Remember What You Ask For

Good day team,
This week’s challenge is about remembering what you asked for and staying true to what’s most important.

Here’s a story that illustrates how easy it is to drift away from core values.

In my first meeting with a prospective client, I often ask these three questions:
1.  What’s your vision for what you want to achieve?
2.  What lessons have you learned from past experiences that prevented you from achieving a vision?
3.   How do you think a coach can help you realize your vision?

The answers to these questions set the foundation of our relationship. They are typically very positive and full of optimism:
“I want to create a profitable company that provides good jobs for others and has a positive impact on the world.”
“I see a team of people who are creating new processes that make our jobs easier to do and the team is happier because of the improvements we’ve made.”
“I want to create a company that is highly innovative – where creativity and new ways of thinking are encouraged in everything we do.”
“I want my employees to feel empowered, come to work everyday because they love what they do, and feel passionate about our products and customers.”
“I want to lead my people but not micromanage them so they continue to feel like we’re in partnership and able to take ownership at the same time.”

We build plans based upon their answers and begin a program of coaching and training to create the kind of environment that makes their visions achievable. This works well until my client starts to veer away from the original ask.

Here’s an example.

Bill is the CEO of a start-up company.  He left his job as the lead software engineer and started his own company to get out from under a boss that was too demanding and controlling.  He dreamed of creating a company where he could hire a team of smart people who wanted to work collaboratively and loved to be challenged.  He came up with a brilliant design for a new product, created a business plan for his start-up and sold the whole idea to some investors. Bingo – Bill had a small office, two partners from his previous company, and enough money in the bank to get his product launched.

The first six months Bill was in business he decided to hire me to help him navigate the tough waters of creating a new business. We worked to articulate a core set of values that would help Bill lead the team , stay true to what was important to them, and put their values into action.  We did exercises that helped the team understand one other’s behaviors and strengths, and provided tools that could aid them in their collaborative efforts. As his brand began to develop, we made sure that his vision and values were expressed in all corporate communications – both internal and external.   It was a strong start –  the product was getting a great response from the public, the team was happy and highly committed, and Bill was living his dream.  Year one passed with flying colors – happy team members – happy investors – happy Bill.

Into the second year, given the pressures of running a new business, things began to change.  People worked harder and harder and stress levels rose.  Under stress, team members spent more time in their back-up behaviors, attacking others and defending themselves rather than collaborating. In a frantic effort to keep up, Bill began to take more control of the day-to-day operations afraid that if he didn’t, the whole thing would crash and burn. He unleashed the autocrat within.  He placed more demands on those around him, trusted his teammates less and began to micromanage the entire operation. As his coach, I tried to point out that things were out of control. His behavior ran counter to his expressed values. “I’d like to stay true to my vision and values, said Bill. But honestly, I don’t have time to think about those things right now.  I’m the CEO of a start-up and this business is blowing way past any of our original expectations – it’s all I can do to just keep up.”

So, how could I help Bill?  How could I help get him back on track?

I asked Bill for a time out. This wasn’t easy for him to do, since he was moving at break-neck speed to keep up with his daily challenges. He was now so involved in other people’s jobs, that he had no time stop and reflect. He was CEO, chief product office, and the head of sales, etc. I needed Bill to step back and re-examine what he intended for his company. Was his behavior reflective of his company’s values? And, most importantly, did Bill see what was being sacrificed in his attempts to have a successful company?

Bill needed to make a choice. He couldn’t go north and south at the same time.  He couldn’t take more and more control and become more dominant if he wanted his people to feel empowered.  He wouldn’t be able to have a highly successful team if the customers and investors saw Bill as a success but not the team. As one of his original partners said to me, “I’m not Bill’s partner anymore – I’m an order taker.”

Fortunately, Bill was able to stop long enough to hear me and his original partners early one Saturday morning over breakfast. Underneath it all, he knew that he was spinning out of control. He had the best of intentions but he wasn’t the kind of owner, CEO and business partner he had originally intended to be. With the help of his original two partners, he was able to ease up on the reins. He stopped dictating, asked more questions and fostered more dialogue.  Even more impressively, he let the investors know that he was not willing to sacrifice the core values of his business in order to meet their short term expectations. He re-committed to the original core values to create a more sustainable environment for the team in the long run. As he said to me, “I was killing the spirit in the place and until I stopped, I was not even aware of it.”

