The Fierce Velocity of Living


Dust on the notesLife comes at us with a certain fierce velocity these days.

Due dates, deadlines, status updates, pressure – the pace is frenetic and the intensity is off the charts.

And that’s for parents of pre-schoolers.

Your life is pretty daggone intense and fast, too.

Even your favorite executive coach feels the pressures of workload, but fortunately I have plenty of tactics and skills to bring to bear when the speed gets to be a little too…overwhelming.

First thing I do?

Take a break.

I know, I know – “bear down, get through it, push, shoulder to the wheel” – but, really, no. Taking a small stop when things are hectic is a sure way to prevent errors.

Like, let’s say you’re using a crane to lift a piano out of a third floor apartment, so you pause right at the window to make sure you’re at the precisely correct angle. Just a pause before you go forward. Before you scrape the entire left side or, heaven forbid, totally shatter the instrument.

You take a minute and you check.

So that’s why I haven’t written in the last couple of weeks. I’ve been taking a wee pause to make sure:

- I want to keep writing

- I know what it is I want to say

- I understand how it is I want to write

And, it occurs to me that I could use your perspective.

You see, since 2005, when I started a monthly newsletter (and a special shout out to the 52 of you who read that first issue – I have a list, I know who you are, and I really appreciate your continued steadfastness), I have written with an eye toward what you, the reader, would like to hear. To find a topic, I’ve often thought, “Two of my readers are having coffee today… What are they talking about?”

I think of you.

What you need, and what you want, matters to me. So I’d appreciate it if you would take 90 seconds to answer five simple questions for me:

That way, I can put your feedback into the mix of what I’ve been thinking and come out with even more clarity around what I do.

And it will make our time together than much more rewarding, and fun.

Thank you.

All Together Now



Sometimes, vector seamless pattern with a large group of men and women. flawhen tough decisions need to be made, you need to go back to basics.

I was talking with a woman the other day who was facing a thorny decision in her work. Should she or shouldn’t she? Worrying, ruminating and floundering, she turned to me and said, “What do I do?”

Shoot, I didn’t know. But I did ask one question, “At this point in your life, what’s your biggest priority?”

And she paused.

A longish pause.

Then she started to laugh. “No one has asked me that through this whole thing. I haven’t even asked myself that!”

And just like that, the path forward opened up. She knew what she was going to do – which wasn’t going to be easy, but it certainly was very clear.

I tend to ask clients-in-crisis like this to think about their priorities and their values. What’s important? What do they value the most?

It used to surprise me that nearly every person used the same words to describe at least one of their top values – words like Connection, Belongingness, Together, To Be With, Team.

I’ve learned that for so many of us it’s the connection with others that really gives our lives a sense of meaning.

And yet so many of these same people tell me that the workplace is the last place they can expect to find real, authentic belongingness.

Last week I spoke with a senior guy at a huge multi-national company. Part of our work together has been deciphering the world-class, sharp-elbowed office politics played within the organization.

Now, the higher up the leadership pyramid you go, the more intense the office politics get in most organizations – elbows are much pointier and jabbier.

My senior guy was telling me how the people one level above him act at meetings. “They never participate,” he said. “They just sit there with their fingers templed in front of them and say, ‘Thank you for your input. We will be getting back to you.’ Where’s the collaboration? The connection? The sharing of information? I feel like a sitting duck because I never know if I’ve made a good presentation or not. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing because I don’t have all the information! Are we working for the same company, or not?”

Ah, Grasshopper, what you see here is a blatant power play. What you observe is information hoarding. And – I’ll go even further - it’s bullying.

Last summer I led a webinar for the Harvard Business Review on bullies and jerks in the workplace. It turned out to be one of the most popular webinars HBR has ever offered – which is great and at the same time, very sad.

In that webinar, I defined a bully as someone who tries to keep you from being able to do your job and/or tries to crush your sense of self.

My guy’s senior colleagues with their templed fingers think they are playing politics but in reality they are blocking collaboration, making things harder than they have to be and killing the efficiency of the group. They have learned to be bullies.

Perhaps they do this under the mistaken belief that powerful people behave a certain way. It’s a bit of John Wayne with a smidge of Clint Eastwood and just a soupçon of The Donald. You know who I’m talking about – a solo contributor with power, who leaves people trembling in his wake. Who has no time for other people unless they’re passing him ammo or a whiskey bottle.

You know the guy. And this archetype may have worked in a different day and age, with a different generation. But, today, it’s in direct opposition to what most people crave in their work.

They want togetherness. They want feedback on their impact, reflected in their connection with friends and colleagues – probably because formal feedback processes aren’t really working.

The best leaders today know this.

They know that there’s a new yardstick for measuring leadership effectiveness, and it’s not how many people stand up when you walk into a room. And it’s not about how much information  you hoard.

It’s about how well the people who work for you perform.

It’s about what they accomplish.

It’s about their efficiency and their impact.

It’s about how they collaborate, belong and connect.

