Everyday Heroes

I was thinking recently about where my inspiration comes from on a regular basis. It’s an intriguing question because I know that I get a lot of forward energy from inspirational people and experiences. As I contemplated the question, I was struck immediately by the simplicity of who came to mind.

Paul Pendleton, the guy who leads my favorite spin class—he inspires me. I am a dedicated road cyclist and so I spin indoors as part of my training regimen. And I suppose I spin with Paul 5-6 times per month. He’s very good at his craft, but what he’s best at is inspiring his audience.

Paul knows all of the names of his regular spinners. He connects with everyone during the class by exhorting them by name as he shouts over the music, “killer pace, Sheila” or “way to get after it, Brian” or “great work, Phil”. And his sound track is literally kick-ass—great music that is heavy on back beat and screaming guitars and is the driving energy behind his classes. But what sets him apart is what he says to us all, collectively, as we spin through what is always a tough workout:

“This is who we are and what we do. We didn’t come here to be comfortable. We’re here to get stronger, leaner, faster, more fit. You gotta exit the comfort zone to do that. Discomfort is temporary—staying comfortable and giving up is forever.”

And… “You made the choice to be here today, a choice to get better—to change your body, change your mind, change your life, change the world. Make sure you get what you came for.”

And finally, at the end of the workout, he thanks everyone for their effort and for their ongoing commitment to pursuing a healthy lifestyle

As you might imagine, Paul’s classes are packed, often over-booked. Why? Besides the great workout, music and camaraderie, he gets it. It’s personal and it matters, being inspired. And he delivers. Paul’s a regular guy, by the way, meaning he’s got a day job besides spinning instruction. He’s simply one of those everyday heroes, people who consistently inspire us to get better just by how they show up.

So, a question--where does inspiration come from in your life? Who are your everyday heroes, the folks that inspire you to be your best self?

The Charge to Lead - August 1945

On a recent visit to Denver, my cousin Linda brought with her a very interesting document. It was included in her father's (my Uncle Charlie's) discharge papers from his service as an officer in the Army during WWII. The author is an unknown commanding officer, who clearly had a sense of the gravity of the moment and the responsibility that beckoned for all of the young guys returning from the war.

It really struck me. I think it is a powerful piece of writing that could only have come from that time and place. It is the ultimate call for leadership and is quite interesting to reflect on in the context of the world we live in today. I will let the words speak for themselves.

 

Message From The Commanding Officer – Separation Center - U.S. Army

(Likely Date of Message – August 1945)

You are being discharged from the Army today—from your Army. It is your Army because your skill and your patriotism, your labor and courage and devotion have been some of the factors which make it great. You have been a member of the finest military team in history. You have accomplished miracles in battle and supply. Your country is proud of you and you have every right to be proud of yourselves. 

You have seen, in the lands where you worked and fought, and where many of your comrades died, what happens when the people of a nation lose interest in their government. You have seen what happens when they follow false leaders. You have seen what happens when a nation accepts hate and intolerance.

We all are determined that what happened in Europe and Asia must not happen again to our country. Back in civilian life, you will find that your generation will be called upon to guide our country’s destiny. Opportunity for leadership is yours. The responsibility is yours. The nation which depended on your courage and stamina to protect it from enemies now expects you as individuals to claim your right of leadership, a right which you earned honorably and which is well deserved.

Start being a leader as soon as you put on your civilian clothes. If you see intolerance and hate, speak out against them. Make your individual voices heard, not for selfish things, but for honor and decency among men, for the rights of all people.

Remember, too, the no American can afford to be disinterested in any part of his government, whether it is county, city, state or nation.

Choose your leaders wisely—that is the way to keep ours the country for which you fought. Make sure those leaders are determined to maintain peace throughout the world. You know what war is. You know that we must not have another. As individuals you can prevent it if you give to the task which lies ahead the same spirit which you displayed in uniform.

Accept that trust and the challenge which it carries. I know that the people of America are counting on you. I know that you will not let them down.

