science

As COVID-19 migrates from pandemic to endemic, our experience with the virus shows that following “the Science” leads to bad decisions.

“I’m not getting the vaccine,” a rando revealed to me on Thursday outside a Las Vegas hotel, “The Science says that too many people die from it.”

As COVID migrates from pandemic to endemic, our experience with the virus shows that following “the Science” leads to bad decisions. “The Science” differs from science, which is a discipline focused on accurate understanding. “The Science” interprets data that meets a particular worldview. It’s a religion.

At one time, “The Science” insisted that the earth was the center of the universe. Celestial prediction, however, remained elusive, so “scientists” (usually clerics) invented epicycles to explain variance. Still, the geocentric view never quite worked. Galileo showed that placing the sun at the center with the earth in orbit solved problems. In today’s vernacular, Galileo was canceled by the elect.

The COVID experience was more problematic because leaders without chests in government and business outsourced decision-making to narrow-minded experts who prioritized stopping the virus — a fantasy — to the exclusion of other considerations. Leaders celebrated the experts who provided assessments that conformed to their worldview and dismissed disconfirming studies. Education for the poorest children, health care, mental health, personal and social well-being, trust in leaders and fellow citizens, and many other common goods, suffered.

The New York Times shows that vaccine skepticism is widespread in America and correlates strongly with political polarization.

If you are vaccinated and boosted, your chances of dying from COVID are about one in a million, which is ten times less than being vaporized by lightning. Like my serial interrupter in Las Vegas, vaccine skeptics on the right are more afraid of being killed by the vaccine (about 1 in 30 million) than the virus. They are the ones filling hospital beds and unnecessarily overloading the healthcare system.

Nearly fifty percent of vaccinated Democrats under age fifty, meanwhile, fear that they will get very or somewhat ill from COVID, as compared to twenty-six percent of vaccinated Republicans in the same age group. Overall, 41 percent of vaccinated Democrats believe that they will get seriously ill from COVID even though the probability is infinitesimal. Many of them stay locked in their homes, obsessing over worry-porn, living in fear that everyone around them is a virus-wielding killer, and looking at you with finger-wagging scorn when you are outside without a mask. 100 times more vaccinated and boosted people will die from electrocution (1 in 13,394) and sharp objects (1 in 29,334) — probably in the safety of their homes.

President Harry Truman famously said that the buck stops here. He was the one responsible for weighing risks and opportunities and doing what he thought was best for the country. Leaders like Washington, Lincoln, Grant, and Eisenhower were famous for insisting on hearing alternative views before making decisions. This practice helped them avoid getting trapped in echo chambers that self-serving lieutenants tend to create.

What has become “The Science” in your business? What’s your process to make objective assessments and avoid inhaling your own gas?

Building your Chest

The next Antietam & Gettysburg exclusive event takes place March 15-18. This program is for seven leaders and consultants who want to turbocharge 2022 with innovations that move you from competitive to better and distinct. We use critical points on the battlefield to discuss decision-making, gaining buy-in, improving agency and initiative, and how to avoid getting high off the smell of your own gunpowder. We finish with an innovation workshop to develop action steps to gain decisive competitive advantages. There is one space left. Your investment (including food and lodging) is $4500 until February 21 and $5500 after that. Spouses or significant others welcome.

The Hudson Valley in the Revolution (July 27-30) focuses on people-centric innovation. We’ll travel to Fort Ticonderoga on beautiful Lake Champlain, the famous Saratoga battlefield, the majestic garrison at West Point, and the Stony Point battlefield. Most threats to an organization’s success come from within, and this challenge was true for the Continental Army. We’ll use the history to discuss practical ways to address toxic workplace behaviors, engage and retain your top talent, inspire people to contribute their best to your team’s success, and many others. You’ll build new thought leadership that will be game-changers for your clients and employees.



benevolence

A robust culture and foundational trust cannot exist without benevolence.

When preparing for a 1:1 meeting with a Team member, I felt my stress levels heighten as I searched for ways to preserve my sense of self and uphold my integrity. I put a smile on my face even though I knew this person would dig for gossip and potentially twist anything I said into a “sky-is-falling” dramatic sentiment. Often, this person had a way of exposing my vulnerabilities. I replayed our conversations over and over to make sure that I didn’t say or do anything that this person could use against me in the future. I spent way too much mental capacity planning and debriefing after meeting with this individual.

