Posts made in January, 2014

Finding Purpose

Posted by on Jan 31, 2014 in Co2 Blog | 0 comments


Finding Purpose in Life

Our days are filled with raising families and building relationships, growing a business or pursuing a career, serving others and our communities, and trying to stay mentally and physically fit. How much time is there really to give consideration to the human purpose–the big Why?

The human purpose is and may always be elusive. The focus of today’s post is on a smaller, more answerable “why?”—not why are we here (the universal human we), but why are we here (individually)? The focus today is on finding your purpose.    

Finding Purpose Comes from the Intersection of the Big 3


 Finding Purpose in Life



What gives your life meaning? This is such a difficult question. Many gurus will ask you to walk into a bookstore and see what stacks of books attract you. Or to write your eulogy to see what you would like others to say about you. These are all effective techniques as long as you take the time to go backward before you go forward.

Each of us is a unique mosaic of experiences, influences, observations, and beliefs. Some of our beliefs are truly authentic and deeply felt; others are simply baggage we have accumulated along the way. Some of that baggage might have been left on the soccer field by a junior high coach who had high expectations for you. Your family’s religious leader might have left an observation or belief that you picked up from the pew and brought home. At dinner, your parents shared (both knowingly and unknowingly) their unfinished desires and left them on the table. Your teacher taught you what she felt would keep you from making the mistakes she had or beliefs that helped her succeed. These are some of the experiences, influences, observations, and beliefs you carry with you today.

At times, this mental baggage feels disorganized, overwhelming, and overlapping. Some beliefs, however, are clear and compelling. Some you would defend with your life, literally. Perhaps you went into the military because everyone in your family has served, or you became a workaholic entrepreneur like your mother or father and gave yourself a heart attack.

Just where do your beliefs start and others’ stop? Which ones are genuinely your own, and which are others’ projections and expectations that you accepted as your own?

A good coach or mentor can help you figure out what really gives your life meaning. He or she can help you figure out which bags are really yours to carry and which you can now set aside. You can do this work yourself, too, but it’s hard to be the one who both asks and answers the tough questions.


“Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.”–Epictetus

Once you shed others’ beliefs and expectations, you will feel liberated. Your life will not only have more meaning, but also more focus. That focus will help you assess what really makes you happy. Much has been written about happiness recently (books like The Happiness Project and The Happiness Advantage), but for the moment consider the word’s origin–the Greek word “eudaimonia,” which more exactly translates to “human flourishing.” Aristotle would see the pursuit of happiness today as the pursuit of virtue, health, wealth and beauty. The stoics would have you believe that happiness comes from living a virtuous life. What exactly does that mean in today’s context? What does it mean to live a virtuous life and to experience human flourishing?

The modern-day psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, who studies positive psychology, came up with the term “flow” to describe those moments in your life when you become hyper-focused and the challenge is directly correlated with your skills. Time seems to stop and you feel like rapture, complete, and fully in sync with the universe. When you experience this sort of “flow,” you are flourishing. You are happy. It’s interesting to note that this sort of happiness and flourishing doesn’t come from inactivity, but rather from facing challenges and taking action.

Naturally, we aren’t always experiencing flow. Sometimes that’s because we overlook the connection between happiness and taking action.  

“We underestimate the odds of our future pains and overestimate the value of our present pleasures.”  – Daniel Gilbert

If you’re like most people, you find it difficult to delay gratification. You find present happiness hard to turn down, in part because you’re not sure you’ll have this sort of opportunity for happiness in the future or that you’re fairly certain that you’ll have other, different opportunities for happiness. Restraint and preparedness, though, are keys toward ensuring your happiness not only in the future, but also to experience deeper, fuller happiness in the present.

When our ambition is bounded, it leads us to work joyfully; when unbounded, it leads us to cheat, lie, steal, hurt others, or trade things of real value for lesser value, etc.

When our fears are bounded, we are prudent and thoughtful; when unbounded, we are reckless and cowardly.

