The Journey Of A Lifetime


the close-up human eye imageOnce, I traveled to a mountain top to seek out wisdom.

It was a long, arduous journey full of peril. Finally, at the summit, I met the person who could help me understand. I sat and waited.

The wise woman said, “Sometimes you must be utterly quiet to really be able to hear.

“It takes stillness to make any progress.

“You must find introspection to be able to live in the world.

“And when you take the time to get quiet, still and introspective, it’s possible to find understanding.”

I waited. There must be more. Had to be more!

“Is it possible,” I started, “to live a life that matters in a world that is fast and noisy? Where there is no time to think? It doesn’t seem possible.”

The wise woman smiled with kindness, nodded her head and said, “Oh, yes, it is possible. And I will reveal to you exactly how to do it. These are the principles which support a long, happy meaningful life. Pay attention – some are harder to achieve than you might think.”

And these are the words she said to me that day:

Live gratitude.

Be kind.

Love yourself.

Accept that how others live is their choice, and they are entitled to their own choices.

Honor your self-ness and the self-ness of others.


Ask questions with no agenda.

Your most awesome power is your power to create.

Set goals and be prepared to let go of them if the situation changes.

Be the friend you’d want to have.

Do not pass suffering along.

Day turned to night and night to day as I pondered these revelations. Could it be that these principles were all I needed to live a life that matters?

Finally, it all made sense to me. I took a deep breath and pledged to move forward living as she suggested and I rose to thank the woman for her help, her guidance and her wisdom.

And the reflection in my mirror smiled and nodded her gratitude back to me.



All Together Now



Sometimes, vector seamless pattern with a large group of men and women. flawhen tough decisions need to be made, you need to go back to basics.

I was talking with a woman the other day who was facing a thorny decision in her work. Should she or shouldn’t she? Worrying, ruminating and floundering, she turned to me and said, “What do I do?”

Shoot, I didn’t know. But I did ask one question, “At this point in your life, what’s your biggest priority?”

And she paused.

A longish pause.

Then she started to laugh. “No one has asked me that through this whole thing. I haven’t even asked myself that!”

And just like that, the path forward opened up. She knew what she was going to do – which wasn’t going to be easy, but it certainly was very clear.

I tend to ask clients-in-crisis like this to think about their priorities and their values. What’s important? What do they value the most?

It used to surprise me that nearly every person used the same words to describe at least one of their top values – words like Connection, Belongingness, Together, To Be With, Team.

I’ve learned that for so many of us it’s the connection with others that really gives our lives a sense of meaning.

And yet so many of these same people tell me that the workplace is the last place they can expect to find real, authentic belongingness.

Last week I spoke with a senior guy at a huge multi-national company. Part of our work together has been deciphering the world-class, sharp-elbowed office politics played within the organization.

Now, the higher up the leadership pyramid you go, the more intense the office politics get in most organizations – elbows are much pointier and jabbier.

My senior guy was telling me how the people one level above him act at meetings. “They never participate,” he said. “They just sit there with their fingers templed in front of them and say, ‘Thank you for your input. We will be getting back to you.’ Where’s the collaboration? The connection? The sharing of information? I feel like a sitting duck because I never know if I’ve made a good presentation or not. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing because I don’t have all the information! Are we working for the same company, or not?”

Ah, Grasshopper, what you see here is a blatant power play. What you observe is information hoarding. And – I’ll go even further - it’s bullying.

Last summer I led a webinar for the Harvard Business Review on bullies and jerks in the workplace. It turned out to be one of the most popular webinars HBR has ever offered – which is great and at the same time, very sad.

In that webinar, I defined a bully as someone who tries to keep you from being able to do your job and/or tries to crush your sense of self.

My guy’s senior colleagues with their templed fingers think they are playing politics but in reality they are blocking collaboration, making things harder than they have to be and killing the efficiency of the group. They have learned to be bullies.

Perhaps they do this under the mistaken belief that powerful people behave a certain way. It’s a bit of John Wayne with a smidge of Clint Eastwood and just a soupçon of The Donald. You know who I’m talking about – a solo contributor with power, who leaves people trembling in his wake. Who has no time for other people unless they’re passing him ammo or a whiskey bottle.

You know the guy. And this archetype may have worked in a different day and age, with a different generation. But, today, it’s in direct opposition to what most people crave in their work.

They want togetherness. They want feedback on their impact, reflected in their connection with friends and colleagues – probably because formal feedback processes aren’t really working.

The best leaders today know this.

They know that there’s a new yardstick for measuring leadership effectiveness, and it’s not how many people stand up when you walk into a room. And it’s not about how much information  you hoard.

It’s about how well the people who work for you perform.

It’s about what they accomplish.

It’s about their efficiency and their impact.

It’s about how they collaborate, belong and connect.

So if you are a leader in an organization and you have a tendency to hoard information, to temple your fingers, to be a lone wolf?

You’ve gotta knock that off.

Start collaborating. Share. Ask questions. Listen. Seek advice.

Provide an environment where your people can connect and belong. Give them a way to find meaning.

And if you do, here’s the promise: You will have more productive people, better teams, greater impact and more success.

