Posts Tagged ‘Change’

I was honored to write the following for my colleague Susan Mazza’s website, Random Acts of Leadership, one of the top leadership blogs on the Internet.


There is one mindset that is absolutely paralyzing to individuals and organizations alike.


It is one that creates a victim mentality of helplessness among individuals and steals leadership power from organizations.


It is the “they/their/them” mindset.

  • “They” better do something.
  • It is “their” fault.
  • It is up to “them.”


Thankfully I discovered the panacea to this horrendous malady impacting our organizations today.


flamenco-594272_1280Simply put, it takes one to tango.


I know that goes against conventional wisdom and that well known cliché, but I have seen its powerful truth demonstrated in my own life.


Many years ago I decided I wanted a closer, more demonstrative relationship with my brother and Dad. I know we loved each other, but we didn’t say or show it often. Let’s face it, we were typical guys.


No longer satisfied with this kind of relationship with the men I love and cherish deeply, I decided that every time I saw my Dad or brother I would greet them with a hug. And every time I said good-bye, I would give them a hug and tell them I love them. I was not attached to the outcome. And I was not attached to whether or not they reciprocated. This was something that I wanted to do that was important to me.


As you can imagine, in the beginning of this little game things were a bit awkward. When I hugged my brother he would make funny faces, resist a bit, and wonder what the hell I was doing. My Dad didn’t resist, but he also didn’t reciprocate. Hugging both of them was a bit like hugging a fish. In these initial stages, it felt more like I was doing something to them. But that was OK. I was committed to my action and the communication of my love for them.


This went on for many, many months. I honestly don’t recall how long, but it was quite a while.


Then magic happened. I will never forget either of these unbelievable days for the rest of my life.


One day as I was leaving my Dad’s house I was preoccupied with where I needed to be next. I said good-bye to my Dad and turned to walk to my car without practicing my usual ritual of hugging. From behind me as I walked away I heard my Dad say, “Aren’t you forgetting something?” I turned around to see my Dad’s arms spread as wide as an eagle’s, waiting to envelop me in a huge hug.


Best. Hug. Ever!!!


Some time after that, I was driving my brother to the airport as he was leaving to go on a trip for the US Fencing team. As usual, I drove him to the door where his airline was located, wished him a good trip and waited for him to grab his bags out of the back seat of the car. I nearly fainted when he said, “Hold on, I want to give you a hug.” I still tear up thinking about that moment. It was a huge breakthrough in our relationship as brothers and made us ever closer.


The lesson I learned from this little experiment was that when it comes to leadership, changing behaviors and transforming our relationships, contrary to the familiar saying . . . it actually takes just one to tango.


Let him that would move the world, first move himself.

– Socrates


All too often when we desire change in our lives we wait for others to initiate it and lead. Or maybe we pray for a miracle and hope that the change will magically happen. While I am all for miracles, this approach steals from us one of the most amazing superpowers we humans possess — the ability to manifest our desires.


In the 20 years that I have been involved with coaching and business acceleration, I have witnessed countless examples of people proving that we can indeed create just about any change we desire. And it isn’t really that difficult. It starts as a desire in our heart, moves to a thought and plan, transforms into action, and then almost without fail turns into results.


There is no need to make it more difficult than that. Adding anything else just complicates the process and clouds the results.




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If I asked you to find the United States on the map below, you would most likely be able to do that. Similarly, if I asked you to find India, you would succeed as well. We all grew up staring at this map on the wall while our teacher stood in front of the classroom imparting knowledge. The map is part of our ingrained belief about how the world looks.

map 2
But what if I told you it was all wrong? What if I told you that the world actually looks like this?
asifoscope map

Surprising, right? In fact, I bet some of you would say that this second map is just plain wrong. And perhaps, like myself, even after seeing this map and reading this newsletter, you will still think and relate to the world according to the first map. It’s as if the first map is part of our DNA.


We all grew up thinking Greenland is as large as Africa, when in fact Africa is 14 times larger. We think Europe and South America are roughly the same size, when in fact South America is 60% larger. We think Alaska is much larger than Mexico, when in fact Mexico is larger by 100,000 square miles.

Why is this important? Because it is a beautiful demonstration of the power of beliefs.

We interact with the world based on our beliefs – what we think and believe about ourselves, what we think and believe about others, what we think and believe about our life. These beliefs live as truths for us, form who we are, and guide our actions.

But as you can see, they are not always true. They are just true for us.

If you are stuck or unhappy with something in your life or business, take a moment to consider the beliefs that lie underneath that unhappiness. Chances are, those beliefs are forming your thinking and are the reason for being stuck or unhappy. Thus, to change your situation in life, you must change your beliefs.


If you don’t change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?

– W. Somerset Maugham


The first step to changing a belief is to become aware of it. If you don’t know what your beliefs are, then chances are they are running you like a robot. You have no choice in life and simply carry on like a machine. But once you can see your beliefs, you can be at choice about them. You can decide which ones serve you and which ones do not. And in that moment, your life becomes yours to change.


To further understand the social impacts this particular perspective of the world might have, watch the fun clip below of one of my favorite TV shows, The West Wing.  As a writer, I always admired the dialogue of this Emmy winning show.



World map courtesy of picturespider.com

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I hate the month of March.

Here in the northeast United States, March is a schizophrenic month. One moment it is sunny, the next it is gray, cloudy and snowing. The month is cold and windy most of the time, but then gives us teases of spring warmth. The ground is always wet and muddy. The grass and vegetation is mostly brown or gray or some other dull color. The trees are bare and dead leaves litter the ground along with our man-made garbage, which is easily seen. In short, it is bleak, dismal and depressing.


