’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!

Leadership Truths



As we close down 2015 and move into 2016, I sat back and reflected on some of my journey and the privilege I have to help others become stronger leaders. I’ve shared below a compilation of some of my favorite Leadership Truths. Take a look and choose your top 5 where you believe that by living that truth you can raise your own bar in the new year.  Commit to a little self-reflection and resolve to make 2016 a year to focus on cultivating your own personal leadership legacy and ensuring the influence you have on your team is always positive.

1.      Maturity is a choice not an age. 2.      As a leader, be contagious, not infectious.
3.      Leading a team is a different skill set than    accomplishing great individual feats. 4.      Create an organization that makes more leaders than it breaks.
5.      Lead where you’re strong. Team where you’re weak. 6.      Business and life are marathons. We have to strategically pace ourselves in order to finish.
7.      Great leaders are concerned about their positive influence, their legacy. 8.      Strategic placement of team members produces the best results.
9.      Self-awareness helps in building the right team for you. 10.   It’s your team.  You cannot complain about what you permit.
11.   When you need a little more pull from your team, try letting them chase a team just a little faster or better than themselves. 12.   Amateurs practice until they get it right.  Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.
13.   Great leaders take time to get to know their team, really know them. 14.   Consider the strengths of the team as a component of strategy.
15.   Communicate in their language, not yours. 16.   Unleash the power of the team.
17.   You don’t have to flood your team with words to get them to action.  Be clear.  Be concise.  Be direct. 18.   Start ugly.  If you’re not willing to start ugly, you’re never going to start.  Learn.  Grow.  Make it pretty next time.
19.   Mentors know to put us in charge of teams that match our abilities. 20.   I can’t lead the team I want.  I have to lead the team I have.
21.   Frustration is a function of expectation. 22.   Lead people; manage things.
23.   If you’re a leader and not learning every day, you’re likely not a leader for long. 24.   Don’t ask for more sweat equity than you give.
25.   People join companies; people quit people. Be someone people want to stay with. 26.   Sometimes you have to drop or reassign a team member if it’s hurting the rest of the team.
27.   Experience it; don’t just witness it. 28.   Trust is the currency of leadership.
29.   Leading a team to victory is often the result of conquering or leading one’s self first. 30.   The mirror is rarely pleasant, but it’s almost always honest.
31.   Problems rarely work themselves out. 32.   As a leader, what you allow you endorse.
33.   The trail we carve as leaders profoundly affects the next generation. 34.   Nobody wants to be managed; people want to be inspired.
35.   Every leader gets the team they deserve, eventually. The team you inherited is not your fault. The team you have a year from now is. 36.   How you treat those on the inside is an indicator of how they will treat those who come from the outside.
37.   Don’t transfer emotional baggage to your team.  If you need to unload, talk to another leader 38.   For that extra motivation, learn your team individually and incentivize accordingly.
39.   Hire for values; train for skills. 40.   Find awesome, and copy it.


Essentials: Being the Real Deal

The Real Deal, Authenticity, setting the standard – whatever the phrase you chose to use – the team will never run beyond your example (unless they are running away!)

As leaders, if we could hear our team – they would say, “Be the real deal”. There are so many in this world that are more pretense than present tense… In other words they just aren’t real.

I believe with all that is in me that the leader should be the one that set the example – the one that pays more than others pay and gives more than others give – after all – isn’t that ‘leading the way’?

I LOVE the fact that at times the mushers in the race will jump off the sled and run beside it with the team – to me it speaks about commitment – Leaders must set the example when it comes to commitment and paying the price..

What do we do when it’s cold and rainy and we don’t want to train? We get up, get out, and train anyway! When we don’t ‘feel’ like paying the price? We pay it anyway!

I just don’t know that I could take knowing that my team had a greater commitment level to the cause and a greater work ethic than myself.

My heart is that leadership sets the standard to the point where it goes beyond the status quo – to the point of actually “inspiring” the team to deepen their commitment, deepen their resolve, and creates that incredible culture of ‘fanatics’.

‘Enthusiasm breeds Enthusiasm’ is one of my favorite ‘isms’. It breathes the ‘fire’ and then continuously ‘fans the flames’ – not in any sense of unfounded ‘hype’ – but in the uncompromising belief in the cause. A love for the race, and the commitment to pay the price – each and every day – that makes attaining the ‘Burled Arch’ a reality – and in doing so creates a tremendous sense of pride and purpose within the team. Call me an idealist if you will…. But if we are not bought in and ‘sold out’ to our cause or mission or race – how would we ever expect anything of greatness out of our team?

Seeing the commitment, tenacity, and determination of a Lance Mackey, Lance Armstrong, Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Mother Theresa –serves to inspire the rest of us – to challenge the rest of us to shake off the tendencies to accept the mediocre and to reach for greatness. People are people and if they can set the example – then we can set the example – think of the ‘tracks on the trail’ that we will leave for others to follow. This is our ‘Leadership Legacy’ – our Leadership ‘footprint’.

