What Experts are Saying About Career Advice: May Frontline Festival

For May’s Frontline Festival, I asked experts around the world to share their best career advice. It’s amazing how consistent the ideas are across cultures and contexts. Thanks to all the contributors. This great graphic below is from Joy and Tom Gurthrie, Vizwerx Group. Follow Joy @VizwerxGroup

careers rarely just about the job copy

Holding Career Conversations

Jennifer V. Miller of The People Equation brings us Career Conversations: Leaders, Are You Getting It Right. Jennifer encourages leaders to give some thought to career conversations they have with their team. Too little thought and planning can lead to not only an unproductive meeting, but potential loss of a star performer. Follow Jennifer @JenniferVMiller.

James Ryan of Soft Skills For Hard Jobs brings us The Simplest Way To Advance Your Career – Talk Conversations about career advancement between employers and the employees don’t happen as often as they should. It’s not that difficult, just talk. Follow Ryan @jryan48.

Critical Career Skills

early career successDan McCarthy of Great Leadership brings us a timeless list of great advice in his post 15 Timeless Work Habits For Career Success. Let’s say one of your kids just graduated college and they are about to start their first real job. If they ask you how to be successful at work – what would you tell them? Or, you’re asked to be a mentor to a high potential up and comer. They ask you for your best advice on how to get ahead. Follow Dan @greatleadership.

Steve Broe of My Career Impact brings us Five Ways To Get Your Boss To Call You A Leader. Act like a leader in these five ways and your boss will come to value your largest potential contribution to the enterprise. Follow Steve @DrSteveBroe.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ at Smart SenseAbilities offers Career Success: Are You Rocking With These 13 People Skills. People skills make your occupational expertise understandable and valuable to others. Think yours are good enough to lead, collaborate, and bring you career success? Try these 13 tips from The People Skills Coach™ to take you even further. Follow Kate @KateNasser.

Frank Sonnenberg of Frank Sonnenberg Online, offers What Do Tough Times Say About You?. It’s one thing to have a bad day, yet another to fall on tough times. These are the times that show what you’re made of. What do tough times say about you? Follow Frank @FSonnenberg

Willy Steiner of the Coach’s Corner shares Managing Change For Your Number One Client – You. Take an in depth look at how change impacts us, and how to use these perspectives to assist us in working through the inevitable changes that will impact our jobs and lives. Follow Willy @coachforexecs.

Ali Anani, one of the most frequent commenters in our LGL community, shares his Slideshare model, Phenomena: Race Strategy. This is a four blocks-based strategy, the acronym of which is RACE. Great concepts to build improve the performance of your team or your career. Follow Ali @Alinanani15.

Jeff Essenhaus of The Faithful Pacesetters offers Finding The Diamonds. This blog post looks back to Samuel (Prophet and Judge) to learn how current day leaders can find and develop future leaders. Samuel’s key warning as he appointed King’s was to find leaders that are able to hold themselves accountable to the people. Follow Jeff @JeffJayMiller.

Bill Benoist of Leadership Heart Coaching brings us Interviewing Tip: Like My Music. Great practical advice on how to nail your next interview. Follow Bill @leadershipheart.

Career Advancement

David Dye of Trailblaze offers 7 Warning Signs You Should Not Lead. Are you up for a promotion? David shares seven reasons you should consider NOT taking the job…or else do some serious reflection before you do. And if you’re already there, see if any of these warning signs apply to you – #5 gets all of us. Follow David @davidmdye.

Lisa Kohn of the Thoughtful Leaders Blog writes on a similar theme in her post Should You Be A Manager. She shares necessary traits and talents that great managers possess. The good news – these talents and traits can be developed if companies invest in their would-be managers with coaching and developmental plans. Follow Lisa @ThoughtfulLdrs.

Mark Miller of Great Leaders Serve shares Is Your Leadership Career Stalled. This blog takes a look at why careers stall and a few questions you can ask yourself to get your career back in gear and moving forward again. Follow Mark @LeadersServe.

