Remember, There Are People at the Other End of Your Decision

Your decisions matter and the impact of your decisions almost always extends beyond you.

Click on the following link to understand in 15 seconds exactly what I mean.

The Impact of Your Decisions

Why This Matters

Someone I respect once said, “Brent, always remember at the other end of your decision there’s a human being. Every single time a decision is made, SOMEONE is impacted.”

His inference was clear, concise and directed and here’s my interpretation:
Don’t let your decisions get so far beyond the people you lead that you forget about the impact to the people you lead.

This is one of those “nuggets of wisdom” that you want to keep top of mind. It’s so powerful that it should cause us to constantly evaluate our decisions and not just from the view of our own lens.

Consider the Context

A decision made in isolation is a decision destined to create some dynamic of disruption and I don’t mean a positive disruption.

Every decision has context. Each decision has reach. Decisions are connected to impacts and outcomes. When decisions are made in isolation, it’s often because we fail to consider the context, reach or impact on others.

This is why, on so many occasions, leaders are left wondering how one decision could have such a devastating impact on so many people.

The answer… a failure to consider the context.

The Benefit of Context

We’re all guilty of failing to consider context at some point or in some situation or around a specific decision.

Typically, 90% of my day is invested in listening to leaders and asking the questions that reveal context. The benefit of context is the ability to assess our decisions more completely before we make them and yet, purposefully understanding context is a work in progress.

Before there was experience, there was inexperience. Before there was understanding, there was a lack of understanding. Before there was wisdom, there was less insight. Before there was listening, there was talking. Before there was attention, there was distraction. Before there was awareness, there was a lack of awareness. This is the progression of my growth related to context. Can you relate?

Early in my career as an advisor I was introduced to a really bright business owner. As a person eager to make his mark, Jared had his company on the grow and had decided that it was time to take his company to the next level. He asked for my guidance and input on the addition of sales staff. The conversation was fast-paced and driven. Jared was intent on building the base of his business by building a sales team. What Jared needed was the consideration and questions that would lead him to context. What Jared got was the support of his idea because I believed he was on the right track and our conversation revealed that he had thought it through well. With the exception of one critical question related to how he was structuring the two divisions of his company.

After a lot of time and work had been invested on both our parts, I asked Jared a question about how he planned to handle the separation of the divisions. His comment was telling. “Why didn’t you ask me that question before now? That question would have been really useful before we got to this point.”

Lesson learned - Always work to consider the context!

The impact of your decisions almost always extends beyond you. As an advisor to leaders of businesses, experience has shown me that when context is considered deliberately, the development of people and results achieved are both exponentially impacted in a positive way. This awareness leads me to this question. “How is your leadership expanding the context and understanding of the leaders you’re developing?”


As you go through your week, invest the time to consider your awareness around the context of your decisions. Consider the impact of your decisions so that they are fully understood. Ask yourself this question:

What’s the impact that extends beyond you?

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.


P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

7 Universal Truths to Prevent Stagnancy in Your Business

While attending the TTI Success Insights Global Conference on Human Potential this past January - Molly Fletcher, one of the keynote speakers, quoted Tom Izzo who said, “You better be better than your problems.” This immediately caught my attention because if you want to be better than your sales and margin problems, it’s imperative that stagnancy isn’t your primary strategy.

Stagnancy Stinks

If your sales are sluggish, it may be because your customer base has gotten a bit stale.

If your gross margin isn’t where you want it to be, it may be because you’ve failed to advance your pricing strategy with you customers.

If you fail to refine your customers and define the relationship, it’s entirely possible that the foul odor you smell is the stagnancy of an approach that lacks awareness.

Universal Truths

While every company’s strategy is unique, there are some universal truths, connected to the life-cycle of businesses that are essential to preventing stagnancy from rooting its way into your company.

Click image to enlarge:

Course of Action

The key to defining strategy and avoiding stagnancy is to be informed and aware of key insights in relationship to the universal truths. This is about defining the time necessary to dedicate the effort and emphasis necessary to analyze, think, plan, execute and measure.

Ask yourself how often you find yourself in action toward an objective without defining and naming the real problem, concern or challenge you’re trying to tackle. At some point action simply for the sake of action is counterproductive. What’s key is getting to the root cause and making sure that the action is directed in a way that advances your business and prevents stagnancy.

