Challenge Yourself to Look Ahead

Measures of success. They’re quantifiable, tangible, and/or visible methods for identifying that your target is being met or exceeded. They’re how I’m encouraging all of you to identify your own excellence in 2020.

You’ve reflected. Now it’s time to plan using actionable steps. How will you be relentless in your pursuit of excellence?

This final week’s questions are aimed to help you develop action steps to achieving a measurable goal.

Get the workbook here.


Challenge Yourself to Reflect

Purpose. It’s the difference between thinking generally and thinking intentionally. Reflecting on our lives allows us to identify both our strengths and limitations. If we don’t take the time to purposefully reflect, little growth will occur. Reflection is our own opportunity to identify areas for improvement. Dedicated reflection is telling yourself, “My own evolution matters.”

Reflect purposefully.
Reflect deliberately.
Reflect intentionally.

This week’s #thoughtstarters are intended to help you reflect intentionally on 2019 so that you can challenge yourself more deliberately in 2020.

Get the workbook here.


2020 Thoughtstarter Challenge

Challenge Yourself to be Relentless in the Pursuit of Excellence

I've provided the Thoughtstarter Challenge for four years now, and this is by far the most exciting. Why? Because I’ve elevated it. Why? Because my community of readers deserves it. I’m on a mission to relentlessly pursue excellence so that I may provide excellence in 2020. The mission starts now.

This week I’m challenging you to define what it means to relentlessly pursue excellence - to define excellence in all areas of your life.

Get the workbook here.


2020 Thoughtstarter Challenge

Why Assumption Fuels Leadership Ignorance

Great questions lead to great conversation. Meaningful questions lead to meaningful conversation and deep questions lead to a deep conversation.

Questions, and the answers they generate, are the source of awareness, insight, and growth for leaders within companies.


How many times have you delayed or avoided asking a question because you were uncertain or afraid of the answer?

Better Because We Ask

Here’s a question you may have heard before:

Q: What happens when you assume?
A: You make an ass out of u and me.

My good friend and colleague Ryan Lisk, the author of the book RealTime Coaching, reminds readers of the importance of inquiry ahead of assumption.

My perspective and direct connection is that we improve our leadership when we ask more questions and make fewer statements. Why? Because inquiry is the fuel to gain greater clarity and understanding about an individual, situation, problem or challenge.

Fearful of Feedback

Anyone who knows me knows that I not only enjoy asking questions, I enjoy asking tough questions that make people think. And yet… when I first began writing Thoughtwave the idea of getting feedback from readers by asking them questions sort of stopped me in my tracks. That feeling was driven by the uncertainty of the potential answers. I was fearful of feedback, so I never really wanted to engage with or ask questions of the reader. That fear fueled my ignorance related to my writing.

Inputs and Improvement

Last year I wrote about CANI – constant and never-ending improvement. The idea that nothing is ever truly finished or perfect. There is ALWAYS room for improvement and the source of that improvement is often times based on the input and feedback from a group of people known as our employees, customers, clients, readers or community of followers.

No Fear

There should be no fear in asking questions to gain understanding and avoid assumption. If you listen to your employees, customers or community of supporters and seek feedback from them, you’ll understand what’s working well and where you have the opportunity to improve.

In nearly 20 years as an advisor to the leaders who run family businesses, I have come to learn this very important point:

Leadership ignorance is fueled by assumption and the fear to ask important questions that will reveal the true health of any pursuit or business.

I have experienced this individually related to my writing and advise on it regularly as it relates to leadership performance and the advancement of cultures within privately-held and family-owned businesses.

Feedback is essential in moving beyond assumption. It tells the story of the needs and wants of groups of people that are critical to our success. Those inputs, listened to by leaders with wisdom and discernment, offer a powerful combination in getting to the core of eliminating the contradictions that can stall leaders and their companies.

Don’t assume. It’s a bad place from which to make decisions. Ask more questions. This provides the context by which you can make better decisions.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful


Selection Fatigue - When No One is Right for the Job

Selection fatigue is real, and it tests the stamina of most managers at some point in their career.

Ultimately, many bad hiring decisions are connected to a lack of willingness to stay the course in finding a person who aligns well with the position rather than just finding a person to put in the position.

Sound illogical? Hardly. When it comes to selection and hiring, fatigue will pit logic and emotion against each other on a regular basis.

The Likeability Bias

Most often, with the exception of leaders who have learned through experience, emotion outpaces logic when selection fatigue sets in. Why? Because of something I refer to as the Likeability Bias.

That moment at which emotion overtakes logic in deciding who to hire because someone “likes” a candidate and believes that their “like” of the person will outpace the logic that clearly shows a lack of alignment between the person and the position.

To be clear… just because someone likes a person doesn’t mean they’re a qualified fit for the job.

