Ignite what matters

Ship Or Get Off the Pot

Posted in bold leadership,building teams by ignitewhatmatters on August 19, 2010
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Think about the last time you performed at your very best. Name what was happening. What were you doing? Thinking? Feeling? Communicating with others?

I suspect that time did not include actions named such as “not rocking the boat”, “keeping my head above water”, “going with the flow” and, one of my favorites, “shoveling %$#& against the tide”… Yet how often do we hear people describe how things are going at work and/or in their lives with these dreadful status quo offerings?

Earlier this week, I asked a mid-level leader how one of his leaders was performing this month and his words hit me: “he is keeping the ship afloat, not building new ships.” Safe (or seemingly safe) floating = slow and certain death. Period. Cinch up the PFD and hold on? That doesn’t sound like an Olympic best.

Consider this definition: leaders perform their best when their teams perform at their best. Enter: energy, emotion, trust, talent, will to win, purpose…and 5 more of your favorite cool things. Your best leader day builds the space for your team to break records… and they do.

This quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, one of my favorites, sums up the leadership shift where best-ever results are possible: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

Wanna float or build a ship? The Sea of Possibility awaits you.


One Palette

Posted in bold leadership,communication by ignitewhatmatters on July 28, 2010
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Imagine if you only had one canvas to paint on each year…”

– Mr. Marchetti, a hugely passionate Italian winemaker

Yes. Imagine.

During the course of my day when I ask acquaintances and strangers “howʼs your day?” I often hear the words that make me bite down so hard I create another micro fissure in my teeth: “same old, same old…” or even better, “same $#%@, different day…”


So goes a day, an hour, a minute without passion. Missed: the unique tapestry of environment, emotion, characters, context… time. Time that is today. Now. Nothing is the same second to second on this earth. So why is everything so similar, so “same old, same old”? How can we just go through the motions?

Ever conduct a whole retail transaction without eye contact supported by staccato, dispassionate grunts? This morning?

Ever have a conversation with a peer or a member of your team that was unremarkable at the start AND the end? Today?

Give me ZEST or give me death! These moments matter. A ten second interface matters.

In the brilliant words of Susan Scott: “While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a business, a marriage, or a life, any single conversation can.” Blinded by “same old, same old” we miss every opportunity…every “can”. Tragic.

Imagine if any one conversation could be that One Palette for the year. The one that makes a difference. The one that paints who you are and what you are passionate about. The one that changes everything.

Yes, you can wallow in your mire of “same $#%@, different day”…. OR you can paint with passion, One Palette, one conversation at a time.

Start now.

What’s behind the shirt?

Posted in bold leadership by ignitewhatmatters on July 13, 2010
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For the past 9 years a very special gathering has taken place on a large field just outside of San Jose, CA.  Hundreds of boys and girls aged 8 – 14 meet for five evenings of learning, growth and discovery.  I have been a supporter of this event, the Myles Brinson- JR Adams Fundamental Football Camp, ever since the day I learned of it… 6 years ago now.  While I do love football, here football is merely the platform on which the true learning is built.

Myles Brinson and JR Adams are the camp’s heroes. Every camp participant wears a t-shirt with their numbers on it.  These 2 young men were taken from this earth far too soon… Myles at age 8 by leukemia and JR, as high school senior, by a teen-aged drunk driver.  In memory of their sons, their amazing parents have created an environment where character rules over physical ability.  Respect… Discipline… Family… evident in every corner of the field every minute.

Here is a minute I will not forget: on Friday during a skill development session a boy on the team that was practicing closest to me (maybe 13 or 14 yr olds) began bucking against what the team was instructed to work on.  He let out a string of cuss words.  The coach of the team, a young man I recognized from previous years of camp, heard the outburst and called out to the boy.  It took a few calls to get his attention.  The coach is likely just 17 or 18 yrs old and by my estimate a good 50 pounds lighter than the cussing boy.  No worries.  Without hesitation, the coach laid it out there:

  • … No, not while you are wearing this shirt
  • … We don’t act like that here… we don’t treat each other with disrespect like that
  • … That’s not what wearing this shirt is about
  • … You need to honor this shirt
  • … Don’t forget that

I was blown away… not just by the words/actions but also by the authentic delivery of the message.  The message I heard: the irrefutable stand the coach has for “who we are” and “how it is around here”.  Respect.  Discipline.  Family.

Later during the camp’s closing ceremony I realized the young coach is JR’s little brother… a young man of rare character… one you know will be a great gift to this earth.

Think about your corner of the field.  What is on your “shirt”?   What is behind it?

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