This relationship was the opposite of benevolence. I was not confident that this individual had my best interest at heart.

Benevolence means we are not using mental and emotional energy worrying about the other individuals in our Team. It means that we will practice mutual kindness and have well-meaning intentions with our words and actions. A benevolent workplace equates to a trusting culture. Simply put, a workplace will turn toxic without benevolence.

If you lay a strong foundation of benevolence and your Team buys in, imagine how much less time people have to worry about looking behind their backs. Now your team can look forward and move your company to greater heights.

As a leader, how are you cultivating benevolence?

Actions steps to boost benevolence in your workplace:

  • Ensure a mutual attitude of well-meaning intentions: If you have to explicitly tell someone on your Team that your sentiments come from a place of respect and kindness, then do it. If something doesn’t come across as well-meaning, you can ask, “please help me to understand what you mean by that.” Don’t build up negative assumptions about the interaction. Stewing in anger and resentment does not build strong teams
  • Eliminate exposure of others’ weaknesses: If someone on your Team is struggling, have a 1:1 with them—don’t call them out in front of their peers. If you see this happen, stop it immediately. What you permit, you promote. Don’t be a boss who lets toxic behavior occur under your nose. Only bullies exploit the weak. Build your Team up instead of tearing them down.
  • Talk to your Team about benevolence: Explain to your Team that you would rather they spend their time on productivity, efficiency, and finding joy in their job than worrying about if they said or did the wrong thing during yesterday’s meeting. Ask them to be forward-focused and put their mental capacities toward constructive and innovative ideas.

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs

  • The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

Additional Offerings:
Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams.

Book:
Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back home. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It seamlessly bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress.

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Sign up for a free quick coaching session here to see if we’re a good fit.

Imagine the candid conversations you can have where you focus on the employee, and the team.

Okay, leaders, you are wrapping another year. It was a challenging year filled with hybrid work adaptation, vaccinate or not, economic uncertainty, the great resignation, and the continued fight for social justice. With that backdrop, how do you feel? How does your Team feel? Was it a successful year for you, for your Team?

This is a common time for periodic or annual counseling. What do you have to say to your individual Team members? Is it the same old stuff about how they performed against company attributes? A few lines about their potential? When you look in the mirror, what do you say to you? Are your affinities and skills aligned? Christopher Kolenda, Ph.D., and Strategic Leaders Academy created a simple yet powerful way to look at your employees and yourself and so that you can raise the level of those important conversations.

As the quad chart shows, you have affinity on the north-south axis and skills on the east-west axis.

The resultant quads tell you and the employee where they are on affinity/skills alignment. During their counseling session, use this quad chart to show your employee how you view their performance. Then ask them how they feel and watch the realization set in. 

– Mismatch (Low skills, low affinity) – those in this quad may be in the wrong job. The chances are that they are struggling with the work, and if you ask them, they do not enjoy the work. Ask them difficult questions about how they feel.

– Burnout (High skills, low affinity) – high performers who do great work but are not happy. They can make things work for a short period but know that they are likely looking for something else. If you don’t address misalignment, disruptive behavior can manifest itself. Job and company satisfaction is waning.

– Growth (High affinity, low skills) – great attitude, enjoys the work but needs more experience. You can see and feel their excitement about their work. They will do what it takes to get the job done. Focus on their growth and development. 

– Empowered (High affinity, high skills) – great attitude, enjoys the work, and good at what they do. Has the experience and enjoys the confidence of others. The alignment of affinity and skills taps into their superpowers.

On two recent occasions, leaders I know used this approach to help them begin the difficult conversation of reorienting employees to other career choices. While difficult at first, the employees felt a burden was lifted, and they eventually appreciated their new direction and the leader’s honesty. The opposite is also true where you can boost an employee’s confidence and commitment as you discuss their good work and great potential.


Imagine the candid conversations you can have where you focus on the employee. Your self-assessment may be quite revealing too. Are you ready? 

Leading the Middle -2021 – A year in Reflection

Thank you for connecting, sharing your perspectives, thoughts, and experiences. I learned more about leadership, people, and myself than I ever expected. I am filled with gratitude because of you and the experience. I am especially grateful to my friend Aaron who passed earlier this year. I will treasure the lessons from the Bloody Knuckles Garage, his humanness, and grace. As I wrap up the year, I am sharing a few of my favorite words, phrases, and ideas that you gifted to me.