Goodbye to each and every one of you and to each and every one of you good luck!

Inspiration Found

So…my last visit to this space to write was a year ago. My intention is to change that—write more often and share perspectives and thoughts around a number of topics. I found the inspiration to blog again—maybe it found me?—in late July and early August.

After doing some facilitation work in Estes Park I drove over Trailridge Road, from Estes Park to Granby, CO. I was on my way to Copper Mountain for the well-known Copper Triangle bike ride on Saturday August 1st. I crested the top of Trailridge—12,200 feet above sea level--about 5:30 pm as the sun was beginning to wane and the shadows darkening the canyons and valleys below of Rocky Mountain National Park. If you’ve been on Trailridge Road before, you know how breathtaking it is in scope and beauty. Sort of like the Grand Canyon I think, in that it’s a challenge to take in all at once. The views are spectacular and for me, almost surreal. And what struck me was how fortunate I was to be there at that time on that day, and that my calling and passion—the work I do—had brought me there.

The next day I road my bike, along with over 2,000 other cyclists, over three more mountain passes in Colorado’s Central Rockies—Fremont, Tennessee and Vail. The sky was the deepest blue and the air clear and crisp—a Top Ten kind of day. And once again, as I peddled with my tribe of fellow riders, I reflected on what brought me there: a passion for cycling and seeing the Rockies from the seat of a bike.

And then it hit me. I gotta write about this sort of stuff when it happens, about the importance of tapping the passions we have that fuel us. I hope, for you, you are considering what is present in your life that creates that special brand of energy. About what inspires you, moves you, challenges you to do what you love, and even better, take some risks. I know that for me, what I can experience is that sublime place of being fully present. That place where I have no regrets about the past and no worries about the future, and that is profoundly liberating.

Where do your passions take you?

I'm Back...Not Since January?

So I’ve not blogged since January. Wow. Not a very good track record. But here I am anyway in August and want to share some thoughts around books I’ve read lately.

First, “The Boys in the Boat”, the true story of the 1936 Univ. of Washington men’s crew team and their amazing quest to represent the U.S. in the 1936 Olympics in Germany—while Hitler was building the Third Reich. If you read and liked “Unforgiven”, you will like this one as well. It’s a page-turner, reads like a novel. The story is so well written and it gives one a real sense of what it was really like to live day-to-day during the Depression of the 1930’s. We just have no context in 2014 of what so many people had to do to survive then. It is sobering and yet so inspiring. It truly is an against-all-odds sort of journey for these boys in the boat. If you’re looking for a book that will make you cheer, this is it!

“The Great Game of Business” by Jack Stack has been out since 1992 and has even been updated a bit. Why it took me so long to get to this eminently practical and also inspiring book I’m not sure. But it ought to be on every leader’s list if you’ve not read it. This is the guy who pioneered the notion of open-book management, of being completely transparent with all employees in a business—in 1992. Here’s what they do with new employees as soon as they join the business—which is still going strong. They teach them how the company makes money, and thus they learn right away how what they do everyday adds to the greater good of the company and all of it’s stakeholders. So simple, so powerful and yet ask yourself, do your employees or team members really know how your company makes money? This book will challenge many leaders’ thinking, even today, about how to run a business.

Finally, not a book but a very unique and easy-to-use journal called, “The Five-Minute Journal”. The byline of the journal says it’s “The simplest, most effective thing you can do everyday to be happier”. The authors, Alex Ikonn and Uj Ramdas, have created a straightforward way to record, everyday, what you’re grateful for, what would make today a great day, some daily affirmations and then a wrap-up at the end of the day on the 3 amazing things that did happen today and how you could have made today even better. I have begun using it and I’ve found it a very grounding and insightful tool for anchoring what I’d call a “gratitude practice”, something I often encourage clients to pursue when they seem to get stuck in their lives with problems and energy-draining drama, and lose sight of the legitimate goodness that exists in their lives as well. The journal has some guidance at the beginning for showing you how to use it—very helpful.

