Don't Let Trends Lead You Astray

In 1984 parachute pants were “in style.” I was in college and owned a pair of those trendy tight-fitting pants. I wore them twice and never wore them again. Ripstop nylon wasn’t exactly a breathable fabric and the teal color certainly stood out in a crowd. Looking back, I laugh and know that’s a trend I would have been best to ignore. Those pants were designed for somebody, but certainly not for the 6-foot-tall, 200-pound version of me.

There’s No Magic Pill

When you follow trends, especially in business, you may gain short-term progression or attention, with the trade-off being the loss of long-term focus connected to your goals, objectives, vision or identity.

The phrase “there’s no magic pill” exists to remind us that consistency beats trends regularly.

Want to lose weight? Consistency. Want to improve your physical ability? Consistency. Want to expand your book of business? Consistency. Want to build wealth through investing? Consistency. Want to reduce or eliminate debt? Consistency. Want to develop people to think differently? Consistency. Want to improve at something? Consistency. Want to grow a company? Consistency.

Consistency isn’t trendy… it’s consistent. It offers stability apart from variation or contradiction.

The Critical Question

There are a lot of things that chasing trends can cause you to do. Some of them good and some not so good. Here’s a critical question to ask yourself.

What does establishing consistent performance require me to do individually and/or organizationally?

Consistency doesn’t require you to forego an awareness and connectivity to trends. Chasing trends may, however, cause you to forego consistency in your sales performance, leadership or business evolution.

It’s a Matter of Discipline

In a practical sense, defying trends is about two things:

  1. Definition - Knowing who you want to be as a professional and/or what you want your company to be in the marketplace.
  2. Discipline -   Working consistently and relentlessly toward the definition of your identity versus letting a trend take you somewhere else, in an alternate direction or someplace you were never intended to go.


You Do You is a trendy phrase/idea being featured in a variety of commercials and on billboards across the country. While it’s trendy, it’s also a great call for clarity about people being the people they want to be in the world. Here are a couple of connected thoughtstarters that will help you move beyond being trendy.

  • Before you can do you, you must first define who you want to be as a person. This is about understanding your identity.
  • In order for you to do you, you must consistently and relentlessly work with the awareness of knowing who you are as a person, leader, friend and more.

Think about it for a while.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.


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

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

The Experience-Based PhD

Experience matters. When you practically engage with your experiences, you're a part of the best classroom available.

The connection between our experiences and our education is undeniable. The definition of education addresses developing the powers of reasoning and judgement and preparing oneself.

While the classroom may serve as an incubator, offering a controlled environment; experiences serve as the development environment of limitless possibilities.

Education and experience aren’t mutually exclusive. They work best when they work in concert with each other. To gain an education without experience is like claiming an idea as theory. The difference? Experience and theory offer testing, proof or validation as the common connectors.

The Experience-Based PhD

Recognized as one of the most coveted achievements in the academic world, the PhD is typically the highest level academic degree a person can receive.

Over the course of the last 20 years, I have watched many of my clients earn their PhDs in business, leadership, management, conflict resolution, family dynamics, organizational development and any other number of specialized topics. Uniquely - they didn’t enroll in programs offered by universities, their institution of higher learning was, and is, the workplace.

Unlike traditional PhDs, the experience-based PhD has no completion or graduation date. The thesis or dissertation isn’t the crowning achievement. The cycle of education through experience is never-ending and the classroom ever-expanding. In this practical pursuit, success is demonstrated in transitioning the family business from one generation to the next. It’s recognized in navigating through a challenging situation and coming through on the other side. It’s achieved because of a leader’s determination to make decisions and control what they can control.

The Faculty

Many of you reading right now are the professors of your industry or business. You’ve earned that title because you are the names and faces behind the PhD of Experience. Your accountability to the future of business is represented in the leaders that you’re engaging and developing as well as the mindsets you’re multiplying.

Many of you reading right now are the future professors of experience. The classrooms and situations that will allow you to earn that title have yet to be defined and your curriculum will become known to you through the circumstances and moments you confront going forward. Your accountability to the future of business is to recognize those opportunities and learn as much as you can and then, like the greats before you, multiply the legacy of experience based leadership.


Thoughtstarters, like experiences, exist to help you think beyond boundaries. Are you ready to go beyond boundaries in 2019? If so, let me encourage you to get ready for the new year by participating in the Thoughtstarter Challenge.

15 days, 3 weeks, 15 questions to help you think intentionally about the year ahead.