Be more elephant and less hippo

The Mid-Leader Six
As goes the middle, so goes the organization.
Would you follow you?
The Unknowing Mentor
What did your habits do for you today? LEADER
Seek first to understand before being understood.
Tap into the superpowers of your Team.
Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
People are not on the Team; they are the Team.
They follow you not because they have to but because they want to.
So That…
Create that Friday feeling.
Wisdom is doing now what you will be happy with later.
Like weeds, you have to manage or prune away toxic behaviors.
Talking at the speed of trust.
Find your gratitude.
The power of the pause.
People are your purpose.

Page through my posts if you would like a refresher on any or reach out to me. What was your favorite? Feel free to print and post the word art. Take care of people and take care of yourself.

team

Courageous vulnerability boosts your Team’s connections, understanding, and innovation.

When describing vulnerability, I’m not referring to Merriam Webster’s definition, “open to attack or damage.” I’m also not saying that leaders and Team members need to bear their souls and talk about all of their weaknesses. The vulnerability I’m referring to is the ability to ask for help, rely on one another, admit when wrong, celebrate Teammates’ wins,  see the value in being something other than that tough-skinned Autobot that has no feelings and only thinks about creating more widgets and making more money. I’m talking about the vulnerability that produces magical moments of insight, creativity, innovation, and unites Team members through commonalities and compassion.

During the civil war, the leader on horseback was the most vulnerable person in the formation—the exemplar of courage and steadfastness in the face of danger. When there’s trust, people don’t take shots at you—they help. Soldiers rally around the leader and Teammates offer help and support. You can admit mistakes and shortcomings and you can experiment and fail. What are the limits of vulnerability? How are you modeling vulnerability and leading the charge for your Team? 

I used to teach a semester-long adventure education course at a suburban high school. One of the capstone experiences was our overnight camping trip. Inevitably, we had students that had never slept outside, sat around a campfire, observed the stars outside the city limits, or cooked a meal over the fire. For some, it was very spiritual. As the night settled down, we sat in a circle around the fire and shared our hopes and dreams for our future. These nights took on a magical essence. Students bore their souls and showed their vulnerability. Oftentimes we ended the night with glow sticks and group hugs. The classes’ emotional awareness, psychological safety, and connectivity grew exponentially during those nights. This single night of vulnerability cracked open the thick layer of teenage self-consciousness, and our class moved from classmates to family.

These overnights became so legendary that students came to the campfire knowing they would shed tears and open their hearts. They anticipated a transformation with their classmates and embraced the change with open hearts. The best part? Our classes’ efficiency, creativity, productivity, understanding, and joy also increased exponentially for the remainder of the semester. The kids, who were sometimes a pain in the butt, quit their disruptive behavior. The disengaged became fully engaged. The unhappy came to school with a greater sense of belonging. The transformation was tangible.

“Vulnerability is not a weakness. That myth is profoundly dangerous… Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to a feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable the sharing is probably not constructive.” ~Brene Brown

Why it’s important:

  • Authenticity – Vulnerability allows each person to work as their best selves. They own their strengths, acknowledge their weaknesses, and find the best fit for their skills. They are accepted and have a strong sense of belonging.
  • Greater sense of belonging – Your Team will have stronger connections, a deeper understanding of each other, greater empathy and compassion, and they will be able to practice benevolence and interdependency. 

Greater passion for their work – When your Team is vulnerable, they can work interdependently towards a common goal and hold each other accountable. Notice how this doesn’t say that the boss will hold everyone accountable. No, the Team will hold each other accountable. Everyone has a clear purpose, and they know what their job entails and their expectations of one another. Talk about buy-in!

What is your equivalent to sitting around the campfire or riding on horseback? What event or activity can you create to drill through the core of ego and self-consciousness? As we navigate our polarized world, how are you using this opportunity to create a deeper understanding of one another instead of a deeper divide?

Know who you are and what you stand for. Just as importantly, get to know your employees at the same level. Allow people to express themselves respectfully. When you’re vulnerable feel safe, they will stick around and willingly contribute their best.

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs

  • The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams. 

People without Chests are easy Prey for the Demagogues who Pit People against each Other

Building Chests

“The head rules the belly through the chest,” C.S. Lewis tells us, but the belly will override the head if there’s no chest.


