Monday, December 8, 2014


In the last post I made a connection between Power and Survival. And since the topic is Belief, maybe it's time to begin the connections.

What is Power?

This isn't about electricity or horsepower, I mean personal power. It's that thing mom and dad always used to enforce decisions. And teachers and big kids. It seems those early meanings of power largely define the way many of us still see power today as adults. And so it shows up as the means to control others. It also seems that the automatic reaction to fear is control. Now I'm not talking about the panic of being attacked or a real life threatening situation. I'm referring to that fear that is present, perhaps under the surface, therefore not measured, which makes me want to control the situation, usually by trying to control other people.

What I just described is something very familiar to me and perhaps to you. Again, what I have described is mostly unconscious behavior. I have a definition of Power I'm not clear about, that I'm trying to use unconsciously to deal with other people in an unaware controlling or manipulative way in order to feel safe from a threat I haven't clearly identified.

If that is hard to follow, that's totally understandable. And it actually illustrates the ability people have to confuse themselves into unconsciousness about their choices and behaviors.

Now I'll bet you don't trust yourself when you think you're confused. So, if a person doesn't know their feeling is afraid, react to it unconsciously by controlling and has to meet with a customer or a boss or a spouse, what are the chances of having a successful experience with the most important people in our lives?

I've gotten by in such situations. But in truth they were always corrosive to the relationships in question. So let's talk about doing something that isn't better. Better than poor is probably still lousy. Lets' talk about doing something different.

I claimed at the outset that this would be about Belief. So in order to investigate that an agreement about definitions is critical. There's no use exploring ideas if we have individual understandings of the words. The first is Power.

If my definition of Power comes from age 5, adult life is going to be difficult. Power as I am using it means having the ability to exert my energy in a specific direction. (You math people might relate to a vector).

And I know I have Power because I am breathing and that isn't possible without it. Further, I can choose to do one of three things with that Power. I can give it away, as most of us have done in situations where we have felt suitably threatened, thinking someone else will protect me. The next thing I can do is use it like the bullies do, against someone else. I hope you'll agree that neither of those is likely to produce a worthwhile result for me.

The third thing I can do with my Power is use it for my own benefit. And when I do that, I make my life better. And the interesting side effect is that all the people who are important to me also benefit; some directly, some indirectly.

Someone who has this Power and is willing to use it as described in the last case can use that Power to identify his/her feelings. In that case, I discover what it is I am actually afraid of and how serious is the threat I'm facing. Specifically what do I need the Courage to face? And I can use my Courage to take the appropriate action to deal with the fear. There is no need to avoid, control or manipulate.

None of this is possible without being aware of what I think and how I'm feeling. And my definition, in this case, of Power is actually a Belief in how things are. In a way, this is a building block of my mythology.

C'mon back for the next piece. See you soon.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


The last series of post here dealt with emotions and the way 21st Century humans in the West are dealing with them. Which is to say, describing some of the ways we are trying to avoid them. It doesn't matter whether it happens in the workplace, where the expectation is that feelings get checked at the door, or at home where they tend to be relegated to the female part of the family, or when the males lose it and explode all over the wrong person.

While I'm aware that these are easy generalizations that don't describe every situation, none the less, it still holds that most contemporary Americans don't know what they are feeling and have no idea what they mean when they become aware of them.

We are often encouraged to be in the present. Eckhardt Tolle has made a great success for himself speaking and writing about it in his best seller "The Power Of Now." The title is misleading to me because it claims that Power is somehow contained within Now and that I can somehow learn to either harness the power for some purpose, or I can succumb to that power and then, I don't know what comes next.

As you might expect, I have raised the topic of belief so I can look at how it exists in society. After almost 19 years of coaching I have become aware that the clients I've worked with are a lot like me. They act based on the way they believe things are. Joseph Campbell spent a lifetime learning about and teaching the way myth has operated in the lives of humans as far back as he could see. We have come down from a ling line of myth makers, yet we are pretty much mistaken about what Campbell was trying to teach us.

Humans are pretty much awe struck by what we call Creation. It is enormous and mystical, beyond our comprehension. So we have always tried to understand how everything got here. Actually I think we have tried to figure out how we got here. So these myths that have been created by civilization after civilization are the stories told to try to figure out the mystery of us. They explain the ineffable.

Today we think of myth as a synonym for lie. Actually, a myth is a Creation story, as told by the observers of a time. Where they seem to be untrue is at the scientific level where our knowledge and experience find details that seem to invalidate the myth. But the myth is about a culture and their understanding of what they see and what inspires their awe and the way they explain it to themselves so they can focus on being hunter gatherers or farmers or fishermen instead of being constantly amazed and spending their days in wonder.

You might ask, what does this have to do with belief in today's world?

Good question. The answer requires looking back in order to see the context that gives rise to our belief.  Not long before his death in 1987 Campbell was talking about the fact that our current mythology (our Creation story) has been overtaken by our Cosmology. What he was referring to was the nature of the gods. Or for monotheists, God. Early humans thought the gods were among us. While we couldn't identify them, they were responsible for the events we could observe but not understand. The next view was the gods as Giants. They lived in the forest outside our view somewhere, but we saw the evidence of their work. The next stop was Mount Olympus, followed by Heaven.

Campbell said that we always find the gods so powerful that they couldn't live where we live, it wouldn't make sense. But today we travel the heavens, as we call it, and we have no new way of seeing the gods out of our reach. The danger with this is Hubris, or excessive pride. That dangerous belief that I am God. Interestingly, every Western civilization's stories begin with Pride. Whether it's the Garden of Eden, or Gilgamesh, The Iliad, The Odyssey, every one is a war with our vision of power and how it is expressed.

It seems that what's most important to humans is Power, at least in the West. I can claim no familiarity with Eastern Mythology and am unable to quote it, but I suspect there is a similar story to tell there.

This connection here seems to call for a proposal. The connection between the struggle with and for power must be connected to the most important subject to the human. That's survival. The most important thing to every species has always been claimed to be survival. And all the successful species have found ways to support and assure their survival. Interestingly, most species are dedicated to the survival of their species. Humans seem to have evolved to the point that I am more important than the species. And the speech in the West is continuing to focus more and more on the individual. Yet the anthropologists think it is our interconnectedness that has assured our survival so far.