Sign-up today. The challenge begins November 26th.

Until next time,


P.S. Thoughts? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Change Your View. Stop Avoiding Risk and Maximize Your Opportunities.

We’re out of the gate with five #Thoughtstarter questions this week.

  1. How often have you found yourself reacting to something before you knew all of the facts?
  2. Have you ever felt negatively about a situation and that same situation turns out to have a hugely positive impact in your life?
  3. When have you been disappointed between what you wanted and what you received?
  4. When have you moved forward with a decision because, while not knowing every detail, you knew it was what needed to be done?
  5. When was the last time you acted with the belief that the risk/reward ratio was worth it because you knew you and your abilities?

Welcome to the questions that cover the range of feelings, emotions and perspectives I had about my first job out of college.

What I knew in my gut at the time, and what I’ve come to recognize in reflection, is that my first job out of college was best represented in one word…


It was nothing more and nothing less. My first job out of college owed me nothing and yet required everything from me as a young professional. I expected everything and had truly demonstrated nothing other than my initiative, attitude and intent to that point.

The person that hired me was willing to give me an opportunity with only a limited knowledge and understanding of my real ability to generate a return on investment. Their decision was based on the classic risk/reward ratio. My decision was based on the same ratio only from a different view through the lens of my clarity versus theirs.

In considering the opportunity of my first job out of college, I wasn’t mature enough to consider the risk someone else was taking. I was only prepared to understand the risk I wanted to avoid personally and financially.

My First Job Out of College

“This is what going to college did for me?” Those are the exact words that ran through my head when the job offer was made. Toy Manager Trainee and a starting salary of just over $18K. To be clear, I wasn’t ungrateful. I was just a bit shocked between my thinking around “management position” and “competitive salary” and what was being presented.

I had gone through three interviews and my final interview was with the district vice president. This is the same person that made the job offer. No doubt that the look on my face was not hidden well and came across as a mixture of shock and confusion. Recognizing the disconnect, the words that he spoke next forever changed the course of my life... and that’s not an overstatement.

“We are a growing company looking for people who want to be leaders. Leaders who want to grow, develop and advance. If you join our team, the opportunity for leadership advancement and financial growth will be significant. This is simply the starting point. We are ready to invest in you if you are ready to invest in the opportunity to be a part of our company.”

“Wait… Am I enlisting in the military or receiving a job offer?” I thought to myself. Intrigued and challenged would be how I describe how I felt at that moment. “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a growing company? I’m intense, driven and relentless about goals. This sounds like a well-placed challenge, appropriately represented, to a guy just out of college lacking a real awareness and at the same time full of a don’t quit work ethic.”

The company was Meijer out of Grand Rapids, Michigan and for nearly 15 years, that company and the people that I had the opportunity to work with shaped my awareness, understanding and knowledge as a professional and helped me maximize the relationship between opportunity and my potential as a person.

Fast Forward

As someone develops, perseverance must be present and have its impact. My belief is that this is where awareness, insight, understanding, maturity and completeness come from. Needless to say, as I grew in my leadership, other leaders who mentored me, particularly early in my career, demonstrated untold levels of both perseverance and patience.

The great part about working for a privately-held, family-owned company was the direct interaction, influence and feedback people at all levels of the company received from the owners themselves. Fred Meijer embodied this approach with people. During a conversation that Fred had with me as a new store director, he gave me this advice. “No matter what your role in the company, you’re never above pushing a shopping cart or bagging groceries. If there’s trash on the floor, we pick it up. If a customer needs help, you help them. You help your people succeed and they will help you succeed. You need people.”

Impactful? I’d say so. The conversation took place nearly 28 years ago at a corner table in a store restaurant with a parking lot view in Taylor, Michigan. Store 35 as it was referred to internally. The store where I had started my first job out of college as a toy manager trainee was now the store and team of people that I was leading.

The Greatest Investments You Can Make

In the journey of our lives, personally and professionally, we must be alert to the moments, investments and lessons that shape each of us. Two of the greatest investments we can make are in people and in ourselves. It is in the investment of others and others investing in us that we can understand the importance of our accountability as human beings and as leaders.

Opportunity is a chance. A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. My first job out of college was my first opportunity. What was your first job? What was the first chance you took to maximize your opportunity?

In the week ahead let me encourage you to invest in the time to reflect: To think back about the many firsts in your life that have shaped where you find yourself today. Consider the successes and failures, the starts and stops. Imagine how your life would be if the fear of the unknown or the requirement for certainty prevented you from stepping into opportunity.

