The Gratitude Platform

Key Point: Use gratitude as a personal improvement platform by connecting what you want to improve upon to what you’re grateful for. The path to self-improvement is hidden in your pleasure and happiness rather than discontent! Hmm… Interesting thought. 

I am writing this in Canada, fully appreciative that American family and friends are celebrating the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving. And of course, it is the perfect time for all, wherever we are, to reflect and ask the question: “What are you grateful for?” In exploring this question, I ran across a recent HBR blog by one of my favorite authors/leadership pundits, Peter Bregman. I think he effectively makes a supportive argument regarding my key point above:

“The things I am grateful for are, by definition, already a part of my life. I am grateful for the undistracted time I spend with my family. For the sense of presence and focus I feel when I am writing. For the times when I really sink in to listen to another, without any need to fix them or the situation they’re in. For the clarity I have come to in the past year about what’s important to me and to my business — and the time I spend in those areas of focus. In other words, those things I want to improve on? I’m already doing them. Those are, actually, old behaviors. Habits, even.

When I really sink in to listen to another, without any need to fix them or the situation they’re in, I am talking less. When I am present and focused while writing, I am moving more slowly, more deliberately. When I experience undistracted time with my family, I don’t feel like I am wasting a minute. When I spend time on my areas of focus, I am settling into my highest priority items.

In this context, the path to improvement may not be effortless, but it should be familiar. And just knowing that can make a difference.

Consider the ways in which you want to improve. How do they relate to the things for which you feel grateful? I am willing to bet that, at least in some areas, the things for which you are grateful mirror the things you want to improve.

Reminding yourself of what you have already done in the past is a much more reliable way of shifting your behavior — much more believable, reasonable, doable, repeatable, sustainable — than starting a whole new behavior in the future.”

Character Moves: 

  1. Ask that grateful question and build off of the answers. Peter also suggests asking the following: “Who are you in those moments when you are grateful? How do you show up? What are you doing? How are you behaving with yourself and others? Go back to those moments of gratitude and bring them into your present.” 
  2. Be grateful that you are mostly and already the person you aspire to be. It’s about remembering, reminding, and replicating more than the daunting task of inventing something you’re not. Be grateful for that! Leverage personal gratitude to become even more you. You’re worth it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Better from gratitude in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: After an awesome Thanksgiving dinner and enjoying a beautiful Turkey Day with my lovely mom, who was kind enough to come stay with me during the holiday (which has already improved my living conditions about 1000 percent), I’m just grateful I remembered to edit this blog! Happy Thanksgiving!

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Are We Really That Necessary?

Key Point: Peter Bregman, highly regarded psychologist, author, and consultant, recently wrote the following in Forbes: “Many of us are unhealthily—and ultimately unhappily—tied to mattering. It’s leaving us overwhelmed and over-busy, responding to every request, ring and ping with the urgency of a fireman responding to a six-alarm fire. Are we really that necessary? Relevancy, as long as we maintain it, is rewarding on almost every level. But when we lose it? Withdrawal can be painful. As we get older, we need to master the exact opposite of what we’ve spent a lifetime pursuing. We need to master irrelevancy.” 

I write a lot about the importance of bringing value to others every day. It’s vital. However, if we define who we are and feel happiness exclusively by whether we matter to others or not, we will likely be setting ourselves up for a fall. It does feel good to be wanted by others and to really matter at work (and life). However, one day, for whatever reason, that will change. We will matter less at work and elsewhere. Then what? For those that thrive allowing whether they “matter” to be defined by others will, as Bregman states, “experience a lot of pain… Self doubt… Disappointment… Fear, and even depression.” 

