’18… Lessons from the Links

It’s the start of another year and if we are going to play ’18 at our best we need a few mental pictures to help us start. For me, while I’m not an avid golfer, playing 18 immediately brought the sport to my mind.

So what are the lessons we can pull from Golf to have ’18 be our best year ever? (Let’s go Par 5!)

1. The game is mental, first. If your mind is not in the right space, you will never be fully present, be able to fully concentrate, and be in the right state of mind to achieve success. The disruptions and distractions of a cluttered mind, chaotically focusing on everything else but the next shot, is a recipe for failure.

Action points:

Where are your thoughts? Where is your ‘Head Space’? How’s your EQ (Emotional Intelligence)?

  • Clear your mind of all the clutter by writing it all down on paper.
  • Clearly define your desired end state. (What do you want to happen and by when?)
    • Par won’t cut it – we can’t make ’18 the best while settling for status quo.
  • Work on your EQ: Self-awareness and Self-Management.
    • What are the reinforcing thoughts of a champion? (Think on these things rather than the negative, defeating self-talk.)

2. Play YOUR game. All golfers have strengths and struggles within their game. Some are better in their long game – as they ‘tee-up’ the first shot, they can rip it. But their intermediate or short game suffers (They have trouble finishing). Others struggle with using their woods but are killer with their irons and on the green.

Action points:

Where are your strengths? Where are your struggles? How can you play to your strengths?

  • Take time to learn your strengths, your approach. What parts of the game are you great?
  • Identify areas of your game that you want to improve and work on those AND while you are working on them, whom can you link up with that is strong where you struggle?
    • Business allows us to play “Best-Ball” which play into one of my Fullerisms: “Lead where you are strong, Team where you are weak!”

3. The next shot. Speaking of the next shot, that has to be a significant focus. We study the course, layout our plan, know the landscape we will be facing. We prepare for the entire course BUT the only shot we can make is THE. NEXT. SHOT. You can’t play 18 all at once. You play 18, one hole at time, and even more than that – one stroke at a time. Worrying about the next hole or the difficult part coming up can ruin THIS shot and you can only play this shot from where it lays. Where are you now? (What is your lie?)

Action points:

Where does your ball lie? What is the best next shot?

  • You can’t play someone else’s lie. You can only play your own.
    • You are going to get in the rough. You will have to play from ‘less than ideal’ circumstances. Get over that and get ready to take the next shot.
  • You have options, consider all.
    • Where is the pin? (Situational Analysis)
      • Can I aim for that? Or do I need to get to a better place where I can make a better shot?
    • Which is the best club to use? For me, for now, in this situation?
      • Again, from where I am right now, what is the best – ‘Next Shot’?
    • What does my Caddy or coach think? Can I get an outside opinion?
  • TAKE. THE. SHOT. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take AND there is a time limit in professional play.
    • Remember to focus on EQ (Self right first).
    • Trust in your training and do what you know how to do.
      • You will play like you practice.
        • Practice makes permanent. You won’t get better by repeating poor performance. You will reinforce bad habits. Practice the right things, the right ways, so that when it comes time, you’ll have the right muscle memory.
        • Spend time working your way out of difficult circumstances and ‘normalize’ to tough situations. The goal is to not get there in the first place but if you find yourself in a tough spot – it helps tremendously to have been there before and have practiced multiple ways to get yourself out of a jam.

4. Character Matters. You can find yourself in a rough spot and want to cheat. DON’T. Golf is the only sport where it is normal to call a penalty on yourself. When keeping score, the most important aspect is keeping your self-respect while keeping score. To win at a game and fail at life is a shame. We have all fallen short – we all need life ‘mulligans’ AND, having said that, they should be the exception not the rule.

Action points:

What are my Values? My non-negotiables?

  • Determine your values before you get into potentially compromising situations.
  • Stay out of areas of vulnerability.
  • Make your values known – loud and proud – as a defense mechanism, a first wall of accountability.
  • Am I playing life in such a way that honors those that have played before me and sets the standard for those that will follow?

