Don’t let a poor communicator hold you back

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A core aspect of management is communication. So of course, most managers find a way to screw it up. They hold back important feedback. They fail to provide a meaningful vision or strategy. And they struggle to communicate expectations, setting people up for failure. Instead of helping people grow, they let them stagnate.

Lou Solomon, writing for Harvard Business Review, reported that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees. The biggest surprise about this statistic is how low it is.

Over two-thirds of managers, likely well-paid and well-trained professionals, are uncomfortable with an essential part of their jobs.

I’m Hoping You Can Learn from My Mistakes

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I turned 38 years-old today. Looking back on a myriad of past mistakes and bad decisions, here’s my birthday present to anyone interested — 38 lessons that I wish I’d learned much earlier in life.

  1. We almost always know what we should do to get what we want. We just rarely do it. We don’t want to pay the price. Recognize that there’s always a sacrifice that comes with achieving something of significance.
  2. Trying to keep score in a relationship is a recipe for disappointment.
  3. Action isn’t just the effect of motivation…

The quicker you can spot them, the easier you can avoid them.

Photo: Goh Rhy Yan/Unsplash

No company openly tells you that they have a toxic culture. They don’t advertise that their employees are unmotivated, their customers are dissatisfied, or their leadership has less trust than Ellen DeGeneres.

And yet you need to know this. In today’s world, culture remains our best sustainable advantage. Others can copy a service or reverse-engineer a product. But few can replicate a high-performing culture.

If you’re evaluating a prospective employer, considering a new supplier, or deciding on a potential merger, you need to understand a company’s culture. Or you’ll end up living with the results.

While few companies actively advertise…

Or at Least, Procrastinate Less.

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“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone,” said Pablo Picasso. And yet, this is exactly what we do. We procrastinate every day. We delay doing what we know we should. We fill our time with mindless busyness over what will make a real impact.

I delay paying bills. I put off inspecting the car or updating the registration. My lawn is in a perpetual state of neglect.

There’s no mystery here. I don’t like doing these things, so I don’t do them. I put things off because I’d…

The Guaranteed Innovation Never Happens.

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“Recent years have shown a growing preoccupation with the circumstances surrounding the creative act and a search for the ingredients that promote creativity,” wrote Charles Eames. “This preoccupation in itself suggests that we are in a special kind of trouble — and indeed we are.”

A friend had a new product idea the other day. He found a way we could leverage a new material to increase the life of a key component. It was a good idea. It had real promise. And he didn’t plan on moving forward with it.

When I asked him…

Simple, Effective Advice that You Can Use Today

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“A man who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary,” wrote Seneca on the futility of worrying. In “On Groundless Fears,” Seneca would go on to advise his friend Lucilius Junior of the waste in worrying about things that are unlikely to matter, saying, “There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”

And yet, we do worry. We worry about our careers. We worry about the quality of our work. We worry about…

Make Quitting a Strategy, Not a Reaction.

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I feel like giving up. Almost every day, I think about quitting something.

Maybe it’s a new initiative at work that’s running into problems. Or maybe it’s a legacy project that isn’t offering the expected returns. More often than not, it’s a new exercise plan or diet that can’t compete with relaxing with a bowl of ice cream.

Regardless of the target, every day I feel like quitting something.

I’ll bet you do as well. If you’re someone who pushes yourself, you’re going to run into obstacles on the way. Each struggle raises…

It happens to everyone eventually.

Photo by Tommy van Kessel 🤙 on Unsplash

“I don’t know if you’re as good of a boss as you used to be.”

That’s how one of my employees opened her one-on-one. I’d worked with her for years. I trusted her. If she was bringing up a concern, she felt strongly about it. And unfortunately, she was right.

I didn’t want to be a bad boss. I don’t think anyone does. I’ve had my share of bad managers. From the ineffective bureaucrat to the toxic bully, I’ve seen how these poor performers can destroy a team.

So you’d think I would have been…

I Hope You Can Learn from My Mistakes

Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

Parenting is one part of life where everyone accumulates 10,000 hours, yet no one ever achieves mastery. Regardless of what my mother-in-law and countless authors may claim, I don’t think it’s possible to become an expert parent.

Maybe it’s because as our kids get older, the challenges evolve. The struggles that come with parenting a two-year-old are very different from those of a ten-year-old. Everything seems to get more complicated, more dramatic, and more expensive.

Yet we all keep learning. We accumulate lessons, often in a much harder way than we would…

Treat It Like a Diehard Trump Supporter

Photo by Dmitry Ulitin on Unsplash

My inner critic’s a real jerk.

He sits in the background, waiting for any opportunity to criticize my work or pass judgment. He never has anything productive to offer. He makes no suggestions on how to improve. He just offers some belligerent ravings on how trying anything new will be an unmitigated disaster.

So yeah, he’s a real jerk. But somehow, he’s also effective. A few whispered criticisms are enough to keep me second-guessing myself. A few well-timed comments are enough to make me hesitate before taking a risk.

It’s like having a…

Jake Wilder

I have no idea what I’m doing. And that’s a good thing.

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