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Finding Your Mission in Life

Earlier this year a great man died. His name was Richard N. Bolles. He was the author of What Color is Your Parachute, a book that the Library of Congress listed as one of the 25 most influential books in the world. I was lucky enough to have known Dick, as he preferred to be called. He helped a lot of people and wrote many amazing books, but one of the most astounding gifts he left here on earth is something he wrote to a lady who ask him the question of all questions, “How do I find my mission

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Caring or Comparing Culture

Last month , I offered some suggestions about what to do and what not to do when there is a death at your workplace. There was a tremendous response to those simple and practical ideas. To refresh your memory, the August 31 Leadership and Life message boiled down this: to equip employees to help those who have experienced a tragic loss, ask those employees three questions and suggest that they take a step as follows: Have you ever experienced a tragic loss in your life What did people who tried to support you do that was helpful? What did people

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What’s it all About?

I was in a skating rink enjoying a birthday party for one of my grandchildren. By the way, not surprisingly the skatin’ around music was much hipper than when I was a boy. But when the unfamiliar music finally stopped, something very familiar happened. A teenage employee, dressed as a clown, skated smoothly to the middle of the rink. The lights dimmed. The room went silent. The clown called in the kids, then the light went up and the sound system blasted, “Put your right foot in, put your right foot out.” On cue every kid and a few the

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Finding Your Place in 2017

Most people in the US hate their jobs. National surveys support this idea finding that 65 – 70 % of all employees are dissatisfied and disengaged in their current job. A 2015 Gallup poll states that 30%- 35% are saying they plan to leave their current job within a year. When I was in my mid-30s years ago, I was one of them. I was productive, but my work didn’t fit me. I got depressed. So I quit a good job and went to a career counselor to help me change careers. Then I got even more depressed. Because his

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Letting Light In

Our 3-year-old Grandson wanted one thing under the Christmas tree this year – a big red fire truck. My wife searched and searched online, and finally found what she thought was the perfect one. It arrived last week and was promptly placed in our secret gift closet. Yesterday she decided to put in the batteries and do a trial run. When she pushed the truck’s horn, we heard a strange sound like a dog in great agony. When she turned the siren switch, a litany of agitated voices, in some Asian language, blasted from the tiny truck speakers. She was

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Three Choices

Carnival Cruise Corporation began in 1972. The company couldn’t afford a new ship, so they bought an old beaten-up one. Their cruises consequently took longer than their competitors’ to reach the same destinations. Instead of giving up, Carnival added discos and other amenities to keep their passengers entertained while on board. By doing so, the company reinvented the cruise industry, and today is the largest cruise line in the world and is known as “The Fun Ship” Cruise Line. The leaders of Carnival had their original agenda, but it was knocked off track. As a result, they had three choices:

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And the Team Played On

On this scorching hot day the local politicians were lined up at the hand-shakin’ door of the old city hall and community center. Armed with a smile and a fistful of flyers, each one assured potential voters that their ballot could be wasted only if it were miscast to some ne’er-do-well opponent – i.e., those who didn’t show up for the Dodge City Lions’ Club annual barbecue and hoedown. Inside the smoke-filled room, a local all-string band played and sang hauntingly, “They’re tearing the home place down. They’re tearing the home place down. Oh why did I leave these plowing

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Curve Ball Management

“When you see a curve ball coming, don’t bend you knees” is what a baseball coach would tell a player who is batting against a good-breaking pitcher. Don’t bend your knees means: Don’t move when it looks like the ball is going to hit you. Watch the ball, stand firm and swing. Lots of baby boomer CEOs and key executives are leaving the workplaces these days, which means top leadership and Boards of Directors have to take a swing at managing more complex leadership transitions. The majority of Boards and senior teams think that they have a solid leadership succession

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River Bends

I was floating down the Green River in Utah in a drift boat with a fly-fishing guide. His name was Boomer. We had drifted along in calm waters for several hours and caught a good many rainbow trout. As his name implies, Boomer was a very loud and dramatic guy, but he also was a great guide and teacher. He taught me several lessons of fly-fishing that morning – like how to cast into a strong head wind, let my drag do the work to land a big trout and roll out my line for a perfect drift. Little did

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Begin before you Start into the Wind

My wife and I spent the first week of 2016 in a beach vacation house in on the Gulf Shores, Alabama. It was not the ideal time to being on a non-tropical beach, but we thought it would be fun. We knew it would be cold, but we could bundle up. Best of all, we would have the beach mostly to ourselves. The temperatures were comfortable the evening we arrived, so the next morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn and went outside to see the sunrise. I was totally unprepared for the near gale force wind that

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Wisdom of an Innkeeper

Mary and Joseph’s First Christmas (another perspective) The weary couple at the close of day hoped this crowded Inn was their place to stay. Compelled by the expectant couple’s plight, the innkeeper found them a room that night. He ushered them into his hectic hall When he heard God’s voice so still and small, “Don’t birth my son in the ruckus place Of noise and drink and want disgrace. Is this a place to begin a life that will change the world of dark to light? So the keeper of the inn did say, “There is no room for you

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A Well Pruned Life

It is winter. If you are a gardener, the chill in the air is a reminder that this is the time to prune your fruit-bearing trees and vines and flowering perennials. This act of cutting a plant almost to the ground seems extreme. But the law of nature requires near total destruction before new growth can produce of a good harvest. If this cutting back doesn’t happen at all or happens too late, the results are not good. Total neglect of pruning over time results in disease and untimely death. The un-pruned plant becomes an unbalanced mixture of old and

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Uncomfortable Truths

Five years ago the Millennials (employees ages 18- 34) made up around 10% of the workforce. Today, their numbers have increased to around a third of the workforce, and by 2020, they’ll make up almost half of the workforce. Last week I asked a large gathering of executives, “Do you have some managers in your organization who constantly complain about the new generation of workers on their teams? Do they have many conflicts and ongoing problems motivating them?” Heads nodded across the large room. Then I asked the nodders, “Are they the same managers who had constant conflicts and complained

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Looking Up to Leaders

Pulling out of my driveway yesterday morning, I looked to my left and saw a very young boy standing beside a middle-age man waiting for the school bus to arrive.  They stood about a block away, and I recognized them from the neighborhood. I thought, “What a fine way to begin my day – seeing a father and son begin their day together.” I stopped my car to take in the moment. The boy looked up at his dad and tugged on his sleeve, and the dad looked down – at his cell phone. I waited. The son said something

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