Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Today’s headlines are inundated with CEO’s who have misused their leadership position. They’ve been seduced by the power and greed available to them often using their position as self-serving. Unfortunately, that attitude is far from the minority. It is the visionless, myopic, self-centered CEO who has caused a work force where 75% of employees are dissatisfied. Consider a recent study, which showed that during the last 20 years, the average CEO’s compensation has grown from 42 times that of the average production worker to more than 400 times. That translates to an average CEO salary of $10 million a year vs. $25,467 for the average worker. Even worse, many of these same CEO’s reward themselves with obscene salaries and bonuses while their company is losing money.

Profits supersede all other objectives. They are often evaluated by the short-term affect they bring to shareholders. They may have a mission statement, which clearly identifies company values and communicates all the right messages, the question becomes…is management living their life congruent with these principles and values? Are they walking their talk? In order to truly walk your talk as a leader a paradigm shift in our corporate culture needs to be made.

A shift from autocratic self-centered leader…. to servant of the organization. A shift from profits and winning at all costs…. to a concern of creating value, social contribution and human issues. A shift from reaching goals…. to providing an environment where employees are stretching to reach individual potential. A shift from leading by image and control…to leading with authenticity. A shift from creating an environment of fear…to one of trust. A shift from self-interest…. to one of compassion. A shift from emphasizing quality of products and service…to one, which includes quality of relationships.

A true leader is one who is in touch with his inner being. Who understand that leadership begins with self-mastery and self-mastery is a lifetime journey. A leader understands his strengths and weaknesses and is not afraid to acknowledge areas, which may require personal growth. He is self-confident while still being vulnerable. He is perceived as being human! Once this occurs, employees will develop trust and are willing to follow.

Go into any corporation and ask the employees, is this a place where you can do you very best? If the answer is affirmative there is a good chance that the leader of that organization has removed the barriers, which prohibit employees from reaching their potential. They have created an environment of trust and cooperation. Someone who recognizes their role as servant of the corporation is leading them. Show me a company where followers are being taught leadership skills and you will find a CEO who understands the long-term benefit of a values-based leadership approach. Does it seem a paradox that companies headed by CEO’s who emphasize values over profits are successful? Only to the uninformed. At Southwest Airlines customers come second (employees are number one).

CEO’s need to re-assess their role in their organization and reflect how best to serve. To have the courage to face a situation which may expose their weaknesses and learn to modify a behavior for the benefit of the organization. Through self-reflection and action the CEO can let go of his self-serving ego and become more adaptive to the needs of his organization. The idea of values-based leadership is not restricted to the corporation. We are all leaders as parents, teachers, coaches and managers. Are you leading by serving? Have you created a nurturing environment where your followers can be the best they can be. Each of us has unlimited potential, are you striving and thriving to reach that potential? Are you removing barriers for your followers so they can stretch to reach their potential? When you begin to lead by virtue of your being, a world of opportunity suddenly becomes available to you and your followers.

Monday, December 21, 2009


From the day we’re born until the day we die we dream. Every single day 365 days a year without exception our mind escapes to our dream like state. Over the last ten years, neuroscientists have studied and learned more about our mind than in all the previous years of history and yet the more we learn the more we realize how very little we actually know of the powers of the mind. Although we dream every day, we still don’t know why? There are a number of theories but nothing that has been proven and universally accepted. So, I’d like to throw my theory into the ringer as well.

There are many types of dreams and we know that when we sleep our mind and our brain seems to travel through different levels of sub-consciousness. Dr. Salk spoke of being consciously aware of dreaming while dreaming, something called a “Lucid Dream”. It is the most powerful type of dream. In my own experience, I found myself having these “Lucid Dream” experiences whenever I became passionately involved in an activity. As a youth, I can recall being consciously aware of many of my gymnastic dreams. I loved gymnastics with all my heart and soul. I couldn’t wait till the next day so I could practice a new move or try and perfect a routine I was working on for an upcoming gymnastic tournament. As I reflect back on my life many of the passions I pursued seemed to get nurtured in my dreams.