Ok—that’s it for now…more to follow soon.

Suspending Disbelief Indefinitely

I ran across a blog post recently from Ben Horowitz, a venture capitalist with a unique point of view in my judgment. This particular post is about the difference between “can-do” and “can’t-do” cultures, especially as it relates to technology start-ups. I happen to think it can also apply to any company—of any size—attempting to truly innovate anything. Do you find at your company that doing something new, different, perhaps even radically different, is hard to do? If so, I think you’ll be interested in Ben’s perspective.

In the end it can often be about getting people to suspend disbelief indefinitely, to be able to give up on the notion that they are right and that the innovators are wrong. That in itself can be tough sledding because the skeptics may have significant power and influence. So, read Ben’s short historical perspecitves on the beginnings of the computer, the telephone and the Internet and what some very influential people said/did at the time to attempt to torpedo all three of these breakthrough innovations. Fascinating.

The link to the blog post is http://wp.me/pSsBB-v2. If you are the leader of a company, a team or a division of a company, this post may cause you to consider if the innovators—the “crazies”—in your organizations are being heard and taken seriously. Or, are they discounted and marginalized because they don’t think like everyone else? If the latter, what might you choose to do about it?

 

Get Happy

Recently I’ve come across two magazine articles on what makes people happy—one from Psychology Today’s August 2013 edition (www.psychologytoday.com) and the other from Outside Magazine’s (www.outsideonline.com) January 2014 issue. As we enter a new year it seems fitting to contemplate what makes us happy, or perhaps what will make us happier in 2014.

Both articles site numerous happiness studies done recently—from cutting-edge neuroscience—regarding what seems to make we humans happy. Predictably, Outside’s angle is based on doing things to be happy—get up early, play in the mud, cranking your tunes, staying hydrated, training with a team, having healthy eating/drinking habits and volunteering. But, the focus here is also on being unselfishly happy, that those who have an innate sense of happiness also have a deep sense of purpose and meaning in their lives, something much bigger than themselves. In fact, they say that these same people tested in a research project actually had a stronger expresion of anitviral and antibody genes, and thus had a powerful positive effect on their health. Wow—so being happy can actually have a positive impact on our genetic code!

Psychology Today nets happiness down to this—people who experience long-term happiness are very curious people who knowingly “invest in activities that cause them discomfort as a springboard to higher pshchological peaks”. In other words, happy people tend to be risk-takers, folks who purposely stretch themselves to learn and grow and create memorable experiences that are in some way life-changing. They come back different from these experiences….stronger…better.

So as you contemplate the year ahead, what’s your sense of your own happiness right now? If you’re in a good place, by all means celebrate! If not, what do you want to do about it? Perhaps this is the year for taking stock and then taking action, for getting intensely curious about yourself, your purpose and the world around you, and taking some risks. Perhaps this is the year you summon the courage it may take to truly become an explorer and adventurer in your own life. What might that look like for you?

Onward!

 

Trail Markers

This past June my wife Susan and I took a trip to Ireland and Scotland. We first visited Dublin, a wonderful vibrant and warm city, and then on to Scotland. We began in Aberdeen, stayed in an amazing castle in the Speyside region with friends for a weekend and then made our way south to the lake country of Scotland. A friend who grew up in Glasgow recommended—no, insisted—that we visit a place in the Trossachs called Monachyle Mhor. He said it was a magical place. How could we not go?

He was right. Here we discovered Loch Voil and the endless streams that tumble down from the surrounding hills that flow into the loch, creating the only sound you can hear for miles. The surounding forests were dense and filled with moss and centuries-old trees that were all colors of green and lit-up by the filtered sunlight. We saw very few people. Actually we saw many more sheep than people. Were we in a dream? No, my friend later said—just Scotland. It was breathtaking and so peaceful. Magical indeed.

