Talent v. Experience – Which?

Boy Genius blogYou are tasked with selecting a person to do a job (small or large). What is your “go-to” selection criterion? Potential and talent – or industry experience?

I recently witnessed a selection process where industry experience trumped talent.  This got me to thinking – does heavy reliance on “been there – done that” still (even in 2015) outweigh the possibilities of new, different and better?

I can see the value of selecting experience when you are tasked with a life-critical procedure. We wouldn’t want a podiatrist performing heart surgery, would we? Not a lot of room for experimentation and the possibility of failure here. So – in some cases, experience does trump potential and talent.

But many opportunities do not require a person to have done the exact same thing before. As a matter of fact, many tasks benefit from a new perspective.

Which would you choose?

When you select talent over experience, you select a person who wants to learn, grow, and excel. Dropping someone with potential into an unknown/untested environment creates opportunity and purpose. Dropping someone whose sole selection criterion was based on industry experience into that same environment creates angst and anxiety.

As you start your next selection process, consider the following.

When your primary selection criteria is industry experience, you get:

– A common vocabulary

– Insight into your competitors (or former competitors) practices and processes

– The status quo

– A follower rather than a leader

When your primary selection criteria is talent and potential, you get:

– Originality and innovation

– Fresh thinking

– An opportunity to stretch “out of the box”

– A risk-taker who is comfortable in knowing that experimentation might end in failure

 How do you differentiate between experience and talent?

Merriam Webster defines talent as “a special ability that allows someone to do something well”. Experience is defined as “the skill or knowledge that you get by doing something”. Notice in these definitions that talent speaks to quality – whereas, experience speaks to practice.

Industry experience is rather easy to discern. You must dig deeper to determine talent and potential. By doing this, however, you get a much better sense of what the person may be able to do in the future.

In a June 2014 Harvard Business Review article, “21st Century Talent Spotting”, author Claudio Fernandez-Araoz sees the first indicator of potential as “the right kind of motivation: a fierce commitment to excel in the pursuit of unselfish goals”.

I rank Learning Agility (the ability to apply learnings of the past to be successful in first time experiences) as another of the top identifiers of talent and potential.

Notice the subtle distinction between industry experience and learning agility. Yes – they both depend on having previous experiences – but with learning agility, the application of this experience is directed toward new and different – not same.

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Test it out: Ask someone about their “first time”. What learnings were called upon for success?  What was the outcome?[/inlinetweet]

But doesn’t experience have its place?

I am a believer in experience. In so many ways, experience teaches us where we should innovate, where we should challenge, where we should learn. But I have seen too many situations where “industry” experience might have won the race, but lost the entire competition.

We know that challenge is the best teacher of all.  And what better way to create a challenge than to put a person into a new experience with new requirements/tasks.  Yes – some may not be up to the task.  But, many will succeed – as long as you give them the appropriate support.

It takes patience. Regardless of the job, you will find industry experience much faster than talent and potential. And that gaping hole waiting to be filled will be calling you … for you have many other things that demand your attention. “Fill it and move on” might turn into your rallying cry. But where does that ”quick fill” lead you?

Multiethnic Arms Raised Holding Text TalentNeed more proof? Read Billy Sountornsorn’s post on LinkedIn, “Hire for Potential, not Experience“. His perspective is one of the “selectee”, not the “selector” – however, his words apply to both sides of the equation.

 “Don’t ever let lack of experience hold you back.”

Remember – the selection process is a marathon – not a sprint. So breathe!

One last note … where does “cultural fit” land in the list of selection criteria? I would love to hear your thoughts.



Strengthening your Curiosity Muscle

Curiosity-Road-Sign-815955 - blog imageI tuned the car radio to our local National Public Radio station during a road trip this past Saturday. Radiolab (the show about curiosity) was airing. How convenient, since I knew that this month’s blog topic was on curiosity.

Saturday’s Radiolab program, “Guts”, was fascinating, even though the subject was potentially distasteful. The focus was on our digestive system. One of the featured stories highlighted the curiosity of Dr. William Beaumont.

