Is Today the Day?

Time is interesting; we watch it, occasionally we waste it, grab it while it flies past us, and sometimes we even kill it.
The ancient Greeks had two words for time. The first, chronos, refers to chronological or sequential time. It's the term we're the most familiar with. This is how we measure time -by minutes, days, years and seasons - increments of our lives that pass in a linear fashion. We think of chronos times in terms of a ticking clock or days stroked off our calendars and most of us agree that there never seems to be enough of this variety of time.

Most change initiatives have time frames. When organizing a project we speak of start dates, time lines, schedules and the ever dreaded due date. We're well aware that time is finite, precious and that, if we don't stay on time, the project is doomed.

But there is another kind of time - kairos time. Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). It is a moment of indeterminate time in which something special happens. While chronos is quantitative, kairos is more qualitative in nature. Chronos is, as long as this earth continues to spin, predictable; and whether we welcome it's passing or not, it will pass.

Kairos is described as, 'a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved'. It is a special increment of time, when extraordinary things are possible. Chronos happens every day, Kairos is rare, a time that perfect storms are made of. A Kairos moment is that space in chronos time when we are more aware, open, seeking, willing a change to happen. A Kairos moment is when loose ends get knotted together, when there is a unique opportunity to grow and shift in your thinking and consequently your behaviour. These moments are life changing, littered with Ah-has, and are not to be missed.

The best time to change is when things are changing. If you're in the middle of a personal or professional transition - look around, listen for a pause in the ticking of your life and grab hold of that moment - breathe in a new idea. It's tempting to rush the days of our lives, stroking off events and encounters in an effort to get on with it. But if we take that approach in life or at work, we will miss the richness of those moments when possibility hangs in the air, when we are poised to grow, a mere breath away from a new beginning.

What have been the Kairos moments in your past? How about your future? Will you recognize them? Do you look for them? Strong leaders watch for them, for themselves and their teams; they know that once the moment is past, it won't come again.

Remember, you can change it, we can help!

I Am A Rock

I love sixty's music! Yup, turn up the Rock & roll for me! I was listening to Classic Rock on TV today and heard Simon and Garfunkel singing, 'I am a rock, I am an island'

That song takes me back to darker times in my youth, when I'd been hurt by someone or a situation, and I'd sit in my room and moan along with the music and think...

I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock, I am an island!

Oh yeah - I was given to drama in those days. I'm wiser now. I understand what John Donne meant in 1624 when he said that, "No man is an island, entire of itself." Now I know that we are all connected, and that the more we intentionally band together the better the outcome.

The most important things I've accomplished, in business and life, have been in collaboration with others. In the early parts of my business career I joined a master-mind group, and for four plus years we met monthly, a full day each time, to vet each other's ideas, give input on emerging programs and proposals and challenge egotistical thinking and faulty notions. Early on we committed to uncensored honesty and I routinely left those meetings a bit shocked at the feedback, but stretched and sharpened by my colleague's observations.

Early in my coaching career, I joined a small group of coaches whose purpose was to share in large coaching contracts while supporting each other's professional growth. We strategized client relationships, brought in professionals to train us, shared leads and helped build each other's credibility and reach. This experience taught me how to bow to the wisdom of a colleague who was more experienced, and sometimes, simply more passionate than I, on a particular subject or issue.

Throughout the creative process of building programs and products, I've joined forces with designers, editors, artists and media types and I've thought of each of them as a partner, not a supplier. A fine distinction maybe, but an important one. Each partnership has brought me: (1) fresh ideas, (2) specific talent I lacked and, (3) the energy, and sometimes resources, I needed to keep me going when it was tough.

Joint ventures have their challenges; collaboration is not for the faint of heart. If you decide to throw your lot in with others you can expect a good deal of surprising information, opposing opinions, differing objectives, and those ever popular power struggles and personality conflicts. Collaborate anyway. It's the only real path away from naval-gazing and onto excellence. So, what would it take for you to join forces with two or more people in the pursuit of your goals? What stops you from reaching across the table at a networking event or meeting to say, 'Hey, let's work together.'

