Narrow Your Focus to Increase Your Impact


The trouble with many smart people is that they tend to say too much. As a result their message is lost in a fog of detail. What they don’t recognize is that less is better when selling an idea or positioning their product or service.

Someone once said that presenting an idea is like drilling for oil. If you don’t strike oil right away, STOP BORING.

Years ago I had a radio talk show in Los Angeles for over a decade. Listeners would call in with a wide range of life problems seeking some piece of helpful advice. I quickly realized that the audience would change to another station with the flick of a finger if they lost interest. As a result I learned to keep the topic succinct, aim for focus with the listeners, and set the expectation of getting one thing accomplished. Hence the show was named “The Next Step”. We have to realize that,

o  At best we remember 10% of what we hear

o  We live in a short-attention span self-centered generation

The solution to the attention and absorption challenge for any message is to

Narrow our focus to increase our impact

This involves surrendering the impulse to be all things to all people. We have to curb our fear of leaving important stuff out. What we don’t realize is that one thing said well and focussed on the customer has what psychologists call a “halo” effect. It generalizes to everything else.

I love the question Harry Beckwith asks in his classic book on marketing “Selling the Invisible”

Which terrifies service marketers the most:

A)  The suggestion that they must position their service?

B)  The shower scene in Psycho?

The correct answer is A.

Think of how Avis Car Rental leveraged it’s second place to Hertz in positioning a customer oriented message,

“We try harder”

I don’t know about you, but I will go most anywhere where the Company works hard on my behalf. 


What one distinctive thing differentiates you from all your competitors and gives the customer what they want?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Returning to Honesty

Is an honest politician an oxymoron? How about two thousand fabrications in 12 months?

Why is honesty so important if a lie will help you achieve your goals? 

With the need for fact checking in our political discourse, the appearance of business CEO’s before Senate committees to answer for illegal practices, and the advent of “Russiagate”, many long for uncompromising integrity in our leaders and society.

Here is my attempt to articulate what we all know intuitively about the nature of honest leaders? These persons have,

1. A transparency that includes accountability.

They do not seek to hide either their true intentions or character flaws. They also recognize the human propensity towards self-interest and accordingly build into their lives corrective measures like having peers who give them frank and uncompromising feedback.

2. An ability to be reflective.

Honesty demands that one step back from one’s public actions/image and reflect on one’s private self. We all have some propensity towards self-deception and confirmation bias. As a result, we need truth telling mirrors (frank and honest feedback). Here the goal is to correct for blind spots and rationalizations and realign our lives with true north values.

3. A life that serves others and not the self.

A person blinded by self-deception and who cannot tell the difference between a lie and the truth is essentially self-serving. However, an other-oriented leader recognizes the sacred nature of public trust, sees truth as the glue that holds civil society together, and recognizes that deception violates the very essence of democracy and decency. One cannot be a public servant and live a lie.

There is a saying from my African roots that if one points a finger at another, there are three fingers pointing back at you. So we can rant about dishonest politicians, unscrupulous business leaders, and those who have betrayed us over the years with their duplicitous behavior. However, the burning question is,

“How are we living out the exhortation of Shakespeare “ to thy own self be true”?

In so doing, we have a better chance at becoming radically honest leaders that have a chance at serving the greater good.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Quest for Hope in a Fearful world


Here are the New Year’s aspirations of a confirmed pessimist in search of hope. To confess, I come from a gene pool that leans towards mild depression. Consequently, when I face a seemingly insurmountable challenge or a negative forecast, my response is to slide into the darkness and maybe even wallow a bit in my pessimist hot tub! This is the time when I need to pull myself up and remind myself of three truths I’ve learned (in this long life of mine), which always turn me away from despair towards hope:

1.  Helplessness is learned

2.  Attitude is a choice

3.  Hope is a habit

My teacher for the last several years has been my wife Kris who seems to always find a way to turn a situation of “lemons” into lemonade. For example:

  • Shortly after we became a couple (decades ago now), we were told we could never afford a house in the San Francisco area. Her response? “Watch me!”
  • Some of our friends are preoccupied with disease (real, not imagined). Her response? “Adopt science-based healing practices but don’t invite the disease to take over your life by ruminating about it all the time”
  • Many today are rightly pessimistic about the political situation in our country. They become a part of the BMW club (Bitch, Moan, and Whine Club). My wife’s response? “Let’s refocus our efforts toward bringing positive change to our community, even if we cannot do it (right now) at the national level.”