This week, ask yourself if you are becoming more controlling as the demands of your business or your department increase.  Are you staying true to your core values and vision? How have your behaviors changed? Do you have a way of getting honest feedback from others? Are you sacrificing the long term health of your company or team for short term gains? Are you dictating or inspiring and empowering others?

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”  Antoine De Sainte-Exupery

Have a good week,


© Copyright 2014 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

Coach’a Challenge All the News That Fits – We Print


Good day, team.



This week’s challenge comes from a client of mine, Michael Kane. Michael is the chief of staff for Move Inc. and the general manager of one of its subsidiaries, TigerLead. He has a gift for eloquently expressing himself, both verbally and in writing. Many thanks to Michael for sharing this week’s challenge, which he titled, “All the News That Fits — We Print.” You will find the challenge in the question he poses at the end.



“Back in the late 90s, I did consulting for Dow Jones and Company, which, in additional to calculating some influential stock market averages, publishes a mildly well-read newspaper called The Wall Street Journal. The project I was bidding on was a $17 million dollar effort to revamp the software that paginates its newspapers.


“It’s a complex problem with multiple variables, and unless you know the newspaper business, you might approach it exactly backward. I was told that each day, there are different sections and the newspaper is allowed to be a certain number of pages, and the ads needed to be arranged on the page, and the news articles broken into the familiar columns. The software needed to tally the total ad space and total ad revenue, and then, they told me, it needed to provide a report to the editorial group with the size of the ‘news hole.’


“Huh? That term sounded like an insult to me: ‘My roommate hogs the TV all day watching CNN. He’s such a newshole!’


“That’s when I learned that I was approaching newspaper publishing completely backward. In any edition, after all the ads are placed on pages, the amount of space left over is called the ‘news hole.’ Everything that’s not an ad must fit in that space — all the tables, op-ed pieces and articles. If they don’t fit, they need to be reduced. You never, ever, trim the ads.


“In a newspaper — a publication whose purpose you would think is to provide the news — the purpose is actually to deliver advertising and then use whatever space is left for its alleged purpose.


“What does this have to do with our company? When was the last time we looked critically at our calendars? Many of us do the same thing with our calendars that Dow Jones does with news. We use the tool designed to focus our most scarce resource — our time — and we first fill it with things that provide the least value: status meetings and meeting series that were set up ages ago. In fact, each week, there’s probably a meaningful percentage of our time already committed, before we even show up on Monday morning. Call it ‘recurring schedule overhang.’ Then, after that, we add in the purposeful activities.


“It’s the ‘purpose hole.’


“Like my understanding of newspaper publishing, are we approaching our calendars exactly backward?”


Have a good week!





© Copyright 2014 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.



Horse Sense #4 – Forgiveness

Good day, team.

This week’s challenge is about forgiveness. I’ve learned a lot over the past year about forgiveness from an unlikely friend: the beautiful horse I’ve been spending time with.

A few months ago, I leased Ileeah, a lovely Arabian horse trained in the horsemanship method I was learning. My lessons were frustrating at first, but I began to see how responsive this horse is and just how much I could learn from her because of her extensive training and experience. What I found most humbling was her ability to forgive me when I did something wrong. One day I was taking her halter off and accidentally poked her in the eye. She immediately jumped away from me. But in the next moment, as I was apologizing profusely, she walked right back over to me as if nothing had happened.

Along the way, I have had to forgive myself over and over again―when I gave her conflicting messages about where and when I wanted her to go; when I got angry with her and nagged at her rather than giving her a quick, direct instruction to stop what she was doing; and when I didn’t have the ability to let go of my negativity toward her when she defied me.

Horses have an amazing ability to forgive. They don’t seem to hold onto resentment or negative emotions the way humans do, and it allows them to deal with whatever is happening in the moment rather than reacting to something that happened the moment before. They always seem willing to try again with patience and persistence. I think these qualities have helped horses survive for thousands of years. Even though they are prey to other animals and have had to work for humans, they have persevered and their presence with each moment has allowed them to react appropriately when they sense danger.

In playing with horses (and I use the word “play” because it really isn’t work), I have learned more about how to forgive myself. I have made many mistakes with Treasure, Ileeah and Winslow―the three horses I’ve played with over the past year―and I suspect that I will continue to make mistakes with horses as I continue. But every time they forgive me, I have an opportunity to forgive myself. Buck Brannaman, the famous horse trainer and a leading practitioner in the area of natural horsemanship wrote, “Horses are incredibly forgiving. They fill in places we’re not capable of filling in ourselves.”

