50% Adulting

amplifi clarifi Jan 19, 2021

Imagine a toddler chasing bubbles. It's so easy to smile with every happy reach, right?

Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could embrace our childlike wonder and tirelessly chase the bubbles that pop up in our adult lives? 

Well, yes ...

And, no.

Of course, not every bubble should be chased. Effective leaders understand that not everything is a binary choice, and seeking to be 50% childlike is often the right choice. They lead knowing a childlike tendency to play, laugh without worry, and live in the present is good for the soul and the healthy kind of infectious. 

Yet, exceptional leaders are thoughtfully open to the bubbles that appear each day.  They exercise restraint and rather than reach for every bubble, they enjoy watching others go before them and examining the source in hopes of becoming a bubble maker. 

Mindful leaders embrace their childlike wonder, chasing the bubbles meant for...

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The Ambient Angst of Stuff

simplifi Jan 12, 2021

How many times in the past 24 hours have you thought about something you need to do while trying to be present with someone close to you? Do you carry the weight of unfinished projects to bed at night? Do you practice conversations in your mind that you need to have with a colleague while you drive?

Wasting time and mental calories on the same stuff only add stress.

Such habits have become normalized and a cruel form of white noise in our busy lives. The last thing a fish would ever notice would be water. (Ralph Linton)

If something's on our minds, most often it's because we want it to be different. Until the change occurs or we feel progress, it will hang there as an open loop in our minds.

An ambient angst pervades our society—there’s a sense that somehow there’s probably something we should be doing that we’re not, which creates a tension for which there is no resolution and from which there is no rest. (David Allen)

Our first instinct is often a futile...

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The Pre-Vacation Productivity Zone

amplifi Jan 05, 2021

You're going on vacation.

Suddenly, you're crushing your things-to-do lists, sending quick and clear emails, and crumpling post-its like a pro!

Most of us get in a zone in the days leading up to a self-imposed finish line.


Certainly, we may be buoyed by increased optimism and energy, but it's not the actual vacation that drives productivity. Rather, we're driven to close as many open loops as possible to better enjoy the time on vacation and satisfy other desires like returning to a fresh start.

The pre-vacation productivity zone may feel a little frantic, but thoughts of that finish line and the impending sense of accomplishment provide an extra gear.

I'll feel good about this trip, once I'm in the car.

I will take a breath when I get through security.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to operate with these finally in the car or through security feelings every day?

Without the hurried pace?

There is a way.

Time-blocking is a lead domino, along with a 15-minute Friday meeting with...

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The Best Research is Me-Search

amplifi clarifi Dec 19, 2020

I know in my heart there's got to be a better way!

Do you too often land on this thought while lying awake in bed at 2 am, after a day of long and unproductive meetings, or staring at a seemingly pulsating inbox with far too many reminders of things to do?

This is the kind of cardiac assessment we all do without a doctor and, much like internal medical scopes, this self-assessment can be painful yet lead to brighter days.

Much of our most impactful creativity begins with a breaking point, digging into a problem that’s eating at us, and finding a solution.

We don’t really do our best work when we know the answers, but instead when we need the answers.

These same axioms apply to the problems we encounter in our organizations.

Most great answers, pathways, and systems begin with a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance and an even healthier supply of humility. "Leaders are not discovered in the limelight; (they) gain respect on difficult terrain, after taking a few blows and...

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Are You a Carrot, an Egg, or a Coffee Bean?

amplifi clarifi simplifi Dec 15, 2020

Isn't it amazing that we can go years without hearing someone's name and then that person shows up two or three times in a few days?

This same phenomenon can also happen with an impactful quote or story.

This parable that first landed upon me almost two decades ago, has shown up three times in the past month. The original author is unknown, and perhaps this is how it should be ... the first to tell an impactful story is certainly a coffee bean.

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about how things were so very hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and was ready to give up. She was tired of struggling. It seemed that whenever one problem was solved, a new one surfaced to take its place.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen, where she filled three pots with water and placed each on a hot stove. The pots quickly came to boil. In the first she dropped carrots, in the second she placed eggs and in the third, she put ground coffee beans.

