Guest Post: Shelley Row, author of “Think Less, Live More”

Think Less, Live More - Shelly RowJohn: Today’s guest post is by Shelley Row, whose new book, Think Less, Live More, just squeezed its way to the top of my very crowded reading list.  

Read on for some evidence of why I shuffled my order:


The 1996 Summer Olympics were approaching fast. Atlanta hummed with construction. I was part of a team that designed and built the Transportation Management Center or TMC. The work engulfed the city, all of the surrounding counties, the state department of transportation, federal transportation agencies, MARTA (the transit operator) and a significant quantity of consultants as well as many independent contractors.

We needed unprecedented cooperation to achieve the goal: to complete an operational TMC by July 19th for the opening ceremony. The goals was SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound), but this goal had something going for it that many other SMART goals did not have: it was intrinsically motivating.

SMART goals are practical, logical, rational and…sometimes, lackluster. Complete the proposal by September 1, launch the app by January 1, write a blog by Monday. Well, okay this one is for real.

The statistics on the success rate for achieving goals is dismal. According to the University of Scranton, only 8% of New Year’s resolutions are realized. It’s no wonder enthusiasm is lacking if the goal has no link to your natural motivations or self-identity. Goals that are too much from the head need conscious, concerted thought to push them forward. And that means mental energy – a scarce resource. On the other hand, goals that are connected to deeper meaning are more self-motivating. How can you as a manager and leader, tap into this strong motivational force? Here are three ways you can make that connection.

Intrinsic individualized motivation. Dr. David Rock and Elliot Berkman, who are researchers in the neuroscience field have a theory of goal pursuit called AIM (Antecedent, Integration, Maintenance). The Integration element includes a method to find and link to intrinsic motivation. It has to do with asking, “why.” Here’s how it works.

Start by stating the goal. For example, complete the TMC for the Olympic opening. Then ask “why.” My answer may be: “It feels as though I’m part of something bigger; I feel pride; I feel important and successful when working on this project.” Notice that the “why” answers speak to an internal motivation that, in my case, connect to my value system. This type of goal is self-motivating because it comes from inside.

Now consider another goal: Launch a new product by September 1. Again ask “why.” The corporate response might be to make more money or be the first to corner this market. That is intellectually understandable but not very emotionally compelling. As a leader, help individuals connect this company goal at a deeper level. As a further example, keep asking “why” until you find the intrinsic motivator. Examples of intrinsic motivators include:

  • Status – I feel important working on this product launch
  • Success – I feel successful to achieve this big goal
  • Charitable – I’m contributing to something that will help others
  • Creative – I love using my creativity in a new way

Intrinsic motivators are part of an individual’s value system and can be linked to how they self-identify. Once you have that connection, the company goal is more likely to be sustainable and achievable because of increased meaning.

Approach or Avoid Alignment. Goals can be stated to be either approach oriented or avoidance oriented. For example:

  • Approach: Meet the product launch date
  • Avoidance: Don’t miss the product launch date
  • Approach: Make my husband happy
  • Avoidance: Don’t upset my husband (ok…so this one is real, too)

Research shows that individuals have a natural preference to either an approach or avoidance framing. Stating a goal so that it is congruent with the natural preference can make the goal more motivating. In my case, I am approach-oriented for big, audacious, life goals; however, for many day-to-day goals I am avoidance-oriented. Which of these approaches are your preference?

As an exercise, write down a goal in both formats and notice which one feels more motivating for you. There is no right or wrong answer. One way may simply work better for you than another. Once you know which one it is, consider addressing the goal that uses that phraseology. While it is straightforward for you, it may be difficult to discern it for others.

I tend to lean toward an educational approach. Educate staff to understand the neuroscience behind approach and avoidance goals. They will quickly understand the difference between the goal statements and they are likely to grasp the differences in motivational intensity and see the value. Once you understand this approach, use congruent approach or avoidance goal statements.

