The Trap of Blaming Others

When things aren’t going your way, it may be tempting to deflect attention from your own role in things and blame others. Perhaps you’re blaming your spouse. Or boss. Perhaps you’re blaming a friend or colleague. Or the economy or inflation—or politicians, the media, or a rival political party. Your parents, or your circumstances. Blaming may give you a feeling of satisfaction as you look outside for responsibility and wallow in the unfairness of it all. But that feeling is fleeting. In the meantime, you haven’t moved forward at all. In fact, you’ve moved backward. “No good comes from blame.”

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The Benefits of Systematic Personal Development

Personal development entails efforts to improve yourself—to develop your potential and capabilities. With systematic personal development, you can improve nearly all aspects of your life. “Personal development refers to activities that improve self-knowledge and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and employability, enhance quality of life, and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.” –Bob Aubrey, from Managing Your Aspirations You can also leverage personal development to address challenges in your life, such as: dullness and monotony in your days unfulfilled dreams and ambitions feeling stuck or uncertain about what’s next Personal development involves both inner and

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What Are You Avoiding?

Avoidance. We all do it, whether it’s keeping away from someone or not doing something. What are you avoiding? Sometimes we change the subject when it drifts into awkward territory. Other times we talk around hard topics. Or we put off that tough task. Avoidance is a coping mechanism. Sometimes it’s helpful. Like when we see a downed power line or a snake. It’s an inheritance from our evolutionary biology. Our nervous system gives us powerful signals to avoid danger, thus increasing our chances of survival. Avoidance is natural. “Truly, there is nothing more common, routine, and human than avoiding

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face and hands being buried

The Common Traps of Living: Which Are You In?

We all want a good life. To be healthy and happy. We want to love and be loved. To have experiences, enjoy comforts, and do certain things before we die. All well and good. But too often we focus on what to do to get the things we want in life—and not enough on what not to do. That’s where the common traps of living come in—the things that inhibit us from leading the life we want. We all fall into traps in life. All of us. Moms. Dads. Leaders. Professionals. Interns. Students. Retirees. Geniuses. Dopes. We all fall into

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How to Choose a Co-Founder

When we think of entrepreneurship we tend to think of famous entrepreneurs. Elon. Steve Jobs. Oprah. Mark Zuckerberg. Richard Branson. Jack Ma. Sara Blakely. Can you think of any companies with co-founders? It’s more than you might think.   Prominent Companies Started by Co-Founders Airbnb Alibaba Group Apple Baidu Ben & Jerry’s Birchbox DropBox Facebook Google Hewlett-Packard Infosys Instagram Intel Johnson & Johnson Microsoft Netflix PayPal Rent the Runway Skype Snapchat Sony Spotify Twitter  YouTube   The Myth of the Solo Entrepreneur We’re enamored with the myth of the solo entrepreneur, but in reality entrepreneurship is a team sport. Entrepreneurship

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What Are Your Leadership Derailers?

Here’s the thing: we all want to be better leaders. But too often we focus on what to do as leaders while neglecting what not to do. That’s where leadership derailers come in—the things that take us off track and inhibit our leadership effectiveness. If we want to be good leaders, we must be aware of our derailers and begin working on them. “Most books about leadership tell us what a person ought to do to become effective and powerful. Few tell us what to avoid. But the latter may be even more valuable because many people on the road

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Changing Careers? Avoid These Common Mistakes

Are you happy with your work? Do you love what you do, or at least enjoy it a fair amount of time? Do you often find yourself wondering, should I stay or should go? Many people have been asking these questions—even more so during the pandemic and its “Great Resignation”—and answering them with a job or career change. What are the most common career change mistakes?   Job or Career First, let’s distinguish between a job and a career. A job is work you perform to earn money. It can be full- or part-time, and short- or long-term. A career, by contrast,

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Take Advantage of that Transition Time in Your Life

I was worn out. I’d been flying around the country for years, chasing big deals with my team, with intense pressure to close them. Our company needed the cash. I was caught between two top executives secretly undermining each other. And I was beginning to recognize that the fit between the company and my values was steadily evaporating. I wasn’t taking care of myself. Slowly losing touch with my family and friends. Feeling frequent stress and pressure. The excitement I had felt when we were starting up was slowly dissipating, like air leaking from a small hole in a balloon.