Have we lost our humility and connectedness to our hubris?

More tomorrow.

Friday, October 3, 2014


There's an ongoing battle inside every human being, particularly in our country and within anyone who has come out of the 20th Century. This internal wrestling match is articulated well today by David Brooks in his New York Times piece. Yes, he's my favorite commentator today. Yes he's considered conservative. Yes I'm still a flaming lefty. 

Here's something more important to me that labels. It's thoughtfulness. The 20th Century was a time for technologists. Anyone who could invent a better mousetrap got rewarded for making our lives easier and faster. The theory was that we would have lots of time to relax and take it easy. Instead, we became the most over working nation on earth. Some places one might think the compulsion to survive would drive people to endless effort and persistent labor. But it turns out that people who are actually fighting for survival quit when they can. But a good day's work isn't satisfactory for us.

My theory about this is that we have adopted a belief system that requires ever more effort at achieving greater amounts of control over our lives and our supposed comforts. Some would say that this is about our native limitations as humans. Churches would call this sinfulness. Bosses would call this laziness. Politicians would call it entitlement.

I think it's about unrecognized fear. But that's an emotion and we aren't supposed to have them. We've all been told that feelings are bad, that feeling people are weak and can't maintain self control. There's that control thing again.

You might ask about this control thing. Where does it come from? Well, smarter people than I would say that control is a natural response to fear. If fear is about an event that hasn't occurred yet, so I try to control the world around me so the thing I fear can't take place, or at least I'll be out of harm's way.

But let's say I'm not worried about being hit by crossing traffic. Let's say I've already stopped at the red light or train crossing. What if I'm afraid I won't have enough. or I'm going to be struck by an unknown assailant or...anything I can't nail down or measure?

Or even worse, I have this unsettled feeling in my gut and I distract myself from it so I can't determine the threat. When that's the case in my life, that uneasy queesy feeling eventually becomes anxiety and then, and then and then...?

But what if, and I'm not kidding about this, what if I could ask myself to name what the threat was? What if I found out about that feeling? But I'm often confused by this stuff and my head starts to swim and before long I need to think about something else. Or have a drink,as my friend, Kevin says, "Have a feeling? Have a drink>" Or how about this T-shirt

We have options. Check David out here.

Take the weekend to think about it and we'll pick this up next week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Who Wants A Gift?

Yes, you can get a gift and it isn't even Christmas. Or any of those other gifty days like well, you know. 

And amazingly enough you can give it to yourself. Actually, no one else can give it to you. It's time to find a new best friend. Not another new friend. Most of us have had way too many of them. They just come and go, often without leaving a trace.

No, we're talking about a real best friend. The kind you had as a kid. You could pal around with him or her and just do the stuff the two of you wanted to do, which was almost always the same thing for each of you. And about this time each year one of you would go on vacation and your heart ached until they came back. Life was so much bigger and more fun when that best friend was around.

So, here's what I'm talking about Mr. or Ms. grown up. The kind of friend a big person needs to make their life bigger and better. Hop on your adult version of a bike and join us as follows:

Allow me to introduce your new best friend, COURAGE.

This isn’t a stranger to you, just a better friend than you’ve known. This is the friend that helped you make all those decisions, both hard and not-so-hard. Whether you were choosing a college, asking for a date or having a child, it was courage that was there, by your side, helping you move forward. Or not. Either way it was a decision. And that decision caused you to confront yourself, your expectations, your hopes, your fears. You may have told yourself you weighed all the pluses and minuses and came up with a rational decision but research tells us that the decision was likely to have been made and the logical augment merely justifies that decision.

Our decades of coaching and our individual life experience has helped us to see the power of the unconscious in our lives and the lives of our clients. Connecting to that part is really valuable to leading a life that is better at serving us. And the better it serves us, the better we serve the people who are important to us.

This experience has been so valuable to us that we decided to offer a worship to help others learn how to use this connection better. This is about connecting with Courage at the emotional level, not merely the intellectual level.  That’s where the Courage work is done. If you’re curios, and we know you are, join us for this life altering experience. Details follow.

We offer a day long workshop in which we explore the scary situations we all face on a daily basis uncover the actual threats and chart a path through the deep-seated process it takes to connect with the power of your Courage. And so the experience has the ability to stay with you over time,we will help you anchor it in your body so you can call it up whenever you choose.

The Courage Workshop will be help Saturday, August 2 from 9AM-5PM.
The location is a space called design cloud, 118  N. Peoria, Suite 2n Chicago 60607. 
The cost is $150 per person. 
We will break for punch and encourage you to take one of the following options for lunch. Either bring your own, or order with us from here:
Ordered lunch will be delivered and each will pay for theirs individually.
Call with questions or to register at 773-817-6700.

We look forward to joining you on this adventure. See you soon.

You’ll be glad you did.

Bill Campbell
Bill Flynn 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

No more Amazon

Dear Reader,

A rant is about to follow. read it at your own risk. Or if you'd like to do something about the trending economy, please read on.

I do not shop at Wal-Mart. I refuse to support their way of doing business. I refuse because what they have done is to drive small businesses out of small towns. This allows more people to buy more stuff and spend their days driving out to the Wal-Mart Mall on the outskirts of town. They do this instead of buying a hammer ot T-Shirt or prescriptions from their next door neighbor who then retires to Florida, leaving someone in his house with an upside down mortgage and no one to sponsor the little league team your kid plays on. Because Wal-Mart doesn't contribute like that. They contribute to the Walton family in Arkansas.

I told you it was a rant. I warned you.

Now it's Amazon. They have driven most of the independent bookstores out of business and it seems Jeff Bezos is on his way to doing the same to lots of other stores too. Please don't think I'm wild about the retail businesses that may disappear. They are vulnerable because they have relied on the manufacturers and sale prices to bring people to their stores. So they have failed to build their brands, so so so.

Phil Rosenthal wrote in today's Tribune about the dirty tricks Amazon is pulling on Hachette, publisher of perhaps many of your favorite authors: Scott Turow, James Patterson, Malcolm Gladwell and others. I am not pleading the case of Hachette, because they haven't done anything for me personally, but because they are a legitimate publisher. They work with authors to create quality books. The kind that have lots of readers and no split infinitives. What I mean is, they are publishers, with editors and designers and a history in the profession. They are not working for the lowest price tag. They are looking to create product that has merit first, followed by quality production and widely available distribution.