Cut through the clutter. Lastly, when goals are aligned with intrinsic motivators people tend to notice new opportunities that align with the goal. Research shows the more important a goal is to a person’s self-identity, then it follows an object that is in alignment with the goal has higher perceived value. Subsequently, when bombarded with daily, on-the-job distractions, the opportunities aligned with the intrinsically motivated goal will stand out from the crowd. And conversely, you are less likely to notice situations that are not in goal alignment. This is good news because this tendency assists with focus in an era abundant with distractions. Plus, you are more likely to recognize opportunity when it comes.

In retrospect, we achieved our goal of opening the TMC in time for the opening ceremonies. That goal created a bond between all of us that still endures. Each time I bump into one of the team at conferences, we smile at the memory and because it feels good all over again. Now, that’s a powerful motivator.

 This post was originally published at  on 8/2/15

Shellly Row shotShelley Row, P.E. is a high-energy, engaging speaker and coach working with top managers and leaders in data-driven fields who must make fast, insightful decisions using their infotuition®- the intersection of business pragmatics and gut feel. Find out more at

A Few Words About Starting and Ending …

Doing Nothing - Gratisography

Ending is as important as beginning … maybe more so. 

Personally, I have no problem starting something.  Some days, I start many things.  I can even start a new thing while still starting an older thing.  I have well-developed skills around the art of starting things  …


We engage our brains and create wonderful images of “What It Will Be Like When We Do This”.  We talk and imagine what our lives will be like when we do this thing.   We create images of how things will be, once we have done what we say we are going to do.  This is why we post pictures of really fit (and usually much younger) people on our refrigerator doors at the beginning of a diet or exercise program. Continue reading

Some Wind Beneath My Wings …

promo_04David J. Greer is apparently quite the sailor … and he writes pretty good too:).

I have not thought of myself as an entrepreneur in the past, but this book just might change my life.


In this small volume, David has collected a large amount of business wisdom gained both through his own experience and that of many others, whose stories sprinkle like golden nuggets throughout the pages and chapters.

David also takes the time to briefly define terms and concepts that most of us have heard, some of us know well, and all of us need to understand to do business.

This is not a book for detail or nuance, which you can find in ample supply elsewhere.  For example, social media as part of Marketing Strategy (chapter title) is given only a few pages.  Others write entire books on this part of your branding and marketing efforts.

Basically, when you read this book, you will learn just about everything you need to know for overall business success in the modern environment.  


I am not always impressed by someone else’s story, because each person, including myself, has unique skills and attitudes, experiences and challenges, and environments to travel. That said, the stories in this book are particularly useful, because they are relatively short and focus on specific aspects of succeeding in your work.

share_08Stories by people like us, rather than the hallowed few who are at the very tiptop of a large corporation, are inherently more useful.  They ring true and use authentic terms.

The scope is probably larger than some might otherwise consider, so stretching occurs as we read about others who have overcome obstacles, faced challenges, and sailed the seas successfully.


Each chapter is organized in short chunks, so you do not feel like you have a ton of reading to get to the good stuff. Even better, each chapter is a mini-book in itself. I normally read from front to back … I’m a linear type of guy. Wind in Your Sails had me jumping around to those topics of particular interest and you can easily do this.

I absorbed the chapter on Corporate Strategy first, partly because it seems key to everything else and partly because I am in the process of creating a new professional identity, so this was of particular interest to me.   I was not disappointed.

You know a book is solid when the author quotes folks like Jim Collins, Chris Edmonds, and Guy Kawasaki.

If your experience is like mine, once you have dived into the most interesting parts, you will experience a distinct desire to read all the rest, even the stuff you normally would skip. The book is that good …


Perhaps most importantly, each chapter ends with a nice review and action steps.  If you are smart, you will pay special attention to these.

Beyond the  “company talk”, this book works as a primer for anyone trying to create a vision for their business, whether a corporate giant trying to corner the market, a mid-size company trying to gain traction, or a solopreneur establishing their name.