The path to Monachyle Mhor is paved, but is single lane. About the width of a bike path and way off the beaten path for tourists. There are many places to hike and get even deeper into nature and on one of our hikes we came upon a huge cairn, basically in the middle of nowhere. Cairns have a Scottish Gaelic heritage and actually date back to pre-history in their use. They are used as trail markers worldwide, especially in places where it is difficult to discern the path, like glaciers and barren ground above timberline. As we came closer to the cairn, we realized just how big it was—see the attached photo below (I also have a cairn in the TruPath logo). We wondered how these stones came to be here, when they were placed and by whom? There is no doubt they had been there for hundreds of years. We had stumbled on an ancient path, yet one still travelled by 21st century humans.

I choose to believe now that we were meant to see it and contemplate it’s meaning. Ever have the feeling that you were being guided somewhere but you weren’t sure why? That’s how this experience felt, that the message from the stones was “you are on the right path, my friends, like many before you. Godspeed in your journey”. I am certain I’ve missed some of the markers in my own journey, simply because I was going too fast and was too self-absorbed and did not see the signs. But not this day. We were on the right path.

So as you contemplate your own journey and it’s pace, are you slowing down enough to read the signs, to see the trail markers wise and courageous navigators and adventurers have left behind for us? They are there if we will only open our eyes and hearts, and trust our instincts that we are on the right path.

 

 

Miracles

I saw a sign being held by one of those people at a stoplight the other day—you know, those folks who hope we’ll open our wallets and hearts for the two minutes we’re sitting at the light. His sign said, ” I need a miracle.” Quickly, that sort of cynical voice inside of me that pops up once in awhile thought “who doesn’t?” We could all use a miracle or two I suppose.

And then the meaning of the scene hit me—here’s this guy standing at a major intersection—a crossroads if you will—looking for, waiting for, hoping for a miracle. In that moment I realized how he was like so many of us, metaphorically at a crossroads in our lives, waiting for a miracle. Does that resonate at some level for you?

In my judgment, that’s a sign we’re stuck somehow and don’t know what to do. Or, we do know what to do but can’t summon the courage to do it. Both forms of being stuck. And here’s the thing—as long as we’re stuck, we’re not going to improve, grow, learn, flourish…get better at life or our particular craft. In the work I do around authentic behaviors and building authentic communities, I’ve learned that getting unstuck requires us to first take 100% responsibility for our lives—to stop accepting the role of the victim. This is suprisingly difficult for some people, but in choosing to be 100% responsible, we take the first step in exploring what we want and truly changing our circumstances for the better. 

If you’re currently stuck, what are you doing today to get better…and make your own miracles happen?

 

What Is A Workout?

Back in the day—that day being the 1960’s and 70’s—there was a famous NFL coach named George Allen. Coach Allen first became famous with the Chicago Bears for drafting players like Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus and Mike Ditka. You might have heard of those guys. He later became famous as the head coach of the Washington Redskins and took them to the 1973 Super Bowl. He was a consummate motivator and developer of talented players, and long before it became either fashionable and/or imperative for world-class athletes to train year-round for their sport, Coach Allen was touting the benefits of physical fitness. Along the way he wrote the following short piece entitled, “What Is A Workout?”

What Is A Workout?

A workout is 25 percent perspiration and 75 percent determination. Stated another way, it is one part physical exertion and three parts self-discipline. Doing it is easy once you get started. A workout makes you better today than you were yesterday. It strengthens the body, relaxes the mind and toughens the spirit. When you workout regularly your problems diminish and your confidence grows.

A workout is a personal triumph over laziness and procrastination. It is the badge of a winner—the mark of an organized, goal-oriented person who has taken charge of his or her destiny. A workout is a wise use of time and an investment in excellence. It is a way of preparing for life’s challenges and proving to yourself that you have what it takes to do what is necessary.

A workout is a key that helps unlock the door to opportunity and success. Hidden within each of us is an extraordinary force. Physial and mental fitness are the triggers than can can release it. A workout is a form rebirth—when you finish a good workout, you don’t simply feel better.

YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOURSELF. (The caps are his, not mine)

Coach Allen passed away in 1990 after being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. He was not always popular in his day, but his players loved playing for him because he walked his talk via his legendary work ethic and his ferocious support of their success on and off the field.

His words resonate now more than ever regarding physical and mental fitness. If you want to get better, and FEEL better about yourself, are you on the path to a healthier life?

Getting Better

Greetings. It’s been over two years since I’ve visited this space to write. I don’t really have any good excuses as to why that is exactly. I got lazy, uninspired, lost interest, got scared…kinda weird that it happened as I like to write and yet it did. But instead of dwelling on the past, let’s talk about the future…and getting better.

After reflecting on the work I do I realized that a common and central theme is always about…getting better. Whether it’s an individual leader, a leadership team, a YPO/WPO forum, fellow colleagues, friends and family and certainly myself. What we all want, in some form or fashion, is to improve— to get healthy, repair relationships, get fit, learn more, grow a business, do less, do good, support a worthy cause, see the future more clearly, get unstuck. In other words, the movement is always forward and the desire is to take action on moving the needle that direction and…get better.

So, this space will be all about getting better going forward. I commit to blog here at least once per month and share many perspectives on professional and personal improvement. It may be something I’ve read, a post that I’ve seen, great guidance I’ve come across or a personal observation or experience. I will also challenge you, the reader, to wonder “where and how am I getting better—what might that look like for me?” I am excited about this approach and look forward to…getting better myself!

A couple of pretty well-known cats named Lennon and McCartney penned the following lyrics to a song:

“I have to admit it’s gettting better, a little better all the time…”

What are YOU working on right now to get better, a little better all the time?

It's Greek to Me

I am an avid road cyclist and last week completed my third Bicycle Tour of Colorado (BTC), a stage ride versus race, that travels through the mountains of Colorado every June for 7 days and usually comprises around 500 total miles of riding. It’s a challenging event for sure, but made sublime and inspiring by the vistas and scenes we all are fortunate to experience. This year’s ride was no exception as we rode through well-known towns like Estes Park, Granby, Steamboat Springs, Vail and Frisco and some lesser known gems like Rollinsville, Toponas, Oak Creek, Burns, State Bridge and Yampa. And we rode over high altitude roads like Trail Ridge, Rabbit Ears Pass, Vail Pass and Loveland Pass. The world just looks and feels different from the seat of a bicycle.

One town we over-nighted in was Glenwood Springs, CO. A pretty cool town, hard by the banks of the Colorado River with an authentic Western heritage—Doc Holliday died there. The river is raging at the moment due to all of the snow melt and runoff, and it defines Glenwood as a river town. While walking around town one evening I stopped into the Hotel Denver, as I’d not seen it before. A nice example of how to renovate a beautiful old hotel and yet somehow keep it fresh. And on the wall in the lobby of the hotel is this quote:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”.

The words belong to Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher (535 to 475 B.C.) who must have known something about rivers, and life. It struck me first as rather cryptic, almost like a riddle. But as I considered the words, what came up for me were the twin notions of flow and change. The metaphor of “the river of life” is not a new one, but this Greek fella seemed to put a new twist on it for me. I’m not sure I can articulate what that is exactly but little did I expect to walk into a hotel lobby in Glenwood Springs and be so surprised and inspired by the words of an ancient Greek.

But I do know that we followed the river that next day on our ride, watching it flow and change, and I realized that we, the riders, were all flowing and changing along with the river—part of the same force. And we knew that by the end of the ride we’d not be the same people as when we started—we’d come to the end of the trail different, changed, inspired… and you bet, tired. I guess that why we do it—to get in the flow, feel the change and let it sweep us along while we ride. It’s quite an experience.

Self-Mastery

I am often asked about executive coaching—about how it works and why someone would engage an executive coach. There are a number of good reasons why business leaders work with a trusted advisor who maintains an objective, but supportive, third-party perspective in providing clarity around a leader’s strengths, potential areas of growth and barriers to breaking their less-desirable patterns professionally and personally. Usually, the reasons come down to wanting a more balanced, fulfilling career and life— with more joy and less stress—and to be accepted simply for who they are.