None of that comes at the lowest price! This is not a process which lends itself to automation beyond the mechanical parts.And Amazon has made it's business all about saving the consumer money. This is not a workable business model, because it only looks at one thing---efficiency.

Mr. Rosenthal refers to Scott Turow, one of our most popular and prolific authors. Even he doesn't crank out lots of books, relative to a product that can be made on an assembly line with robots. Even a cr company needs to make many, many times more items per year than Mr. Turow can possible make. Or Stephen King or anyone else. If we continue as a society to buy cheap, sooner or later what we are going to get will be cheap.

We are seeing it now in the manufacturing arena. If we don't want to buy a knock off product from a low cost provider overseas, or we can't squeeze a few more cents out of the hourly of our own citizens we can't find it. We have demeaned factory work to the point where employers are unable to find capable workers because they are going to more valued jobs.

Buy books from Barnes & Noble. Or from your local bookstore if you're lucky enough to have one. And find your shoes and clothes and electronics from someone else too. There are plenty of good buys out there. Keep someone in business for a change instead of going for a little cheaper. None of us needs much more stuff anyway. And Amazon will get us in the end, if we empower them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

LIVE from Lincoln Square!

Now, for something completely different...

Okay, it's not Saturday Night Live and it's not Monty Python. It's not even comedy, although I'll be disappointed if no one gets a laugh.

It will be live and it will be Saturday night and you certainly will be entertained in a different way. It will be more exploration than hilarity.

The topic will be Inspiration. I did not select the topic, Jamie did. And she asked me to present about it. I have to admit that I was more surprised about the topic than the request to present. Those of you who know me would not be surprised to see it announced that I was going to expound on any topic under the sun, and you certainly wouldn't be surprised or hear that I would think myself capable. Here's the surprise.

Inspiration is one of those topics that I see as emotional rather than intellectual. Motivation is another one, and I've had a disparaging attitude about motivators since I had my first selling job way back in the seventies. I was able to get hyped up, but I wasn't able to control when and for how long. I was like getting high and then wanting to stay high. It can't be done. So we won't be focusing on getting inspired on Saturday, we'll be learning about what we already know about the subject and the tools already at our disposal to find that "hit" when we need it.

Jamie asked me to do this some time ago and I've been working with it ever since. It's going to work and it's going to be fun. And I can't wait to see what I'm going to learn from you.

Roots Salon Master Speaker Series Presents

Saturday, May 31 at 8:00 PM at Jamie O'Reilly's Roots Salon,
(private address in Lincoln Square, Chicago)

I am so excited to host Bill as a guest speaker at Roots. A lifetime supporter of the arts and keenly alert to their impact on the community, Bill will talk to us and with us about INSPIRATION and its place in our lives as professional creatives. He's the guy to hear for pep talks and new perspectives on being your best and vibrant creative self, facing your fears, and having fun. "SHOW UP FOR ROOTS! That's what Bill does, and when he's here, he's all there!

Admission: $25 donation. We serve dessert. You BYOB. Seating is limited. Street parking.(private address in Lincoln Square). ph 773-203-7661; Email: Purchase tickets online.
Read Bill's Blog here.

Sat May 31 at 8:00

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Meet your new best friend, COURAGE

This isn’t a stranger to you, just a better friend than you’ve known. This is the friend that helped you make all those decisions, both hard and not-so-hard. Whether you were choosing a college, asking for a date or having a child, it was courage that was there, by your side, helping you move forward. Or not. Either way it was a decision. And that decision caused you to confront yourself, your expectations, your hopes, your fears. You may have told yourself you weighed all the pluses and minuses and came up with a rational decision but research tells us that the decision was likely to have been made and the logical augment merely justifies that decision.

We have two invitations for you to see how you can embrace your Courage in a more intentional way, to put it to use for you in your every day life. The first is an introductory session to the practice of connecting to your Courage. And to make it easier, we are offering two different sessions to choose from, both free of charge.

Our decades of coaching and our individual life experience has helped us to see the power of the unconscious in our lives and the lives of our clients. Connecting to that part is really valuable to leading a life that is better at serving us. And the better it serves us, the better we serve the people who are important to us.

Choose Thursday, May 15 from 7:30 to 9:00AM At the 360 Cafe, 20 E. Chestnut in the city. The second will be Saturday, June 7 from 9:00 to 10:30 at the same location.

Both of these will be the same with the exception that the group will have different participants. Both will be entertaining, fun, informative and challenging. If you’re curious, and I know you are, call and sign up for one of these sessions.

But that’s only the first offering. The second will be day long workshop where the concepts and ideas explored in the first session will be expanded, deepened and anchored in you, so that you will have something you can hang onto and use in a more powerful way. Day and date will be established after these two sessions. Most likely it will be on a Saturday in June.

We look forward to joining you on this adventure. See you soon.

You’ll be glad you did.

Bill Campbell
Bill Flynn

Sign up at 773-817-6700

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Leadership and Time Management

You are probably not surprised to hear I am not a fan of Steven Covey or any of his or his outfit's stuff. Except for one.

The one is what I learned as the Xerox Time Management system back in the early '70s. Yes, 40 years ago. The basis is a simple matrix of two elements and their opposites: Importance and Urgency. While I try not to teach my clients, I have suggested this to many clients over the years. I have even used it myself.

The deal is that one assigns all tasks to a quadrant of the matrix i.e. Important/Urgent, Important/notUrgent, not/Important/Urgent, notImportant/notUrgent.

The automatic reaction for most of us is to assign things incorrectly, but when one realizes the I/U category requires more time than there is to accomplish it all something important arises. The need to renegotiate.  This is the area many employees are weak. The first instinct is to think what is required is the impossible.

The appropriate action here is communication and teamwork. There are also valuable lessons in each of the spaces, but that requires a little more time and space than we have here. Call or write if you're interested in the details. But the important point to our discussion of Leadership is that the Leader in this case can use this tool as a means to foster communication and collaboration without taking a heavy hand. What if this matrix was used by the group as well as the individuals? What if group discussions were based on this model, which assumes the likelihood of changes in deadlines and importance? What if plans were based on a fluid system much more closely related to the way things unfold over time?