March is a perfect depiction of what transitions in life can look like. Just as March is our transition month from winter to spring, transitions in life or business can look equally as bleak and messy, especially if we prolong the transition process and delay whatever it is we must do next.


Basic CMYKThere is a trick to successfully navigating through transitions. The more decisively we act, the less painful and depressing they are. It is only when we are uncertain and hesitant that transitions are less than beautiful or exciting. The secret to graceful transitions is clarity – clarity in knowing where you are, clarity in knowing where you want to go, clarity in knowing what you want. Once you have defined those elements, taking decisive action is the key.


You see, the truth is that March is an amazingly beautiful month. It is filled with hope and promise. For the first time in months you can hear songbirds announcing the coming Spring. The sun, while rarely making an appearance, is noticeably warmer when it falls upon your skin or filters through your window. The days grow longer. The air begins to smell fresh as the Spring winds breathe life into it. And the green sprouts of flowers and the buds on the trees announce the life that is about to burst forth.


That is the true beauty of March and transitions. They announce a new hope and promise that is about to burst forth in your life. It is exciting, exhilarating and something that should be welcomed with open arms and hearts. All you need to do is define the desired future and act decisively.

That which must be done eventually, must be done immediately.

– Unknown


Transitions are often hard for people. Whether they are afraid of leaving what they know to be comfortable or are afraid of the unknown that lies ahead, many people tend to delay what they know they must do. More times than not, this delay just leads to greater stress in their lives or business.


In the 15 years that I have been coaching, I cannot think of one example where someone regretted the changes they made in their life. What is it that you know you must do in this moment? Don’t delay your life any longer. Do it now.

Transitions are often the result of people trying to change their lives. They move, change the color of their hair, change their clothing style, they get a new job, a new boyfriend/girlfriend. But often, all these changes do not create the desired impact. That is because these superficial changes are like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. If you want the secret to real change in your life consider the video below, and start there.

Photo credit: transitionsglobal.com

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A few weeks ago I was following the long range computer models of a summer hurricane when I realized something interesting. Human behavior is not that much different from the behavior of these powerful storms. 

Meteorologists have compiled decades worth of data on hundreds of storms in order to build models to calculate the likely path a hurricane will follow.  Rarely is there a major deviation from forecasted paths.  Similarly, humans follow predictable paths and behaviors in life based on years of living and habits.  And these predictable paths of ours tend to lead to the same predictable outcomes. 

So I wondered, while hurricanes rarely make a dramatic change in their course, what does it take to change the behavior of humans, especially if we want to alter our course in order to do or be something different.   

Not surprisingly, I found that the steps to initiate human change are simple, but not necessarily easy.

1) Set a new course. Clearly understand and define the change you want to create.  The key to establishing a new course you will successfully travel is to deeply understand the “why” behind the change you desire.

2) Draw from a large energy source that continually feeds the storm. Set your intention, declare it, and post it somewhere you can see it regularly.  Doing so makes it come alive everyday and has it serve as the engine that drives your daily actions. 

3) Establish a well-developed eye.  The key to a strong and vital storm is a well-developed eye, which is often a reflection of the strength and power of the winds swirling around it.  The hardest part of any change is breaking free of inertia. Get into action to get your winds swirling.  Do at least 1 thing every day that moves you toward your intention and keeps you on course!

4) Stay focused on those things that contribute to your energy and goal. Whenever a storm travels over land or hits a high pressure system, its energy diminishes greatly and eventually the storm dissipates.  Consciously choose how you are going to spend your energy everyday.  Steer clear of known obstacles or activities that distract you or diminish your energy.

5) Absorb the energy around you to power you forward.  Once a storm gets going, it starts to suck in the energy of all that is around it, making it stronger.  Once you get going, you will notice small things that support you and nudge you along your path.  Welcome and expect those.  They are confirmation that you have chosen the right course.  Things will get easier and the velocity of your movement will increase. 


If you keep doing what you’ve always been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always been getting.
                                                                                – Anonymous

The chance to change the course of your life is much greater than that of a hurricane changing its course due to one key element – the power of choice.  The fact that we can consciously choose how we interact with our surroundings and any events that swirl around us dramatically impacts the effect we have on how our lives look and turn out.

What change do you want to make in your life?  What benefits will that change provide?  Chances are, there is a reason why you want to make that change that serves your future.  Go for it!

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Change or die?

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.     –   Charles Darwin


By now we are all well versed in the concept of change. The situation in our country and around the world demands it as our various systems show signs of weariness and faulty thinking

Chances are, these new conditions have caused many of us to consider changes within our own lives. Dramatic events have a tendency to do that, just as September 11th did for many people years ago.

And yet, so many of us struggle with the concept and ability to change. We often resist making the changes we know we need to make that will lead to something better for us. And that resistance is dangerous. As I recently heard at a business seminar, “Hesitation is the leading cause of roadkill.” Similarly, such hesitation and resistance to change in our lives, while not often deadly, certainly creates more pain and anguish, especially when we know we need to make the changes we are considering.

So what’s really behind that resistance? Why is it that we neglect the things we know we need to do in order for us to have a better life? Believe it or not, it can be boiled down to a simple equation.

D + PF + CC > RC

Translated that means:

Dissatisfaction + Preferred Future + Clear Commitment is greater than the Resistance to Change.

Or, said another way, unless our level of dissatisfaction is significantly high and is combined with a preferred future (vision) and a clear and strong commitment to that preferred future, we will not be able to overcome the inertia and resistance to change. Any one of these components alone is rarely enough to create Real Change in our lives. All three must be present for the transformation we desire to truly take hold.

So where do you stand in your formula for change? Will you be able to overcome your resistance to change, or will you become another piece of roadkill alongside the highway of your life?

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