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Take a Step Back to Move Forward

Woman walking on beach

It’s been an eventful past few months since my last blog post.

For one thing, I had to say goodbye to a dear friend who passed away after a battle with cancer. Plus, I had several clients I coach who needed my total focus.

My friend was a man of boundless energy and generosity whose personal challenges never got in the way of his passion for preparing the next generation to lead us into the future. After serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, he spent more than three decades as a high school teacher, principal and superintendent for one of the most innovative school districts in the nation. His giving spirit continued into retirement, as he traveled to more than a dozen countries building homes and providing eyeglasses for families in need.

Reflecting on my friend’s experiences led me to take stock of my own life and relationships. I found myself exercising more. Eating a little better. Caring a bit more. Taking nothing for granted.  

Life moves at a break-neck pace for most of us. Like you, I, too, have felt overwhelmed at times. After decades of being a CEO and many years of coaching clients who do heroic work for

others while facing many significant hurdles of their own, I’ve experienced first-hand how stressful the responsibilities of leadership can be.

When so many people are depending on you — at work, at home, in your community and around the world — it feels as though you’ll lose control if you take your eyes off the ball for even a fraction of a second. How could you possibly have time to stop and take a breath every once in a while?  I must keep my phone on the fear of missing out. I must call the office just in case they need me.

But the truth is that sometimes taking a step back turns out to be the best way to move forward. Clarify your vision. Reflect on your mission and values. Simply spending some time alone with your own thoughts empowers you to re-center your energy on what’s important instead of getting mired in the swamp of trivial details.

BizON Founder and CEO Nunzio Presta points out that how you step back will look different for everyone. For some of you, it could mean a sabbatical. For others, it might be a weeklong vacation. Or a long weekend enjoying the great outdoors. Or just simple afternoon walks in the park.

If you’ve never taken the time to reflect, recharge, and refocus, I invite you to do so.

If you have, I’d love to hear your story.

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The Power Of A Story

One thing I would encourage all of you to do is tell stories.

You know, we can stand up before our staff at an all-team meeting and read them the rules, tell them the announcements. We can gather people together at a sales conference and talk about features and benefits. We can go see a client and try to convince them that our product is better than the competitors. We can talk to a family member about improving relationships. But what I would encourage you to do is to weave these conversations around stories.

Tell your prospective customer a story about how your product made a difference in somebody else’s life. Tell your management team what’s going to happen in the world or in your community if your organization implements a particular program. Give them an example of how somebody’s life was changed. Share with them a story.

I remember one time I was on a sales call and I was talking about our program, and I was telling the client about the difference it had made in the lives of some people in the country of Kenya. My client stopped me right in mid-sentence and said, “you really believe in this stuff don’t you?” You know what, I knew I had him, because he saw the passion I had and the belief I had in our product.  And we got the order. So tell stories. Tell stories about your life, what is happening in the community. You’ll get a much better listening audience.

What’s your story?

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Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow – I’ll Take Today

I think I’ve told you before that my favorite group is the Eagles. My wife’s favorite group would be the Beatles and I’d have to say they’ve had some powerful songs over the years – songs that have stayed classic through the decades.

One of the most meaningful songs in a simple way is “Yesterday” sung in solo by Paul McCartney. I’ve seen him sing it as a young man and I’ve seen him perform it live as a much older man.  The words are a simple love song. He’s yearning for yesterday and wished his words had been different to his girlfriend who went away.

My message to you is that you cannot dwell on yesterday. Or really worry too much about tomorrow. All you can worry about is today. Will you be a better person?  A better leader? A better spouse? Parent?

Will you do something as a citizen of the earth to make this place better? So worry about today, not yesterday.

But I sure love the music. Let’s hear a few bars.

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You May Know Your Why, But What Is Your Wow?

Recently I traveled to California to record some videos for a company called Wisdom Capture. I encourage you to go to their website and learn more about them. They capture wisdom from key executives within corporations so it can be shared with employees, customers, and clients. It serves as a legacy of those lessons learned by people that came before the people that are there now.

One of the videos I recorded for them was entitled What Is Your Wow. Not “What Is Your Why” from Simon Senik, but “What Is Your Wow?”

What is that accomplishment? What’s that task? What is that achievement that you’re going to do for the organization? The one that’s going to make people stand up and say “this organization is different.” The thing that will make them think “This leader is taking this company to a new place.” or “This new product or service is going to make a difference in my life.”

So – watch the video. Then tell me in the comments – What’s Your Wow?

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What I’ve Learned From The Beatles & My Grandson

Normally my blog starts off with some music. I will play a song that has been important in my life. Perhaps it’s a song that has moved me to be a better person. Or it might be a song that has motivated me to work at a higher level, taught me a lesson about issues that we face in the world and how I need to participate in solving some of them.

Sometimes they’re just fun songs that make me smile and make me happy, and make me reminisce a little bit about something from the past.

Today’s video is a little different. It’s not actually a song but it’s certainly about music.

The lesson is about the power of practice and routine and focus and passion.

This short video illustrates that by focusing on learning – that skill that you need to be a better athlete, to be a better leader, to be a better person in your family and in your relationships can be achieved if you just focus on it and practice on it.

