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Healthy Transitions – Slow Down to Go Fast

On April 21 my 81 year-old mother had a complete hip replacement and I turned completely 60 years old. For over six months she suffered with increasing pain and struggled with what she should do about it. During that time I agonized over speaking my age to others and grappled with what I would do in the next phase of my business. My mother’s surgery was a marvelous success and her rehab is right on track.  I have come out of my ” how old are you now? ” closet and have rebranded my practice to embrace my calling over 20

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The More History Matters

A group of baby boomers attended a Smart Transitions retreat I was leading a few months ago. One participant, a newly appointed CEO, told us about moving the company headquarters to a new location. During the move they found a dented filing cabinet filled with project drawings and photos, as well as some tattered journals from the firms’ founders . The documents were dated in the 1950’s. He said he looked through the old stuff and had decided to do away with all of it as part of his transition. When I heard his plan I remembered a New York

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Having a Fit

He was a superstar. A tall, dark-eyed, voice of thunder, leader of leaders…or so he appeared. He could be the new pastor of our church, but we better act quickly before a larger congregation scooped him up. The vote was expeditious and unanimous.  Every deacon, elder, leading woman and child, of hand-raising age, were in one accord. The small church of my childhood got the perfect leader. About two years later the congregation split and so did the superstar. There is nothing that will deeply damage an organization’s effectiveness faster than hiring a key leader who is not a fit.

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Small Fish

“So what’s going on in your life that made you decide to get sick?” is what I hear whenever I catch the flu or get a bad cold and finally visit my doctor. This is his way of asking, “Mike, why is your life so out of balance?” Almost every person these days says they are just too busy, and we seem quite proud of it. In America, the phrase “It sounds like you’ve been really busy!” is interpreted as, “It sounds like you are really important!” Unfortunately, a very busy person is usually just someone caught in constant activity

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All the Way In

Everyone on the beach knew it was the first time my granddaughter had been in the ocean. Screams of terror filled the first 10 minutes. For the next hour, screams of delight drenched everyone within earshot as she fought the waves to hold on to her ‘My Little Pony’ boogie board. The whole world knew when she finally made it “all the way in “. Joyfully exhausted, we marched weak kneed back to our bright blue beach chair under our big umbrella to the applause of my lovely wife. “Perfect” would be the word I had used to describe that

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Leadership Drive

Once upon a time… … A very proud man in his very fast car was competing in a grueling cross-country race. He had a few races under his belt, but this was by far his most challenging. Anxious for a quick advantage, he gunned his car off the starting line and took a big lead. Soon he was cruising at blistering speed. With no cars in sight he relaxed. Bracing the steering wheel with his knee, he fumbled with an old road map with his right hand; with his left he waved to the cheering crowds. On a hilltop high

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Unforgivable Power?

The Center for Creative Leadership studied 21 derailed executives, who were expected to go higher in the organization, but had reached a plateau in their careers and were fired or forced to retire early. They were compared with 20 managers who made it all the way to the top. The researchers found the two groups astonishingly alike. Every one of the 41 executives possessed remarkable strengths, and everyone was flawed by one or more significant weaknesses. So a person can make a lot of mistakes and have certain weaknesses and still rise to success. But a close study of the

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Advocating Inquiry

Gavin is my youngest grandson. Like many healthy children at age three, he is captivated by the sound of his voice and zealously curious…his mouth runs like an outboard motor. Last week, my wife and I ate dinner with Gavin and family. During the meal, everyone was engaged in a debate about a local community issue, except Gavin. He sat intensely silent, politely waiting for a chance to jump into the conversation. Finally, someone took a breath. And he got his motor running…rattling off a litany of brilliantly ordered, utterly random (and pretty compelling) questions in record time: “Why is

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Retention – Who Will Go First?

Family Matters A mid -size family business, run by a father and his two sons, was having trouble retaining their part-time employees. We met for a compression planning session to get a solution to this problem. As we began the session, a few questions came to mind. “What’s an example of a company that’s world-class at retaining part -time employees?” I asked. They thought together for a bit and agreed that “Chik-fil-A” was a good example of a company great at employee retention. “Why do you think “Chik-fil-A” is so effective?” The two sons started rattling off reasons, “good pay,

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Leadership, Hardship & Fine Wine

“What does it take to produce the finest wines?” I asked. Keenly aware of my limited knowledge, the wine connoisseur answered in this elementary way, “Grapes that grow on lush rolling hills are plump and larger, but don’t make the best wines, because they are mainly water. Smaller grapes will have less water and more of the ‘good stuff’. For example, on the steep ,inclement Italian hillsides grape vines struggle to survive. In this harsh terrain, rainwater has little time to slow down and get to the roots of vines, is where the best Italian grapes are found. They are

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Looking Both Ways

Small cutthroat trout scurried about the shallows of the gin clear mountain stream fighting for their next meal. At the edge of an eddy sat a very large trout. She rose, at her rhythm, sipping a grasshopper here or a beetle there. I lifted my fly rod to cast my terrestrial fly upstream of the big fish. Suddenly my line was tight, but it was not attached to my quested fish. It was tangled in the mass of reeds behind me. Had I looked back before I cast, I would have realized I needed to move only one step more

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Extreme New Year

Around this time many people stop, consider their life mission and set resolutions. Ongoing studies show that around 78% of these resolutions are never kept or achieved, which means around 22% are kept or achieved. If you are in the larger group that too often misses annual goals, which can lead to disappointment or if you are in the smaller group that reach your resolutions, but finds faint satisfaction in getting what you thought you wanted, I offer two very different goal setting approaches to consider for 2012. First is a free online tool for people who can’t think of

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Adults Only

There are no problems more difficult to solve than personnel issues at work. She grew up in the country and worked her way through nursing school. After graduation and passing the state board exams, she began her job at a large hospital. She was a natural leader and after a few years was promoted to be a supervisor. At the end of her first year as a manager, she was told she needed to complete a formal evaluation of all her employees and review it with them. Her manager handed her the appraisal forms, wished her luck and told her

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Three Questions Played Out

For the last 2 years I’ve had the privilege of leading a portion of an annual leadership weekend retreat for Troop 63 of The Boy Scouts of America. It is held at The University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee. The purpose of this weekend retreat is to encourage and refocus high school scouts who are naturally distracted by new car fumes and perfume daily. Our hope is to create a compelling experience that will help them stay on track to achieve Eagle Scout and to make better informed college, career and life decisions. This program was conceived and designed

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