The metaphor is from Plato. The head => logic, the belly => emotion, and the chest => virtue. People “without chests” are viscerals, governed by emotion.

A century after Lewis and a couple of millennia after Plato, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman described two human thinking systems in his book Thinking … Fast and Slow. System 1 is the emotional, governed by the amygdala, that controls our fight or flight instincts. System 2, the analytic brain, is slower and requires more effort. You have to pay close attention when using System 2, and a threat or distraction allows System 1 to retake control.

People without chests are easy prey for the demagogues who pit people against each other. System 1 runs amok when people point to those who look, act, or think differently as an existential threat or source of evil. Restraint goes out the window when you are fighting Beelzebub.

Virtue has gone out of fashion, argues Roosevelt Montás in Rescuing Socrates, and I wonder if the absence of leaders with chests has contributed to the breakdown of our politics, corporate governance, civil society, and organizations. Only people without chests could think racism, revenge racism, misogyny, bigotry, fraud, deceit, and the like are ok as long as they advance your agenda. And yet, here we are.

Ancient Greco-Roman philosophers believed that following the four cardinal virtues — wisdom, justice, courage, and self-discipline — was essential for living the good life and having a healthy republic, army, business, or organization. Confucius and other ancient eastern thinkers wrote similarly. Practicing timeliness principles builds your chest so that your head can rule your belly.


Building leaders with chests requires learning from theory, history, and experience. You need the big ideas about fostering the common good, the history of effective and failed leaders so that you can learn from their successes and failures, and personal experience in the arena to put the chest into practice.

It’s easy to let the chest diminish. Apathy does the trick, and history shows the consequences.

Theory and history without experience put you in the ivory tower of impracticality, while theory and experience without history make you vulnerable to silly fads. Without theory, experience and history trap you in the hamster wheel of tactics without strategy.

Leaders with chests do what’s right, the right way, without you having to watch over them. Imagine the impact on your business when you have people committed to the common good who are doing the right things, taking the initiative, and innovating. Imagine the consequences of the opposite.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

Accelerating your Success

Predictable unpredictability is a new reality. How will you help your clients thrive? 

The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in February. We’ll examine the most important 2022 forecasts for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8; the fee is $5500. Reply to this email to see if the program is a good fit for you.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain sustainable habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results so that you reach your goals more quickly and consistently. Soar to new heights here.

Just because you built buy-in doesn’t mean it will stick around. It needs cultivation and invested time. 

Buy-in

So often, we feel as though we have to keep our cards close to our chests as leaders. We don’t want scrutiny. We worry that the plan has to be perfect—which doesn’t exist—before we reveal it. Maybe there’s a lack of trust within our Team. Perhaps we think our Team isn’t capable of thinking at our level. Or, we’re worried that our Team is not ready for change so we prolong telling them about it until the plan is done and it needs to be executed immediately. 

The best way to gain buy-in? Put your people first and treat them as professionals. How do you do that? You bring them to the table. You give them the confidence to provide valuable feedback. When you have time to do so, getting people to contribute their ideas before you make a decision allows you to adopt some or all of them and increase buy-in. Gaining their ideas in advance is more plausible than gaining feedback from them after you’ve made a decision. When you make this practice a habit, then people will better understand the times when you need to make an immediate decision.

How to gain organizational buy-in:

  1. Trust – Be authentic and vulnerable. Your Team is better together. One-on-one meetings and small team meetings are great ways to foster this trust.
  2. Psychologically safe environment – practice empathy and compassion and create a space where everyone can have a voice. 
  3. Request input and feedback – Ask specific questions and really address your Team’s concerns—allow everyone to speak. Don’t be overly attached to ideas. 

How to get buy-in for an idea: 

  1. The “WOW” factor – Let your Team know how this is going to positively impact them and the organization. 
  2. Share your journey on developing this plan – Tell them why you think this is the best one. Bring data to the table for your operational thinkers. Share examples of success. Use storytelling. Use  “what if we did nothing?” or “what else could we do?” scenarios so that your team can see why this is the best way forward.
  3. Ask for input and feedback early and often – Tell your Team that you’re still in the brainstorming stages and you want them to poke holes in the current plan. 

Once you have buy-in, how do you keep it?