So, there is some work involved here—it does not just magically happen. At the foundation of it all is for leaders to begin, perhaps for the first time, the journey of self-mastery. And it is a journey, not a destination. It begins with building true self-awareness, of acceptance of who they are. This work is often about understanding behaviors that stem from their personalities, or egos. Next, it requires being open and responsive to feedback about themselves as leaders and people. This can lead to leaders discovering what really motivates them internally and learning how to tap into that energy to become more self-managing and self-propelled.

Over time, leaders see more clearly their place at work and in the world. The platform of self-awareness and acceptance enables them to develop a personal vision, supported by understanding their core values and purpose. This goes beyond the question “what do I want to accomplish?”—an important question, certainly—to asking “why am I on the planet, what’s my role here?”. The latter is a much bigger question, but one my coach asked me six years ago that I’m still working on via my personal journey of self-mastery.

The practice required to stay on the self-mastery path as a leader is to be a life-long learner, to be consistently curious about all manner of things and people. To be and remain engaged and connected, to not lose that child-like sense of wonder and yet remain grounded becuase sometimes you’re the one who has to make the tough decisions. In my judgment it’s a courageous choice because it’s a challenge to become an explorer in your own life—you may not be comfortable with everything you learn. However, you may grow beyond your wildest dreams.

 

 

Jim Cramer is an Elk

That’s right. Jim Cramer—the frenetic, genius, controversial, Harvard-educated and sometimes villified stock picking guru of “Mad Money” fame—is a member of the Elk’s club in Summit, NJ. I know this because I was recently pointed to an article about Cramer in the Sunday NY Times magazine.

The author of the article, Zev Chafets, spent a few days with Cramer before writing the piece and one evening was invited to Cramer’s Elks Club to meet the guys and play a little air hockey and shoot pool. Perhaps your first reaction to this news was like mine—seems a little unlikely and…what’s the catch? Turns out, there is no real catch according to the author, who does a good job objectively profiling Cramer I might add.

Cramer has had a roller-coaster ride of a life and by his own admission, feels lucky to be alive. And in his world, he’s a personality, a performer, an author who says he is sincerely trying to help the little guy make money in the stock market. He’s lost money of course, but made a lot more. In short, he’s a very visible dude. And yet here he is, hanging out with the local businessmen and leaders of Summit, NJ drinking beer and shooting pool. Why? He wants to be there—in my judgment he needs to be there. He says the Elks are “…good fathers, good men, good friends. To them, it comes naturally. It doesn’t to me. I learn from them”.

In my work with execs and high-achievers, I sometimes encounter folks like Cramer. And often, all they want is to be liked and accepted for who they are as human beings versus admired for their persona or net worth. And they yearn to spend time with good, grounded people—“good kings” as I call them. By the way, they can be male or female, these good kings. It’s not about gender, it’s about who they are at a soul level. Spending time with good kings, like the Elks of Summit, NJ, is healing for Cramer—that’s one of the reasons he’s become one of them. So, what’s the catch? There, he can just be Jim.

What You Always Wanted to Be

Recently a good friend of mine sent me a quote that defined, at least for one coach, what a coach is and does. The quote comes from Tom Landry, the legendary Dallas Cowboys coach during the team’s dominating performances in the 80’s and 90’s. Here’s what Landry said:

“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear so you can see what you don’t want to see so that you can become what you’ve always wanted to be.”

I have to confess I like the quote and the intent of Landry’s message, although I don’t believe that an executive coach’s role is necessarily to tell his or her clients what to do. Working the client’s agenda and uncovering “the big want” for the client is the central focus of a coach’s job in my judgment.  Athletic teams are different—a little more of a command-and-control environment there.

