Go, Leader, Grow!

Seek Clarity

In his new book, High Performance Habits, Brendon Burchard speaks about seeking clarity in Habit 1.  I shared this exercise with my Emerging Leader group yesterday.  I thought you might like to read this as well:

  1.  Describe (write it down) how you’ve perceived yourself in the following situations over the past several months – with your significant other, at work, with the kids or your team, in social situations with strangers.
  2. Now ask, “Is that who I really see myself being in the future?”  How would my future self look, feel, and behave differently in those situations? (note: think about how your future self would want to interact in ways that you would be proud of)
  3. If you could describe yourself in just 3 aspirational words – words that would sum up who you are at your best in the future – what would those words be?  Why are those words meaningful to you?  Once you find your words, put them in your phone as an alarm label that goes off several times per day.

I worked through this exercise myself.  I jotted down several things and finally landed on my 3 aspirational words.  I created a calendar event that displays these 3 words at 5:45 am, 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm every day.

Already, there are many times when I see those words and I am reminded to be my best and do my best to act out on these words.  It works.  What a great reminder.

Try it. In fact, order the book and start working your own high performance habits (link to the book is provided above). Begin working on becoming better.  You will not regret it.

high performance habit quote


Make Today Different by Jim Johnson

How can you make today different from the routine?

* write a hand written note to someone to thank them, praise them, encourage them

* have “that conversation” you’ve been putting off

* read something that will inspire you and then share it

If you’re like me (God help you if you are), routines can overtake you.  Sometimes,  we need to do something we may normally not do to break the routine.  In this, we just might learn something new, make someone’s day, resolve an issue,  improve our teams.  

Do something differently won’t take all day. But even a slight change that takes 5 minutes can have a powerful impact on you and others. 


Change – why it doesn’t work by Fiona Cohn

What?!  Change doesn’t work?  Our businesses are always changing something.  Read on.  This is an enlightening post by Fiona Cohn on change.  It may open your eyes to something new.  It did for me…

agent of change

Who likes change? Really. Even people who tell me they like change behave as though they don’t when it happens. It’s a fact that most people don’t like change. I heard a joke that the only people that like change are cashiers and babies with dirty nappies!

Most of us (and I admit I’m in this group too) resist change. We like the status quo. In today’s fast changing world, things are changing all the time. Humans are amazingly resilient and able to deal with change. I bet if you look back a year to what you were doing in your business, you’re most likely doing things very differently today. Businesses and people who are willing to reinvent themselves over and over again are the ones that enjoy greater success – in business and personally. In business that means tracking your competition and doing something different. That’s the real key to business success.

Here are a few things that are likely to be holding you and your business back from making change work for you rather than against you.

People like the status quo

I’ve rarely met a person who doesn’t have ‘stability’ as one of their core values. So when we need to change something that tugs at a core value and makes us feel vulnerable. Even when the change is likely to be a dramatic improvement we still resist it.

Take the case of the QWERTY keyboard – originally designed because when typewriters were invented, fast typing would jam the keys. The QWERTY design put the most used letters on the left to slow down right handed people. It put rarely used letters in between more commonly used letters, reducing the risk of the typing arms jamming. When electric typewriters and computes came along the typing habit was so deeply ingrained, we stuck with it even though a keyboard with the most commonly used letters placed centrally would be faster, easier and more ergonomic to type with.

People focus on what they have to lose or give up

Change inevitably means stopping doing something and starting to do something differently so people perceive it as a loss rather than a gain. This is in spite of the fact that change over the long term usually results in dramatic improvements for most of us.

Take the mobile phone as an example. I resisted getting a smartphone for fear of my number being linked to all sorts of platforms so that anyone could contact me should they wish to. I didn’t want to give up that element of my privacy.

In my world, a phone was for making and receiving calls and I already had one that did that. Two years ago I relented and while I still don’t use my ‘phone to anywhere near its potential, when I lost my handset at the beginning of the year I realised how much I had been relying on it – for email, diary management, keeping my contacts up to date and using a host of apps to make my life easier. And as a business woman, I wsa grateful that people knew how to get hold of me.

People accept change differently

This means you can’t ‘sell’ the change as a ‘one size fits all’ solution. You need to help each individual see what’s in it for them.

People resist change when they don’t trust…

Read the rest here:

Conquer! by Jim Johnson


Last week my family and I were in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One of the many activities we experienced was ziplining.  It was a first for every single one of our family members.

As we were preparing to head up to the zipline course, my wife and I talked about the concern we had for our youngest – my son, Karsten.  He has had a history of being afraid of trying something new – especially things that would challenge him directly.

But to our surprise, when it came time to head out on the course, Karsten stepped up to be first in line. He jumped off the first platform and flew down the zipline without any problems at all. Throughout the entire experience,  he was excited. I think he knew that he was actively conquering a fear.

I learned a lot from my 8 year old son that day. There are lots of times in life when we face new challenges and new experiences. But instead of standing petrified on a platform, many times it’s just better to jump and trust the mechanisms that you have in place and just go with it.

I told my son that he was a role model for me that day. He just smiled.