The date was 1822. Alexis St. Martin had been shot in the stomach. Dr. Beaumont was the physician attending to his wound. Mr. St. Martin did survive. However, his stomach wound never closed, thereby creating a permanent opening accessible from outside of the body (known as a gastric fistula). Unless covered, this fistula would allow ingested food to leak out. Conversely, this fistula would also allow external access to the internal stomach.

It was this circumstance that aroused Dr. Beaumont’s curiosity. Since he had such an available “laboratory” at hand, he could study (in real time) the effects of the stomach and digestive system on food that has been placed in the stomach.

Listen to the NPR story to satisfy your curiosity about the details.

Imagine Dr. Beaumont’s self-talk as he was conducting these experiments. “Hmmm – let’s see what happens when I insert (food item) in the stomach. Or how about this? Or this?” And of course, his notes explicitly detailed the results of each experiment. His curiosity and findings earned him recognition as the Father of Gastric Physiology.

Curiosity as an Organizational Competency

The importance of curiosity as an integral part of our scientific and technological advancement is common knowledge. But what if we looked at the subject on a more global level. How does curiosity advance the act of leading?

The act of being curious is not just consigned to the Research and Development department. In progressive organizations with effective leadership, curiosity is a requirement of all employees. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Great leaders are curious. Great leaders also foster an environment of curiosity among their team.[/inlinetweet]

Curiosity as a Muscle

Compare your curiosity level with a muscle strengthening process. The more you target the muscle, the stronger it gets.  How can you tell if your curiosity muscle needs strengthening?

  • Muscle - blog imageDo you and your colleagues speak in statements or in questions? The ratio of questions to declarative statements is an indicator of your ability to be curious and drive curiosity.
  •  Do you and your team know how to question? Do you applaud those who find the information gaps and then search for the answers? Do you allow time for your team to be curious?
  • Do you have a “need for cognition”? Or do you subscribe to the “faster is better” philosophy? Ian Leslie, in his book Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Life Depends on It, writes of the “Need for Cognition” (or NFC) as a scientific measure of intellectual curiosity. He states that there is a rising premium on people with a high NFC.

Curiosity as a Disruptive Force

Julie Winkle Guilioni, author of the blog post “Curiosity: It’s the New Black” describes curiosity as “the capability to demonstrate keen interest, an inquisitiveness spirit, an eager drive to understand and an appetite for experimentation.”  This definition certainly communicates a positive advantage for all workplaces.

But, at times, the curiosity waters may be a bit murky. Ian Leslie describes the messy side.

“Curiosity is unruly. It doesn’t like rules, or, at least, it assumes that all rules are provisional, subject to the laceration of a smart question nobody has yet thought to ask.   It disdains the approved pathways, preferring diversions, unplanned excursions, impulsive left turns. In short, curiosity is deviant.”

What leader would want to voluntarily bring this Leslie-described impulsiveness and unruliness into the workplace?   Or at the very least, who has time for curiosity – especially when faced with an impending deadline?

The short answer – the great leader.

Yes – curiosity disrupts.  But disruption is what we need to get us to “next”. The forward-thinking, effective leader knows that a rewarding tomorrow will not be a clone of today, but rather a product of our questions and learnings. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Curiosity is a never-ending path. Each question asked prompts another question formed.[/inlinetweet] So the path does vary. And with each turn and bump, opportunity exists.

Your Curiosity Action Plan

How do you strengthen your curiosity muscle?

  • R-E-A-D. Then read some more. Reach for a book with a purpose – to be entertained or educated or enlightened. Whatever it may be. Reach and read.
  • R-E-F-L-E-C-T. This is a cyclical process – read – reflect – read – reflect – on and on. Reflection does not need to be cumbersome or time consuming. Reflect on your position as it relates to what you read. Do you agree or disagree? Are you satisfied with your enlightenment gain – or do you need more? Can you apply what you have read to better yourself, your family, your friends, and your colleagues?