This week, let me encourage you to take a moment, a minute or as much time as is necessary to thank a person who invested in, shaped and mentored you.

There have been so many people who have invested in me during the course of my career and life that I wake up every day with relentless commitment and passion to generate a return on that investment by helping the generations of leaders in family business maximize their potential and the potential of the people they lead.

True to his word, the opportunity for leadership growth and financial advancement was significant and that opportunity along with others of significance forever shaped the course of my career and life.

This week I conclude with a simple thank you to Bob J. for offering me my first career opportunity out of college. Your willingness to invest is appreciated, valued and recognized to this day.

Until next week,


P.S. Let me know about a time you took the risk and maximized your opportunities in the comments.

America's Best First Job: How Your First Job Makes a Difference in Your Career Success

Think about a time when you were excited about doing something. A time when you were filled with anticipation and eagerness. You were so energized that you could hardly sleep the night before. Don’t limit yourself to thinking about a vacation, concert, sporting event or something connected with the family. Don’t restrict yourself to adulthood.

Think beyond the boundaries of now and the future. Instead think back in time. What comes to mind? Was it the first birthday party you can actually remember when you were allowed to invite your friends? Was it when you rode your two-wheel bike for the first time? Was it your first day of school? Was it when you first earned your driver’s license? Was it your first car?

Each of these, along with many more moments, make-up the memories of firsts. Nothing drives anticipation, eagerness and energy like firsts.

My first car was a 1973 lime green Caprice Classic. I paid $900 of my hard-earned money for that beauty. Looking back, the car was huge, and the color was obnoxious, but it was mine. I bought my first car using money I earned at my first job.

My first job was actually two first jobs. I worked at my mother’s flower shop through middle school and high school, and I also worked at McDonalds part-time several days a week. McDonalds was the classic first job experience that we can all connect with at some level. Eventually, because school was clearly established as my priority, working in my mom’s business became the only job I had.

I love to work... Did then and still do now. Looking back, I recognize five important and formative life-lessons learned compliments of my first job(s):

  1. Rejection was something I wasn’t willing to accept – Growing-up there were more people applying than jobs available. I had one objective in finding my first job and it could be summed up in the simple approach of apply and interview relentlessly. No was simply a reflection of the number of people an employer could choose from. It wasn’t personal and being told no, which happened with five different applications, was simply part of the process. I only needed one yes.
  2. Perseverance pays off - This was a numbers game to me. The more places I applied, the more opportunity I would have and the greater the likelihood that I would get a job. I picked places I wanted to work and had specific why’s for each. Job #1 was getting job number one. All I needed was a starting point and a consistent emphasis on the process would deliver the desired result.
  3. A sense of independence and freedom is important – I have always associated work with choice. Hard work is a choice and the freedom achieved is a reflection of that choice. This continues to be true for me today. The outcome is reflected in the reward and the reward has allowed a freedom either through financial gain or opportunity. My first car was the result of my first job and that definitely gave me independence and freedom.
  4. What you learn at one job helps shape your future career - A McDonald’s TV commercial states that as a company, they are committed to being America’s Best First Job. A proven track record connecting a diverse group of people in a diverse set of professions, all of whom had their first job at McDonalds, allows them to emphasize this commitment. What someone learns at McDonalds, or any other first job, will help shape the future course of their career. That was the case for me and this edition of Thoughtwave would support the impact of my first job(s). Worthy to note is that this shaping can be good or bad depending on the company, the leaders to whom we are exposed and the job itself.
  5. A variety of experiences expands understanding - Thinking beyond the boundaries of what we know begins with expanding our experiences beyond our preferences and comfort. McDonalds and working in my mom’s flower shop were two completely different jobs. Each offered me a set of experiences that helped expand my understanding of people, business, attitude and approach. That’s my short list. There is also a longer list of impacts. A broad set of experiences is the foundation that requires me to challenge myself in order to help challenge others to expand their view and maximize their capacity.

Consider these #Thoughtstarters as you reflect on your first job and what you learned.

  1. Why did you pick your first job? Did you find it or did it find you?
  2. What was the most important thing your first job taught you?
  3. What did your first job teach you that continues to influence your approach today?
  4. How did your first job contribute to the job/career you have today?

Always remember to think beyond boundaries,


P.S. I'd love to hear what you learned from your first job. Leave me a note in the comments.