Working on Yourself

warmatnight.jpgJulie Winkle Giulioni of juliewinklegiulioni.com offers Growth: It’s No Longer Optional. In today’s hyper-competitive environment, growth is no longer optional; it’s non-negotiable.Follow Julie @juliewg.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership shares The Examined Life. Socrates said that “the un-examined life is not worth living.” Here are some resources to help with your examination. Follow Wally @wallybock.

Chantal Bechervaise of Take It Personel-ly shares Seek Criticism In Order To Improve Yourself. If you are not seeking criticism then you are not stretching yourself and are not looking for ways to improve. Criticism can help you develop skills that are lacking or improve upon your strong points. Follow Chantal @CBechervaise.

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire-CS   shares Feeling The Pain & Doing It Anyway. It takes courage to work on you. But the best leaders will feel the pain and move forward to become great leaders. Follow Mary Jo @mjasmus.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding offers Growth Doesn’t Just Happen and 5 Tips For Changing That On A Budget. Yes it is possible to be heavily invested in growing yourself and those you serve – even if the training budget has dried up and blown away. Botom Line: Growing or not is a choice. Follow Chery @GianaConsulting.

Julie Pierce of Empowered By Pierce asks us How Will You Invest in Your Leadership This Year? Follow Julie @julie_pierce.

New to the festival, Steve Borek of End Game Business, shares How Did You Get Into Coaching. Steve shares his personal journey and advice for people who feel like they’ve hit a dead-end and are ready for a new challenge. Follow Steve @SteveBorek.

Michelle Pallas of Blog & Fireside Chat reminds us to Seek Advice, Listen & Reflect – But Do What’s Right For You. Allow time and energy to explore. Play helps us craft a vision and realize dreams. Visualize your future, otherwise you may get caught up in someone else’s vision. That may be ok, but choose deliberately. Follow Michelle @MichellePallas.

Matt McWilliams of MattMcWilliams.com brings us the challenging post I Can’t Afford To Lose This Job. Have you ever worked in an environment so toxic, you just knew you had to get out, but couldn’t because you have no network? This post shows You what to do. Follow Matt @MattMcWilliams2.

 June’s Frontline Festival is all about change and transformation. If you want to be a part, submit your post by clicking here.

23 Great Thoughts On Leadership Development: A Frontline Festival

I’m delighted to present the September edition of the Frontline Festival. This month’s focus: Leadership Development. I encourage you to read the insights and share your perspectives. Namaste.

Leadership Development

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference offers, You Are Born to Be Brave: How Do You Sustain It. “To be an effective leader, we need to understand where our bravery comes from and what empowers it so that we can lead with purpose and solve problems with the right actions.” Amen.

Julie Winkle Giuliani of juliewinklegiulani.com shares Everything I Needed to Know About Leadership, I Learned When My Kids Entered Kindergarten. So great that we get to relive these important lessons with our kids. I must say, I’m learning a lot from second grade and freshman year in college too.

Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak shares his post How Peter Drucker Mentored. The best point: “Accountability requires a volunteer.”

Jesse Lynn Stoner, Seapoint Center, shares The Space Between Closely Supervising and Delegating. She shares practical advice for leading in the space between closely supervising that can be too much, and delegating which can be too little. Fantastic read for frontline leaders.

Dan McCarthy, of Great Leadership shares his recent post 10 Succession Planning Best Practices. For a practical guide to implementing leadership development and succession planning programs check out his ebook as well.

David M. Dye of Trail Blaze brings us 18 Truths You Really Can’t Avoid if You Want to Stay Relevant, Effective, and Connected. Leaders who avoid landing in the dust-bin of history do one thing consistently: they learn. David provides 18 principles that will help you both learn and grow as a leader as well as ensure your team remains relevant no matter what happens.

Lolly Daskal of Lead From Within, brings us The Wisdom of Insecurities. As leaders, when we are honest about our insecurities we become vulnerable in our state of development. Attention to our own experiences can provide insights into the ways we can grow.

Matt McWilliams of MattMcWilliams.com shares You Are Not a Natural Leader. “There is no such thing as a natural leader. Great leaders are great by choice.” So, agree. Leadership is never handled.

