Reflections on Life, Leadership, Mindfulness, Change, and other Important Stuff

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We cannot pretend

We cannot pretend,

My broken-hearted friend,

This garden we must tend,

The hope I want to lend.

What grace can I extend?

What message can I send?

And surely not pretend,

Has now come the end.


There must be some way,

Something I can say,

To make a better day,

To mend this hopeless fray,

And make you want to stay,

We’ll smell the fresh cut hay,

Find more time to play,

Quiet hounds that bay,


No more say goodbye,

Please,look into my eyes,

For we must simply try,

Not understanding why,

Forsake this futile lie,

The day is coming nigh,

For I will help you fly.

A hope that will not die.


















She sits alone

She sits alone,
In a hollow place
A single tear,
Glides down her face;

She sits alone,
In shadows gray,
Wishing for
Some different way;

She sits alone,
And wonders how,
She might make,
A better now?

She sits alone,
This life so long,
A distant voice,
A mournful song;

She rises up,
Then plants her feet:
What lies ahead,
What pain to greet?

She rises up,
Despite the fear,
Her shoulders back,
The dawn is near;

She rises up,
Wipes tear away,
In this place,
She cannot stay;

She rises up,
Shrugs off despair,
This weary warrior
Of life’s affairs;

She takes a step,
Into the light,
Bids adieu,
This painful plight;

She takes a step,
Two, then three,
Walking on,
How can this be?

She takes a step,
Four, then five,
Just grateful that,
She’s still alive;

She stands alone
With head held high,
Her soul renewed
Her battle cry;

She stands alone,
A fragile peace,
Her burden lighter,
Sorrow released;

She stands alone,
Though griefs remain,
But smiles a bit,
Wash away the stain;

She sits alone,
In a hollow place,
Still some fears,
This better place.

Performance Matters: Moving the Needle of Productivity

As we’ve discussed here before, we really only have four options for creating change in our world. We domoreof the things we are doing.  We can do lessof them.  We can do them better or we can do them differently. Sometimes, doing things differently can have a dramatic and immediate impact on our productivity.  But doing things differently, may only require a modest change in our approach to becoming more productive.

Many of us start out days with a simple list of things to do.  And as the day grows, we find ourselves adding to that list until it seems impossible to do them all.  Yet we just continue trying to trudge through those tasks.


But there’s a better way to move the dial of our own productivityand it is one that will feed our sales effectiveness, the productivity of our teams, and make us more effective leaders.  After you’ve made your list of things to do for the day, look over it and decide which two or three items move the needle in terms of gauging your success.  Then make sure do those things first.

Let’s say you’re an account exec with sales goals.  You probably have to write reports, enter data in to a CIF system, and maybe even fill out an expense report. You also have to follow up with clients, reach out to new prospects, and stay abreast of market and product matters. But what moves the needle in terms of reaching is your relationship with people, right? So every day, before you do anything else, identify and block time on your calendar for making those calls, sending those emails and seeing those people.

Once you’ve done so, list who—the most important prospects and clients—you need to talk to and what you want to accomplish before you connect.  Invest a few minutes in this kind of preparation and you will find yourself more effective in those interactions and reaching your goals more consistently.  And don’t let yourself connect with anyone other than those most important prospects and clients.

To make sure you protect this time for interactions–building relationships–with your prospects and clients, ask your team—including your boss—not to interrupt you while you’re on the phone, sending emails and working through this process.  You will be surprised how much they will appreciate your focus and how willingly they will respond if they know you will be undistracted when you do interact with your team once you’ve completed the tasks that move the dial in terms of your sales effectiveness.

Next week, we’ll talk some more about we can capitalize more on how doing things a little differently can lead to big gains in productivity!

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at www.performancestrategiesgrouponline.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.

Performance Matters: The Elixir of Productivity

Just about anyone focused on productivity—their own or a team member’s—is looking for hacks, some shortcuts that will improve performance.  We build efficiency processes, hold meetings, establish sales goals, and set and reset staffing levels all in the hopes of achieving more.  Much of which just grinds the joy out of our work and lives.  But what if there were an almost magical means of doing so?

Many of you have already decided that’s impossible.   But the science is in. And it’s both simple and compelling.  If you want you and your team to be more productive, be happy.

In his 2010 bestseller, The Happiness Advantage, Harvard-trained psychologist Shawn Achor details countless pieces of research indicating productivity and achievement are by-productsof happiness, not the consequence of it. In his book and in his wildly popular Ted-talk, Achor demonstrates how our perspective impacts accomplishment. Among the most compelling items in the book is the Losada Line.