This becomes a tool of empowerment, rather than just another way to get the followers to conform to expectations. This is a tool than helps them work together. This helps the group be more responsive and involved in the decisions that rule their lives.

That sound like Leadership to me.

I raise this because something came across my Twitter feed this morning that reminded me of this. Someone was referring to their overwhelming to-do list and referred to this article from Business Insider

It takes exactly the same concept I described above and turns it into a mathematical expression. So instead of creating an opportunity for collaboration and cooperation, it becomes a way to order the to-do list in a better way, relative to priorities. I don't claim to know what will work better for any individual, but I do know that a Leadership tool is more valuable to me than another way to see myself as swamped. With the numbers to prove it.

I take this as another way to see Leadership as a Group capability and trait.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why Leaders Lose Their Way

Remember Bill George? I introduced him in a recent post. He;s really a good one on my book. I hope you get to know him too.

I suppose I like him because he really does a great job of selling the need for coaching in a way that certainly surpasses mone. Also, he's not a coach, but an educator and retired senior exec. The article I want to talk about today is Bill's contribution to the weekly Harvard Business Review. While the article is from June of 2011, it is still one of the most popular reads on their site. Here it is:

We all know that the oldest sin as told in the Bible is Pride. Actually, it's hubris which is excessive Pride. It is also the central theme in Gilgamesh, the oldest book in the Western culture. The reason I mention this is that Mr. George's column refers to this flaw existing in all of us as the most likely cause of a successful leader's downfall.

As I wrote yesterday, choices and behaviors are driven by beliefs, and hubris is a belief. It is false and an inflated view but a belief none the less. The power and adulation that comes with authority, responsibility, title, success and all other things projected on leaders make them constantly targeted by people and situations that may tempt them to be distracted from the person that got them to the point they've arrived at.

Again, the great power of coaching is that it is continually presenting a challenge to the leader to be in touch with the person they actually are, to be in touch with the things that are actually important to them. Coaching focuses the power of the person into themselves so that they can continue to be true to themselves and their values.

If you want to use your own power best, you want a coach in your corner.

When you decide this is for you, we will be here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


In the last post I wrote about Positive Thinking and how it is likely to work against instead in favor of one reaching their objectives. Just as I finished that post I ran across an article by Bill George, former chairman of Medtronic, a medical equipment company in the Twin Cities. He is now a professor at Harvard Biz and a guy who thinks deeply and communicates directly. Here is the article that caught my eye. Bill cited it in his latest Tweet and it comes from Drake Baer writing in Inc, It appears on their website here

Bill has been advocating the idea of Engagement with regard to employees. He has spoken and written about what it means and how it works. Check him out and see if you like him as much as I do.

And let me say how this is supported by coaching.

The process of coaching is one of supporting the client to become more and more who the person actually is. We have all been in situations where we try to perform up to expectations of superiors. It begins with mom and dad, continues through school and on to adult life with spouses and bosses. The more closely aligned we are naturally with those in authority, the better we get along and often the more successful we are in our lives. The question that arises is whether our compliance or non is really about us.

After almost 20 years as a professional coach I can attest that most of the people I have worked with are not in complete sync with those above them in their lives. The one constant, however is that sooner or later the actual person comes out. Or goes off the rails emotionally because they can't keep faking and can't change. These difficult situations arise when a conflict rises inside the individual and that person tries to live on with the unresolved conflict. In this context it's easy to see the problem.

So the coach knows the client is creative, resourceful and whole and trusts the client to have everything they need to gain their success. As they describe it. All that's needed is clarity.  The embedded conflict causes stasis. When one believes things that cannot coexist, their activity is stalled when the conflict arises. The coach is always challenging the client to be aware of and aligned with their beliefs. If the client can't do that, independent activity is impossible.

So if you want to know why Engagement is so important, it is all about alignment between the organization and the customer, the boss and the employee, between all the participants. This requires communication and agreement. It also guarantees the worker can be successful.

How cool is that?

Check out the myth that is widely believed about incentives.

Remember Norman Vincent Peale?

The author of The Power Of Positive Thinking from the fifties was a New York Methodist minister, author and celebrity of his day. He espoused the idea that thinking positive thoughts was all someone needed (other than faith) to achieve all their hopes and aspirations. His lay evangelism gave rise to Zig Zeigler, Tony Robbins and all the other proponents of motivational evangelism.

This may sound harsh but truth is that positive thinking is crap. I know, I know. I'm the guy who poo-poos everything. I can't argue with that, because I learned from good ones.

But what if we get past the pre judgment? What if we look at the data? What if we call the data results? Because results are the outcome of an act or choice or series of them. This is what actually happens in one's life. That's the stuff that tells the tale. The data is for research. Life is for living.

Here's a link to a New Yorker on the subject by Adam Alter in the February 19 issue this year.

This is really worth reading because it looks at some very popular references, unlike mine looking back over 50 years. He starts with "The Secret" and moves on to discuss things that have happened to real people. He describes the way being positive is helpful and more importantly how it is hurtful. He describes positive thinking as an attempt to control events that are beyond our control. Let's face it, if I'm not doing it I am not in control. No matter how manipulative I am, sooner or later I will run into situations which happen without regard to me. And some of these situations have serious consequences for me.

Check out the article and then come back as we explore this territory some more.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Making Training ork

Those of you who know me are aware that I am a skeptic when it comes to training on the job. I'm not referring to job skill or activity training, since nearly all people need some training to merely integrate into a new job. What I',m talking about is the kind of training an organization engages in to create a substantive change in the enterprise. Whether it's a new initiative or a cultural change or a reorganization these trainings are often see as failures. Here's an excerpt from an email I just got from the fine people at Gallup. You may know them from their famous polling activities, but they use their skill in this area to develop insights they can use to sell their training and development programs. You are probably aware of some of their initiatives. Employee engagement is one of theirs. This measures something beyond job performance. It measures how much people are committed ti the enterprise and its stated intentions. It can be very powerful. It can also be seriously misused. If you care to read the article you may find it here:

But of course I am not here to support Gallup, I'm here to promote the values and principles of Paeon Partners and our coaching practice. So, here's where we fit in this picture. As experienced and powerful facilitators we are quite capable of delivering the type of training program discussed above. In addition to that, the Gallup article refers to the fact that such programs fail in the eyes of management and the employees as well for really one reason.