After about...

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clarifi Dec 14, 2020

If you are familiar with yearly visits to the eye doctor, you’ve certainly heard,  “Better HERE - one? Or HERE - two? One? Or Two?”

The optometrist questioned me at a rapid-fire pace and I was a bit disoriented in my reply.

I typically don’t mind any other part of an eye examination, but this one always perplexes me. The disparity between the lenses is ever so slight, and yet I KNOW it can make a positive change in my prescription if I make the right decision.

This prescription is my catalyst for better eyesight. 

The CATALYST to clarity.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to CLARIFY things with such little effort? If our next moves were just as simple as the binary choice between “One or Two?”, and the path was uncomplicated and undemanding?

How can we routinely CLARIFY our lives with skillful proficiency and confidence like we do when looking through those FIXED, adjusted lenses? Think for a moment about what exactly it would...

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The Fence Needs To Go

amplifi clarifi simplifi Nov 13, 2020

Do you know any well-intentioned leaders who come in with new initiatives without first removing tired practices from your current reality? Perhaps you've had change happen to you and it feels like change for the sake of change?

Decluttering and change are necessary and there shouldn't be tension between the two. Decluttering is always the ideal lead domino. An effective leader invites change with, "what can we do right now to make anything on our things-to-do lists easier or unnecessary?"

Of course, sometimes, potentially impactful new ideas reveal themselves. While new shiny toys are always captivating, we need to first ask how this might make any other practice or policy easier or unnecessary, and this habit quite naturally leads back to a little decluttering.

However, some have an itchy trigger finger and quickly declutter just because things feel messy. Discomfort isn't reason enough to hand out erasers and red pens.

Effective leaders understand it's impossible...

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How We Do One Thing Is How We Do Everything

amplifi clarifi simplifi Nov 07, 2020

Are there parts of your day, week, month, or year that you simply can't stand, but you tough it out for the greater good or the love of your job? 

When I was a principal, my introverted self hated parts of the job. Mostly, I winced at anything that required me to be the focal point.

My stomach twisted every year when asked to give a graduation address, but I refused to focus on the cringe of delivering a speech to a couple of thousand people. I was determined to make It the best speech ever and represent our school in a way that made everyone proud to be part of it.

I'd endure these moments.

Certainly, a less than a positive mindset until my eyes were widened with a more encouraging lens from Dean Graziosi, who articulated a new approach so clearly: how you do one thing is how you do everything.

As long as it doesn't violate our values, we should try to be the best in the world at it. No matter what we're doing, even...

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Silence Does the Heavy Lifting

amplifi Nov 07, 2020

Do you have anyone on your team or staff that always chooses negativity and loves to bring any room to the lowest common denominator? You know, the kind of person that you always love, but can be really challenging to like?

Trying times certainly lead to even more corrosive behaviors, but of course, we need to rise above the moment while exercising empathy for someone who is obviously struggling.

We have a lot of options when such a person isn't in-person, as we can more easily choose to walk away from an email or phone call before responding or even have tools like prewritten scripts to quickly employ.

But when someone is waiting and seemingly enjoying the negative spotlight, how do we respond? Sure, we know that arguing with a fool only makes two, but equally important guiding principles are if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything and what you tolerate sets the bar.

So what do we do while that person watches intently to see if we flinch?


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Beautifully Boring

amplifi Oct 10, 2020
It's trendy to say, "be a leader, not a manager."
It's meant well and we all understand the touch people before paper intent, but it's short-sighted. 
Given we help schools, districts, and organizations to simplify and clarify in order to amplify their cultures and leadership, management is foundational stuff. No one seems to care about verbal hugs, planting team trees, and new team shirts if their timetable is weeks late, the building isn't clean, the copier is always broken, and the wrong texts were ordered. 
Complexity results from a lack of managerial skills, as people begin to create their own well-intentioned procedures. Complexity is the enemy of execution and the best friend of frustration. 
Yes, we've all known a great many exceptional managers that, for one reason or another, just aren't very effective leaders, but have you ever known a strong leader who wasn't also...
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