Monthly Archives: December 2010

Important Endings

We humans have created various methods to measure time. One of these systems is the 12 month Gregorian or “Western” calendar which has been the de facto international civil calendar for some 500 years. With the year 2010 coming to a close, I have been reflecting on endings. One of the premier thought leaders on the subject of transition and change is my friend William Bridges, a brilliant author, educator, and consultant. He reminds us that making good endings is the best way to prepare for new beginnings in our lives and our organizations.

Food for Thought ~

Changes and transitions begin with letting go of something. We can’t fully move on to the new place/job/opportunity if we are still emotionally tied to the past. Letting go often means recognizing a sense of loss. As a leader, acknowledging loss and creating opportunities for closure will allow your organization to move on more effectively to the new beginnings that await you.

Question of the day ~

Are you currently facing any situations that represent a significant change and/or transition? What do you need to let go of in order to have a good “ending?” As a leader, what structures can you create to facilitate this process?

Seasons Greetings!

Because it’s so important, and because most of us are so unused to this concept, I am repeating my reminder to take a moment (or two) and acknowledge your personal achievements and private victories throughout the past year. It’s incredibly valuable to recognize and appreciate your own accomplishments! Pause to enjoy them and let yourself feel the sense of satisfaction. Either stop right now for a “self-appreciation break” or look at your calendar and schedule an appointment with yourself to dedicate a block of time to this exercise.

Leaders will also want to conduct this practice with their teams and their organization. It will deepen your capacity to realign with your values and priorties and refuel you for meeting new challenges. Please don’t neglect this important step in the cycle of achievement. You earned it! And please let me know the results of your personal or organizational “accomplishments audit.”

Today, December 21st, is Winter Solstice, the beginning of Winter in the Northern hemisphere. It is fascinating to me partly because it has been observed throughout millennia and around the world in virtually every culture. Different meanings and traditions have evolved, but it’s noteworthy for its universal place in our collective human history. For me, it’s a time to observe the return of the light, as the days begin to gradually lengthen, and to reflect on light as a metaphor for insight, awareness, and clarity. What does this time mean to you?

Wishing you Happy Holidays, and please, let your light shine!

Peace at Work

We all want Peace on Earth, and the place to start is with what’s closest to us: ourselves, our families, and our places of work, where we spend 60% of our time. In the workplace, we can practice compassion, kindness, understanding, and patience. We can move away from gossip, making assumptions, hasty judgments, and blaming. If trends and fads can “go viral,” how about peace?

Let’s all do our part for peace.


FOR EVERY DOLLAR spent at a local business, 45 cents is reinvested locally. For every dollar spent at a corporate chain, only 15 cents is reinvested locally. Focusing our economic activity locally creates local jobs and contributes to the health of our own community. Shopping locally and doing business with locally owned companies is a very important act of economic responsibility. It’s something we each can do individually. Our own friends, neighbors and families benefit, and we can play a valuable role in supporting this remarkable place we are fortunate to call home. For more information about local companies and organizations, how you can be a part of supporting local businesses and the difference it makes, visit the website of GoLocal Sonoma County.

The Stockdale Paradox

One of the best books on leadership in recent years is Good to Great by Jim Collins. He presents six key concepts that, in his view, comprise the gestalt of going from a good company to a great one. I have been addressing the subject of optimism in my recent Minutes, yet even more is required of great leaders. One of my favorite aspects of this book is Collins’ description of what he calls “The Stockdale Paradox.”

You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Food for Thought ~

Whew! And thus, a great leader must have the capacity to hold the truth of that paradox: to honestly see and accept the reality of the situation, and at the same time, to believe with absolute conviction that a successful outcome will be found. That’s a very highly developed form of optimism.

Question of the day ~

Are you currently facing any situations that require the capacity to hold both sides of this paradox?

Turning Challenges into Opportunities

In last week’s Minute, I wrote about how practicing gratitude improves our ability to see opportunities. By focusing on what’s good and valuable in our lives and at work, we strengthen our “opportunity recognition” capabilities. Extending that theme, one of my favorite aphorisms has always been the concept of making lemonade out of lemons. In the world of work and leadership, that translates into finding the opportunities within the challenges. Every business has difficult situations to meet, and our attitudes toward those situations can significantly influence the outcomes. Even though it may look bleak, if leaders believe a solution or an improved position is possible, then their company is certainly more likely to create a successful outcome

Food for Thought ~

This principle is so central to my work with clients that I made it the tagline for my business: “Turning challenges into opportunities.”

Question of the day ~

What is your response to challenges? Do you see them as threats or opportunities? What are your fundamental operating beliefs?