Happiness and flow come not from shirking responsibility, but from facing challenges and taking action that will lead to a more secure and promising future.


When looking for a company’s purpose, Jim Collins asks, “What can the organization be the world’s best at?” Ask that question of yourself. What can you be the world’s best at? You may be able to answer this question yourself or in work with a coach or mentor. Some prefer to use assessments like Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton’s assessment and book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, to discover their talents. Others ask friends and colleagues to weigh in. Kathleen Crandall, a personal brand strategist in Minneapolis, does this as one part of a much more elaborate process for her clients to help define their personal brand.

If you’re struggling to find your world’s-best talents, here are some other more pointed questions you might ask:

What do others seek you out for help on?

What are the things you love to do most?

What job functions are you in flow when doing?

What are your job dissatisfiers?

What are you known for?

Finding Purpose in Life

Your purpose in life lies at the intersection of what you find most meaningful, what makes you happiest, and what you aspire to be the world’s best at.

The more time you spend clarifying your answers to each of these three questions, the more clear your purpose will be. Don’t be satisfied with the first answer that pops to mind. Go into your zen place and search deeply. Trust me when I say the squeeze is worth the juice.

A worksheet you may find helpful: Purpose Venn Diagram


The post Finding Purpose appeared first on Elements of Leadership.

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How To Gain The Benefits Of A Full Night’s Sleep In Under 30 Minutes

Posted by on Jan 31, 2014 in Change Your Thoughts | 0 comments

Feeling tired and sleepy? Can’t think clearly anymore? Clearly what you need is sleep, but what if time is a luxury and you have a deadline to meet? Then you can’t really enjoy a quick nap and get all the benefits that come with it like improved productivity, greater awareness, increased energy levels, etc. Or can you? Yes, you can – without coffee or drinking a can of RedBull. What I have in mind is taking a power nap, which is a much healthier choice.

What Is A Power Nap?

power napA power nap is a quick nap of less than 30 minutes that revitalizes the body and mind, improves learning and awareness. It’s only 30 minutes, because after that your body goes to a state of deep sleep and waking up from that state would make you even sleepier. So, not oversleeping is very important and that’s definitely to our advantage, because time is what we don’t have right now.

How Do You Take a Power Nap?

From my personal experience I can say that taking a power nap isn’t easy. The biggest obstacle that I faced was to actually fall asleep. I’m one of these people that has a hard time falling asleep; I could basically lay down for 30 minutes and not fall asleep at all.

If you have the same problem then you may want to calibrate your alarm clock a bit and set it to ring after 35 minutes or so, but you don’t want to risk putting it more than 35 minutes in case you fall asleep very fast. Then you would go into deep sleep and you would feel even sleepier than before.

Also, you should try out sleeping for different periods of time to see how you feel after, because you might feel better after 20 minutes of sleep rather than after 30… or maybe a 10 minute nap works best for you. Experiment with it.

Sharpen The Saw

What if you don’t have 30, 20 or even 10 minutes to spare? Every second is precious and you can’t waste a minute, because you have a super important deadline?

Let me tell you a story:

A man was busy sawing a tree for 4 hours. He was tired, all soaked with sweat.

Another man walked by and asked, “Why don’t you sharpen the saw?”

“Don’t got time for that, too busy sawing,” he replied.

Sounds silly right? He definitely would finish the job faster if he would just take a few minutes to sharpen the saw, but he just doesn’t see the obvious.

The same goes with power naps. If you say you don’t have time for a nap, you are saying you don’t have time to sharpen the saw.

Ask yourself is it better to work unproductively for hours, or just take a little bit of time off and take a power nap to work productively afterwards?


I highly recommend you to replace your coffee or energy drinks with a power nap. All that caffeine is tapping into your energy reserves and you don’t want to empty them out. A power nap restores your energy naturally, having only positive results on your body and mind.

Try taking a power nap and share your experience in the comments below.