As we come to a close on this topic, consider this small piece of perspective from a December 2014 episode of CBS’s The Mentalist:

Vega: “Curiosity killed the cat.”

Jane: “It also cured Polio.”

Businessman tensing arm muscle and looking at camera on white backgroundYour call to action. Let’s get curious. What do you want to know about? Where will your curiosity lead you? Let us know how you are strengthening your curiosity muscle.

3 Books, 2 Websites and 1 Blog – 2014

Wow – how time flies! Another year is close to completion. As always, I look forward to sharing with you some of my favorite reads and websites. Hope you enjoy this year’s entries. And let us know your favorites from 2014.

Happy Reading and Happy Leading!

 The Books

3dbookimage1How the World Sees You:  Discover Your Highest Value through the Science of Fascination, Sally Hogshead. New York: Harper Collins, 2014.

Those of you familiar with my website and my blog have heard me extol the many virtues of Sally Hoghead’s How the World Sees You and the Fascination Advantage® system. This book’s impact on its readers is phenomenal.

“Your personality is your natural weapon against distraction, competition, and commoditization. The more value you add, the less you have to compete on price, and the less likely you are to become a commodity.”

This book changes perspectives. I have seen evidence of individuals using their Fascination Advantage® to re-sculpt their lives. The difference (and level of fulfillment) is indeed fascinating.


ConfidenceCode3DCover-web-readyThe Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. New York: HarperCollins, 2014.

As you know, I spend a lot of time working with clients in the area of emotional intelligence.  During our Simmons Survey debriefs, we talk about confidence and its effect on relationships and effectiveness. Kay and Shipman’s research is an adjunct to these conversations as it investigates the subject of confidence and our ability to expand our behaviors in that area.

In essence, confidence is a choice. Yes, our genes do play a part. But confidence grows through “hard work, substantial risk, determined persistence, and sometimes bitter failure.”

“Confidence, ultimately, is the characteristic that distinguishes those who imagine from those who do.”

To all women, give yourself the gift of confidence by reading this book. (Kay and Shipman also have a free online Confidence Quiz. Take this quiz to measure your confidence level.) The authors prove that our brains can be rewired to be more confident. So please invest in yourself, your future, and then pass this inheritance on to your daughters.


What to Do When angled-cover_largeIt’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn), Seth Godin. Canada: The Domino Project, 2014.

Seth Godin excels at pushing us to fail, to be thirsty, and to act. His latest book continues this momentum.  In Godin-style, the examples he uses guide you through overcoming fear.

He begins with his “broken escalator theory” – a paralyzing event for two executives (and a metaphor for how we all become stuck). Throughout this enjoyable read, the reader sees that choices are always available.

“Either you’re the creator or you’re the audience. Either you’re waiting your turn or you’re taking it.”


The Websites

v48tnqegh6doo58gg7lt  www.lifehacker.com

“Tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done.”

This eclectic site provides the researcher with information in a variety of categories such as communication, personal finance, psychology, health, and do-it-yourself instructions.  With regular contributors and guest submissions, the site is a fun and informative place to visit.


logo   www.prezi.com

 “This is the moment when you make things click.”

We have all suffered through “death by PowerPoint”. Prezi will revitalize you and reincarnate your presentations. Give yourself the gift of designing your next presentation using the Prezi site. From big picture to detail view, the creator is able to easily display interrelated concepts. Easy to use and cloud-based so you may sync your presentation across your communication devices.

Bye-bye, PowerPoint. Hello, Prezi!


The Blog

logo-unite-ftr Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite

“Every great movement in the world starts with a tiny group of people who simply refuse to accept a situation.”

Without question, Richard Branson is infinitely interesting. From his entrepreneurial accomplishments to his innovative solutions to his giving spirit, he entertains and inspires. Virgin Unite is Branson’s philanthropic arm. The blog posts cover topics on leadership and advocacy, business innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Step outside of your immediate surroundings and join the global community. Regardless of your interests, Branson will mesmerize you with his passion and vision.