So in considering my New Year’s resolution to be more positive and hopeful, here are three pointers on the way towards developing and sustaining a more positive disposition.

1.  Helplessness is learned

The other day on our walk with the dogs, I shared with a tourist we encountered on our path that we were having a La Nina-driven drought in New Mexico. He commented, cynically:

“Soon this area will become a hot desert like Arizona and the river that runs through your property will dry up”. 

Where did he learn this negative fatalistic response?

Researchers in psychology have studied the phenomena of learned helplessness as a habitual response that can lead to depression. People (initially dogs) were exposed in experiments to situations where they were trapped in a mildly painful environment. Initially they were able to escape the situation. However, when all exits were blocked for escape they passively adapted to the pain.

The antidote for learned helplessness is to learn new attitudes and behaviors that will likely produce positive change and to remember and practice old behaviors (like walking to improve mood) that have worked in the past.

Probably the most highly effective behavior of an optimistic person is the way he or she looks at life. Though we each have hard-wired dispositions, we can choose a hopeful, and more successful outlook, as discussed below.

2.  Attitude is a choice

When I find myself under sustained stress and I don’t take care for myself physically or spiritually, I can become grumpy and unnecessarily reactive. For example, when I want to sleep in after a restless night and our young dog starts whining to go out, my first response is to be annoyed and irritable. In so doing so, I allow a dark cloud to enter our home.

In recent months, I have been making the somewhat difficult choice not to react to unpleasant situations with negative comments. At dawn, when the dog predictably whines each morning to be let out, I remind myself to get up without outbreaks of complaining and rather, breathe, stay in the moment, and look out of the window to take in the glorious sunrise while I wait for the dog’s return. It has worked!

Attitude really IS a choice.

3.  Hope is a habit

Some people (like my wife) have a sunny disposition and a bias towards hope (This fact at times really bugs me because I have to spend so much effort re-focusing on the positive). So, since I am not a naturally hopeful person, I have to work on developing hope as a habit.

Here’s how.

o Read less of the bad news when I wake up each day. Starting one’s day by dwelling on national and domestic disasters, workplace toxicity (lately, harassment), and the seeming dearth of values in our society (e.g. civility and respect for truth in our government) is a real downer! So I have chosen not to read the news in the morning. Instead, I am starting my day with a

o Daily meditation. My mind is like a barrel-full of noisy dysfunctional monkeys. It chatters all the time with thoughts de jour centered on worry and ego concerns (“Why am I not getting the respect I think I deserve?” (is this my pathetic sense of white male entitlement?). I don’t make these thoughts disappear but just observe them with compassion and detachment.

Also, as a general practice in my daily life, I

o Avoid Danny and Debby Downer. Neither is good for reinforcing my negative predispositions! I was once told, “surround yourself with truth-telling and supportive friends and not a caseload of negative people.” When it comes to others’ negativity, I tell myself “I am too old for this crap.” This reminder shifts my attention towards people who live and generate hope.

o Focus on making a contribution to others. There is a saying that goes something like this: “A person too wrapped up in themselves makes a small and miserable package.” One of the biggest satisfactions of my last year has been the volunteer work I do in my small community. In these modest but constant contributions, the truth of the quote, “It is better to give than to receive” has come home to me. I am also reminded that hope is sometimes “caught”, not “taught”. You “catch it” from other people–their positive energy, aspirations, sharing, and playfulness. And, especially, the everyday satisfaction of a tight, extraordinary community in northern New Mexico simply enjoying being together.

We can’t deny that there is scary stuff out there in our larger communities and the world. We also cannot dodge unavoidable calamities. Nor can we always prevent our hair from being set on fire from daily tweets and disturbing news headlines.


We can practice being present in the Now, which almost always seems to bring peace, and develop the disciplines of choosing and learning how to hope.

Wishing all of you a Hopeful New Year!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Slump – Now What?



Sometimes a slump can be an opportunity for us to reflect on the course of our life and make new and creative decisions.

However when you are in the doldrums, your job security is under threat, or an important relationship is going through a rocky phase, how can this slump be an advantage? Equating a slump with a blessing seems at the least to be an oxymoron and at the most a lack of empathy. (Of course there are great tragedies that strike all of us and grieving cannot be hurried or rationalized as something good).

However, the real downer is when people are on your back about your tough times and tell you to “snap out” of your dark mood or look on the bright side of things.