This is really about common sense. Establishing a course of action to prevent stagnancy begins with the knowledge that you possess about your business or something that you learn as a result of analyzing information related to your business.

Here are seven action steps connected with the universal truths above:

  1. Consistently and continually review and refine your customer/client base.
    Establish common sense criteria that allow you to know and understand your customer/client at a deeper level. What are their needs? What are their priorities? What are the challenges they’re confronting. Where do they have blind spots that are evident to you?
  2. Adjust pricing regularly and frequently in today’s variable business climate.
    This allows you to stay ahead of the curve rather than behind the curve. Think about how hard it is to catch up on pricing, and margin, when you fall behind what were the required adjustments.
  3. All customers aren’t created equal. Establish awareness within your organization about customer segmentation and what customers represent the top 25%, the middle 50% and the bottom 25%.
    This allows you to engage conversations that are directly related to emphasis and prioritization and define why all customers truly aren’t equal.
  4. Define a level of service that the customer should expect and deliver on that expectation consistently.
    Truly great service is rare and yet every customer deserves great service when they interact with your organization. Experience has shown me that leaders who understand the relationship between universal truths 3 and 4 are leaders who generate greater sales growth, customer loyalty and margin in their business.
  5. Train every salesperson in your company to understand the business of their business and have regular conversations with their customers about key impacts and variables.
    Not only will you see increased margins, you will also witness increased customer trust and connection. No one likes surprises, and no one likes an unaware and uninformed salesperson.
  6. Identify key indicators that are important to your company when considering the impact of your customers.
    Some examples:

    1. Sales dollars
    2. Margin dollars
    3. Number of transactions per customer and cost per transaction
    4. Frequency of transactions
    5. Number or products, services or lines purchased
  7. Define the commitment index of the client/customer on a scale from one to five with five being high and one being low.
    What is the level of mutual respect? How do they respond to normal business variations? When a difficult circumstance or conversation arises, how committed are you to each other?


Invest the time over the next 7 to 10 days to consider how the universal truths and strategic insights apply to you, those you lead, your business unit or your company. If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being high and 1 being low, where would you rate yourself and your team on advancing against stagnancy?

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.


P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Dealing with the Black Sheep of Your Family Business

Different comes in many forms. Different stands out. We know what different looks like because it doesn’t look like us. We may say that different is valued and yet, many times we see different as difficult or we spend more time judging different than valuing what it contributes.

In family business, just like in sheepherding, different has a name and that name is black sheep.

The Purpose of Black Sheep

For years, before becoming the suburban oasis that it is now, the part of Chandler, AZ where I lived was the stopping point for sheep farmers moving their herds to the mountains for the hot summer months. Yes, there were modern-day shepherds that tended the herds and there were also black sheep in the herds.

Factoid: Black sheep are used by shepherds to keep count of their herds. Generally speaking, one black sheep is placed in the herd for every 100 white sheep. When we take the time to think and reflect beyond difference, we come to recognize that in sheep herds, just like in business, black sheep have a very unique purpose.


Without perspective related to sheep farming, we wouldn’t really understand the purpose that black sheep serve. Without a black sheep it becomes much more difficult for the shepherd to gain a quick reference or perspective on the number of sheep in the herd.

Interestingly, the same is true in family business.

Without perspective we don’t fully understand or value difference in the form of family members or people that are “a little out there”. These are the people that aren’t fully understood therefore they can’t be fully valued. They’re dismissed as different quicker than they are accepted as valuable to the business of family business.

Have you ever heard any of the following expressions?

  • “Oh, that’s uncle so and so… he’s the weird uncle.”
  • “That’s aunt so and so… she’s a bit eccentric.”
  • “They’re from out of town, they don’t quite fit the rest of the family.”

Introduction to Different

Let me introduce you to Jana. In addition to being an executive coaching client, Jana was viewed as highly successful by most people and yet, was also viewed as different and a bit “out there”.

In business and in her family, she was known as the black sheep. Maybe it was because she was introverted while the majority of her family members were extroverts. Could it be because she dressed uniquely and differently than everyone else? Jana’s choice of clothing could best be defined as “loud and bold”. Many of her colleagues and family had coined the phrase “that’s just a Jana thing.”

