What Anyone Can Do – The Movie…

…or maybe just the book trailer! 😉 Enjoy!

Trent Sanderson On Life Lessons and Elite Athletes

Trent Sanderson is the owner and creator of Team Prep USA.  The Team Prep USA Running program provides clients the tools, knowledge, and support to take their running careers to the next level. The program’s philosophy has brought national recognition and personal success to its clients.  Trent has coached 2 Olympians, 11 National Individual Track and XC champions, 24 national high school All-Americans and 12 NCAA All-Americans during a short stint as a college coach, including 3 years as head men’s and women’s XC Coach at the University of Maryland.

Team Prep USA is now present in 47 states and 7 countries, and recently branded as Team Prep World!  Team Prep USA is headquartered in Crested Butte, Colorado, with a satellite office north of Atlanta, Georgia.

Peers and Beers

Heineken recently invited us to open our world. If you haven’t seen it already, take time to watch!  It will be the best 4 minutes of your day!  This is what the Year of the Peer is all about!

Sekou Andrews – Making the Whole Greater Than the Sum Of Our Smarts!

Sekou Andrews is an elementary schoolteacher turned actor, musician, national poetry slam champion, entrepreneur, and now the world’s leading Poetic Voice.  On any given day, Sekou may deliver an original talk for international marketing executives, give a keynote speech at a leadership conference, or perform pieces for Barack Obama in Oprah’s backyard.  His work has been featured on such diverse national media outlets as ABC World News, MSNBC, HBO, Good Morning America, Showtime, MTV and BET.  Sekou does more than inspire us with his story; he inspires us with our story.  You can learn more about Sekou at http://sekouandrews.com and http://rockstarspeakersecrets.com.

Next week’s guest is Paul Michelman, Editor-in-Chief, MIT Sloan Management Review.

Serving Life

The title of this post was taken from a powerful 2011 documentary narrated by Forest Whitaker about a group of inmate volunteers who staff their own hospice inside a maximum security prison in Louisiana, where the average sentence is more than 90 years.  I became aware of the documentary after spending three days at a residency for prison wardens in Baton Rouge in the Spring of 2016 at the behest of Vistage Worldwide (where I worked at the time), which was exploring the prospect of including prison wardens in Vistage groups.

Here’s how the Warden Exchange eloquently and accurately portrays its mission: The Warden Exchange™ (WE) is a Prison Fellowship program empowering corrections professionals to create a legacy of safer prisons and safer communities. The Warden Exchange convenes thought leaders who exchange innovative ideas and best practices for the moral rehabilitation of inmates. Together, we can create a prison culture conducive to restorative change and successful reentry.

Essentially, wardens from all over the country come together for in-person residencies and online sessions throughout the year to learn from one another.  It’s a remarkable collection of leaders who have an unspeakably difficult job.  I was privileged to get to know them and blown away by a group visit to Angola – the maximum security prison that was the subject of the documentary.  During my three days at the residency, I witnessed the power of peers in its full splendor – wardens learning from one another, the tireless efforts and teamwork of the Angola staff, and prisoners serving life sentences resolved to making their “community” better.

I didn’t know what to expect when I attended the residency last year, but I am grateful for having had the experience and for staying in touch with National Director for the Warden Exchange, Pedro Moreno.  As a result, I led a workshop for about 40 wardens in Houston earlier today, and the group was amazing.  (I also had the pleasure of talking to Burl Cain, the person who transformed Angola from the bloodiest prison in the U.S. to what it’s become today).   I wish everyone could see these incredible leaders, up close and personal, to appreciate the work they do to make our society better.  Best of all, they are doing it together, serving life one peer at a time!

(By the way, if you’ve never seen Serving Life, buckle up and check it out!)

Is good the enemy of great? Or is perfection the enemy of good?

