Sunday, April 8, 2018



When is the last time that you spoke up at work about something that you felt was wrong or refused to comply with what your boss told you do because it felt wrong?. How many instances have we watched a scene play out on TV where people stood back doing nothing when apparently there was immoral conduct going on? Have you ever witnessed racism or discrimination play out in a meeting and sat back in shock but did nothing? We all have. Throughout your life, you may continue to struggle to do the right thing when what you are told to do may be wrong.

Ira Chaleff’s book Intelligent Disobedience – Doing Right When What You’re Told Is Wrong is a book leaders should read. Sometimes we forget that there is a time and a place to step up and say no to a situation. So many tragedies could have been prevented if someone just dared to object or disobey orders. Ira offers a compelling analogy for when there are times it’s necessary to defy. Consider a guide dog. The dog is trained to understand yet resist a command that may hurt or kill its owner. Consider a blind woman that gives her dog a command to walk across the street. A well-trained dog will resist and refuse if he feels there is a danger. Sometimes we all need an inner guide dog to help us operate in a culture or situation where we are accountable for our actions even when we are instructed to “just follow orders”.

From an early age, we are taught to respect our elders and do what they tell us to do. Schools socialize us early on to sit in our chairs and be compliant and obedient. Don’t question, don’t talk back, do as you are told. Sadly, this follows us as we mature and the expectations are no different when we become employees. We “know” that we should do as we are told. Often, we are punished when we speak up even when it is the right thing to do. Few of us will rock the boat. Time and time again history has shown us how tragedies could have been prevented had someone spoke up. We live in different times where the moto is “see something, say something”.

Ira shares numerous examples and case studies that are shocking. They illustrate how humans will stand back in some situations and do nothing even though they know it is wrong. His stories are wake up calls. We need to find a healthy balance in our lives for functioning within a system of rules and expectations while being true to ourselves and be responsible for speaking up when we see something that is wrong. Just sitting back and not doing the “right thing” is no longer an option. We need to instill a sense of Intelligent Disobedience and act on it.

Effective leaders will guide their teams to learn and practice Intelligent Disobedience. Here are some starting points to consider

•    Identify certain risks and be willing to train people to give appropriate responses. Encourage alternative measures or correct violations by encouraging people to speak up.
•    Train people to question the phases of obedience. These include cooperation, strain, divergence, divergence amplification or education, and how to do the right thing.
•    Inform people that the earlier they question, the better.
•    The process can be done with politeness but may need people to become more assertive.
•    Orientate new employees about Intelligent Disobedience.
•    Support people when they do the right thing and share their experience with others.
•    Encourage, validate, and encourage people to do something even if it may go against the norm.

Intelligent Disobedience is a book that all leaders should read. Servant leaders lead from the bottom up and should train and encourage their people to do the right thing even when it may be perceived as the “wrong thing” to do. We should empower our people to think before blindly following “orders” or policies. We should push people to do what is right without the fear of repercussions. Most of all we need to offer our people the tools and training to take the first step in standing up.








Monday, April 2, 2018

The Essentials of Theory U - Core Principles and Applications by C. Otto Scharmer



Over ten issues ago Theory U was published, and it was over 500 pages that contained numerous tables, graphs, and other insights. The author C. Otto Scharmer just released a condensed version of his original book called The Essentials of Theory U – Core Principles and Applications. This version of the book is only 157 pages and has some great insights for leaders and is the perfect size with wisdom to keep handy as you meet daily challenges.

Theory U encourages us to look at the world with fresh eyes. We need to be more cognoscente of how we pay attention to if at all, problems to avoid looking at everything as a “blind spot”. We need to be open to listening to our inner selves and be aware of any blind spots so that we can make change that sticks and benefits others.

There are three key elements to Theory U:

1.    Develop a framework for recognizing blind spots with our leadership and any system changes.
2.    Find a method for implementing an awareness-based shift that encompasses processes, principles, and other outside forces.
3.    Develop a new “narrative” for societal changes and impacting all of our mental and institutional operating systems.

The book thoroughly explains the Theory U and delves into the various issues that happen with blind spots and how it impacts us as leaders. Scharmer offers up some actionable methods and ideas to help leaders change and take action looking beyond blind spots. I was uplifted at the author’s framework to help me develop a better awareness and be open to alternative possibilities. We need to be more present while sensing everything around us and ask for more openness and understanding from those around us.