We live in a culture that denigrates and devalues the darker moods and difficult periods. Unless one lives in California life is hardly one endless summer (forgetting of course the fires and earthquakes). Down periods can be a typical part of the rhythm of life.

Does the winter of our discontent really mean that something is radically wrong with us?

Not necessarily so.

These cold and dark periods can be the harbinger of spring since the downturn of events may be

  • ·     A signal from our inner self to make a course correction
  • ·     An opportunity to reconnect with the drive of our inner values.
  • ·     An inner prompting that we need to change paths.

During such times we have the opportunity to revisit questions like,

What is the central driving force in our lives?

What puts a spring in our step and song in our heart?

What nourishes us at the depth of our being?

Maybe we have been distracted from such life-affirming questions by our busyness. We could also be stalling on the call for necessary change because we fear the risks of exploring new horizons. The comfortable has become our death trap.

So what would you have to do to make your slump a springboard to a new and enriched expression of your life?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Perfection of Imperfection – A Lesson from Japan


Cover picture of book by James and Sandra Crowley

It seems as though in the USA we want everything to be perfect. We do this in part to feel good about our work or person. However, the perfect home, body, project, and relationship is impossible in the real world.

Everything has its flaws and that fact alone can potentially enhance the quality of our lives.

The perfection of imperfection came to mind as I recently was introduced to the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi Sabi.

The Japanese people have a preference and penchant for things imperfect.

Take the celebration of the full moon. Instead of the ceremony being on the day of the actual full moon, it is held three days before the full moon appears. Authors James and Sandra Crowley, in their book on Wabi Sabi writes of the Japanese

“They find the imperfect not only more alluring but also more poignant. The Japanese believe that the evocative shapes of emerging buds have more ability to touch peoples’ hearts than the glory of the spring tree in full bloom.”


 “Wabi Sabi is not found in nature’s moments of grandeur or majesty. It is found in meekness.”

 The adoption of the Japanese appreciation of imperfection can teach us top,

  1. Lower our disappointment level

When my son was a toddler, he refused to accept a cookie if it was broken in any way. Now while we may accept such an behavior in a small child, in the adult world perfection is a creation of our mind. We always fall short of our ideal. As we aim at excellence we need to factor in imperfection. This helps us recalibrate our life when barriers and problems arise. It is the old “when life presents you with lemons, make lemonade”.. When we see imperfection as the norm, it sets the stage for our,

  1. Imagination to be stimulated

An incomplete moon can remind us that life presents us with partial knowledge. And incompleteness presents the possibility of new vistas ahead. As the Crowleys write,

“The perfection of the full moon leaves no room for the imagination”

The ambiguity of saying “I don’t know” is a more honest response than a person, in their arrogance, claiming complete knowledge. This “not knowing” is not a failure on our part. Rather, it presents the potential for us to push ahead into new territory. It could be the beginning of us

  • Making an honest statement about the limitations of our knowledge
  • Recognizing the mystery contained in the “big” questions we encounter
  • Experiencing the true nature of humility
  • Knowing the power of the “what if’s” in life.

At the point of admitting partial knowledge, we could be experiencing the ultimate paradox in life where,

 The end of our knowing may be the beginning of new creative adventures.

  1. Find inner peace

Wabi sabi also helps us not freak out when we have everything from a less than perfect body to business plan. We have all experienced the inner turmoil when things did not turn out as expected. But finding beauty and meaning in incompleteness can be the path of peace.

The Crowleys write,

“Wabi sabi is for those who are at peace with themselves and want to feel the peace of the natural world around them at all times.”

The Japanese aesthetic of the perfection of imperfection has the potential of restoring harmony, balance, peace, and our experience of the true nature of beauty. We also learn that these experiences cannot be fully explained but can be totally experienced. It also teaches us about the value of asymmetry rather than living with the illusion that we have “all our ducks in a row”. In other words

We discover the liberation of not having to be in control


 How could you find Wabi sabi helpful in your world?



Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Aim for Imperfection – A Letter to a Perfectionist




Dear (name of perfectionist)

This is a tough letter for me to write because we have talked about your perfectionism so many times. However, I want to start on a compassionate note. I sense how difficult it is for you to accept anything less than perfection in your life. I also know how you grew up in a very punitive family where you came to believe that unless you were perfect you would be severely criticized. However, in your present situation you,

Have difficulty in meeting deadlines due to the fact that you seek to have 100% of the data before you make a decision. 

o Are so hard on yourself like when you forgot to attend an important meeting. I continually heard you say things like “How could I be so stupid to miss that meeting?”

