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Courageous Leadership: What Are You Waiting For?

In Samuel Beckett’s play, “Waiting for Godot,” two tramps are waiting by a sickly-looking tree for the arrival of M. Godot. We never learn who Godot is or why he’s important. The tramps quarrel, make up, contemplate suicide, try to sleep, eat a carrot, and gnaw on some chicken bones. Two other characters appear: a […]

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Exposing and Expressing Fear is Key to Reducing It

Years ago, I was captivated by Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi. When I finished reading it, I immediately went back to page one and read it again. The story centers on “Pi” an Indian Tamil boy who, after a shipwreck, survives 227 days drifting on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean. With him in […]

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Thoughts That Make You Go Hmm on…Fear

“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” Robert Albert Bloch, American screenwriter, “Psycho,” “Psycho II”   “We usually learn faster from pain than from pleasure. Strong dislikes are acquired faster than strong likes. In relationships, trust is easy […]

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The Fear Factor: Do You Speak Up or Shut Up?

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Overcoming fear has been a major theme in our work. Fear is appealing food for moose in the workplace. It attracts and nourishes them. Moose-on-the-Table is where everyone in a meeting knows there is an issue or problem, but no one is talking about it. It’s like […]

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The Fear Factor: Visualization’s Dark Side

The last series of blog posts discussed visualization as “The Force” that can pull us forward. But it also has a dark side that can energize our fears. Fear and pessimism can be even more powerful. This Dark Force too often overshadows positive possibilities. Neuroscience shows we’re wired to focus on what’s wrong and picture […]

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Are You Being Poisoned by a Toxic Culture?

During a retreat with the leadership team of a large healthcare organization, we were running a little behind schedule so I said we’d move fairly quickly through the Responsibility for Choices principle in our leadership discussion. Fortunately, an astute participant piped up with, “Jim, I think we need to talk about our ‘blaming and disclaiming’ […]

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Don’t Get Sucked in by the Gloomy Headlines: The World’s Getting Better and Better

It’s time for our annual dose of reality. Let’s start the New Year with a perspective check. We’ve heard way too much from the “nattering nabobs of negativity,” purveyors of pessimism, and deliverers of doom. Let’s ditch the “crap glasses” and get real. Let’s look at what’s truly going on in the world. This annual […]

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Don’t be Spooked: How to Make Chilling Changes Less Scary

Today is Hallows’ Evening or Halloween. Many believe Halloween traditions came from ancient Celtic harvest festivals. Today little ghosts and goblins harvest treats at neighborhood doorsteps. Halloween is frightening images, blood curdling sounds, and creepy creatures. This can be positive fun and enjoyable when not taken too seriously. Or it can be darkly negative and […]

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Thoughts That Make You Go Hmmmm on…Enlightenment Now

Bill Gates calls this “my new favorite book of all time.” Read my review here. Here’s a small taste of Steven Pinker’s forceful case for reframing where the world is today: “…although the world remains highly unequal, every region has been improving, and the worst-off parts of the world today are better off than the […]

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Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

One of my favorite bedtime stories as a kid was the story of Chicken Little. It’s a very old folk tale about a little chick who was hit on the head by a falling acorn. The chick believed the world was coming to an end, and set out to warn the King. “Despair springs eternal,” […]

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Hardiness and Resilience: When Giving In Can Give Us a Lift

When you experience failure, loss, or a serious setback do you see it as temporary or permanent? Is failure an event or who you are? Is it a learning or crushing experience? Does it traumatize you or become a springboard for growth? Confucius said, “our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising […]

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Just my Luck: Choice More Than Chance Determines Our Circumstance

Luckily, I caught Richard Wiseman in a radio interview late one night on my way home from the airport. When I got home, I immediately looked him up on the Internet and ordered his book. Wiseman is Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. He’s been […]

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Facing Reality: Are you a Rational Optimist or Unrealistic Pessimist?

A few years ago, I ran into an old colleague I hadn’t seen for a while. Our short conversation confirmed just why I hadn’t seen him in a while. I greeted him with, “Hey Phil. How’s it going?” His response was, “Oh, you know; same crap, different day.” He then proceeded to proudly pile up […]

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Don’t Get Dragged Down by all the Negative News: Life’s Better Than Ever

Our world has never been in better shape or more prosperous. But you’d never know it by reading the news. “A lot of people look at the news these days and think that the world is falling apart,”. Bill Gates says: “I have a different view. I think the world has never been better — […]

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No Whining, Wallowing, or Blamestorming

Recently our two-year old granddaughter couldn’t find her favorite toy character from her farm set. She was frantic. It was all she needed right then to make her life complete. Her mom and dad looked everywhere but couldn’t find it. Her dad offered the sage advice, “Mya, why don’t you focus on all the toys […]

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Beyond the Doom and Gloom: Over 65 Ways Our World Keeps Getting Better

We’re naturally wired to look for what’s wrong — or could go wrong — and overlook what’s right — or ignore the high likelihood that things will work out. We also live in a world where the dealers in disaster who can stoke our fears get the most attention. Videos of horrendous crimes or fake […]

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Stepping Up to Avoid Wallowing in the Swamp

The December 1 issue of Fortune magazine has an in-depth profile of Satya Nadalla, the new CEO of Microsoft entitled “The Man Who is Transforming Microsoft.” Writer, Andrew Nusca, was “on the road with Satya Nadella’s traveling rival show” during a recent whirlwind tour of Europe. During those busy few days Andrew gained insights into […]

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Keys to Strengthening Hardiness and Resilience

In Japan the Daruma Doll is a good luck charm with a rounded bottom. When knocked down, it bounces back upright. This ability to bounce back is a symbol of perseverance and good luck. The doll is modelled after Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk who founded Zen about 15 centuries ago. Legend has it he mediated […]

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Resilience, Positivity, and the Power of Leadership

I grew up in the small farming community of Milverton, Ontario, in Perth County just north of Stratford. Arden Barker was a farmer, local politician, and well-known community builder. His wife Helen was also very active in the community and wrote a weekly newspaper column filled with her wit, experiences, observations, and philosophies. Helen was […]

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Contagious Leadership: What Are You Spreading?

Martin Luther King, Jr., American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American civil rights movement once said: “In a real sense all life is inter-related. All persons are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what […]

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