This week, find the things you’re not forgiving yourself for and try to release them. See what it feels like to make a mistake and then forgive yourself for it. Try cutting yourself some slack when you’ve done something goofy and don’t carry your inner angst about it into the next moment or the next day. Laugh at yourself for your foibles, and see how unimportant they are in the face of all the good things you bring to others.

The famous phrase “To err is human, to forgive divine” so aptly describes the divinity we see in those beings who are able to forgive―both human and animal. This week try forgiving yourself and moving into the next moment without the burdens of guilt or shame weighing you down.

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2014 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

Within and Without

Good day Team,


The coach’s challenge of the week is to consider the tension that leaders experience when making decisions between following their inner compass and bowing to outside pressures.


It is reasonable to question how successful a business leader can be who always follows his inner compass. How many CEOs would lose their jobs if they ignored the advice and wishes of their stakeholders because their personal compass pointed the other way? To me that answer comes down to the moment to moment struggle leaders experience between doing what they know is right versus what is expected – what the values suggest versus what the numbers dictate.


Many leaders walk this razor’s edge. I believe that the tension it creates is at the heart of what makes someone a great leader – balancing what their inner compass is telling them with an ability to also see the larger picture and how their decisions impact the profitability of their company.


From a practical perspective, here are some examples of different approaches to leading others. Which of the two styles attracts you?




Aligns with higher values Maximizes profit
Inspirational Impersonal – “it’s just business”
Sustainable Short term results
Visionary Tactical
Authenticity Role-playing
Transparent and accountable Infallible



When I look at these contrasting ideas, I can see that strong leadership draws from both columns. No one can run a business and ignore the numbers. Sometimes, you do have to sacrifice your long term goals for short term results. And there are some mistakes leaders should not admit to given the damage that knowledge does to your team or your stakeholders.


But the key to me is in your self-awareness. If you are familiar with your inner territory, you can see what part of you is making the decision. Is it from greed or generosity? Are your decisions and actions aligned with the company’s values and ethics? By observing how you balance your inner world against your external pressures, you can see how integrated you are.


Is your behavior reflective of your inner values? If not, do you justify the behavior by saying “it’s not personal. It’s business.” Are you inspiring others by who you are as well as by your actions? Are you acting one way towards your team members but feeling the exact opposite internally?


This week, take a look at how balanced you are between your inner guide and your external actions. If I asked the people in your organization to describe you, would they say you have integrity?


As Gandhi so aptly said, “Each of us must be the change we want to see in the world”.


Have a great week!




© Copyright 2014 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.


Managing Millennials


Good day team,


Your challenge this week is it identify common mistakes you might be making in managing Gen Y’s, that is, people who are currently in their 20’s. Gen Y’s are also known as Millennials.



I recently read an article entitled, “The Top 3 Most Important Mistakes Management Makes Managing Millennials” by Crystal Kadakia, blogger of the Gen Y Guru @ Career Indulgence LLC: Speaking, Training, Consulting on Everything Gen Y – No Whining, Just Ideas That Work.



I found Kadakia’s ideas thought-provoking. Frankly, I’d not given much thought to how to successfully manage people in their 20’s. But, many of the managers I coach manage people in this age group and often run into difficulties. Consequently, I thought it wise to learn more about managing Gen-Y’ers.



Here are some of her ideas and advice.



“Mistake #1: Humor That Alienates, Specifically By Relying on Assumptions
It’s natural to try to find common ground when establishing a manager-direct report relationship. Many experienced managers struggle to find common ground with the new workforce and make a number of mistakes. This struggle can exhibit outwardly in multiple ways including false assumptions, belittling humor, and misguided expectations.



“For example, many assume that Gen Y’s had “helicopter parents” and had childhood lives filled with endless parent-scheduled activities, school followed by ballet, soccer, etc. This results in presumption of lack of work capability, accountability, and responsible behavior. Viewing a new employee in this light automatically sets them up for failure, instead of success. In many cases, the opposite Gen Y scenario is true as many in this generation grew up in divorced homes, resulting in very independent childhoods. Comments of this nature start with statements like, “This generation has it so easy…” or “You’re supposed to want constant feedback right?” It’s better instead to always ask questions instead of assume that an employee relationship should be a certain way. Alternatively, you can share how you like to work and ask the employee if that works for them.