The advice I have often given like “Get it done and not perfect” and “see yourself as breaking glass (a messy process)” seems to have fallen on deaf ears. However, things have reached the point where your boss is at his wits end with your missed deadlines and your life-partner throws up his hands in frustration.

I want to share some resources that I, a recovering perfectionist, have found to be useful.

1.  Explore the roots of your perfectionism

I found it very helpful to gain deeper insights about my own condition to consult with an experienced psychotherapist. She did not judge me, fully understood my feelings, and gave me a safe environment to explore some of my own painful memories of the past. I came to see that the “script” given to me by my family and culture (e.g. you are not loveable if you are not perfect”) had absolutely nothing to do with what I really was. This discovery of the nature of the true self enabled me to slowly,

2.  Use the perceived failures as learning trials 

I know of a person who struggled with shyness and who avoided social situations. He was challenged to try the following at his next dance. “Go to the dance and ask at least 20 women to dance before you give up and leave.” Person number 16 accepted his invitation to dance and disproved his belief “nobody wants to dance with me”. It is always important not to have an “all or nothing” perspective on change. In regards to accepting failure as a part of life it is important to see that,

3.  Not everything you do has to be a magnum opus

I remember the time when you rally freaked out when you could not get an important memo to your boss exactly right. Do you think that she really cared that you dotted every i and crossed every t? Perfectionists have to learn not to catastrophize every perceived shortcoming. Now if you were developing a new parachute of course you would want no errors in your design. People’s lives would be at stake. Knowing when to be perfect and when to do it “good enough for government work” is a key point of wisdom we all need to acquire.

4.  Back off and regroup when progress is frustrated

I love what Maya Angelou said, “If there is pain in the path ahead of you and pain in the path behind you, change paths”. The act of finding a detour in the face of obstacles is not quitting but finding other options. Perfectionism, on the other hand, is a compulsive attitude of “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” It keeps driving ahead even though the behavior may be counter productive.

There are no magic formulas, quick fixes, or easy ways out of your perfectionistic torture chamber. But rest assured, changes are possible.

All the best,

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Practice Makes Perfect?

Recently I sat next to a surgeon on the plane who asked me what I did. When I told him I worked as an executive coach and consultant he proclaimed, “I could do that easily”.

I must confess I had to suppress an impulse to say to the surgeon, “I can carve a turkey at Thanksgiving. I will assist in your next organ transplant”

It takes training, talent, and many hours of practice to master any complex skill like learning a language, improving one’s empathy, or becoming proficient in a profession. That fact alone should divest us of any instant credentialing hopes or sudden expert status.

Back to the need for practice. We have all heard the saying “practice makes perfect”. But that is not really true.

Practice only makes permanent.

It depends what we practice.

We could be repeating the same mistakes over and over and all that happens is that the error becomes hardwired into our muscle memory.

Most leadership skills come from deliberate practice and seldom just from any innate talent or skill. Even though there are natural in-born talents like a great speaking voice or intellectual capabilities these also need to be nurtured and developed with training.

Here are the principles that line the route to excellence.

 Principle #1

Practice success.

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “Never mistake activity for achievement” and “You may be repeating the wrong moves”. Hence, you need to identify the best practices for the skill you seek to develop and make them an integral part of your learning.

 Lesson: Learn best practices for the skill you want to develop and practice them over and over.

Principle #2

The enemy of practice is a lack of humility.

 “To practice isn’t to declare I’m bad. To practice is to declare, I can be better.” – Doug Lemov.

The key to humility is recognizing that we did not devise the best practice ourselves. Our success usually stands on the shoulders of others.

 Lesson:  Discover the teachable spirit of the true student.

Principle #3

Practice the two or three things that will produce the greatest change.

A golf professional told a friend of mine after watching him practice for 30 minutes, “There are dozens of things I could tell you to do but I will coach you on two of them that will produce a significant change in your game”.

 Lesson: Try the 80/20 rule. 20% of your effort should produce an 80% improvement in your skill.

Principle #4

Practice success until it becomes second nature.

Repeat the success based behaviors over and over until they become encoded in your muscle memory. Eventually they become second nature for you to perform at a higher level.

Studies of players who miss shots under pressure and in a clutch demonstrate that they over think their shots. They need to let their encoded memories do the work.

Lesson: Get your mind out of the way.

Principle #5

Learning is best when it occurs in steady small steps.