Pete Friedes brings his Lead Change Group post, 16 Beliefs Held By Effective People Managers. Your personal beliefs can enhance or limit your effectiveness as a manager. Here’s a checklist. How are you doing?

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding shares What’s Outside Your Comfort Zone. I love her list of small ways we can begin pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones.

Dan Forbes of Lead With Giants shares an important post about developing your leadership authenticity, 5 Words that Changed the US Army and Leadership.

Leaders cross our paths every day, many of whom go unnoticed. This post Leaders, Leaders Everywhere Every Day, by Robyn McLeod of Chatsworth Consulting Group shares what to look for – the traits and ways of being – to find the leaders in your midst who are having a positive impact on your employees and your organization.

Joan Kofodimos of Teleos Consulting shares How Hardship Creates Leaders. So many young leaders aspire to an unbroken chain of “successes.” But it’s actually hardship that more powerfully builds wisdom in leaders. What does hardship teach leaders, and how can you best survive and thrive as a leader when these hardships inevitably occur?

Blair Glaser of Blair Glaser wins the award for best title, Three & A Half Words That Will Make You An Exceptional Lover & Leader.

Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group, LLC share their art, Shopping for Leadership Development.

Kate Nasser of katenasser.com brings us Leadership People Skills: 5 Essentials to Spark Team Agility. My favorite, “untie the nots”.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership shares Becoming a Great Leader is Up to You. If you want to become a great leader, you have to take responsibility for your own development.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog, shares Practical Ways to Respect People. Leading people effectively requires more than authority. Change has to start from the top. You need to understand people (and organizations as systems) in order to take effective action as a leader.

Leigh Steere shares her clever Lead Change Group post, 10 Management Lessons From Harry Potter. Need a break from your diet of business books? Consider some management wisdom from Albus Dumbledore and the Potter cast of characters.

Frank Sonnenberg of Frank Sonnenberg Online shares, Attention Leaders We Need to Talk. For more about Frank, read Lolly Daskal’s interview with Frank in the Huffington Post.

New to the Frontline Festival

Kimunya Mugo of Lead By Choice shares his powerful experience of personal growth in his post, Rise Up Titans. My favorite point, “leadership is complementary, not competitive.”

Jarie Bolander of enduranceleader.com shares 4 Proven Methods To Encourage Others To Step Up & Lead. My personal favorite #3, “Ask others to encourage them.”

Chantal Bechervaise of Take it Personel-ly shares her post Seek Criticism In Order To Improve Yourself. I love her examples of practical questions to ask if you really want constructive feedback.

Call For Submissions

Have a post you’d like included in an upcoming Frontline Festival? Contact me at letsgrowleaders@gmail.com for more information.

October – Vision and Values
November – Gratitude
December – Gifts

60 Reasons Leaders Stop Learning

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
~ Henry Ford

Competent, lazy leaders are dangerous.

  • “Why fix something that’s working?”
  • “I was promoted to this position for a reason.”
  • “I’ve seen this movie before.”

Beware of highly skilled, non-learning leaders.

I Already Know How To Swim

This summer my son, Sebastian, refused to take swimming lessons. Why? Because he “already knows how to swim.” Well, technically, I suppose that’s true. And if he were to fall off a dock, I’d want him to believe it.

REAL leaders inspire confidence while exposing growth opportunities

60 Reasons Leaders Stop Learning

This week, to kick off our last leg of the REAL model, Learning, I’ve been asking leaders across many contexts why leaders stop learning. Here’s the top 60. Don’t fall into these traps. Be deliberate in your learning. If you’re already a great leader, read more closely. Leadership is never handled.