The Scenario

Todd comes in for his interview and he’s instantly liked by Marsha who’s the hiring manager. Six other candidates have already been interviewed for the position. None of whom seemed like the right “fit”. Todd was sociable, personable, and shared many interests with Marsha.  As the interview progressed it was revealed that Todd was in a similar position with his current employer. During conversation, he openly, and in great detail, shared why things weren’t working out in his current situation and said that it wasn’t about the position, it was about the company. “Todd’s got potential that hasn’t been maximized in his current work environment,” thought Marsha. “Our position is more clearly defined and won’t present him with many of the challenges he currently faces,” she justified to herself.

Having completed the first interview, Marsha sent Todd a behavioral assessment. The assessment was a necessary part of her company’s selection process and would be compared to a benchmark that had been developed for the position. Marsha didn’t really agree with, or support, assessments because in her words she was an “experienced manager who had hired hundreds of people.” “My gut feel is my best guide,” she would often say about the people she hired.

The detailed output from the assessment showed that there was less than ideal alignment between the position and Todd. “What matters most is that he and I connected about the real-life requirements around the position and he fits our culture,” Marsha shared with her boss.

You can imagine how the rest of the scenario plays out… Todd is hired and Marsha and other leaders within the company become frustrated with him when he doesn’t fit the role the way that Marsha’s gut had predicted. The unnecessary amount of energy and dollars spent trying to “develop” Todd to fit the position were both real and could have and should have been avoided.

“I don’t understand. Everything went so well during the interview,” Marsha complained to her boss.











The Upside

Selection fatigue is like a virus and it can spread rapidly throughout those involved with hiring within your company.

The upside is, it’s curable.

Selection fatigue sets in when the people who are hiring become desperate and discouraged. Neither of which is a good place from which to make a decision about the people you hire. Here are three ways to overcome the discouragement and desperation associated with selection fatigue.

  1. Give up on the notion that perfect people exist. Getting more realistic begins with identifying the people that are the ideal fit for the position and the culture of the company.
  2. Actively look for blind spots that exist in the candidate and stop denying that they exist. Every candidate, just like every hiring manager, has them and the key is to have an awareness and understanding of what they are and how they impact performance, choices and decisions.
  3. Actively incorporate an objective resource, like a validated behavioral assessment, to the selection process and balance the subjective nature of the likeability bias in hiring decisions.



So, what happens when you feel like you’ve exhausted your candidate pool and you still haven’t aligned the ideal candidate with the role?

You stay the course and stay focused on a disciplined selection process. Don’t begin to make decisions from the space of desperate or discouraged. Sounds agonizing doesn’t it? Here’s what’s more agonizing - hiring someone who doesn’t align with what the position requires, who isn’t a good fit with the company culture, and/or who flat out doesn’t have the skills or experience necessary to succeed.

When you put someone into play that is aligned for the position, you receive great results. When you put someone into play that is not aligned to the position, you’re intentionally making a decision that minimizes results.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.


P.S. Share 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.

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.

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.

Why Your Mindset Helps Achieve Results

I’m a challenger by nature. It’s reflected in the questions asked of myself and the people who recognize and value individual growth.

I’m constantly challenging my team. I challenge them to increase their awareness, think at a higher level, improve their communication and take the time to reflect. Why? First and foremost, because I care about them. They value growth and we care about and respect our clients. Secondly, because they fully embrace challenging me in the same way.

In our office you will hear questions like:

  • What/where did we do well?
  • How can we do better?
  • What should we have done differently?
  • How can we improve/maximize the client experience and our standard?

Here’s my take and one you’re not likely to hear often. As a leader, the ability to positively challenge others to maximize who they have the potential to be, begins by continually challenging yourself at the same level.

Progression is rarely recognized without persistence and perseverance. Why? Because our response to any challenge is what determines the level of our progression. Perpetual development, or never-ending growth, is the result of how we process and respond to the various challenges that we face every day.

No push internally means no progression externally.

How we continually identify, define and maximize our potential contributes to the outcomes of our future.

Rarely, do I invest in challenging people who don’t want to grow, advance and prosper. There’s little to no use because they don’t really want to be challenged and challenge to them represents a sort of bold confrontation rooted in negativity. Nothing could be farther from reality. Challenging someone positively offers the greatest demonstration of respect, worth and value toward a person.

Think about it… Why would we invest our mental energy, emphasis and priority in someone that we knew wasn’t going to listen or pay attention to anything that we had to say. We wouldn’t because they clearly suffer from the delusion of their own distortion.

Our Mindset

CANI … constant and never-ending improvement. Nothing is ever truly finished or perfect. There is ALWAYS room for improvement. You can only grow if you understand there is room to grow. This is about believing that there’s more inside of us than we even recognized or imagined. By contrast, it’s not about a bunch of empty platitudes that take us nowhere other than inside our own head with no practical exit.

So, how does one achieve CANI?


In 2016 I introduced the first #ThoughtstarterChallenge. The last two years of feedback received from our community of readers was so impactful that the #ThoughtstarterChallenge will return November 26th.

