How fresh is your mind?

awareness Dec 18, 2018
Learn from the children

If you want to see a fresh mind, just look at a child on Christmas morning. With all that eagerness and joyful anticipation, the moments before the festivities begin are as delicious to a child as the actual event. What makes this possible?

A fresh mind doesn’t take anything for granted. A fresh mind seeks answers. A fresh mind is curious.

When we’re curious, we enjoy new experiences and look for challenges. We keep an open mind. We’re eager to learn something new. Curiosity is contagious. Watching children on Christmas morning, we remember our own youth and feel it a little too.

If you want to make other people pay attention to what you have to say, keep them curious. One way of doing that is to show yourself enjoying an experience. It doesn’t matter what age we are. When we see someone having fun, we want to have fun too.

Smell the roses

Recently a good friend shared a photo of her son’s curiosity. One evening her husband came...

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The Season of Too Busy

awareness Dec 06, 2018
A hiker in the woods

A hiker came upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree. “What are you doing?” asked the hiker.

“Can’t you see?” replied the man working in the woods. “I’m sawing down this tree.”

“You look tired! How long have you been at it?”

“Over five hours … and I am exhausted! This is hard work.”

“Why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen your saw? I’m sure the job will go faster with a sharp saw.”

“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man declared. “I’m too busy sawing!”

How sharp is your saw?

Have you ever behaved like the person with the saw? It's easy to become so involved in “doing” that you don't take the time to sharpen your saw.

This time of year is particularly busy. You may already be seeing the signs: bright lights on the outside of houses, glossed-over eyes on the people...

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Are You an Idea Digger?

awareness Nov 15, 2018
The Power of Thinking

As John Maxwell reminds us in “No Limits”, success has as much to do with thinking as it does with acting. We are all given opportunities and challenges. We all face difficult choices or moments when we aren’t sure what to do next.

That’s why we need to develop our thinking capacity. It’s not enough to come up with ideas, we need to deepen those ideas. We need to become what John Maxwell calls an “idea digger”. It doesn’t happen with one shovel full of dirt. We need to keep going deeper into the ground. This kind of thinking takes real muscle and it’s worth every bit of the effort.

For over 18 months, the UpCloseTeam has been working in Fort McMurray, helping local businesses revitalize. As much as doing, this has involved a lot of thinking. We’ve put John Maxwell’s ideas on how to become an idea digger to the full test. The results have been good for the whole community.

Five Steps for Deepening...
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Seven Proven Tips for Prioritizing

awareness Oct 24, 2018

Prioritizing takes careful thinking and thinking takes time. When our schedule becomes loaded with deadlines, it’s natural to want to keep chugging along. But if we don’t stop to ask ourselves whether we’re focusing on the right things, we may not be serving our organization or ourselves.

We can become so focused on catching up with our workload, we can forget the starting point for every single day. Stephen Covey said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Scheduling priorities is on ongoing activity that takes effort and focus. Here are seven proven tips to help keep you on track:

1. Go over your priorities at the start of each day. Strong leaders understand how important this is. That’s what keeps them both focused and calm. Before they do anything else, they turn their attention to what is most important and they carry that confidence throughout the day.

2. Concentrate on things only you...

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Living with Gusto

awareness Aug 15, 2018

Each of us starts the day with a valuable resource within ourselves. We're so used to relying on it, we hardly recognize it's there. But when that resource dwindles, we can be brought to a complete halt. The resource I'm talking about is energy, but it's more fun to call it gusto.

It can happen at the peak of success, when you're going all out and enjoying the passion of the moment. It can also happen when you're in a period of transition and redefining your life goals. It can even happen during routine moments of ordinary life.

Managing your Energy

We all know what it feels like to run out of gusto. Everyone has those days some of the time. We have to push harder to get things done and our capacity for handling challenges is not as strong. It's not that we don't know how, but our energy levels are low.

John C. Maxwell recognizes this challenge and he knows how important it is. Like he says, "it's more important to manage your energy than to manage your time." In his book, "No...