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Great Brands Aren’t Display Cakes, They’re Real To The Core

Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in Idea Sandbox | 0 comments

Today Idea Sandbox is Stop #3 for the virtual book tour featuring Denise Lee Yohn’s book: What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest.

Before I jump into the questions I had for Denise… I want to summarize my take on the philosophy of the book…


You’ve seen wedding cakes on display in the window of a bakery. Beautifully decorated, delicious-looking cakes.

The baker doesn’t bake display cakes each day… they decorate hollow, plastic forms. These display cakes are an advertisement for the real thing.

Serve one of these at the wedding and the father-of-the-bride will be very disappointed.

Too often, brands simply focus on the frosting and decorating… their branding… the outside appearance… a promise.

When customers cut in – past that advertising frosting, and experience the company’s products, services and experience – it is very disappointing to discover hollow plastic… That is, not delivering what was promised on the outside.

Too often that’s what branding does… wonderful frosting on the outside without the same attention to what’s being offered all through the inside. Great brands make sure they don’t just look tasty on the outside, but delicious throughout every slice.

Everyone throughout the company should understand a company’s values, mission, goals and have the tools to deliver them in every aspect of their job. Branding is implemented by all employees, not just in your ads.

Your brand isn’t your frosting… it is your entire business. As Denise writes, “Your brand can’t just be a promise it must be a promise delivered.”

So, I did have the opportunity to ask Denise a few questions about the book…

Discussion with Denise

Idea Sandbox: Why is what you call a “brand-as-business approach” especially important in today’s environment?

Denise: Today’s consumers are very savvy and they’re equipped with tools that enable them to see beneath a veneer that a company puts up, so image and reality must be closely aligned.

Also in practically every sector, competition is intensifying and so companies must differentiate themselves in substantive ways and deliver real value to customers.

Finally most business models no longer allow for discretionary spending, and shareholders don’t tolerate it, so advertising budgets are getting squeezed — but expectations for brand awareness and preference remain. The solution to all of these pressures is an integral brand strategy.

Idea Sandbox: How can can a company measure whether or not their brand-building efforts are working? We all want to believe what we do works… but how can we be sure?

Denise: Brand tracking research and social listening are good indicators of changes in external perceptions. You also should measure internal changes. Survey employees to see if they understand the brand platform and how it should impact their daily decisions and behaviors. Ask employees, executives, and external stakeholders to assess their groups and the organization as a whole on the adoption of the brand-as-business approach. Track your progress over time.

Idea Sandbox: Here’s a question I haven’t read anyone ask you yet. What prompted you to write this book?

Denise: Great brands –  long-lasting, valuable brands like Apple, Starbucks, and IBM – are admired by many people in the business world and yet little is understood about how to develop one. I wanted to share the insights about brand-building that I had developed by researching and working on some of the worlds’ greatest brands. And, to enable business leaders to build great brands for themselves.

Well, Denise we’re glad you did write this book. Not only do you outline seven brand building principles, but you also provide detail on how to make them happen in our own brands.

Thanks for your time Denise and for answering our questions!

To gain more insight on Denise’s book, check out the rest of the tour…

The post Great Brands Aren’t Display Cakes, They’re Real To The Core appeared first on Idea Sandbox.

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The Lies You Tell Gatekeepers

Posted by on Jan 29, 2014 in No More Cold Calling | 1 comment

gatekeeperTrust me, they’re on to you.

When I called to reconnect with a CEO I met at a conference, and who had invited me to contact her, her assistant, Joan, answered the phone. Joan asked me the purpose of my call. I told her where I’d met her boss and who’d introduced us. Then I mentioned the name of my company, which made Joan laugh.

After putting me on hold for a minute, Joan told me the CEO was unavailable but wanted to talk to me. I gave her my phone number and thought the conversation was over, but I guess my area of expertise struck a chord with Joan, who proceeded to tell me story after story of the calls she receives.