5. Who you play with matters. There are two sides to this point. First, we are more likely to become more like those with whom we spend time. If you want to elevate your game, elevate those around you. Second, the game is best played with great friends. Life is lived best when lived with others that bring the best out of us.

Action points:

Who is in your group? With whom am I paired?

  • Surround yourself with ‘A+’ players and work like crazy to be worthy of being in their group.
    • Can you find a Mentor? Mastermind group? Colleagues? Coach?
    • Surround yourself with people of Growth – personally and professionally.

Attitude isn’t everything but it’s pretty darn close!

  • Love what you do and who you do it with

OK – Let’s drain this putt and head for the clubhouse!

For 2018, let’s have a blast – let’s enjoy the game that we are in and enjoy the people around us. Line out what you want out of the 2018 course. Know yourself, your mental state, your EQ, and your skillset. Practice your craft. Even from the rough spots! Don’t worry about all 18 holes and the 80-100 strokes it’s going to take to get there – focus on self, par won’t cut it, focus on the NEXT shot, and give it all you’ve got!

May the winds be fair and the greens be favorable!

Maturity and Leadership is Ownership

In the pursuit of ‘Maturity’ for 2017, one of the first places to start is maturing the thought processes – maturing the mind, the beliefs.

Why is this important?

Beliefs Drive Behaviors

When companies bring us in to start the culture shift, our conversation turns to:

“Build them:

  • from What?”
  • into What?”

Often, the conversation turns to the need to have leaders at every level that embrace the ownership mindset (as opposed to the passive or victim mindset).

There are many reasons for an organization to have a passive, victim mindset but we will save that blog for another day!

As we start to initiate change, here’s my secret sauce: We start having development sessions and discussions that lead to permission and application. HOWEVER, I have a disclaimer:

The workforce uses what we teach as a lens to judge the quality of leaders within the organization.

The process can expose poor leadership by teaching excellence. If titled leaders at the various levels aren’t willing and ready to lead in the way we teach, please don’t bring us in – we will only educate your people to hate you!

From an organizational standpoint, what will you let your people own? How are they taught to think? Are they developed, equipped, then empowered? Dumbed down to a mindless drone? Or just tossed in and expected to figure it out as they sink or swim?

Beliefs are built within an environment. Conversations and experiences shape individual beliefs. The individual’s beliefs combine to become the collective, which becomes the culture.

{The podcast for this week is geared to the individual, if you’d like to have a conversation about shifting the organizational mindset, please reach out for a discussion.}

Owning the mindset

Let’s look at the difference between an immature and mature mindset:


Blames others

Victim mindset


Passes the buck (abdicate)

Success is external (outside my control)

It can’t, I can’t, never be, always been, why try?


Admits their contributing actions

Ownership mindset


The buck stops here (responsible)

Success is internal (beliefs, actions, outcomes)

I can, we can, let’s do it! Let’s get started.

If we were studying the game film of our lives, we would start to see our tendencies. A mature mindset, an ownership mindset, asks:

  • What were my actions?
  • What are my tendencies? (Beliefs? Behaviors?)

Rather than externalize control – let’s work to internalize control. There is always something you can do, some action you can take, to improve the outcome.

If you feel your voice isn’t being heard: Work on increasing your influence.

If you are working for a bad boss: Learn how to lead up and negotiate operating space.

If you are under resourced: Find a way (pool resources, offer an internship, do something!)

There may be that voice in your mind right now that is telling you that I don’t understand your situation and that you can’t and here’s the list of 25 reasons why….

Which side of the list above does that fall under?

Can I encourage you to consider the mature, ownership mindset?

Your present is just the starting point. Plug in your desired destination and work with others to map out the moves – the GPS routing – that can find a way to get you where you want to go. It may not happen overnight but the next move can!

You will re-route, there will be twists and turns along the way. It’s OK; It’s all part of the journey

How about a few 1-liners to get you going? I like 1-liners because it helps my mind hold on and they are easy to repeat to counteract unproductive thinking

Nothing is perfect the first time.

Everything worthwhile takes effort and struggle.

If it were easy, everyone would do it!