Together, connected, with, belonging – those are the words, and the only way we’re all going to move forward.


Reconnecting With Your Big Why



Sometimes things get a little too loud.IMG_1766

A little too fast.

A little too not-enough-time-to-think.

When you have a string of days (or months, or even years) like this, you end up burned out and disconnected from who you are and what you aim to accomplish.

These relentless times require – no, demand – a pause.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the last several weeks. I’ve been pausing. Screening out all the noise and focusing on some key, foundational things, like:

Who I am.

Why I do the work I do.

Whether I’m aligned with my values.

How I work and who my ideal clients are.

What I really and truly want.

Believe me, I’ve written thousands of words and thought a million more.

I’ve talked with friends about these words over meals, over the phone and over the internet.

I’ve walked miles, thinking.

And moment by moment, day by day, I’ve grown clearer. Happier. More focused.

By shutting out the noise and getting quiet, I reconnected with my Big Why.

And I’m here to tell you that I’m more committed than ever to the work that I do, how I do it and who I work with.

Today, this very day right here, feels absolutely energizing.

You might think you can’t spare the time away from the pressing relentlessness of the tasks at hand and, besides, who’s got the time? There’s so much to do, so many places to be, so many demands on your attention.

But I’m here to tell you – if you don’t make time, you’ll never find time.

If you’re feeling out of step with your own life, as if you’re marching to the taxing beat of someone else’s drum, then do yourself a huge favor and find some time.

Drop back.


Get clear.

And prepare to re-enter your day-to-day life with a bona fide spring in your step.


Dads Are The Sexiest Men On Earth

Silhouette Of Father Lovingly Kissing Child On Forehead At SunseKnow what makes a sexy man?

It’s not the size of his bank account or the length of his job title.

It’s not that he’s a road warrior with a fat frequent flyer balance.

It’s not his dark wavy hair, his fast, sleek car or the washboard appearance of his abs.

It’s none of that.

A man is so sexy when…he’s teaching his daughter how to light the perfect fire on an autumn night.

When he shows his son how to not only grow tomatoes and basil but then how to make them into a Caprese salad.

When he listens to his teenager’s worries.

When he accompanies his adult daughter to chemo.

When he drives the carpool, when he brings the snacks, when he springs for pizza, when he discusses the Peloponnesian War, when he cries at his child’s wedding, when he is fully and completely committed to his family.

That is pretty sexy.

And all men – those uncles, and brothers, and cousins, and granddads, and neighbors, and clergy, and coaches, and teachers, and mentors – all of them who take time to give of themselves to young people who need a father figure…well, they’re damn sexy, too.

Happy Father’s Day, you sexy devils.


What’s So Great About You?


Stone WalkwayIt’s a true fact that we tend to discount those things that come most easily.

I’ve seen it so many times – whatever you do effortlessly causes you to say things like:

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Anyone can do this.”

“No one needs to pay me for this – I’m having too much fun!”

And then someone calls you out, gives you a compliment, says, “Wow, you are so good at this” and you pull yourself up short and say, maybe only to yourself, “Really? Am I?”

Because plenty of us think the only work that matters has to be hard. And that anything worth having takes toil, stress and perseverance.

When things come easy, all of those learned, ingrained platitudes fall away and what are you left with?

Effortless expertise, that’s what. Also, flow. Creativity. Purpose. Accomplishment.

My heart fairly bursts when I read that last line again.

See, it’s not that I forgot that we tend to discount that which comes most easily – I can’t forget it, I say it to my clients all the time. But it certainly seems I forgot to coach myself on this subject.

Here’s how it happened: Last week I led a two-day retreat for coaches on business-building. They came from Montana, Hawaii, California, Florida, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina and the Washington, DC-area, and each dug deeply into a new framework I created for the event called “The Shoulds Map”. It was a powerful, meaningful process and every person left with a solid path forward toward success.

It was moving, resonant and inspiring. 

Afterwards, one of the participants – an executive coach with 21 years of experience – said, “You must facilitate a lot of groups. You are so good at it.”

I tilted my head to the right and looked at her as if she had just spoken to me in ancient Greek. Or maybe tongues.

Groups? Sure I do groups. What’s the big deal? I’ve always have done groups. Groups, mostly, who want to – need to – get something done. Yeah, I do groups. Sure.

But do I promote groups? Do I talk about it? Do I highlight this skill? No, not really.

I sort of take whatever group work comes my way because group facilitation is so freaking easy for me.

And, we’re supposed to sellsellsell those things that are hard, right?

Sheesh. Look at me over here not walking my talk.

So today I’m talking about my work with groups who want to/need to get stuff done because I need to claim it. Ready?

I’m so good at facilitating groups that it feels effortless.

There, I said it.

And I’ll bet that there’s something you do that you need to claim. Something that’s so easy it feels effortless. Something so easy it doesn’t even register as that valuable to you.

Whether your skill is crunching the numbers to create the kind of financial analysis that seals the deal, or innovating spectacular interior design, or educating a room full of kindergartners, owning your particular thing is a huge step toward turning things around, being a good self-advocate and becoming a really happy, successful person.

So, I went first and now it’s your turn – let me facilitate this for you: What are you going to claim today?