Remember - you can change it, we can help!

What Matters Now?

I'm sitting on the porch of my mother's home in Folsom California as I write this. My mother was eighty-six on her last birthday, and is slowly being swept into the sometimes present, sometimes gone experience that is dementia. For the past couple of years, my siblings and I have danced between her wishes to stay in her home and our need to know she's safe, and have this past month placed her in an assisted living facility. For those of you who have travelled this path, you know the dilemma and how, in the end, like it or not, a decision must be made. I'm here now to work with my brother and sister to ready her home for sale, a task we have each dreaded in our own way.
As we sort through her personal belongings, trying to decide the 'value' of items she has long forgotten, it brings to my mind Michael Josephson's writing called 'What will matter?' I send this out to you with the hope that you will stop, ponder, consider your life and ask yourself the question, 'what will endure - and how will your days be measured?'

I'm the product of conservative, working class parents who, when my father returned from WWII, began their family with all the enthusiasm of a generation that had just conquered the single most evil force the world had ever seen. My parent's frugal approach to all things material has left it's mark on me and, as I struggle to decide what to toss, sell or donate; my first inclination is to keep it all.What Matters Now?

Few of her belongings have value in a conventional sense, but they hold memories of earlier times when a younger woman, still visible in her face today, sacrificed to buy the items I now hold. What does 'valuable' really mean when considering eighty-six years of living? What will we choose to keep; which of her material possessions have worth beyond her life? We are fast realizing that the answer is...not many.

But, we are also realizing that there are many valuable 'things' she is leaving to us. Josephson says, that, 'what will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.' She has taught us many valuable lessons. She taught us what's right - and what's not. She has always been the kind of mother that makes you apologize when you hurt someone, clean up after yourself and keep your commitments. And, she taught me to believe in myself. No matter what messes I've gotten myself into in my life, she's always been sure that I will be 'just fine' in the end and her certainty in my ability to transcend my own stupidity has been priceless to me.

Perhaps a greater lesson still is her humility. She considers everyone better than herself, a belief that has been both her greatest struggle and her most enduring quality. She will defer to you out of respect and shine the spotlight on you instead of herself. She is a 'lady' in the traditional sense of the word; she wouldn't consider imposing, is always dressed for the occasion seldom has a bad word to say of anyone.

We continue to treasure her for many things, none of which are in boxes or sitting ready for an estate sale. In the end, it's her...just her 103 pound, spunky self that we will hold onto. She's slipping away a little more each day, but her legacy is as bright as ever.

What will your legacy be? When you leave the company, what will your employees and co-workers say about you? What will you have shared with them that is of lasting value? And, some day, when your children back up the truck and haul away your belongings, what part of you will remain in their hearts?

If professional or personal legacy is something you want to explore, call me.

Remember - you can change it, we can help!

September 2011

What will matter?
By Michael Josephson

Ready of not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no days, no hours or minutes.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will all expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Your gender, skin color, and ethnicity will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, and sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel the lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories of those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, but whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

Are you smarter than a 2 year old?

I'm the lucky Grandmother of three delightful granddaughters. Yeah...I started young, and it's paying off now!
Not being the traditional Grandmother of yester-year, who rocked on the porch with hoards of grandchildren at her feet, I only occasionally get the delicious treat of spending whole days at a time with my grandchildren - and I love it! This past month I spent six magical days with Brielle, our 18-month-old little princess, who is the older daughter of my middle son. We had a blast!

She is, of course, one of the most beautiful, talented, intelligent and all-round wonderful little girls on the planet...that goes without saying. But, she's something else too; she's the embodiment of learning and growth. Each time I see her, even if there has been just weeks between her visits, she's learned a bundle of new skills. She blew right past crawling and went straight to walking. She's learned how to manipulate a spoon, dress her doll and can 'read' several books at a sitting.

It's amazing really, how she watches, mimics, and then masters an ability to do something she sees everyone around her doing. She's hungry to learn, eagerly tries anything you encourage her towards, and amazingly develops new abilities, literally every day.

