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The Power of Checklists | One Simple Tool to Overcome Brain Freeze

Checklists? You mean those lists I prepare each day that don’t do anything to help my productivity?

No, it’s not that kind of checklist I’m talking about.


Are those the Checklists you mean?

Or … do you mean those checklists airline pilots use to keep me from getting killed?

Now, those I like. I like the ones that keep doctors from getting me killed, too.

Checklists are invaluable

In the Value of Checklists, I discussed The Checklist Manifesto, a book by Atul Gwande inspired by issues found in operating rooms, but expanded to the many areas where simple checklists enhance productivity and eliminate errors and oversights.

Checklists are powerful. Don’t miss 4 ways to make yours work without fail


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


The 4 Do-or-Die Principles of a Leakproof Productivity System

When you look at this image, do you see your Personal Productivity system at work?

You can fix this leaky bucket. It’s not that hard if you faithfully and relentlessly apply these basic principles.


Over the last several years working with Bay Area CEOs and with members of the Exkalibur Leadership Forum, I’ve learned that personal productivity improvements are one of the most important ways in which every CEO and business executive can Become a More Effective Leader.


Two Major Reasons … but many more.

First, it allows you to devote more time to the things only you can uniquely do … whether as a business leader, CEO, mother/father or spouse.

That’s why they’re paying you the big bucks – to do the things only you can uniquely do. If you don’t what only you can do, why do they need you?

Keep reading for the 4 Do-or-Die Principles of a Leakproof Productivity system


Why You Should Implement the 2 Minute Rule … and When You Shouldn’t

Many of us follow an informal rule about doing something now if it takes just a few minutes.

It’s a useful rule of thumb, but what if you can’t get it done in 2 minutes? What then?

Gold Clock Face_1024

Here’s the short version. If you can get it done in 2 minutes, don’t add it to your task list.

Let me explain … and elaborate on why you should also do the opposite.

Try This Experiment

How long is 2 Minutes?

It’s about what it takes for a race car to get around the 2.5 mile Indy 500 track … 4 times. If that seems like a lot, then you’re on your way to understanding that 2 minutes may seem short, but it’s a lot longer than you think.

Try this simple experiment.

Stop doing anything.
Set a timer for 2 minutes.
How long does that feel?

Feel like you could get something done in that period of time?

Learn why you also need to do the opposite of the 2 Minute Rule


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 …


The First Rule of a Mistake? Not So Obvious To Most.

Everyone makes mistakes. That much we know for a fact, don’t we?

So, why do so many persist in their insistence that they did no wrong?


Why are we are so unwilling to admit our mistakes?

Despite the lessons that cover the waterfront — from Watergate to the Catholic Church — the cover-up is always worse than the crime.

What appeared to be minor tributaries turned into a rushing river of a failed presidency and international scandal, yet the stream of lies and denial from those who fail to heed these lessons continues unabated in both our public and private lives.

The truth will never come out … will it?

For some reason, we persist in believing that the truth will never come out.

Keep reading to find the simple road to recovery


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


Are You Ready to Start Your Own “Bonfire of the Vanities?

More than 500 years ago, the Bonfire of the Vanities purged sin and excess.

Objects like cosmetics, artworks, mirrors and much more were burned in the town square. What are you going to throw on your own bonfire?


Bonfire of the Vanities

Bonfire of the Vanities


Is it Time to Start Your Own Bonfire?

Barely 500 years ago, Girolamo Savonarola was an outspoken and strident critic of the current order, angrily vilifying the worldly possessions that tempted people to become sinners.

He was ultimately excommunicated from the Catholic church, condemned for heresy, stripped of his priestly garments, hanged, and his body burned in the town square in Florence, Italy, a stark and ignominious ending to a life committed to vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Tom Wolfe wrote his first novel on this subject

Tom Wolfe, the esteemed American writer, published his first novel in 1987. (It was originally produced in the serial style of Charles Dickens, with 27 articles appearing in Rolling Stone magazine beginning in 1984.)

Wolfe was determined to expose the outlandish excesses of New York society in the 1980s, which were top of mind for many Americans in the same year that Oliver Stone’s infamous movie, Wall Street, starring Michael Douglas, was released.

The Bonfire of the Vanities

There is a compelling message in Wolfe’s novel, Bonfire of the Vanities, a phrase taken from the infamous public exhibitions that Savonarola instituted in Renaissance Florence 500 years ago.

Don’t miss the chance to consider what you’re tossing on YOUR bonfire