  1. Communicate often – Clarify timelines, keep your direct reports and the Team updated on the progress. Document your various steps along the way on an open forum.
  2. Establish ownership – Use “we” and “us” when discussing the Team and the plan. These simple words will spread buy-in and a sense of belonging.
  3. Celebrate wins – Give credit to others when things go well. Take ownership of pitfalls.

What happens when you get crickets in a meeting? It could be one of three things. 

  1. Processing time – Make sure you are speaking at the speed of trust. Sometimes too much information can be overwhelming and people shut down.
  2. Fear –  They don’t want to pop your balloon, they don’t want to look stupid, they may have been burned in the past, or they are afraid of speaking up. You can eliminate most of the fear by developing trust and psychological safety.
  3. Indifference – They may be thinking, why fix it if it isn’t broken, we’ve always done it this way, we’ve tried that before, what can I do anyways, or glad I’m not at the helm! These statements are in contrast with continuous improvement. Don’t let your Team drift with these negative mind frames.

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” ~ Steve Jobs

Do you have newly promoted leaders that you want to thrive and master their added responsibilities and challenges? Then the Lead Well program is perfect for them. SIGN UP NOW by booking a free 30-minute consultation with Laura! Only a few spots left. The next session starts in the beginning of February!

J

Insanity

What insanity, wishful thinking, and complacency have in common is the belief that doing the same things over and over will create success.



Einstein famously remarked that a definition of insanity was doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. Presumably, he meant better rather than worse results. We won’t get healthier, for instance, by practicing the same habits that created our current condition.

Einstein’s definition is closely related to wishful thinking — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting BETTER results. Americans saw that problem play out in places like Afghanistan. With minor variations, the U.S. government did the same things repeatedly and expected things to improve rather than continue their downward spiral.

On the other hand, complacency is doing the same things repeatedly and expecting the SAME results. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is fine for mechanical devices and rote tasks but shortens your path to ruin on almost everything else.
Sears expected their catalog-based shopping and mall-centered stores would continue delivering profits. They made only minor adjustments when the digital age arrived. Today, Sears is out of business while Amazon thrives. Blockbuster expected people to keep on coming to stores for movie rentals. Netflix crushed them. Toys R US face-planted. IBM saved a few bucks by renting instead of buying MS-DOS and went from the undisputed leader in the PC business to a humiliating exit from it.

Innovation is your complacency-vaccine. New practices and habits are the best ways to leap plateaus, shatter artificial barriers, and remove arbitrary finish lines. The best athletes vary their workouts. Military units alter the conditions under which they perform battle drills. The most agile thinkers read a variety of disciplines and views. Innovation keeps you out of comforting ruts.

The comfort zone for owners, consultants, and experts is a powerful intoxicant.

You’ve been successful, and there’s no reason, you believe, for future success to look much different than present success. This common condition is called presentism. Business failure begins with a lack of imagination.

What are you doing to boost innovation? Who are the mentors and advisers who will bring in the fresh air? What events will you attend that expand your perspective and help you see your future from new points of view?  

Accelerating your Success

Consulting Mastery is my 8-week mastery program for consultants and experts who want to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business and take it to new heights. This program, a variant of FOCUSED, orients exclusively on consultants and experts. I’ll run this program twice in 2022. We meet once per week for 90 minutes via zoom. The program begins in late January; only eight spaces are available. Your investment is $4500 by January 15; then, the fee rises to $5500. Most participants say that the program pays for itself in the first two weeks. Click here for more information and to apply.


Predictable unpredictability is a new reality. How will you help your clients thrive? The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in February. We’ll examine the most important 2022 forecasts for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8; the fee is $5500. Reply to this email to see if the program is a good fit for you.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain sustainable habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results so that you reach your goals more quickly and consistently. Soar to new heights here.

CEO Mastermind group
 is for Milwaukee-area small business leaders and consultants who want to accelerate their growth in 2022. We meet monthly for lunch, and you get unlimited access to me for coaching and advising. I’m limiting the group to 8. Four places are remaining. Reply to me for more details.

Biden
Biden

When under stress, Reconcilers, like President Biden, tend to give excessive weight to the loudest and most pious voices in the room.


I’ve admired President Biden since he visited our remote outpost in Afghanistan in 2008 and praised our paratroopers in a National VFW speech. I found his sincerity and open-mindedness refreshing, and he quickly got the importance of our relationship-building efforts to Afghans. Biden agreed that accumulating allies was more helpful than aggregating your enemies. He talks about that visit when he mentions the Kunar River Valley in his Afghanistan speeches.