It’s a challenging paradox because we need to matter more by mattering less. First and foremost we need to matter to ourselves. We need to accept that we are all “good enough,” while continuously advancing emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically. The purpose of self-advancement is about character development rather than being in perpetual self-judgment of being “good enough” to matter and be accepted. We need to accept being “good enough” and really matter to ourselves. In doing so, we can become better at mattering less to others. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Fully appreciate the value we bring to others, and be cautious about becoming addictive to “matter feedback” to confirm our necessity. One day we all become less relevant to someone. Like Bregman says, “How we adjust — both within our careers and after them — to not being that important may matter more than mattering.” Contentment may be most attainable when WE accept we really do matter, even when less relevant. 
  1. If you and I left work tomorrow because, let’s say, we won a big lottery, how long do you think it would take to replace us? I promise our former colleagues will say in a shockingly short time after our departure things like: “We miss ____, but (our replacement) brings a different approach that has its own unique value.” Let’s face it; we’re not as necessary as we like to think. It’s ok. Master irrelevancy. 

Not necessarily necessary in The Triangle, 


One Millennial View: Not to get into big hot topic issues, but sometimes I laugh when people I know say they are “worried” about the government “reading our texts,” or “listening to our calls.” Not because I necessarily agree the government should or not, but let’s just assume they are. In my mind, that means some poor NSA agent has to mull through your latest late night texts with so-and-so you met, or try to decipher your sports arguments from that group text with 100 inside jokes and funny throwback pictures from 2007. While that’s entertaining to you, you’re just not “that” important… No one is flagging it up. And if you ARE being closely monitored, well, you’re probably up to something extremely bad. In this case, guess what? You don’t WANT to be that important. Feeling valued and wanted is critical, but not EVERY part of everyone’s day is or needs to be Instagram worthy.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Blind Ambition



Key Point: You can be blind and paint in vivid colors. I simply love John Bramblitt‘s paintings. This Texan artist captures color, shapes, light, texture and meaning like it comes from his soul. And I believe it actually does. According to a recent blog in, by the time Bramblitt was 30, seizures had rendered him completely blind, sending him into what he calls “the deepest, darkest hole” of depression. “All of the hopes and dreams that I had for my life; all of the plans for what I would do after I graduated school were gone. I was not only depressed, but in mourning. The life that I had, along with the future that I was planning, was dead and gone,” he says. “I felt like I had no potential; that basically I was a zero.”

For more than a decade now, the inspirational artist has received several honors and been the subject of much media attention for his gorgeous paintings created in spite of his so-called handicap. “In a way, I am glad that I became blind,” Bramblitt says. “This makes more sense when you stop thinking about adversity as an obstacle, and start viewing it as an experience—something that you can learn from and grow from.”

Recoding artists Pitbull and Ne-Yo have a song out called “Time of Our Lives,” and while I’m not sure I agree completely with all their recommended courses of action, as they pound out their lyrics, I love their third verse: 

[Verse 3 – Pitbull:]

This for anybody going through tough times

Believe me, been there, done that

But everyday above ground is a great day, remember.

And I’m reading Peter Bregman‘s Four Seconds. Bregman suggests we numerically code problems by severity, (for example, life threatened by war is a 10, a life threatening disease a 9)… You get he drift by the time we get to our “BIG” problems; they’re in a little more perspective.

This blog is dedicated to all the people I love and know and my readers who may feel tapped out, wrung out, in “Holland” way too long (see my previous blog), and just feeling s#!tty; no matter the reason. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Be inspired by Bramblitt… We can get out of deep depression and when we view our obstacles as an “experience,” we reframe where we are it. WE ARE NOT in competition to what we read on Facebook or see on Instagram. Those are snapshots in time, NOT representative of a whole life. Our living is exclusively ours and not for the judgment of our parents or friends. If we follow the Character Triangle; do it now, be kind, and give more… How can we really be “wrong” or “unsuccessful?”
  1. Just friggin’ PAINT! Remember what the great poet Pitbull says, “everybody above ground is a great day… Remember.”

Color blind in The Triangle, 


P.S. Please check out Jeff Hanson, an 18-year-old prolific Canadian painter who is also blind. It’s a WOW!