My Desk Is In Brent's Office

Hi, it’s Laura this week.

I’ve now been working for PDI for six months. During that time I’ve come to learn that Brent is uniquely innovative in his preventative methods and resolutions to common workplace issues, particularly in family business, but not necessarily limited to. He practices the advice he gives to others in our own office and indicated that right off the bat…

Brent: One last thing, your desk will be in my office. Is that a problem for you?
Me: Umm…

That’s about all the “words” I could formulate when Brent threw this information my way at the end of my interview. “Didn’t he just say that when he is in the office the majority of his time is spent on the phone?” I thought to myself, “How will I get my work done if he’s talking in the background?”

As it turns out, the fact that my desk is in Brent’s office has been immeasurably beneficial and a practice I would encourage anyone with an assistant to try. Here’s why:
(Note: If putting your assistant’s desk in your office is unrealistic for your situation, I’ve included some takeaways to help your assistant become as effective as possible.)

1.     I was quickly able to learn Brent’s style when interacting with clients, which clients he is more formal with, and his “taboo” words. (Did you know Brent despises it when I call him my “boss”? I thought about entitling this article “My Boss Makes Me Sit In His Office” but I like my job too much….)
Takeaway: If your assistant is able to communicate with clients in the same manner that you do, you will feel more comfortable delegating to them. Help them learn your style by copying them on emails, allowing them to listen in on calls, and having them sit-in on meetings.

2.     In what seemed like no time I learned who our clients are. We have multiple clients with the same first name, clients with the same last name but who don’t work at the same company, and clients who are related but don’t work at the same company. It’s confusing to say the least, but sitting in with Brent I quickly established who “belongs” where.
Takeaway: Getting to know clients, vendors, partners, etcetera can be an overwhelming part of the onboarding process. Make it easier for new employees by creating bios or charts showing the companies you interact with and who the key players are.

3.     I receive in-the-moment feedback. I never have to wonder if I did something well or not, Brent tells me immediately because, well, I’m right there!
Takeaway: Feedback is one of the most important things you can offer a new employee. It can be as simple as an email saying “nicely done” or a regularly scheduled meeting to discuss what went well and what could be improved.

4.     There’s no lack of communication. We are able to keep each other constantly updated on the progress of different projects.
Takeaway: Communicate, communicate, communicate.

5.      Working in the same room creates absolute trust in both directions. Brent never has to wonder if I’m doing my work because he is able to see how hard I work. I never have to wonder if my job is secure because I see how much we’re thriving.
Takeaway: Trust is critical in successful working relationships. If it isn’t possible to have your assistant in a shared workspace, think of other ways you might create mutual trust. This may go back to regular meetings that allow your assistant to share their monthly successes. You could complete the trust loop by letting them know when key clients renew their contracts or by sharing success stories.

6.       Collaboration! Brent and I are constantly bouncing ideas back-and-forth. Through this method we have come up with ideas we may have not reached independently.
Takeaway: As an assistant I am constantly searching for ways to add value to the company; collaborating with Brent has been one way for me to accomplish this. Whenever we take the time to collaborate it seems as though our original idea comes out stronger, making it better for the clients and for the company.

Though it may seem strange, I am so grateful my desk is in Brent’s office. It has reduced the learning curve that comes with being the “newbie” and now, after six months of being here, I feel like I have worked here for years. If you have an assistant, or any employee who must be keyed in on the details of your business, take the initial steps to set them up for long term success. For some of you this may mean placing an assistant’s or other key player’s desk in your office, for others this will mean scheduling regular meetings.

Additionally, I encourage you to trust whatever conventional or unconventional method Brent suggests for addressing, preventing or resolving the strategy, problem or challenge you are confronting.I guarantee you he has thought it through and has a strategic reasoning for his suggestion.

P.S. I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Tipping Point: Maximizing Growth - Part I

Sometimes, we simply have to let a thought sink in before we understand how it has the potential and ability to shape our thinking. I have learned first-hand that taking this time is often the difference between an opportunity maximized or an opportunity missed.

I’m bringing you a two-part Thoughtwave over this week and next for exactly that reason. I want you to maximize your opportunities.

The Fascination

In the year 2000 Malcolm Gladwell published The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

If, after reading that line, you think I’m writing a book review; sit tight. (Note: You should Google the origins of that phrase and the book is worth the read if you’re a student of business.)

