September 8

Are You Having Any Fun?

I have two things on my mind with this September post: Fall and fun. Wait, what? You might be asking. Fall is often associated as a time of year when things turn serious again. Kids are back in school, long summer days are shortening and attention begins turning toward year-end. September also reminds us of fresh starts: new teachers, new notebooks, new subjects to study. Through that lens, the thought of fun may feel a bit sideways. I think it ties right in. This topic came to my attention during the Olympics last month. It was so notable how “fun” came up repeatedly in athlete interviews. A few examples: Simone Biles: (CONTINUE READING)

April 20

Learning from Long-Lived Leadership

Today is Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday! A few recent facts about her reign:  She is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, a record she broke in September 2015. While Charles and William are taking over many of her duties, she still carried out 393 engagements last year. A recent poll shows that 70% of the British public believe she should reign for as long as possible. Her popularity is notable to me. In honor, I’m posting a piece I wrote when she celebrated 60 years of leadership in 2012, highlighting my take on what contributes to her regard as a leader. What can we learn as modern leaders from this woman? Unless (CONTINUE READING)

March 30

Daring to Go Beyond

A few weeks ago, I witnessed the most powerful keynote speech I’ve ever heard. Speaking at our annual Georgetown Alumni Coaching Conference was Kakenya Ntaiya, the Founder and President of the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Her story was riveting; traumatic; inspired. Kakenya was raised in the Maasai culture in a small Kenyan village. She was engaged by age 5, and experienced the ritual mutilation that girls undergo to prepare them for marriage at age 13. Against all cultural norms and realities, she believed a different life was intended for her. Step by step, she created just that. Today, she holds a Doctorate in Education, and has won numerous awards for (CONTINUE READING)

February 17

I’m Giving In.

I’m just going to say it. Contrary to popular belief espoused by motivational speakers, quotes, posters – and yes, my own profession – I believe that some days, you need to give in. Not up. In. I’m a big believer in forward motion. I believe that when you fall down, you get up. I believe that you can find the positive in the negative. I believe in discipline and in the grind. These beliefs have sustained me through 8 ½ years of running Initiate Consulting (and 45+ years of life…!). Yet every now and again, I have days when I don’t feel like doing anything. Where I’m really unmotivated (CONTINUE READING)

January 12

Can You Have A Few Minutes Of Your Time?

Many times a day, we’re asked the usual form of that question: “can I have a few minutes of your time?” Leaders tend to give time readily to others while struggling mightily to give it to themselves: to think, breathe, rest, focus, eat, hit the bathroom. They cite the immense pressure they feel to move from one thing to the next and to get as much done as is humanly (or perhaps, inhumanly) possible. We all feel this way occasionally, and for many, it is a way of life. Whichever camp you fall into, can you take a few seconds to think about the phrase below? Take. Your. Time. (CONTINUE READING)

December 9

Wrangling the Elephants

What would your employees say if asked: “what are the undiscussables around here?” What would you would say? Within every workplace, there are off-limit topics. I’m not talking about politically incorrect issues or about legitimate wrongdoings. I’m talking about the ways people behave and interact every day. The inefficiencies that stem from revisiting decisions…the workarounds that get developed…the cans that get kicked down the road…because of the elephant in the room. A Problem Named is A Problem Solved Let’s face it: elephants aren’t meant for the office. They’re big and loud and make the place smell. None of us likes their presence. We live with them pretty regularly, though. There are (CONTINUE READING)

November 16

Thanks for the Tough Stuff

Much has been written about the relationship between being grateful and being happy. One such book is Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Its Amazon description: “Scientifically speaking, regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25%, while keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks results in better sleep and more energy.” Good stuff, right? I confess I’m a believer. I’ve had a gratitude practice for a few years now. As we prepare to go around the tables next week here in the U.S. and think about what we’re grateful for, I want to share another version of this practice I’ve (CONTINUE READING)

October 16

Remove the Scarlet Letter A from Accountability

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. Can you relate to that story? I know I can. Accountability is a giant “should” that nearly every team feels guilt about. It’s the organizational version (CONTINUE READING)

September 16

Did You Forget to Remember?

People cite lots of reasons they don’t actually DO the things that will move them toward their goals. A lack of time. Too many priorities. Fire drills. And so on. Often, it’s none of those things. We simply forget to remember. You know how this goes. You leave a great workshop or event where you learned something cool. You’re inspired to do things differently. You may even write down some new actions and goals. And then you go back to your regularly scheduled life … and you forget to remember. Remember to Remember I’ve been working on a practice I call “remember to remember.” Months ago, I got excited (CONTINUE READING)

August 13

The Extraordinary Virtue of Being Ordinary

Question for you: as a leader, as a person, are you working to improve your resume virtues or your eulogy virtues? Resume virtues are the skills that contribute to external success. Eulogy virtues are the things you want people to say about you at your funeral. Kind of a “smack you in the head” question, isn’t it? It was for me when it showed up in my inbox. This question appeared in a NY Times Op Ed written by David Brooks, who was promoting his new book, “The Road to Character.” I’ve been working my way through it, and I’ll admit the profiles are a bit thick. Yet there (CONTINUE READING)

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