The is no commitment to integration.

No I'm not referring to anything other than integrating the power, content and intention of the training. We all have customary behaviors and habits. These are activities we have engaged on over time that become repetitive and often thoughtless. In order to change any of these, people need to be aware of the thoughtlessness of the old behavior. But awareness is not enough. As I wrote in the last ost on self help books, awareness is not enough. There also needs to be a plan to change and an ability to observe the results.

Gallup refers to the value of the trainings in question diminishing over time primarily because the messages and intentions of the training is not reinforced. Or integrated if you will. This lack of integration in our experience comes from a lack of powerful communication, which undermines trust among workers. We live in a society where trust is scarce and fesr is abundant. There are lots of reasons for it but the reasons don't matter to the fact that trust is in short supply and that can be changed.

In the case of the training that is taking such a beating here, better results are attainable with surprisingly little effort. But it can't happen without a bit of fundamental change.

We at Paeon have powerful and effective tools available to improve communication and deepen trust. And these can be implemented without either excessive time commitment or onerous cost. Let us help you deliver and or integrate your next initiative. A brief conversation will allow you to see how it can work for you.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Tired Of Self Help Books?

Isn't everyone? I'll never forget a friend of mine telling me he finally got to the point where he had to retire all his self-help books. And no wonder. It's almost as hard to see the progress as it is to admit you don't want to or can't make your life any better.

I caught a post last week from Joanna Cabot about the very subject of these tomes cramming so many of our bookshelves. See it here:

She makes some interesting points about the so-called help in the books. Lots of times things work for individuals, but that's no reason to believe the advice can be generalized. She make interesting points and I pretty much agree with her.

Here's what I think is missing in all the self-help stuff. Let's say one finds a book that speaks to them and really defines the problem for that reader. Next, they consider the advice and begin to implement the changes, which are based on the idea that the person is now aware of how they are standing in their own way.

I don't know how often you have done this and found yourself unsatisfied months later as you peruse the shelves (or web pages) for another, better book; but it has happened to me too often. How come? What's missing here? The author is plenty successful, why aren't I?

The answer is surprisingly simple. First, a large part of their success is that they are selling their book. To me. They have some of my money. But in a more important context, my success has nothing to do with theirs. I am comparing myself to my judgment of them. And they must be successful because I bought their book. But really there is another thing going on here.

I need to not only be aware of what is on my way, but what needs to be different for me to recognize success. How often have I told myself I'm doing better today or this week? And how often when I have done that have a determined what is substantially different? If everything I am doing is really the same but I think I'm doing it better, what are the chances I'm just telling myself that? In my case they are high. That is also the case with many of the clients I have worked with over the last 18 years.

The solution to my stuckness is at least two part. Firat I become aware that I am stuck, and second that I change the way I do some thing or things. Then I need to observe the results. And if I can identify what's different and how it's not better but different, then I'm on the road.

But even that's not all. What's different needs to be judged as well. Is it different better, or different worse or different different? When I make that determination, then I can take a look at what's next. Is it more of the ame, less of the same or just stay the course for now. With my eyes and ears wide open.

This is another ideal situation in which a coach is ones best ally. The coach will hold your objectives when you lose sight ot forget. And your coach will be able to tell you when what you're doing is different instead of better.

Hire a coach and change the quality of your life. We at Paeon, are here to be your ally on the journey.


Look out: I agree With Google

I don't know about you but I have mixed feelings about Google. Like many I respect their creativity and forward thinking. They are my favorite search engine and I have a gmail address and Google+ identity. I am right this minute using their blog site, blogspot and I believe the standards they have set did more to improve the web experience for all of us beyond what anyone else has done.

And they are the most invasive data grabbers in my life. Maybe in anyone's. Except NSA.

Today I want to focus on their style of doing things, in this case the way they recruit and hire talent. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote a column a couple weeks ago discussing how Google goes about the talent acquisition process. Here's the link if you wish to read it, but wait til later for that, please.

The point he make is that although Google is certainly in a position to demand the top graduates from the top schools exclusively, that isn't their practice. Let there be no mistake, if they re looking for specific technical expertise, they do go to the top of the top. But for much of their work, there is no known skill. They want to do things no one has done before. That means no one has studied it in school, at any level. This is about finding people who will take them around the corner no one has seen. Kind of like the Apollo astronauts seeing the far side of the moon for the first time. And some of the corners don't have as much predicted as the moon situation in which everyone expected the other side to be much like the side we had always seen. And it was.

In cases like that Google is looking for someone who may be the next different thinker. I could refer to Steve Jobs or some other garage wizard, but lots of lesser creations spring from the mind that thinks along these lines. But lesser is merely a comparative that isn't really relevant. In order for Steve Jobs to have developed the Apple computer, lots of other apparently lesser new ideas needed to be discovered by many other people. For example Jobs didn't create the mouse, that was done by Douglas Englebart, who is well known in his design world, but not so much to the average computer user.

Are you looking for a job? Are you looking to hire someone new? Are you facing a situation or feeling discomfort about something in your life or business? If so, are you looking at the problem or situation the way Google is looking at hiring, or are you assuming the solution needs to come from some specific idea you have had for a long time? maybe one that is not actually relevant to the situation?

These are typical situations in which a coach is an ideal addition. A wise person once said to me that if a person wants something in their life and they don't have it, it's because they can't do it by themselves or it already would have been manifested. This is also true for groups. And it's a corollary to this that the addition of an outsider, a coach, is not going to do anything except help the person or group expand their thinking so that the path becomes clear.

Let your vision expand and gain the clarity you need today and in the future. Call us at Paeon and let our experience and processes help you help yourself.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Does that number mean anything to you? How about 86ing it? It's an old slang expression of uncertain origin. The The American Heritage Dictionary defines it first as a refusal of service in a bar or restaurant, and secondly to throw out or eject something.

I use this odd little diversion in contrast to today's topic: "More Crap From The Internet."