I’m having difficulty reconciling his words in 2008 with his recent speech that branded half or more of his citizens as treasonous racists (here’s a favorable view of the speech). He deserves credit for building the most physically diverse cabinet in history and could benefit from boosting cognitive diversity among his advisers.

Just because people look different does not mean they think differently. Cognitive uniformity puts you in an echo chamber that leads to poor decisions. Confirmation bias is like freebasing your own gunpowder. When under stress, Reconcilers, like President Biden, tend to give excessive weight to the loudest and most pious voices in the room. [Stressed Pioneers, like Biden’s predecessor, often surround themselves with sycophants and become louder and more outrageous.]

Civil War General William Rosecrans, also a Reconciler, won a string of victories in Tennessee as his army captured Chattanooga. Battlelines drew together at Chickamauga. The Union generals nagged Rosecrans for particular places and reinforcements. The Confederates attacked when Rosecrans shifted forces to please a subordinate. The mass confusion led to a defeat that sent Union forces back to Chattanooga, and Rosecrans lost his job.

Lincoln and Eisenhower were Reconcilers, too, and valued cognitive diversity. They surrounded themselves with people committed to the common good who presented different points of view, respected each other, and challenged the leader’s thinking. This practice helped them to avoid super empowering the loudest and most pious. Their decisions weren’t always perfect, but they tended to avoid self-inflicted disasters.

Lincoln held the Union together, gained buy-in for the Emancipation Proclamation and the 14th Amendment, and won the war. Eisenhower amassed consensus to end the Korean War and build the interstate system, a large standing military, and a robust nuclear deterrent.

Cognitive diversity was also vital in the success of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. I highly recommend The Sword and the Shield (which is on my 2022 reading list) in which Peniel E. Joseph discusses Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (a Maverick) and Malcolm X (a Pioneer).\

Pioneers, Reconcilers, Operators, and Mavericks — our PROM archetypes — have distinct superpowers and different reactions when under significant stress (you tend to be your most extreme version). When you know this about yourself, you can sense the warning signs and avoid surrounding yourself with subordinates who egg you on to extremes. When you know your subordinates’ archetypes, you can recognize their stress reactions and take steps that bring them back to their best selves.

The value of history is not in teaching you what to think but in how it heightens your critical thinking skills, aids self-examination, and highlights the importance of gaining diverse perspectives from trusted sources. Freebasing gunpowder tends to create bad outcomes. Whose bringing in the fresh air for you?

Are you interested in using history to take your critical thinking skills to new heights and develop practical action steps that accelerate your success? Join me and seven others on March 15-18 for the Antietam & Gettysburg exclusive. When you have meaningful discussions with other extraordinary people at powerful venues, you gain perspective that pays dividends for life. There are three places still open.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

lessons

Last year’s life lessons translated into leadership lessons

Lessons

For me, 2021 was a transformative year. I left the world of education in June and joined the Strategic Leaders Academy on July 1 as a consultant and professional speaker. It made perfect senseI have been speaking about my experience in Iraq since 2004, and I have held leadership positions in almost every facet of my life since high school. I was ready, willing, and able for this next chapter in my life.

I am abundantly happier and less stressed now that I have more control over my life. Has it always been easy? No, not at all. I had to move from the public system to private, I had to learn to “speak business,” sell and market myself, network like there’s no tomorrow, and say goodbye to the many wonderful people I worked with as a principal. It was, however, the best decision I ever madethat, or I’m making the best out of my decisionwink wink.

I learned so much last year, especially in the past six months. Here are 21 of those lessons and how they translate into leadership:

1. The life of a principal is so tiresome that it was difficult to look for another job.

  • Make sure your employees and leaders have enough time to enjoy life and do things that can rejuvenate them. Also, how can we help the overworked school systems?


2. People are inherently good, but put them into a group with toxic people and that sludge will infiltrate even the best of people.

  • Hire the right people. Don’t compromise. If you need a body, hire on a temporary contract to see if it’s a good fit for you and them or don’t hire at all.

3. Values are not to be compromised. I was very close to doing so. I felt differently about how to deal with people than my superior. We never communicated about our fundamental values around this topic which could have alleviated a lot of stress from everyone involved.