A number of years ago, I saw Cirque du Soleil perform Ka` at the MGM Grand.  I didn’t know a great deal about the show until reading about it after the performance.  The LA Times review confirmed my belief that it “may be the most lavish production in the history of western theater.”   I thought, “Yup. That’s sounds about right to me!”  I’ll never forget it.  I reflected on how this amazing ensemble comes to work and performs this show twice a day, five days a week – knowing full well that for 95+% percent of the people in the audience, it will be the only Ka` experience they will ever have.  They have to “bring it” to each and every performance!  No show ever gets “phoned in.”  Together, performers and crew members alike are committed to WOWing every audience that walks through the doors of the $220 million theater specially created for this show.

In my post, Peer Group Accountability: Who’s Responsible?, I essentially mentioned that it starts with each of us holding ourselves to high standards and modeling that behavior to inspire and motivate others.  In researching and writing about peer advisory groups, I’ve talked to countless members and group leaders who extol the virtues of their culture of group accountability – saying by comparison, that individuals, left to their own devices, primarily dare to be average.   I’m sure you’re bristling at the mere suggestion, but ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can do to be at the top of your game each and every day.  Do you go to work with the same commitment to excellence as the team at Cirque du Soleil?  If you do, you’re a rare bird.

Contrast Jim Collins’ explanation of “good being the enemy of great” (where good is too often good enough), with the concept of perfectionism and the familiar quote from Voltaire, translated literally as “The best is the enemy of good”  or more commonly expressed as ‘”The perfect is the enemy of the good.”  The quote references the paralyzing effect of the pursuit of perfection. It’s where the hope to implement the perfect solution can result in no solution at all. So is good the enemy of great? Or is the pursuit of perfection the enemy of good?  Seems to me, they are two sides of the same coin.  Neither is an excuse for mediocrity.

Understanding these dynamics is just one of many ways being part of the right peer group or high performing team will help you discern the difference and inspire you to achieve more than what you could ever do alone.  What’s more, it will help you bring a little Ka`into your own life.

“And the Oscar Goes To”…The Year of the Peer

The prevailing sentiment of the Year of the Peer was evident in its full splendor at the 2017 Academy Awards, as host Jimmy Kimmel opened the show with a monologue, that in part, called for greater civility in our dialogue.  I also loved how the attendees celebrated peers who inspired their careers, as well as the way they applauded each others’ work with what I believed to be a heightened spirit of enthusiasm.  In this Year of the Peer, Hollywood was pitch perfect.

Several of the advertisers followed suit in impressive fashion by sharing messages about the power of love and understanding to the millions of people around the world following the live broadcast.  Here are two of the spots below.  Enjoy and let’s be sure to carry this forward in our own lives in the months and years ahead.

It’s a fitting time to remember the words of Jodie Foster‘s character, Ellie Arroway, in the movie Contact, “I’ve always believed that the world is what we make of it.”  That it is.

Rahfeal Gordon: “Your location is not your destination.”

Rahfeal is a life strategist, leadership specialist, and innovator of inspiration.  For more than a decade, Rahfeal has been leveraging the core fundamentals that promote productivity while guiding entrepreneurs and global leaders to success. He provides great insight into the environmental and physical circumstances that impact an individual’s personal and business performance.  Rahfeal knows how to create positive work environments that enhance an individual and team’s performance.

Next week’s guests will be social learning pioneers, Etienne & Beverly Wenger-Trayner.

100 Consecutive Wins – Life in Stage 5!

Moments ago, the #1 ranked University of Connecticut women’s basketball team defeated #6 South Carolina 66-55 for its 100th consecutive victory.  To put this perspective, the team hasn’t lost a game since November 17, 2014.  Last year, their big three, seniors Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck were drafted by the WNBA, number 1, 2 and 3 respectively.  After losing the players who led the Huskies to four consecutive national championships, this would have been a rebuilding year for any other sports program in America – except for UConn.  They’re already 25-0 this season, beating nationally ranked opponents Notre Dame, Baylor, Maryland, Florida State, Ohio State, and now South Carolina, with no one left of the regular season schedule likely to give them a serious challenge until the NCAA tournament.