“Some other examples are statements like “Maybe you can tell me what I should do about my son/daughter’s constant selfie addiction — aren’t you a part of the Me Generation?” or “You’re a Gen Y, can you teach me how to use my iPhone?” Treating your Gen Y employees like your IT services connection is a definite no-no. Not all Gen Yer’s are adept with technology and no one likes to be put on the spot for assumed skills.


“The best practice is to never assume. Instead of basing off of assumptions, starting instead with a story from your time and then asking if the Gen Y can relate is a much better way to forge a bond you can both work from. For example, when you were transitioning from college, xyz was a struggle for you.


“Mistake #2: Lack of Transparency Regarding Career Progression
If pay progression or promotion is slow at your organization, just admit it. It is far better to admit it than to say nothing. Many companies have a culture that dissuades talking about career progression. But as new employees starting a new chapter in their lives, one they have never embarked on before, this is one of the biggest questions. What does the future look like? What is the big picture I am working towards?



“Also, recognize that young employees may not realize what other forms of progression and growth look like. Generally, the first thought for any new employee is: rewards = increased pay, better title. This is a moment to educate and expand your employee’s perspective — growth can be in many dimensions. Share what other dimensions your company offers and don’t exclude diverse project work as a perk. As their manager, you are in a position to understand what kind of project the new hire would really enjoy getting into and then delivering elements of that in their current work. Transparency is key.


“Mistake #3: Lack of Opportunities to Meaningfully Contribute
The biggest complaint I hear from many Gen Y’s is the amount of time it takes before they are permitted to contribute to results. Doing the grunge work doesn’t capture the maximum productivity your Gen Y can contribute and instead, demotivates and disengages the employee. If they are not allowed to contribute quickly, it generates reasons for leaving the company. Although it may surprise you, most Millennials don’t want to be paid for doing nothing — and we are quick to trust our own judgement of what is worthwhile work.


“It is important to strike the right balance between introducing them to the work and allowing them to contribute significantly to a project or even lead a project on their own. It’s important to explain which work will help to build a foundation to do more challenging work later vs. which work items are intended to allow them to already start displaying leadership and critical thinking skills. By establishing the expectations regarding the work this way, the new employee has no false understanding of work — yes, some of it is going to be tedious, but it is going to build to something later or may always be a tedious part of the job. It’s important to be transparent about the work.


“A good rule of thumb is as long as 10 percent of the work plan at a minimum involves true leadership and critical thinking from the new employee, the remainder of the work plan can be more learning alongside a more experienced employee or working as a part of a team with no clear responsibility. But in at least 10 percent of the work plan, the new employee should be personally accountable and contributing clearly to a significant group or department result.


“These are just a few of the behaviors that can lead to quick turnover with Millennials, but they are big mistakes. New employees can either work with you, against you, or contribute little to no work. How you choose to manage these employees makes a critical difference in the outcome.


“What mistakes have you seen managers make when managing Millennials?”


In summary, Ms. Kadakia is saying three things 1) don’t make assumptions, 2) be transparent and honest, 3) give the employee challenging work and hold him/her accountable for the results. Seems like good advice for managing any employee – boomer, Gen X or Gen Y.


Have a good week.





© Copyright 2014 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.



Sorting Out

Good day team,

This week’s challenge is about the physical and psychological benefits of keeping what we need and shedding the rest.  I’ve spent the last two weekends helping others do just that.

My mother-in-law passed away recently. And last week, my husband and I made a trip to visit my mother on her 87th birthday. Both events involved a process of sorting through their belongings, deciding what to keep and what to give or throw away.  The burden that comes from keeping things that simply take up space became clear. A personal space can become like that junk drawer in the kitchen –  so full you can hardly open it.  The experience of ridding oneself of unnecessary, seldom used, and no-longer-useful stuff is liberating.  It opens up the space around us and allows for a  more expansive and creative environment.

