Empathy: Lessons from a Piñata

When we see suffering in someone, our first response is either to run away or to tackle it with the all vigor of kids against a piñata. We want life to be sweet, so we try to beat the pain into submission so that everything can come up candy again. The problem is, even though we mean well, we’re beating the heck out of them so that we can get to the candy, not so that they can.

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Responsibility, with a capital “R” and a cape!

Something must be done, but does that mean you must do it?

Too often, we take Responsibility for things others should do, or where there is a shared responsibility, we assume we must shoulder it alone. You look around the table at a meeting and realize no one else is going to volunteer for an unwanted task, and there’s a voice inside you convincing you that you must volunteer. Why does the Responsibility rest on your shoulders? Continue reading

Leaders – Just. Be. Real. Own it.

It’s really hard to be a leader right now. Declining budgets, scarcity of resources, bid wars, change fatigue and demoralized employees make it hard to stay motivated to get the daily tasks done – much less champion growth and innovation. And in this mess, we often find ourselves one step (or less) away from joining the water-cooler grumbling – the blame and leader-bashing prevalent in unhealthy organizational cultures.

And it’s easy to go from there down the proverbial slippery slope to an “us” vs. “them” mentality. Continue reading

Tired of riding the swirl? Start swimming!

You know you’ve been there. The circular logic. Those thoughts swimming in circles. It’s the “Look kids, Big Ben…Parliament!” of mind games.

It might even start with an “aha” moment. Aha! – the reason I haven’t applied for that promotion is because it would mean longer hours. Or, Aha! – the reason I’m avoiding my friends is because all they ever do is complain. Or, Aha! – the reason I’m so unhappy in my job is because I no longer love what I do. Continue reading

If you hate “touchy-feely,” this one’s for you

“Touchy-feely.” Soft skills. You know you need them, but it feels like pandering
to the weak and whiny. I get it – but has the time come for you to broaden your perspective?

If you’re hesitating, I’ll tell you something you probably already know intuitively: if you don’t improve your soft skills, you’ll limit your potential. Sure, you’ll get quickly promoted early in your career for the results you bring, but eventually, you’ll find yourself edged out by people who somehow manage to get the job done and connect with the people around them.

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Leaders – Just. Be. Real. Use real words.

An overly packaged idea becomes part of the noise.

No matter how valuable your message, as soon as you “package” your vision, idea or change initiative – as soon as you wrap your message in big words and put a pretty bow on it – you become part of the noise.

Employees are people, and people want real. Real food, real relationships, real connection. We’re bombarded with fake. Everything has become so photo-shopped, hyped and packaged that it’s hard to trust anything anymore. When something labeled as “healthy” has 30 grams of sugar – and all of it high-fructose corn syrup – it’s no wonder we’ve taught ourselves to look beyond the glossy packaging and read every label. Continue reading

Mindful Growth (Contentment ≠ Complacency)

For many, the word “mindfulness” equates to the complete cessation of all forward movement. We think of mindfulness as sitting still smelling the flowers and see it as something most of us just don’t have time for, although many will admit that there’s real value in the concept. It’s almost as if there’s an unspoken rule that living in and enjoying the moment is an affront to committed goal achievement.

The fact remains that we are way too busy – in all areas of our lives. Are living in the moment and pursuing growth mutually exclusive? If not, how do we live in the moment and move forward at the same time? Continue reading

Mindset over matter

The holidays are upon us. It’s the time of year where we overindulge – ourselves, our families, our children. We overeat, overshop, overspend, over-exert to meet the expectations we place on ourselves, imagining (and not always incorrectly) they are also the expectations of others. All while we continue to overwork, pushing hard to close out the business year while trying to balance the demands and expectations for family life during the holidays. It’s also the time of the year-end evaluation, where we slog through the self-evaluation, awkwardly touting our accomplishments and cringing as we listen to feedback that says we’re doing well but we could do better if only we’d address that one thing we still need to work on – that thing that comes up every year. Continue reading