Inspiration + Intention + Execution

I recently attended an event with a group of women entrepreneurs who are making a profound impact on individuals, teams, and organizations.  As I listened to their stories, I heard these common themes:

  • Tuning into inspiration – being curious and receptive; putting yourself in places and with people who inspire you
  • Setting your intention – being clear about what you want, who and how you want to be
  • Following through to execution – learning from experience and partnering with others to convert ideas into reality

For the women in this group the results included a new book, new clients and service offerings, and more opportunities for collaboration.  What might be possible for you with more inspiration, clear intention and successful execution?

Think Big, Start Small, Learn Fast

What do Netflix and snails have in common?  Check out this Forbes article and go see this documentary The Biggest Little Farm to find out.  The article highlights a formula for successful innovation:  “Think Big, Start Small and Learn Fast” and the documentary provides a great illustration of that formula. It tells the story of a couple who left their white collar jobs to become biodynamic farmers in California.

Since they had no experience, Molly and John Chester found a wise mentor who encouraged them to think big and plan for the future.  He also taught them to start small by bringing the soil back to life with worms.  As you might imagine, the Chesters and their team had to learn fast, often by making mistakes.  After seven years of hard work, Apricot Lane Farms is now 200 acres of organic and biodynamic certified avocado and lemon orchards, a vegetable garden, more than 75 varieties of stone fruit trees and a lot of very photogenic animals.

As you consider opportunities for innovation in your sphere of influence, how might you apply the success formula of “Think Big, Start Small and Learn Fast?”

The Key to Increasing Leadership Development ROI

You’ve just completed a prestigious executive MBA program that required you to be away from your job and your family for an extended period.  The exhilaration of the learning environment has started to wear off and you realize that nothing changed while you were gone.  None of those case studies prepared you for this and you’re pretty frustrated so you decide to return the call from that headhunter to find out if the grass might be greener somewhere else.

That isn’t the outcome companies anticipate when they spend $50,000 or more. Educating the Next Generation of Leaders, a thought-provoking article in the most recent issue of Harvard Business Review, acknowledges that traditional approaches to leadership development are too generic.  Interviews for the article and evidence from LinkedIn Learning indicate that most executives value on-the-job professional development that relates to their environment.  The authors cite anecdotal evidence that only 10% of the $200 billion annual expenditure on corporate training and development delivers concrete results.

Although the authors propose a solution that includes more customized content they overlook a key component to effective leadership development –- coaching.  You can’t get more customized than helping a leader leverage his or her strengths, request and respond to feedback and enhance emotional intelligence.  Sustainable behavior change takes time, practice and accountability.  A seasoned coach will ensure the leader has all the necessary tools for success beyond the coaching engagement.

If you’re ready to increase the return on your leadership development investment contact me at cheryl@csbryan.com

Want to be a Better Negotiator?

Unless you are a professional negotiator you may not enjoy this aspect of doing business.  Many of us avoid negotiating because we don’t like confrontation, we are uncomfortable advocating for ourselves and/or we don’t want to lose.

Whether we are negotiating with a business partner or a family member, emotions can get the best of us.  The author of this Harvard Business Review article Emotion & the Art of Negotiation says, “Bringing anger to a negotiation is like throwing a bomb into the process.”

One way to reduce negative emotions even in the most contentious negotiation is an exercise called “Just Like Me,” which asks us to consider:

  • This person has beliefs, perspectives and opinions, just like me.
  • This person has hopes, anxieties and vulnerabilities, just like me.
  • This person has friends, family and perhaps children who love them, just like me.
  • This person wants to feel respected, appreciated and competent, just like me.
  • This person wishes for peace, joy and happiness, just like me.
  • Because this person is a human being, just like me.

I invite you to try making these statements out loud.  Then notice how you feel about the person on the other side of the negotiating table and envision how the outcome might change.

How Gritty Are You?

During performance review season did you find yourself wondering why people with similar qualifications differ in what they are able to achieve?  Angela Duckworth https://angeladuckworth.com/ decided to find the answer to that question by interviewing high achievers like JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll.  She also conducted research at West Point and in urban college preparatory schools like YES Prep in Houston.

Duckworth concluded that the secret to outstanding achievement is a special blend of passion and persistence she calls grit, defined as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.”  The good news is that grit can be learned and improved over time.  How can you leverage grit to keep working toward your goals even when you face frustrations and setbacks?

To find out how “gritty” you are, take the test here Grit Scale.

Cake in the Car

A friend was taking a cake to a party so he drove very carefully. He accelerated slowly, made gentle turns and approached stop signs well in advance. When people started honking and yelling at him he wanted to say, “Hey! I don’t usually drive like this but I have a cake in the back seat.” He thought they would be more patient and understanding if they knew. Now when my friend sees drivers doing strange or annoying things, he tells himself there’s probably a reason — maybe they have a cake in the car or they are from out of town or they just got devastating news from the doctor.

When I heard this story I was reminded that we don’t always know what might be going on with someone in the next lane or the office down the hall. As we head into the holiday season, what would it be like if we commit to giving others the benefit of the doubt?