What books, websites, and blogs, impacted you this year? Please share in the comment section below.

In Praise of “Fascinating”!

“Messages that fail to fascinate will become irrelevant. It’s that simple.”

– Sally Hogshead

How the World Sees You blog photoFascinating! That is such an applicable word to describe the research-based work of Sally Hogshead and her Team Fascinate. How the World Sees You, first published during the summer of 2014, is just one of Sally’s products that helps you market yourself by communicating your Fascination Advantage®. What makes you different? How do you fascinate? How do you communicate when you are at your best? That’s what the Fascination Advantage® is all about.

I was first introduced to Sally and her work during the SHRM National Conference in Orlando, Florida. As attendees entered the room, we were asked to take the Fascination Advantage® assessment. The very short survey (accessible online via smart phone, tablet, or computer) produced a 16-page report describing a Primary Advantage (your most effective mode of communication), a Secondary Advantage (your second-highest mode of communication), and a Dormant Advantage (your mode of communication that is least likely to fascinate others). We learned that our Fascination Advantage® is expressed in the form of one of 49 Archetypes derived from your Primary and Secondary Advantages. And, from the sounds of the conversations in the room, the results were “spot on”.

I am a self-proclaimed “assessment junkie” so I was very willing to participate in Sally’s survey. The Fascination Advantage® is different from other assessments I use. The results turn “how I view the world” into “how the world views me”. What we learn from this assessment is that it is ok to be your authentic self and, in doing so, you project confidence and deliver value.

“You don’t have to change who you are, you have to become more of who you are.”

– Sally Hogshead

The Fascination Advantage® system has universal application to every person, regardless of position, industry, or experience.

1. It’s positive. No stigma is attached.

Your Archetype is a celebration of what you do best. There is no comparison of strengths versus weaknesses. There is no development of an action plan to tweak your behaviors that get in your way. The Fascination Advantage® focuses on your “wellspring” (energizers). Yes – you will learn about your “quicksand” (energy-drainers), but only as caution to minimize those activities that tend to bring you down.

2. It turns an elevator speech into a conversation.

We have all been schooled to prepare an elevator speech so we may easily respond to the “tell me what you do” or “tell me about yourself” requests. In response, we may recite, “I am a (insert position) with (insert company). I focus on (insert tasks, duties, responsibilities, etc.) Yawn!

Your personal anthem (personality tagline), based on your Fascination Advantage® Archetype, introduces an “elevator speech” that captures the interest of the listener. And it begins with just two words: an adjective describing your differentiator and a noun identifying what you do best.

So in response to the “tell me about yourself”, you can be clear on how the world does see you and the value you bring to others.

• I deliver “breakthrough solutions”.
• I deliver “guided clarity”.
• I deliver “relentless excellence”.

The above anthems generate a conversation. “Tell me more.” “How do you do this?” “What examples do you have?“ Your 30-second one-way data dump now becomes an interactive conversation that leads to a discussion of real pain points and how you may help others overcome that pain.

3. It is applicable to all parts of your personal and professional life.

As I have learned more about the Fascination Advantage® system and its component parts, I see how Archetype and personal brand influence positive results.

• Your professional persona: You now have the words to communicate your highest value – on your LinkedIn profile, your resume, or a job application. You can hone in on how you stand apart from the crowd and how you will use this differentiation to support your clients, customers, and organization.

• Your team makeup: What types of tasks need to be accomplished for this team to be successful? Are these wellspring energizers for you? Or quicksand drudgery? Who else on your team may be better suited to conduct certain tasks? The Fascination Advantage® helps ensure that each member of the team is doing the work at which they excel. The result is a truly engaged, high performing team.

• Your personal life: Do you have trouble sticking to an exercise regimen? Maybe the fitness plan you are trying to follow does not reflect your archetype? A small study conducted by members of the Fascination Laboratory Connection showed a correlation between exercise preference and Primary/Secondary Advantages. For example, people with the Passion Advantage engage in the relational side of exercise. So, solo walking would be more quicksand than wellspring for them. But assign a Passion person a regimen that includes group classes and personal interaction during exercise, then there is a chance of “sticking with the program.”

