Breathe Fire in 2017

Accountability Be Accountable Personal leadership Purpose


Key Point: You are probably already sick and tired of New Years resolution advice. I was going to skip even writing about it this year and then thought just a little different angle from a “fire” leadership perspective might inspire us differently. So here is my premise:

The biggest leadership impact to you in 2017 will come from… YOU! You’ve read my motto that people deserve great leaders and leaders have a responsibility to be great (not perfect). Well, you deserve to reflect on being a great and not perfect leader for yourself too. I like Umair Haque’s thoughts on leadership:

“The job of a leader is indeed to inspire people — but in the truer sense of the word: from the Latin inspirare, inspire, to breathe or blow into. Leaders breathe life into the organizations they lead, into the people they’re responsible for. They breathe life into possibilities. They make it more possible for the rest of us to dare, imagine, create, and build. They do not merely encourage us to do so; theirs is the hard work of crafting all the incentives, processes, systems, and roles that actually empower us to do so.” 

What if we took some very thoughtful time, real “white space,” before 2017 roars off into hyper busyness? Pause for a meaningful moment (quiet time just for you) and ask yourself how you might BREATHE MORE LIFE INTO POSSIBILITIES just for YOU!

  1. What really inspires you? What breathes life and the excitement of possibilities into you? Who around helps you feel like that?
  1. What do you care about deeply? What dares you to imagine? What puts you into a sense of timeless flow when you daydream or work on it? Makes you want to “create and build?”
  1. What are the biggest, most bold opportunities in front of you right now? What are your biggest fears and how real are they?
  1. If you had NO limitations what would you be creating right now? How real are those limitations?
  1. Who around you can you co-create with? Who do you hang with that will encourage you? Nudge you? Give you authentic feedback? 

Haque goes onto say: “Leadership is in an uncertain place. We long desperately for better leaders. But perhaps it is precisely our longing that’s the problem. We’re waiting for a rescue at the cost of our own redemption. Because it’s easier to complain about the leaders we have than to try to do better. After all, it’s a pretty hard job.” 

So when 2017 ends, will it just be another groundhog day for you? Will you be waiting desperately for someone to rescue you? Of course external events will have an impact and cause you to do something differently. However, how much forward movement will happen because YOU breathed more life into you? Do NOT let another year go by saying, “if only I ____. Why didn’t I?” Remember reading that real estate magazine x years ago when you could have bought? And you see the appreciation now and say, “if only I’d bought then?” Well that’s you and me right now. Invest in you – the best investment there is.

Character Moves:

Before you commit to the moves below, please invest in some serious thinking time. Pause! Thomas Friedman, the great author and investigative journalist points out that pausing makes machines stop while propelling humans forward. 

  1. Have the discipline to outline a vital few of the most important goals to you this year.
  2. Outline some meaningful steps that will put you on the path. Experiment. Start with a viable next step or two. Build from there.
  3. Establish some verifiable milestones along the way. Celebrate progress. Ask people to co-create and help you. We need to lead ourselves and yet most of us accelerate better with help from others.
  4. Adjust along the way. Do not blame yourself when you feel like you’ve stalled. Have the grit to amend, pick yourself up and keep going. 

What kind of leadership will you give yourself in 2017?

Breathe fire in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: As we all get ready to push the pedal down and start Q1 with a vengeance, I think this reminder to breathe and recollect is important. It seems popular to scoff at resolutions… But, here’s what I know: I certainly don’t want to be standing in the same place on Jan. 1, 2018, and that’s entirely up to me. 

– Garrett

Digestion (Rather than Indigestion) Before New Years

Be Accountable


Key Point: Taking a meaningful pause to reflect and digest is good for our personal development system. And whether we like it or not, the end of the calendar year is a natural “bench” along our personal journey; a metaphorical place to sit, rest, and gather ourselves before continuing.

If we look at ourselves as a whole and connected “system,” the following reflection on 2015 may be helpful.

  1. In what ways did you advance yourself intellectually, emotionally, physically, financially and/or spiritually? How did you do that?
  1. What do you feel good about in building relationships with others? What relationships grew stronger? What new or renewed relationships did you develop? How did you do that?
  1. Overall, what personal results or outcomes where you happiest about in 2015?
  1. What were your biggest personal disappointments in 2015?? What did you really learn from these?