The Essentials of Theory U is a useful paired down version of the original book. It’s a book that you will want to read carefully to pick out which nuggets will assist you in your daily challenges. It may be beneficial to take a few notes to reference and it’s a more substantial read than most of us may be accustomed to reading but well worth it.





Saturday, March 24, 2018

Let's Stop Meeting Like This - Tools To Save Time And Get More Done by Dick & Emily Axelrod





Let’s face it – most of us hate meetings. Our calendar is stocked full of meetings that we usually don’t need to attend. We show up, pretend to pay attention, and take notes to remind ourselves of the 50 things that we need to accomplish once we escape the room.

Too many of us are too kind. We won’t say no to meetings, and we try to keep the peace. With so much going on it’s time that we take back control of our work lives and priorities.  We need to take a new look at how to approach and manage meetings. If you are wringing your hands every day over meetings, pick up the book. Let’s Stop Meeting Like This – Tools to Save Time and Get More Done. You need to read this book if you find yourself the culprit setting up meetings no one wants to attend, and you find that not much comes out of them.

This book offers tangible and realistic strategies for setting up meetings, eliminating people who aren’t stakeholders and getting things done. Meetings need to be better planned, have specific outcomes, and people need to feel that their input means something. Here are some of the highlights of meetings from the book:

  • Create concrete and managing plans
  • Build connections
  • Invite people to meetings and let them know they are valued
  • How to move projects forward
  • First aid for meetings
  • Five steps to meeting success
  • Three steps to meeting effectiveness
  • Connect people to one another and the task
  • Encourage open discussion
  • Elicit people’s dreams
  • How to be a better facilitator

The meat of Let’s Stop Meeting Like This is the concept of the meeting canoe. It’s a visual of an actual canoe with paddles that is a blueprint to conduct productive meetings. It shows leaders how to efficiently design and lead meetings that will work in any setting from the boardroom to small breakroom chats.

The canoe is divided into sections as depicted below:
  • Welcome: People are an asset and critical
  • Connect: People need to be connected to one another and the tasks at hand
  • Discover: Find out the way that things are with honest feedback
  • Elicit: Discover people’s dreams
  • Decide: Discover next steps as a team
  • Attend: Stay to the end and take action 

Pick up Dick and Emily Axelrod’s book Let’s Stop Meeting Like This today if you want to turn time-consuming meetings into productive and meaningful interactions to get things done with key people who have an impact.





Sunday, February 25, 2018


When I was growing up, we didn’t have the internet. We learned from mentors or read books. Unfortunately, most of us didn’t have influential mentors or people who shared valuable life-changing advice. I love learning from people who have lived a full life so that we can learn from them and not repeat mistakes. When I was growing up, I wish that I had Skip Prichard’s new book The Book of Mistakes in my hands. It would have saved me grief and making mistakes that were painful to endure.

I would love to arm every young person with Skip’s book. It’s a valuable bible on how to achieve and not only be a better person but efficiently empower others. The Book of Mistakes is a parable. We join David, a stressed and disenchanted young professional, on his journey to discover the nine mistakes that prevent people from achieving their goals. He meets mysterious people who share their stories, and each one offers him a parting life mistake to learn from in the hope of him avoiding the same mistake. Absorbing these mistake are critical for any of us to overcome hurdles that we face and distractions that veer us off of our path.

The Book of Mistakes made me pause and think about the journey that I have been on over the years. For years I searched for my purpose, and Skip’s words would have guided me in finding and following my mission. It would have helped me push down barriers more quickly. I would have had a clearer mind to achieve more than I thought possible. Guess what? It’s not too late. The Book of Mistakes recommends steps to consider on our life journey to be happier, more satisfied, have a stronger sense of community, and be at peace.

The nine mistakes impacted me. I have a list of the nine mistakes on a sign at my desk and on my IPad screen to remind me several times how I can stay on the path that will bring me success. These mistakes should be posted in every classroom to guide young adults as they waver through growing up and become absorbed by obstacles and the negative talk around them.

