November 29, 2004

Good morning Team,

The coach’s challenge for this week is to feel gratitude. With the experience of Thanksgiving just behind us and the coming of Christmas in a few weeks, it’s an opportune time to feel grateful for all that we have.

Feeling abundant is a state of mind. Each of us is given what we need in so many ways. We live in the richest country in the world and we have so many choices based on the world that’s been created around us. We know this is not the case for many people who live on the Earth. It’s important for us to take the time to appreciate all that we have so that our state of appreciation increases. It’s also important for those who are less fortunate so that our appreciation and abundance is accessible to them.

“Two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give.” Edwin Arlington Robinson

We also see that when we are grateful, we are not jealous or envious. We see that when we feel secure, important and appreciated, it is not necessary for us to whittle others down in order to seem bigger by comparison. True appreciation for your self is at the heart of gratitude. The more you appreciate your true nature the greater your abundance grows.

Have a great week!


November 22, 2004

Good morning Team,

The coach’s challenge for the week is to be consistent. The definition for consistent in the dictionary reads as follows: Agreeing or accordant, compatible, not self-contradictory. Constantly adhering to the same principles, course, form, etc. Holding firmly together, cohering. Syn. Congruous, harmonious.

Year’s ago I asked Bill McGowan, the founder and first CEO of MCI, what he thought were the three most important qualities a leader needed to possess. He answered, ‘authenticity, consistency and a sense of humor’. My observation is that authenticity comes with experience, wisdom and courage. These are qualities that do not come easily to any of us. It is through many years of successes and failures that we begin to understand more about who we really are and become more authentic in our actions. Consistency, on the other hand, is something we can work at everyday. Certainly, consistency is a part of authenticity. If we are able to be consistent by supporting our words with the same actions, we find that trust begins to grow with our team members and colleagues.

I often think of Abraham Lincoln in this context. He was a good example of someone who was consistent. Throughout his Presidency, his words and deeds were the same; he adhered to the same fundamental principles and continued to give the same messages, regardless of his challenges. His words and actions have stood the test of time and they are as authentic today as they were in his time.

Try being more consistent in your actions this week. If you say you’ll do something, do it. If you know your team members are confused because you’ve said one thing and are doing another, try taking the time to give them a clearer message. If you’re counseling someone to work more cooperatively, try being more cooperative yourself. Try walking the talk and meaning it. Everyone will see you as being more consistent and they will trust in your actions.

Have a great week (and Happy Thanksgiving!) –


November 08, 2004

Good morning Team,

The coach’s challenge for this week is to get enough exercise. With the changing of the seasons, we all find ourselves spending more and more time inside. It’s not as easy to take an exercise break during the day when the weather is inclement. We find ourselves caught up in the momentum of the work day without taking any time to exercise and then wonder why we get sick or feel tired all the time. It’s important that we add some physical exercise into our daily routine to keep us healthy and alert.

Try signing up at a health club and setting the same time each week to go and workout. Maybe it’s easier to invest in exercise equipment for your home and you get up a little earlier to work out before you come to the office. Maybe it’s as simple as wearing warmer clothes so you can take a walk around the building once a day. Ask a team member if they’d like to walk with you…. it’s a nice way to take a break and connect with someone at work.

As we move into the winter solstice, our days get shorter and shorter. We often go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. Since we don’t have the luxury of being able to hibernate, try keeping more light around you during these days. Plenty of studies show us that light is essential to our well being. We know that when we don’t have enough of it, we are prone to depression. Add a few extra candles into your home environment, the light and warmth they render is well worth the small cost. Make sure you have enough lights on in your work environment. Try wearing brighter colors from time to time, you’ll find the added color will make you feel better.

Each of us is responsible for making sure our bodies and minds are in good shape. Be creative about how you’ll add more exercise and light into these winter months. You’ll feel better all the way around.

October 31, 2004

Hi Team,

The coach’s challenge of the week is to use time wisely. One of the best lessons that anyone can learn in life is how to use time wisely. Consider what can be done in ten minutes: a pianist can deliver the performance of a lifetime, you can learn a new dance step, a football game can be lost or won in the last ten minutes (for that matter, a game can be lost in the last 10 seconds!), you can write a short poem, or tell a story to someone, or call your parents to say hello. You can send an e-mail to a team member, or celebrate someone’s birthday at work, or make coffee. You can pick tomatoes, or do dishes, or deliver a short speech. You can also sit and gaze out the window and do nothing at all for ten minutes.