Reflection Checklist. The following may prompt your memory and assist you in your summary above:

. What were one or two of the most enjoyable and meaningful discussions you had? With who? Where?

. Who do you love to be around? How does their positive energy add to you?

. What did you read or watch that made you really think? Question some of your views or assumptions?

. What picture/image did you see that left a memorable impression? What did you feel?

. Was there a morning when you woke up feeling totally rested and peaceful? Why? What happened the evening before?

. What are a few small things you did that made you feel good about who you are and what you believe?

. What projects did you complete that gave you a sense of accomplishment? When did you do your best work?

. What’s one new skill or insight you added to yourself? How have you applied it?

. What physical activity did you do that left you physically spent and “achy good?”

. What was a time when you lost yourself in doing or creating something?

. What discussion or words exchanged made you feel miserable? When? With who? Why?

. When did you look in the mirror and feel frustrated, perhaps disgusted ? Why?

. What day did you wake up and think, “Geez… Not again. Will I ever learn?”

. What did you do that was “just putting in time;” not your best contribution? Why?

. Who around you is mostly negative and frankly sucks the life out of you? Why do you spend time with them?

. When did you get physically sick? What happened?

Would you amend your answers to the first 4 questions above after reflecting on the checklist?

Character Moves:

  1. Give yourself some meaningful quiet, self-reflective time to think and respond in a written way to the above. Journal it. You owe it to yourself and others.
  1. Summarize your insights into a few actionable themes. In the spirit of self-accountability, ask yourself: “What will I CHOOSE to do about this? When?” (Small forward steps usually work the best). You CAN take some personal action on anything… (i.e. start doing, stop doing, do more of, less of).
  1. While we can always advance there are things to be grateful for regardless of our circumstances. Conclude your self-reflection with as many statements as you can to the following phrase:

” I am grateful for…”

Grateful for 2015 in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: As a Millennial, actually sitting down and voluntarily completing the checklist above in a written format seems like it would take FOREVER. Seriously. But, you know what? Maybe a long, slow, arduous checklist (the kind that causes you to literally hear the seconds tick by) isn’t only a good idea, but a necessary time out. Weeks, months and years can start to fly by, and if I don’t stop and reflect once in a while, pretty soon I’ll blink and be too old to even write this segment.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Leadership Future IS now: 2015

Be Respectful


Key Point: A note to people in formal leadership positions: Get current, get great or please get out! I’m writing this blog just before the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31. It is clear to me that it is time to be more aggressive in respectfully assessing and removing leaders that are unwilling or unable to lead in ways that inspires and compels people to do their best work! Here is a set of leadership principles to consider:

1. Do you encourage your team to work and get results anytime, anywhere? Even if you have a face-to-face business where customers show up at specific times, you need to consider a flexible and mobile model. Expecting people to show up at certain times without a reason and/or to sit for eight hours in cubicle because that’s what defines a “work day” is no longer useful. Working where and when you need to in order to get the desired results is what counts!

My next step? I am going to press for zero sick time and removing seniority based vacations. I like everyone having five weeks of personal time each year regardless of role or tenure. And, if you’re sick longer then a week, let us know so we can help in any way. I also advocate a three month paid energizer sabbatical (additional seven weeks) for every position, every 10 years.

2. Do you inspire, expect and teach your team individually and collectively to be continuous learners and executers versus expecting them to be an outdated, so called “knowledge worker?” What your team knows today is less important than their ability to continuously learn and apply new insights to improve results for their customers, processes and teammates.

My next step? I like the idea of everyone using whatever digital media they like to openly publish weekly or bi-weekly stories on what they’ve learned and how they’ve applied that learning. The stories would be personally and digitally archived and shared for all to experience and learn from. People start to see themselves as legacy story makers.

3. Do you expect and help all of your team members to be leaders regardless of position? Of course formal leadership involves the responsibility to navigate people, capital and technology and this requires management. However, everyone on your team must consider themselves as a leader and impact player. Order takers and “just cogs in the wheel” are no longer reasonable or acceptable.

My next step? Everyone in the company must with regularity (maybe twice a month) story and demonstrate how they have “wowed” a customer or team member and/or taught or coached a customer or team member something of value. No exceptions.