In the first case, family members met at my mother’s-in-law apartment to pack up the last of her belongings.  This didn’t take very long since her lifestyle was minimized by her poor health. Over the past 5 years, her need for care caused a series of moves to smaller spaces. Each move gave us an opportunity to sort through what she needed and what she didn’t. As I watched myself and others pack up the last of her favorite knick-knacks, throw away the bathroom necessities, save the photographs of grand and great grandchildren, and pile the clothes to take to Goodwill, I realized that in the end, she had made this exercise easy for us. Even her rings had been removed when her fingers had become too swollen to wear them.  She left this world as she came in, unadorned and unattached.

In my mother’s case, this was the first time she had done a thorough clearing-out since she and my step-father settled into their home 15+ years ago – an entirely different process.  It’s not easy letting go of the things you’ve kept over many years.  As I worked with her – taking a book off the shelf and asking her, “Do you want to keep this?”  I could see that she knew exactly what could go and what she wasn’t sure about.  “Well, I do look at that book from time to time and I do enjoy it.”  So, back onto the shelf it would go. Most often she would say, “Nope. I don’t need those anymore.”  And so it went, closet after closet, drawer after drawer.  Sometimes she would say, “I don’t know where that came from” or “Goodness, I haven’t seen that in years.” Clearly, she had lots of unnecessary stuff.

We live in a consumer-driven society that promises happiness, convenience, and peace of mind through ownership.   If you buy this, you’ll be happier, more comfortable, more attractive, etc.  As a result, our homes and offices fill with loads of things that take up space and even become health hazards.  Have you ever tripped over a chord or a box in your office?  How about in your home?  Is your garage or basement so full of stuff that you can’t get to some of it?  Do you have an attic that’s full of old documents and photographs, Christmas ornaments and wrapping paper – things that could easily catch fire?

The process of sorting through and unloading what’s no longer needed is a healthy practice. It allows us to re-set our priorities and take a new approach.  And, more importantly, it takes away an irritant that we tend to tolerate far too long.  I’ve heard myself swear as I’ve yanked at the junk drawer unable to open it because something was stuck.We all know how great it feels to create order out of chaos.

This week, take a look around you.  Are you surrounded by stuff that you no longer use? How about the files on your computer? Are they simply taking up disk space? Is your closet full of things you never wear?  When was the last time you sorted through your personal belongings and let go of stuff?  Start with one small drawer. See how it feels to sort through it and keep only what you really need.  Then, sometime next week, tackle a bigger project and see how that feels.  After awhile, you can take on your basement or your garage. Spring cleaning can happen anytime of the year and always yields great results.

Years ago, I applied this idea of sorting through things to my relationships.  I realized that some of my friendships were not good for me and I had to let them go.  It took me years to do this – deciding which relationships were healthy for me and which ones were not.  It allowed me to open up enough space in my life to attract new friendships that were healthier and more supportive.  I understood that deciding what to embrace and what to release was one of the better paths toward a happier life.

This week, make some choices about what to keep and what to dump.  You may create a little bit of light where there was none and some space for something new to enter.

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2014 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.


Good day, team.The challenge this week is short and bittersweet due to the death of my mother in law.   Jean White was a modern woman who lived her 93 years with grit and humor. She leaves a legacy of many years of community service, a successful career in the insurance industry, and a healthy family with lots of grand and great grandchildren.  In her memory, I am posting this poem my husband wrote as a result of her passing.

Poem on Aging

The vanguard is down

Arthur Lloyd, reckless father

Jean Vivian, valiant mother


Both gone



I am drafted, trained poorly


And sent to the front


Suddenly in change and clueless


In a fight that cannot be won



Purple scars cover recent wounds


With more to come surely


before the final blow


Perhaps now its just a matter


of earning style points



~David White


Have a good week,


© Copyright 2014 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.


Dangers of Certainty

Good day, team.

This week’s challenge is about certainty. A close friend of mine sent me a recent New York Times article ― “The Dangers of Certainty: A Lesson From Auschwitz” by Simon Critchley. The article profiles Dr. Jacob Bronowski, a Polish-born British mathematician who wrote a number of highly regarded books on science and poetry. He also narrated a series of 12 essays that were televised as “The Ascent of Man.” The 11th essay was title “Knowledge and Certainty.” Here are some of Dr. Bronowski’s thoughts on the subject, as excerpted from the Times article:

“There is no God’s eye view, Dr. Bronowski insisted, and the people who claim that there is and that they possess it are not just wrong, they are morally pernicious. Errors are inextricably bound up with pursuit of human knowledge, which requires not just mathematical calculation but insight, interpretation and a personal act of judgment for which we are responsible. The emphasis on the moral responsibility of knowledge was essential for all of Dr. Bronowski’s work. The acquisition of knowledge entails a responsibility for the integrity of what we are as ethical creatures.

