Thursday, November 28, 2013

Reframe: "Being Let Go" or "Being Let Forward"?

A while ago I did a talk on “Branding for Mid Career Professionals” for a group of mid-career executives who had recently been let go from their jobs, something I can empathize with as having been in this same chair. 

In the midst of this discussion, I had an intuitive reframe when I used the term, “being let go”. The reframe was that “being let go” can, with a twist of perspective, be reframed as “being let forward”. (Caveat: I say this soberly with respect for how serious and traumatic being let go can be.) 

The a-ha of this reframe for me, and I will only speak about me, is that I know that when I was let go, I was in a state of extreme attachment to the script, mental map, culture and routine of the company I had worked for for a number of years. This attachment, while comforting and seemingly secure, was also holding me back in some areas of my development. Certainly, I would have preferred to have continued my development in this company but on reflection, I realize that they letting me go was an opportunity for me to be let forward in terms of my personal growth. In the decade since that letting go, I see that I have grown more by way of this separation than if it had not happened.

The point here is that if we can stay with our current companies we probably should and will, but when we do not have a choice, and increasingly we do not, see the "letting go" as an opportunity of being "let forward" is a valuable and energizing reframing that can do us more good than not.

I hope this reframe will be useful to you someday, but not any day soon.

Fun, Even in Most Difficult of Situations and People. A-Ha!!!

Recently while coaching one of my clients we stumbled across a discussion on the value of fun. In doing so, I reflected on the most compelling definition of fun I have ever heard. Fun is a surprise, an a-ha, that teaches us something new. It is a compound effect. We all are surprised, at times, but do not perceive we have learned anything new. We also have situations where learn but do not experience it as a surprise. When these two effects of surprise and learning come together, we have fun. No wonder fun is such a high value for so many. 

It really is a shame how either through fact or perception we miss so much fun in life, and at work in particular. In our discussion, we both came to the joint conclusion that fun is more in our control than we thought, for if we saw more of the learning in daily surprises, too often referred to as problems, we would  perceive our lives as more fun. Conversely, if we constructed learning experiences for others and ourselves to include more elements of a-ha and surprise, we would also perceive our lives as more fun. 

Herein we see that the level of fun in our lives is more in our control than we thought based on our perception, and that we have more power to inject fun in the lives of others with a bit of creativity and planning on our part.  

The big lesson for me in this rumination is that even the hardest and most difficult of situations and people can be seen as fun if I also recognize the elements of surprise and learning they almost always contain. A-ha!!! 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Do You Come "Batteries Included"?

This past week I spent a day in New York, NY at the East Coast HQ of Google participating in their ThinkHealth event. During this event I had the pleasure of seeing the presentation, The Reimagination of Healthcare, by my good industry colleague, Steven Krein of StartUp Health. During this presentation, he introduced this idea of "batteries included"an analogy that applies to people who give versus drain energy from a situation. He talked about how badly we need people in our lives and businesses who come with batteries included. He also challenges us to be people who come with our batteries included. 

In our lives and work we are moment by moment faced with challenging situations. We are also all experts at identifying how and why challenges can/will NOT be overcome. When we stay in this posture and do not proceed to the second thought related to how we can/will overcome challenges, we have our batteries strapped on.

So ask yourself the next time you are in that interaction that is challenging, or tackling a challenge, consider if you are "batteries included", or if you need to go back home and get them. :-)

Thanks again Steven for a great new concept to live by.  

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Everyday Greatness

Yesterday I spend a day with a few hundred men at my church at our annual Men's Retreat and one of the topics which came up for consideration was how we as men achieve greatness everyday in our missions to be all that God is calling us to be in this life time. Surely there are as many answers to this question as there are pairs of ears to hear it. As I sat and meditated on this, my own answer emerged and I'd like to share it here.

1. Practicing the Great Commandment as stated in the Bible, to love God, self, neighbor and enemy. Its seems to me, and I have increasing personal experience to confirm this, that an intention of love in all actions does as much as anything to bring out our unique greatness as anything else. It overcomes inappropriate ego drive, hate, fear, undue selfishness. 

2. Resisting comparison as this practice robs all perception of greatness of its effectiveness as one's greatness is one's unique posture to occupy in the world and if you use a comparative definition another's will always seem to overshadow your own. Knowing my own posture and cherishing and being satisfied of the unique greatness of that is critical to showing up as great everyday. I recommend my prior post on this topic at,  

3. Developing mastery, a practice of operating at a level of high creativity in a space of one's natural giftedness for purposes that benefit one's self, network, community, society and the world. I highly recommend Robert Greene's lecture on this topic at 

4. Practicing patient persistence as achieving greatness as a result of practicing the first 3 points requires patient persistence. This path is not easy and continually dis-courage-ing, one must cultivate a commitment to proceeding with patience and not prone to giving up knowing that greatness is a journey more than a destination and that at anytime we are great, if only in the eyes of our mothers, and have the potential to achieve even greater degrees of greatness. I recommend my prior post on this topic at:

So here is to our showing up and acknowledging our greatness everyday.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lessons from "The Trip to Nowhere"!