BrielleOh, and she's always scanning faces. She looks intently at the people in her world; she studies their emotional reactions, she takes cues from those around her as to what comes next, and is always reaching out to connect with people in her world. She's a consummate networker too; it doesn't matter to Brielle whether you are even dressed or not, let alone dressed 'properly', regardless of your age or stage in life, she assumes you have something to teach her and she's ready for the adventure.

It's not surprising that she wants to push ahead. Every time she conquers her fear of something new and accomplishes the task, the whole family rewards her with a round of applause. After months of this immediate reward, she's even learned to clap for herself - just adorable.

Oh, to be like Brielle again! When did we stop scanning our worlds to see what else we could learn? What happened to us to make us so sure it's ok to operate on autopilot, at work, home and in our relationships?

When did we get so grown up?

One of my favorite quotes is, 'You don't empower people, you create environments that help them realize that they have power'.

All parents (and grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) have to do for the little ones in our lives is to create a safe, stimulating and loving environment and they will learn, grow and flourish. And, I wonder...could it be the same for your employees? Could it be that - especially when they're going through a tough transition, or you want them to adopt some new skill or behaviour - that all you really need to do is provide environments where growth and learning are encouraged, and create workplaces where accomplishments are applauded and rewarded? Could it be that simple?
When you need managers who know how to create empowering environments for their us.

Remember - You can change it - we can help!

August 2011

A Story For You

I've just been perusing the papers, and the economic news is dismal - heck, most of the news is down right depressing right now. So, I'm going to tell you a story on this bright and breezy summer day, in case you need a smile.
Picture Charlie Brown, the comic character. Can't you just see him, seated in his cartoon airplane with his scarf flapping in the wind? Do you know the story of the real Charlie Brown? Well, he was a World War II pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at KimboltonEngland, and his B-17 was called 'Ye Old Pub'. After a particularly bloody battle, when he should have been headed back to home base, he was lost. His compass was damaged and he and his crew were flying directly over an enemy airfield.
 Charlie Brown
A German pilot named Franz Steigler was ordered to shoot the B-17 down. When he got near Charlie's plane, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he 'had never seen a plane in such a bad state'. The tail and rear sections were severely damaged, and the tail gunner wounded. The top gunner was smeared all over the top of the fuselage, the nose was smashed and there were bullet holes everywhere. Brown was struggling to control his damaged and bloodstained plane.

Despite having been given orders to destroy Brown, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked right at the terrified pilot.

Franz could see that Brown had no idea where he was going and Franz waved at Charlie to turn his plane 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane towards the North Sea and England. He then saluted Charlie Brown and turned away, back to Europe.
When Franz landed he told his C/O that the plane had been shot down over the sea, and never told the truth to anybody. Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew reported everything at their briefing, but were ordered never to talk about it.

Long after the war, Charlie Brown wanted to find the Luftwaffe pilot who had saved him and his crew. After nearly 40 years of searching, he finally found him. Franz had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions.

They met in the USA at a 379th Bomber Group reunion, together with 25 people who are alive now - all because Franz never fired his guns that day.

Now doesn't that renew your faith in mankind? What could you do today that might go down in someone's history as the luckiest day of their lives?

Enjoy the summer!

Remember, you can change it...we can help!

How's the Weather?