I get an email from the Huffington Post every day and while there are some really interesting items that show up I have become aware that there is something they are obsessed with: Management!

Yes, the thing people use to run businesses and one of the most "trending" ways be doing things. Yes we know that management is the answer to everything, whether it's work, chores at home, schools, our emotions. All these things and more can be mastered with the judicious application of management tools and practices. But lest we forget, management is really good at one thing and probably not much else. That thing is efficiency.

It certainly makes sense that a business doesn't want to use valuable resources doing things that don't promote creation of value, which is the reason for the organization's existence. And if you're trying to build cars, for example, Mr. Ford's assembly line is a real model of efficiency and execution. So management is really the process of evaluating the steps in a process and maximizing the result while minimizing the input and time and energy. This requires taking lots of measurements over a significant number of replicates to create a base line, then working to improve or eliminate steps.

This brings us to the "trending" i referred to above. On the main page of the Huff Post page to day are a number of lists of things one might do to better manage their lives today. That number is, you guessed it 86. From 18 things highly creative people do differently to 10 full-body workout moves you can do at home. Not to mention the 8 college degrees that aren't worth the money ot the 7 foods you should never eat again, neither of which are included in the total.

Am I the only one who doesn't have the time, patience or interest in seeing ow long a list I can make for myself today. I mean really, one or two important things  in addition to the phone answering and groceries and errands is a full day. And, by the way one of the 18 is daydreaming.

But lest I lay the blame at the feet of the Huffsters, they're media. That means they're a reflection of us. If we didn't want that stuff they wouldn't waste their valuable space with it. Now you might ask ourself why am I going on about management like this. And that would certainly be a valid question.

Any of you who've been reading any of my stuff have gotten the word that the times, they are a-changin' as Mr. Dylan said back in the 60's. And as they certainly were back then they are now. After WWII we all fell in love with the country's ability to rise up in incredible response to the onslaught of Germany and Japan to build up our forces and our hardware to defeat the enemy. We loved our ability to build war machines of great capability and durability that lead us to believe, then prove what a manufacturing powerhouse we were. And we used that belief as energy and intention to create highly successful business and the profits that went along with them.

In the 70's the world which had been changing since the end of the war began to catch up to us. Metaphorically, the Japanese come ashore and said Americans don't have to choose from the big 3's offering of gas-guzzling chrome-and-finmobiles. We could drive more economical and reliable transportation which would certainly get from zero to sixty in an amount of time no one cared about one way or another. Apparently the market spoke and Detroit ignored it. They insisted they knew better and gave away over a third of it's market share, along with most of their profits.

Now you know the captains of industry have to find out whose fault this is and it was easy to blame the high price of labor and those unreasonable unions. They had to be stopped. I'm not going any further than that. You can have your own opinion of all that without it having any impact on the point I'm making.

All the data from all the economists whether liberal, progressive or conservative all agree that the American economy stopped creating value around the mid-70's. Real wages froze then have fallen and the economy has pretty much been the playground and pay day for the wealthy ever since. And they still cry about high taxes and inefficient government. And they have amassed a combined store of cash on the order of more than $10 Trillion.

THere isn't enough work, and there is a stagnant economy. But don't call the capitalists to account. It's unions and foreign competition and high taxes and interfering government. Meanwhile, the guys in the corner offices are getting paid millions to their personal accounts while allowing the well being of everyone else to wallow in indifference.

Have you noticed that the only people besides the wealthy that are doing well are the whiz kids? Yeah, the great tech innovators from Apple and Microsoft and Google, etc. What's going to happen when Elon Musk and his Tesla becomes the biggest car company in the US, then the world? And we're paying carloads to so-called high performance CEOs to help us maintain mediocrity.

No, folks. The answer is no longer management and its obsession with efficiency. We need brains, and heart and balls! We have them, so let;s put them to use.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Internet Again

Sometimes I just have to ask myself if I should just unsubscribe from all this email crap I get from people. And then I realize, "This is how I get triggered and have an opportunity to learn about myself.

Today it's leadership. Not that this is a new topic, but it's one I may have struggled with the most. I got an invite from Harvard Business Review to send them $199 and in return they would send me a carload of what they referred to as "must Read" articles on the usual subjects, including leadership. But the others are all related. If you're interested I'm sure you can find it easily enough, but I've already given them too much ink.

I also got an email telling me all I needed to do to become a better leader was to read their book which culls out the characteristics embodied by Churchill, Lincoln and several others. My first reaction was, "Those guys were completely different!" I don't deny they were certainly accomplished, and turned out to be real important men of their times, but other than being committed to their own ideas and persistent in their pursuit I find little similarity.

They also acted decisively and consistently. Kinda like Hitler or Stalin or the Pharaohs of Egypt. How about Henry VIII? It seems the qualities of leadership have little to do with the quality of the result. There must be another way to assess what I think leadership is. Yes, me, Bill Flynn. I get to decide.

Why? To quote my late father, "Who died and left you boss?"

I could say it was him, but I can't imagine leadership in any other way than embodied by the person I would follow. A very complicated yet wise woman said to me once, that it is easy to spot a leader. Just look at the person with people following them. As usual, wisdom lies in the obvious. This leads me to think I know what it takes to be a leader. Who am I following?

As I tried to see who I was following, one surprising thing came up. I am following different people at different times and in different situations. Maybe a leader isn't always a leader. Maybe they sometimes follow. Maybe it isn't about a title or a job. Maybe it has more to do with just who the person is and how they show up.

Over time I occasionally looked at the things I have relied on to make decisions. Sometimes I trusted my gut, but not very often. I have exhausted myself with research in the various ways of finding out what to do. I have most often tried to look at others who are doing what I want or who have what I think I need. Then I work at doing what they are doing. I try to become them if you will.

Bad strategy. You know the reasons. That job is already taken. I can't be them, I need to be me. But I can't seem to work that out because I don't trust myself. What if that's exactly my problem? What if I actually looked at what I think might work and tried it? Either way I'm likely to learn something. If what I try works, I learn I am capable and on the right track. If what I try fails, I have new information and the opportunity to use it to find an alternative.

