Posts Tagged ‘Feedback’

Who argues with the GPS Lady?

Simon has been identified as a “high potential” in the company. However, if he is to succeed he needs help. During a recent project update Simon said to Tim, his boss, “I don’t know what the **** I’m doing.”

“What did you do with that statement?” I asked Tim.

“I let it slide.”

When I asked Tim to explore why he didn’t engage Simon, at the time, he acknowledged it was due to his “task focus” and “time pressure.” The continued success of both Tim and Simon depends on changing self-limiting behavior.

To change behavior demands outside perspective … in a word, everyone needs truth in order to reach the next level.

Where are you … really?

The Global Position System (GPS) is a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information helpful to military, civil, and commercial users around the world.

From a Speeding Car

Brian Talbot via Compfight

GPS devices deal with latitude and longitude and in some applications altitude. GPS devices can provide maps, “turn-by-turn directions to a human in charge of a vehicle,” information on restaurants, gas stations, and other attractions. GPS may even provide the shortest route between here and there. This powerful information is freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.

Where are you, really? To answer this question requires accurate information. Truth represents the facts or reality in the Story; call it feedback, experience, success, and failure.

Feedback can come as a bounced check, high blood pressure or high turnover. However, with life’s GPS signals the purpose is revelation and that requires listening for truth in the Story. Truthful feedback allows you to reach your destination.

The Best Predictor of Future Success

What qualities indicate whether a person will succeed or not? Some people will mention character and work ethic, education and talent, people-skills, purpose and passion; others list confidence, perseverance, and being a risk-taker.

However, the best predictor of future success is your ability and willingness to learn and change. How many times have you already demonstrated your ability and willingness to learn and change? It’s no surprise — to achieve your “next level” as a leader, business owner, employee, mate or parent you must be willing to change. The question is: what must you stop doing to free yourself for continued success? What behavior must change? What got you here will not get you there.

Ah, but how do you know what behavior is holding you back?

The best predictor of future success is your ability and willingness to learn and change, achieved through consistent reflection on truth in the Story.

The GPS signals – truth – come from the Story. You cannot avoid your story and achieve your full potential. Being receptive to truth is required to support your future success. The truth in the Story is otherwise known as feedback, experience, success, and failure.

How will you get there?

To benefit from the satellite signals and detailed information, a GPS device is required. If ignored you cannot hear the GPS Lady’s “turn-by-turn directions” and thus, reach your desired destination.

Truth allows you to recalculate, and then change unproductive behavior, behaviors that will limit your leadership potential and personal success.

As Tim reflected on the Story, he recognized the truth … his leadership responsibility is to provide truthful feedback to Simon. He left our Starbucks meeting prepared to re-engage Simon. He will use the Story to coach Simon toward becoming a self-managed leader.

How receptive are you to life’s GPS signals?

Where are you headed and how will you get there?

What’s the truth in Story telling you…?

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Two Secrets of Created Space

Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.   Eckhart Tolle

Time and space – time to be alone, space to move about – these may well become the great scarcities of tomorrow.  – Edwin Way Teale

Eight business leaders are in the room as I coach and explore with them The Best Predictor of Future Success… yes,

The ability and willingness

to learn and change,

achieved through

consistent reflection

on truth found in the Story.

As I ask “What stands out to you?” a successful businessman discusses the phrase: “consistent reflection” and the challenge of the discipline.

Space is the breath of life

Consistent reflection requires space.

Consistent reflection is a discipline – a systematic method used to advance something – in this case, personal growth.

These days I find myself inviting people to breathe. It is amazing how few of us practice deep breathing. The intensity of life is confirmed by how we “take breaths”. I know – who has time for deep breathing?

In support of future success it is essential to create space for consistent reflection. I know – who has time to be still and think?

Just as there are significant benefits from diaphragmatic breathing such as relaxation and stress relief, there is tremendous benefit from consistent reflection – freedom to grow as a human being.

How to Create Space

Look at the word “space” to discover the first secret:

To create space you must take control of the pace of life.