Leaders stop learning when they…

LISTENING

  1. Stop listening (#1 by a landslide)
  2. Stop doing something with what they hear
  3. Have closed minds
  4. Allow talking to become more important than listening
  5. PURPOSE

  6. No longer connect with the purpose (#2 answer)
  7. Forget WHY they are doing
  8. Become complacent
  9. Think they’ve accomplished their goal
  10. EGO

  11. Get distracted by their own desires or success
  12. Have their own agenda
  13. Let ego get in the way
  14. Think they have all the answers
  15. Have only “past tense” conversations with themselves
  16. Have seen it all before
  17. Are not vulnerable
  18. Create an appearance of being omniscient
  19. Are insecure
  20. Assume they’ve learned everything there is to learn
  21. Stop focusing outward
  22. Believe they’re the accomplishment
  23. PASSION

  24. Lose their passion
  25. Lose their flow
  26. Become complacent
  27. No longer love what they do
  28. Lost sight of their dreams and goals
  29. Don’t feel energized and inspired
  30. Lose their passion to motivate and influence others
  31. Feel irrelevant
  32. Stop caring
  33. Lose interest
  34. Become disengaged
  35. FAILURE

  36. Are afraid to fail
  37. Seldom fail
  38. Stop failing
  39. Success becomes more important than growth (my personal favorite)
  40. Are afraid to develop new skills
  41. Are afraid to take risks
  42. Stop believing in their ability to grow
  43. STRESS

  44. Are stressed
  45. Are marginalized
  46. Are exhausted
  47. Are comfortable
  48. QUESTIONS

  49. Stop being inquisitive
  50. Stop asking “dumb” questions
  51. No longer encourage feedback and ideas
  52. CHALLENGE

  53. Fail to connect the dots between where they are and where they want to be
  54. Stop challenging themselves and their team
  55. Can’t measure progress
  56. CHANGE

  57. Stop being creative in their leadership approach
  58. Become resistant to change
  59. Assume they’ve learned everything there is to learn
  60. Aren’t open to possibility
  61. EMPOWERMENT

  62. Are disempowered
  63. Tasks become more important than people
  64. Believe success comes from control
  65. TEAMWORK

  66. Stop believing in teamwork
  67. Stop developing their team
  68. BONUS

  69. Are dead
  70. Stop breathing
  71. Your turn. Leaders stop learning when__________.

Never stop learning.

Real leadership

This post is the first in a series on the 4th branch of the REAL model. Join the conversation, enter your email address to join our interactive, growing leadership community.

Forgive and Refresh: Returning to The Leader You “Meant to Be”

Today, Rosh Hashanah, marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year. Although I am not Jewish, I am intrigued by the concepts surrounding this holiday, particularly the ritual of teshuva – a time to forgive and seek forgiveness.

When making teshuva, people reflect on the year and consider the people from whom they need forgiveness and then go about making things right. The concept offers spiritual complexities and beliefs that may be deeply meaningful for some readers, and disturbing for others.

So I invite readers of all faiths and beliefs to join me in exploring the concept of teshuva more pragmatically and from a leadership point of view.

What is Teshuva?

According to Rabbi Shraga Simmons, teshuva is dry cleaning for the soul:

“Teshuva literally means return. When we do teshuva, we examine our ways, identify those areas where we are losing ground, and return to our own previous state of spiritual purity.”

In his collection, Eyes Remade for Wonder, Rabbi Lawrence Kushner explains how this tradition gives people a chance to reflect on what they “meant to be”.

Teshuva, the act of returning to whom you meant to be, can change who we were. It cannot change what we did, but it can change the meaning of what we did. In so doing, it can change the future.

Don’t make teshuva because it will make some pain go away. Make teshuva because it will send you back to who you were, change it into who you meant to be, and in so doing change you into whom you still might become.

Obviously, we cannot undo the past. What is done is done. But what we do now about what did then, while not altering the past deed itself, can place it in a new context of meaning.

For example, we may have injured someone with a thoughtless remark long ago. Now we not only acknowledge, regret and repudiate what we did, we devote ourselves to repairing the damage.

Forgiveness for Leaders

In thinking of my own leadership journey and reflecting on my last year, I think of all the times I could have:

  • been more patient
  • said things in a different way
  • asked more questions
  • not freaked out
  • taken on more of the burden
  • paid a bit more attention to someone in need
  • listened more intently
  • been more available
  • responded more quickly
  • thought twice before speaking
  • provided more recognition
  • included more people

From whom do you need forgiveness?
How will you?