In short, the Losada Line indicates that it takes roughly “three positive comments, experiences or expressions to fend off the effects of one negative one…(raised) to a ratio of six to one and teams do their very best work.”   There’s a boatload of academic research behind this phenomena, and Achor’s work is rife with practical, effective ways to raise your own level of happiness, as well as that of your team.  And while being happy is simple,it isn’t easy.   You have to work at it.

But why not give it a try.  Achor doesn’t suggest we shouldn’t chant empty affirmations. Rather he gives us a means to invest in ourselves and others.  He gives us the research supporting meditation, kindness, anticipation, and many other tools that can actually make us happier and thereby more productive.  Investments take time to generate a return, so why not grab a copy of Achor’s book or watch his Ted-talk with your team.

You’ll be glad you did.

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at www.performancestrategiesgrouponline.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.

What Have We Learned, People? Metaphysical Reflections on 2018

A few days ago, a good friend asked me if I make New Year’s resolutions.

“Not anymore,” I replied. “The last one I really kept was in 2013.”

She asked what grand achievement I’d accomplished that year.  “Craft beer,” I said.

The look on her face—maybe the same one you have now—told me I’d need to explain.  I made her wait though, because I was downing chunks of freshly-baked bread like a seal being fed from a bucket.  No, I did not slap my flippers.  I don’t have flippers.  (But if I did.)    Oh, yeah.  You’ll have to wait to learn metaphysical truth behind my success for a bit too.

So it’s January 1, 2019. And while everyone’s thoughts are turning toward Jenny Craig, Keto-diets and how much it costs to join Planet Fitness, my thoughts are on the past.  I’m asking the question.

What have we learned, people?

Permit me to share a few of my own lessons.

Number One:  There’s music in the voice of a friend—and you can sometimes hear it in a text.  I laughed a lot in 2018.  Cried some too.  But whether I’m laughing or crying, more and more, I recognize how vitally important my friends are to me.  My male buddies and I toss barbs at one another (like guys do) and discuss things like the roots of consciousness and artificial intelligence (usually while sipping good bourbon).  I can hear them laughing at—um, with me—even now.  And, I can hear the laughter of my female friends—one in particular, who is always smiling, even through the heartache of this past year.

It’s not really a resolution, but in 2019, I want to hear their voices more often.

Number Two:  Take a risk.   I did something stupid in 2018. (Probably several things!) I quit a perfectly good job. At 57, I somehow found the courage not so much to leave something as to pursue something I’d always wanted to do professionally.  Yes, I have a plan—but I’m still figuring out what works.  I have a little money in the bank, but not remotely enough to consider myself retired.  The risk I’ve taken has resulted in some victories and some disappointments.  And I probably should be more anxious than I am about succeeding.  But for a long time now I’ve suspected (and now I know) that successis over-rated.  Yes, I need to pay my mortgage.  I definitely have to pay Blue Cross.  But where I live and what my income have precious little to do with the sense of harmony and contentment I now enjoy.

I don’t really have a resolution here, either.  But hopefully, I can keep taking risks.  Early indications are they’re worth it.

Number Three:  Don’t feed your dog hot wings.   I know what you’re thinking.  Oh, no he dit’nt.

Let’s just say, it wasn’t deliberate.  Shooter, my three-year-old Pointer, has the capacity and determination to sniff out a stale Cheeto from thee-hundred yards.  (But he can’t find the damn chew toys I give him).  So when I tell you he helped himself to about a half-dozen boneless wings I inadvertently left on the kitchen counter, trust me: I bear only limited responsibility for what the ensuing events.  (Thank heavens these weren’t the nuclearspice version.)  You’d think Shooter would have known to stop eating when his eyes began tearing up.  Or when his tongue began to recognize this might have been a choice leading to A Series of Unfortunate Events.Not my boy.  He’s no quitter.  I’ll spare you the details except to say he spent the next several hours pacing like a ten-year-old boy who’d missed a dose of Adderall.

So I’ve learned several important things in the past year.  If I’m honest, I’m still learning several lessons.  But back to the metaphysical truth of 2013.  My resolution that year was to drink more craft beer. Which I did.  Not because I advocate drinking, though I think Benjamin Franklin might have been on to something.  But because drinking more craft beer meant I was probably spending more time with friends, less time taking life so seriously, and generally enjoying a fairly simple pleasure.  That was actually harder than I expected.  And though I’ve cut back on the craft beer (carbs are from the devil), I’ve gotten a lot better at living the theory behind it. Which seems pretty metaphysical to me.