4. Do you provide ways for people to define and determine their own career paths including speed to competency and proficiency? Old style vertical, exclusively top-down controlled and permission based is outmoded, too slow and restrictive.

 My next step? Future succession/career planning will involve visual storyboard career paths that each team member digitally carries with them. The storyboard is populated with key self-learning’s, results achieved, content shared, thought leadership, key failures, and future role possibilities.

5. Do you promote collaboration, total authentic transparency, risk free idea sharing, open learning based self evaluation, everyday innovation, fast failure , and a growth mind set?

My next step? I’d like to find a way to kill company-wide email, have everyone use digital social collaboration tools like “jam” at every level and promote an open all to see “Net Leadership Impact” score, where leaders are publicly rated. For example, the “Glassdoor” of leadership.

Character Moves:

  1. Asses where you and your team are relative to the above? Be bold and creative in designing the kind of situation that net promotes the above principles. Why not? Be hungry! Be a catalyst! Be more!
  2. If you aren’t capable and interested, please reconsider your suitability for leadership in 2015, (and I haven’t even covered leadership “table stakes,” like having a clear purpose, setting clear outcomes, giving recognition, etc).

2015 Leaders in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I support all these steps. I like producing results and making a positive contribution in the workplace. I dislike sitting at a desk, swiveling in an office chair just because my freedom depends on what appears on a clock. I’ll tell you what! If you need me, I’d rather be the obnoxious person talking to you from the treadmill at the gym, or send an email from the laundry room than just rot in the office “because.” Leaders should know I’m always available from anywhere. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Making 2015 a Great Year!

Be Accountable


Key Point: You can make 2015 a great and even better year if you turn wishful thinking into mindful action. Most of us recognize that forward movement and personal growth evolves from self-awareness, learning, and intentionally taking action to improve our way of feeling and being. The mindful action that becomes more routine and habitual is the tricky part for most of us. Scott Eblin, the author of Overworked and Overwhelmed has helped thousands of clients with a planning tool he calls Life GPS. You may want to use the entire planning tool. At minimum, Eblin challenges us with three BIG questions noted below. You may recall from my last blog that there was preliminary work that Eblin suggested we do to better answer the following:(You can download an editable Life GPS® worksheet here).

1.0 How Are You When You’re at Your Best?

“This first big question is all about recognizing the characteristics and behaviors that reflect how you are when you’re showing up as the best version of your self. Your answers to that question should be based on the self-knowledge that comes through a bit of quiet reflection on the times in your life when you’ve felt most comfortable and productive. What you’re looking for is the non-sports equivalent of what athletes call being “in the zone.”

Eblin believes, as we get increasingly clear about when we’re at our best, we’ll begin to see where the leverage is in showing up that way on an integrated basis in all aspects of life.

2.0 What Are the Routines Will Help You Show Up at Your Best?

“If you want to be a certain way (excellent for example), you have to do things that reinforce that state. It’s one of those ideas that is so simple it’s brilliant. That’s why it’s so important to identify and implement “easy to do, likely to make a difference” routines that help you to show up at your best more consistently and more often. The routines that will become part of your Life GPS® fall into four domains:

Physical: Your physical health – energy, strength, flexibility, balance and stamina – is the foundation for everything you do.

Mental:  Your mental acuity and capacity to make mindful choices about your life and work can be enhanced by routines that keep your brain healthy and your neural networks strong.

Relational:  The important relationships in your life – with family, friends, co-workers and loved ones – can be enhanced through mindful routines that keep them vibrant and resilient.

Spiritual:  Regular routines can help keep you connected with your answers to the biggest picture question of all – ‘What am I here on earth to really do?’”

Eblin notes that effective routines often have a ripple effect that enable us to show up at our best more often by cutting across one or more of these four domains. We don’t need to overload ourselves with a bunch of new routines that just add more things “to do.” Rather, the more mindful approach is to do a few that are relatively easy for us, and likely to make a difference in our lives.

3.0 What Outcomes Do You Expect to See in the Big Arenas of Life?

“The last of the three big Life GPS® questions encourages you to consider the outcomes you would expect to see from showing up at your best in the three big arenas of life:

  • Your life at home,
  • Your life at work and
  • Your life in your broader community.