It is too demoralizing to aim at 100% success right away. It is also important not to stop practicing when you feel you know your skill. This is how we all make the shift from being good at something to being great.

 Lesson: Become a lifelong learner.

So go ahead and reach for excellence. However, realize that it takes many hours of focused practice to become an overnight success.

And with that we say to the surgeon on my plane,

 “Dream on but stick to what you know!”


If you enjoyed my post, why not subscribe to my feed and join a growing number of worldwide readers?

Go to top right-hand corner of page to email Subscription

Follow me on Twitter @firedupleaders

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When Heroes Fall


Hardly a day goes by without us hearing of some hero that crashed and burned. With the tsunami of sexual harassment stories in recent days my first response to the reported incidents about Senator Al Franken’s  was, “OMG, not him. How could that be?”

What do we do when our heroes fall?

Instead of descending into disillusionment and becoming cynical about people (or ourselves) how can we learn from such painful experiences?

One big lesson I have learned is to beware of idealizing others. Nobody can sustain perpetual success. Take any Linkedin bio and try and imagine these stellar people without failure. Such reality testing keeps us from myth making.

Why is it so important to recognize that even the greatest amongst us have warts? Maybe because we

Unconsciously refuse to see such people for what they really are

Cover up for personal flaws 

Want to escape into the world of superhero saviors? 

Fuel the myth about our heroes because we avoid looking at their and our  feet of clay.

 But what are we to do with our own lapses in good judgment?

We can start by

  • Embracing the ever-present shadow self

The ego will always rear its ugly head as it seeks self-centered gratification. However, instead of descending into despair when we act on the prompting of our shadow, we need to learn to respond with self-deprecating humor, mercy, and forgiveness. We also need to face the consequences of our irresponsible acts.

  • Refusing to get into “bad mind” thinking

Whenever we stumble and fall in our relationships and career we can listen to the bad mind that tells us that we “don’t have what it takes”. I remember a neighbor telling me two decades ago after my painful divorce that maybe I was not the “marrying type.“ If I had accepted that “truth” about myself I would have fallen into a mental trap that would have excluded me from the happiest years of my life.

  • Learning to tap into our own inner wisdom 

We all have a wise inner self that is not always audible during tough times. What I have learned is that this heart knowledge speaks in a very soft and sometimes inaudible voice. Finding silent places in our selves, nature, and solitude helps us access this wisdom that whispers life-affirming truths to us. This voice also speaks to the possibility of redemption. It is also the most powerful antidote to all the naysayers and doomsday-thinkers that repeat the word “impossible”  to us.

  • Finding a balance between trusting others and expecting them to be human

The quest for balance involves that we take our heroes and ourselves with a “pinch of salt”. We recognize that no one leader or group has all of the answers we need all the time. Everyone crashes and burns and has feet of clay. However, that reality should not make us abandon our ideals that spur us towards our continued pursuit of excellence and expecting the best from our leaders.

Heroes fall for many reasons. At times it of their own doing (e.g. doping in sports).  But, in the end, it is how they recover from the fall that counts.

Recently at the Olympics in the men’s 10,000 meter race, Great Britain’s Farah Mo tripped and fell near the middle of the race. He got up, shook off the accident, and with the encouragement of his friend went on to a stunning victory.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Power of Intention


“You are what your deepest desire is. As is your desire, so is your intention” – Ancient Vedic Text The Upanishads

What is it that you intend more than anything else in your life right now? And what is the driving force behind that intention? Perhaps you have a difficult time articulating your intention; however, you find that you:

Cannot stop thinking about a particular idea

Have had an “aha” moment that keeps haunting you

Feel inspired by others who have traveled a similar path  

Want something so much that you can almost taste it

Have reached a tipping point where you are driven to act now

Whatever your intention, the driving force behind it may be very important, even life transforming. According to Deepak Chopra the goal of all goals with intention is “fulfillment at the spiritual level that we call happiness or joy or love”.

When our intentions are conceived at the core of the true self or soul, then a path reveals itself in ways that surprise everyone, including us. The universe also seems to conspire with us to make that intention a reality.

Let me use a personal story. Most of you know by now that we have moved our lives to Northern New Mexico. What drove such a move? Quite honestly, we really cannot say for sure. Though the explanations for major life changes typically go far deeper than surface explanations (such as seeking a lower cost of living or enjoying an excellent climate), they may not be immediately apparent.

The gestation period for our move took four years of vacationing in New Mexico and slowly falling in love with the stunning landscape. Having lived here two years now, we are still continuing to uncover how the move has deepened our experience of this period of our life.