Like last year, the #ThoughtstarterChallenge will be 15 days and will be broken up over 3 business weeks (5 days each week in one email per week). Each challenge week will have a specific emphasis designed to help you challenge yourself in multiple areas of your life:

  • Week 1 – Challenge Yourself to Reflect at a Higher Level
  • Week 2 - Challenge Yourself to Think at a Higher Level
  • Week 3 - Challenge Yourself to Communicate (Do) at a Higher Level

If one email per week does not keep you on track, you can engage with the Thoughtstarter Challenge daily on our Instagram and Twitter:

Instagram: @PerpetualDevelopment
Twitter: @BrentPatmos

Thoughtstarters have one purpose. They exist to help you maximize you by thinking deliberately and then applying purposefully.

This year’s #ThoughtstarterChallenge begins Monday, November 26th. Sign up below to join the challenge. Let's challenge ourselves together.


Until next time,

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them in the comments.

Compelled To Take Action

Think about a time you were so passionate and purposeful about something that you were compelled to take action. Recall a moment when you had an idea pop into your head at an odd time or while you were doing something seemingly unrelated to thinking about that idea. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that thought that you tell yourself to hold onto and not let go of before you have a chance to text yourself or write it down. That idea that is so right on target that your internal energy and mental drive are measurable through body language, verbal expression and internal measures such as heart rate.

Ideas Into Action

Our brains are amazing tools. When we stop the noise, reduce the clutter and eliminate the blind spots that take up too much of our brain space, we readily discover how powerful our thoughts and ideas can be in the direction of our lives and careers.

Have you ever tried to listen when there’s an excess of background noise? Have you ever tried to get a project finished, only to be interrupted multiple times? Have you ever tried to see something clearly when the sun is glaring in your eyes? Have you ever tried to listen to an idea that your son or daughter has when your mind's made-up before they began talking? In each case, we’re being confronted with a barrier to a breakthrough and we owe it to ourselves to eliminate those barriers and turn more of our ideas into action.

The Start of Perpetual Development

Before it was Perpetual Development, Inc. it was Professional Potential. Why the change? It happened while I was running/jogging/fast walking/lumbering. I’m a big guy so running was never really the exercise most aligned with my body type. I digress.

In one of those breakthrough moments that I described above, the word perpetual came into my mind and I thought “that’s it.” Professional Potential wasn’t a bad name but I had been thinking long and hard about the emphasis of the company name. It was developed quickly after Carlton passed away and I didn’t feel it reflected the full scope of my passion or purpose. It wasn’t just about potential it was about an on-going and never-ending focus around the potential that each person possesses.

Just as quickly, the word development followed. “Perpetual Development” I said to myself over and over for the next several minutes. It was like the idea vault had been unlocked in my head and within the next week the articles of incorporation were filed and Perpetual Development became an Arizona Corporation formerly known as Professional Potential.

The Importance of the Wave

Clarity is what we discover when we arrive at an idea that needs to be turned into action. The clarity of our intent and purpose is defined in the moments where those ideas actually become our actions.

If you were to come to my home or office you would discover pictures of waves, paintings of waves, glass sculptures of waves and books about waves. I am both intrigued and fascinated, some would say obsessed, by waves and here’s the reason why. The water that comes in is the same water that goes out and it continues in this cycle over and over repeatedly. It’s as if the flow of water in waves is endless and uninterrupted.

The wave is a very important part of Perpetual Development for this reason. As our logo, the wave symbolizes the crashing of barriers, the creation of breakthroughs and the never-ending and ongoing pursuit of helping to develop the potential in people. This is the PDI Purpose. The wave is our visual reminder and reinforcement.

Adapt, Change, Evolve

If you study a wave, you’ll notice how it adapts, changes and evolves as it comes into the shore and retreats back again. The same is true of people who are aware of, and focus on, their own perpetual development. They’re constantly adapting, changing and evolving. It’s an ongoing and never-ending process.

What began exclusively as a sales training company has adapted, changed and evolved into an organization focused on preserving and advancing the legacy and leadership of family-owned businesses. While the focus of our work has changed, the purpose of developing the potential in people on an ongoing basis has not and will not.

#Thoughtstarter - Where have you adapted, changed and evolved the most in your life or career?

Final Thought

The ability to help someone recognize and develop the potential they know exists or that they may have never seen in themselves is both gratifying and humbling. Each week, you are among a continually growing group of people who read and engage with Thoughtwave. Our community of readers are exceptionally committed and for that I want to say thank you. I have valued your input and thoughts and I have been truly appreciative of your desire and intent to think beyond boundaries, crash through barriers and be compelled to take action as a part of your perpetual development. Your readership and comments are valued. Keep them coming.

With clarity,

P.S. I'd love to hear about a time you were compelled to take action. Leave me a note in the comments.