Getting Back on the Podium

Phelps and BowmanNow that the Olympics are over, what do you remember? For me it was a how hard it is to repeat as the Gold medal winner in successive Olympics. We are sure to remember Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, but what about Gabby Douglas and Missy Franklin?

That got me to wondering about what makes a difference? Certainly age and competition drive our ability to compete. But I think something that is rarely noticed is that after the Olympics, star performers go back to work with someone by their side, a coach. Coaches Bob Bowman and Glen Mills have already scheduled time with their pupils to go over what went well and what could be improved. They will next go over their student’s goals and start charting a plan to get them back to the top again.

How many of us have major successes followed by recognition then the slow fade? Perhaps it’s due to lack of having a coach or an accountability partner to go over our successes in a way that allows us to move to the next success. What I have found in researching successful businesses and their leaders is that the success breeds coaching first and not the other way around. Successful people always seek coaches, while less successful people think they can’t afford one.

So the next time you have a success, think of Usain Bolt. Picture: Usian running sprints pulling a tire under the careful eye of  Coach Mills. I can hear Bob Marley in the background singing, “The fastest Mon is 31, The Fastest Mon… he ain’t done!”Bolt and Mills 2

Posted in People and Productivity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Touch Matters

staying in touchThank you “Black Lives Matter,” for reminding me of the message of Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.”

Like Water ‘gate’ before it, their phrase has sparked a whole genre of __________ Matters. And while I disagree with the Black Lives premise, their phrase sparked me this morning to write about something that really does matter to me, Touches.

Touches are actions that define what or who is important to you. Physical touches, politically and legally incorrect in today’s EEOC environment, gently let people know you notice them. I often joke in my sexual harassment workshop that my dad would never survive one month in today’s environment because he was a notorious “toucher.”  My dad’s touch was endearing, as I found out from so many strangers at his funeral.

Touches, in a business sense, let your customers/vendors know you are thinking about them. I call some members of a chamber where I work just to say hello and see if we can do anything for them. Invariably, they have very few requests, and most literally tell me they are “touched” by my thoughtfulness. When business relationships die, an autopsy usually reveals a lack of staying “in touch” as a major contributing factor.

The same is true with friendships. My active friendships have a common thread, we both stay in touch. One way touches usually fade in my experience. I have been on both sides of this equation and must admit that my non-responses are to blame for some faded friendships. Mirror time again!

Touches are not big things: a note, a quick text, a phone call. Yet they are really are THE BIG THING.  In the end most of us will leave this earth with only one category of regret. We will miss the relationships we have built and the gentle touch of a loved one. So make sure each day includes building your relationships, one touch at a time. It WILL matter and your touches will all work for the good! 🙂

Posted in family, People and Productivity | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting your brain in the fast lane!

Here’s a power tip on how to combine old technology with modern brain research and increase your productivity big time.


If you are like me, you probably hear Joe Walsh tearing it up in the background. Love that riff!

Posted in Continuous Improvement, Motivation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Accountability and bucket lists

I just finished a triathlon with my son and his wife. For me, it was a bucket lister, given my 15 year retirement from such events; for Sam and Brittany is was a beginning.  Training for the Grandman an old lesson on accountability came to mind.

Power Tip 6-13 Accountability

So if you really want to achieve something hard, announce it to your circle of friends and choose one as your accountability partner. You’ll be off to the races.grndman

Posted in Change management, family, Motivation, People and Productivity, time management | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

To move up, listen up!

podcastWhat one skill is available to everyone and yet very few of us act like it?

Intentional listening

Most of us act like we have two mouths and one ear when it comes to communication. Here’s a recent vlog on why intentional listening is critical to your career and some tips on how to improve your listening.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” James 1:19.  Enough said.

Posted in Continuous Improvement, People and Productivity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A vacation to do – A personal mission statement

Here’s something you can do while sitting by the pool, hiking, or whatever you do on your vacation:

If you complete the assignment, let me know at

And if you did complete it, go ahead and start on your family mission statement.

Posted in family, Motivation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Open Borders Crowd

Sunset May 3How many of you favor having an open border with Mexico? I suspect many of you would take offense if I called you an open borders advocate. Yet, the vast majority of us practice open borders every day. We do it every day in our workplaces and homes.

Dr. Henry Cloud, in his best-selling Boundaries for Leaders, makes a statement that drives this home.  He uses boundaries to describe the behaviors that leaders allow in their organization. After researching and working with hundreds of organizations and studying behavior and the workings of the brain, Dr. Cloud’s conclusion fits right into the current immigration debate.  “Leaders always get what they create and what they allow.”  You may create a vision of a legal immigration system, but if you allow anyone to come in, regardless of status, how long will that vision last?

Most organizations believe they do an above average job in creating a vision. Dr. Cloud would disagree and provide some suggestions on how to communicate in the way our brains work.  The more interesting part of Boundaries for Leaders deals with what happens when we try to implement the vision. Whether a company or a home, we develop a plan to move toward the vision and rules to help us negotiate situations that arise.   So why don’t all visions or family dreams come true?

Most of us start with the plan and fail because we start making exception to the rules.  You know the exception dance: “just this one time”, “this wasn’t anticipated”, “this is a special case”, or “he/she is someone we need to make an exception for.” Each time a part of the boundary (or border) comes down. Before long, the borders around the company, the culture, and the plan’s strategic advantage are completely down.  People see these exceptions and they start to stress over what is allowed and what isn’t. When the brain experiences increased uncertainty, it slows down. Worse yet, if you are unsure of what is allowed or not allowed, the safest option is DO NOTHING. Ask the border patrol, or the middle manager in an organization with high executive level turnover.

Studies with children and borders suggest this is just common sense. When playgrounds have fences, children will play anywhere. When fences are removed, children stay close to the building and effectively cut their playgrounds in half. Doesn’t it make sense that when boundaries are inconsistent, your productivity decreases as uncertainty and anxiety increase?


So spend some time this summer reviewing your employee manual and business plans. Focus on listing every exception you have to each policy or directive. This is not easy but will be worth it. Then ask yourself, “If I saw this rule and knew of the exceptions to this rule (but not the reason), how would I react?” Then either change the rule or change the exception.


Either way, your employee playground will grow.

Posted in Change management, leadership, People and Productivity, Workforce Development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment