5 Creative Ways To Make Your Resume Stand Out

You’re no ordinary candidate, so why settle for a yawner of a resume? Long gone are the days of fancy creamy vanilla paper as the go-to standard. Most resumes are emailed and viewed online. So ditch the old-school approach and leverage the latest technology to make your resume pop.

5 Ways to Make Your Resume Pop

1. Name Your Brand

Begin with few word branding statement that describes your unique brand. Define what makes you stand out as the go-to candidate. Sally Hogshead has a great TED Talk on how to be “fascinating” in a few words or less. If you want a more in-depth view, her book “How the World Sees You” is also a great resource.

2. Create an Infographic

There are few hot new FREE sites (some still in beta) that enable you to import your LinkedIn profile to create info-graphics and visual maps of your experiences and timelines. Visualize.me is super easy (I created my profile in about 20 minutes). I had to laugh, you can even get your “resume” printed on a tee-shirt (heck, you never know when that may be just the right gimic). To get uber-fancy you can use ResumeUp for a really robust infographic. To do it well takes a bit more of a time investment, but if I were in the job market I would go this route. Their online stuff is all free, but if you want to print it, you pay a nominal fee. If you want to use traditional infographic tools, this post gives some great advice on what to include.

3. Make Your LinkedIn Profile Sizzle

LinkedIn is still the first place most recruiters go. The good news is the sites come a long way in the last year. You can now upload video, podcasts, images and other examples of your work. I’ve taken advantage of a lot of this (all with their free service), if it helps as an example, click here.

4. Use Power Words

If all this sounds too sexy, and you want to stay old-school, at least use some power words to strengthen the pull. Jennifer Miller introduced me to this GREAT infographic from ZipRecruiter. They analyzed 3 million resumes and correlated them with managers ratings of “5 star.” Power words include: “experience”, “management,” “project.” Weak words such as “me” “myself” “need” “hard” and “learn” should be avoided.

5. Focus on RESULTS not actions

Whatever you do, don’t just have a list of jobs you’ve done. You wouldn’t believe how many resumes I see that still suffer from this number one no no. For more see 5 Questions Your Resume Must Answer and 15 Things You Should Never Put In a Cover Letter Cover Letter 

When MBWA Becomes Oh Crap Here They Come

Nothing could be easier than getting out amongst the troops, wandering around and listening, right? MBWA,or management by wandering around, is one of the truly great management techniques. So why do so many executives royally screw it up, leaving a path of fear and intimidation that takes local management months to recover? Most execs I know who fumble this easy move, start with good intentions: they want to be visible, to demonstrate commitment, to reinforce priorities, to inspect what they expect, and to be helpful. But their poor execution causes their noble  goals to backfire.

Why MBWA Becomes Oh Crap Here They Come (OCHTC)

1. The “Gotcha” Game

With the wrong tone and an imbalanced lens, all those “helpful pointers” feel more like “gotcha.” It’s great to point out what can be done better, along with stories and sharing of best practices, but be sure you’re also looking for the good news. I’ve seen many execs come through sweating all the small stuff that was “wrong” and completely overlooking the huge accomplishments of the team. Sure, they MAY remember to throw away the pizza box in the break room next time, but they’ll CERTAINLY remember that you didn’t even mention their significant sales wins. In some cultures the word on the street is that you “can’t ever have a good executive visit, the best you can do is not have a bad visit.” Trust me, if that’s the case, you’ll get better long-term results by staying in your office.

2. The Drive By

You come in long enough to make an appearance, but don’t spend time making any real connection. Such drive-bys feel like you’re checking off a to-do. Equally destructive is showing up, and heading to a nearby office to close the door and take calls. Wandering around takes time.

3. The High-Maintenance Prep

In anticipation the team runs around making everything just right. Even if you think you’re low maintenance, watch what your local team is doing to prepare. It sends a terrible message to the frontline when local management starts scurrying to “clean up the place” or order special food in advance of your visit. A clean work environment is important for the employees every day, not for the execs. I once had a Director apologize to me that he had not “had the rugs replaced in advance of my visit.” They were filthy and needed replacing, but not for me.

4. The Talking Tour

MBWA is about listening and learning. Sure it’s great to reinforce priorities, but be sure you’re really taking time to listen to ideas and concerns, and to ask what you can do to be most helpful. Listen well, take great notes, follow-up with the person who shared their idea.

A MBWA Secret Weapon

When I was a call center Director, I worked for a Senior VP who was strong, tough and introverted. Wandering around did not come naturally for her. But, she was a good leader who deeply understood the value and made it a point to spend quality time in the centers. So the morning before her visit, we went to each reps desk and color coded their cubes with helium balloons all representing something they had accomplished:  yellow was perfect attendance, red meant they had attained a degree or certification that year, white symbolized they were exceeding goals, etc. We even threw in a few personal ones, like having a baby. That way as she wandered around she had instant conversation starters. Her congratulatory remarks flowed easily into how they were accomplishing their work and where they needed the most help. Plus, the visit felt like an uplifting celebration of the team, not of making things just right for her.

MBWA is powerful and important. Done well, it makes all the difference in the world. Take the time to do it right.

The Best Way to Reduce Stress in Stupid Situations

While I was getting worked up at all the stupidity, my colleague always had the same response: “fascinating.”

He had a strange sense of calm, while my head was exploding. I knew he was as deeply invested in the scene as me, and I often wondered– I’ll admit with a bit of envy– what was going on. Finally, I blew “don’t you see how stupid this is? How can you just let this go?”

  • 6 VPs spending 3 hours working on fonts and “page turns” for the executive readout while the strategic work crept slowly along
  • A leader protecting her career at all costs, including at the expense of her team
  • Leaders packaging the results upwards to look one way, downwards to look another, neither of which exposed the reality of the situation

He shared his secret, which I’ve since applied to great gains in my professional and personal life. Begin with fascination.

If you just let yourself get worked up by the stupidity of scenes you think you can’t change, you’ll go crazy. You’ll internalize the stress until it makes you sick or those around you sick of you. But if you approach the stupidity with a sense of wonder: “this is fascinating… why would they, he, she act THAT way or make THAT decision? You slow down long enough to garner a deeper understanding. It leads you to ask better questions. All that negative energy then has some work to do.

You’d be surprised how far a little fascination can go to getting underneath and addressing the root cause of the problem.

Where can you begin with a sense of wonder and fascination?

6 Reasons Your Team Yearns For Authenticity

If you bring all of who you are to the leadership table, some people will hate your style. In fact, it’s likely that a few “important” people will not “like” you. Authenticity is intimidating, and scares those with the most to hide. Far easier to lead like everyone else and be groomed to fit a mold.

Similarly, letting people see who you are and hear what you really mean makes you vulnerable. Rejection of your idea stings. Rejection of some company line you’ve practiced and perfected feels much less personal.

But easy leadership doesn’t change the game.

If you won’t bring every ounce of who you are and what you have to give to your leadership, your team will know. And, they’ll follow your lead.

Your team will hold back who they are and what they have most to give. The cycle continues.

Your team needs you to be you. They yearn to experience the rare game-changing results that happen in a genuine environment of candor, deep respect, and trust.

The world’s future depends on growing more leaders with the confidence to audaciously bring all their gifts and ideas to the table.

6 Reasons Your Team Yearns for Authenticity

1. They’ve been screwed before

Oh, they have stories. Trust me. I hear them. Assume somewhere along the line they’ve felt betrayed. Even if it’s not at your company or even under your watch, once upon a time a leader has lied to them. Guards are up. They need a good guy to restore their trust in leadership. They need reassurance in action, not words.They’re not going to tell you the truth until they’re perfectly sure you’ve been doing the same… over and over.

Your team also desperately wants to know that the good guys can (and do) win. There’s no better gift you can give your team than leading from who you are toward head turning results.

2. You’re wasting YOUR energy

Keeping up appearances is an energy-sucking, never-ending vacuum of misery. Trying to lead like someone else, or spin the truth, will wear you down and make you cranky. When leaders spend time working to show up differently than who they are, to win the game and keep up a facade, they waste precious energy that could be invested in creating breakthrough vision, developing people, and working on the work.

3. You’re  wasting THEIR energy

If your team senses you’re playing a game, they’ll spend a lot of time working to figure out the rules. In fact, if you’ve got surface success, they’ll be taking notes to learn to play it too. All that contagious facade building pulls hearts and mind from the important mission at hand.

4.  You’re their lifeline

Particularly in a big organization, the immediate leader makes all the difference. You can’t outsource leadership, not even to your boss, or to HR. They want to hear the story from you, and they want to know you’re not reading talk-points crafted from someone else. If they can’t trust you to be genuine where will they turn? That answer may be really dangerous.

5. They want to be like you- maybe

Some folks on your team have serious aspirations to move up in the scene. But they don’t want to lose their souls in the process. They’re watching you to see how you handle the pressure. Do you stay true to who you are, or are you being groomed to be “just like THEM.”

6. They have important news to share

They’ve got ideas and solutions, but your team wants to ensure they’ll have a receptive audience. If you’re afraid to share with them, they’ll be reluctant to share with you.

5 Ways to Lead More Authentically

How would you answer the question:  Do most leaders lead with true authenticity? Sadly, if you’re like my MBA students, the majority of you will likely vote no. You’d share stories of strategic ambiguity, or leaders letting greed and stock price trump once solid values. One student shared, “I honestly think most leaders start out being authentic, but after a while with all the pressures it’s just too hard to maintain.” When everyone’s playing a guarded game, it’s hard to win if you’re the only one playing the vulnerability card. Easier to blend in and go with the flow.

So, what if I changed the question just slightly and asked: Do YOU lead with true authenticity? I imagine the percentages would shift in the favor of yes. But if we’re honest with ourselves, for most of us the true answer is  “unless.”

  • Unless the other guy’s playing games.
  • Unless I have to salute and tow the company line
  • Unless we have to make our fourth quarter earnings
  • Unless the truth will lead to employee disengagement
  • Unless my boss is around
  • Unless…

Most of us don’t get up in the morning looking to fake it. Authenticity breeches are seldom blatant acts of self-betrayal, but more likely minor shades of grey which we convince ourselves (often unconsciously) are okay.

What does it mean to be truly authentic? I’ve been asking that question of everyone I meet lately (my MBA student’s answers are cloud sourced in the pic above). Most definitions involve the word “being:” being genuine, being consistent, being transparent, being trustworthy. Being is such a richer word than doing.

Authenticity stems from who you are which manifests in what you do.

5 Ways to Lead More Authentically

Know Yourself:  Be constantly curious about your leadership and the impact you are making, both good and bad. Have a good understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Admit your weaknesses and how you are working to improve on them

Be Yourself : Be true to your leadership values and style. Avoid emulating someone else’s style to fit a certain mold. Strive for integration and consistency of who you are across various contexts (e.g. work, home, church)

Say What’s True:  Be trustworthy and honest. Do what you say. Don’t withhold information. Be willing to have the tough conversations.

Commit to the Cause:  Be committed to the mission at a deep level. If your heart’s not in it, consider your motives. Doing what’s right trumps any personal agenda.

Connect With Others:  Be genuinely interested in other people as humans, not just for what they can do to make your life easier. Make extra effort to connect at a deeper level up, down and sideways.

I’m conducting a quick authenticity poll if you would be willing to join the anonymous research click here.


Parents as Leaders: A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. July’s Festival is all about Parents as Leaders. Be sure to enter your email on the side bar to get our new free e-book “A Parent’s Guide to Leadership.” Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vixwerx for the great pic.

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” Mr. Fred Rogers

Being a Role Model

Alli Polin of Break the Frame shares Modeling Leadership Grows Future Leaders. We help our children grow their confidence, competence and creativity every time we let them explore, try and stretch. How are you modeling leadership? Follow Alli @AlliPolin

Eric Dingler of Whole Life Leadership brings back Thermostat or Thermometer? Helping Kids Feel The Leadership Climate. Parents need to challenge their kids to not just react to the leadership climate but to influence it. Ask your kids after school; “were you a thermostat or thermometer today? Follow Eric @EricDingler

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership contributes Mom’s Supervision Lessons. When Wally first became a boss, his primary role model for good supervision was his mother. Here’s what he learned from being her son. Follow Wally @WallyBock

Bob Whipple of the TrustAmbassador.com offers That’s Not Right. Here is an important lesson Bob’s mother taught him when he was little that saved him as a youth. Follow Bob @RWhipple

Bill Benoist of Leadership Heart Coaching shares The Legacy We Leave as Parents. Good or bad, there is no denying the influence we have on our children. As parents, we are all leaders. Follow Bill @LeadershipHeart

Finding Balance

Dawn Falcone of Dawn Falcone Lifestyles brings us Not Enough. As a professional organizer who helps busy working moms get the chaos and clutter in their lives under control, so their businesses run smoothly and they can be the patient moms they long to be. Dawn wrote a three part series featuring the three words/phrases she hears most often from her clients, “Not Enough, Overwhelmed and Too Much” with tips to cures for each. Follow Dawn @DawnFalcone

Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders Blog contributes Stop Swimming Upstream. Lisa shares why going with the flow and yielding allows us to realize greater gain with less effort! Follow Lisa @ThoughtfulLdrs

Learning from Our Children

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer Leadership shares What My Kids Taught Me About Inspiration and Execution. Tanveer shares a lesson learned from watching his daughters’ build sand castles, on what drives us to push forward to achieve the shared purpose that defines our organization. Follow Tanveer @TanveerNaseer

Tom Eakin of GoBoom Blog brings us Can You Fathom Your Thoughts Into One Meaningful System? H0w Tom’s 12-year old daughter helped him illustrate a learning point he was trying to make to her and her brother with a quote from the John Green book, The Fault In Our Stars. Follow Tom @goboomlife

Ways and Means

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on, that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” -Maya Angelou

Julie Winkle Giulioni of the  Julie Winkle Giulioni Blog offers Letting Go With Grace. Parenting and leadership involve times when it’s necessary to hold on… and others when it’s necessary to let go. Julie suggests that excessive attachments in today’s warp-speed world shape not only who we become – but what our organizations become. It poses the question: Could ‘holding on’ be holding us back? Follow Julie @Julie_WG

Matt McWilliams of MattMcWilliams.com brings us Give Me 3 Minutes a Day–And You’ll Raise World Changers. Declarations are powerful. Some of the top achievers and world changers across the globe use them and they even work on kids. Follow Matt @MattMcWilliams2

Julie Pierce of Empowered by Pierce offers Wise Advise From Leader Moms. Julie shares some of the best advice she’s received over the years as a leader mom. Follow Julie @Julie_Pierce

Jesse Stoner of the Jesse Lyn Stoner Blog shares How the Power of Vision Can Help Your Family & 4 Tips to Create One. According to statistics, nearly three quarters of students have consumed alcohol by the end of high school, and more than a third have done so by eighth grade, drug use is on the rise, and over 40% of teenagers report being bullied online. How can we protect our children? Clearly there are no easy answers. However, there are some things parents can do to create a strong foundation for your children, and one of the best places to start is to create a family vision. Follow Jesse @JesseLynStoner

John Hunter of the Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog brings us Encouraging Curiosity in Kids. Anytime a kid asks “why” it is an opportunity to teach and to encourage them to keep being curious; and curiosity is a key to building great leaders. Follow John @curiouscat_com

Jennifer V. Miller of The People Equation contributes Leadership Worry Strips Away Confidence. Jennifer reflects on her teen son’s independence and realizes her leadership mistake in trying to build his confidence. Follow Jennifer @JenniferVMiller

Guest Posts From Children

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” -Anne Frank

Sandhya Varadharajan followed up to my post on Leadership Books for Young Children by recommending Leadership Books for the Older Crowd

Sebastian Hurt brings us a piece from his younger days, “Lucky or Skillful”

FrontLine2014picmonkeyJared Herr also shares musings from his youth, Kermit the Frog as Leader? It’s Not Easy Leading Green Follow Jared @Jared_Herr

Ben Evans, LGL intern and Frontline Festival editor, shares his insights from work at the UUNO United Nations Conference. Follow Ben @JollyGoodMello

Thank you to all who contributed, if you missed this month, please be sure to submit for August in which our Festival will focus on Humor in the Workplace. Now accepting those submissions, Click Here to submit.



On Being an Entrepreneur Mom: The Inside Story

There’s no better picture to sum up this year’s entrepreneur mom journey. My kids are in it with me and I with them. Seb (8) is the self-declared Chief Marketing Officer (he loves to say CMO)….he tells everyone he meets about how I can help them become better leaders. Ben (19) is a bit more subtle, but is kicking beneath the surface getting it done as the LGL Summer Intern (be sure to tune in on Friday for the Frontline Festival for which he’s an integral part).  I don’t normally dedicate a whole post to a podcast Interview, but my interview with Mary Kathryn Johnson of Parent Entrepreneur summed up the story so well, I felt it would be useful for any working parent… not just entrepreneurs. Listen Here

Why the Pic Describes the Entrepreneurial Mom Journey.

This pic was taken just before the 3 of us sang a customized-lyrics-changed rendition of Sunrise Sunset for my parents 50th anniversary party this weekend. Here’s how the pic’s a metaphor for the journey.

  • It’s not easy (Seb’s broken arm)
  • Ben’s always helping.
  • It’s not elegant (I realized the new dress shirt didn’t fit over the cast, and in the mode of just about to give a party… hacked off the sleeve).  Real Simple had a solution if I had more than 3 minutes to Google.  Plus notice the stains on his face (lovely, I know… don’t tell Martha).
  • We didn’t have enough rehearsals.
  • Thank God for clutch players.
  • We worked as a team.
  • We made important and meaningful connection.
  • We listened and blended.
  • There was joy in the song, for the singers and for those we were hoping to touch.

Thanks for being on this journey as we work together to make a joyful noise.

Namaste. P.S. If you’re interested in leadership and parenting, you can also download our FREE ebook, A Parent’s Guide to Leadership from the sidebar. For more of our family’s extended shenanigans. hr-0487-519-762--0487519762016

5 Reasons to Lose a Battle- And How To Lose It With Grace

If I had to pick a side, I would have chosen hers. But picking sides was entirely beside the point.

The other guy’s heels were dug in deeper than skis sunk in a tree well of deep powder. No amount of convincing was going to change his mind. “It’s time to let it go.” I offered. “This battle is not worth winning.

“But I’m right, she insisted.”

That’s entirely possible. But the battle was weakening the relationship, and was making the project much less fun. When projects feel hard, they seldom blossom with creativity which is what we needed most. Plus the wasted energy was exhausting all of us.

Should the other, older and theoretically more mature guy have been the one to succumb? Perhaps. But he didn’t. Age isn’t necessarily a leadership competency.

And so I offer our collective wisdom from the scar tissue from this battle. I’m book marking this page as a reminder to myself as well. Battle losing is never handled.

5 Reasons to Lose a Battle

1. To maintain your dignity.

This may sound counterintuitive, but trust me, no one shows up at their very best when they’re spitting teeth mad. Even the ugly words that you’re saying on the inside ooze toxins from your pores.

2. To enhance your reputation

Others are watching how you handle the small battles. People respect (and look to follow) leaders who get the big picture and focus on the end game over minor irritations and disagreements.

3. To win the war

Getting mired down in the debate over the small stuff will drain the energy for what matters most.

4. You might be wrong

Just saying.

5. To preserve the relationship.

In long-term collaborations it’s almost always true that it’s more important to preserve the relationship rather than win on some minor point. Even if you’re majorly ticked off, consider the satellite relationships that are impacted by your disagreement.

How To Decide If a Battle’s Worth Losing

Members of our online community weighed in with some initial advice. I hope you’ll add yours.

Carey Green:

I find a simple question is helpful at times like this. ” Will my insistence on being right benefit or bless this person or advance our cause?” 

David Dye:

The phrase I use is “Do you want to be effective…or “right”?” As a leader, your team exists to achieve results. That, and the leaders you leave behind you, are the measures of success. More of than not, insistence on being ‘right’ prevents you from achieving either of those outcomes.

6 Things to Do When You Don't Have a Clue

Perhaps you convinced them you were ready, or maybe someone convinced you. Either way, you’re in a new job or staring at a new project and don’t have the slightest clue where to start. You feel stupid on the inside and you wonder how badly it’s showing on the outside. Everyone’s looking to you for direction. Now what?

A Story of Not Knowing

“I know one thing, that I know nothing”-Socrates

I recently conducted a workshop on trust and strategic partnership for a group of Nigerian leaders. On paper, this was right up my alley. Trust and authenticity is my gig. I’ve lived the world of strategic partnerships. But after a few minutes listening to their stories, I realized I didn’t have a clue about building trust in their world: 6pm curfews that caused premature closings of universities and businesses; corruption and bribes; lack of tracking and systems. I was not in a position to teach, but only to help in their exploration.

I confessed.

“I’ve never been to Africa. The trust concerns you’ve shared are deeper than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I can’t tell you what to do to fix these issues. But like you, I am an experienced business person who cares deeply about trust and knows something it. Like you, I am a parent who longs for a better future for our children. Like you, I want to make Nigeria better. I am humbled to be your guide today in this exploration.

We worked together to build a plan.

6 Things To Do When You Don’t Have a Clue

1. Chill

It’s likely that your panic is not showing as much as you think. Breathe. People will respect that you don’t have all the answers, but they won’t follow a basket case. Show up poised and confident.

2. Trust your gut

You likely know way more than you think. As Michael Hyatt suggests just doing the next right thing. You’re in the position for a reason, trust that it wasn’t an accident. Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts and make some bold moves as needed.

3. Admit what you don’t know and articulate what you do

Chances are they already know what you don’t know. Faking it will just reduce your credibility. Begin with confident humility. Admit what you don’t know, but reassure them with what you do bring to the game.

4. Surround yourself with trusted advisors

Somebody around there knows what they’re doing. And all those somebodies put together have an arsenal of the knowledge you need. Tapping into their expertise creates engagement and gets you out of the gate quickly.

5. Do your homework

Get as smart as you can as fast as you can. Research best practices. Study failures. Dig deep. Nothing beats experience, but if you don’t have much, leverage someone elses.

6. Look the part

This one’s not vital, but a bit like chicken soup, it can’t hurt. If you’re not feeling overwhelmingly confident at least look good. It just might increase your confidence.

The Biggest Networking Mistake

Sarah (not her real name) had just received a kick-in-the-gut career wake up call – the kind we all pray never happens. She had 60-days to find something new. Perhaps it was her fault, perhaps not. These situations are prickly. The grapevine was buzzing with rumors when what she needed was connections.

“Do you want me to take a look at your LinkedIn profile?” I offered. I didn’t want to overstep my bounds, but also felt compassion for an old colleague. Silence. “I don’t have one,” she admitted.

Not wanting to discourage, I tried another angle. “What professional contacts do you have outside the company?”

More silence. She had invested long and deep in her networking at work. She had mentors and sponsors, but such networks are tightly woven, and can unravel 27 times faster than they took to build.

Sarah was suffering from the networking mistake I see repeated over and over again across generations and industries: waiting to build a network until you “need it.”

There’s power in building your network without intention.

The Power of “Just Because” Networking

The most powerful networking tool is quite simple. Just show up and genuinely help everyone you can in as many circles as possible. Not because they can help you now, or even some day – but because you’re a human being and you have something to offer another human being. That’s it.

Call it karma, call it common sense. It works.

Yesterday, I received three calls out of the blue from folks I had helped, or connections of folks I had helped.

None of these relationships were started because I thought they could help me some day. On the surface, all of these loose ties had less “position” power than me.

As it turns out, two of the three will lead to cool opportunities that have the magical feeling of “falling from the sky.” The third was from an executive recruiter with an enormous offer that would have been highly attractive had I not just quit my day job to pursue my dream.

She had heard about me because good people know good people. I hadn’t talked to that good person who mentioned my name for years, and what I had done for her was very small. Guess who I referred that recruiter to? Yup, a good person who helps others just because.

JUST BECAUSE NETWORKINGTips For Just Because Networking

  • Treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect.
  • Accept all LinkedIn invitations (unless they’re really creepy: Side rant – LinkedIn is not a dating service).
  • Offer to help first.
  • Never ask for help on the first connection.
  • Plant bulbs of support everywhere. Just because you can.

Thanks to LGL community member Larry Coppenrath for creating the visual of today’s post.

The Most Dangerous Way to Measure Success

Only you know if you’re accomplishing who you set out to be. Stop looking around at silvery glimpses of other people’s lives and judging yourself. Trust me, you don’t know the whole story. We never can. Define success on your own terms and stick to it.

