Final Post 2017: How to have better success at reaching your goals

Final Post 2017: How to have better success at reaching your goals

Well, that’s it.

My final post of 2017. 

I can’t believe I am saying such a thing. 

Two years ago, I didn’t even have one post, and when the idea was suggested to me that I start blogging, I found the thought over-whelming. 

I remember thinking to myself back then, “I’m a musician, not a writer”.   I can’t write a weekly blog. Now it has become a regular part of my business, a regular part of my routine. 

I’d be lying if told you I just sit down and pour out reams of excellent thoughts and ideas.  It still takes work and lots of thinking.  That’s because this blog is not just for me, it’s also for you. I really want it to help you in some way.

So in today’s post, I want to encourage you to do something you haven’t done before, something you might think is beyond you, something you’d like to reach for.

It’s at this time of year that we think about such things.  It’s the time of year when we take stock and make plans.

Making plans is not always easy.   There’s a lot that can get in the way but it’s usually one big obstacle -  ourselves!

But there’s a way to use ourselves to overcome ourselves and here’s how…


What I learned about mistakes that you need to know.

What I learned about mistakes that you need to know.

It started when you were really young.

That fear of admitting you did something wrong.

It was always tempting to cover it up because you learned quickly that doing something wrong usually came with consequences.  Most likely, you got a talking to at the very least.

Then there was school. You occasionally did things that were wrong at school, and now they were on paper.

They were called mistakes, and they were often circled in the dreaded red pen.

It makes sense that a test would sit in your bag for a few days waiting for just the right moment to be shown to your parents - when they were too busy to really look at it.

There’s never been anything fun about admitting your mistakes.

But making mistakes just might be the most valuable thing that we can do for ourselves.

6 things you need to combat chaos at work

6 things you need to combat chaos at work

I have spent a lifetime on teams --except I never called them teams.

The word “team” has a bit of a sports feel to it, and I was in the music world.  So the “teams” I worked with were bands, ensembles, orchestras, theatre companies, quartets, and quintets.

Same idea though - they were groups – groups of people working towards a common goal.

Bosses, coaches, managers go to great lengths to assemble “teams” of people that they think will win, i.e. bring in the most profits, make sales, solve a problem, help them reach a goal.

But we know that despite the best efforts of those folks, not all teams are created equal.

 So whenever I come across one that is working really well, I like to explore how they do it.

Recently I came across a team that did do what they were supposed to do in a very unlikely part of the world and in a very challenging situation.

What you need to do to win at change

What you need to do to win at change

Everything I read on-line before I left home said not to do it.

Every local person I met when I was there said not to do it.

They all said the same thing, “If you weren’t born and raised here, don’t drive here”.

This is all that was going through my head as the day came when we were going to pick up our rental car.

I had already been in Sorrento, Italy for 4 days, watching, examining, trying to find the secret of their traffic flow.

I did my research from the sidewalk or within the safe confines of a car complete with a hired driver when we were on an excursion.

With him at the wheel, I saw large tour buses shave by on the beautiful yet treacherous Amalfi coast. I observed Vespa after Vespa appear and disappear beside us like mosquitoes buzzing past our ears as we wormed our way through the constantly winding roads. Stop signs were merely suggestions as traffic seemed to mix together like water merging from different streams. 

These were the thoughts going through my head as I sat there signing the forms linking my credit card to the responsibility of my driving this car.  Extra insurance, she asked. Yes, I nodded.

Yup. I was worried. I had anxiety. And then she gave me the keys.

It’s a great time of year to build trust at work

It’s a great time of year to build trust at work

Happy New Year! Well sort of…

I think it safe to say that this time of year has a new-beginning feel to it.

In some ways, it’s even more obvious than the official New Year, which is more about a date changing on a calendar.

For most people, this time of year is about things starting again.  Our weather can start to turn, the leaves begin to change colour, the air starts to feel a little different, and my favourite thing… school starts again.

But this is the best one:  You and the people you work with have had a bit of a break.

You and the people you work with have had a chance for some renewal, a chance for some re-vitalization, re-invigoration, have taken the time for a bit of a pause and reset, have perhaps taken some time for reflection.

That why this time of year is so great for building relationships with people.  It’s a great time to build trust.

You could do it by yourself but should you?

You could do it by yourself but should you?

Maybe you’re a bit like me in that you’re pretty independent when it comes to doing your job.

After all, you and I have spent years becoming proficient, knowledgeable and responsible in order to be able to do what we do.

There’s a certain satisfaction, a sense of pride, when you can do things without relying on others. 

As children, we were taught to be self-reliant – strong and capable.  And it’s still going strong. Google “children and self–reliance” and you’ll see there are reams of information on how to create an independent child.

Then there are the quotes we often hear that re-enforce the necessity of being self-reliant.

