How to Be More Decisive in Your Life and Leadership

“Should I stay or should I go?” -the Clash We make many decisions every day. Many are trivial, but some are consequential and taxing. Which career to pursue (or transition into). When to make a big move. Who to live with, work with, or hire. Whether to start a new venture. To live and lead well, we must get good at making decisions. On the leadership front, do we want leaders who wallow and waffle? Or leaders who move forward despite uncertainty; home in quickly on the key issues; actively gather input before deciding; involve others in decisions; invoke their

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How to Stop Catastrophizing–Managing Our Minds

“The sky has finally fallen. Always knew it would.” – Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh Things have been tough lately. Pandemic. Inflation. War. Many are suffering mightily. Maybe you’ve been suffering too. But are you complicit in your own suffering? Are you making things, as tough as they may be already, even worse? One of the ways we do this is through “catastrophizing.” Catastrophizing is a form of cognitive distortion, in which we assume the worst and blow things out of proportion. We imagine the worst possible outcome and generate an exceptionally negative expectation of future events. When we’re catastrophizing,

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How to Build Confidence in Yourself and Your Leadership

Confidence is an enigma for many of us. We know it can help us in many ways. And we hold it in high regard, knowing it can make a big difference. Yet we tend to view it as something innate–something some people have and others don’t. The truth is that, while some people have more of a disposition toward confidence than others, it’s something we can all build systematically. And we should. Why? When we’re confident, we have conviction that we can succeed. Contrary to what many people believe, confidence isn’t a fixed trait. We’re not either born with it

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The Complacency Trap

One of the most insidious traps we can fall into in life and work is that of complacency—a state of easy contentment, with a lack of concern about or awareness of problems or risks. Complacency can prevent us from recognizing risks, trying harder, and making improvements. Examples abound. We can be complacent about our health—or the health of our loved ones. Or complacent about our relationships. About our work, team, leadership, or organization. Complacent about our democracy and planet. How to know when we’ve fallen into the complacency trap?   11 Signs of Complacency When we’re complacent, we: Take things

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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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