Who needs you to forgive them?
How will you?

For what do you need to forgive yourself?
How will you?

What is it that you need to “just let go”?
How will you?

Forgive and Refresh: Returning to The Leader You "Meant to Be"

Today, Rosh Hashanah, marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year. Although I am not Jewish, I am intrigued by the concepts surrounding this holiday, particularly the ritual of teshuva – a time to forgive and seek forgiveness.

When making teshuva, people reflect on the year and consider the people from whom they need forgiveness and then go about making things right. The concept offers spiritual complexities and beliefs that may be deeply meaningful for some readers, and disturbing for others.

So I invite readers of all faiths and beliefs to join me in exploring the concept of teshuva more pragmatically and from a leadership point of view.

What is Teshuva?

According to Rabbi Shraga Simmons, teshuva is dry cleaning for the soul:

“Teshuva literally means return. When we do teshuva, we examine our ways, identify those areas where we are losing ground, and return to our own previous state of spiritual purity.”

In his collection, Eyes Remade for Wonder, Rabbi Lawrence Kushner explains how this tradition gives people a chance to reflect on what they “meant to be”.

Teshuva, the act of returning to whom you meant to be, can change who we were. It cannot change what we did, but it can change the meaning of what we did. In so doing, it can change the future.

Don’t make teshuva because it will make some pain go away. Make teshuva because it will send you back to who you were, change it into who you meant to be, and in so doing change you into whom you still might become.

Obviously, we cannot undo the past. What is done is done. But what we do now about what did then, while not altering the past deed itself, can place it in a new context of meaning.

For example, we may have injured someone with a thoughtless remark long ago. Now we not only acknowledge, regret and repudiate what we did, we devote ourselves to repairing the damage.

Forgiveness for Leaders

In thinking of my own leadership journey and reflecting on my last year, I think of all the times I could have:

  • been more patient
  • said things in a different way
  • asked more questions
  • not freaked out
  • taken on more of the burden
  • paid a bit more attention to someone in need
  • listened more intently
  • been more available
  • responded more quickly
  • thought twice before speaking
  • provided more recognition
  • included more people

From whom do you need forgiveness?
How will you?

Who needs you to forgive them?
How will you?

For what do you need to forgive yourself?
How will you?

What is it that you need to “just let go”?
How will you?

Humility Matters: 9 Ways Confident Leaders Remain Humble

We want to follow people with confidence, charisma and a strong sense of direction. Confidence inspires, attracts, excites and ignites. We think, “they sure do seem to know what they’re doing” And yet, I have observed that confidence, without humility, can be dangerous. I have seen it significantly limit a leader’s effectiveness. They stay their course, but may miss important input. People may follow, but not with their full spirit. Truly confident leaders are secure enough to embrace and share their humility. In the long run, their humility makes them stronger.

“What the world needs now is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.”
~Oscar Levant

Michael Carroll describes the “talent of humility,” in his book The Mindful Leader. He shares that when leaders understand they are part of a much bigger scene that is not fully within their control, they are free to show up more human. It’s from that humility, that they can confidently show up to do the best work possible. They offer more of their whole selves to the moment.

“Humility is how we express our delight– how we appreciate the simple pleasures and great joys. And equally, humility is how we open to life’s inconveniences and devastating tragedies. When we are humble, no experience is beneath us, no colleague is unworthy, no moment does not merit our full attention. Because we are humble, we do not pick and chose– savoring only the tasty parts of life and leaving the rest for others. We are wiling to experience the entire situation directly and work with every detail.”

I have been observing the leaders I admire who seem to striving for confident humility. Here’s 9 things I’m picking up. Please share your thoughts on the 10th.

9 Ways Confident Leaders Express Humility

  1. Understand they don’t have all the answers– and search for more
  2. Attract those who will tell the truth– and be able to hear them
  3. Reflect on their own leadership– and seek out change as needed
  4. Read about other approaches– and adjust
  5. Seek out mentors– from all levels
  6. Share more about themselves and create connections
  7. Seek to learn about the people they work with– and see them as people
  8. Try out new behaviors and ask for feedback
  9. Take stands against the politically correct choice
  10. ??? (please share your thoughts)

Saturday Salutation: Spirited Warrior

I first really met this spirited warrior, Matt on a (yoga) Mat. Our arms and spirits intertwined as we breathed through warrior poses. That was when I began to understand his powerful and joyful heart and spirit.