This weather we're having is crazy, isn't it? It seems like the whole world is being caught in tornados, hurricanes and floods of Biblical proportion. Here in Ontario, we've gone from freezing our petudies to flipping burgers on the Bar-B-Q overnight. Like they say, if you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes.  
The change in weather has brought with it changes in people's attitudes too. People that just a week ago were snarly and half-depressed are now gardening and riding bikes. So, why the sudden transformation? Aren't we all still the same people? Why has the change in our environment spawned such a dramatic uptick in enthusiasm?
There's lots of research to suggest that environments have a huge impact on human behaviour. The green movement is a classic example of these principles; we impact our environments by how we behave, but our environments can impact what we believe, how we feel and ultimately what we do. Researchers found that simply moving chocolate from 'within arms reach' to six feet away decreased consumption by 50% and moving the tasty treat off the premises nearly extinguished the consumption all together. Serving your dinner on a 10-inch plate versus a 12-inch plate - will power aside - will decrease the amount you consume by a whopping 30%!
We know that factors like negativity and family chaos profoundly impact a child's development and today's parents take great care to ensure their little bundles get just the right amoTornadount of stimuli and positive reward.
So, how about employees? Could environmental factors affect how a change effort is implemented? Could something as simple as where someone sits, whom they report to, or the proximity of the water cooler effect whether they accept an IT implementation or not?
I think it does, and in a big way. Just last week I was told by a mid manager that, she wasn't going to 'play nice' with the new leadership in her company because she'd been asking for a parking spot closer to the front entrance for two years, and because they 'don't care about my safety', she feels no need to get on board with the new leaders.
I think there are three contextual factors that have a profound impact on how people accept and integrate change in their lives. The first is our physical environment; the people, temperature, mood, ergonomics, culture and colors that surround us, all influence how we feel about our world and our readiness to disrupt it. Something as simple as poor lighting, or a faulty desk chair, can contribute to people tuning out any new ideas coming their way.
Another important influence on our readiness for change is our current circumstanceOur circumstance is made up our age and life stage, status, perceived opportunities, positional longevity, recent events, past change successes and failures and what we stand to loose when things change. The first 90 days of an executive's tenure are the most critical because his circumstances are unique in the honeymoon phase; he and his direct reports will view his demeanor and choices differently, and may allow and forgive in those first 90 days, in ways they won't later on.
The last and most significant of the factors is our personal selves; it's our mental, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual health. Our personal well being impacts how much change we will tolerate; change looks a lot more doable when we're on top of our game, then if we're in the middle of an illness or are just going off on maternity leave. 
Savvy leaders need to be aware of, and capitalize on the factors governing people's readiness for disruption. To ignore these critical contextual factors when attempting to move a population through a transition is just foolish, so don't take chances. We have assessments that will help you determine the Change Readiness of your team or department.

Remember, you can change it...we can help!

What Are You Afraid Of?

On March 11th an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude rocked the Tokyo area, followed by a tsunami of Biblical proportions, and just this past week 'super tornados' (966 in the Month of April to be exact) rained down destruction on southern US neighborhoods resulting in catastrophic damage. In Canada gas prices have soared to over $1.35, and just a few days ago, US Special Forces found and killed Osama Bin Laden!

What in the world is going on? Change is going on, and it's reverberating around the globe at lightening speed. The recent tumble of middle east dictators, a phenomenon that most political pundits would never have predicted, is another graphic example of how life as we know it can change on a dime, leaving the populace to wonder... what's next? The classic reaction to unexpected events is fear, and, like those caught in natural and economic disasters, the fear of change also has a business face.  


During a change initiative, fear can be seen on faces at all levels of the organization.

For leaders fear can mask as:
  • Risk aversion
  • Intense focus on short term resultsTornado
  • Self-imposed isolation
  • Sleepless nights 
 For middle managers fear camouflages as:
  • Doing only what is expressly required by leadership
  • Driving crisis upward to leadership                   
  • Privately - overly critical of peers and leaders
  • Reluctance to "speak truth to power"
 At the lower levels of the organization fear produces:
  • Diminished engagement and productivity
  • An overly active rumor mill designed to create meaning and context
  • Increased absenteeism and turnover; voluntary and involuntary
  • Defensiveness and resistance around performance evaluation
When have you seen these faces in your organization? Maybe you see one of them in the mirror every morning. It's a challenge to stay centered at work when all around you seems to be in flux. It takes courage, and a healthy dose of hutzpah, to move forward when the way forward seems to be shifting beneath your feet. Calm in the face of a storm requires calm in one's heart of hearts. How would outcomes for you and your team or company be different if fear wasn't playing such a large role? How can you find your center and be a change catalyst in the middle of it all?

Remember, you can change it...we can help!

Impression Management and Role Transition - Guest Post by Diane Craig

Charismatic leaders operate in a state of continuous evolution and change. New roles, new positions, new corporations: change can take many forms. These leaders are men and women with executive presence — and they really get around. By definition, charismatic leaders are movers and shakers. They have the ability to influence or inspire others positively, by connecting with them physically, emotionally and intellectually.

And what enables these charismatic leaders to transition effectively is a keen awareness of impression management or “personal branding” that strengthens their executive presence. Far more than a solid base of knowledge and skills, executive presence includes behaviour — impression management, self-awareness, social awareness and relationship management. Then there are the competencies, credibility and trust. Of course, there’s the look of success, the dress and demeanor. Executive presence is, in a word, complex.

Impression management, of all the hallmarks of executive presence, is one of the most challenging to master. It’s the technique used to both build and impact the image others have of a person — his or her personal brand. One of my roles as an Image Consultant is executive presence coaching and my clients —from aspiring leaders to CEO’s — often consider impression management top-of-list. Coaching is recognized as the number one developmental tool for creating this personal brand. It’s not intervention or criticism I provide but feedback, through the brief but strategic alliance of trust formed with my clients.

Impression management training instills both an acute sense of self and sharp-wittedness. Body language is key for both signals given and received. Facile, nimble responses to social cues are a measure of skillful technique. People who closely monitor themselves, regardless of the situation, are called high self-monitors. They can switch on and off according to social demands and expectations but most importantly, they have learned to modify their behaviour and speech to suit the circumstances. So-called low self-monitors, by comparison, may be less observant, oblivious to their surroundings or even disdainful of withholding their true feelings.

High self-monitors do well in periods of transition or change. Because of their impression management skills, they are masters of relationship building and move easily through new territories to forge alliances. I want to emphasize that impression management, like the other qualities of executive presence, is a learned skill — there is no special gene or DNA. Leaders today are made, not born.

Detractors of impression management sometimes call it manipulative and artificial. I disagree and would suggest they really misunderstand the purpose. We’ve all seen those meltdown moments when a seemingly unshakeable politician or leader just plain loses it. Impression management training strives to prepare the individual for consistency and to minimize these moments of potential “collateral damage.”

As I watch successful leaders navigate uncharted waters, I see the benefits of impression management. By creating a personal brand, these skilled men and women are building their reputations. Promotion and its accompanying changes are a natural byproduct of this magnetic force we call executive presence. Ultimately, personal branding is a lifetime occupation.

Diane Craig: As President and founder of Corporate Class Inc., Diane has been on a 30-year journey as an image management expert. She has designed, created and implemented a comprehensive series of programs to polish the professional image of today’s business leaders. Diane has garnered international acclaim working with the who’s who in the business world. She has consulted with political leaders and celebrities, prepped guests of Royal families and prepared attendees of the G20 summit. Diane studied at the Richard Robinson Academy of Fashion Design. She refined her skills at the Protocol School of Washington and completed certificates in Intercultural Studies at UBC and the Pacific University.

There's Wisdom in Crowds

Canadians will head to the polls, in a few weeks, to elect a new leader, or reaffirm the one we have, and south of the border CNN is already scampering after any whiff of 2012 election gossip. Both countries seem to be laboring under the same misconception - change the guy (and it's still a guy in both countries...shame on us) at the top, and the future will be secure.

It's a popular notion that all a dissatisfied country, company or church needs to do to set things right is to swap out their current Prime Minister, President or Pastor. Popular thinking maybe - but naïve, none the less. And it is, on both sides of the border time - as Maya Angelou would say 'for thinking people to think'.

In his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki sites several well respected studies challenging the validity of this idea that there are individuals, however well educated, well paid or adored, who embody superior decision making abilities that can, single handedly, lead a group out of the woods every time. Instead research points to the crowd, the team or group the leader leads as having a better track record in terms of assessing a situation and collectively making good decisions.

The average tenure of a CEO today is eighteen months. Companies routinely hire men or women they deem to be superstars, pay them wads of cash and loads of stock options and then give them precious little time to wow the stockholders.

Ridiculous, says Jack Welch, twenty-five year veteran CEO of General Electric. Jack admits to making his share of business blunders but says he was grateful to have had twenty-five years to redeem himself and work out the kinks in his leadership. Today the ink is barley dry on the incoming CEO's hiring bonus before he's planning his lucrative exit; often leaving disappointed employees and shareholders in his wake.

More than once I've been working with a company and witnessed the CEO, VP or Department head buckle under the pressure of an intense business environment. I've seen them struggle behind closed doors to make the tough calls in solitude. I've wondered how much of their desire to shoulder the full burden of key decision making alone was bolstered by the board's, or their own, misconception that real leaders should be able to pull off miracles every time... and all on their own.

Good decision-making, and effective execution requires the wisdom of the group. It requires in-put from all levels, and a healthy dose of modesty on the part of the man or woman at the top. It's lonely at the top and working alone is ill advised for any leader. When change is in the air - it's the kiss of death.

As an Executive Coach I can be the confidential thinking partner you may need when the stakes are high. Remember, you can change it - I can help!

Let's Talk About Power

In the past few weeks, unless you've been living in a cave, you've been witness to the single largest turnover of power the modern world has ever seen. Not since the defeat of Hitler have we witnessed dictators humbled in such dramatic ways. Just ask Zine El Abidine, former President of Tunisia, or Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Ali Abdullah Saieh of Yemen or Muammar Gaddafi of Libya about power. I suspect their answers today might be a far cry from how they would have characterized their power even a few months ago.

Power is an interesting thing. In politics, the workplace and even at home, leaders can hold one of two different kinds of power with their subjects, direct reports or anyone in a lesser position to them. Those in authority can try to exert power over others or they can share power with people. Most of the dictators in North Africa and the Middle East are great examples of men who have maintained power over their people. They rule by fear and their ability to stay in an authoritive position hinges on their military might. Remove their iron grip and the population scatters, looking for another leader.

Companies and teams want powerful leaders, especially during times of intense change. People want a leader with vision, and a demonstrated commitment to that vision, a leader who holds his power because of the respect his people have for not only the position, but also the man. They want a leader with personal power; control over herself and her actions. Most people are looking for a man or women that they can look up to as a role model, someone they can watch demonstrate the values of the organization and not just talk about them.

Most North Americans would chafe against a Middle Eastern style dictator as their country's leader, but there are hundreds of mini-dictators in companies, communities and families all across North America; men and women who behave like tyrants on the job every day. Some of the characteristics of these would-be dictators are:

•A man or women in senior leadership who doesn't know the difference between power and authority. Power is the ability to cause or prevent an action, the ability to make things happen, the discretion to act or not act. Authority is the right to command a situation, commit resources, make decisions, and give directives with an expectation that they be acted upon. It is always accompanied by an equal responsibility for one's actions or failure to act.

•A Manager or Supervisor who doesn't know the difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is the practice of training first yourself and then others in a particular way of behaving. Punishment is the price or penalty for breaking a rule or agreement made with another party.

•A mother who by-passes her partner when it comes to making important decisions for the children

•A father who lacks insight into his own behaviour and reacts rather than responds to intense situations

What about you? How would your direct reports, or your children, characterize your leadership? Do they see you as a leader who shares power with them, a leader who is adept at discipline and judicious when considering punishment? Do people feel powerful working with you, regardless of your title or position? We are seeing only too clearly what happens to leaders that rule by fear. If you're in a position of authority in your company, church or home...take a moment. Ask yourself, how well am I leading in my role?

How Much is Enough?

Lately I seem to be meeting and spending a fair bit of my time with what Bob Buford (From Success to Significance) would call corporate ‘Half-Timers’; those fortunate executives that have spun a good deal of success in their careers and are asking themselves an important question - How much is enough? How much success, status and money do I need to feel content, to be happy in my life?
Western business operates in a more is better culture and the path to career and monitory abundance is well lit by success gurus, executive coaches and self-help mantras. As a result, in 2010 Canada sported over 163,000 millionaire families with a YOY growth rate of 4.8%. The US boasted nearly 5 million millionaire families with a whopping 15% YOY growth rate. Not impressed yet? A million dollars isn’t what it used to be, eh? Well, last year a record 164 billionaires returned to Forbes' global wealth ranking, with 22 of those being Canadian. Not too shabby!

Westerners are in love with the idea of passion. We want to follow our passion, work at what we’re passionate about. We want to feel that fire; that excitement that comes from full engagement in what we love to do. So when what you love to do has rewarded you handsomely, provided all the creature comforts for you and your family - and maybe you don’t ‘love it’ quite like you used to…then what?

When money is no longer an issue and you’ve topped any career goal you had for yourself, interesting things happen. You begin to wonder… what’s next. Where do I go from here? What do I do now that I’m 40 something, 50ish or 60 plus and I don’t really have to work this hard any more, or maybe not at all?

This life-stage transition may just be the most challenging one of all. Some executives feel shackled by the infamous ‘golden handcuffs’ that tie them to their companies pension and benefit plans. It’s hard to leave when it’s so lucrative to stay. Reminds me of the little refrain:

“If you’re dancing with a gorilla, you can’t stop till the gorilla decides to stop.”

Several of my clients are looking at philanthropy with new eyes; they are becoming more focused on their legacy and less on conventional notions of success. They tell me that they want their lives to matter; they want to give back. Many are taking the bold step towards early retirement from their given professions to turn their attention towards work that pays less but rewards more deeply. Even some mid-career executives are realizing that their need to spend time with their families and maintain their health or experience the arts is stronger than the one to make a Forbes type list. Success exacts a price, and many aren’t willing to pay it any more.

What about you? How much is enough for you? If your life worked out perfectly what would the ‘priceless’ elements of that life be? Name your gorilla.

I coach executives in transition; I’m familiar with the territory and I’m here to help.

Here's The Truth

It happens to me all the time. I'm at an event or a company meeting talking about change when someone pulls me aside and says, "Ok, I know what you're saying, but between you and people ever really change?"

Yes Virginia, change is possible. But, only if you can't live without it. Changing yourself, and that's the only real change in the end, is hard work. Most people never do it. The masses arrive on the planet, look around, decide how to get by and spend the rest of their lives doing just that...getting by. I think it's why we're so enamored with celebrity and achievement. We see what someone else has accomplished and think...I could never do that.

So, here's the truth. Change is possible and transforming yourself, your company or your team is possible. But... and there's always a but.... you can't move forward in life while holding onto everything from the past. Something's gotta go. And sometimes, someone's gotta go.

Here are a few things you can start letting go of before the too much more time goes by:

1. Let go of old beliefs that hold you back:
About who you are or who you were supposed to be
About the way life was supposed to be
About needing to know how before you begin

2. Let go of people who hold you back:
People that are negative and critical of your efforts to change
People that want you to stay the same for their sake, not yours
People who have a world view that is antagonistic to yours (keep those people who see the world differently and challenge your thinking...they're helpful)

3. Let go of your fear of the unknown. The first step you take will make some of the unknown, known.

4. Let go of believing you have to do it all by yourself. We are all in this together, especially when we are changing.

Ready? Now, take your first step! In my experience, first steps are always accompanied by fear. At the beginning, the fear is huge. But every time you take a step, the fear lessens. With every milestone you reach, the fear diminishes and you get stronger.

You've made thousands of decisions that have brought you to where you are right now in your life. Are you satisfied? Or do you want more: something else, something different, or the next level? What do you really want? Forget about being practical and rational for a moment and let yourself say it. Let yourself dream it.

If you want your team, your company or your life to be different by say, 2015, you need to start making bold new decisions today. I coach people to take bold steps. I believe you can change! Call me.