How would the knowledge of your Fascination Advantage® benefit you in your personal and professional life?

The Fascination Advantage® is all about differentiating yourself. At our best, we don’t need to morph to be like others.

“Different is better than better. Different doesn’t try to turn you into something else. Different allows you to highlight the singular traits you already have within you. You aren’t necessarily better than your competition. But you are already different.”

― Sally Hogshead

Why not take the Fascination Advantage® assessment to see how the world sees you at your best? Click on the link below for access.

The Fascination Advantage® Assessment and the 16-page Report

After you have completed the assessment, please come back and share your Archetype in the Comments section. Can’t wait to see “how the world sees you … at your best!”


How the World Sees Susan Bowen blog

The Secret Sauce of High Performing Teams

Spices Resized 600As we think of teams, we immediately envision one of two types. One is the high-performing team where a mind-meld exists among members; they move in unison. And then there is the dysfunctional team. Yes, the type from which “horror stories” emanate; the team that actually moves backwards as they try to move forwards.

Naturally, we would all like to be a member of the first type — the high performing team. That takes work and attention.

High performing team members are devoted to each other.  Think of the struggle this may cause.  For example, you are a member of an executive team and you also lead a functional team. Can you say your first priority is to your fellow team members as opposed to your direct reports?

You may think of this as heresy.  But, Patrick Lencioni, known for his on-point description of dysfunctional teams, points out that this shift is paramount to team effectiveness.   Without acknowledgment of your priorities, you may find yourself waffling back and forth with your allegiance.

“A functional team must make the collective results of the group more important to each individual than individual members’ goals.”

– Patrick Lencioni

Once priorities are straight, I look for three ingredients, that when combined, indicate the existence of a high performing team. What’s in this secret sauce?

1-part Listening

And I mean true listening. Not just a nod of the head while one waits for the speaker to take a breath so he/she can jump in with their own thoughts.

True listening means suspending your thoughts and being open to others. Listening is letting go of your ego and internalizing the speaker’s words. Listening is a singular focus on what the other is saying and the nuances that appear in tone and body language.

1-part Clarification

As with listening, clarity goes deeper than just a head-nod to the words.  High performing teams ensure that each member has a deep understanding of the words they are communicating.  High performing teams, in fact, use the same words.

I am always startled by the outcome of a 7 Habits of Highly Effective People workshop exercise that asks the attendees to spend one minute writing synonyms for the word “trust”.  Certainly, we all know or understand what the word “trust” means, don’t we?  However, without exception, each participant group fails to have a commonality in terms.  I have done this exercise with groups of three and with groups of thirty. The outcome is always the same. No one synonym is common among all members of each group.

We will quickly agree that we all know what the word “trust” means. But this exercise shows that we know the meaning of the word “trust” through our own filters — which may not be the same as your filters.  High performing team members take the time to dissect each word of their shared outcome so they have a singular frame of reference.

1-part Collaboration

Once again, it is easy to say yes, we collaborate. But does the team actually do that?  Collaboration is all about mutual benefit. Collaboration is working toward the Third Alternative described by Dr. Stephen Covey.

At times collaboration may be messy.  As each team member shares from the heart, passion may turn into frustration. The true litmus test of a high performing team is shown in the manner by which frustration and conflict are resolved.  Resolution comes from the true desire to understand and the need to achieve a solution that is better than any one individual input – not through avoiding, accommodating, or compromise.

The collaborative team doesn’t settle. The collaborative team takes the time required to achieve excellence.

Take your team to the next level.  Listen. Clarify. Collaborate. Mix up the secret sauce for your team and enjoy the taste of high performance.