Interestingly, Jana was the CEO of a very successful international land development business. Purposefully, deliberately and with a style all her own, Jana lead one of the largest oceanside multi-unit development projects ever undertaken by a privately-held company.

Viewed as different, and noted for such repeatedly, my executive development work with Jana was centered around how she best maximized her approach and interaction with leaders and family members who were uniquely different from her.

How to Deal with Different

There are many times where, in family and in business, we don’t do different well. Why? Because we don’t value different as contributive. We see it only as different and without understanding, perspective or context we don’t really define the usefulness it offers.

So how do we deal with different in relationship to the Jana’s of the world or anyone else who seems to stand out as the black sheep in family business? Here are five proven strategies that are the result of helping the leaders of family businesses deconstruct the complexity of difference that exists among individuals within their families and companies.

  1. Use a validated assessment to objectively understand the diverse nature of difference that exists in any family or business team. Why? Because in both situations, someone is almost always referred to as the black sheep and what is needed is more objective information and less subjective opinions.
  2. Instead of judging the differences, define and value the contributions of the black sheep.
  3. Because black sheep stand apart, it’s imperative that we understand their purpose and what drives them. This is how we can value the unique contribution they make.
  4. Increase your awareness, appreciation and interaction with “different”. This helps to eliminate the lack of awareness and potential lack of interest you may have for anyone that is the opposite of you.
  5. Place focused emphasis on the problems that need to be solved or the objectives to be achieved, rather than spending countless hours critiquing what you don’t like about different.

The Value of a Black Sheep

Let me encourage you to invest 20 minutes at some point in your week to watch the Ted Talk in the link below. Often times in our work with family business leaders, it’s often the introverted relative, business partner or team member whose categorized as a black sheep. Consider the five practical strategies given above as you watch.

My commitment to you is that you’ll expand your awareness and insight into how you value and work with people that are different than you. After all, depending on the group of people you’re with or the environment you find yourself in, each of us/all of us can be referred to as the “black sheep” who stands apart from all others.

The Power of Introverts


  • Who do you find difficult or challenging to deal with simply because they’re different than you are?
  • What could you do to gain perspective on that difference and determine the value it offers to your business?
  • How can you value difference rather than judging it solely because it’s different?
  • Who’s the most “different” or “out there” person you know? How do they positively impact you or your business? What have you done to try and involve and engage them differently? How’s that worked for you? What’s your plan going forward?
  • Gain some do you think that person that’s different sees you through their lens?

Be authentic. Be purposeful. Make it meaningful.


P.S. I want to hear your thoughts - please share them in the comments.

Family Business and The Core Belief in Cash

There’s a saying that goes something like this… “Show me a person’s checkbook and calendar and I will show you what that person values.” Today, we’d need to adjust that saying for the era of electronic banking. Or… we would simply need to recognize the simplest of truths. How you spend your money and time reflect what you value most.

The value systems in a family business run deep. So deeply that they’re often referred to as core beliefs and they serve as the foundation of decisions and choices both individually and organizationally among owners and leaders.

The Commonality of Core Beliefs

Among the core beliefs that make-up the value system within a family business, there is one in particular that stands out for me as being essential to long-term success. Like many sayings offering timeless wisdom this core belief is simple, can be applied by everyone and is mastered by a few. This is the core value of dry powder and debt.

Dry Powder and Debt

In business, the term dry powder refers to cash and is the fuel for growth. Debt is a ratio to be managed correctly in relationship to that cash. Translated as a core belief of family business, the premise is simple. Don’t let a bank dictate your decisions. Manage your cash (dry powder) so that you can fund your future growth and opportunity. The leadership, relationship and ratio between the two is about one simple concept...CHOICE.

Owner’s Choice

When faced with the decision, the owners of family business prefer to control what they can control. This is what we refer to as the owner’s choice. This is the specific reason that keeping cash reserves high and debt low in relationship is a core belief of so many owners of family businesses. They recognize the long view requirement of smart financial decisions and their impact on advancing or restricting the opportunity for growth within their business.

Imagine the opportunity to grow the business exponentially based on a strategic choice. Now imagine the frustration of a business owner that is so leveraged with debt that they’re unable to pursue the very opportunity that would have accelerated their business to the next level. Conversely, imagine the options for the owner who has lived by the core belief of maintaining high levels of dry powder and low levels of debt.

In a word, it’s all about CHOICE.