“Dr. Bronowski thought that the uncertainty principle should therefore be called the ‘principle of tolerance.’ Pursuing knowledge means accepting uncertainty. Heisenberg’s principle has the consequence that no physical events can ultimately be described with absolute certainty or with ‘zero tolerance,’ as it were. The more we know, the less certain we are.
“In the everyday world, we do not just accept a lack of ultimate exactitude with a melancholic shrug, but we constantly employ such inexactitude in our relations with other people. Our relations with others also require a principle of tolerance. We encounter other people across a gray area of negotiation and approximation. Such is the business of listening and the back and forth of conversation and social interaction.”

As I read this, I thought about the importance of questioning our own assumptions about others, being willing to test these assumptions and let them go if they appear no longer true or applicable. This state of mind and heart is challenging when we want to help someone improve themselves. We always have a vision of how we think the person should behave. To make that picture a reality, we steer him or her in that direction. More than a few times, however, I’ve been pleasantly surprised when a client of mine finds a different way to improve. These clients generally start to “take off” with enthusiastic glee as they begin to see more positive outcomes in their relationships with others. If I try to hold them to my picture, their enthusiasm turns into resentment at my attempts to control them.
In coaching, it’s critical not to judge others based on our own standards of behavior or certainty. You may be investing time, energy and money into helping someone improve, but being patient and tolerant while they’re going through the process will enable the new person to emerge. Part of your job is to supply encouragement and to give them room to make the changes they want to make. If you hold too tightly to your idea of what those changes should look like ― or even what the process for making them should be ― you may not recognize when the other person actually changes.

“For Dr. Bronowski, the moral consequence of knowledge is that we must never judge others on the basis of some absolute, God-like conception of certainty. All knowledge, all information that passes between human beings, can be exchanged only within what we might call ‘a play of tolerance,’ whether in science, literature, politics or religion. As he eloquently put it, ‘Human knowledge is personal and responsible, an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.’”

These thoughts are quite personal for Dr. Bronowski because many of his family members were killed at Auschwitz.* He makes the point that at the heart of fascism is that terrible certainty that leads one to despicable acts against other human beings.

“The play of tolerance opposes the principle of monstrous certainty that is endemic to fascism and, sadly, not just fascism but all the various faces of fundamentalism. When we think we have certainty, when we aspire to the knowledge of the gods, then Auschwitz can happen and can repeat itself. Arguably, it has repeated itself in the genocidal certainties of past decades.”

This week, take a look at the ideas, feelings and opinions that you feel certain about. How do these certainties apply to your relationships? Perhaps you have a friend who has drastically different religious beliefs and you’re convinced they are completely wrong. What about your co-worker who wants to take a very different approach to solving the problem you’re both working on? Are you a manager trying to convince your team members to change their behaviors to suit a picture of how you think they should be? How often do your family members irritate you because they’re not doing what you want them to do? How certain are you that you’re right and they’re wrong?
Dr. Bronowski was a scientist, and he believed that inherent in all good science was the idea that nothing is certain. He wrote, “One aim of the physical sciences has been to give an actual picture of the material world. One achievement of physics in the 20th century has been to show that such an aim is unattainable.”
Critchley writes, “For Dr. Bronowski, there was no absolute knowledge and anyone who claims it ― whether a scientist, a politician or a religious believer ― opens the door to tragedy. All scientific information is imperfect, and we have to treat it with humility. Such, for him, was the human condition.”

As you observe your certainties this next week, consider that you might be wrong. Your observations of others are through a lens of thoughts and opinions that are only one view. Instead, use your creative imagination and a broader humility to open up to others and see their fallibility’s as well as their successes. Ultimately, we’ll have a greater appreciation for all human beings, including ourselves.

Have a good week!
* Here is an excerpt from the 11th episode in the documentary Ascent of Man, “Knowledge and Certainty,” narrated by Dr. Jacob Bronowski: http://youtube/p5Umbn6ZBuE

© Copyright 2014 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

Getting Enough Sleep


Good day, team.


This week’s challenge was inspired by “Get Some Sleep and Wake Up the GDP,” an article in The New York Times by Sendhil Mullainathan, a professor of economics at Harvard. It’s about the importance of getting enough sleep, and I’m taking the liberty of reprinting it in total because after reading it, I realized I couldn’t leave anything out. Your challenge this week? Make sure you get enough sleep.


January is always a good month for behavioral economics: Few things illustrate self-control as vividly as New Year’s resolutions. February is even better, though, because it lets us study why so many of those resolutions are broken.


But a more important question may involve a resolution that so many of us fail to make. It involves a commodity that nearly everybody needs more of, and our failure to address it arguably has as much impact on our well-being as inadequate exercise and unhealthy eating.


The problem is very simple: Many of us need more sleep.


Here’s an alarming statistic: A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in 25 people admitted to having fallen asleep while driving during the previous month. To put that in perspective, mathematical models based on this data imply that an estimated 15 to 33 percent of all fatal crashes in the United States might involve a drowsy driver. But even that may be an underestimate, as some people who fall asleep at the wheel may be sheepish about acknowledging as much in a survey.


What does sleep have to do with economics? Doesn’t it sit squarely in the realm of physiology?


First, the economic consequences of inadequate sleep are surely huge. There may be more sleepy workers than drivers. In one month in 2008, a poll showed that 29 percent of workers had fallen asleep or had been very sleepy at work. The effects can add up: one study in Australia calculated the cost of sleeplessness at 0.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.


Yet even that number, which emphasizes the physical and medical consequences of inadequate sleep, omits the biggest potential impact on the GDP. Most of today’s workers rely on their mental and social skills. And if those workers don’t get enough sleep, their lethargy, crankiness and poor decision-making will hurt the economy in assorted and significant ways.


For example, one study has shown that ‘cyberloafing’ — wasting time on the Web — increases on the day after the start of daylight saving time, when people are short an hour of sleep. Other research shows how cognitive performance deteriorates when sleep is inadequate: We have less capacity to remember, to learn or to be creative, and we become less optimistic and less sociable. And these consequences aren’t reserved for extreme sleep loss: Studies show that two weeks of sleeping only six hours a night can have the same impact as one or two nights of total sleep deprivation.


There is an odd divide here. Ask why one person had an unproductive day at work, and lack of sleep often seems an obvious answer. But ask why national productivity has fallen, and reduced sleep can appear to be a frivolous answer. Yet what is total output but the sum of all individuals’ work?


Sleep deserves serious study by behavioral economists for another important reason. Some struggle with medical issues — like insomnia — that make sleep hard. But for many of us, the quantity and quality of sleep come down to a matter of choice. Still, only a few enterprising economists have looked closely at this, and generally those have assumed that we choose our hours of sleep optimally. The idea is that we thoughtfully trade the use of an hour of sleep for an hour spent doing something else. But it is worth questioning the assumption that these are rational and optimal choices. Judge for yourself. Was watching that extra episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ last night worth the sluggishness you’re feeling right now?


We also need to ask another question: Why do we neglect our sleep? It’s not as if the ill effects of fatigue are a surprise. If for no reason other than self-interest, we are vigilant about our children’s sleep, so it’s hard to understand why we are so cavalier about our own. This puzzle is even more pointed because the benefits of sleep are immediate. Eat better or work out more, and you’ll see the benefits weeks, months or years down the road. Sleep more, and you’ll see the benefits tomorrow.


The research on this question is sparse, so we must speculate.


Part of the problem may stem from a misunderstanding of physiology. We may overestimate our ability to overcome the effects of sleep deprivation. Have you ever told yourself, ‘I’ll be tired, but I’ll just tough it out’? It’s easy to think that willpower will make us alert. Or we may believe that caffeine compensates for lost sleep. While it can make us more alert, as shown in a study on Navy SEALs, it does not restore all mental function. And it makes sleeping well even harder.


The problem is aggravated by a common belief that lost sleep can be made up for, that we can manage our ‘sleep debt.’ But why should we be any better with this debt than we are with money? When the time comes for a payback, there always seems to be something more appealing for our money or time.


Whatever the reasons, the problem appears to be spreading. One careful study found that the number of ‘short sleepers’ — those who got fewer than six hours of sleep a night — rose 22 percent from 1975 to 2006, a trend that was most pronounced and significant among full-time workers.


Technology is an obvious culprit here. Web searching and cellphone use both flourish in the wee hours. Before the dawn of the Web, I would stay up watching television. But there is something soporific about television: I would often nod off. Not so when I’m online. As technologies expand, these problems may only worsen.


We can do something about this in our own lives. It’s not too late to add a resolution for this still-young year: to partake more in what Shakespeare called the ‘chief nourisher in life’s feast.’ A good night’s sleep has immediate effects on our productivity, and, best of all, it can even help us keep our other resolutions.”


Have a good week!






© Copyright 2014 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.




Managing Perceptions


Good day, team.



This week’s challenge is about managing people’s perceptions. The following blog post by Robert Curtiss, actor and psychotherapist, is from It got me thinking about how people perceive one another.



How What You Do Affects How You’re Perceived



“Behavior is a mirror in which everyone shows his own image.” — Chinese fortune cookie



“I recently read the saying above on the ‘fortune’ in my fortune cookie, and it reminded me of other similar sayings, such as ‘Actions speak louder than words’ and ‘You are what you do.’ All of these sayings boil down to the same simple truth: We show the world what kind of people we are by what we do. Literally. How we treat others, how we look, how we manage our time are some ways, to list a few. Our behavior gives powerful nonverbal messages to others that tell them what to think about us. After all, they may say, ‘Never judge a book by its cover,’ but we all make assessments and judgments based on the available evidence before us. Knowing this can help us shape how others perceive us.


“Our attire and our personal hygiene send strong messages. People may not consciously note that you look clean and neat, but they definitely notice when you are sloppy or otherwise not well-groomed.


“How we manage our time sends a powerful message too. When we are on time, we are showing others that we are ready and eager for our appointment. Whereas when we are late, we may give the impression that we do not value other people’s time, and we are not responsible. This may not be true, but it leaves a lasting impression.


“When we are kind to others and offer them care and concern, our actions reflect kindly upon ourselves, and when we speak about others behind their backs, it says to others that we probably talk about them behind their backs as well.


“How do you perceive yourself, and how do you want to be perceived by the world? Think about that. Think of ways to behave that promote that perception in yourself and in others.”



This subject comes up frequently in my coaching sessions. People often feel judged unfairly by their co-workers. They hear comments that they’re convinced are off base, or they know that others are forming opinions about them that aren’t true. For example, one of my clients was told by his boss recently that he had to let one of his team members go because of poor performance. My client was aware that his team member needed to improve and was working with him to do this. But too much time had gone by, and the manager decided it was time for that person to leave the company.


When it came time to terminate the team member, my client told him why he needed to leave. The team member took the news professionally and gracefully left the company. But the rest of the team was unhappy that their teammate was asked to leave. They were incredibly angry with my client for terminating him, assumed the termination was his sole decision and accused him of unfairly treating their teammate.


As my client said to me, “I could have easily told everyone that my boss made me do this, but it’s my responsibility to manage this team effectively, and it didn’t seem right to hand the blame off to someone else. However, now I have a much bigger problem. The team doesn’t trust me, and I’m being perceived as a tyrant rather than a fair boss.”


This is a classic case of misperception. What people see is a reflection of their understanding. When we only see something from a limited viewpoint, we draw conclusions that are not true. My client will have to be consistent in treating his team members fairly to increase their understanding of who he is and how he works if he wants to change their current perceptions of him.


Ironically, it’s not my client who suffers the most in this scenario. He’s really not a tyrant, and so whatever perceptions others have of him in this vein, he’s not bound by. It’s the team members who have created these negative perceptions that suffer the most in their inability to see who he really is.


As William Blake, the great poet and engraver wrote, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”


This week, ask yourself if your perceptions of others are accurate. Are you basing your opinions on real facts and direct observations of each person’s actions? Maybe, like in the case of my client, someone is not really responsible for a decision but is actually acting on someone else’s instructions and doing the best they can. Are you only focusing on someone’s weaknesses and not their strengths? Or are you so opinionated about something that you can’t see someone else’s point of view? Does this make you right and the other person wrong? Is a situation actually someone else’s fault or are there many more things to consider?


Try opening up your doors of perception. You’ll see that many possibilities exist beyond the ones that come immediately to mind. If you can remember what it’s like to be judged unfairly, you may be able to look at others with a more open mind. You may just find that when you take another look at the person, things look differently.


“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” — Wayne Dyer



Have a good week,




© Copyright 2014 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.