But, Landry touched on something else that is important for coaches, and that is clearly identifying with the client what is blocking them from reaching their full potential or in Landry’s words “becoming what you always wanted to be”. Going to that place, to where your hidden or unrealized gifts reside, the backstairs of untapped or yet-to-be-unleashed genius—that takes courage. I’ve worked with folks who did not want to go there—at first. But eventually they gathered the nerve to face that fear and break through it, which is the first and toughest stage in catalyzing transformational change. I call this leaning in to fear, running towards it versus away from it—if you can’t get out of it, “it” being your current reality—get into it. What you will discover is that the fear is simply a story you’ve made up about yourself or your situation—it’s not truly real. Once you realize this, the path is much clearer and brighter because you can change the story and take definitive steps towards becoming what you always wanted to be.

Dick Schulte

Unbroken...Unreal

I just finished reading Laura Hillenbrand’s new book “Unbroken”. It is the amazing, true story of Louis Zamperini, a track Olympian in the 1930’s who became a B-24 bombardier in the Pacific theater of WW II. His plane crashed in the Pacific yet he survived, floating on a raft for many days before being captured by the Japanese. He was then interred in a series of POW camps—almost three years—until the war ended. Every time you thought it could not get worse for Louis as his story unfolded, it did.

It is difficult to put in our modern context what Louis endured and how he managed to come home alive. He suffered through the most harrowing and inhuman treatment a person could ever imagine. He witnessed many of his friends and fellow POW’s die tortuous deaths, sometimes for simply moving in their chair or asking a question. The inhumanity described in the book is just simply hard to believe—what is even harder to believe is that Louis, and many others, did survive and returned home to re-build themselves and their lives.

And yet. This is a story of triumph and redemption as well. For many, the war never ended after they got home. It haunted them until they passed. For others, like Louis, in spite of the challenges of re-entry into post-war America, he eventually flourished. He chose a life of service to underprivileged kids and gave willingly of himself and his resources. He did it via a spiritual awakening and discovering how to forgive even his most brutal captors—it allowed him to move on and make the world a better place.

So, if you’re ever having a bad day or are stuck or think there is no way out of your current situation, think about Louis, what he endured and the mental and physical pain he suffered—both from others and self-inflicted. How did he eventually learn to deal with it? He chose forgiveness and the first person he forgave was himself.

Dick Schulte

To Dare

I recently discovered a quote from the 19th century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. In his day, he was considered an iconoclast—a loner yet outspoken, dressed differently than the norm and apparently had a pretty wild 1970’s-style Rod Stewart haircut. In short, sort of a weird dude. But he advanced the notion of living life on one’s own terms and being in the here-and-now versus the more theoretical notions of Man and God that were popular at the time. These were vestiges, to Kierkegaard, of what we would now call “old school” thinking. He was way ahead of his time and judged harshly by his contemporaries.

He said “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose onself.” That is a bold statement, yet so insightful in my judgment. And the accounts of Kierkegaard’s life indicate he definitely walked his own talk. It also reminds me of Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous saying—“try do to something every day that scares you.”

It all got me to thinking about what I would dare to do in 2011, stepping out of my comfort zone to try something new, take a risk without worrying too much about the outcome. I am still pondering the question—don’t have an answer yet. But I will come up with something that feels right after checking-in with my heart and my head. And I would pose the same question to you. What might you dare to do in 2011? What crazy, risky, courageous, wonderful thing have you been thinking about doing—for a long time—that you just have not pulled the trigger on yet? Is it something completely new and exhilirating, is it a conversation with someone you’ve been putting off, is it letting go of stuff from your past that is dragging you down?

Whatever IT is, I hope you dare to take action. Because instead of losing yourself, you will discover new truths about you that have been there all along.

Dick Schulte

 

 

An Entrepreneur's Perspective

Recently I was pointed to a blog post from an entrepreneur based upon his own experience in growing what became a very successful business in India. As an experienced entrepreneur and someone who also works with them, I thought his insights and learnings were on-the-money and some profound. I offer his ideas for succeeding as an entrepreneur so that they can inform and inspire others like they did me.