The Value of Simplicity

On a personal level, I’m grateful that my parents instilled the simple, yet profound, core belief of financial competence in my life at a very early age. There are three things that my parents said over and over again to bring practicality to financial knowledge. These are the same things they tell their grandchildren today to instill a core belief across generations. The great part about something that’s simple is that it often times requires no more explanation. Such is the case with the timeless and simple wisdom of a school teacher/administrator and business owner.

  1. Spend less than you make
  2. Don’t live beyond your means
  3. Save and invest something from every paycheck and you’ll be the one signing the paychecks

Thoughtstarter: Control What You Can Control

If you’re interested in increasing your financial knowledge let me encourage you to check out a couple of resources that you may find useful, starting with a guy by the name of Dave Ramsey.

If you don’t know who Dave Ramsey is, you may want to invest the time to learn about him. 30 years ago, Ramsey filed for bankruptcy. Today, he’s considered “America’s trusted voice on money.”  He’s the owner of Ramsey Solutions, the voice of The Dave Ramsey Show, a New York Times Best Selling Author… and he has an estimated net worth of about $55 million.

One of my favorite quotes from Dave, of which there are many, is “You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” Think about that as it relates to your core beliefs, choice and the value of simplicity.

Two books that are required reading for people I care about and who care about being able to make their own financial choices and define their financial future are:

  1. The Millionaire Next Door
  2. Everyday Millionaires

Here’s to the core beliefs of family business that are the foundations of decision and choice.

Be authentic. Be purposeful. Make it meaningful.

P.S. I want to hear your thoughts - please share them in the comments.

The Void - Offboarding

We exist in an era in which the leaders of high-performing family businesses have become highly purposeful with the onboarding and integration plans for people that are joining their company. Their focus stems from the intent and desire to engage and connect people with the culture of the company and decrease the chances of someone becoming disengaged or choosing a job-hopping departure.

Uniquely, these same leaders seem to have forgotten about the other end of the equation and that has resulted in large numbers of people, most of them over the age of 60, choosing to keep quiet about any and all plans to announce that their career focus is changing or coming to an end.

According to Bersin by Deloitte, the average cost per hire is almost $4,000. Statistics on offboarding are far more difficult to identify. Experience has shown me that if it’s not being measured, it’s likely not getting done.

The Void

The leaders of privately-held and family-owned businesses must plan for, and deal with, the end of career process (offboarding) as seriously as they do the beginning (onboarding) otherwise, they will face a potentially catastrophic outcome that I refer to as The Void.

The Void  is the empty space created by leaders of companies who fail to establish a process for transferring the large amount of internal knowledge possessed by key people to the next generation of leadership.

Left undefined, this void creates a massive disruption to the business of the business.

Conversely, when clearly thought through, offboarding should be viewed as the catalyst for performance, knowledge and generational continuity within the high-performing environment.

A Key Step

Offboarding should be viewed as a key transition in the life-cycle of individuals who have contributed significant knowledge and value to the company.

Within family businesses, closing the gap on The Void begins by looking at the situation through a different lens. Instead of focusing on this career phase as a conclusion with limited conversation, it should be seen as a phase of definition with expanding dialogue and knowledge share between generations.


  1. How are you consciously expanding the conversation and knowledge share between the generations?
  2. How are you defining and practically capturing internal knowledge from key people while they’re still a part of your company?
  3. Define knowledge sets that are held primarily with one person in your company. Begin purposefully expanding the circle of people who have awareness, understanding and knowledge on those topics.

How are you avoiding The Void? Let me know in the comments.

Why You Need To Have A Real Conversation With Yourself As You Start The New Year

"Once we realize that fear is normal, then we don't have to wait until we aren't scared to do the thing we want to do. We just do it scared."
-Christy Wright

“Direction not intention determines your destination.”
― Andy Stanley

“You’ll become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
― Jim Rohn

Nearly 20 years ago I was working with Carlton Masi. Life was good. Carlton was a mentor and like a brother all in the same package. Then the unimaginable happened. Carlton’s life came to an end far too soon.

It was time to have a real conversation with myself about my perspective and what I needed to do to move forward with clarity and conviction. That conversation took place on October 27, 2002.