Likewise in a group. We'll move from here next. C'mon back.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

More From The Media

My latest encounter with an article is a New Yorker commentary by Louis Menand on the recent book by Scott Stossel titled "My Age Of Anxiety." It is the story of Stossel's life long experience with anxiety. You may read the article here

Stossel is the editor of The Atlantic and he was first treated at the age of 10. As one might imagine he has been through any and every model of treatment available, except electro-shock therapy. What interested me most is what seems to be an idea that anxiety (what I have been calling fear) is a disease to be eliminated. Every course of therapy and treatment, as I understand it, has had the intention of curing the condition. There is a built in supposition that Mr. Stossel's suffering has to do with a similar kind of suffering one might experience with a cold or the flu. These temporary biological upsets caused by an invasive organism or virus.

What if the situation is fundamentally different? We know that an infection causes a fever, which causes one to feel "sick" which causes one to seek medical treatment. Pains are the same kind of attention grabber leading to curative measures, But what if the psychological conditions we deal with such as depression and anxiety are merely indicators of the invasion, and what if they aren't so much calling for cure as much as they are calling for adaptation.

Many people I have talked with have held the notion that feelings, such as fear or anger are things to be controlled. I suggest the desire to control is an effort to avoid the negative consequences that have occurred when one has exploded in anger or crumbled in fear. But one thing I'm sure of is that these feelings are reactions to events outside the body, not reactions to the thoughts within the brain. After the feeling, the thoughts begin, often judgmental in nature, and many times reactive. I'm guessing the reactive behavior is similar to the fever or pain associated with the biological diseases referred to above.

My suggestion here is that the point of intervention required to effect a different kind of outcome is in the space between the feeling and reaction, not ahead of the feeling. Controlling one's feelings requires intervention before the feeling occurs. This is the outcome patients experience when they have taken psychotropic medications and complained about being numb or listless. All feelings are diminished by these drugs, which leaves a patient feeling lifeless.

I am not condemning use of these drugs. I personally experienced a depression, was prescribed Prozac, used it in conjunction with therapy and stopped after about 7 months. Both the psychiatrist and I considered this a successful course of treatment. But what the therapy did in conjunction with the drug, was to help me gain awareness and skill associated with my responses to my feelings. At the time I was so sad I needed the meds to get up off the floor. That gave me the opportunity to show up and take a look at my reactions. As I learned more mature responses to my feelings I became less reactive and the depression lifted.

The Revolution I have been talking about isn't about everyone in the world having the same experience and taking the same course of action and treatment I had. Rather the Revolution is about learning how to be present with my feelings and my thinking at the same time. My reactive nature, learned as a child, did not allow me to think about a response. I was reacting first and not even bothering to ask questions later. I believe that's more common than one might think.

The Revolution is not an argument between professionals. The Revolution is about how we can all help each other see the world as a larger place than we think. And then for each of us to see ourselves as larger than we thought.  We are all more capable and more complex that we have believed. And in order to see this, to feel its authenticity, we need each other.

Be well, stay warm and come back soon for more.    

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Revolution? Really?

I know many will think I'm just trying to get people's attention. And they would be correct. Don't shoot me for wanting readers. But there is content coming to demonstrate what I'm saying.

You've read or heard me saying that revolutions happen without people knowing it. We think there is always some evil cabal meeting secretly and hatching nefarious plots to overthrow our nice, safe world; but the truth is that as people stop believing that their world is nice and safe, they begin to adjust their thinking and sooner or later they look up and change has occurred.

Last time I talk about the 3 power girls and their newly launched events called The Third Metric. I feel compelled to mention them probably because I butchered Cindi Leive's name. I come from a time when I signed my name William, even though I have never liked anything but Bill. And the spelling, especially of her last name just will not stick in my head. So I misspelled her first name. My apologies to you if you see this Ms. Leive.

Too long a digression.

So the three girls have this idea that turning off their phones will allow them great weekends and wonderful vacations. But will that do the job? A fresh article out of The New Yorker
talks about Wall Street and their apparently being enlightened to the fact that people just can't work effectively without rest. The article is short and worth the five minutes, but my point here is that we have all taken on a belief system that not only honors hard work but accepts the notion that it's okay for the boss to think I work around the clock. I am even willing to be seen as unimportant if I am unavailable for a minute. Who gets to go to the bathroom in that model? But in all fairness Goldman Sachs saying their people shouldn't work more than 70 or 75 hours per week is hardly enlightened.

What we at Paeon believe is that whatever anyone likes or believes, the model will change. Whether I want to let my people be human is not a consideration. Sooner or later people become themselves. and even if the investment banks are a little less than enlightened in their view, the fact that they are able to articulate a view at all is probably the result of recognizing greater expectations aren't working anyway. And the only way they are able to see this is by observing the actions of their people. And if my guess is correct, people were breaking down in spite of their intention to act omnipotent, to excel in all areas, to push beyond all limits. Of course all that is not possible, except within the walls of imagination.

I hear a call to moderation in these words. I hear a need to revisit beliefs and assumptions. But in if I am going to do that, I need to change my view. If I continue to think and believe that what's expected of me is perfection or 70 hour weeks or 24/7 availability, I will pretend to turn off my phone, but that doesn't  free my mind. That doesn't let my psyche get its needed rest; it only refers the fear to another region. In that region one may find all my feelings. Keeping company with my fears are anger, sadness and joy.

Joy? Even that?

Yes. Of course if I turn off my feeling, I turn off my feeling. That means everything that's not painful enough to break through my denial. I can pretend not to be any of these things and yet feel some of them, but that's only pretend. I've discovered that for chunks of my life I have experienced pleasure and called it joy. But when I looked at joy and its true nature, I realized I have been joyful in times of great pain and fear. Times absent any pleasure. At that point I learned something that is valuable to me and our clients.  I don't choose my feelings, they happen without my permission or consideration. My body experiences the world and sends messages back about what it observes. In real time. Which tells me if I want to be present I need to know how I feel. I need to know what my body is telling me about Sad, Glad, Mad and Afraid.

And here is the Revolution I've been talking about. For a long, long time mankind has survived on earth with an emotional reality based on survival. That means threats are dealt with by running or killing. These are not actual decisions in terms of thinking what's best, they are reactions to the body's impulses. But is this the best, or even a good way for contemporary humans to live? When was the last time any of our lives were threatened? The Revolution is merely that if I am going to be present in my life, if I am going to do my work and end the day while I am still alert, if I am going to have actual weekends and vacations, if I am going to have relationships I can actually show up for, then I need to know how I feel. Now. At this moment. And I need to know what to do about them.