  1. Four ingredients of a successful entrepreneur—Idea, Belief, Passion and a Willingness to Act.
  2. Asking the right questions—what, to whom, and when?
  3. Be willing to see other perspectives, putting yourself in the shoes of your customer so that you can really see where you can innovate for the customer.
  4. WW—Watch to Wallet. The amount of time someone spends with your product/service will reflect on that person’s spending.
  5. Necessity is the mother of Invention, Scarcity is the Father.
  6. Failure as an entrepreneur is a qualification, and should be taken with the right spirit.
  7. Having the right team is the key to success. Investors do not invest in an idea, they invest in a team.
  8. The right team can take an average idea and make it succeed, while an average team can execute a great idea into failure.
  9. Entrepreneurship is a mystery and the job of the entrepreneur is to transform the mystery into a puzzle that must be solved with the right combination of creativity, insight, boldness and work.
  10. Entrepreneurship is about dealing with uncertainties. It’s more about developing a strategy to navigate the uncertainties, staying lean and agile in the process.
  11. In the present economy, people driven by knowledge will automatically attract wealth. People not driven by knowledge may lose their wealth.
  12. Entrepreneurship is the art of staying afloat while you are not profitable.
  13. Cash flow matters more than attractive margins.
  14. Your approach to things is what differentiates you as an entrepreneur.
  15. Experiential learning is more valuable than institutional learning—learn from experience.

Resolution

A client of mine recently reminded me that my blog is a bit stale. He said the words a little more directly than that but I got the message and thanked him for the kick in the butt. Indeed, I have not written in my blog for too many months, and I don’t have a decent excuse. Clearly it’s not a practice I have adopted as a habit…yet.

Frankly, I’m still not sure about blogging—the value of it. But I do know that I have a point of view and information to share from time to time, and that folks who visit the TruPath site might actually have an interest in what I’m sharing. Thus, I am committed going forward to writing once per week in this space and it seems natural to make that resolution on December 30th, 2010. Putting the commitment in writing, for me, is the clincher because now it’s out there in the Universe. As I remind my clients consistently, once you make a commitment to change, to summon the courage to do something new and out of your comfort zone—and make it public—amazing things can happen that you might not expect. I am now open to the possibilties this change can bring.

So here’s to making amazing things happen, for all of us, in 2011. I wish for all of you nothing but good things in the new year and that you are intentional and tenacious about getting what you want in 2011.

Peace.

Dick Schulte

An Evolving Passion

When I founded TruPath, I knew as a “start-up guy” that I was stepping into the unknown to some degree and would learn much more about what my clients need, expanding the services I offer as a result. At the time, I was not sure what that would look like. But, now I do.

The TruPath website was updated today to include information on two services I have added to the repertoire. First, something I’ve actually been doing for five years and that is facilitating executive forum retreats. This work has been done largely with YPO forums based in Colorado, Indiana, California and Texas, assisting forums in exploring in a retreat setting how they can connect and interact more deeply and authentically. I truly enjoy this work and look forward to continuing it for many years to come.

Second, in coaching executives I’ve discovered that in some companies there is a lack of clarity, or even an absence, of focus on core values, company purpose and company mission. I created a model and process, the Performance Pyramid, in 2001 as CMO of Voyant Technologies that specifically speaks to creating, codifying and commuicating these foundational elements for businesses. I honestly don’t know how companies of any size can grow and perform successfully without knowing, and living, these three key elements that underpin company objectives, strategies and tactics. How can great execution take place in an environment where people are not clear on how to behave, why they are there and what they intend to accomplish? So there is a process for getting there cleanly and effectively that I am now offering. It works, it’s powerful and is key to truly motivating teams and organizations.

As you can see, the business is evolving—check out the new services I am offering. It’s all happening around my passion for creating great leaders, great cultures and thus, great companies that can indeed change the world.

Dick Schulte