Welcome to 2019 and the time of year that I continue to have a real conversation with myself. A conversation about what I need to do to move forward with clarity and conviction in the year ahead and beyond. Interestingly, I personally answer each of my own questions. Here’s a sample of the kinds of questions I ask and answer with myself:

  1. What are my hopes, goals and aspirations?
  2. What are the goals that I expect to accomplish this year?
  3. Where can I stretch myself to achieve something that would seem unlikely?
  4. What do I need to do to be a better husband? A better father? A better leader?
  5. How will I challenge myself this year in ways that are different from previous years?
  6. What do I need to change to be the best version of me?
  7. Who can I invest in and help to achieve their goals and ambitions?
  8. What was the most significant change about me personally or professionally in the previous year?
  9. How did that help or hinder me?
  10. What new experience can I expose myself to this year that will help me think beyond boundaries?

One Simple Question

I figure that since I’m the one that asks and answers the questions in the conversation I have with myself, I’m also the one who’s accountable for my progression. I measure that progression throughout the year by asking myself one very simple question:

Am I getting where I want to be on purpose?

At the end of the year I ask myself one more series of simple personal accountability questions:

Did I end this year where I wanted to be? Why or why not? What’s next?

I want to challenge you to have a similar conversation with yourself and I also want to challenge you to be personally accountable in measuring your progression. If you know that won’t work, find an accountability partner who can support and help you along the way.

Don’t Be Surprised

My hope for you in the year ahead is that you will get to where you want to be on purpose, because that’s far more invigorating than getting their accidentally. When you get to the end of 2019 I don’t want you to be surprised; I want you to be accomplished. Why? Because there are plenty of people who have learned to be content with going in the wrong direction. As Joel Thomas says, “When you’re going in the wrong direction you can be happy, but you’re still going in the wrong direction.”

Ask For Help

I used to think that asking for help was a sign of weakness. Experience has shown me that there’s wisdom in asking for help where and when I need it. If you don’t, you’ll pay the penalty for not paying attention to the fact that everything wasn’t meant to be accomplished alone. Not surprisingly, people want to help other people. Sometimes the ASK is all they need to be mobilized to support and assist you on purpose. Likewise, in the year ahead, look for opportunities to contribute to others and help them. There is an inspiring and energizing power in creating a positive impact in someone’s life simply by helping them.

Unnecessary Compromise

Buckle up for what comes next.

Underperforming people would prefer that high achieving people lower their standards of performance so that they don’t have to raise theirs. We live in a world where compromise is necessary. However, your hopes, dreams, goals and ambitions aren’t the place to make unnecessary compromises in your life. It’s taken me years to learn that the limitations that someone places on themselves aren’t allowed to become my limitations. I’m unwilling to apologize for being driven towards accomplishment and achievement. That focus is my choice and in the same way I have to be willing to accept that everyone doesn’t share the same view. Here’s a key point to consider as a part of your conversation with yourself: Choosing to ignore what you see underperforming people doing isn’t a formula for your success. When criticism comes, because it will, for your energy and direction in your life always remember this thought: There’s a difference between being judgmental about other people and using good judgement regarding myself. I own me, they own them.

In the year ahead, challenge yourself to move beyond the boundaries of your own self-imposed limitations and knock-off with any unnecessary compromise you’re making that marginalizes the power of you.

Be authentic. Be purposeful. Make it meaningful.


Final Note: As I’ve mentioned here and in my social feeds previously, I’m continually refining my writing focus. My purpose is to write in an authentic, purposeful and meaningful way on topics that are impactful to you as a part of the Thoughtwave Community of Readers. Your feedback along with analytics have shown that most of you have joined Thoughtwave through a direct or indirect connection to Perpetual Development. With that information provided, I want to let you know that the Thoughtwave blog has been moved from my personal website to my company website As we progress, both of these sites will serve unique purposes, writing focuses and areas of emphasis. More about that in the year ahead.

Wildly Crazy Success

We’re in the midst of the holiday season and with this time of year comes the anticipation of receiving cards, either in your inbox or your mailbox. Which are your favorite to receive? The long letter with the update on life? The photo card bringing memories of family and friends? The stock card with a personal message?

I like cards and letters that are real. Those that are personally written, have meaning and give value to relationships.  I’m not a fan of those that get sent as a gesture or requirement and have no message other than trite generic words that are imprinted by a machine. It’s like telling someone that you thought of them but gave no thought about what you wrote to them.