The Nine Mistakes

  1. Working on someone else’s’ dream. Aren’t many of us doing that day in and day out? Don’t forget YOU and your goals. Set aside time to work on what you believe in and are passionate about. 
  2. Allowing someone to deflate your value. Every one of us has value in this world and don’t forget it. Don’t let someone step on your spirit and make you feel less important 
  3. Accepting excuses: Take ownership of your life and don’t allow excuses to rule the day. Behind every excuse is a way to success so tune them out and tune out any doubts.
  4.  Surround yourself with the wrong people. When you were growing up, how many times did your parents tell you to not hang out with the wrong crowd? That remains sound advice as adults. You become what you are around.
  5. Staying in your comfort zone. You will never grow if you don’t jump out of your bubble. 
  6. Don’t let temporary setbacks become a permanent failure. Remember, “Setbacks are the seeds that sprout opportunity.”
  7. Trying to blend in instead of standing out. Be authentic and be you. Always stand out and above. 
  8. Thinking there is a fixed and limited amount of success available. The beautiful thing about life is that there is an unlimited possibility. Be motivated, not intimidated by the success of others. There is plenty to go around. 
  9. Believing you have all the time in the world. We are all given the time in life. Use it wisely and don’t have regrets. 

We learn more than just the nine mistakes in The Book of Mistakes. We learn some simple, yet often forgotten, laws that should guide us in everything that we do. 
  • The law of desire
  • The law of gratitude 
  • The law of belief


If you have young people in your life, you need to get The Book of Mistakes into their hands. Today. If you are older and wiser, you need Skip’s book to light a fire within you so that you quit making excuses and making the same mistakes in your life over and over. It’ never too late to start again to bring out your best and find personal success.  



















Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Courage Way - Leading and Living with Integrity by Shelly L. Francis





Becoming a leader is like parenting. Sometimes it’s a surprise, other times it seems like you’ve been waiting for the opportunity forever. You are thrust into a whole new world, and there isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t wonder if you are “doing it right” or being an active parent. You look inside and out to learn how to be the best that you can while influencing your child.

Leadership leaves many of us feeling inadequate and looking over our shoulder wondering if we are “doing it the right way”. I’ve worked with servant leaders who lead from within with grace and humbleness and “leaders” who think yelling and threatening is leadership because people quickly respond and fall in line.

Ultimately what drives authentic leadership is courage. Courage will compel you to look deep inside yourself to bring out your best with integrity and it will drive you to impact those around you. Courage is more than just stepping up. It means living your life becoming “your best self and inviting others to do the same”. Need some courage? Shelly L. Francis’s new book The Courage Way – Leading and Living with Integrity will take you on an incredible journey.

Shelly Francis works at the non-profit Center for Courage & Renewal. The center has over 300 facilitators worldwide who aim to create “a more just, compassionate, and healthy world by nurturing personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it”. Shelly walks us down the path of showing us the courage way and forcing us to look deep inside to understand the work of being a leader and bringing out the courage to live the leadership ways. We need to ask ourselves “what would you do with more courage?” and act on it.

There are five key ingredients of the Courage Way:
  1. True self
  2. Trust
  3. Community
  4. Paradox
  5. Reflection

These elements enable us to become what we can be. Courage isn’t a singular “thing”. It can take many forms such as courage to answer your calling, the courage to choose wisely, the courage to stay or leave, or the courage to care for true self. Some courage is more natural for us to summon while others may be daunting. There is more to courage than just the discovery process. In order to flourish, we need to live in a Circle of Trust. What’s that? It’s a process to create and grow a safe space for both individuals and groups so that they can trust one another to develop growth, restoration, team building, and reconnect. Within this circle there are 11 touchstones.

Ultimately, Shelly emphasizes the need to take care of ourselves and regularly reflect. To be an active leader you need to trust in yourself and others. You need various forms of courage to develop people, build trust, and form a healthy community. With courage comes authentic and natural leadership that grows over time and only brings out more courage to step out of your comfort zone.

The Courage Way shares real-life stories of professionals who have made changes in their leadership because they have found inner courage and it has impacted both their lives and those around them. The Courage Way is a unique leadership book that will remove you from your comfort zone and force you to look at yourself with a fresh perspective that may bring out courage that you never realized you possessed. The question is, do you have the courage to look at leadership from a different angle and start living a life of integrity and authenticity?