Access Denied

Joan said many cold callers lie and tell her the CEO asked them to call. Most are cocky; others are downright rude; and some try to lay on the charm. A lot of them keep calling and calling, hoping to eventually get past her. But the CEO is a busy woman, and Joan is good at her job. So these duplicitous cold callers always reach her, not her boss.

Joan and other gatekeepers can smell phoniness a mile away. Think you’re getting away with cold calling and pretending you’re best buddies with your prospect? Newsflash: You’re not fooling anybody.

Access Granted

Then Joan and I talked about the power of a referral introduction. That’s genuine. That’s real. The connection is immediate, and Joan is on your side. The gatekeeper has left the building.

When you have a referral, you’ll never have to use duplicitous tactics to bypass the gatekeeper. Instead, that secretary or assistant will welcome your call. No lies necessary.

The CEO called me back within 15 minutes, and we agreed on next steps.

The moral of the story: Referred prospects always make time to talk to salespeople who’ve been introduced by someone they know and trust. And their gatekeepers—those invaluable people who enable execs to do their jobs—will be happy to patch you through.

What is the sleaziest “gatekeeper tactic” you’ve ever used, or heard someone else use?

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Overcoming the Problem of Willpower

Posted by on Jan 29, 2014 in Leadership Now | 0 comments

Small Move Big Change

Our willpower is simply outmatched by our habits and attitudes. The solution says Caroline Arnold in Small Move, Big Change, is translate your goal into microresolutions—small but meaningful behavioral changes.

Instead of commanding yourself to be an organized person or lose weight through willpower—to be what you are not—the idea is to define explicit actions to practice, one by one, until you begin to do what an organized or fit person does automatically. “Microresolutions focus on doing, not being. Being different follows, rather than precedes, deliberate action.”

The more change we impose on ourselves, the more resistance we must overcome. And yet we nearly always shoot for an instant transformation, resolving to be slim, to be neat, to be on time. Such wannabe resolutions require changing scores of behaviors and put us broadly at war with autopilot.

The intense focus of a microresolution helps expose our veiled mindset and the subtle interplay among habits, attitudes, and values that block progress. Like a scientific experiment that alters a single variable at a time in order to precisely observe cause and effect, the single-minded focus of a microresolution exposes the source of our resistance to change. Once identified, a negative mindset can be addressed, undone, even turned in support of our objectives.

Arnold’s microresolution system is organized into seven rules:

Rule 1: A microresolution is easy. The easier it is, the less you’ll be tempted to talk yourself out of it. Rather than resolving to walk to work every day, an easy microresolution would be to walk to work one day a week.

Rule 2: A microresolution is an explicit and measurable action. Your resolution must focus on a specific change of behavior, not a result than can be achieved in multiple ways. Rather than say “eliminate 100 calories a day,” a microresolution to cut a habitual afternoon snack of a candy bar in half is an explicit and measureable action.

Rule 3: A microresolution pays off up front. To “lose twenty pounds by summer” does not have an immediate benefit. “Stop eating after 8:00 pm” does.

Rule 4: A microresolution is personal. Finding the most effective resolution requires careful self-examination.

Rule 5: A microresolution resonates. It’s positive rather than negative. Instead of “I resolve not to be defensive when receiving feedback,” you might reframe it as, “I will listen, acknowledge, and give thoughtful consideration to feedback.”

Rule 6: A microresolution fires on cue. Establishing a strong link between an action and its cue is essential for making a new behavior automatic, and a careful framing overall will help you nail your resolution and make practicing it more enjoyable.

Rule 7: Make microresolutions just two at a time. Limiting your resolutions ensures that you have the attention and endurance to stick with a behavioral shift until it becomes autopilot.

“The art of self-improvement is not about perfection but about priorities,” write Arnold. In part two, Arnold applies these rules to specific areas of self-improvement such as sleep, fitness, diet, clutter, and relationships. Small Move, Big Change is engaging to read and easy to relate to. It will help you overcome the willpower problem and make progress with any changes you’re faced with.


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