I keep this in mind every week when I write Thoughtwave. I want each TW to have meaning and speak to our community of readers. Thoughtwave was started with the intent to create a positive disruption that differentiates. It’s not about being mainstream or contrarian. It’s about being real in a way that will never be allowed to become generic.

In 2019 I look forward to bringing you topics that are the most relevant to you. Many of you have asked me to write about a specific topic that’s important to you and that’s exactly what I’m going to do throughout the year. Here’s a sample of Thoughtwaves from topics you’ve suggested.

  1. How to Handle the Black Sheep in Business
  2. The Business of Family Business: Why debt and stress go together.
  3. Branding Your Business
  4. Retirement? Yes or No? Knowing When to Go.

And so much more.

Whether you’re a new manager, mid-level or senior manager, or you own the company, I’m devoted to bringing you useful information.

My appreciation for your readership is perpetual.

I encourage each of you to send me a topic to write about that’s important to you. Think of one of the biggest challenges you faced professionally this year, especially within family business. Because you’re going through it, someone else is too. Let’s work together to continue to create a community of leaders and readers who cause privately-held and family-owned  businesses to thrive. Email your comments and ideas to me directly at:

Your ideas and thoughts are full of potential. Especially when you use your perspectives and thoughts to expand your awareness and the awareness of others. Your ideas matter and I’m listening.

Together, let’s create WILDLY CRAZY SUCCESS. However you define it.

Enjoy the holidays and I’m going to do the same. Thoughtwave will be back shortly after the start of the new year.

Talk to you in 2019!

Be real. Be purposeful. Make it meaningful.

Why Challenging Your Thinking Brings Positive Change To Your Performance


Invest the time to think about that statement. Think about the last time you allowed someone to challenge you. When was the last time you really allowed a fellow human being to challenge the core of your thinking, approach, awareness or understanding about a topic or idea?

If you haven’t, or you can’t remember when, there’s one simple question you need to ask yourself. Why? What’s holding you back?

Is it fear? Bias? Insecurity perhaps? Doubt? Even the most robust leader can shy away from challenge when it requires meaningful confrontation that is anything but comfortable. In order to allow challenge to bring change to our thinking, particularly challenge from others, we have to get really comfortable with challenging ourselves first.


Back in May I wrote about intentional thinking. The essence of what I wrote can best be expressed in one thought regularly shared with me by my parents: “No problem can sustain the purposeful and intentional focus of your mind to think and reason through to a solution.” Expressed in a simpler way; never lose interest in thinking or in challenging your thinking to positively impact your performance. Driven to the bottom line - THINK.

Our heads are the land of a thousand ideas. Intentional thinking is about narrowing that field and bringing focus to our ideas. What is it for you? The one item, topic or idea that you really need to dial in on and invest the time to think about purposefully?

Beyond work I want to encourage you to think intentionally about all areas of your life. Areas that are of significant importance in both maximizing and optimizing your total performance. These are areas that are familiar and that we need to give significant attention to practically. You achieve great outcomes when you dedicate the time to think and impact areas like family, health, hobbies, beliefs, relationships and of course, work.

Outstanding performance generally has some catalyst that drives the advancement. Our intentional thinking about a specific area or topic can be our personal catalyst. When paired with reflection and action as bookends, we’re bringing positive change to our performance because we expand the view surrounding our decisions and choices.

Like many of the things we do, we tend to drive more energy towards the activities that we enjoy. Enjoyment is often driven when we focus on the positive rather than dwelling on the negative. While being realistic is important, let me encourage you to engage in thinking that is largely centered on the positive contributions you have the potential to make. Why? Because we drive more energy towards advancing what we value ahead of those things that we don’t.

As we continue forward with the Thoughtstarter Challenge, let me encourage you to focus on the following acronym as a helpful reminder of your ability to bring positive change to your performance.

Habit of
Intentionally evolving


P.S. Have you joined the Thoughtstarter Challenge? If so, how are you sharing it? Let us know by including the hashtag #ThoughtstarterChallenge on your Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter posts.

Challenge Yourself to Reflect

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Søren Kierkegaard

When we consider reflection, we are talking about our intent to give serious consideration to a particular topic, idea or thought.

Here are three approaches to help you channel reflection effectively.

