“Slow Down, You Move Too Fast …”

I suppose it’s a sign of the times …

Many people have been and are writing around the concept of mindfulness these days.  With economic, social, and political turmoil, an increasingly rapid pace of technology change, and deep uncertainty about the future, we human beings naturally find ourselves looking inward for help.

Mindfulness is being touted of late as an overlooked and essential part of our daily mental routine.  My thinking about it has to do with leadership and management.  Generally, mindfulness has one essential characteristic:

Attention to the now ~ not looking ahead or behind, but focusing on now

To do this in our busy, busy world, we need to carry out two sub-tasks:

Consider without judgment or filters ~ most problematic for our judgment-oriented selves

We learn to make judgments and evaluate situations.  As a young military leader, I was hammered with the concept of “decisiveness”, closely linked to “action”.  In other words, decide quickly and then act.

Useful in some situations, really harmful in others.

Consider without distractions ~ being fully present in the moment without allowing anything else to intrude

Have you ever had the full attention of someone?  I mean, their complete attention ~ total concentration on you without anything else getting in the way.

The interaction has a definite beginning and end.  It’s an event.  The power of this in terms of authentic leadership and motivation cannot be understated.

Mindfulness is powerful stuff and too often only experienced with a professional therapist  or counselor.  This is how you should be with those whom you lead and manage and how you should experience those who lead and manage you.

About the leading quote:  Michael Carroll writes about being “Awake at Work” and is one of the more helpful sources for mindfulness in the work environment.   I suggest you get to know him and his work … soon:)

Being mindful of myself in the Heartland …


When Coffee Was Just Coffee …

Do you remember going out for a cup of coffee?

I mean before “double-shot, low-fat, decaf soy mocha caramel, foamy venti extra-dry with an attitude” coffee in a non-biodegradable container (coffee cup) served up with great fanfare by a fashionista barista coffee aficionado bean-slosher.

I admit that I’m not even sure that the above can represent an actual coffee order.  I’m making a point with poetic license:)

Just a cup of coffee… maybe a little cream, a little sugar … nothing fancy.  After all, it was just a cup of coffee.

In a symbol of our times, ordering a cup of coffee can now involve SEVEN STEPS.   I used to be able to do it in one step:  “Cuppa coffee, please“.  Make that two steps:  “Thanks“.

Call me old-fashioned, but I sort of long for the days …

… When going for a cup of coffee meant the emphasis was on the talking, not the sipping.

… When the person you were with was the focus, not the interaction with the server.

… When going out for coffee was not about the coffee.

Contentedly sipping a cup of just plain coffee at a BreadCo in the Heartland …


Coaching Clues …

“But with the right kind of coaching and determination you can accomplish anything and the biggest accomplishment that I feel I got from the film was overcoming that fear.”

Reese Witherspoon gets it … what about you?

Effective coaching plus motivation is one strong combination.   The most effective outcomes arise from a clear understanding of the behaviors begin strengthened.

Do you know how to recognize effective coaching? 

When the person being coached …

… is doing most of the work

… feels in control of the process

… is making the decisions

… is coming up with most of the options

… grows more confident in their own abilities

Those are a few good measures.  Of course, the person being coached is usually receiving some well-tuned and effective coaching in order to be growing, deciding, and appearing in control.

What can you add to this list to help us identify effective coaching?

Considering how I stack up in the Heartland ….


Reflect, Learn, Share, Repeat …

I was recently challenged to tell people what I do in five to seven words … sigh.

How do you distill all the things you do into a few words?   My particular curse is to be what generously might be called a “Renaissance Man“, with many interests and a wide range of experiences and background. 

A less generous description might be “He’s got ADHD out the wazoo”, but I prefer the more stately first version. 

Some folks have it easy – “I drive” was another response which I particularly liked.  Short, to the point, and completely descriptive. 

Others shared their value statement or a brief elevator speech.  

“I help people get better at doing things”.  Well, good for you, but how do you do that thing you do?

My response was the title of this post:

Reflect, Learn, Share, Repeat …

Not sure that I have done a better job than anyone else, so I’ll leave it to you. 

What does my short phrase evoke in your mind?

Better yet, how would YOU answer this question?

Waiting patiently for both your responses and spring in the Heartland ….


Musing About Muses …









Clio, Euterpe et Thalie by Eustache Le Sueur

The Ancients often talked of  spiritual beings in human form who provided them with inspiration, energy, and creative ideas.  They called them “Muses” and each of the arts had a specific muse.  In the above painting, we see three Greek muses:  Clio for history, Euterpe for song and poetry, and Thalia for comedy.

As times have changed, the term “muse” took on a more personal meaning.  No longer mythical gods, our more modern muses are real people, but with a special “something”.

Our mortal, yet mystical muses  give the psychic “oomph” for creative art to occur.

A muse shares some aspects of coaching, mentoring, facilitating, and teaching, but in my mind, the muse is subtly different … less of a formal relationship, more emotional and psychological.  

A muse is not a wizard or a teacher, but a fountain of energy from which one can drink again and again.

In recent times, this term has fallen out of use.  “The Muse” was a clever, but not terribly well-received film with Albert Brooks and Sharon Stone as a writer and his modern muse, along with sterling support from Andie McDowell, Jeff Bridges, and Cybil Shepherd (as herself).    Released in 1999, this is the only relatively recent example of the use of a muse I can think of without doing a Google search.

Maybe Google is our new muse for all occasions:) 

We often use the term “inspirational” to describe personal leadership and as an essential characteristic of leadership in general.  We want someone or something to inspire us, to influence us to be our best selves, to create great things.

Michael Bungay Stanier uses the phrase Do Great Workto describe his personal mission to instill this attitude of high goals and excellent output.  Great work might be considered the end focus of all our efforts.

So some questions for you this cold, but clear January weekend morning:

Who is your muse?

How do you use your muse intentionally to create great work?  

How do you become someone else’s muse?  

How does having and being a muse affect you?

Musing on all this talk about muses and planning a phone call to a “friend” real soon in the Heartland ….