Whatever 2019 brings, I’ll see you at Planet Fitness soon.  I’ll be the one with wing sauce on his fingers.

Sometimes, when it’s quiet


when it’s quiet,

when I sit and listen,

really listen,

hearing the barking dogs in the distance,

really hearing them,

hearing their yips and wails and pleading,

their unbridled pursuit of some unimaginable thing,

I wonder;



when it’s quiet,

when I sit and listen,

really listen,

in that liminal space between waking and sleeping

hearing the electric hum of silence,

and the sounds that rattle and echo through these halls

I wonder;


Or sometimes,

when it’s quiet,

when I sit and listen,

really listen,

hearing the throbbing of my heart,

noticing the whoosh of blood coursing through me,

feeling the rise and fall of my chest, my lungs stoking the fire of life,

I wonder;



when it’s quiet,

if only in my heart,

when I sit and listen,

really listen,

to the sound of far-off thunder,

when I hear the growing rage of an approaching storm,

hearing the wind rushing through the trees, faster and faster,

waiting on the next brilliant, terrifying flash of lightning to race across the sky,

I wonder:



when it’s quiet,

when I sit and listen,

really listen,

I wonder,


I wonder why,

why I don’t sit and listen,

really listen.

I should have kissed her

I should have kissed her

when we were standing there

in the shadows, amidst the silhouette

of neon and moonlight,

her cabernet lips plump, and tender, and moist,

her pupils wide,

her eyes aglow with reticent longing;


I should have kissed her

when my hand brushed against hers, and

I felt her warmth, and my heart throbbed

a comforting beat deep within my chest, before

the reckless hope of anticipation passed us by

like a wayward breeze on a hot August night;


I should have kissed her

when the wine and laughter had briefly thawed

the chill of my doubting, wounded heart,

before we offered one another kind well-wishes

of farewell, through despairing, half-hearted smiles.


I should have kissed her

when the possibilities loomed before us

like and endless desert highway at dawn, when

the tires thumped their brief but certain incantation of desire,

before my head overtook my heart,

and before mystery and enchantment gave way to cold calculations

of wisdom and logic, and before I had unwittingly given myself over to the deceit

to the cold deceit that this was not our time.


I should have kissed her.

I woke up and wondered

I woke up and wondered
What today might bring;
Sorrow or comfort,
Some new song to sing?

I woke up and wondered
What today might bring;
A victory or joy,
Some fresh painful thing?

I woke up and wondered,
How surely to meet:
Whatever should come
Without self-deceit?

I woke up and wondered,
How should I reply;
Whatever I see,
Keep open my eyes?

I woke up and wondered,
Have I finally grown,
Am I able to walk
Together, alone?

I woke up and wondered,
Might I restore,
The broken and humble
And open my door?

I woke up and wondered,
My life full of charm,
Can I just embrace
The joy and the harm?

I woke up and wondered,
So much still to learn,
That giving is getting,
Let go of the yearn;

I woke up and wondered,
At all of their fears
Consuming like fire
And robbing their years.

I woke up and wondered,
If I could set free,
Release all the things
Bound inside of me?

I woke up and wondered,
In this Shakespearean play,
What role do I have?
What do I portray?

I woke up and wondered,
At teachers I’ve known,
Lessons I’ve learned,
The kindness they’ve shown.

I woke up and wondered,
At life’s mysteries,
Happy to sail,
Upon all of her seas.

I woke up
and wondered.

Just out of reach

Arms outstretched,

His shoulders’ strain,

Reach for the bloom

And feel the pain;


His fingers brush,

From hands that ache;

Forbidden tastes,

Must he forsake?


Above he looks

In sunlight’s glare;

Reach further still,

Should now he dare?


Bends down the branch,

And begs the the tree:

Let go thy fruit

That’s tempting me;


Near to his grasp,

This thing he seeks;

So close and still,

Just out of reach;


He cannot stop,

Will not relent,

Until his hope

Has all been spent.


What creature these

All gathered here,

That lie and wait,

Near swaying trees?


Of deeds undone,

I hear them speak,

And wondering what

Must surely come;


From darkest tombs

They whisper still,

Of life’s remorse

Since mother’s womb;


They see now clear

In darkness’ light,

And wondering what

There was to fear;


And murmur still,

Each haunting voice

Such mournful tones,

I sense their chill;


No lesson half

That I must learn,

Each moment write

This epitaph;


“In this cold ground

There lies a man,

He took a chance,

He heard the sound;


Wandered astray

He roamed about,

And left the trail,

Some surely say;


Was there a choice

Or made for him

The urge to follow

His poet’s voice?”