Our experience of time is based on how we perceive it. If we have too much of it, we can become bored. If we don’t have enough of it, we become stressed. If something is taking too long, we become impatient. If it happens too quickly, we become frightened. Ironically, it’s not time itself that is actually changing but our perception of it changes our experience of it. In the workplace, most of feel that we don’t have enough time to do everything we need to do. Interestingly enough, I have found that the amount of time I spend worrying about not having enough time wastes a lot of my time! If I can relax into the time I have and methodically get things done, I often end up with time to spare.

“A sense of the value of time – that is, of the best way to divide one’s time into one’s various activities- is an essential preliminary to efficient work; it is the only method of avoiding hurry.” Arnold Bennett

Our experience of time is also altered by the degree of enjoyment or passion we experience in any given moment. Time passes too quickly when we’re doing something we really enjoy and our memory of that experience is often so clear that it seems we were there just yesterday. Each of us can be on vacation for a week and it seems like we’ve been gone much longer than that when we return to work. There is something about being out of our normal routine that makes time expand.

Try experimenting with time this week. Instead of arriving at work at your usual time, try getting there an hour earlier. Try spending an hour at work doing something you rarely have time to do like catching up on your business reading, or researching something on the internet that you know will help your business. Go to lunch with a team member at a restaurant you’ve never been to. See if you can sit for five minutes without doing anything at all. Make a choice about how you’d like to spend your time and you will save time.

Have a great week!


October 17, 2004

Good beginning of the week, everyone-

The coach’s challenge of the day is to “celebrate what you want to see more
of”. Throughout the week we often witness each other making an effort that
goes above and beyond the usual standard of a “job description”. It may be
a small gesture (over in a heart beat) or it may be one of those bigger,
more heroic gestures that makes that person’s day much tougher. Regardless
of the size of the effort, we see someone take an extra step (or 500 extra
steps)on behalf of the whole. Part of great leadership is noticing, and
acknowledging. We all have a thousand good reasons we don’t give that most
rare reward, acknowledgement- We have a meeting to go to, we don’t want a
compliment to go to someone’s head, they don’t like being the center of
attention, they’re busy right now, we just praised them last week, we don’t
want them sitting on their laurels. The bottom line is we miss an
opportunity to celebrate great work.

Aim for giving more mini doses of positive feedback right when you notice
things, in the moment. Monthly one-on-ones, annual reviews, scorecards or
periodic evaluations are all valuable formats for giving organized feedback,
but they’re not going to put the spring in our step that makes a work day
fly by. What gives us that extra boost is knowing that the people we work
with pay attention to what we do well. Acknowledging great work, however
small, inspires ownership, quality, and endurance.

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” Johann Goethe

“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” Thomas J Peters

Have a good week-


September 27, 2004

Good morning Team:

The coach’s challenge of the week comes from Abraham Lincoln. He said, “You can tell whether a person is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a person is wise by his questions.”

How often are we willing to ask questions, especially the ones we think our stupid? It’s often the simplest of questions that don’t get asked. We often make assumptions in the beginning of our thinking process that our incorrect and by not asking the simple questions in the beginning, we go down the wrong road and come up with incorrect solutions.

Recently, I’ve been trying out the Sony Corporation management tool of asking the “5 why’s”. First, ask yourself what you want to achieve. Then ask yourself “why” five times, each time answering the why questions, until you get to the bottom of what you’re really trying to achieve. For example, I want to expand my business over the next 12 months, Why? Because, I want the business to grow and thrive. Why? Because, our coaching adds a lot of value to our clients and adds value to our business. Why? Because, we try to help people be healthier, happier and more productive in their working lives. Why? Because, coaching helps people and companies realize their vision and supports them in the process.Why? Because, we’ve seen that coaching makes a positive difference in people’s lives and that companies who use coaches are more in touch with their team members and their customers. So, you can see with this exercise how I moved from the desire to expand my business to the heart of the real value of coaching. By asking the 5 why’s you’ll have a chance to explore the underlying reasons for what you want to accomplish and in turn, get a better understanding of what you’re really trying to do.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions this week. You may be surprised to discover some new answers!

Have a great week!