3 Mini Lessons from a Mega Event

Cat Lady - a limited edition serigraph created by Alison Bremner, 2014 Artist Designed Collection Fellow

Cat Lady – a limited edition serigraph created by Alison Bremner, 2014 Indian Market Artist Designed Collection Fellow (Reprinted with permission)

I recently attended the Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. During this event, approximately 1000 Native American artists gathered on the Santa Fe Plaza to display and sell paintings, carvings, textiles, beadwork, basketry, pottery, and jewelry.  The tradition is in its 93rd year with this year’s attendance estimated at 175,000.  Under the azure blue sky with the sun bearing down, the atmosphere was filled with celebration of the Native American heritage.

My conversations with the vendors were engaging. I listened to various craftspeople describe their process for creating the treasures before me.  As I reflected on my time at Indian Market, I realized that the stories the Native Americans shared with me were all related to three simple principles.  And that these principles, if applied to an organizational setting, are the key to engagement and leadership effectiveness.

These are the lessons I learned.

Be Proud

The Native Americans I met were proud – proud of their heritage, proud of their family, proud of their tribe, proud of their craftsmanship.  Respect resonated in every conversation.

Leaders, ask yourself – do you have a sense of pride in your work, your team, your organization, your mission? Do you respect yourself and your colleagues for your collaborative results? If not – what are you going to do about it? If you hang your head when thinking of any part of your leadership experience, maybe you should rethink and redo. As leaders, let’s put pride back in hearts and our work.

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

– Abraham Lincoln


native american weaving

Native American Weaving – istockphoto.com

The craftspeople at the Indian Market were multi-generational. Skill in creating the works of art is passed down from one generation to the next.   Work produced is a family affair – grandparents with parents with children.  The techniques are taught with patience; the learners adopt and perfect the skills. Each generation works to improve upon the techniques of the previous.

As leaders, isn’t our job also to teach and open the doors to experimentation? Our goal should be to develop those who follow us. The sharing of knowledge and skills cements the future. And the patience to encourage others to try something different and improve upon the past creates an environment of learning.


Native American Beadwork

Native American Beadwork – sbbowen

Drums, music, ceremonies, festivals, and celebrations are prevalent in Native American culture. Walking through the display area, I encountered the songs and dances of Native American traditions. Ceremonial dances serve vital roles in expressing hope and gratitude.

As leaders, do we take the time to celebrate our successes? Sometimes we are so busy attending to the “task at hand”, we fail to stop, assess, and then celebrate our wins or even our failures. Revel in your learning. Applaud the completion of each step. Celebrate your journey and your team’s accomplishments.

I am honored to have witnessed this great gathering and am pleased to take these lessons with me as I focus on helping leaders develop. In most cases, simplicity is best. Be Proud – Teach – Celebrate.

“We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.”

– Native American Proverb, Dakota

My thanks to Alison Bremner for the privilege of showcasing her work in this post.  Alison is from the Tlingit tribe, born and raised in southeast Alaska.  She sends along her inspiration for creating the Cat Lady:  “When the Spanish ships came to trade, the Tlingit would pull alongside them in canoes. One such time, small furry creatures were running along the Spanish deck. That is how the Tlingit came into contact with domesticated cats.”

Crazy Busy? That’s Crazy!

Young businesswoman with tons of documentsI’m soooooooooooo busy!!!!! You hear this cry throughout your life. You might even say this yourself. Is this reality … or a fantasy conceived from bad time management and misplaced priorities?

I often wonder if many think that the “soooo busy” whine is a badge of honor. Doesn’t “busy-ness” validate us? If we are sooooooo busy, then that must mean we are needed, wanted, important, the missing link in the lives of others! Racing at work – racing at home: the similarity to a hamster in a wheel going round and round and round is startling. However, when the “hamster wheel” stops, one collapses – mindless and numb.

In the book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, Brigid Schulte explores our frenetic attraction to the busy-ness of our daily lives.  Schulte conveys the conundrum with this quote from sociologist, Edson Rodriguez.

“As a culture, we have translated speed into being a virtue. If you are busy, if you get things done quickly, if you move quickly throughout the day, it expresses success. You’re achieving.”