Oh sure, we had been working together at church on our “Quest” before that, me as advisor and he as “Quester” trying to figure as much of “it” out as we could. “It” being what we believed. about God, and values, and life. And what he would share about those beliefs with our congregations.

The real deal is, he made a permanent impression on my spiritual journey.

Matt lives with full-on joy. At every minute it oozes from his spirit. His muscles don’t always listen to his spirit, but he never says “I can’t. If he needs help, he asks for just enough, but not an ounce more than is vital.

There is much to be learned from a man like that.

If you attend any of his high-school drama productions, he is lighting up the stage with full on animation, full on spirit giving everything he has to that moment.

I asked him about that joy, “I think that because I am able to do so much more than before, I do not give up”

I think that’s what makes him so wise

‘I will tell anyone to not stop, do whatever you want no matter what/who may stand in your way.”

Amen and Namaste.

Mentoring in Circles

In my earlier post, Don’t Get a Mentor, I talked about my preference for finding a mentor organically rather than waiting for formal programs. On the other hand, throughout the years, my favorite formal programs have always been in the form of circles.

These are groups with a leader as guide and a small group of people learning together. I have experience with this in 2 contexts: (1) as a formal HR program and (2) as skip level development for my own teams. Both informal, with lots of options for customization.

HR Program

In this context we paired execs with cross-functional groups of leaders learning together. This structure helped to create a space for natural relationships to occur and if someone did not necessarily click with their mentor, they might develop a cool relationship with one or more of their peers. We did all this in-house, at very low-cost. We gave the groups tools, but also lots of latitude to do what worked for them. Each group was given an action learning project (a real problem to solve) which worked quite well.

My internet research shows that there are a lot of companies offering support for this online these days. I would love to hear comments from anyone using these programs and the success that they have had.

With My Own Team

Over the years, I have had a lot of fun running mentoring circles in my own teams. I do this as a skip level experience, giving me an opportunity to get to know 8-10 high potential managers by working together. I always start with teaching them about “elevator speeches”, and having them create one. Glass Elevators: Why Elevator Speeches Matter.

We talk about the business and we all share the challenges we are having and share best practices. The fun begins when we take field trips to struggling areas of the business and offer support. We also do a project together to give back to the business. I have found that these circles (called various names, usually “academies” or “leagues”), are a great way for me and my team to share our vision, work on work, and really get to know the managers in a deeper way. An added win is having a direct report involved with this as part of their leadership experience. I have seen a good track record of successful promotions coming out of these scenes.

Of course, some would argue it’s not “mentoring” if it is your own chain of command. Perhaps.

Please share your stories of mentoring circles. I would love to learn more.

Is Tom Sawyer Slowing You Down?

I recently went to see my sister and her family in a fantastic performance of Big River, the musical based on Huckleberry Finn performed by the Adams County School of Musical Theater in Gettysburg, PA.

I was struck by the scene where Tom and Huck are making plans to free Jim, their friend (and recently captured runaway slave) from captivity. Huck has a solid and easy plan. Tom convinces him they need to spice it up.

“I should HOPE we can find a way more complicated than THAT, Huck Finn That’s more like it. It’s real mysterious and troublesome and good. But I am sure we can can find a way twice as long. There ain’t no hurry.I have huge respect for his approach. He believes that “It’s hard enough to live your own life and you never know the full context”.
The truth is all of my siblings and all of his siblings know if you need advice, just tell your story to Dad, and look at what his face says. He can’t really hide his pride or lack of enthusiasm.Let’s keep looking around.”

The scene is funny because of the total absurdity. And yet, I couldn’t help reflecting on how frequently I (and those around me) do just that. Instead of going with our instincts to the easy solution, we build in unnecessary complexity.