This week – if you feel like slacking up a bit – if it feels like things are crushing in on you – or the storms are hitting your trail – push on! In fact, pick up the pace, just a bit! Throw off the hooks that would seek to drag down or dampen your enthusiasm or resolve.

Leaders are charged with carrying the ingredients for fire on the trail. Where’s your fire, today? This morning, to set the resolve for my team to complete a project, I was up and at it before 4 am. When I consult in the hurricane operation – there are few team members that will keep up with the pace that I set for myself. And for those of you that have worked with me and think the pace runs strong – my brother puts me to shame! His work ethic is always pushing me – inspiring me – stretching me in my mind to reach for another level.

The race is worth it – pour your heart and back into it! Set the example – If we are going to be in the race – let’s always be real and let’s be in it to win it!

Essential Items: Handling Criticism

It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and criticize. It doesn’t take much to sit in your living room or in a control booth and “Armchair Quarterback” the decisions and actions of those in the race.

If I haven’t said it out loud to someone – this is certainly how I’ve felt., ” throw on the parka, build the team, qualify for the race, start running 1100 miles in -50⁰ F and then we’ll talk.”

A leader takes many hits and some of the most difficult to take are when those you are leading start criticizing your actions, your leadership, or your personhood.

In the studies that Goleman has conducted on EQ (Emotional Intelligence) the findings revealed that a leader’s EQ is a greater predictor of their success than IQ. I believe it is a fairly easy result for us to buy into – after all, don’t most of us know people who are incredibly book smart and yet lack the ‘people skills’ necessary to be a success – and I want to unpack that as it relates to handling criticism.

Emotional strength is critical in leadership – in my mind it is one of those essential items – it supports perseverance and is foundational to pulling us through the inevitable ‘rough spots’ on our leadership trail. When it comes to handling criticism – we have two choices – shut down and build the wall or process what’s being said.

So let’s walk through a few steps that may help put criticism in perspective:

  1. It’s going to happen

    It is a fact of leadership that you are going to be criticized. It doesn’t feel fair and it doesn’t seem right – you’re the one giving your guts for the company and the team and someone has the nerve to stand there and criticize! And you want to react and say, “If you can do a better job – be my guest!” Another fact is: if you don’t want or can’t handle criticism, don’t be a leader! As the saying goes, “The only way to avoid criticism is to say nothing, attempt nothing, and ultimately, be nothing.” Leaders are targets because we’re out front and once we realize that criticism is part of being in this ‘race’ then we can learn to process it and use it for our growth or discard it.

  2. Consider the Critic

    Some people criticize out of pure motives and others have an agenda. There are a number of quotes that have served me well – “Hurting people, hurt people.”, “Crabs will pull others down that try to get out of the basket”, “You can tell a person by the words they speak”. People will criticize because they aren’t happy in life and don’t want others to be either, because of jealousy, insecurity, or the desire to keep the status quo. Knowing the source will help you to know which to really consider and use for growth and which to moderate. If they have been in the race, mushed their own team, and have your respect – it’s much easier to accept!

  3. Consider the Critique

    Consider that even though the source isn’t credible there still may be some truth in their statements. Take the time to sift through all of the extra ‘stuff’ and get down to the real meat of the criticism. One of my mentors would say, “Eat the meat, spit out the bones!” We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses – if this falls into one of the areas of your weaknesses – then so be it! We all need to learn – we all need to grow – this is just lighting up a spot on the trail that you may not have seen before – or you may be in a place that you’ve never been before and you need this knowledge to be able to qualify for the next race ahead! No one is perfect – life and leadership are growth experiences!

  4. Seek an outside, trusted perspective

    If the criticism came from a trusted advisor, coach, or friend that we knew had our best interests at heart – we would take that in and grow accordingly. Start to find or build a network around you of those that you can present the information to and that will give you appropriate feedback. If they are unwilling or unable to be open, honest, AND supportive – you need to find new counsel. Use that as a guide – find people you can trust that will give you open, honest, and supportive counsel.

  5. Grow where needed (E-valuate and E-volve)

    Some people spend years developing their technical expertise or their educational advantage and somehow they think that ‘Relational Skills’ are a take it or leave it proposal – my team just needs to ‘accept me as I am’. If the criticism centers on your relational connectivity as a leader – realize that you may need to spend as much time on your relational skill set (EQ) as you did on your IQ or TQ (Technical Competence). Where ever the area of growth – hunger for improvement and keep it in perspective – we ALL have areas where we need to grow.

  6. Keep on mushing!

    You’ve come too far to turn back now – don’t allow nay-sayers and discouragers to keep you from your destiny – you started this race and you can finish it! You are on the trail to something great and when you get there – all of the little ‘bumps and bruises’ along the way will seem insignificant.

I believe in you – you can do this – let me leave you with a great quote from Fred Smith: “No one ever erected a statue to a critic.”

Mush on!