This past Christmas my wife and I finally got around to striking another item off our "someday maybe" list by taking the vaunted "Trip to Nowhere". 

The Trip to Nowhere: The Game:
To topline it, this endeavor involved getting up the morning after Christmas, packing (overnight) bags, donning layers (against the winter cold) and going to the airport with no clue of where we were going. Once there, we use an iPad app, Airport Zoom to randomly pick 6 cities, Roulette style, we would target for a one week vacation. The city to which we could get the first affordable ticket is the one we would go to regardless of location, climate, interest or attractions.The point is that we would be together on an adventure. The fun is that we would not know from moment to moment what we would need to wear (we resolved to shopping for any needs we detected upon arrival), where we would sleep (we booked rooms the afternoon of most days), where we would eat (we scanned Yelp's "Best Breakfasts" list every AM after checking the weather), etc. As you can see, based on one's perspective, this can be seen as a lot of fun or a lot of di-stress.

We ended up in Los Angeles (Santa, Monica, Santa Barbara and West Hollywood) for 5 days having the most fun and, at times avoiding the biggest arguments, of our lives. On this trip, I learned a number of things anew that I work to practice as I realize that really if we are perfectly honest and conscious, every moment is potentially a "trip to no where" as joy and tragedy are always simultaneously at the doorstep. 

Lessons from the Trip:
So here is what I learned:

See the Unplanned as Fun!: The unplanned nature of this trip is what made it an adventure. It was a good break for hyper planners like my wife and I. We learned that the thin line between fun and di-stress is how you look at it and what you call it. The body experiences the same emotions either way. The common element in any fun to di-stressful situation is SURPRISE! I have decided to practice seeing surprise more often as fun than as something to be distressed about.

See the Partnership Potential in Conflict.: The nature of the cosmos is conflict and this nature can be particularly painful in relationships, and even more so in unplanned contexts, like a Trip To Nowhere. We were continually tempted on this trip to tip into tiffs over complications caused by the fact that it was all unplanned. We had to continually submit to the better temptation of remembering that we were partners on an adventure, and in that see how partnering resulted in more creative solutions and meaningful outcomes that would have been missed if we had succumbed to an adversarial stance. I have decided to bring this set of eyes and ears to every conflict in my life. I am sure my glasses and hearing aid will fail me sometimes but even a less than perfect execution of this lesson will result in a greater number of excellent results than otherwise.  

Be  Open To Options & Shape It As You Go With It.: You can imagine how: 1) sitting in an airport during one of the busiest travel periods of the year with no reservation and no option to return home (that was one of the impromptu rules of the game) and hoping you can find 2 seats on a flight to a randomly selected city, or 2) sitting on a beach in a rental car in Santa Barbara (which we found out is a top LA Metro holiday vacation location) discovering that all the hotel rooms in town are gone, can be interesting. I learned though that by staying alert in the moment with a relaxed focus and avoiding "horribilizing", we were able to see options that we would normally have missed, to get cooperation from people who normally would not have  cooperated and to: 1) enjoy those circumstances that were other than what we have hoped and 2) better influence and shape those circumstances that came closer to what we had hoped versus not. This practice of openness and shaping were newly "a-ha'd" for me and my practice is renewed as I see that even not getting what you want can be enjoyable, and you can get what you desire more often when you stay open to shaping what arises in the moment.

Do It While You Can.: While on and after this trip, my wife and I realized that there would never be an ideal time to take such a trip, and we felt extremely blessed that we were willing to make the time, courage and means to do so. This is true of so much in life. There is most always a reason not to and more often we need to make the reasons to do it while we can. The news teaches us daily that there is no guarantee that we will get to do it later. So as the Charle Parker composition instructs us, "Now Is The Time".   

Pack Lean & Plan for Every Climate.: So one of the peculiarities of this sort of trip is that you do not know where you are going to end up as you must go where the available airline ticket leads. We did not know if we were going to end up in Alaska or Jamaica. We packed light, with overnight bags, and wore layers so we could shed for the Caribbean, or bulk up for the Arctic. This seemed to me to be a metaphor for life itself. As I mature, what I have accumulated materially and otherwise feels heavier and heavier. While one cannot make it in the world with no luggage, I am cognizant of the need to be more choiceful about what I keep in my luggage and the size of my bag. I also have to be ready for the most frigid and balmiest of situations, using them to  cultivate the confidence to know I can shed or get what's needed in any situation that arises.   

So there you have it, one of the most adventurous and instructive vacations of my life. Though apprehensive, I am glad I followed the lead of my lovely bride who tookk me into and through it.