My most painful memory of over complication was a long time ago in grad school. I spent many sleepless nights pouring over reams of data, lots of time preparing the presentation, and writing and stakeholdering only to defend a premise that a committee member said was “either trivial or obvious.”

Of course I was doing what I had to do, as was he. I graduated, we both rolled on.

In hindsight, it was not trivial, but I would give a solid vote at this stage of the game for obvious.

So, years later I still find similar scenes. How do we cut through quickly to do what needs to be done with out the over analysis or dramatization. How much time and money is there to save if we just get real more quickly?

6 Signs Sawyer’s Involved

  • You don’t have a clear VISION, and spend too much time working on peripheral stuff
  • You don’t have ALIGNMENT, so it takes too long for a path to emerge
  • You’ve got plenty of DATA, but you keep looking for more and more
  • You wait too long to include the RIGHT PEOPLE
  • You over-include the WRONG PEOPLE
  • You work on “exciting” and “mysterious” PRESENTATIONS, when a simple discussion would do
So when things are getting to complex, try Hucking it up.

Dad Says: Best Advice From YOUR Dads

In the spirit of Fathers Day, my son Ben (17) and I set out to collect as much fatherly advice as we could in a week. We asked everyone we knew or ran into friends, work, school, church, airports, restaurants, and random encounters “what’s the best advice you ever got from your dad?”

The question also became a conversation piece in a wide variety of contexts and our whole family got involved. We had people talking about this in team-builders, men’s breakfasts, church meetings, fire stations, summer camps, executive dinners, knitting groups and through our social networks. One friend got so engaged in the process he collected responses from 4 generations of family.

Sebastian (6) also got into the game, taking his own notes “be a taim plare (be a team player)” and “folo yor hirt (follow your heart).”

Ben and Mom’s Top Picks

  1. Don’t listen to your father (Karin’s Dad, from his Dad, MD)
  2. Have faith– but there is no RIGHT faith (Ben’s friend, Matthew who collected 4 generations of advice, MA)
  3. Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance (Sean, our waiter, CA)

We received hundreds of responses from 5 countries.

The folks we talked to fell into 3 clusters:

  • the eager to engage

About two third of the folks we asked were excited to engage, and had compelling and interesting stories that came along with their advice. A few got choked up, as did we more than once in the process

  • those who preferred not to talk

MANY others had almost the opposite reaction. In these cases our questions were answered with silence or a quick attempt to change the subject. This was the most troubling and surprising part of this process

  • and “gee, my dad didn’t SAY a lot but showed a lot in his DOING

Our favorite was from Magesh in India “he once helped a poor child in the area by paying for him to have a heart operation. I sure learned a lot from him.”

“Sorry Ben. This is one that I can’t contribute to. Not many words were passed from my Dad to me that would fall into your category.
The only thing that I can share is, don’t let it happen to you- always talk to your kids and encourage them without shouting or threatening.
Love you guy”.

So when Dads DO talk what do they say?

Top Topics (and some good -or fun- examples)

Tried and True (19%)

“Do unto others”

“Don’t sweat the small stuff”

“Measure twice, cut once”

School & Knowledge (14%)

“If you don’t ask, you won’t know”

“Girls are just as good in math as boys”

“Never listen to the damn doctor”

How to Be and Improve (11%)

 ” Du kannst dich drehen und wenden wie du willst, der Arsch bleibt immer hinten” ( you can turn around as much as you want, the ass always stays in back)

“Figure out what people need and give it to them”

“Names are important. Really important. Never bluff. Ask again”

“As you know, my parents escaped from Vietnam to come to America. The one advice that my father gave me that stays with me is Ask yourself what you would do if you were not afraid My parents taught me to not let fear stop you, but rather move you.”

Dreams, Inspiration and Spirituality (11%)

“Believe in yourself and continue to inspire others the way you inspire me”

“Put your effort and time into the things you love doing”

“Talent is handy, it’s not essential”

Integrity and Respect (10%)

“Strive to always tell the truth, regardless of the consequences”

“Don’t worry about what others say if you are doing it for the right reasons”

“Be honest, open and upfront about anything and everything. You may not be liked today, however you will be respected tomorrow.