The book developed status and a following by showing how small actions at the right time, in the right place and with the right people can create a tipping point. Gladwell connected the three laws of epidemics to achieve a tipping point related to a given product, idea, initiative or business.

A tipping point, by definition, is the moment at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change.

As a culture, we’re fascinated with the tipping points that drive status, change, growth, success and even failure. With just a little effort, we can all identify them as a part of our lives. If we’re paying attention, we will see them all around us and on a regular basis. My kids, all grown now, have gone through a series of tipping points in their lives to become adults.

I’ve watched that video of something or someone so intriguing, funny or interesting that it drew huge interest and was viewed and circulated with such intent by people that it went viral.

A small series of events, introductions and experiences are what drove my decision to found Perpetual Development and change the course of my professional direction. Being in the right place, at the right time and with the right people is what led to my own tipping point in working with the leaders of privately-held, family-owned businesses. Working with that group of leaders is what led to the expansion of my experience and exposure.

#Thoughtstarter - How about you? What were some of the tipping points in your life? Let me know in the comments.

Growth is Complex

Consider this.... All businesses start as small businesses. One dream, an idea, a product, a service, meeting a need. A single visionary or a small group of partners. Then comes the tipping point. The moment that moves a company (and its key players) from being relatively unknown to being known. The one that takes it from flying under the radar to being fully on someone’s radar. The point of being sought after by customers rather than solely seeking customers. Each of these moments occurring as a result of a series of small changes that became significant enough to drive a larger more important change.

Expressed clearly, the tipping point common to each of these leaders and their companies is growth. Fueled by the increase in sales and size, growth is also about an increasing level of value, importance and influence in the mind of the customer and in the marketplace. The age-old business mantra “If you’re not growing, you’re dying” provides context.

So why is growth complex and what is the most significant change required as a part of that growth to drive a larger more important change among leaders and in the company? Let that question sink in and think about it. I’ll share some insights and answers with you next week.

Until then,



My week didn’t go the way I expected it to go last week.

Whatever my plan was, events mandated a new plan.

Life’s experiences have a unique way of conditioning you into a new state of normal.

You can theorize or intellectualize leadership and then you confirm that what’s most important is the living out of leadership.

Does this sound like a week you’ve ever had? Can you relate?

This past week highlighted 10 important leadership lessons that have further shaped the importance of my view on awareness and an eyes wide open perspective.

  1. You truly don’t know what you don’t know. You can only control what you can control.
  2. No matter what you know, there are moments where that knowledge is both completely relevant and irrelevant at the same time.
  3. No matter what you know, there’s more you don’t know that can, and must be learned.
  4. Smart, intelligent, intuitive and wise are uniquely different characteristics and well-developed leaders possess a balance of all four.
  5. Pressure will reveal the true nature of a person.
  6. People are the most complex part of a company. Empathy makes people less complex.
  7. Building relationships and developing teams is the result of the experiences you share together.
  8. Relationships inspire commitment and commitment is your currency.
  9. The character of your leadership when no one’s looking, had better be the same as when everyone’s watching.
  10. Growth, development and awareness, beyond what we know right now, most definitely matters.


Reflect on how these lessons relate to you, your experiences and your growth.

With increased awareness,



P.S. Have you ever had a week like this? Share with me what you learned from it.

Don't Let Your Thinking Become Reactionary

How often have you heard someone say after an emergency, “I didn’t even have time to think!” While they may not have taken time to think in the moment, chances are they had previously thought about what they might do if they found themselves in such a situation.

Do you know what you would do if you saw someone choking? What would you do if you saw a building on fire? What would you do if you witnessed a car accident?

What would you do if there was a crisis at work? A supplier doesn’t deliver on time? A materials order was shorted? A marketing piece is sent with a typo? A key player must unexpectedly take a leave of absence? The sale that was a sure thing isn’t any longer?

Planning forward is a positive approach

Being proactive is a skill that skilled business leaders possess. Proactivity is a combination of thinking and planning. Think about what possible issues may arise and plan what you will do should they occur.

Imagine the reaction of the person you work for when he/she comes to you with a crisis and you already have a well-thought-out action plan in mind?

There’s no doubt that a crisis requires urgency.

There’s also no doubt that you don’t want your thinking to become exclusively reactionary. In a crisis, the plan that was considered beforehand is the one that is valued, appreciated and rewarded. Pre-planning for a potential crisis is far more effective and efficient because it allows you to reach a solution that much quicker.

