of doing something noteworthy, important, helpful, empowering, transformational and one heck of a lot of fun.” But we have smothered that belief with self doubt, fear, trepidation and unwarranted anticipation that we may be rejected. Ladies and gentlemen, believing deeper comes from having a dream that has really grabbed hold of you, being ruthless in the choices that you make and believing you can accomplish it.

#4. Act bolder. You are not a victim. There is one thing you can do every day that when done in a repeatedly bold way will allow your dreams to come true. This one small action will allow you to make ruthless choices and for you to believe even deeper. Accelerating toward success comes down to one small action taken every day; not one huge action, but one action taken every day toward accelerated performance.

If you dream, choose, believe and act you’re going to have a fabulous 2017. My commitment to you is that I will do what I can to help you do dream, choose, believe and act powerfully and purposefully in 2017. In doing so I’ll work to help you radically reduce your time to success.

If that’s what you want, I’ll see you back here next Monday.

Happy New Year!!!

Goodbye 2016 Hello 2017

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There are two types of responses to 2016 coming to a close and 2017 starting.

The first is “Good Riddance! 2016 is over and I’m glad to be done with it.”

The second is “Bring it on! 2017 holds tremendous promise and I can’t wait to get started.”

However you view the closure of 2016 and the start of 2017 I want to share two offers with you that I believe will help you make 2017 your very best year ever. Both offers have limited places available and must be reserved by December 31, 2016.

Mastering Your Mindset Intensive
One of the most exciting new programs I offered this year was the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive. It was oversold for the first cohort, but will be offered again in Feb and March of 2017. The results participants are experiencing are:

* 100% of participants anticipated a 50% or greater increase in their performance. At week seven 80% of participants were on track to achieve their performance improvement, and by week eight 90%.

* Participants are experiencing increases in confidence, decreases in anxiety and an increased belief in their ability to do GREAT work.

Current participating organizations and any new participant for 2017 can enroll at the 2016 registration fee of $495.00 versus the 2017 fee of $695.00. This $200.00 per person savings is available through 12-31-2016.

Read more about the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive here.

Pulling Out The Stops – Executive Coaching
Stop making resolutions and start making each year a year of clarity, energy and focus. My Pulling Out the Stops coaching program will accelerate your professional growth faster, more reliably and with greater satisfaction. You’ll learn to rapidly optimize your performance and productivity with custom strategies and techniques. Experience the rapid career growth that my most successful and satisfied clients enjoy.

Finding Direction and Purpose – Transformational Coaching
A program for individuals who want to make 2017 their best year ever. Whether you want to kick start your career, find a better work / life balance or improve your personal and professional relationships, this is a 60-day program to set direction and purpose in all aspects of life. More effective than another list of to-do’s, this is the perfect gift for yourself or someone you love.

Read more about my coaching work here.

Applications – For an application and more information, contact Hugh by email @ or call 206-829-9413.

All my best,


Lessons About Success From Howard Shultz

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Crossing out failure and writing success.

Let’s be clear about something right off the bat. You are closer to transformational levels of success than you know or can imagine.

Without reservation, the entrepreneurs and executives I work with have the power and capacity to make decisions, to formulate plans, to learn new skills and or expand their experiences so as to be more valuable to their organization, customer and employees. With very few exceptions the senior leaders I work with are purposeful as to what they want to create either in their role, scope or impact.

While working with Starbucks, a Senior Vice President told me the story about how the founder and CEO, Howard Shultz, started working for Starbucks as a marketing manager and left four years later to start his own coffee company because of a disagreement with the owners. Four years later he bought the company from the original owners and now has an empire of 25,000 coffee shops across the world.

The story was told in the hopes of sharing insights as to what makes Starbucks what it is today. Starbucks is led by a CEO that eschews victim thinking and walks away if necessary from situations that are not right and don’t hold the potential for doing great work.

Was there a risk for Howard Shultz to leave? Certainly. Was there a benefit? Certainly. What was present in copious amounts for Howard Shultz was a plan for living and leading a life of his choosing and not one dictated by circumstance. He chose to live his life in ways where he had greater control and influence and not to delegate that to others.

If you leave your organization or live and lead the life of your choosing will all of your decisions pay as handsome a dividend for you as Howard Shultz’s decision did for him? Actually, yes, they will. They will just look different.

Hugh’s Monday Morning Mindset Challenge

1. Articulate one to three dividends you would receive if you jettisoned fear, trepidation or uncertainty and purposefully lived the life of your choosing?

2. Identify one area of your professional life that if you were to walk away from it as did Howard Shultz, your professional life would be transformed in ways best described as extraordinary?

3. Are there areas where your self talk and or feelings of self worth need a boost? If so, what will you do today to get the help you need?

Never Underestimate The Power of Asking A Question

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identity Picture with ? Marks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugh’s Monday Morning Mindset Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

How I lost my mind and then found it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What other recommendations do you have?

Are You A Cost Center Or A Profit Center?

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

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

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

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

How do you do that?

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

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

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

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

How To Create A Culture of Courageousness

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

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

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

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

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