So if you are a leader in an organization and you have a tendency to hoard information, to temple your fingers, to be a lone wolf?

You’ve gotta knock that off.

Start collaborating. Share. Ask questions. Listen. Seek advice.

Provide an environment where your people can connect and belong. Give them a way to find meaning.

And if you do, here’s the promise: You will have more productive people, better teams, greater impact and more success.

Together, connected, with, belonging – those are the words, and the only way we’re all going to move forward.


Time To Play Hooky



relax footI know how stressed you are. I really do.

I know how completely you throw yourself into everything you do and how chaotic things can get.

Let’s face it, friend. You’re exhausted.

Putting one heavy foot in front of the other,  day after frazzled day in a frenzied, numbing march toward something you’re not even sure about any more – that’s you.

So. There’s really only one thing I can recommend.

It’s a little thing and, at the same time, it’s a really big thing.

Take a day off.


One day off. You don’t do it enough, do you?

(Do you do it ever?)

Yes, what I’m talking about is playing hooky.

As odd as it may seem to all of us Type-A, hard chargers, when you play hooky, you don’t do any work.

Don’t do laundry.

Don’t shop for groceries.

Don’t drive anyone anywhere.

Don’t do anything that needs to be done.

Instead, you take a whole day. Off.

(The very idea of it feels so free and “can I really get away it it?”-ish, doesn’t it?)

OK, maybe it’s been so long since you’ve played hooky that you can’t remember what to do with a whole day to yourself. So let me give you some suggestions:

Turn off your phone and leave your computer un-booted.

Take a walk and don’t pay any attention to how many steps you’re getting in.

Read a book cover-to-cover.

Wade barefoot in a creek.

Hit golf balls at the driving range – not to work on your game, but just to watch the way the balls arc through the air.

Give a dog’s belly a thorough rub.

Take a nap.

Take two naps, even.

Eat a ripe peach over the sink and let the juice dribble down your chin.

Call a friend you haven’t talked with in a while and catch up.



Take deep breaths.

And, really and truly relax.

I promise you that everything on your to-do list will be there tomorrow. The world won’t end if you take a day for yourself.

I’ll bet you, in fact, that you come back to your to-do list with a renewed sense of energy and purpose, simply because you’re not so flipping exhausted.

One day. Just one.

Twenty-four hours for you to do… nothing.

If that doesn’t sound like bliss, I don’t know what does.

So, what do you say? How about tomorrow?



Reconnecting With Your Big Why



Sometimes things get a little too loud.IMG_1766

A little too fast.

A little too not-enough-time-to-think.

When you have a string of days (or months, or even years) like this, you end up burned out and disconnected from who you are and what you aim to accomplish.

These relentless times require – no, demand – a pause.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the last several weeks. I’ve been pausing. Screening out all the noise and focusing on some key, foundational things, like:

Who I am.

Why I do the work I do.

Whether I’m aligned with my values.

How I work and who my ideal clients are.

What I really and truly want.

Believe me, I’ve written thousands of words and thought a million more.

I’ve talked with friends about these words over meals, over the phone and over the internet.

I’ve walked miles, thinking.

And moment by moment, day by day, I’ve grown clearer. Happier. More focused.

By shutting out the noise and getting quiet, I reconnected with my Big Why.

And I’m here to tell you that I’m more committed than ever to the work that I do, how I do it and who I work with.

Today, this very day right here, feels absolutely energizing.

You might think you can’t spare the time away from the pressing relentlessness of the tasks at hand and, besides, who’s got the time? There’s so much to do, so many places to be, so many demands on your attention.

But I’m here to tell you – if you don’t make time, you’ll never find time.

If you’re feeling out of step with your own life, as if you’re marching to the taxing beat of someone else’s drum, then do yourself a huge favor and find some time.

Drop back.


Get clear.

And prepare to re-enter your day-to-day life with a bona fide spring in your step.


Dads Are The Sexiest Men On Earth

Silhouette Of Father Lovingly Kissing Child On Forehead At SunseKnow what makes a sexy man?

It’s not the size of his bank account or the length of his job title.

It’s not that he’s a road warrior with a fat frequent flyer balance.

It’s not his dark wavy hair, his fast, sleek car or the washboard appearance of his abs.

It’s none of that.

A man is so sexy when…he’s teaching his daughter how to light the perfect fire on an autumn night.

When he shows his son how to not only grow tomatoes and basil but then how to make them into a Caprese salad.

When he listens to his teenager’s worries.

When he accompanies his adult daughter to chemo.

When he drives the carpool, when he brings the snacks, when he springs for pizza, when he discusses the Peloponnesian War, when he cries at his child’s wedding, when he is fully and completely committed to his family.

That is pretty sexy.

And all men – those uncles, and brothers, and cousins, and granddads, and neighbors, and clergy, and coaches, and teachers, and mentors – all of them who take time to give of themselves to young people who need a father figure…well, they’re damn sexy, too.

Happy Father’s Day, you sexy devils.