Focus and make reflection practical ahead of philosophical

Reflection serves us best when we recognize it’s about progression, not perfection and it’s about practical before it’s philosophical. A starting point can be reflecting on one action or decision you’ve made personally or professionally that was positive. What was the practical impact?

Invest the time to reflect on why something went well or didn’t go well

A key part of reflection is making sure you consider the root cause. If you don’t identify the core reason(s) you’ll simply deal with the symptoms and may never fully understand why something did or didn’t go well. Dig deeper in your thought process and consider asking yourself one more question about why something did or didn’t go well. Reflection is the result of self-inquiry ahead of self-assumption.

Make reflection a time where you think beyond boundaries

If you typically think one way about a decision or challenge, what would the potential outcome look like if you thought differently or beyond the boundaries of self-imposed limitations? How can you challenge your norm and recognize the potential of upside opportunity? When you experience a win or make a mistake, reflect on how your thought process contributed. If you had thought beyond boundaries could you have increased the outcome of the win or converted the mistake into a win? Thinking beyond boundaries is a key component of maximizing your decisions and outcomes.

Until next week,

PS- This week’s #ThoughtstarterChallenge outlines five reflection questions to ask yourself. It’s not too late to join.

Activating Your Awareness to Advance

Thanksgiving week is my favorite week of the year. While a time to give thanks isn’t limited to a day or a week, this series of days seems to call for more reflection and thought about what I am truly thankful for in my life.

Aside from that, this week also serves up the biggest rivalry in college football as the Michigan Wolverines battle the Ohio State Buckeyes. For the Buckeye Fans in our Thoughtwave Community, of which there are many, I offer my respect for your impressive domination of my beloved Wolverines over the last 13 years.

As I reflect, one of the things that I’m most thankful for are the numerous people who I’ve had the opportunity to challenge and support in their growth and development. It’s truly humbling to consider the privilege of helping people think beyond boundaries and maximize their potential and capacity as they define their evolution both personally and professionally. People and companies across this country have been, and continue to be, impacted as a result of your leadership.

The Core of Purpose and Growth

People just like you are at the core of my purpose. Whether you are the family in family business, an existing leader in a family-owned, privately-held company, an emerging leader in your company or someone who wants to define their identity; I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with people just like you. Mediocre doesn’t much enjoy hanging out with me and I’m thankful for that as well.

You are someone who wants to grow both personally and professionally. Someone who isn’t comfortable with the status quo when you know more is possible. You continually pursue development because you recognize that true development is never-ending. You challenge me to bring my best to the table. You are a diverse group in thought, gender, age, background, ethnicity and that makes you seriously interesting.

The Awareness of Where You Want to Go and Grow

Could you be the next… (fill in the position name of your choice)? This is a question I ask regularly to help people vision/see something that they may never have considered. This is about setting your sites on something that allows you to maximize your influence and your potential. This is about thinking beyond the boundaries of your own definition. This isn’t about false hope or positional delusion. This is about where you want to grow.

Many of you ask me about how you can continue to advance your career. My response is consistent. “Start thinking at the position/place you see yourself headed toward while appreciating and valuing where you find yourself now.” Maximizing you and your opportunities comes with the awareness that you shouldn’t look past the experiences of your present as a key factor of success in your future. Those experiences may only come around once so be thankful for them and gain advantage from them. Just because you didn’t think/see yourself in a particular position doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage the opportunity.

When you activate your awareness, mindset and thinking at a different level you’re demonstrating your capacity to advance. The alternative is to sit around and wait for someone to notify you of the required activation. This demonstrates something far different.


You can be more and you can achieve more if you’re willing to ask yourself and others you respect, what you need to start doing now to facilitate individual growth. Do nothing and you can expect the predictable return of nothing.

When I think back on the past year, I’m thankful for many things. The positives, the negatives, the experiences and the lessons. Some of these experiences and lessons were planned, some were definitely not planned. They were all meaningful as a part of my growth and never-ending development. My hope is that you will reflect and feel the same way.

The development and growth of people is serious business and one of the most important things we can do to improve and advance the leadership of others, the performance of companies and the legacy of families in business.

My hope for you this week is that you would be thankful for the people in your life as I am thankful for you.

Go Blue!

P.S. Want to jumpstart your 2019 growth? Join the #ThoughtstarterChallenge