If you did not go to business school or need a solid refresher in how to manage your business effectively, put some strong Wind In Your Sails with David … you are in very good hands.

Sailing along happily on some new knowledge in the Heartland ….



David is the catalyst who gets you to fully live your dreams now. After time with him you feel equally scared and hopeful. Scared at the audacity of your dreams and hopeful because you have someone in your corner with the experience and desire to see your dreams become real.

Spend one hour reading his book, attend a one hour talk with him, or get one hour of 1-to-1 coaching and you will have 3 concrete action items that will shift and accelerate your business within 90 days.

David and his wife Karalee are committed to each other and their three children, spending time supporting them in the many and varied activities they are involved with. They live in Vancouver, Canada.



Becoming A Conscious Leader ~ Guest Post by David J. Greer

promo_03John:  I am busy absorbing David J. Greer’s new and fascinating book, which launches this week.  In this guest post, David displays his warm and engaging communication style, along with proving that he knows exactly what he is talking about.    Beyond his expertise, David is also a genuinely nice and collegial person.

Settle in for a real learning treat …

In John’s recent post The Curse of the Professional, he reminds us that there are so many things we do as leaders that are completely unconscious. In my new book Wind In Your Sails: Vital Strategies That Accelerate Your Entrepreneurial Success, I have an entire chapter dedicated to entrepreneurs and how they show up.

In my experience, the single biggest obstacle to the growth of a business is the entrepreneur. Until we spend time looking at ourselves, we are usually unconscious about the ways that we are holding back our own organizations. With my book, I hope to help entrepreneurs take a deeper look at themselves, and with the help of a few simple changes, show up differently.


Human beings work better with regular rhythms. As leaders, we often forget this. Do you exercise every day? At the same time? Are weekly management meetings held consistently at the same time? You must take an active role in finding and building the rhythm that works for you and your business. Everyone around you will fall into rhythm when you show the way.


I spent a recent weekend skiing with my wife Karalee, our daughter Jocelyn, and her fiancé Daniel. We had a fabulous day up at Whistler, BC, visiting on the two-hour drive there and back, taking on the slopes, and challenging each other to try some new runs. I need to make a focused effort to recharge myself, especially as I get ready to launch Wind In Your Sails. Find the things that recharge you. Then make the commitment to get out and do those things.

 Ideal Day

For years I had been unconsciously practicing my ideal day. Then I read about Jason Womack and his idea of an ideal day. Since then I have made a point of writing down the things that make an ideal day for me. I make sure that elements of my ideal day are put into every one of my days.

 Celebrate the Wins

As a high performing individual, I tend to dive into the next challenge. As do the people who work with me. I’ve learned that by starting my week by writing down the wins from my previous week I create positive psychology for myself. As Shawn Achor writes in The Happiness Advantage that increases success for me and those around me.

I started this post with John’s reminder that as leaders we are often unconscious about how we show up every day. If you want different results, you have to show up differently. In Wind In Your Sails, I write about being in rhythm, recharging, living your ideal day, celebrating the wins, and more ways on how you can show up differently to accelerate your growth.


Here’s some more information and a picture of David … you might have guessed his photo would have a water background:)


David is the catalyst who gets you to fully live your dreams now. After time with him you feel equally scared and hopeful. Scared at the audacity of your dreams and hopeful because you have someone in your corner with the experience and desire to see your dreams become real.

Spend one hour reading his book, attend a one hour talk with him, or get one hour of 1-to-1 coaching and you will have 3 concrete action items that will shift and accelerate your business within 90 days.

David and his wife Karalee are committed to each other and their three children, spending time supporting them in the many and varied activities they are involved with. They live in Vancouver, Canada.


“Five Surprising Companies That Espouse Servant Leadership” …

promo_02Besides that company with jazzy commercials, great Cajun-flavored food, and a dynamite CEO, here are five other companies that are making things happen through service:)

Excellent read from @BKPub: Five Surprising Companies That Espouse Servant Leadership