“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself. Napoleon Bonaparte

You usually hear this when someone is complaining about a task they entrusted to someone else that didn’t go so well.

“Survival of the fittest” – This is a phrase that originated from Darwinian evolutionary theory, inviting us to make ourselves the brightest and the best in order to succeed.

No one can really pull you up very high - you lose your grip on the rope. But on your own two feet, you can climb mountains.    Louis Brandeis

You get the idea.

But there’s a downside to all this. 

Sometimes we can be too independent, so much so that it costs us.

How to be more accepting of others

How to be more accepting of others

On a recent Sunday I found myself sitting in a church. 

My church attendance could be referred to as spotty at best, and my religious education as a child was practically non-existent. So when I find myself in church, it is usually as a tag along because I have been gently prodded to attend with others who wish to go, as I was recently.

When I go, I tend to be more of an observer than a fully engaged participant. I also think we could all use a little more thoughtful reflection in our lives and churches can be a good place for that, no matter the religion.

Interestingly this time though, my take-away from this particular visit had nothing to do with the sermon but everything to do with the people who were there.

Why it's important to make your employees successful

Why it's important to make your employees successful

Have you ever thought about the kind of leader you are?

Have you ever thought about how your employees see you? How they feel about working for you?

Leadership is heady stuff but I have found that it’s important to take some time to reflect on the type of leader you are and the type of leader you want to become.

Because when you’re finally sitting in that chair with people looking to you for direction, it’s good to know what type of leader you want to be.

Sure, this is important so that you can achieve your goals. But it’s also important because you’re going to need help.

What you need to know to help your employees through change.

What you need to know to help your employees through change.

I’ll never forget the first night my wife and I spent in our new house after a long moving day.

It was evening when we finally sat down to reflect on the day’s events. The children were upstairs in their barely-made beds, surrounded by half-opened boxes with clothes pouring out.

Our furniture was tentatively placed in rooms that were loosely defined from a couple of visits and my crudely made floor plan.

We weren’t sure which room we’d put the TV in so we picked one of the rooms on the main floor and I plugged in some wires.

We huddled up on the couch and tried to focus on the show but we couldn’t. We were distracted. Distracted by every new sound we heard through the open window, every voice, every car door, every little breeze, every normally unnoticed sound you notice because it’s the first time you’re hearing it. 

Don’t get me wrong…we were filled with the excitement of new. This was what we had wanted to do.

But just hours earlier we had lumps in our throats and tears in our eyes as we closed the door for the last time on a place that, just 9 years earlier, had been the beginning of our biggest adventure together, a place where so much had happened.

It’s funny how you can see history in an empty room. It’s strange how you can touch a door handle and a flood of memories go through you.

And while you can also see the future in an empty room, it doesn’t impact you the same way.

The future seems to be more of a dream. It’s not so clear.

It’s because the past, even though it’s gone, holds the power of being the way things have always been. Or so it seems, because it’s been so long since the last change.

It doesn’t matter whether that’s in our personal life or in our work.  The past has power.  

So if you’re a leader who needs to help people through change, that is what you’re up against. The past has an incredible hold on most people. Especially if it has been a good past, a great past, a past that has served you well.

How to be a better leader and eliminate workplace cliques.

How to be a better leader and eliminate workplace cliques.

Last year, my 9-year-old daughter, who is a pretty tough cookie, was reduced to tears by a clique that turned against her.

In less than 24 hours, this group of kids, whom she considered friends, had her wanting to quit her hockey team and never play again.

They did this by using only words and silence (a.k.a - the cold shoulder).

I’d never seen anything like it. Or so I thought - more on that later.  Yes, yes… apparently being a man does not help me here.

There’s more to the story that I can get into now, but we managed to get to the bottom of it and got some “I’m sorry’s” flowing.  We got her to the rink just before the puck drop for a “big” playoff game but it was too late.

Too late, because even the kids who weren’t involved knew something was just not right that day.

The team played horribly and lost badly. It was their worst game of the season. It cost them the chance to move on.

This prompted a lot of discussion among the parents. Some of us (maybe it was just me) realized we were oblivious to the cliques on the team and how they were inhibiting its success. 

To be fair, I think some people were aware, but I don’t think any of us (parents or team leaders) were doing anything to mitigate these naturally forming sub groups on the team. And that wasn’t good.

Here’s the thing about sub-groups.  They happen everywhere people get together. They’re part of kids’ hockey teams and they’re part of where you work.

Cliques are not relegated to kids’ sports teams or the playgrounds of our youth.  They can materialize anyplace you have groups of people who see each other frequently.

If you’re a workplace leader (manager, boss, etc), it’s your job to set things up so that everyone on the team can do the best work they can.

I’m not saying it’s easy but you’ve got to do it, or else…