The struggle is Victory being birthed!

Adversity reveals character.

We make the journey AND The journey makes us.

Mature the mind, OWN your destiny.

Own the Mission, own the mindset, own the methods, make the moves!

For more on this topic, click the mic to check out the full podcast. Have a great week!

How do you know when dreams are just a dream?

I received the following message yesterday from an old friend and thought it would be great to share this conversation with you, as well.

So I’ve read your posts, looked at your website, and watched your sample videos. If you had to pick a starting point for someone who has a dream, but has spent most of their life being “against” themselves, what would you tell them? How do you know if it really IS just a dream?

L – thanks for the message – great to hear from you.  You inspired today’s post.

I use the term Dream -AND it hit me after seeing your message that I don’t like how unattainable it sounds… will it just be a figment of my imagination?


So – I’m changing my phrasing to: Dream big! and then set it up as a “Burled Arch Destiny”!


For those that have read my ‘Iditarod Leadership’ book or followed the Iditarod – you know the term ‘Burled Arch’ – as it is the finish line and the term ‘Destiny’ that comes from the same word as Destination.  Destiny is not ‘Fate’ (whatever happens to me – that’s my Destiny) – no – Destiny is a decided beforehand Destination that I am determined to reach!

With ‘Burled Arch Destiny” – all we need is the map, the skill and the will to get there!

Maps are creatable – Skill is grow-able…. only one question left – do you have the WILL?

So what I would tell people is this: “Dream Big!  AND then learn the steps that it is going to take to get you there.”

  Where are you now along this trail?
  Why do you want this Destiny?
  What will you need to Learn?
  What skills will you need to develop?
  What role will others play in helping you reach this Burled Arch?
  What are measurable steps along the way?
  What is the NEXT step?

If you can understand and take the next step and continue that process (WILL) – nothing can stop you from reaching your “Burled Arch Destiny”!

It’s not going to be perfect – anything worth doing – is worth doing UGLY!   Ugly is how we start and it leads us to continuous improvement!

(remember how bad we all were when we first started learning to play sports as little kids?  Eventually – if the WILL persists, the skill improves and you make JV and then on to Varsity! It takes talent – but as my mentor John Maxwell says, “Talent is NEVER enough!”)

Finally, what do we do with all of the self-defeating voices in our head?

  Fight them with everything you have!
  What the roots drink – the fruits think!
  Celebrate small victories and progress ‘Checkpoints’ like crazy!

Saturate yourself in “Can do – positivity!”  Find a voice – someone that lifts you up – and listen to their positive beliefs.  I listen (almost daily) to speakers that are highly positive and motivational – why?  because I need it too!

Read, listen, watch – anything you can to make sure your tank stays full of the belief in possibilities!

Next – Celebrate any progress – ANY progress toward your Burled Arch Destiny – you learn a new skill, take a new class, spend 30 minutes in dreaming and mapping! – whatever it is mark down and celebrate the wins!  This is the fuel needed to keep it up!  Why keep running if you think you’re not going anywhere?  Mark your progress – celebrate the smallest progress!

Lastly – find an encouraging friend, accountability partner or coach…  when you start to doubt (which we all do!), when you want to quit – you’ll need them to cheer you on!

Keep Dreaming – Keep moving – Keep growing – Keep doing!  The Burled Arch Destiny is attainable!

The power of “Plant it and Plan it!”

Waking up this morning refreshed, powered up and ready for the week!  Eyes opened at 4:45 am and as I lay there trying to go back to sleep – this powerful thought was getting bigger – and growing both my excitement and energy levels..

The Power of “I Can!”

There are so many battles that we fight – but none more fierce than the battle of self belief.

Before the world hits us, before the traffic jams and road rage, before the shop opens, the computer is turned on, and WAY before the first Sales call – our own mind turns on – and sometimes turns on us.  But what if we could turn it toward working for us and not against us – what if the power of our minds was unleashed towards helping us succeed instead of flooding us with reasons why not, barriers of never happen, and shards of broken, unrealized dreams.

What are the conversations that you have with yourself while you’re getting ready?

Sometimes – we are just running – the day has started without us – we are already behind and facing the tidal wave of a day, a week, a month, and another year – just like the previous… however long….

Today – let me Plant a SEED!  A seed of thought in your mind that, “You CAN!”

You have everything in you that you need to succeed.

Let me stop and make you say that again in your mind.

You have everything in you that you need to succeed.

I know it sounds cheesy – but you have the ‘power of potential ‘and the ‘dynamite of determination’!

You have what you need and you can get wherever you want to go – from where you are now – with two steps:

Plant it and Plan it.

  1. Plant it
  2. Plant it refers to setting the mark of achievement.  What is your desire? Goal? Hope? Or Dream? What are you aiming at?   Without something specific – you won’t have a tangible item to chase – if you have a sales goal – make it specific – to sell $100,000 of product this month, this week, this year… to make 20 calls this week – or today..  Whatever the goal is – make it a specific number.  If it’s weight loss – what do you want to weigh?

    We’ve taught about making your goals ‘smart’ for years:

    S – Specific

    M – Measureable

    A – Action oriented

    R – Reasonable

    T – Time Bound

    (I’ve been teaching it for so long – I’m not sure where it came from – or I would give specific credit to them!  So if you know it’s origin – please comment and we’ll give them their credit together! )

  3. Plan it

For each goal – map the process of achievement – what are the steps to get there? Dreams fail and hopes are shattered – right out of the gate – when there is no plan!  There has to be steps to achievement – we RARELY take leaps – more than likely – you will take steps toward your dream – and as you can mark your progress (Daily or weekly) you can keep up your momentum!

Not near enough time to talk about all the steps of success for planning – but I’ll give you some thoughts:

Break your planning into:  Major Milestones, Main steps, and Mini steps.

Every day – you can do something to get you – even a ‘Mini step’ closer to your goal.  Look for incremental success – take one step at a time – ‘I CAN’ take the next step – or ‘I CAN’ find out what that next step is and start to line out a plan to that next step…

Give yourself permission to succeed today!

  • Tell yourself,  “you can!”
  • Plant the flag  – plant the stake in the ground of your goal or dream
  • Plan it!

Dream, Plan, ACT!

Today is not the day to quit!

I could crank out another book – just on this topic… but for now.. a quick, down & dirty blogpost of encouragement…

Let’s talk about paths today and let me start with the encouragement – Today is not the day to quit!

There are many times that we encounter difficulties along our paths to success and there are MANY times along our paths that we want to quit and give up. Today is not that day!

Paths have rocks and mud, paths have inclines and declines, they have places that are overgrown and places you couldn’t find shade if you wanted to….

Paths have times where you can see for miles and when you can barely see the next step in front of you.

You are going to want to quit – but – Today is not that day!

In a keynote to 400 leaders last Tuesday I asked, “Anybody ever had a problem-free Year? Month? Week? Day?”

The fact is our paths are paths and all of these challenges are going to be a part of the path!

As quick as possible, get past thinking about and feeling the challenges on the path and get to:

• What does my path look like right now?
• What will it take to get me to the next part of the path?
• To get me past this part of the path?

Write it down… start working toward it!

• Have there been times when you conquered your path?

Make a note of those times – remember them – draw strength from them – DON’T live in them – but remember them!

• Have times when the path has conquered you?

Analyze these… find out what the circumstances were and break it down until the unknowns become known and you can work to remedy them.

Your path is not my path, nor the paths of those around you – each of our paths are unique AND similar – there are times when we are going to go through similar things – we are going to be on the same path at the same time – and there are times when our paths will separate and your path will not be my path – once again.

The success of someone else on their path does not limit you ability to succeed on your path!

If someone else is presently succeeding – celebrate their success with them and internally draw strength that someone is succeeding – even if it is not you – someone is succeeding and it should give you hope. You were not put on earth – to be an example of failure for those around you – failure is not your “Destiny” (see previous post) and Today is not the day to quit!

• What do you want your path to look like?

Dream, Strategize, Create the process, Work the process, Don’t Quit!

Today is not the day to quit!