I thank Daniel Goleman and the others who began the conversation about Emotional Intelligence. I also thank Allison Wood Brooks and her colleagues at Harvard Business School who actually had the nerve to talk about the impact of fear in the workplace and its negative impact on performance. There are no doubt many others toiling in this field. There is going to be more on this here soon, but we're going to avoid the academic. This isn't the forum for detailed investigation. That's important stuff, but it is also for others.

So check back next time and find out if you'll need a uniform to join the Revolution.

Stay warm and be well.

Friday, January 17, 2014

And a new year

Still writing checks? Lots of us don't anymore. Still dating them 2013? That was always a problem for me. And apparently I'm not alone. Not to mention all the other things that are so hard to change.

I'm always getting new information, mostly from the print media, which is delivered on my computer. Lots of it is little more than cat videos in terms of importance, but lots of it catches my eye, particularly if it is relevant to things I'm interested in. Take, for example the topic of change. If there's one thing a coach is into it's the concept of change and the impediments to people making it.

I recently filled out a questionnaire from an organization called APQC (American Productivity & Quality Center). They're a non profit membership organization doing research in the fields suggested in their title. There were several questions designed to uncover attitudes and beliefs of senior executives regarding leadership within their organizations. There were several conclusions, but they summarized them as follows.

  •  Many participants are still following traditional leadership practices;
  • There is a gap between the leadership competencies needed for an organization to succeed and the competencies that employees currently possess;
  • Trends such as advances in technology are currently impacting organizations; and
  • Survey participants are concerned about an impending leadership skills deficit.
Where this leaves us is in a situation where decisions about quality of Leadership are not really equipped to make those decisions, for the most part. They haven't adopted any new practices, and they judge their people don't have the skills. And it looks like a recipe for continued lack of change.

Then there's the Gallup Business Journal. This is a very well respected organization, doing great research in many fields. Their concept of Employee Engagement is widely used and its adherents praise its results. Their latest offering talks about 6 keys to building a high performance culture. These six are basically about improving performance through more training and communication. You can see the details here:

Then there's Morning Joe, the popular MSNBC morning news/business news show co-hosted by Mika Brzezinski. She and her friends, Arianna Huffington and Glamour mag Editor Conci Leive have begun a thing called the Third Metric, which they're turning into a road show headed for New York, DC and LA. It's geared toward women, but I'm sure they'll take the money from any men who'd like to attend. Arianna began the idea with a gathering of friends at her Manhattan apartment and the energy built. The first two metrics seem to be money and power. The third metric is actually quality of life. Their talk as three powerful successful women, is all about the personal, human cost of living the kinds of lives that have gained them the money/power thing, but left them realizing something has been missing.

And what's the real key to their realizations? They all report being in situations that are supposed to be relaxing ones, enjoying with family and friends and realizing the continual distraction of the iPhone. (No doubt other smartphones would do). It's the call of work and the routine of distraction, the magnetism if you will of the habit of gaining money and power.

I suggest that these women have fallen into the trap of the other gender, allowing their unrecognized fear of losing what they have by not being on top of everything all the time. There is a sense of urgency that all things require their attention all the time.

They've decided to do The Cleanse of their electronic handcuffs in hopes of connecting with their actual lives. I wish them well, and I am sure the're on the right track. But the question comes up at this point: How does one deal with the withdrawal symptoms. What happens when the feelings come up? A strategy for dealing with discomfort, as we see it here at Paeon is to learn to identify ones feelings on a routine, nearly consistent basis. Otherwise the suppressed, unidentified feelings cause a reaction that precedes any kind of awareness.

How is it the right now I am mad, sad, afraid and joyful? And what, if anything, do I need to do about it now?

More on this soon.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The New Century

Happy New Year! And welcome to the Revolution!

Yes, revolution. People are annually engaged in new years resolutions and predictions about the new year for themselves or others. I'm going to talk about something a little different. I'm going to talk about some things I've been observing and how I'm interpreting about them.

You all recall about a century ago there was this thing called the Industrial Revolution. Unlike a typical political revolution, the rebels of the day weren't so much focused on revolting as they were on trying to find better ways of doing things. And these people may have had various motivations. For some it might have been to make their lives better. For others the prospect of profit. No doubt there were others who were just curious to see what would happen if they tried something new.

There is a temptation to look at these events and motivations through a narrow perspective. Historians do this in order to create a narrative to help explain how these events fit in the long arc of history. Others, and I confess to being this way, are trying to simplify in order to claim understanding. This time I am attempting to take a wider view. I want to look at this time in a way that includes things that I don't necessarily understand or that don't fit my model perfectly. In relation to the early 1900's for example, all the talk of machines and their impact completely ignored Einstein and his discovery of relativity which happened in 1905.

Even though Einstein and his successors had the most profound effect on the last century, it is only now that we are beginning to come to grips with some of the broader implications of his theory. Today we are immersed in the ubiquity of the electronic device. I'm talking about the computer of course, but the other computer like devices: smartphones, mp3 players, tablets and the numerous gadgets we take for granted today. All these are products of the Age of 2100+, whatever it will come to be called. It may be known as Information, Connectivity, Electronic, Computer, Social Media and most likely something else.

But you and I really don't care much what future historians call this time inn 50 or 100 years. I won't be here and neither will most of you.

But what if we chose to realize that the world is in a revolutionary period right now and what if we thought about what kind of revolution we want? Yes it's an individual quest, but if we all thought about it and we all used our own resources many of us would come to similar conclusions with similar objectives. Why? Because we are all products of the same history. We have all been in the same times and places with the same conditions (globally) and we all view a similar terrain.

While that doesn't mean we will all come to the same conclusion, but if enough of us have similar takes on the situation, there's a chance we could create a world lots of us are really happy with.And if you have followed the discussion I began in the fall, you will realize that I have a point of view I am pursuing here.

C'mon back for the next installment in which we will talk about one of my favorite tales from mythology, that of Harmonia, the Greek goddess of harmony.