Relationships and Dating (9%)

“Girls like to be kissed”

“If you want your wife to be pretty, you’d better clean your plate. When you leave bits of food all over your plate, that’s what your wife’s face will look like.”

“Marry this one”

Family (8%)

“What did your mother say?”

(If I spoke rudely) “Mom is your mother, but she is my wife don’t forget that”

“Find something specific about your daughter to like every day. Let her know you found it”

Sports (7%)

“Don’t throw like a girl”

“Whenever possible, throw strikes”

“When in doubt, grab a glove and go out back”

The Basics: Finances, Food and Drink (6%)

“Cheese and crackers and a beer make a nice snack”

“Don’t complain about your weight while eating a snickers bar”

“Never walk over a penny”

Cars and Driving (5%)

“Don’t date a man with bald tires on his car”

“Always remember where you parked your car”

“Turn your head when you change lanes”

Thanks, Dads. Happy Fathers Day.

Namaste,

Karin and Ben

Please let us know your Dad’s best advice

Felons, Leopards, Spots and Feedback: A Short Story of Missed Opportunity

Last night I accidentally had dinner with an old college friend. It was one of those fun chance meetings which quickly leads to a run down of every mutual acquaintance and what they are up to. He shared a story that got me thinking about feedback, and my responsibility to give it.

The Story of Missed Feedback

He began, ” and Joe (not his real name) is a convicted felon.”

“What! Story, please.”

Joe is a bright, talented guy who quickly became a successful businessman. My interpretation of the story is that his white-collar crime was not an oversight or an accident, but a substantial breach of integrity motivated by greed and vengeance.

I looked at my friend, “I am embarrassed and sad to say, that I’m not shocked.”

So why wasn’t I startled by this news? In my interactions with Joe there were times when things just didn’t feel right in the way he treated his relationships or stories that just didn’t stick together. At this point, the details are fuzzy, but I do remember thinking, “I should give him some feedback.”

I never did.

Why hadn’t I?

Was I afraid? Worried it “wasn’t my place?” Worried I would lose the friendship?

What if I had?

What if others had in the 20 years between then and now?

What if friends and colleagues had called this leopard’s’ spots as they saw them emerge-when the stakes were low. What if he had more ticked off people calling his bluff along the way? Would he have failed sooner and softer? Or, perhaps they did. I will never know.

What is our responsibility to give feedback and hold up mirrors for our friends early in the game?

Early calls: Discovering You Love to Do

One of my favorite parts of being a mom is watching my kids discover what they love to do. The other day, Seb (6), looked at me with an epiphany. “Mom, when I am talking and everyone is listening to what I have to say, my heart feels happy, and I feel totally in control of myself. My life feels good and easy.” Yikes. He was hearing the ringing of some early calls.

“Enter each day with the expectation that the happenings of the day may contain a clandestine message addressed to you personally. Expect omens, epiphanies, causal blessings, and teachers who unknowingly speak to your condition. Expect that through the right lens, all our encounters will appear full of thunderbolts and instructions; every bush will be a burning bush”
~ Sam Keen, Hymns to an Unknown God

The truth is, he is right. He has a natural gift for speaking, and people light him up. I am so glad he is paying attention.

I love to talk with adults that seem that happy and engaged in their work. It’s fun to ask them when and how they “knew” what they wanted to do. It always leads to fantastic conversation, and people who are jazzed about their work are even more jazzed to talk about why.

I keep a running list of themes I hear from folks who are in love with their work. Here are a few.

  • It’s okay to not have found your calling, be patient
  • Create space and time for reflection
  • Listen carefully to your heart
  • Build a strong network and community of support
  • Take some risks
  • Don’t discount it because it feels too simple; it may feel easy because you have a gift
  • One thing leads to another, pay attention to signs along the way
  • Know that it will be hard, involve sacrifice, and come with its own junk
  • Be grateful for the journey

Are you doing what you love? How did you know this was what you wanted to do?

What advice do you have for those in search of.