September 13, 2004

Good morning Team,

The coach’s challenge of the week is try to turn adverse situations into breakthroughs. What happens when things get out of control? How do we deal with chaos? In the fear and confusion that accompany chaos, people tend to blame each other and a scapegoat is found. It has to be someone’s fault that things didn’t go as planned. The breakdown that comes from chaos often diverts our attention into an unproductive line of inquiry that focus’s on who’s at fault. But, in truth, there’s only one productive line of inquiry in a crisis: What can we learn? What needs to be done? Shifting the focus to learning and doing always changes a breakdown into a breakthrough.

“The winners of tomorrow will deal proactively with chaos, will look at the chaos per se as the source of market advantage, not as a problem to be gotten around.” Tom Peters

Have a great week!


August 29, 2004

Hi Team,

The coach’s challenge for the week is to try to create an extraordinary experience for your customers. I don’t just mean your external customers; I mean anyone you serve at any time during the day. If you’re a manager, it may be one of your supervisors; if you’re a supervisor, it might be your lead, or one of your team members. Maybe it’s someone else within your organization that you’re on a conference call with, or an outside vendor. From one angle, we’re all in the sales and service business and everyone external to us is a customer sooner or later. The ultimate goal is to surpass the customer’s expectations so that they feel that they are your most important customer of the day. Here are some tips for creating an extraordinary experience:

Know your customer. Take the time to know who they are and what’s important to them by actively listening, engaging and responding.

Be convenient to do business with. You can have the best service in the world but if your customer isn’t getting what they need, it doesn’t mean anything. Make sure you’re accessible.

Reinforce everyone in your organization who is customer focused. It’s a lot more fun to do this together as a team.

Train and perform with an emphasis on quality.

Here are some quality tips:

* Set the right tone

* Be alert to behavioral style tendencies

* Demonstrate necessary empathy

* Act like a consultant not an order taker

* Demonstrate genuine courtesy and friendliness

* Utilize proper problem resolution practices to find win/win solutions

* Be efficient in delivering on promises

* Always close on a positive note. Remember, it’s the sizzle, not the steak that sells. Enthusiasm is everything.

Have a great week,


August 22, 2004

Hi Team,

The coach’s challenge of the week is to be aware of fear. Fear is an emotional state. It occurs when a fear provoking

stimulus activates our adrenal glands and a chemical reaction occurs in the body. We all know what it feels like. It’s

the surge of energy we feel when we are physically in danger and we need to move quickly. It’s the sweaty palms and the dry throat we experience when we have to give a speech in front of a large crowd. It’s the experience of butterflies in the

stomach. The question is how do we deal with fear?

Being aware of fear when it happens to us tends to take some of the power out of the emotion. We can say, “I’m experiencing a lot of fear right now, perhaps I should take a moment to collect myself and breathe.” Or, we can try to reason with ourselves to realize that most fears fade when we face the facts of a situation. William Shakespeare wrote, “Present fears are worse than horrible imaginings.”

When we are attentive to what is before us, fear has less of a chance to control our thoughts and we are less apt to be in negative imagination about all the things that can go wrong in the future. Shakespeare also wrote, “Things done well and with a care, exempt themselves from fear.”

We can always ask for help when we are experiencing fear. Relying on our team members to support us when we’re struggling is one of the great benefits of working together. We just need to not be afraid to ask for help when we need it.

Have a good week,


August 16, 2004

Good morning Team,

The coaches challenge of the week is to practice mindfulness. When we are mindful, we pay attention to the details. When we focus on the details of our mundane lives, we open ourselves to discovery. We begin to get the most out of every minute because we are looking at things with fresh eyes. Mindfulness is inward; it is being attentive to the twinge in your stomach when you’re hungry. Mindfulness is also outward: it connects you to others by allowing you to be present to them. When we are mindful, we are aware, engaged, and nonjudgmental, a state which encourages synchronicity.

In her definitive book, Mindfulness, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer speaks of being flexible and responsive to changes, of operating from what is really in front of you, of building options for yourself – new ways to see, be, listen, learn. Instead of being stuck in the old categories of thinking, you create new categories to better reflect the current situation and context. You find alternatives to the usual way of doing things. You seek new ways and risk the loss of comfortable old ones.

We often find the biggest challenge to mindfulness is remembering to do it. We get so caught up in our thoughts that we forget to be present in the moment. Try coming back to the moment throughout the day and mindfulness will naturally emerge.

Have a great week!