“A man should look for what is, and not for what he
thinks should be.”
~ Albert Einstein

Oh, there’s big inspiration in success and possibility, but be sure it resonates with your life strategy. It’s easy to measure a single dimension of success by trophies and other trappings. Great leaders and great human beings set their own benchmarks of success.

Laura’s Story

“I just love coming to the National Speakers Association convention, but I had to stop coming for a while.”

I was sure my new friend, Laura, (not her real name) was going to tell me about tight finances, a booked business calendar, or kid’s soccer schedules.

Instead Laura confided:

“Don’t get me wrong. The convention has always been amazing. The trouble is, I would be totally happy before I came. I loved my life. I had a strong business which I juggled well with the priority of raising my children. But then I would come to the convention and see how much everyone else was doing to build their speaking career, and I would get depressed thinking of all the things I should be doing.  For a while it was just easier to stay away.”

“How do you feel about your choices now?” I asked. Laura lit up:

“Fantastic, my kids are all good human beings doing well in the world. I was able to involve them in some of my travel as I built the business, and also to be around. I built a strong foundation for my career and now that the kids are older, I’m making more discretionary money which we’re using for big family vacations with our grown kids. They want to hang out with us. I feel really good about my choices. I have no regrets.”

We talked about motherhood and values, and raising children deliberately (and saving money for vacations). I couldn’t resist: “You might really enjoy my e-book on developing leadership in kids…it’s free.

“Want me to send you a copy?”

“No way! She replied.”

Now I was a bit puzzled, surely she would resonate.

Laura shared matter of factly:

“Every time I read a book like that I feel I SHOULD have written it, and it makes me sad.”

I imagine more than a few folks have told her she SHOULD write a book.The most dangerous “shoulds” were still lingering inside her.

The Power of Shoulds

Shoulds are powerful and dangerous. “Should haves” are an energy-sucking waste of time. Be sure your shoulds are your own. If they won’t shut up, turn your “should haves” into concrete plans.

6 Surprising Ways to Feel More Freedom at Work

You don’t need to win the lottery or quit your day job to experience a sense of freedom at work. I was recently interviewed about how “being an entrepreneur makes me feel independent

I answered joyfully. But the truth is, I’ve been making a lot of my own freedom in a corporate day job for the last 2 decades. Much freedom comes from getting clear on who you are and taking control over your corner of the world.

6 Ways to Feel Freedom at Work

  1. Butt Out – Not always, but sometimes. It’s easy to get sucked into someone else’s drama. I have a colleague who says, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” There’s huge freedom in that sentiment. Sure, if you’ve got something substantial to offer by all means engage, but just like more spectators to an accident, more is not always helpful. Free up your energy for something more productive.
  2. Establish Personal Boundaries – Knowing how far you’re willing to go will take a lot of stress out of each situation. Having a clearly established values, ethics and boundaries will help you feel more in control of decisions and makes it easier to let go of minor frustrations. It’s liberating to know who you are and to live by that code. You’ll be surprised how much people will respect you taking an occasional solid stand, if most of the time you’re supportive and helpful.
  3. Create Structure and Processes – The more you can establish routines and systems for every day activities, the more time you’ll have for experimentation and creative exploration of new ideas. Plus structure keeps you organized, and nothing will make your boss leave you alone than a well-organized approach.
  4. Speak Up: – Every time I take over a new team, I begin with the following words: “If something feels stupid, it probably is. Say something.” We then proceed to celebrate when someone outs some “stupidity (of course never actually using the “s” word. )“I’m just wondering if this really makes sense in the context of that.” I’m always amazed how many people feel strangely empowered by this basic invitation to speak the truth. If something feels stupid, speak up, and encourage your team to do the same.
  5. Build White Space Into Your Calendar – It’s tempting to jam your calendar to the brim with “productive” activity. When your brain is full, there’s no time for creative signals to get through. Build some deliberate time in to your day to step back and take the long view. If you’re in an hourly structured job where that’s impossible, find a way to carve out a few minutes of your personal time to really reflect on how you are doing your work and how you could be more impactful. It will pay off in the long run. Read more
  6. Create a Cultural Oasis – If you’re feeling frustrated by the culture of your organization, do what you can to create a cultural niche in your neck of the woods. Lead how you would like to be led. Engage your peers in creative ideas. Be the boss you wish you had. Encourage special projects, volunteer for new assignments. Read more here