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The Gift of Failure

awareness Jun 27, 2018
The Journey to Success

It's hard to find a person who doesn't know Harry Potter and the woman who brought him to life. J.K. Rowling ignited a reading frenzy around the world. People of all ages who were not avid readers before they read her books stood in line for hours just to get an early copy. She created an imaginary world that entranced the world.

But her journey to success was not easy. When she began writing novels, she was an unemployed single mother and poor. In the Commencement Address she gave to the Harvard Alumni Association, called The Fringe Benefits of Failure, she talks about her encounter with failure. If you haven't seen this inspiring video, I highly recommend that you watch it.

Finding Your Truest Self

We've all heard about how important it is to not be afraid of failure. J.K. Rowling takes that notion further. She sees failure not only as something we can survive. She sees it as a gift. Her marriage ended, she was not gainfully employed, and she was struggling...

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You Only Get Answers to the Questions You Ask

awareness Jun 15, 2018

In our previous blog last week, we reviewed the first four benefits outlined in Maxwell's book, "Good Leaders Ask Great Questions":

1. You only get answers to the questions you ask.

2. Questions unlock and open doors that otherwise remain closed.

3. Questions are the most effective means of connecting with people.

4. Questions cultivate humility.

This blog explores more reasons to embrace questions as part of strong leadership.

5. Questions help you engage others in conversation.

 The best way to get people talking is to ask them great questions. There are so many great, outside-of-the-box questions you could ask.

Here is one example: "If you had 30 minutes to spend with any person alive today, who would that be, and why?"

You could also organize a dinner with a group of like-minded people in your industry and keep the conversation moving by asking great questions. Everyone at the table could learn and grow while also enjoying time together.


6. Questions allow us...

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The Power of Questions

awareness Jun 08, 2018

Are you a person who asks a lot of questions? If not, have you ever asked yourself why?

Our ability to ask questions has a huge impact on our lives and our interactions with others. It's the key to understanding. Yet, we may not know which questions to ask.

Thomas J. Watson Sr. said, "The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer." Begin by clarifying what you're trying to find out.

Are you looking for facts? Do you need an expert opinion? Are you asking others to share their experience or skills? Once you begin to explore, dig deeper.

"Why" questions are particularly productive for learning more.

In his book "Good Leaders Ask Great Questions", John Maxwell promotes the value of asking questions as a leadership lifestyle. Here are just a few of the reasons that questions are so powerful:

1. You only get answers to the questions you ask.

At one time or another most of us have said, "I have a question for you and I know it may sound dumb." We...

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Asking the Big-Sky Question

awareness May 25, 2018

The Search for Opportunity

I know a woman who's been struggling for years to launch a satisfying career. Like many people in their twenties and thirties, she's looking for her first big break. While she waits for that opportunity, she's been taking short-term contracts to keep her foot in the door. Most of these opportunities are due to permanent staff members taking a leave of absence. Once they return, the opportunity is no longer open.

There's no question that it's challenging to launch a career in today's competitive job market. But it's about more than the number of jobs ads a person sees, the interviews they attend, or even the short-term contracts they complete. Finding the right fit is not only about outside influences. Finding the right fit is about knowing yourself.

The woman I've been telling you about has a degree in a specific area. She completed that degree with the intention of getting a specific job. All of this is good, but it can be limiting. Until we spoke, she...

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The Leadership Intuition Zoom Lens

awareness May 02, 2018

A Story About Rocks

I heard a story some time ago about a man who came up to a border crossing riding a motorcycle. Balanced on the back of his bike, were two saddlebags.

He had all the documents required to cross the border. The border guards asked the obvious question, “What’s in the saddlebags?” The man replied, “Rocks.”

To check his story, the guards emptied the saddlebags. Sure enough, all they found were rocks. So, they allowed the man to enter the country.

The following week, the same man approached the border crossing, riding a motorcycle. Again, the guards checked his saddlebags and found only rocks. Again, he was allowed to cross the border.

The scene repeated itself over the next several months until the border guards couldn’t stand it any longer. “We know you're smuggling something across the border,” they said. “But every time we check your saddlebags, we find only rocks. Please tell us what you're up to. We...

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