  • Be explicit about your values and expectations so that you hire people who’ve bought-in to your core values. Don’t assume your employees have the same values as you. Have a conversation with them and make sure their values align with your Team’s common purpose, vision, and mission.

4. Autonomy, creativity, and innovation are inextricably linked.

  • The more autonomy your employees have, the more innovation and creativity will occur. This will also boost belonging and buy-in—a win/win.


5. Everyone has advice. All the time. No matter who you are or if you asked for it. Audit this advice. It has the power to overwhelm and shut down.

  • See my article on feedback for more information. Hire a trusted advisor to help you weed out the feedback that matters.


6. People act in mysterious ways.

  • You are the only person you can control. Sometimes it’s hard to “let it go,” but you will be much happier when you can move on from a difficult situation.

7. Control of my time sounds better in my head than in my guilty conscience. By that, I mean that even though I have complete control, it’s hard not to work all the time. Something always needs to be done.

  • Make sure your Team is taking their much-needed and much-deserved time off. If you lead by example, they will follow. If you show up to work before sunrise and leave after sunset, they will feel like they have to do the same and may become resentful.


8. There are so many amazing and wonderful people out there.

  • Get to know your Team on a personal level. It will make difficult conversations much easier with a solid foundation intact.


9.  Social Media is a time suck. I already knew this one, but I had never worked with LinkedIn before. I’ve found it especially challenging to make sure I’m doing what is best for my business while maintaining boundaries.

  • Keep track of how much time you spend on social media. Increase your productivity at work to increase your time off at home.


10. Talk at the speed of trust. As a type-A personality, I need to make sure that I’m not moving too fast for my clients.

  • Sometimes too much information can be damaging. Know who you’re talking to and how to talk to them.

11. It’s easy to get stuck in hypnotic habits.

  • So often we think we’re busting our humps at work, but in reality, we’re spending all of our time in emails and meetings without working on our business.


12. “Commission breath” is a real thing

  • Make sure you build trust before you start using the salesperson swagger.

13. Avoid “putting your great ladder along the wrong wall.”

  • Make sure your vision aligns with your outcomes. Otherwise, burnout is inevitable.


14. The longer you spend working within your strengths, the happier you’ll be and the more productive and innovative you will become.

  • For many, working on our weaknesses is a badge of honor, but it might not be a point of joy or passion. Delegate as much as possible and do what brings you joy to boost productivity at work.

15. My brain shuts down between 2 and 3 pm every day. This is my low point and when I need to take a break, go for a walk, or get a snack to re-energize.

  • Pay attention to your natural rhythms and align your work to those rhythms. For example, I am most productive in the morning. This is when I sit in the quiet and create. I try to have my meetings with others in the afternoons because they re-energize me and get me away from my screens.


16. It costs 50%-200% of someone’s salary to rehire for their position.

  • Putting people first is a must in today’s great recession. If you want to learn more about how this trend will continue, read this ebook—Demographic Drought


17. You have a choice. So many people have told me that they wish they could do what I did by quitting their 9-5 job.

  • Here’s the secret: YOU CAN! It’s a choice. We all have them. It’s about making the most out of the decisions you choose to make.


18. Living without fear is liberating. I am an all-in type of person. I love new experiences and I love to meet new people. From backpacking to Europe, to purchasing my first house as a single person, to marrying my husband in 4.5 months of meeting himmy lack of fear has provided me with abundant joy and amazing opportunities.

  • My lack of fear is based on realistic optimism and grit. I am one of the most fiscally conservative humans you’ll meet. Please tread lightly and logically with this one. But by all means, don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back.


19. Authenticity is key. I’m a people pleaser but the more I’m myself, the happier I am.

  • Choose you! You’re the only one we’ve got.


20. Rely on your network. When I’m stuck, down in the dumps, or need a thought partner, I have amazing individuals to reach out to. Thank you to Chris Kolenda and Jeff Marquez for being my top two go-tos!

  • Don’t try to lone-wolf it. Who do you go to when you need help? Remember, I’m here if you need me!


21.  Family Firstmy “why.” These four cuties are what make me the happiest. I love watching the kids learn and grow and become their own little humans. As long as I prioritize my family, I feel successful and they know they’re loved.

  • What’s your “why” and how can you prioritize that?
Lessons