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The Powerful Pull of the Prestige Magnet

One of the things I enjoy most about teaching is not only engaging with students about the subject at hand but also how it may contain deeper lessons that apply to their life and work. The class readings are a reliable vehicle to those insights. One of my favorite insights recently comes from Paul Graham, the programmer, entrepreneur, writer, and investor behind the acclaimed tech startup accelerator, Y Combinator. In his article, “How to Do What You Love,” he writes about the dangers of prestige and the prestige magnet: “You shouldn’t worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest

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Why We Want Adventure in Our Lives—And How to Get It

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me. -Walt Whitman Adventure. It’s an amazing part of life and work, but often overlooked and neglected. When I was little, my Dad used to tell stories to my brother and me—always about an adventurer, with a rucksack, off on some expedition. We loved it, in part because of the surprise and danger. It turns out that adventure has much to teach us about living and leading. Of course, it’s not often that we encounter opportunities for exciting, daring, hazardous undertakings of unknown outcome. But what

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The Power of Awe in Our Lives

When’s the last time you experienced awe? It’s one of the most powerful emotions we can experience. A marker for life at its grandest. Awe is what we feel when we encounter something so vast or incomprehensible that it defies our current frame of reference. It’s a feeling of reverential respect, often mixed with fear, wonder, veneration, or even dread. Awe can be inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt calls it “the emotion of self-transcendence.” Awe gives us an experience of vastness, and of novelty and mystery. And it leaves an alluring and

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The Power of Taking Full Responsibility for Your Life

Responsibility. It’s a word we hear a lot. We take on more responsibilities as we go through life. Responsibility for the rent. Car payments. Mortgage. Deadlines. Getting the job done. These things can be daunting. But there’s another aspect of responsibility that cuts the other way, that empowers us: taking responsibility for our lives. And not just responsibility. Full responsibility.   What Does It Mean to Take Full Responsibility for Our Lives? What does this mean? Carry out the logic and it leads to a sweeping conclusion: Taking full responsibility for our lives means taking full responsibility for everything in

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The Incredible Benefits of Being Action-Oriented

One of the greatest assets we can build in our lives is an action orientation. No great things are possible without action. Are you action-oriented? Dreams and visions are good, but worthless without action. Plans may impress, but they lose all value if not acted upon. Opportunities fade if we don’t seize them soon enough. If we want a good life with good work, we must get good at taking action—and putting ourselves in a position to be able to do so. Too often, we hesitate. We wait to long before acting, as we try to line things up perfectly.

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The Perfectionism Trap—And How to Escape It

Perfectionism is a big problem today among ambitious professionals—and increasingly among young people in general. It’s also widely misunderstood, and even misappropriated as a badge of honor by some. Let’s break it down. First, what is it? Perfectionism entails striving to be flawless. It typically includes overly critical self-evaluations and excessive concerns about negative evaluations from others. Perfectionism entails striving for unrealistic or even unattainable goals, followed by disappointment when we fail to achieve them. That’s followed by cognitive dissonance from misalignment between perfect self-identity and imperfect performance. For a perfectionist, low performance automatically means low self-worth. Fundamentally, the assumption

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Are You Living a Divided Life?

The young woman in a corporate job whose true love is animals. Unless she makes a change, she’s looking at a long slog in her career. A young college graduate on the business track who discovers he has no real interest in any of the business functions. He’s fascinated by medicine but feels trapped because of the costs of switching over. The frustrated executive in a family business, itching to get out and be creative, entrepreneurial, impactful, and generous. What will he do? Many of us are leading what author and educator Parker Palmer calls a “divided life”—a life in

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