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7 Ways to Differentiate between a Lightning Bolt and a Bright Idea

Charles Dickens’ famous opening sentence continues …

it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.”

More than 150 years later, our business world is possessed of similar contradictions.


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” ~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Sometimes the light you see at the end of the tunnel is sunshine; sometimes it’s another train coming.

In the distance – and in the dark – it’s very hard to discern the difference. Yet, missing that call has very fateful consequences.

Is This the Time to Take Risks?

In the midst of an endless flood of information and ideas rushing our way, how do we differentiate between a bright idea and a lightning bolt?

  • Is this the time to take additional risks?

  • Should we only survive – or try to thrive?

  • Are some risks more palatable than others?

  • How do we tell the difference?

Don’t miss the 7 Ways to Differentiate between a Lightning Bolt and a Bright Idea


I need your help today. What is the Common Thread among these Events?

All of us in the United States are excited about the Pope’s visit this week. Regardless of your specific beliefs or faith, the Pope’s commitment to social justice and the dignity of human life offers a compelling message to everyone.

But, what does that have to do with these other images?

Pope Apple Football

As I worked through this week, periodically visiting video and text snippets about the Pope’s visit, I was also reminded about Friday’s release of Apple’s new iPhones and the long lines expected at Apple store locations around the world.

And, just to add another layer to this puzzle, I started thinking about college football this weekend.

Have you ever seen the craziness on ESPN’s College Game Day at the front end of college football every Saturday morning? If not, tune in early tomorrow morning as thousands of University of Arizona students fill the screen when the bus rolls into town. (It’s earlier in the morning than you will ever see a college student again.)

For many of you, I could also add ice cream and roller coasters.

What’s going on here?

Keep reading and help me figure out what’s going on here?


Does Mom think you should be a snitch?

For most of our life, we’ve heard, “Don’t be a snitch”. In most of the movies we’ve seen, the “snitchers’ don’t fare so well when their comrades discover their double-dealing.

Does this same approach work in organizations?


Some of you may be familiar with the famed but controversial West Point Cadet Honor Code:

“A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do.”

But Didn’t Somebody Say: “Don’t be a tattletale?”

Few of us would doubt the wisdom of “will not lie, cheat or steal”, the core of many of the values we learned as children.

One of the other things we learned as children, though, was, “don’t be a tattletale.”

Be loyal to your friends … don’t snitch on them … and don’t go running to mommy when you observe a small infraction of the rules.

It doesn’t help we’ve seen countless movies since then where a snitch ends up on the wrong side of the grass.

Keep reading to see if you can apply a high standard that rejects a double standard …


September 11th – 14 Years Later

It’s not a coincidence that One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 1776 feet.

I trust you see the connection.


A Day that Will Live in Infamy

Today is the 14th occasion of what I consider the second occurrence of a “day that will live in infamy”, borrowing the phrase President Roosevelt used on December 7, 1941.

“Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!” ~ Founding Father John Dickinson

One World Trade Center stands tall as a sign of our strength and resilience, our unwillingness to bow to the evil that has no respect for the lives of the innocent.

Over 4,000 children lost one of their parents on September 11, 2011. Each of them cherishes the respect and admiration we pay to their parents … the first responders … and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Bow Your Head in Prayer & Give Thanks

Take a moment from your busy day to recall, reflect and remember the extraordinary events of the day we remember as September 11th.

Friday blog click to tweet sept 11th

Remember that you, too, are strong and resilient.

You ARE determined to forge ahead … aware of the challenges you face, unbowed and committed to overcome them.

The best thing you can do to honor them?

Carry on!


5 Signs You’re Ignoring the Tough Decisions | The “UN” Factor

One of the most pervasive challenges that arises in my coaching sessions with CEOs and other business executives is the struggle to make the tough decisions.

It’s a deadly disease that cripples personal productivity.


It’s usually a decision that’s already been resolved — silently, often deep in the psyche — but we don’t announce it, we don’t execute it and no one really knows the decision has been made at all.

What’s the impact of indecisiveness?

This is a high stress point for executives. These delayed decisions constantly beg for attention, but as we drop these pebbles of indecision in our backpack, it gets heavier with each step.

Carrying around the burden of these unexecuted decisions is a malignant tumor that can be fatal to both executive effectiveness, productivity and health.

Jack Welch said it best: “you gain nothing by showing uncertainty and indecision”.

You’re squandering valuable time

These agonizing delays also hijack valuable time from the organization.

Keep reading to Learn How to Overcome Decision-Making Paralysis


How Close is Your Business to a Colossal Screwup?

Have you established a written Code of Conduct in your organization?

Our prescriptions for acceptable behavior are too vague. Get started now to spell it out more clearly to avoid that potentially colossal screwup.


Have you heard this phrase before?

“Conduct unbecoming”

You may have heard this phrase before, perhaps from the clenched teeth of a military JAG officer about the same time you learned that “Crystal” is a perfectly apt response to “Are we clear?”

What is the Standard of Conduct in Your Office?

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” – Mark Twain

Throughout my service as a U.S. Army officer, this phrase was constantly refreshed as the highest standard to apply to the official actions of military officers.

How Do Organizations Define Acceptable Behavior?

Keep reading to learn more about how to define acceptable behavior


Fun Friday | Why don’t people return phone calls?

It’s remarkable that so few people return their phone calls on a timely basis. Why is that?

Are we just lazy? Too busy? Did I mention lazy? Don’t give a rip? “If it’s important, they’ll call back?”


fri blog one ringy dingy

Are you eyeballin’ me? Of course not … not you. You return all your calls. Right?

Wanna think about all the time we invest in phone tag? Nah, me neither.


Ok, let’s do it anyway. Talk about a time sink … keeping track of all those who …

  • don’t return the call,
  • are out of the office,
  • traveling,
  • on vacation,
  • sick,
  • already on the phone …

… what a bother, huh?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got dozens of these floating around at any one time.

What if they don’t return phone calls at all?

Keep reading if you need a few more reasons to NOT return phone calls


The 7 Key Attributes of Successful New Leaders

Consider these 7 Key Attributes of Successful New Leaders to give yourself a running start.

Existing leaders will also benefit from reading along and making course corrections where necessary.


A number of my clients and colleagues have recently ascended to greater positions of leadership at the top ranks of their companies. There’s suddenly even more to do, but have you paused long enough to consider how you should start?

Do you need to do anything differently?

1. Credibility is Foremost

Without it, you’ll look over your shoulder and find no one there. You need to do it by being committed to learning, being humble about what you don’t know and proving to your team that you’re building a transparent and collaborative organization — and they are a critical part of it.

Roll up your sleeves and learn before barking out orders.

Make sure you don’t miss any of these 7 Attributes


7 Words that Save Lives and Apply to Everything We Do

In a 7-hour-long operation that took place on May 22 at the University Hospital of Mirebalais in Haiti, Dr. Henri Ford, the chief of surgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, directed his “incredible dream team” of several dozen professionals to successfully separate six-month-old conjoined twins who were born with a separate triplet sister.

These were his words upon completing this dramatic and incredibly complex surgery which you can read more about here.