Space is more than the region beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. From a growth perspective , space is having enough room to accommodate something. It can be a period of time or an area set apart for a specific use; time and place.

What if you could have less unnecessary stress, more peace, and greater freedom? Sound good? You can and here’s how: slow down.  Create space for consistent reflection.

This is where we listen for truth in the story delivered as feedback, experience, success, or failure.

“Truth” involves the facts of the story, not assumptions; truth is reality, not your opinion or just “your reality” … to be truth it must include the other person’s perspective, too.

To create space you must take control of the PACE of life.


Let’s try that again, slowly now … you’ve got time.

Created Space is the disciplined use of time, place, and resources to reflect on the truth in the story and to bring truth to your story.

No acceleration required.

Life requires no acceleration; our world is taking care of that.

In 1970 Alvin Toffler wrote his bestselling book Future Shock; back when the pace of life was different, if not slower. While he wrote of information overload it was first mentioned in 1964 by Bertram Gross in The Managing of Organizations.

According to Wikipedia, Toffler uses “information overload”

…to refer to the difficulty a person can have understanding an issue and making decisions that can be caused by the presence of too much information.

Sensory overload was thought to cause disorientation and lack of responsiveness. Toffler posited information overload as having the same sorts of effects, but on the higher cognitive functions… (Emphasis added)

How does this affect our performance and relationships?

What happens to our growth journey when the pace of life is combined with sensory/information overload? We exhibit self-limiting behavior that produces poor performance and limits our influence. We are unable to make “the reasonably correct assessments on which rational behavior is dependent.” (Wikipedia)

The alternative to “rational” behavior is “irrational”. How we show up lacks reason or logical thought. What I’m doing to my relationship or career or health doesn’t make sense. We must create space to consistently reflect on behavior patterns; unproductive behavior means we are “stuck”.

Life does not require acceleration.

The second secret of Created Space; it…

Accelerates behavior change which leads to high performance

When space and time are invested in consistent reflection, listening for truth in your Story, the reward is freedom. Only truth liberates us from being stuck with self-limiting behavior.

Creating space allows us to see what living frantic lives hides.

When would be convenient?

When it comes getting things done we set appointments, am I right? Whether a business lunch, dentist appointment, a client meeting, the big game, vacation, even the oil change; why not time to reflect?

When it matters, put it on the calendar.

Time and space – time to be alone, space to move about – how scarce are they in your world? How will take control of the pace of life to create space?

What behavior change will address to improve your performance?

How well are you creating space so you can write your story?

Please forward or Tweet if you like this article … love to hear your comment below.

Newly released, available to you and your team, a must have book:


Your Guide to Changing Behavior and Growing Your Influence as a Leader

Order your copy today!

Feedback: Entering the Story

Whether you believe the CBS series Undercover Boss is over-produced, brings value, or is cheesy the stories are often compelling. A recent episode features Belfor Restoration; what a message!

Who wants some feedback?

The show clearly illustrates a core leadership practice: listen to the story and you will hear helpful feedback

Some CEO’s are going undercover?Who would be on your short list  for such an experience? 

The CBS series, UNDERCOVER BOSS follows a different executive as they leave the comfort of their corner office for an undercover mission to examine the inner workings of their companies.  While working alongside their employees, they see the effects that their decisions have on others, where the problems lie within their organizations and get an up-close look at both the good and the bad while discovering the unsung heroes who make their companies run. 

What if…?

What if hearing someone’s story becomes feedback? And, what if the feedback is received? Can you imagine the impact on employee engagement and business growth if leaders are free to see:

  • How their decisions impact others
  • What hinders their employees
  • What life on the “front line” is really like
  • The people

powerful messagecomes from Jen, water technician for Belfor Restoration. Her day comes to an emotional end with Sheldon Yellen, CEO of the disaster recovery company. Yellen is so moved by his experience and his day working alongside Jen that he blows his cover to make a promise; unfreeze her pay grade raise.

Listen to her words in this 2-minute video.



What is the lesson to remember?

  • It’s the people.  Whether you are the boss, a boss, or a front-line contributor remember – the business of business is people.  In Jen’s words:
  • If not for me and for the other people that give a damn, he wouldn’t be anywhere and he needs to keep it real with the people like me; I’m the one that makes him money. Ultimately I don’t cash in on these jobs; I get paid by the hour, I don’t get anything but what I work for with this job.

She gets it and is willing to play her role in the story.

  • It’s the people.  Whether you are the boss, a boss, or a front line contributor, remember – the business of business is people. In Jen’s words:
  • You know and I could never ever say again I feel invisible, never ever and I don’t’ want to feel invisible; and I don’t.  And I believe in him and I believe he won’t let me feel that way…and that’s nice, it’s real nice.

See me, respect me, appreciate me, and my contribution.

  • It’s the people. Whether you are the boss, a boss, or a frontline contributor remember – the business of business is people. In Jen’s words:
  • I feel like I’m going to wake up any second now, and not have had this happen. Somewhere I’m going to wake up and just be like, “Ah crap.”  But I’d still get up and go to work, so I guess that’s all that matters.”

Her character and commitment are inspiring.

Who do you see?

How many people feel invisible? How do you feel in your work place?

Recently I wrote about this reality in Gratitude, Technology, and People:

The business of business is people.

Technology is nice, people are essential.

Thanks Jen for reminding me of how it feels to be invisible and how good it feels to be recognized, acknowledged for your contribution.

It’s easy to take a shot at those at the top. And yes, it’s easy to become insolated from the front lines.

Here’s the question:

How well do you listen to the stories of people?  What are you doing with the feedback to improve your performance?

Please join me in this conversation, I’d love to hear your thoughts; comments welcome below.

The Power of a Question


Photo by takomabibelot

Recently, one of my clients requested coaching for her front-line employees.

Coaching is always exciting, I love it!  Most of my coaching is done with executives, managers, or business owners.  So this manager’s decision to provide coaching for her staff is a gift to them, the team, the business unit.

After exploring needs and calendars we scheduled their Employee Leadership Development session. I’m excited for them.

Later that evening while walking with my wife, Rita I shared the story. She celebrated with me.  Then, simply asked, “How does it compare to your 1on1 Executive Coaching and Next Level TEAM Coaching?”

Her open-ended question immediately caused me to stop and think.

That’s what a well-framed question does, invites us to stop and think. That’s good.

Her question sent me on a journey. Over the next couple of days my answer came. The answer brings greater clarity and focus to my practice as a certifed executive coach. 

Well-framed questions are powerful.

How do questions help?

The open-ended question is a request for information and designed to help us stop and explore for truth.

1.  Slow things Down

Questions  s l o w   t h i n g s   d o w n; do you ever need protection from knee-jerk re-actions. What might happen if you ask a question before giving away a piece of your mind?

Have you noticed how quickly you can answer a “yes/no” question? However, an open-ended question (those starting with who, what, how, when, where, or why) can interrupt and slow down an emotionally charged conversation.  That’s good.

2.  Demonstrate Respect

How do you react when being told what to do?  Come on, now, what is your typical response to being “told”?

How do you respond when “the boss” seeks your input?  Most of us feel respected when our input is sought through an open-ended quesiton.

 Yes, a well-framed, open-ended question is helpful and powerful.

3.  Create Space

Often if we are to discover truth we need space: time and place to think.  

Creating space is the disciplined use of time and place and resources for reflection on the truth found in the story.  Your story. The story…what factually happened? 

We must slow the pace to create the space required to experience personal development.  To listen to our story. 

There is a time conspiracy – a subversive plot to keep us so busy we don’t have time or a place for thinking, consideration, consistent reflection. 

Why the pursuit of truth in the story?

Truth liberates.

Truth sheds light and opens our minds to possibilities.

What happens if we run from the truth (reality/facts)?  Our growth and potential is hindered; in effect we run from future success.

What is the best predictor of future success is?

The Best Predictor of Future Success is the ability and willingness to learn and change achieved through consistent reflection on truth found in the story.          

– Steve Laswell

Questions help us give careful thought to reality…the facts, when examined, become feedback.  Truth allows us to choose; we can change unproductive behavior, enlarge our influence (leadership), and achieve success…yes, make a difference in the world.

Here are a few questions for fun, pick one and see what happens as you reflect on it…

  • If purpose gives birth to the best within us, what are you birthing?
  • If “raising the bar” is about the next level…where do you want to raise the bar?
  • What is blocking your ability to show up well and expand your influence?
  • What do you need to prioritize today in order to achieve your dream?

Questions (open-ended) can help us slow down an emotionally charge conversation, demonstrate respect, and create space to discover solutions.

Rita’s question created an additional coaching service.  That demonstrates the power of a question.

How effective are you in using questions?

How much space do you have in your daily life for reflection?

Would you please forward to ONE friend?

What do you think…comment below; I’d love to hear from you. 


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Reality & Personal Success

What does reality have to do with success?

One of the attendees of our recent event, The Lemonade Journey wrote me about her story and her “take away” from the morning.

Bombs happen…it is part of life.  How you react determines the outcome. 

My bomb was my employer telling me I was difficult to work with.  Never saw that coming.  Always prided myself on being a valuable, hard working employee.  An asset. Certainly not the fastest or most tech savvy employee but loyal, determined, and passionate about customer service. 

Being the people pleaser, I am; I took this very hard; perhaps too hard.

Another way at looking at a “jolt” along life’s journey is to think of it as a “reality check”.  

Do you seek reality?

As a people developer, I naturally observe people.  I’ve found we have one of three responses to the “call to grow”.  The person may:

  1. Know something is holding them back, but not know what to do
  2. Know something is holding them back, but does not slow down to address it
  3. Not know, while others around them know

Likewise, there are three responses to dealing with the truth about who you are, where you are, and how well you are leading your life.  When it comes to reality, people will:

  1. Assume they know what’s going on, so they act or think as if they know what’s going on
  2. Seek reality as the friend it is designed to be
  3. Avoid reality steering clear of the truth using denial or minimization to avoid it 

What is the “best predictor” of future success?

What comes to mind when you think of success predictors?

Often we think in terms of education, talents, strengths, skills, right place at the right time, or knowing the right person, and hard work.

While all of these contribute to finding an opportunity, here it is:

“The Best Predictor of Future Success” is the ability &  willingness to learn & change achieved through consistent reflection on the truth found in one’s story…experience, feedback, success, & failure.”

Where do you look for reality?

The story, your story delivers the truth needed to experience freedom, growth, and success.

When we look in these three directions, we will discover reality:

1.  Your world – What is true around you, your work, your company, the market, the world?  What is really going on when you let go of the assumption you “already know”? To say it another way, challenge your assumptions

Ask the question: “What is it really like out there?”

2.  You – What do you think about feedback?  Is it more like the “noise in a loudspeaker” or useful information for guiding your journey?   When embraced, feedback helps you get from where you are today to “there”.  Do you wait for feedback or actively seek it?

Ask the question: “What is it like to encounter me?”

3.  Others – The business of business (life) is people.  The only thing that truly matters is our relationships. Interestingly enough, when it comes to reality, your past relationships tend to influence how you see others today.  Whether an unresolved past, your own needs, or your own self-image, how you see others affects reality.

Ask the question: “How do I see this person, and why?”

What does reality have to do with success?

Yareli Arizmendi says, “As artists, the pleasure is to really have your work resonate and mean something. Art takes its inspiration from reality.”

A sense of joy in our work comes when we live with purpose and passion, serving others. Today is a blank canvass; paint your new chapter gaining direction and inspiration from your story.

When you seek and embrace truth, freedom comes; enjoy the journey.

Whether our friend is “hard to work with” or not I don’t know.  However, her “reality check” does provide opportunity to engage in conversation in pursuit of truth.  Why waste the pain?

How are you responding to reality?

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Your Unique Gift as a Leader

What is one gift only you can give to those you lead?

Jennifer* was updating me on how things were going around the office.  We are working on “developing her voice” so she can increase her contribution to the company.  She has great insights, but her confidence holds her back.  Yes, it helps once the “boss” requests her input.  

What is exciting is to see how her influence is growing as she learns to frame open ended questions. It is a good thing for the sake of the company’s performance.

During our recent coaching conversation she excitedly shared how Mark*, the owner “…seems be more relaxed, more fun, less stressed lately.”  She went on to explain, “When he (leadership) is tense, it raises questions in your mind: what am I doing wrong, what’s going on?  My sense of security feels threatened.  It’s amazing how his mood really impacts the team.”

The impact on performance that is driven by how you show up as a leader is worth thinking about.

The one gift only you can give to those you lead is an approachable you.

Janet* is a Fortune 500 manager and one of my executive coaching clients.  Two years prior she was assigned a significant project complete with dotted line accountability to the CEO.  A series of events and office conflict with a key player pushed her to think: “I’ll show you.”  Her determination to prove she could get the job done came with a price.

She had significant discoveries about herself during our coaching engagement.  She was very cooperative and authentic as she showed up each week ready to engage in the work.  As I gained her trust she relaxed; smiles began to appear more often…it was a fun coaching engagement.  

I’ll never forget that afternoon at Borders; with Mocha coffee in hand I simply ask, “Do others get to experience you like I do?”

“What do you mean?” she replied.

“Do they get to see you smile and laugh like I do?”

It was a moment. Time stopped.  It became a turning point as she acknowledged they did not. 

What happened?  Why the two different behaviors?  The intensity of the assignment and her determination to prove she could get it done slowly impacted her behavior around the office.  She had lost her identity. 

Yes, she had feedback about her how she had changed but it was the coaching that allowed her to connect the dots.  Armed with this new awareness we developed a plan and she changed her behavior. 

What is one gift only you can give to those you lead?

It is you; a leader who is real, shows up with a smile, positive, optimistic, “fun”; not too intense, a bit more relaxed, and approachable

With the pressure and intensity of business, on relationships, and in life it is important.  Your goal is to alleviate not contribute to the stress of your people.  As a leader your demeanor impacts the performance of your employees.  When it comes to giving this gift of you the value is substantial and adds no expense to your budget.

For example consider your smile; how often do you smile?  

When does your team laugh together (with you)? When do they experience you as more than the boss, the owner or their manager? When do the get to know you as a person?

   “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

-Mother Teresa

As a leader, how approachable are you? 

Several years ago I developed what I call my “Top Ten Influential Practices”.  The seventh practice guided my behavior as Station Manager for the five radio stations of Cox Radio-Tulsa.  Simply stated it is:

No. 7 – More face to face, less electronic.

It comes as no surprise that all our technological “connectivity” — computers, Blackberries and iPhones; e-mail, texting, instant messaging, the internet, even voice mail is minimizing face to face contact.  Relationships. High-tech connectivity is leaving us less connected as people.

Barry Salzbery quotes Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s CEO in Shoe-Leather Strategy. Blankfein addresses the growing need for more personal and approachable leadership… 

People want to be actively engaged, to be part of a strong culture, to feel meaning and connection in their day-to-day work, and to have honest, emotionally literate leaders to whom they can relate and communicate. The more virtual the world gets, the more personal and approachable leadership has to be.  This is doubly true in the aftermath of a downturn as steep as this one.

How is the pressure of business, the charge to “do more with less”, and the economy impacting how you are showing up?  What is the impact on those around you?

Now, what if your idea of “effective leadership” doesn’t allow for smiles, fun, and approachability?  What drives your thinking on that?  What is that costing you?  How is that impacting performance?

Consider how often your team sounds the warning: “Be on guard around (your name) today?” 

How will you remove that burden from them…this performance hindrance?


Keeping it easy, consider the following:

  1. Be Authentic – develop your core skills (formerly “soft skills”); care about your people… demonstrate their value by how you interact with them
  2. See the People – when they walk in your office or you’re walking the hall  (What if you take off the reading glasses, carry the paperwork, and stop reading it?)
  3. Smile More – with a little awareness and intentionality you can give more smiles  (Consider enlisting the support of others to give you feedback; yes, old habits die hard)

With this in mind, what is the one small step you can take today to recover, release, or develop your fun and approachable you?


*Some information was changed to protect the privacy of the individual.

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How Stuff Happens Right under Your Feet

Imagine the work required to move a large solid wood dining room table, chairs, and all the other pieces of furniture out of the dining room.  Imagine unload book shelves, desk, and piano out the study-office.  Imagine the mess created to tear out the wood floor laid only 2-3 years ago.

Imagine the mess and noise created as new wood floor is installed and sanded.  Imagine the smell that comes from re-staining; being driven out of your home as the finish coat(s) are applied to the new wood floor.

Now, imagine what you would like to have done with the money spent on re-placing that nearly new, solid oak, wood floor.  Okay, the cost may not have funded a vacation to Hawaii; still the inconvenience of the process just described is not cool especially if it can be avoided.

Imagine a musty smell as you pass through the laundry room and going to the garage.  Imagine noticing your wood floor starting to cup in a few places and wondering about it.  Imagine you noticed . . . but did nothing.

Return to paragraph one; that’s what it takes to fix it…now!

Can you imagine noticing all those indicators but instead of ignoring them you stopped and asked yourself a few simple questions? The answers allowed you tracked down the source of the musty smell…a stopped up floor drain in the garage where your air conditioning coil dumps the condensation during humid summer days.  (You know what; there is a lot of water extracted from humid air.)

The scene of the crime!

The scene of the crime!

Now where does a steady stream of water go when it can’t leave via the assigned route, the floor drain?  It silently seeps between the concrete and ¾ inch plywood…the plywood absorbs the water and shares it with the beautiful ¾ inch solid oak wood floor in the dining room and study-office.

What does water do, given time, to wood flooring?  It warps and cups and expands and RUINS it.

Note: once a tree is no longer a tree it is best to keep water away from it unless you want a very rustic look with your hardwood floor!

What’s the point of this true story?  Yes, remember to check your condensation pipe and floor drain each spring.  Ah, but there is more.

How well are you paying attention to life’s feedback?  In this story, the feedback arrived as a musty smell, moisture in the garage and a little cupping of my wood floor.

Why so much damage?  I was busy and did not take time to reflect on the feedback.  I missed the message behind all the feedback until the damage was done!

What do I have now?  Experience! Yes, newly installed wood floors, but less cash in my pocket and significant inconvenience.

What have I learned?  Check the air conditioner line and floor drain each spring to be sure they are draining properly.  Ah, but there is more.

The best predictor of future success is the ability and willingness to learn and change through consistent reflection on truth delivered through feedback, experience, success, and failure.

So what feedback is life sending you these days?  How busy are you?  What will the damage be?

Feedback comes from a lot of sources, for example what might be the message from:

  • A bounced check or late fees?
  • A relationship that is filled with conflict?
  • Trouble sleeping at night?
  • Not enjoy “going to work” anymore?
  • Your habit of finishing other people’s sentences for them?
  • Your reality: “They can never get it ‘right’ at the office.”
  • High turnover in your division?
  • Less laughter and more wrinkles on your forehead?

What if you’re so busy you don’t hear or see the feedback?  What might that cost you?  How can you avoid some of life’s mess?

Your future success is predictable.  If you have time and place to consistently reflect on experience, feedback, success, and failure…especially failure.  And if you have a support system that encourages your ability and willingness to learn and change, then success is in your future!

What happens if you are too busy to reflect?

Do you know someone who does wood floors?

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