In Guy Kawasaki’s Huffington Post article detailing key points from Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom, and Wonder, he challenges us “to stop the glorification of busy and start redefining success.”

I am jumping on this same bandwagon and asking all of us to stop counting unread email messages and start counting the moments where we are at peace with our workload and our family and our friend commitments.

But how do we do this? I have some suggestions.

“Put First Things First”

Stephen Covey’s Habit 3: Put First Things First, in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, counsels us to create and live by our mission statement. This statement, of course, communicates our “end in mind” (Habit 2) and puts us in control of our lives (Habit 1: Be Proactive). The mission statement describes our priorities. Document them. Schedule them. Then commit to living them.

As you see, “living our priorities” requires a bit of balance. We can keep our priorities in our head, and then quickly forget them when something more “appetizing” comes along. We can document and schedule, but not have the fortitude or conviction to stick to our scheduled commitments. Doing one without the other will force a figurative tumble. Documenting the life you wish and then committing yourself to live this documented life will provide you the courage to say “no” to the wasteful and “yes” to the mindful.

Loose the Ego

Our self-esteem is related to our perception of being needed.   “They want me.” “They need me.” “I am the expert.” “I must be everything to everyone.” (Oooooh – that last one is the first step to self-esteem destruction. Really now – is it possible to be “everything to everyone”?) So, forgive yourself for being human. Understand that there are only so many hours in a day (24 at last count – even though I did just see a Business Center in a hotel with a sign saying it was open 30 hours a day). And, during each set of 24 hours, we must care for ourselves (notice that is first), care for our family and friends, and care for our chosen profession. In my opinion, the “miracle person” is one who realizes the limitations of “doing it all” and instead, does the important – in all areas of life.

Shift Your Mindset

Sure, you are racing between work, kids’ practices, the grocery store, and a million other tasks that occupy your day. Are you letting your mind slip into a time-constrained martyrdom? Or are you shifting into a more positive, optimistic mode which allows you to value spending time teaming with fellow professionals on an important project, communicating with and learning about the kids in the car as you drive to practice, observing your child’s improved skills in the activity being undertaken, thinking about creative menus you can concoct with the variety of foods in the grocery store, etc. You see, it is all about mindset – the “glass half-empty vs. glass half-full” thing. If we think we are frazzled and frantic, we are. But if we see each moment as an opportunity to learn and experience, doesn’t our blood pressure decrease and a sense of stillness and calm overcome us? These minds of ours are pretty powerful things. Just a small shift transforms “overwhelmed and submerged” to “encouraged and uplifted”.

Be Aware: Your Expectations are a Mirror-Image of Your Actions

In many cases, others may interpret your actions as expectations you have for them. Is that what you want? For example, what are your communication patterns with your team members? Do you send emails long before the workday begins or long after the workday ends or throughout the weekend? Do you have the expectation that your team member answer? In most cases (I hope), I would say your answer is no. But in this high-stress, frenzied, busy-ness we all live in, do your team members know what your expectations are?  Watch your actions. Communicate your expectations. Remember, it’s the quality of the work that defines success … not the quantity.

Rejuvenate Yourself.

If you refuse to take responsibility for yourself, who will? Quick answer – no one. So, prioritize your rejuvenation by taking a few moments each day to read or exercise. Spend time being mindful or participating in your favorite “me” activity. Funny thing – by taking quality time for yourself, you actually find more time for others. Hmmmm – how does that happen?

It’s Your Choice

We talk about the desire to have work/life balance. We say we don’t have it. But are we actually doing something about it – other than complaining? Are we taking actions to stop the madness, prioritize, and breathe? Greg McKeown, in his HBR blog article “Why We Humblebrag About Being Busy” asks you to become an “Essentialist”, one who shifts toward the “disciplined pursuit of less, but better.” Take some time and take a look. As McKeown says, “we have two choices.”


“Beware the barrenness of a busy life. “

– Socrates

 Zen stones balance concept