For each step in our process, we had to ask ourselves tough questions:

1.  Intend – The persistent idea of moving to NM came in the form of a nagging question: “Why, as we end each vacation in New Mexico, do we drag our feet when it comes time to go home?”

2.  Risk – Although we had been living part-time in Mexico, we eventually moved the remainder of our belongings from CA to Mexico with the intention of living there full-time. Consequently, we asked ourselves: “Is it wise to disrupt our lives and move again so quickly? 

3.  Act – Putting together a plan to move back to the States was straightforward because we had each made international moves before. And we found an ideal property for sale in New Mexico. But what about acting on that plan? We were stalled initially by questioning naysayers: “Houses here in Mexico take 2-4 years to sell. How on earth can you expect to sell your house here before you move back there?” In our case, we moved forward on our expectation while ignoring the statistics. And we did sell the Mexican house before the one in New Mexico closed.

Remember the ancient mariners who out of curiosity and a sense of adventure felt compelled to sail into the unknown (Intend)? They launched out on the journey despite the naysayers, as well as their own fears that the world was flat and they could fall off its edge! (Risk). Their dreams and intentions were so strong that they overcame their fears and moved forward with their vision. As they unfurled their sails (Act) and started the hard work of crossing the oceans, they were eventually rewarded with the discovery of new continents.

What is your soul-driven intention right now?

What would be the cost of not acting on this prompting?

What are your first action steps?

I will leave you with the words of the French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint- Exupery:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

Start with your inchoate and powerful yearning. Honor your inner prompting. Be courageous. Find a way to make it happen.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Inspire Others? Yes You Can

What does a leader do to inspire others? And how can you, as a leader, awaken this positive and powerful source of human potential?

Inspiration is derived from two Latin words, in and spirare, translated as “to breathe in”. It is, perhaps, best described as a force that, when experienced or “breathed in”, changes the way we see the world and ourselves.

When inspiration strikes, we may experience the mundane or everyday as suddenly infused with possibilities. Ideas spill forth freely while obstacles seem to fall away. We feel empowered, exhilarated, and able to work long hours while remaining highly focused on our goals.

Inspiration is a highly positive force that can transform the lives of the inspired and, especially, those they touch. It can drive us to accomplish goals and reach levels of achievement we previously did not think possible.

Inspiration. Not Just for “Big” Personalities

Maybe to you, the capacity to become inspired by others ideas or accomplishments may seem like a real possibility while, at the same time, the ability to inspire others may seem very much out of reach. 

This discrepancy may be accounted for, in part, by a commonly held view that inspirational leaders are those rare individuals who use the power of their charismatic and compelling personalities to mobilize large audiences into action. Most of us do not see ourselves as having this gift.

However, though a positive, powerful personality may be very effective in inspiring others, it is not the only way.

The rest of us, leaders who may be more introverted and/or better at working in smaller groups, also have the power to inspire.

So, if the influence of a big personality is not the only way to cause people in an organization to say, “Yes! I will follow your lead. I am so excited by this new idea! I will do everything within my power to make this plan a success,” what is it?

The key ingredient to inspiring others is to tap into and awaken the inspirational source within each person. 

This is accomplished by learning to identify and engage five, typically latent, human sources that (individually or in combination) function to inspire us. These include,

  • Making a Contribution,
  • Tapping into Character
  • Engaging the Imagination
  • Demonstrating Empathy
  • Expecting the Best.

How then do you determine what another’s inspirational source actually is?

Actually the process is quite simple. It involves three steps.

  1. I ask a person to tell me a story about a leader that inspired them at some point in his/her life? As I probe a little deeper as the “why?” that person was inspiring it turns out, in some way or another, that the inspirational leader had one of the five characteristics mentioned above.
  2. The next step is to ask them “To you, what is a great day at work?” or “What are you the most proud of at work?” Answers to such questions will give you a sense of what is inspiring to that person.
  3. The final step in finding ways to inspire people at work is to match what inspires them with their actual work assignments.

All of us can help an individual identify his/her unique source and leverage it in the service of a team goal. Hence the beginnings of an engaged and inspired team.

In closing, we leave you with the words of Patanjali, an Indian sage and mystic from 3 B.C., who we think captured the experience of inspiration beautifully when he said:

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds;

Your mind transcends limitations,

Your consciousness expands in every direction,

And you find yourself in a new, great
and wonderful world.

Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment