Rand Golletz Performance Systems
Executive Coaching and Personal Consulting for Tough-Minded Leaders.

Articles for Leadership » The Real Deal

The Journey to “Mindfulness”

A long time ago, I worked for a CEO who was a dedicated practitioner of meditation. He shared with me the benefits it had for him and while I became curious, I filed away the idea and did intermittent research. Perhaps one day, I thought, meditation could be an effective way to deal with my stress. Fast forward several years.

I attended the (now) world famous Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program at the UMASS Medical Center. Led by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn (click here to view a 60 Minutes Story about Jon), this program has exposed more people to mindfulness meditation than any program offered anywhere in the world. What started as a local experiment to help people cope with chronic pain has metastasized into the farthest reaches of the globe. What began with a focus on pain now helps people improve their (our) sense of overall well-being. What gained initial appeal because of anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness has now achieved broad, enthusiastic, scientific validation (Google Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin for more on this) of its ability to fundamentally change the human brain. What began as an ethereal concept inspired by Buddhists and practiced largely by new-age “weirdos” (the characterization I’ve heard used by others) has taken a foothold in corporate America (Google “Aetna and Mindfulness” for more).

Speaking personally, it has changed my life!

Early on I had trepidations about becoming a practitioner. I thought it might make me lose my “edge” or convey the impression that I had lapsed into “woo-wooness.” Neither of those things happened. What DID happen is this: I began getting comments that I appeared “different” than I was previously. I found myself less easily agitated by things that either didn’t matter or those over which I had little or no influence or control. My heart rate lowered by 15 beats a minute. I had always been physically fit. This became an effective compliment to that.

Today, when I mention to people that I meditate, their eyes don’t role. MOST people, however, respond with a litany of reasons why they don’t or can’t develop their own practice. My replies to those reasons are below:

I. I don’t have time to meditate.

How much time every week do you spend on Instagram or Facebook? Social media accomplished lots of great things. It has also impeded our ability to interpersonally relate, concentrate and focus. Take half of your social media time to cultivate a meditation practice.

II. It’s a “nice to do,” not a “need to do.” It’s just not a priority.

Is lowering your blood pressure a priority? Is boosting your immune system a priority? Is improving your focus a priority? Is fostering more compassion a priority? Meditation has been scientifically validated as a means to those ends.

III. It’s too hard. I could never clear my mind.

Becoming an effective meditator takes time and practice. It runs contrary to our current, emotional need for quick, effective answers to complex problems. If you can’t handle that, take drugs instead (LOL).

Meditation has nothing to do with clearing the mind. It helps to develop a more productive relationship with your thoughts. It assists you to examine what you previously thought was true, and to assign a label to your thoughts that is more appropriate. It helps you to avoid the “descending spiral” that starts with an idea and descends into frustration, anger, or depression. In short, it helps you treat your thoughts as thoughts and not as facts.

IV. There are too many distractions.

The kids are screaming; the dog is barking. I totally understand. Cultivating a meditation practice will help you observe when the mind begins to wander and catching yourself before it wanders too far. The practice of observing your mind’s activity, kind of like an “outside observer,” will nudge you back to the present moment.

V. I can’t sit still.

Your body is hard-wired to be able to be still. You sleep at night; there’s your evidence. Mindfulness meditation will help you sit still and be present when you are awake. If you need it to be perfect within a week, however, you’ll be out of luck. This process is like muscle-building for your conscious mind; it takes time.

VI. It’ll interfere with my religious/lack of religious beliefs.

Mindfulness comes from a Buddhist tradition, but it isn’t inherently about any religious tradition. Whether your beliefs include a religion or not won’t matter.

VII. There aren’t any classes or teachers convenient to where I live.

That may have been a valid point a decade or two ago, but it is no longer the case. There are teachers and programs available everywhere. Even the UMASS program that I took is now available online. The bigger issue today is finding a teacher who is qualified. If you have questions about that, either email me or call me at 301-801-9934.

So now you have no excuses!

“Leadership” is a Conversation

One of the things I was proudest of, as a senior corporate executive, was the degree to which people on every rung of every company for which I worked had personal access to me. That was never a burden because it was the source of my personal value proposition. If people needed to discuss a problem or issue, whether they reported directly to me or to someone four levels down (I hate the term “down,” but it describes reporting relationships in shorthand, so I’m using it here), they almost always felt comfortable using me as a resource. With accessibility comes responsibility, however.

Here’s a story from my former life as a corporate executive:

I had just been promoted. Previously, I had about 200 people reporting directly or indirectly to me. When I woke up on Monday morning, my new team numbered about 1200. I was livin’ large.

In every job I ever had, I made a point of scheduling about 5 total hours a week of one-on-one time with people in my organization(s) who didn’t report directly to me. I did that for a variety of reasons:

• To influence people’s thinking, particularly around bigger strategic issues. People need to understand how what they do fits into the whole and why that matters.

• To set a tone and an implicit expectation for people reporting directly to me: You need to know your people – their hopes, their fears, their motivations, their triggers.

• To enable me to peer into people’s brains and get a sense of the quality of their thinking.

• To establish rapport and trust.

With that level of openness and engagement, however, comes a high level of responsibility.

At the three-month mark of my then short tenure, I had already had initial one-on-one discussions with about 150 people. Those meetings generally began rather formally. Each person came to my office with a note pad as if he was eagerly anticipating sage words that had to be recorded. I went out of my way to begin these sessions by inquiring about each person’s life story to break the ice. It’s amazing how quickly barriers came down.

My discussion with one young lady remains a vivid memory to this day. She entered my office red-faced and shaking, which telegraphed her nervousness. Sharing her life story was not at the top of her agenda. I mentioned that she looked concerned or worried, and I got up and fetched a bottle of water for her. Almost immediately, tears started welling up in her eyes.

She launched. Using every example she could think of, she spent about 45 minutes citing the ways in which her boss was a jerk. She included vivid examples; it was overwhelming.

At the conclusion of her diatribe, I said the following: “So, you obviously have a problem, and if I allow you to leave now, we’ll both have your problem.”

She looked perplexed, and I continued: “You see, if you leave my office right now, you’re going to believe that because you shared this problem with me, I’m going to solve it for you. You’ll expect that I’m actually going to do something to make your problem go away. Now’s the time for you to tell me exactly WHAT you’d like me to do about your problem.”

I went to my credenza and got a box of Kleenex for her. The welling in her eyes had become tears on her cheeks.

“Well, I don’t know,” she said.

I stood up, walked over to the white board on my office wall and documented a list of alternatives that included:
• firing her boss;

• discussing the issue with her boss;

• etc.

She didn’t like any of my ideas. Great, because I had no intention of actually DOING any of the things on the list.

“So, here we are,” I continued. “I fear that you’ve inferred that I made a commitment because I listened to your complaint, and I’m the guy in charge. Yet, when I tried to outline some specific, alternative actions, you won’t empower me to act on your behalf. So, we’re left with two alternatives: Either you’re just whining, which I know you wouldn’t do because we’ve talked in the past as a group about the uselessness of whining, or YOU intend to do something about this, and you came to me for support. I’m assuming that the latter is the case, and that you intend to take the reigns of this yourself and solve your own problem. Is that right?”

She replied timidly, “Well, yes.”

“Great! So here’s what I’m going to do to support your bravery. Every Monday morning, I’m going to call you to see if you’ve actually had a discussion with Frank (not his real name). This problem is between the two of you, and you need to solve it. I’m going to be pretty relentless, so be forewarned: Hearing from me weekly will be a lot more of a pain to you than actually having the discussion you need to have with your boss. OK, I think we’re done here.”

She shook my hand and left my office. I was certain that she was thinking: “Yeah, right, he’s going to call me every week!”

I did. For five Mondays in a row, I called her to remind her of her commitment. Each time, she said she’d do something; each time she didn’t, until week six.

I got a call from her. She sounded excited and asked if she could come to my office and discuss the matter. I said, “fine,” and she arrived a few minutes later with a HUGE, smug smile on her face. “Well, Frank and I had the discussion,” she said.

“Great! What happened?”

“Well, he was completely clueless. He had NO idea I had a problem with him. Anyway, it was an emotional exchange; I could’ve done better, but we agreed to get together again after I collect and compose myself.”

I helped her brainstorm an approach. To this day, I have no idea if she used it. Her relationship with Frank improved to the point of it being productive, but never wonderful.

Word of this conversation spread throughout the company. Presumably, this young woman told one person; that person shared it with someone else, etc. The reputation that I developed as a leader because of this incident carried me through many tough times. As a result, people gave me the benefit of the doubt when even I wasn’t always sure they should.

Some critical lessons for you as a leader:

• People will find out about your interactions, even the private ones. Make them count!

• In an effort to appear to be in charge, many leaders solve problems for people instead of helping people to solve their own. Being the big kahuna does not mean being the causer of all action and the decider of all decisions. Your job is to enable people to function at a high level, independently and interdependently, but not dependently.

• Many leaders react to the last interaction they’ve had. Someone complains; they must do something. Don’t be one of those. You’ll create organizational schizophrenia.

• You MUST plan your conversations. Casual conversations can become casualties. The words you choose, your body language, your tone will all be interpreted by people whose worldviews, perspectives, beliefs and experiences are different than yours. You must test for common understanding; you must make sure that what you’re saying is what other people are actually hearing. I recently heard a CEO deliver a presentation to an “all-employee” meeting. At one juncture, to make a valid point, he said, “We’re not here to make friends.” His intention was to convey the notion that everyone needed to focus on the tasks at hand in order for the business to be successful. What people heard was, business and friendship are mutually exclusive (or maybe even contradictory) – bad news for his credibility.

When planning the nature and level of your own engagement with people, ask yourself the following questions:

• What do I want the other person/people to get out of this?

• What outcome will serve my needs as well?

• What outcome will preserve/advance the quality of my relationship with this person/these people?

• What result will better enable this person/these people to make an enthusiastic and relevant contribution to our company?

Notice that I did NOT list as one of the questions: What outcome will demonstrate clearly that I’m in charge?

No Blame; No Victimhood; No Kidding

Note From Rand

If you’ve read my columns before, you know that I invoke sports analogies and metaphors. To my mind, the only thing better than competition is MORE competition. I’m also a fan of certain coaches. Pete Carroll is a favorite; Joe Maddon likewise; perhaps my ultimate coach-crush is Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. To see why, click here. The Warriors begin their quest for a second NBA championship in three years this week, against the current champion Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m not a huge NBA fan, but I AM a fan of Kerr’s and the brand of hoops his team plays, so I’m watching.

This month’s column concerns one of my favorite subjects: Victimhood. I recently read a LinkedIn post that said this: America’s problems could be solved with two words: Personal responsibility. I totally believe that. We’ve arrived at the point at which many people believe that success is a result of luck. Ergo, those who have it didn’t earn it, so they deserve scorn, ridicule, blame, and punishment.

I believe that entrepreneurs are the heroes of capitalism and that risk taking, in general, has provided our most significant economic propulsion. Strangling risk takers in an effort by bureaucrats to control them is, among other deplorable attributes, a pathetic exercise in jealousy.

I’m not angry – really.

I’ll see you in July. Until then and as always: Get real, get tough and get going!

No Blame; No Victimhood; No Kidding

Whenever I discuss my perspective on this subject with others, it stimulates “but what about” questions. “But what about the holocaust?” “But what about Cambodia in the 70s?” You get the idea.

My retort to those people is always the same; their reaction to my retort is always the same; the ensuing discussion is always the same. An abbreviated version goes something like this:

Them: “So Rand. You take a dim view of victim-hood. Aren’t there extreme examples in which people are really victimized?”

Me: “Look. Of course the recipients of torture and genocide are victimized. On a less destructive level, every person gets taken advantage of at one time or another. There is a huge difference, however, in being the recipient of treatment intended to victimize, on the one hand, and regarding one’s self as a victim, on the other.”

Them: “I don’t get it.”

Me: “Some people … MANY people marinate in a cauldron of psychic dysfunction. They whine about the way the world is. They complain about how ‘put-upon’ they are, by others. They continuously, boringly and irritatingly place the blame for their circumstances on everyone but themselves, and at some level, they like it! Here’s what they say: ‘I can’t get promoted because my boss is a jerk; my parents didn’t love me, so naturally I have no self-esteem; if that bartender hadn’t served me that tenth drink, I wouldn’t have hit that school bus; if the burger joint would only cut out the trans fats, I wouldn’t weigh 400 pounds; my business wouldn’t have gone bankrupt if it hadn’t been for (fill in the blank with one of these or choose your own similar answer: regulation, competition, legislation, prices, Bangaloor, third-world slave-shops, recessions, expansions, sinus headaches, male pattern baldness, the full moon).'”

While there may be an element of truth in some of those assertions, these people lay (and re-lay and re-lay) the foundation for living as victims. Here’s what happens: First, by defining themselves as victims, they automatically imply that someone or something else has imprisoned them. So, it only follows that they cannot escape from that prison; they must wait until they are freed by that someone or something else.

What an elegant scam!!! They can stay stuck where they are forever without taking action because in their minds, action would be fruitless. Then they can complain forever as their (so-called) victimizers do nothing to relieve their misery.

Second, they imply that their plight makes them unique. My response to that: “C’mon! Every human being has to deal with ‘stuff.’ It’s not your ‘stuff’ that determines your success. Everybody has ‘stuff.’ It’s what you do about it that determines your success. Get over yourself!”

Third, many victims are on a recruiting mission. They want to geometrically increase the membership of their two clubs: The Loyal Order of Irritating, Recreational Whining Victims of America, and its sister organization The Submissive, Indulgent Enablers of the Loyal Order of Irritating, Recreational Whining Victims of America. The former group retains the services of a slew of personal injury lawyers, ready to extract large sums of money from those they believe are to blame for their malaise – everyone but them. Members of the latter group (which is the farm team for the first group) listen and bob their heads in agreement as the whiney victims do their whiney thing. Both clubs meet at water coolers and in rest rooms of America’s leading companies and institutions.

So, here’s the bottom line: Whiners and victims are psychic vampires. They will suck the life out of any room they enter and suck the energy out of the people in it! Stay as far away as possible from these people. Instead, seek out members of the “I am Responsible and Accountable for Everything in My Life Association.”

Their motto: “No excuses, ever!”

I am not implying that we can all control all of the outcomes in our lives. I do believe the following without equivocation:
• Most people can influence their outcomes to a far greater degree than they do.

• Personal accountability stimulates better planning and execution in business and in all the other arenas of life. It also stimulates reflection in the aftermath of life’s events that leads to the development of wisdom – a prerequisite for learning from experience as well as the RESULT of learning from experience.

• Blame, excuses and victim-hood are toxic and diversionary.

Remember this: What you think about, believe about, feel about and act about, comes about! I call it (in baseball parlance) the “four-bagger.” It’s true in all aspects of life. If you dwell on the inherent unfairness of the universe and how you have gotten a bad deal, get a check-up from the neck-up! The reason: You cannot be or become successful and fulfilled if you blame anyone or anything for your circumstances – ever!

Own your life – totally!

Are You Persistent and Audacious? Jerry Weintraub’s Story

Note From Rand

Happy May! Spring seems to have whipped by. In a few weeks, we’ll be in meteorological summer and complaining about the heat and (in our case here) the humidity. I spend a lot of time away from my home in the D.C. suburbs and at my home on the Chesapeake Bay in the summer – crab cakes and kayaking anyone? I can’t wait.

This month’s column is about one of the world’s great showmen – Jerry Weintraub. His approach to life can serve as an inspiration and admonition: Your time here on earth is limited; what are you waiting for?

I’ll see you in June. Until then and as always: Get real, get tough and get going!

Are you Persistent and Audacious? Jerry Weintraub’s Story

Until his death a couple of years ago, Jerry Weintraub was a legend (in his own time) in the entertainment business. The consummate showman, he promoted concerts (including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, etc.) and produced movies (including Nashville, Diner, Ocean’s 11, 12, 13, The Karate Kid).

From Rich Cohen in Vanity Fair at the time of Weintraub’s death:

“He came out of New York in the early 60s with nothing but his wit and charm and wild desire to experience all life has to offer. He ended up with the fame and wealth and property and the rest of it, but mostly the man had friends. He knew everyone. He was everyone’s key guy. He was the guy behind the guy. He was the guy behind the guy behind the guy. And the guy behind that.

Credit: The New York Times from Google Images

“The news of his death, at whatever age Jerry was claiming at the time – like his favorite kind of weather, it was usually somewhere in the high 70s to low 80s – comes as a great shock and a sick joke. There will never be another like him. It took the perfect parents in the perfect neighborhood at the perfect moment to create Jerry Weintraub. If you accompanied him on a verbal jag, you never forgot the voice. Yes, there were the flashing eyes and the broad shoulders and the big hands and the huge laugh and the oddly patrician grin, but mostly there was the voice. Funny, wise, sardonic, and warm, it got in your head and stayed there. Even now, when I’m about to cop out or give up or give in, I hear it: “Don’t be a schmuck. Keep going. It’s gonna be great.”

As is the case with most successful people, his backstory wasn’t all glamour and riches. He was a grinder, initially toiling in New York City with two partners and booking mostly second-tier entertainers into small venues. Eventually those two partners moved to Los Angeles and opened a west coast office. Weintraub followed them some time later. Fast forward.

Elvis Presley had spent the 1960s largely out of the public eye. He made records and films, but for eight years he made no concert appearances – NONE! Jerry had the bold idea to take Elvis on tour. He knew no one connected to Elvis but somehow managed to acquire the phone number of Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s legendary manager.

He called the Colonel and explained what he wanted to do. Parker listened and politely said “no thank you!” For the next YEAR, Weintraub called Colonel Parker EVERY DAY. Somehow he believed that eventually the Colonel would give in.

One day Jerry’s phone rang, and it was Parker. “You still want to take my boy on tour?” he asked. After getting off of the floor, Weintraub answered “of course.” Then Colonel Parker proceeded to tell Jerry that if he wanted to do it, he should show up in Las Vegas with a million dollars (when a million dollars was a ton of money) at a specific time – sort of a down payment. Jerry agreed but there was one big problem: He didn’t have a million dollars, and he knew no one who would give him the million, let alone within the tight time frame the Colonel demanded.

He got on the phone and called everyone he knew. No luck. Finally a friend in New York mentioned that he knew a guy in Seattle with a lot of money who also happened to be an Elvis fan. Jerry called him and after proposing the idea, the guy agreed to send him a million dollars. No contract; no guarantees; totally unsecured.

Weintraub asked the guy to wire a cashier’s check to a bank in Las Vegas made out to Elvis Presley but to his (Weintraub’s) attention. Jerry then drove to Las Vegas and on the prescribed day and time, he checked to see if the money had arrived; it had not. He then called Colonel Parker and asked for a bit more time. The Colonel agreed. The money arrived a short time later.

He delivered the check to the Colonel. They agreed to a 50/50 split on tour proceeds.

At the conclusion of the wildly successful tour, the Colonel and Jerry met in Parker’s hotel room to have a toast and debrief. Weintraub saw several suitcases and assumed they contained clothing. One at a time Parker emptied each on a large table. They contained cash. Lots of cash. Millions of dollars.

Weintraub inquired as to where the money came from. The Colonel said that this was the proceeds from the sale of tee shirts, key chains, programs, and other memorabilia.

Jerry had never seen that much cash and as he stared, the Colonel swung his cane over his head like an axe and swung it down through the money, dividing it in half with a theatrical gesture. He pushed one pile of money to one side, and the other pile to the other side. He then said that the money on one side was Jerry’s, and the money on the other side was his and Elvis’s.

He looked at Weintraub and said: “I know we didn’t discuss this, but we’re partners, and you should get half of everything.” That half was several million dollars.

At the beginning of the tour, Jerry was not a wealthy man. At the end, he was a multi-millionaire. His success fueled his confidence and ambition. He became one of the most successful impresarios in show business, managing talent, promoting concerts and producing movies. Quite a story, and quite a guy.

My questions for you: When was the last time you bet on yourself and took a big leap? Do you have a vision for your business and life that is big and bold, or are you content being just “OK?” Are you comfortable asking for help when you need it – financial or otherwise – or are you consumed by fear? Does the voice in your head (we all have one) speak to you in possibilities or limitations; with boisterous exuberance or timid whispers? Are you persistent, and do you persevere regardless of the obstacles in your way?

Align What You Do With Who You Are

Note From Rand

Welcome to Spring – longer days and warmer temperatures; rebirth and baseball. Many of you know that I spend lots of time on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. My favorite months there are April, May, and September. The crowds are “manageable” (whatever that means), it’s not humid, and the restaurants open their outdoor seating. I wouldn’t call it festive; I’d call it satisfying and serene, and I love it.

This month I have two articles: both relate to getting the most out of one’s self in a work environment. I’ve worked for, with, and among a lot of people who are wealthy (or at least “well-to-do”) but unhappy and/or unfulfilled. I’ve documented some of what I’ve learned, and how I use that information. I hope you enjoy it; I KNOW you’ll find it instructive.

I’ll see you in May. Until then and as always: Get real, get tough and get going!

Align What You Do With Who You Are

Janice was the CEO and founder of a mid-sized company. Over a ten-year period, she created and built a commercial real estate leasing firm with about $50 million in annual revenue. The company had offices in a dozen states and was privately held by Janice and three partners.

Measured financially, Janice was very successful. Her net worth approached $25 million. Now 45, she chose to devote her life to building her enterprise. She engaged me to lead a strategic planning effort for her and her partners.

Although I didn’t see Janice every day, the times I did she appeared to be distant, distracted or disinterested to a degree that I found troubling. I scheduled some “off-line” time alone with her to share my concern and to gently probe for the reason for her malaise, hoping I might be able to help.

During our ensuing discussion, she began to tear up, then looked at me and confessed, “I’m not happy, and I don’t know why. I built a great company. We employ lots of hard-working people who love what they do. I have all the material things I want, but somehow, for me, the whole is less than the sum of the parts.”

Janice asked me whether I would help her figure out the source of her distress while continuing to work with her team. I agreed.

After reading the few details I’ve shared, you might be tempted to call this a temporary mid-life crisis and recommend that I urge Janice to “tough it out.” In my experience, however, when this kind of problem surfaces, a person ought to spend time with professional help, figuring out what’s going on.

After deciding together that coaching and not therapy was the right approach, we spent the next few months wading through the problem and “game-planning.” We discovered that although she excelled at what she did, Janice no longer felt a passion for her work.

Again, you might be tempted to read this and say critically or dismissively, “Poor Janice. She’s rich, has a great lifestyle and can do anything she wants. I feel really sorry for her.” If you believe Abraham Maslow, however, self-actualized people “must be what they can be.” He spoke of needs, not wants. He spoke of being, not having.

Unsatisfied needs are the single most prevalent cause of personal dissatisfaction. Needs are prerequisite conditions for personal fulfillment. Most of us don’t sufficiently build conditions of fulfillment in our lives; we fill our tanks with wants (i.e. “stuff”). There’s nothing wrong with wants, but they will only increase happiness if our needs are fulfilled first. If you remember nothing else, remember that!

Back to Janice: After some assessment work and discussion, we found that the things she loved doing were the things she did when she started the company. She was a creator, a builder and an innovator. She was not a manager or an organizer. Starting an entrepreneurial enterprise and running a mature company require distinct and vastly different skill sets. Although Janice had become adept at managing, she hated it.

Over the course of the next several months, my work with the leadership team grew tentacles. We discovered that all of the four partners were exasperated with their roles, because while their individual assignments played to many of their strengths, they didn’t align well with their passions. After re-crafting roles, these leaders became visibly reinvigorated; so did their enterprise.

My recommendation to you: Take the time to figure out what you really love doing. Most of us believe that, especially in mid-life, it’s at best a flight of fancy and at worst an irresponsible distraction. Here are a few questions to get started: If you are a business owner, what are the roles you fill and things you do that drive you bananas? Who else in your organization could do those things better and with less anxiety? How much stress do you endure because your pride requires you to be the center of your organizational universe? If you are an executive in a larger organization, do the methods employed to place people and design jobs consider the fact that passion creates energy and apathy creates lethargy?

Today’s environment of hyper-competition requires that we all leverage our people assets as never before. By aligning personal passion with personal strengths and organizational priorities, you’ll create incredible energy.

Additional Thoughts

See if the following scenario sounds familiar: Dave is a marketing specialist. He’s just been assigned to lead a product development team in your organization. Dave has never in his life led a product development team or any team, for that matter. He’s a really bright fellow and hasn’t been demure about accepting new challenges; so you figure that with a bit of training and help, he’ll do just fine.

Your training and development specialist came upon a brochure for a course offered by AMA entitled “How to Lead Teams.” A brief review of the course outline leads you to believe that this is just the ticket for Dave. You send him the brochure. After the four-day workshop, he returns to your organization full of new knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm. You have high expectations that Dave will be supremely successful in his new role.

Dave fails! What might have happened?

Let’s start by differentiating among the words knowledge, skills, performance and success.

• Knowledge is about knowing what to do. It can be acquired by reading a book or attending a workshop. New knowledge dissipates over time if it isn’t used.

• Skills are about knowing how to do something. Developing skills requires practice, repetition and feedback. Like knowledge, skills degrade over time.

• Performance is measured by the achievement of planned results. Without defining acceptable results, performance cannot be managed.

• Success is a unique concept. From an organizational point of view, I suppose one could say that performance and success are synonymous. From an individual’s point of view, however, that’s not the case because personal success requires personal fulfillment, and each person defines that differently. Many people never stop and think about it or define it. As was the case with Janice in our lead article, they float along ricocheting from one experience to another with a case of the blahs, never inquiring why.

In Dave’s case, the workshop probably imparted new knowledge, but knowledge isn’t enough. For his new knowledge to be relevant to his company, Dave needed new skills. Skills develop with practice, application and feedback. Once he returned from his workshop, Dave never got the support required to translate his new knowledge into new skills.

Organizational and individual success are inextricably linked. For organizations to achieve and to sustain success, knowledge and skill development, performance management and the priority of each person’s fulfillment must be aligned. We can help you achieve your organization’s potential with a process we call Success Alignment. Give us a call.

Meet Ray Dalio

Note From Rand

As I write this, it’s 75 degrees in Maryland on February 24th. I’m looking out at the intersection of the Miles River and the Chesapeake Bay. Usually the cove outside my window has patches of ice in the winter, but not this year. Despite how unusual this feels, I’m enjoying being able to go outside in my tee shirt and jeans (my favorite attire) to stare at the natural beauty and to reflect on my gratitude.

This month’s column focuses on Ray Dalio and the corporate culture he created at Bridgewater Associates – the world’s most successful hedge fund. Their uniqueness informs their performance in a significant way. They’re a lesson in the power inherent in “walking the talk.”

I’ll see you in April. Until then and as always: Get real, get tough and get going!

Meet Ray Dalio

I’ve written previously about the importance of objectivity and the many ways in which our minds make objective thinking, acting, and deciding almost impossible. I’ll not belabor that point here. Suffice it to say that we all operate with personal hard drives that are full of biases and judgments.

We regard our own thoughts as facts, so it follows that we regard people whose thinking refutes our own as wrong.

When extrapolated to families, companies or other social systems, everyone believing that they’re right undermines productivity, success, and happiness. Books like Nudge, Freakanomics, and Predictably Irrational describe the ways in which our minds compromise so-called rational decision-making. What follows relates to organizational effectiveness, which is my personal interest.

Ray Dalio is the founder and CEO of Bridgewater Associates, which is the largest and most successful hedge-fund in the world. They manage about $122 billion in investments for pension funds, endowments, foundations, foreign governments, and central banks. They employ about 1200 people and operate out of offices in Westport, Connecticut. By any measure, they are wildly successful. Here’s why that’s important in my context:

After founding Bridgewater in 1975 in an office in his New York apartment, Dalio became increasingly concerned that his own perspective was insufficient to make good investment decisions. In order to out-perform the market over time, he believed he needed to hire REALLY smart people and to create mechanisms to stimulate candor and reflection about EVERYTHING. Fast forward to today.

Bridgewater’s culture has been described as “weird” by some and “cult-like” by others. The truth is that their culture is unique rather than weird, and focused and steadfast rather than cult-like. Per John Cassidy for the New Yorker: “The word ‘cult’ clearly has connotations that don’t apply to an enterprise staffed by highly paid individuals who can quit at any moment.” He continues that Bridgewater is headed by a “strong-willed leader” and that employees use a “unique vocabulary.”

In this case, Ray Dalio decided that if he was to establish meaningful “norms” for how Bridgewater would operate, he himself would have to adhere to those norms. Otherwise, they would be regarded as irrelevant or hypocritical, as they are in most companies.

Dalio developed the belief over time that he wanted to create and to lead a company that strived for “meaningful work and meaningful relationships based upon radical truth and radical transparency.”

Some of the beliefs that guide the people at Bridgewater:

• The people at Bridgewater strive for truth. They do that by creating mechanisms and systems that demand rational decision-making. The right answer is always paramount. That answer requires aggressive disagreement and debate. It insists that ego or job titles are not factors in arriving at the right answer. Approaches to problem-solving, which are institutional, formally documented and rigorously applied, can create confrontation. In Dalio’s view, confrontation supported by respectful and non-personal challenge is the best way to implement an open environment that has billions at stake.

• They maintain very high standards. These are people handling lots of money, making lots of money, and making high-level decisions (their corporate parking area has a lot of Bentleys). That requires superior intellect, insightful reasoning and the ability to operate in an environment in which EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY is challenged. Standards are never lowered to accommodate mediocrity or fragile egos.

• They exploit people’s differences. They understand that everyone has different strengths. Assignments and jobs reflect their recognition of that.

• They maintain excruciatingly high performance standards and NEVER lower the bar.

• People at Bridgewater “own” their personal contribution. Total ownership means that people are not obsessed with “looking good;” they are obsessed with “doing good.” The goal is always to find the best answer; it’s NEVER to find the easy answer or the best one that is readily available.

• Rigorous analysis is complimented by rigorous synthesis. If analysis means breaking a problem down into its component parts and understanding those parts, then synthesis means “connecting the dots” … seeing patterns … understanding the white spaces between the dots … having a systemic world-view.

There are no private meetings at Bridgewater. Except for sessions that discuss proprietary investor information, every meeting is recorded. Those video recordings are available to EVERYONE. That includes, for example, meetings at which people’s performance and development are discussed. NOTHING is off limits. That’s “radical transparency.”

The idea of a company operating this way sounds great in the abstract. Most people espouse the desire to work in this kind of environment. In practice, however, Bridgewater’s relentless dedication to their culture makes it very hard for lots of very bright, high-achieving people to fit in. Leaving one’s ego at the door sounds terrific until one has to do it.

I have worked with many companies who espouse the importance of culture. One CEO even asked me to “install” a new culture in his company, as if doing so was as easy as changing the oil in a car.

Every organization has a culture; some of those are by default. Most of the time the “espoused culture” (what the CEO SAYS it is) bears little resemblance to the “daily culture” (what is going on, in practice). At Bridgewater, the walk and the talk are the same. Where do you and your organization stand relative to culture? Does the walk resemble the talk, or is the culture prescribed by senior leaders but not practiced by them? What mechanisms are in place in your company to make sure that the elements of culture are precisely defined and relentlessly practiced?

To find out more about Ray Dalio and his philosophies, Google “Principles by Ray Dalio” and take the time to read it and to reflect.

Trust is Not Obedience

Note From Rand

In September, I picked the Steelers and Seahawks to meet in the Super Bowl. In the past, my picks have been very successful. This year – not so much. Even so, I’m looking forward to watching the game on Sunday. I’m a New Englander, originally, but not a Patriots fan. That said, I revere excellence. The Kraft – Belichick – Brady combination has yielded unparalleled competitive success for the last 17 years. I’m rooting for them to do it again.

I’ve written about the importance of “trust” in the past. In both business and personal relationships, it’s the cornerstone of success. It’s one of those words that gets used a lot; however, its complexity is deeply misunderstood. I think my column sheds some bright light on what it is and why it’s important.

I’ll see you in March. Until then and as always: Get real, get tough and get going.

Trust is Not Obedience

A couple of decades ago before becoming a CEO, I worked for a Fortune 200 company as Chief Marketing and Sales Officer. An organization that had just been spun off from an even larger organization, it had a reputation for being stodgy, bureaucratic and inwardly focused. I am none of those things. Give me rule, and I’ll find a way to break it. But I digress.

The guy that I reported to at this company (I’ll call him John) in turn reported to the CEO. He was an egomaniac while also being REALLY insecure. This manifested itself in a variety of ways, but the following example typifies the way he tried to control those who reported to him.

John required us (his direct reports) to provided his assistant access to our electronic calendars. She could then view each calendar and provide it to him. He would regularly dive into our calendars and routinely question the wisdom of our time management. Keep in mind that we were all Senior Vice Presidents of a Fortune 200 company. Bad enough to be treated like children in this way, but it’s small potatoes compared to what comes next.

John was fond of scheduling meetings that never happened. For example, he would decide on a Friday afternoon that he wanted to have a staff meeting on Monday morning. Without notice, his assistant would delve into our calendars and erase anything we had already scheduled that conflicted with said staff meeting. If we didn’t maintain a hard copy of our schedules, we could and would be caught totally off guard. Here’s the kicker: We’d show up in his office at the scheduled time, and he was NEVER THERE. A couple of times, he showed up an hour late. Most of the time, he just didn’t show up. This was John’s childish attempt to demonstrate control. Implicit in this charade was his declaration that he was “the man,” and he ran the show.

When I resigned after about a year of this insulting and rude behavior, John asked me why I was leaving. I responded that I simply didn’t trust him. He didn’t respond; he returned to his work as if I wasn’t there in his office. After about five minutes, I got up and left, never to hear from him again. From that point until my physical departure, he communicated with me through a third party. When my peers asked me why I was leaving, I repeated what I told John. They were astonished by the fact that because I didn’t trust him, I decided to leave. It seemed inconsequential to them.

Trust is Not Obedience


Trust is the foundation of all relationships. Without it, any organization (or family) is screwed.

When working with clients, I describe trust as having two broad meanings with many implications:

Trust is “confidence in competence.” This is frequently an overlooked definition of the word. Whether you are a boss, a team member, or just working among peers, the level of confidence you have in the competence of others (and they in you) determines levels of authority, autonomy, and responsibility that are delegated, as well as accountability, for results.

Trust is the “assumption of intent.” When you trust another person, you assume that he/she has positive intent. When you don’t trust that person, you assume that person’s negative intent. In this context, trust has a complex “anatomy” that includes the following:

Boundaries: I trust that you are clear about your boundaries and can hold them, and that you are clear about my boundaries and respect them.

Reliability: I can only trust you if you do what you say you are going to do – over and over and over again.

• Accountability: I can only trust you if, when you make a mistake, you are willing to own it, to apologize for it, and to make amends. I can only trust you if, when I make a mistake, I am allowed to own it, to apologize for it, and to make amends.

• Vault: What I share with you, you hold in confidence; what you share with me; I hold in confidence; we do not share anything that is not ours to share (gossip). In our relationship, I see you acknowledge confidentiality; we do not create false intimacy by having a common enemy.

• Integrity: I cannot trust you and be in a trusting relationship with you if you do not act from a place of integrity and encourage me to do the same (choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; practicing rather than just professing your values).

• Non-judgment: I can fall apart, ask for help, and struggle without being judged by you; you can fall apart, ask for help and struggle without being judged by me; trust = help that is non-judgmental and reciprocal.

Some questions to regularly ask yourself – this is an informal “trust self audit.”

• To what degree is organizational trust driving our success or impeding our progress?

• What got in the way of my doing my job today? Was trust involved?

• How much time did I/we spend covering my/our a#*es today? What were the “trust implications” of that?

• Did my interactions today signal to any person or group that I didn’t trust him/her/them?

• Did any interactions with me, today, by any individual or group signal his/her/their distrust of me?

• What got me upset/annoyed/irritated today? Was trust involved?

• What specific things can I and my work group do to improve the overall level of trust in our organization?

Next month, I’ll be writing about Bridgewater Associates, which is a company at which trust prevails. They exemplify the notion that trust is neither easily earned nor the equivalent of lapsing into terminal niceness. It has to start at the top and be supported by mechanisms that give it teeth.

Do You Have the Necessary Discipline?

Note From Rand

Happy New Year! Probably more than on my birthdays, I rely on January 1 to mark the passage of time. In my twenties at the company I was with at the time, I was referred to as “the Golden Boy.” I didn’t discourage people from referring to me that way. Today those same people might refer to me as “the gray old man.” I’m not gray, but I have the years and the dents in my fenders. Ugh!

This month’s column discusses “discipline.” My example is probably the greatest professional quarterback of all time – Tom Brady. I think you’ll find his example to be instructive and exemplary.

I’ll see you in February after I return from my annual two week pilgrimage to Aruba. Until then and as always: Get real, get tough, and get going.

Do You Have the Necessary Discipline?

I believe 100% in the importance of “mindset” in successfully accomplishing goals. If you believe in your heart of hearts that you either don’t deserve success or lack confidence, you simply will not. All of your efforts will be in vain because you are programmed to fail.

How can you tell if your mindset is productive or not? Listen … REALLY LISTEN … to your internal conversation. If you blame others, create excuses or talk about yourself, TO YOURSELF, in a negative way, success will be elusive. If you have time, click on this link and watch this video (High Performance Mindset). In it Michael Gervais, the performance psychologist for the Seattle Seahawks, discusses the importance of this concept. Coach Pete Carroll chimes in as well.

Do You Have the Necessary Discipline?

My objective here is to discuss what you need to do once your belief in yourself is unshakable. My friend John Assaraf calls it the Law of GOYA (Get Off Your Ass). I just call it “discipline.” My definition of that word: “Doing WHAT needs to be done … WHEN it needs to be done … THE WAY it needs to be done … EVERY TIME!

Start here: Decide what you want to do, what you want to have, and who you want to be and find someone who already has those things. Go to great lengths to meet that person. Copy what they do. Sounds simple; it is! Simple … but not easy! Without discipline … as the saying goes … the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Here’s an example from the best at what he does:

Do You Have the Necessary Discipline?Tom Brady is arguably the best quarterback in the history of the National Football League. Success, as they say, speaks for itself. What you see on the football field, however, is the result of what he does OFF of the field.

• Every morning Tom speaks to his neuropsychologist. He believes that his mind, his body, and his spirit have to be aligned in order to be his best.

• Tom’s business partner, and Godfather to one of his children, is Alex Guerrero. Although officially he is Tom’s “body coach,” he is arguably the most important person in his life, save his supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen, and his head coach, Bill Belichik. His teammates refer to Guerrero as Mr. Miyagi (the character in The Karate Kid). He is largely responsible for Brady playing at an MVP level in his late 30s and for Brady’s aspiration to play until his late 40s or even 50.

• Brady’s schedule is planned three years in advance. Every day of it is micro-managed. Treatment, food, workouts, rest, recreation. Per Guerrero: “The whole idea is to program his body to do what we want it to do. We don’t let the body dictate. WE dictate.”

• Here’s a typical Brady vacation day in the off-season: Wake up; work out; have breakfast with Gisele and his children; hang at the beach; nap on schedule; surf; work out again.
He goes to bed early; eats well (more shortly) and avoids alcohol.

• Rather than lifting (metal) weights, Brady uses bands. If you think that one can’t get a grueling weight workout with bands, I use them as well. In my arsenal, my exercise bands give me up to 330 pounds of resistance. Guerrero wanted Brady to have more muscle pliability. He noticed that Brady’s muscles had become short and brittle using typical weight training.

• Brady’s diet is geared, among other things, to give him a balance of acid and alkaline. He consumes food accordingly: 80% alkaline and 20% acidic. Trust me; that isn’t easy. His diet is seasonal. In the summer, when it’s time for “hot property” foods, he’ll consume (for example) red meat. In the winter, he consumes mostly “cold property foods.” His diet then is mostly raw. The goal is to maintain balance and harmony through his metabolic system.

• Brady struggles with sleep patterns, so to unwind after games and practices, he does cognitive exercises to destimulate his brain. That allows him to get to sleep by 9 p.m. and wake up without an alarm.

• Brady completes a brain resilience program. After a thorough analysis, he had a program created to workout his brain the way he works out his body. It enables him to process information more quickly than would otherwise be the case. That, in turn, enables him to read defenses between plays and make adjustments on the fly. He believes that his edge is in his mental resiliency and quick processing capability.

I could continue with the long list of things he does to be his best. The point is this: If YOU want to be YOUR best, you have to do the work. Doing the work means both doing the right things, and doing those things right. Otherwise, what’s the point?!

Teach Them How to Deal With You

Note From Rand

I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving, and that you actually gave thanks. Feeling and expressing gratitude for the people and circumstances of my life has always been a challenge for me; I work on it daily. Someone once said to me: “If you want to be grateful for something Rand … check your pulse!”

My column this month cites a lesson that I learned at a company at which I served as a senior executive. It was humbling for me and will hopefully be instructive for you. I think you’ll enjoy it.

As we enter the holiday season, try to remember those who have fewer resources than you do. Develop the habit of giving your time as well as your money to organizations that lift people up. I have learned that because time is our only non-fungible resource, spending it on causes that matter to us is both a symbol of sacrifice and a source of great satisfaction. Giving money when you have a significant amount of it is less so!

Happy holidays! I’ll see you in January. As always: Get real, get tough, and get going!

Teach Them How to Deal With You

I had just joined a Fortune 200 company in an executive level job. In the past when joining a new company, I had always taken time and great pains to figure out the culture of the place. Then I moved deliberately but cautiously in integrating my approach to leadership, the culture of the organization, and the challenges that I faced. I saw no reason to change my approach in this instance.

The company had a reputation for being somewhat bureaucratic. As people who have worked with, for, and around me can attest, I do not have a bureaucratic bone in my body. If anything, my approach has always been this: There is no rule that shouldn’t be broken! The years (and getting my a** kicked) had mellowed me somewhat, so I knew that I was facing a challenge to “throttle back.”

My first few weeks in my new position were uneventful. I met with members of my team individually to get to know them. As had been the case in previous companies and jobs, I used these discussions to get an initial sense of people’s “context” – who each was and how each became that person. I also ventured to understand each person’s “triggers” – what conditions evoked his or her best. I’ve always found that doing this is really valuable as long as it isn’t employed as a “technique,” as in “they’ll really like me if they think I care about them.”

I also learned a lot about the company’s processes and procedures, including the informal ones. I found one to be particularly disturbing. Here’s the story:

Senior executives get invited to a lot of meetings. If you are an executive at a medium size or large company, you relate to that. At this company, I got invitations to meetings very much like the following: “There will be a meeting next Wednesday, December 8th at 2pm to discuss the xyz project. Absent a declination, your attendance will be expected.”


I have an aversion to useless meetings. I have an aversion to people showing up unprepared for meetings. I have a bigger aversion to showing up for meetings unprepared, MYSELF. I don’t like the word “discuss” to describe what will be accomplished at a meeting. I prefer words like “decide,” “solve,” “plan,” and “inform.” The last sentence in the aforementioned meeting invitation is the killer, though: “Absent a declination, your attendance will be expected.”

I was receiving about twenty meeting invitations a week that were worded similarly to this one. Presumably, the person doing the inviting in each case not only expected a demurral if I wasn’t going to attend, he also expected that I would provide a reason for not attending and a replacement person to attend in my absence.

It’s little wonder that this company had a hard time making decisions and taking action.

My solution to the problem was to ignore these meeting invitations. I didn’t go; I didn’t send anyone in my place; I didn’t respond.

After doing this for about a month, I got a call from the CEO asking me to discuss the matter of my absences with him. I obviously obliged.

A man of impeccable manners, he had a way of listening intently to absorb what was being said. I shared the details with him that I shared here. When I finished, he said the following: “Rand … I get it. I don’t expect you to attend useless meetings. I don’t want people here to conduct and attend useless meetings, so you’re off the hook.” I stood to leave, and he added the following: “One more thing Rand: Some of these people have been doing this, this way, for a long time. We have a lot of bureaucracy to weed out here. How did you expect that they would know about the ‘Golletz Rules of Meeting Attendance’ without being told?”

I felt like I had been hit in the face with a 2×4. Of course people had no way of knowing my expectations. I had never told them!

The CEO continued: “Do me and the company a favor Rand. Use this as an opportunity to educate our people about the why, when, what and how of meetings. The next time you get a meeting invitation, which will probably be today, explain in a collaborative way your conditions for meeting attendance.”

I did just that. For the next couple of weeks when I got a meeting invitation, I responded with several questions. Among them:

• What was going to be accomplished?
• In order to accomplish that, was my attendance necessary or could a member of my staff attend?
• In either event, what preparation was necessary for the attendee to make a contribution?
• What will be the finish time of the meeting?

In about 50% of the cases, the person didn’t respond to my questions, and no one from my team attended the meeting. When I did receive a response, I (or the member of my team who would attend) was better prepared to contribute. An unanticipated bonus: I also got invited to fewer meetings.

The most important and long-lasting result of all of this was the lesson that I learned. We have to teach people how to deal with us. We have to inform them of our “conditions of satisfaction” in advance to enable them to productively interact with us. This lesson helped me be a better leader, a better mentor, and today, a better executive coach.

Acceptance is a Virtue

Note From Rand

Thanksgiving is in a few weeks. It’s a holiday whose message bears remembering and reminding. I, for one, have a tendency to feel entitled. I believe that hard, focused work will, or should, yield positive results, and the rewards that should follow EVERY TIME. The problem is that it’s hard to feel grateful if I believe that I DESERVE the thing I’ve worked hard for, which leads me to the subject of this month’s column on acceptance. I think – at least I HOPE – you’ll find my message thought provoking and instructive.

Enjoy turkey day and as always: Get real; get tough; get going!

Acceptance is a Virtue

Reinhold Niebuhr
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Rand Golletz
God grant me the serenity
to accept the people that I cannot change;
the courage to change the one that I can
and the wisdom to know that it’s me.

Frank worked for a large financial services company that had been a client for several years. He called me to inquire if we could chat about the possibility of my becoming his executive coach. I scheduled an appointment to meet him in his office several days later.

At the appointed time, his executive assistant walked me into his office and introduced us. He was a C-level executive and reported to the Chairman and CEO. His office, on the top floor of this old and stately colonial building, was furnished in dark wood and leather – very Ralph Lauren-esque. As we sat down to chat, I noticed how stressed and forlorn Frank looked. I knew that he was in his early forties, but he looked much older. His hair was grey, and his face could’ve benefited from a large tub of spackle.

After about ten minutes of niceties, I opened our discussion with an open-ended question, as I normally do: “So Frank … how can I help or support you?” He thought for a minute and then began a thirty minute diatribe that essentially said the following: “My boss is a jerk, and I am screwed. I will never be successful as long as I work for him.” Keep in mind that I’m dramatically abbreviating his comments, but that quote represents their sum and substance. When he finished, he stared at me and said no more as I closed my briefcase, stood up, and left.

I walked to the company cafeteria, got a cup of coffee (they served Illy – one of my favorites), and sat down to wait for the call that I knew was coming. About 30 minutes later, my cell phone rang and as I suspected, it was Frank. “Where’d you go?” he asked. “Are you not interested in my business? You left me hanging. I at least expected you to say SOMETHING!”

I asked if I could return to his office and share my perspective. He said “fine,” and I met him a few minutes later. If he looked forlorn earlier, he looked downright angry at this point.

“Here’s why I got up and left abruptly and without an explanation,” I said. “I figured that I needed to set up an appointment with your boss as quickly as possible.”

“Why?” Frank asked.

“Well … after listening to you complain for a half hour, I concluded that your situation was hopeless as long as you worked for him, and that you’d be wasting time and money if I was to become your coach. Further, if your boss needs help as desperately as you indicated, I determined that I should, in fact, be working with HIM!”

A more relevant and productive discussion ensued where we discussed how I might help Frank change the things about HIMSELF that would result in a better relationship with his boss and improved prospects for him. We set objectives, I got feedback, and we pursued an aggressive development agenda that accomplished his REAL goals.

Most of us would like the circumstances outside of ourselves to improve. Our bosses might be jerks; our spouses may lack empathy and compassion; the cost of living might be too high relative to our incomes. It is OK to WANT the world to be different than it is. It is NOT OK to REQUIRE the world to be different than it is. THAT takes acceptance.

“Acceptance” has been a personal challenge for most of my adult life. I once believed that it was tantamount to “throwing in the towel.” I wondered, “If I accept the things and people that I cannot change, doesn’t that imply that I’m a quitter?”

After lots of reflection, I learned the following about my inability to control the universe:

• “Acceptance” means “giving in to reality.” “Resignation” means “giving up on possibility.” Years ago, when I considered acceptance, I often mistook it for resignation. I now understand that when I accept the way things are right now, it means that I understand that current results and circumstances were created in the past. I cannot do a damn thing about that. What I CAN do is plan for the future and execute those plans while understanding that I do not absolutely control my outcomes. My life got better once I understood this distinction and allowed it to preempt my tendency to criticize.

• A lot of what happens in life is random. In physics, it’s called entropy. In lay person’s terms, that’s the natural tendency of systems to spin out of control. Our management systems and processes are all designed to minimize entropy. The truth is that while we can INFLUENCE outcomes, we can control NOTHING. From an organizational point of view, attempts to control entropy often result in turning innovative organizations into bureaucratic ones and creative, enthusiastic people into lemmings. I’m not arguing here for anarchy; I am promoting the notion that in managing our organizations, reason should trump delusion.

• Believing that we should be able to control events, people and outcomes leads to blame, rationalization, justification and victimhood when we can’t or don’t. Then we concoct preposterous excuses rather than accepting that even when we do our best, sometimes we fail, and that failure can (but doesn’t always) create wisdom.