Enjoy this video. I’m a proud grandpa.


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Find Your Ukulele

I’d like to thank everyone who listens to my blog each time I send it out.

I love music. I love the power of lyrics and what music can do to you. It can take you to the next level. It can help you deal with discouragement, bring you closer to the person you love. It motivates you to take that next step.

I have always been a lover of music. As a child, I took music lessons. I played drums for eight years. I can play a little bit of trumpet.

Last Christmas, I asked for and received a ukulele along with some lessons. So each week I go to the music store and go into one of the little tiny practice rooms where my ukulele instructor teaches me new chords and new songs. They are songs that I ask him to give me the chords to – probably many rock ‘n roll songs that have never been played on the ukulele before. But you know what, I’m having fun. I’m learning. I’m doing something I’ve never done before.

I promise I’m not going to sing to you. I do not have a recording voice. But, I just challenge you to think of what you should do. What is that new skill you need to learn? What’s that new hobby you’ve been dying to start. What’s that sport you should try. Next time you’re on vacation, what will you sign up to do that you’ve never done before? At work, volunteer for something that’s outside of your comfort zone. We all have to be lifelong learners and we can do it in a fun and exciting way.

So, find your ukulele and enjoy it. I enjoy mine.

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We Need To Respect One Another

Many people are listening to old Aretha Franklin music this week. It’s powerful music by an amazing woman who demanded respect and received it. But some of her music isn’t quite as well known. I encourage you to listen to a few sound tracks. I was just listening to “Amazing Grace” which she sang at several funerals.  She sang for presidents. She sang for Martin Luther King. She sang before the Pope. And each time she was giving a message to not only the audience, but to the host.  Treat everybody with respect. Make sure they realize that you care about them.

Bob Chapman wrote a book called “Everybody Matters.” He’s a successful business person who started dozens of companies and he talks about treating employees like family. If I were to check with your co-workers, your boss, your kids, your spouse, your neighbors, would I find that you are giving them the respect they deserve? Reach out to someone today and let them know how much you appreciate them, how much you respect their behavior,  the way they’ve raised their family, are getting their job done at work, or keeping your family together.

Let’s take it out with some more powerful music from Aretha Franklin.

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Mean Something

That was Beyoncé singing “I Was Here.”

I encourage you to listen to the song in its entirety. The music and the lyrics are amazing. She talks about making a difference, wanting to leave a mark, hoping that she will mean something to somebody.

She wants to live and be loved. She wants to be remembered for being here. What are you doing? How are you leaving your mark in the community? How are you making a difference at your work? How are you loving and living your life with your family and your friends and your neighbors?

We live busy lives. It’s complicated – raising families, working hard, paying the bills. But on the final day what’s important is that you made a difference. You left your mark on this earth and made it a better place.

Let’s go out with a little bit of Beyoncé, and as you listen to her, figure out what you’re going to do to mean something to somebody.

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Take Time To Celebrate

That’s “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. We all need to celebrate the good times. We need to celebrate and come together.

How many times do we forget to do that? Let me count the ways. When your sales staff hits their goal, do you celebrate? When your construction project is finished, do you party on? Do you celebrate when you get that big order that you’ve been working on for years?

Do you celebrate when you perform that surgery successfully, or take care of that patient in a compassionate way, and they say thank you? Do you celebrate that good feeling that you have? Or perhaps at home, do you celebrate those small victories that your children have each day as they are growing and developing? Do you celebrate your spouse’s achievements or do you just complain about what didn’t get done?

The song is a simple song, but I think we all need to celebrate more often, especially during difficult days when we get discouraged. We need to find those moments to celebrate. Let’s listen to it again, and celebrate a little bit. Have a great day.

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We All Go Through Change

No one has to guess who that group is. We all know it’s the Beach Boys, the band of the 60’s who sung about surfing and girls and hot rods.

I usually talk about a song. Today, I’m going to talk about a group, and the power of the Beach Boys’ music. You see, as a teenager, my parents went through a divorce, and I was shipped off to Southern California to spend the summer with my big brother. He lived in the South Bay where all those beaches that the Beach Boys talked about were located – Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, down to Huntington Beach, and up to Malibu.

I was on those beaches everyday thinking I was a cool surfer dude. Really, I was a teenage nerd. But that music kept me going. It kept me believing in myself. It helped me get through difficult days. It allowed me to feel really good about myself when I needed it.

We all go through change. It happens to us many times in our lifetime – growing up, finding a person that we love, going through jobs that have meaning, dealing with tragedy and sickness. Even the Beach Boys had to go through change. In the 60’s, all of a sudden, there was the British Invasion. The Beatles arrived. The Beatles had admired the Beach Boys with some of their harmony in some of their songs. The Beach Boys had to adapt some of their music to be a little harder to compete against the bands from England.

Change can be hard. Competition can be difficult. But they’re healthy. It made the Beach Boys better. It made the Beatles better.

Let’s go out with some good surfing music – Good Vibrations. Hopefully, it makes you feel better today. Thank you for listening. Tell me your favorite song and how it’s impacted you and your life. I look forward to hearing from you.

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