Truth be told, I think I was the one who was the most afraid of the experience. But I conquered my fear, jumped off the platform, and zipped to a new adventure.


Do you have a “Mother, may I?” Culture? by Jim Johnson

mother may I


I recently heard John Stossel make the following statement concerning government:  “when we have a “mother, may I” government, innovation and creativity dies.”  He went on to say that when people are over-burdened with regulations, fewer and fewer people will fight the current to find a better way to do business.  This got me thinking…

Do you have a “Mother, may I?” culture at your company?

  • The staff is petrified to act in the best interest of your customers because they may “get in trouble” for acting first instead of asking first.
  • Your team comes to you constantly throughout the day to get permission to act, get involved, decide on ____________.
  • You have employees who’ve been in their positions for years and they have not generated a new idea, initiative, suggestion, etc.
  • Your team waits for you – the manager, VP, CEO – to decide what to do next.  Until then, nobody moves.

In 2008, I spoke at a national credit union conference at Disney World.  One of the keynote speakers was the former CEO of Mountain America Credit Union (Utah).  In his early days, he once observed teller interactions with members in the lobby of the main branch.  He stated that at almost every interaction, the tellers excused themselves, walked over to their manager’s office and then returned and finished the transaction.  After several interactions, he walked over to one of the tellers and asked why they continued to seek out the manager.  He was told that the manager had to approve almost anything a teller did.  He soon found out that this was happening all over the credit union.

“We had created a sluggish, ineffective bureaucracy here. I set out to change it.”  He did.  The credit union’s assets more than doubled under this man’s leadership in about 12 years.  They acquired several smaller credit unions.  Their business now spans 4 states.

So here’s the question for you:  How do you change from a company of “Mother, may I?” to one that empowers its staff to think, innovate, create, and serve your customers?

I’d love to read your thoughts.  Please share them!

Think Outside the Rut by Jim Johnson

ice ruts

Here in Indiana, we are praying for an early Spring.  Winter has been rough this year.  My neighborhood is full of ice ruts making driving difficult and unsafe.  My wife even got stuck in one the other day requiring some good Samaritans to come to her rescue.

Ruts don’t get us where we need to go.

You’ve heard the expression “think outside the box”.  For me, a better way to say this is “think outside the ruts” because it’s in a rut where I get caught up, stuck, needing help.

Do you find yourself in a rut?  New ideas at work are hard to come by?  Your work seems blah.  You need a shot in the arm?  It’s time to break out of that rut.  But how?  Try these ideas:


There are a lot of great resources available to us today that we didn’t have just a few years ago.  The amount of reading free reading material is enormous.  Check out the apps Flipboard and Zite.  You can select topics you want some new exposure to.  The apps are easy to use and are available on your smart phone and tablet.

Venture outside your expertise. Explore new worlds.  Are you in a traditional business?  Read about entrepreneurs.  Find out how they tackle obstacles, getting a product to market, how they deal with staffing issues.  Not tech-savvy?  Read what is happening in the high-tech world.  Learn.  Grow.  Become inquisitive.  READ.

Broaden your network

Do you spend most of your time during your work week with your colleagues?  It’s time to branch out and meet new folks.  Attend a Chamber event. There are many in my community.  I bet there are in yours.  How about going on a business call with your outside sales folks.  You can learn a lot about your department and company by doing this.

Are you on LinkedIn?  You can meet a lot of great people here and you will be exposed to even more great reading and insights.  I recently made a connection with a local business owner who was in the process of doing business with my company.   I had the opportunity to help smooth out some rough communication and misunderstanding in this process.  That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t broadened my own network.

Change your perspective.

When was the last time you looked at your business through the lens of your customers? It’s difficult to do.  But we can go for years thinking we are producing products customers want all the while they are slowing leaving our business and products for someone else who “gets them”.

Mystery shopping initiatives can help change your perspective.  Does your company collect and monitor customer feedback?  Pay attention to it!  Act upon it!  Let your customers know you appreciate their input!

Learn something new

Spend time with a colleague discovering what they do. You probably don’t know how what they do impacts your work (and neither do they).  You can learn so much more about your work and your company by doing this.  Ask a lot of questions.  Ask to see the reports they review.  Find more of the “story behind the numbers” while you’re with them.


Getting out of rut demands motion.  Many times, you sit at your desk for hours (right?).  Get up and move.  Walk up and down the stairs (if you have them).  At my company, we built a walking path around our campus.  My CEO and I had our 1-on-1 walking this path multiple laps (when it was much warmer).  Moving can clear your mind.

Get out of your rut.  Get some exposure to new ideas, thoughts, and perspectives.  Your mind, department, and company will thank you for it!

try something new

Leadership Resources to Review by Jim Johnson

Looking for a good resource for your leadership development?  Visit this site:

Dr. Cramer is one of the authors of an incredible book, Change the Way You See Everything.  

On this site you can sign up for emails, visit her blog, find out where she will be speaking, etc.  Dr. Cramer and her writing are great resources.  Do yourself a favor and invest some time reviewing her work.


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