I believe we all have greatness within us, most unfortunately will never pursue that greatness because of lack of confidence, fear of failure, or any of the common excuses prevalent among modern man. I believe it is within our dreams that we get a glimpse of our unique gifts and the greatness that could be ours. If you begin to follow that dream even at a very casual level you’ll find that your dreams will become stronger and more vivid. Perhaps you’ll even experience that rare “Lucid Dream”. If that happens begin to make a conscious effort to turn that dream into reality by making it a goal. Every successful person I know whether an athlete or business executive has spoken of the importance of being passionate about their pursuits. If you’ve found an activity your passionate about and you find yourself dreaming about great accomplishments don’t get scared write them down and make them a goal. Find a mentor, a friend, a loved one or perhaps a coach to help you devise a plan for achieving your goal.

If on the other hand you have no current passions, and one day seems to simply blend into the next, you’re bored or unhappy with your current circumstances perhaps you should examine your dreams. They just may give you a clue to your passions and the greatness that lies within.

Friday, December 18, 2009


If you’re serious about achieving your goals one of your greatest assets is your belief system. Every Olympic Champion I interviewed spoke of their confidence and unwavering belief as key factors to winning an Olympic Gold Medal. The same could be said for senior level executives or any other person that has found success in their chosen field. If your struggling with confidence and your belief system isn’t as strong as you’d like here are a few tips that will help you develop the confidence necessary to achieving your goals.

1-Past Successes- Nothing helps build confidence like success. Whatever your chosen field of endeavor success in the past leaves a blueprint in your subconscious and the mental expectation of future success. Success breeds success. The positive self- image you have of yourself as a result of your success can now combat the self-doubt or fears that often plague us. You have an arsenal of positive experiences to fight off the negatives so that a belief system can be formed. The more positive experiences or success you have in your chosen endeavor the stronger your confidence becomes. As you challenge yourself to more difficult goals and meet with success your confidence soars and soon your belief system will become so strong and real that you will envision the accomplishment of your goal with such certainty that it is often difficult to separate the visualization from the reality. In fact, the muscles, organs and body systems don’t know the difference between you actually performing the activity and an individual whose adept at visualizing that same activity. As early as 1980, there were over 70,000 studies confirming the direct correlation between mind/body relationships.

2-Positive reinforcement from someone you respect. Often times our confidence can be positively influenced by words of encouragement from someone we trust and respect. This may come from a parent, mentor, coach or friend. The more value you place in that person the greater the influence they will have on you. If one of your hero’s stops by after a performance and provides encouraging words of praise on a recent performance your confidence as well as motivation will soar. They can help replace some of the doubt or anxiety everyone feels from time to time. A few words from someone you respect can go a long way to building your confidence and belief.

3.Vicarious learning- You witness an extraordinary performance. Your pulse races, your mind wanders and suddenly you picture yourself doing the identical performance. That person became a role model for you and suddenly the doubts you had in the past disappear and you begin to think if he/she could perform like that so can I, that is vicarious learning. Projecting yourself into that role model and seeing yourself perform the very same activity provides you with the confidence to overcome the self-imposing hurdles you set for yourself and develop a goal and a plan for achieving it.

In the early 50’s the world was buzzing with mans effort to break the 4-minute mile. There were 30 world-class athletes trying to break 4 minutes. The medical community announced it was impossible to break 4 minutes in the mile. That was the accepted belief at the time. In 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the 4-minute barrier. Of course Bannister became headline news all over the world and a national hero. It was a tremendous accomplishment, but the real news was what transpired over the next 6 months, as 13 other runners also broke 4 minutes. Suddenly, Roger Bannister had proven that breaking 4 minutes in the mile was indeed possible and 13 other runners BELIEVED they could do it as well. The mind is an incredible force. It is my belief that the greatest advancements in human potential will come from the study and training of the mind. The greatest obstacles to your success are the limitations you place on yourself.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


In part 2 of reaching and sustaining your goals we will examine one of 3 success ingredients Olympic Champions have shared with me over the past year, COMMITTMENT. How committed are you to achieving your goals? How much energy are you willing to commit to achieve your dreams. Commitment is the resilience, the persistence the indomitable spirit that propels achievers to reach success. There is no room for negatives in their vocabulary; they simply will out hustle and out work you. They will never ever give up. They may fall down but they will inevitably get back up over and over again. They will learn from their experiences and make whatever adjustments are necessary to stay committed to their goal.

Last week, I did a motivational talk for the reigning NCAA Gymnastic Team Champions at the University of Oklahoma. In attendance, were many All-Americans as well as multiple individual NCAA Champions. They had reached the epitome of team success at the college level so you might wonder what words of wisdom could I offer? Simply this, Think beyond the limits an NCAA title projects, and think of your potential. How good can you become? What is your potential as a Champion Gymnast? What is necessary to transform the champion gymnast you are today to being something even greater? Not many years ago, arguable the greatest golfer of all time Tiger Woods, decided he needed to relearn his golf swing. He had already won numerous PGA Grand Slam Tournaments and was ranked number one in the world yet he realized that he could get better if he made minor adjustments to his basic swing and became committed to the time necessary and even the inevitable short term setbacks that may occur. Tiger was committed to not only be the best in the world but to be the best golfer he could become.

Commitment requires 100% effort during your practice time. I introduced the gymnastic team to an analogy I like to use which represents the energy requirement to transform themselves to the greatness that lies within, 451. Rub two sticks together and it takes 451 degrees of energy to transform the heat being produced through your efforts to finally create fire! It is activation energy. The majority of people will rub those two sticks together and perhaps generate 350-400 degrees of heat, and quit thinking this is impossible. Some may even get to 450 degrees but even that falls short………just think one more degree would transform all the heat and energy your producing into fire. The difference between success and failure is often paper-thin sometimes just by a degree. Are you willing to put out the energy required to transform yourself into your higher self, to become the best you can be, to go beyond the mental limits you’ve placed on yourself? STAY COMMITTED

Goals & New Years Resolutions. What the experts don’t want to tell you! )

It’s that time of the year when goals and New Years resolutions hit center stage. Every self-help guru has come up with his or her own magic formula for success. Most will at least cover the following basics.

1. Write you goal down

2. Make it a measureable goal

3. Give it a timeline, usually within one year

If your like the vast majority of people who make New Years resolutions you probably started the past year enthused and dedicated with every intention of success but after a few weeks or perhaps a month you found yourself slipping and by the end of the first quarter your goal became a distant memory. How do you make this year different?

First, you need to accept there are no short cuts to achieving your goals. Whether you want to lose weight, get in better shape, transition to a new job or any of the other common New Year resolutions what it always comes down to is discipline. There’s nothing glamorous about self-discipline, but it is really one of the key ingredients to success in life. Unfortunately, discipline is not talked about or discussed very much these days. We’ve been programmed to look for easy ways to get rich quick, or lose weight fast. These shortcuts appeal to the masses and as a result “experts” write books and record audio CD’s on the next fad guaranteed to get you results with very little effort. Stephen Covey writes about the “Character Ethic” He states that the first 150 years of our country all the writings emphasized, honor, justice, discipline, integrity, courage…character traits that take time and a concerted effort to develop. The last 50 years has been about the “Personality Ethic”, shortcuts that are meant to get instant results. We’ve come to expect goals and achievement to come easy. The truth is the most fulfilling moments in our lives are those moments when we had to work extremely hard, experienced failure, overcame obstacles and finally met with success.

A better way at looking at goals and New Years resolutions is not just how can I achieve my goal, but how do I achieve and sustain my goal. It’s sort of like the mountain climber who says I want to reach the summit. Often times, the climber expends every ounce of energy to get to the top and forgets he needs to get back down! (Most deaths on Everest occur on the descent) Reaching the top or achieving your goal doesn’t do much good if you can’t get back home or your unable to sustain your weight loss, physical fitness etc.

A goal should be a form of self-motivation; it helps you make the changes necessary to bring you success and fulfillment. The goal provides a new heading, or direction and a new course is set. It’s now up to you to develop a plan or strategy to not only reach your goal but also sustain it for the long term. Better yet, consider the goal a stepping-stone toward your potential. If you find your self-discipline waning try sharing your goal with a friend or loved one who can assist you in staying on course. Having a work out buddy or a loved one that encourages you while trying to lose weight can help during moments of weakness. Self-discipline is often what separates the achievers from the middle of the pack. If you want to make this years New Years Resolution a success get ready for a fight. Begin a positive self-talk strategy daily to help reinforce the discipline required to not only achieve your goal but to make a lasting life style change.