Before 2015 moves into overdrive, take a little bit of time to get clear about your expected or hoped for outcomes. You won’t be looking for answers that need to last you for the rest of your life. Rather, you just want to get clear on the outcomes you’re hoping for in each of these arenas as of now.”

Eblin wisely emphasizes that we don’t need to solve for 100 percent: “There are so many variables at play in life that none of us control that spending a lot of time trying to solve for 100 percent just doesn’t make a lot of sense for most endeavors. Life is just not that linear. By the time you have enough information to solve for 100 percent, the variables will have changed anyway. You don’t want to get attached to specific outcomes that are not within your span of control, but it’s good to have an idea of the quality and nature of the outcomes you want. It’s the classic example of the idea that the quality of the journey is as important as the destination.”

Character Moves: 

  1. Take 30 minutes or so to reflect upon and answer Eblin’s BIG THREE. If you’re more ambitious, do the GPS worksheet noted above. Hopefully you would have invested time already reflecting on 2014, (see the 2014 reflection blog). If you don’t mindfully plan and act, are you just reacting to daily events? Are you continuing to do the same things and hoping that somehow things will get better? You and I are capable of being more tough minded!
  2. Don’t expect perfection, fall into quick self-disappointment and just quit. As an example, most of us know how well intended people are on Jan. 1 about getting in better physical shape, then “quit” that gym membership by Feb. 1. So let’s not allow you or I to be that person. Let’s focus on a few routines where we can be at our best and build positive habitual momentum. 

A great 2015 in The Triangle,


P.S. Garrett and I would like to wish readers a very Happy New Year! 

One Millennial View: This reminds me of a simple concept I recently heard discussed: Think about the last time you were truly in a bad mood. You know, just one of those “rut” days. Chances are, you didn’t do much that day. Unless it was something truly significant, that day’s mood was likely because you didn’t make any positive plans, spice up or change your route, you didn’t achieve something (or put the effort in to do so), and basically you stood still and didn’t take even the simplest step forward. Fine, some days are like that! But we all know that life is better when we’re planning, progressing, with something exciting on the horizon. Sure, those rut days are going to happen… But isn’t it scary how some people can have YEARS with that feeling? Here’s to a great 2015 where we’re not falling into that trap.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

A Free Pickle Face Antidote

Be Accountable


Key Point: I am going to remind you of something that we intuitively know, but sometimes forget the importance of. Many of us are using the New Year to reflect on what might improve us. You know, make us healthier, happier, live longer, become more attractive, benefit our relationships and overall state of being, etc. This blog has a recommendation that is almost too simple, easy, and frankly, may seem a little corny.

This involves no gyms, no diets, no vitamins, no therapy, no Botox, no drugs, other mood modifying substances, no purchase obligations and zero cost. And the recommended action is scientifically proven over years of research to make our life better. If it sounds too good to be true, in this case it actually isn’t. It just works. You’ll probably be a little surprised.

Please take seven minutes to watch Ron Gutman‘s TED Talk video:

The data on the benefits of smiling are almost laughable. Practically validate this research by thinking about the people you interact with or work around who rarely smile. How attracted are you to them? How often is that sourpuss you?

Thanks for investing in yourself by watching this great TED Talk. Now…Even if you don’t commit to any other New Year’s resolution, or set any other 2014 objectives, please consider doing the following: (Or make better Character Moves).

Character Moves:

  1. Consciously greet people through the day by smiling at them; start with who you live with in the morning when you get up. Do this more often than you do today. It is so rewarding to be around someone who smiles. Why not? What will you lose or give up? It’s free.
  2. Take a “selfie” photo of you smiling a few times per week and send it someone you care about. Think of the research regarding pre-1950 baseball cards and how much longer those players who broadly smiled lived… Seven years longer than the frowner downers… Wow. This action will create your own “live longer, smiling baseball card” on a regular basis. Think it’s silly? How much is living longer worth?
  3. Purposefully do something to make you smile more often daily like taking a multi-vitamin. Make a point of smiling more than 20 times per day. Apparently less than 25 percent of adults actually achieve that. Little kids smile on average 400 times per day. What happens to make us grumpy adults? Don’t be that “pickle face” I have written about previously. Consciously smile more and accept the positive returns throughout 2014 and beyond.

More smiling in The Triangle :),