Recently, I hosted an Evolving Leaders Summit for 13 up-and-coming leaders. As we prepared for the event I noticed my assistant had packed paper plates, napkins, and utensils.

“Don’t the caterers provide all of this?” I asked.
“Yes,” she responded, “but I’ve planned enough events to know better.”

Fast forward to the day of the event… the caterer drops off all of the food, plates, and napkins, but no plasticware. Had my assistant not been proactive, our whole day’s schedule would have been off track while we waited for the caterer to return with utensils. Instead, we ate on time and our participants had no idea that we had just experienced what otherwise might have been a crisis.

Here are five #Thoughtstarters to help you initiate your proactivity:

  1. Who do I depend on to successfully complete my job?
  2. What would I do if they did not deliver as promised?
  3. What backup plans should I have in place?
  4. What issues have arisen in the past and how might they be avoided moving forward?

Until next week,

Wondering how to get to the next level? 5 questions to ask yourself.

Think Beyond Your Current Role

5 Questions Aspiring Leaders Should Ask About Evolving Their Thought Process

“I don’t know why I’m not moving beyond my current position. I feel like I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do. I’ve met my goals. I’m developing people. I’ve taken on additional responsibilities. I’m even willing to move and still no advancement. Why?” A series of statements followed by one big question that I hear frequently.

The sobering truth is that while those are great measures of performance at one level, they aren’t the sole measure of performance at the executive level. Put another way; the thought process that brought you to this point in your career may not be the thought process to take you to the next evolution of your career.

Why? Because the person that demonstrates the ability to think beyond their current role now is the leader that becomes most relevant in the conversation about evolution and advancement now and into the future.

Achievement of goals, targets and development aren’t something to be minimized. They should be recognized as the necessary outcomes of performance at all levels of an organization. My belief is that every person in every position within your company should have a clear understanding of how what they do contributes to the performance and profitability of the company. Importantly, experience would show that achieving performance targets isn’t the primary or sole reason for advancement or promotion to a senior leadership position.

It’s Your Thought Process That Matters

In a world of flat organizational structures, if you’re someone who wants to evolve and advance within your company then it’s imperative that you increase your awareness, minimize a mindset of bureaucracy and continually refine and maximize your thought process. Consider these #Thoughtstarter statements as a part of expanding your thought process.

  • Increase Awareness - Watch what’s going on around you and connect the dots relentlessly.
  • Minimize Bureaucracy - Focus on leadership influence and responsibility more than emphasizing or obsessing about a position or title.
  • Maximize Your Contribution - Engage your brain and think beyond your current role.

If you want to evolve your leadership, then your perspective must demonstrate an evolving mindset. When was the last time you caused someone of significant leadership influence to say “hmmm… that’s an idea worth evaluating”?

Here are five #Thoughtstarter questions that can help support an evolving or aspiring executive leader.

1. How is your thought process contributing to new ideas, innovations and advancements?
It’s not enough to only identify the problem. What relevant ideas are you bringing to the conversation with senior leaders that contribute to solving problems and forward-thinking the business?

2. How is your thought process evolving toward an others-centered approach?
Multiplying the mindsets of others related to the culture, values, key business principles and drivers has the ability to produce an exponential return on investment. This is why you hear so many successful senior leaders talking about the contributions of others on their team and rarely talking about themselves.

3.How are you challenging yourself to grow and advance your thought process?
Ask an evolving leader what they’re reading, what podcast they’re listening to, what conferences they’re attending or who they’re talking to. You’ll get an immediate answer and it won’t be “nothing” or “I’m too busy”. Evolving leaders view expanding their mindset as paramount to the success of themselves, others and their organization.

4. How are you expanding and evolving your leadership awareness?
An awareness evolution begins with the continual observation of people and situations which produce opportunities to process, learn and apply new methods and approaches. This is the gateway to a leadership evolution and the ability to carry yourself and communicate in a more confident and aware manner.

5. How are you evolving your communication?
Leaders listen and your choice of words matters. If you want to evolve, you have to elevate your communication as well. How you say something is as important as what you say. It’s worth the time to think about how you communicate at the level of leadership to which your aspiring.

Final Thought

Self-awareness begins with the desire and intent to think beyond boundaries. Evolving your leadership is a direct result of evolving your mindset, thought process and communication. Evolving each of these begins by expanding your view and exploring options and alternatives that you may not have considered in your current role.

With Intent,

What I’m reading currently: Your Oxygen Mask First. 17 Habits to Help High Achievers Survive & Thrive in Leadership & Life