Why should organizations outside of sports be marveling at the streak and paying close attention to this program?  Let me offer this:

Several years ago, I heard Dave Logan deliver a terrific presentation based on a book he coauthored called Tribal Leadership.  Among other things, he talked about the five stages of culture.  Here are the five stages as I recall them:

Stage 1 – “Life sucks.” Roughly 2% of companies have cultures that represent something akin to a prison gang.  (Scary but, true).

Stage 2 – “My life sucks.” The implication here is that people are likely to believe that your life may be okay, but my life sucks.   (25%) of companies have cultures where people pretty much show up and do just enough to avoid getting fired.  They can’t wait until 5:00 PM – especially on a Friday.

Stage 3 – “I’m great.” (with an implied, “and you’re not.”)  This culture is characterized by an egotistical, command and control style leader who creates dyad relationships with the employees. (49% of organizational cultures fit this description, by the way).

Stage 4 – “We’re great.”  22% of organizations enjoy a team culture that wants to be the best as defined by their competition.  They’re all about being #1 among everyone else in their space.

Stage 5 – “Life is great.”  This is the organizational culture that sets its own standard of excellence.  Think Secretariat at the Belmont.  Logan noted that roughly 2% of organizations experience this rarefied air, but no one lives there for very long.  They typically toggle between stages 4 and 5.

Dave Logan, meet the University of Connecticut women’s basketball program.

UConn players, and the coaching staff who created this culture over the past 30 years, compare themselves to the great UConn teams of the past, not to the teams on their upcoming schedule.   They set their own standard of excellence each and every day at practice and with every possession – offensively and defensively – in every game.  Rather than pay attention to the scoreboard, they honor the work ethic of UConn’s former players and are committed to making the dream of winning a national championship possible for their teammates.  Their accountability culture and support for one another is off the charts.  They will lose a game someday, but as long as they maintain their culture, it won’t happen very often.

This is what living in stage five looks like.  Close your eyes and imagine your organization playing at UConn’s level.  Now open them.  Life is great!  (Or it could be, if you take the power of their example seriously).

Congratulations to UConn for winning 100 consecutive games and for setting a standard of excellence for all of us to follow.

Who Are Your Peeroes?

Like many people here in the U.S. and around the world who watched yesterday’s Super Bowl, I was blown away by New England’s comeback victory.  Down 28-3 in the second half (28-16 with only 6-minutes left to play), the Patriots scored the next 31 points for a 34-28 overtime win.  While the accolades being thrown at Tom Brady are well deserved, make no mistake, it was a team effort.  Just look at all the players on offense and defense who made big plays down the stretch.

Despite the odds, the team continued to believe in each other.  And without that collective belief, a comeback would have been impossible.  Who you surround yourself with matters for sure.  Now having grown up in the Boston area, I was most certainly rooting for the Pats, but I also know what experiencing a tough loss as a fan is all about.  So I appreciate the class with which the Atlanta Falcons team handled such a devastating setback.  It says just as much about their organization as it does New England’s.

I hope the players on both teams see each other as “peeroes” in the same way Teresa Eyet described the people in her life in a 2016 blog post.  In her post, she wrote:

Over and over throughout my life, I heard the recommendation to surround yourself with people who challenge you, who lift you up, who are living the life you want to lead, and are making changes in the world you want to see.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized I needed to pay some real attention to who I was spending my time with.  I guess I was ready to finally see/feel how different I felt when I was around people with grateful hearts, with vision, and those who approached life with their glasses half full.  These are people who build up my energy and my confidence, and I refer to them as my “Peeroes.”

I invite you to read about her peeroes.  Then, reflect on the people in your life.  I believe that if you enlist their support, they can help you accomplish anything and pretty much survive everything.  I hope the Patriots, the Falcons, and all of us for that matter, recognize the special people we surround ourselves with for the super-peeroes they are.  None of us does it alone.  Not even Tom Brady.