One Millennial View: Guys like Bramblitt truly do help you put things in perspective. An old college friend recently took a trip to Africa. When her family’s first of four connecting flights was delayed (with only a short layover between all of them), I got a text saying, “Well, we can’t go to Africa anymore.” Uh, what? That’s it? Because of an hour delay at the start of her journey, she was convinced the whole two-week dream vacation to Kenya would be scrapped? I remember that attitude making me sad and frustrated. Of COURSE the whole trip wouldn’t be cancelled, there would just be a few inconvenient, unexpected variables (an overnight layover in Houston, to be specific). I’m fortunate enough to have a pretty optimistic point of view with just about everything, but I know not everyone can see it that way… Especially if the hurdle is at the very start of a huge trip. In the end, I think if we roll with some punches and take a deep breath, we can likely figure out how to “make it to Africa” (like my friend eventually did). 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


Bully and Silent Bosses Aren’t Leaders

Key Point: Hold yourself accountable first and help others improve. I believe the weakest and most ineffective “leaders,” more aptly described as “bosses,” spend their time chest pounding about “holding others accountable.” They are often “yellers” and recognize that their positions of authority provide a platform for subtle or even direct intimidation. I want these people out of organizations because they do little to improve performance, while adding lots of cultural waste, in the form of “ass protecting.”

In fairness, “bully bosses” may not think of themselves that way. The often have lower EQs and frame the world as “soft.” Hence, they believe the rest of the folks ought to be more like them. Now, I fully recognize that we are and should be disappointed by mistakes, poor performance and unmet expectations. We do need to set high bars of excellence and expect it within others and ourselves. However, what I have witnessed in my career is too much behavior at one extreme or another; bully at one end, mute at the other.  As unfortunate as the bully boss is, the silent or mute boss might even be worse. This type of boss grumbles and seethes internally about poor performance and most often silently sneaks up on a “poor performer” after finally “having enough” and “gets rid of the problem.”

It is really hard to be a performance coach. It takes care and skill to engage performance issues effectively. It involves huge amounts of personal energy. And I believe that’s what leaders need to do: We need to hold ourselves accountable first AND help others improve. Yes, we’re human and have a right to feel frustrated, disappointed and angry with unmet expectations. However, look in the mirror first. Remember our best outcome is to coach others to higher performance. 

Peter Bregman is a coach, and a consultant to CEOs and their leadership teams. He’s also the best-selling author of 18 Minutes, and his forthcoming book is Four Seconds. I really respect his work. This is what Peter recommends when someone under-performs: 

Character Moves (via Bregman): 

 “1 .Take a breath (that’s the four seconds part). Slow yourself down for the briefest of pauses — just enough time to subvert your default reaction. In that moment, notice your gut reaction. How do you tend to handle poor performance? Do you get angry? Stressed? Needy? Distant? Your role is to give people what they need to perform, not what you need to release.

2. Decide on the outcome you want and be specific. What does this particular person need in order to turn around this particular poor performance or failure? Maybe it’s help defining a stronger strategy, or brainstorming different tactics, or identifying what went right. Maybe they need to know you trust them and you’re on their side. But here’s what people almost never need: to feel scared or punished. And more often than not, that’s how we make them feel when we ‘hold them accountable’ in anger.

3. Choose a response that will achieve the outcome you want, rather than simply making your already obvious displeasure more obvious.”

Performance coaching in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: We’re probably not all lucky enough to work for bosses that are also perfect leaders. But that doesn’t mean we should stop taking notes. Even poor bosses can teach us through bad example, so when we may reach leadership positions, we can model ourselves differently… Bully bosses and “mutes” can be discouraging, but I don’t think we should allow them to shut us down. Like any other relationship in life, it’s about learning and developing tastes and standards. Learn from the duds. What does your boss do that you like? What don’t they do? As our careers progress, we can take that model and keep puzzling together the most ideal fit in a leader, which in turn will hopefully form a successful team and working atmosphere.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
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Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

Read more about the Character Triangle


Be Accountable

Be Respectful

Be Abundant

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