Posted in leadership, self-improvement

Switching Lanes from Judger Leader to Learner Leader

“To choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances is to choose one’s own way.” – Victor Frankl

Thoughts set intention. Learner questions program us with a positive intention for the right attitude and moves toward an outstanding performance. Whenever feeling yourself going into judger leader, switch lanes by asking yourself:

  1. What will serve me best right now?
  2. Am I being honest with myself?
  3. What do I really need?
  4. What can I do to feel better that doesn’t include eating?
  5. Instead of saying who’s to blame, ask what am I responsible for?

Blame keeps us in the past. Responsibility paves the path for a better future. Switching is what makes it possible to change. Switching makes it easier when you follow your A, B, C, and Ds.

  • Aware – Am I a judger? Is this working?
  • Breathe! – Do I need to step back, pause, and gain perspective?
  • Curiosity – What’s really going on? – With me? With others? With the situation?
  • Decide – What is my decision? What action do I choose?

Remember Learner begets learner and judger begets judger. We don’t have much control over what happens, but we can choose how we relate to what happens. So, accept the judger and practice the learner. Ask, what do I appreciate about my team? What are the strengths of each one? How can I collaborate with them more productively? How can we stay on the learner path together?

When frustrated with a situation or a person, remember the three primary questions:

  1. What assumptions am I making?
  2. How else can I think about this?
  3. What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?


Cite: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2015

Posted in leadership, self-improvement

Are You a Judger or a Learner?

The secret of being really effective and satisfied with our lives begins when we decide to be a judger or a learner. This is part of question thinking as discussed in a previous blog: post= 7491&action=edit Once you understand your mindset, you can choose which questions you want to ask. “Change your thinking, change your results.” Remember, “No one can help anyone else from a judger place.” So, instead of asking

  • What’s wrong with me (judger), ask
    • What do I value about myself (learner)?
  • What’s wrong with him (judger), ask
    • What do I appreciate about him (learner)?
  • Whose fault is it (judger), ask
    • Am I being responsible (learner)?
  • How can I prove I’m right (judger), ask
    • What’s useful? What can I learn (learner)?
  • Why is she so clueless and frustrating (judger), ask
    • What is she thinking? Feeling? Wanting? (learner)
  • We’ve done that already (judger), ask
    • What are the best steps forward?
  • Why bother? (judger), ask
    • What’s possible (learner)?

More learner questions:

  • What happened?
  • What do I want?
  • What’s useful about this?
  • What can I learn?
  • What are my choices?
  • What’s best to do now?
  • What’s possible?


Judger mindset (being judgmental) is the enemy of good judgment.

Accept the judger mindset when it comes up so you can release it, but practice the learner mindset moment by moment by moment.

Change begins with the person who wants the change.


 Cite: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2015

Posted in leadership, spiritual/religious

Thoughts, Actions and Memories

Over 2,000 years ago, one of my favorite Greek Philosophers, Epictetus, stated that people are disturbed “Not by things, but by the views we take on them.” A thousand years later, Shakespeare, in Hamlet, wrote, “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” And even Solomon in Proverbs wrote, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

As a child, I grew up with 4 flags, the American flag, the Kentucky state flag, the Christian flag, and the Confederate flag. The Confederate flag was an artifact of heritage pride. Even though Kentucky was a border state, it presented as southern. As a child, this was a simple association as was being a female child.

As I grew, I watched white power protesters claim the Confederate flag as their own. They associated it with hateful language, physical pain, and murders directed at innocent people. Just as the Nazis took over the swastika symbol, which was originally a Jewish symbol (something I didn’t know until I traveled to Israel), the Confederate flag was commandeered as a symbol of bigotry, racism, and death of innocents. So, as I grew and understood, I removed the Confederate flag from my things. Though I had one in innocence, I could no longer keep one and be innocent.

In the last few decades, Christendom has been hijacked by bigots and racists. I cringe as I watch hateful words, dangerous actions, and murders in the name of Love of Jesus Christ. These people are not performing Christ-like acts, but by using the name of Christian for their atrocities, they are marking all Christians with their hate and shameful acts, just as the white power people mark all southerners with their hate and shameful acts.

While there are many southerners who are excellent role models for being a real loving, generous southerner, and excellent Christians providing role models for being Christ-like Christians, I wonder, will the haters win? According to the ancient philosophers quoted at the top of this post, they only win if we view the actions of a few and judge everyone with it. For all who are working hard at trying to live a good life, a Christ-like life, I hope people can see beyond the actions of the haters toward the actions of people making positive changes every day.

 CITE: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns, M.D.

Posted in self-improvement

7 Bits and Pieces to Finish the Month

  1. Ever question if your necktie is too short or too long? If you question it, the answer is yes. The tie should be at the top of your belt if wearing a suit pant.


  1. If you want to lower your blood pressure, listen to classical music. Studies show those who listen to classical music dropped their blood pressure significantly.


  1. An Americano is an espresso with hot water added. It contains more copper than brewed coffee, which helps to burn fat, and it is higher in disease-fighting antioxidants.


  1. Eating up to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day has the same impact on the happiness scale as going from unemployed to employed.


  1. If you clean your desk, you improve your brain health. Those who work in dirty and noisy places are more likely to have long-term cognitive decline than those who work in clean and quiet ones.


  1. The typical American weighs around 2000 pounds in clothing and household goods including furniture. In a recent study, people who reduced their house weight also reduced their body weight by 10 pounds.


  1. If you have a hard time falling asleep, but once you do, you sleep fine, you may need a little more fiber, protein, and calcium. (Sheila’s hint: A nutritionist once told me when I was going through this after a medical change to my body to take a tablespoon of peanut butter before bed. It always worked.)


Cite: July AARP Magazine

Posted in writing

Feedforwarding Coaching

I recently read a paper by Nick Petrie at the Center for Creative Leadership that used the metaphor that leadership is perpetual white water. This is my third blog post on the paper. For the first one, check out the August 6, 2017 post, and the second one check out the August 13, 2017 post. The paper discussed the new era of digital information leadership and talked about how to develop leaders in this new white water era.

A third suggestion from this paper is a time-efficient form of coaching, one that takes only two to three hours a month to complete. People who are looking to change behaviors often choose coaching. Author Petrie suggests raising the bar from Coaching to Feedforward Coaching, which puts the responsibility for development into the person’s hands by tailoring the process to work for them. Feedforward Coaching means the person chooses trusted colleagues to help them by focusing on three areas:

  • Focus on the future
  • Give only suggestions
  • That are positive that the person can do


  1. Person chooses one or two areas to improve.
  2. Person chooses five to eight internal, trusted people who become feedforward coaches.
  3. Person gathers monthly suggestions from the feedforward coaches and determines which to implement.
  4. At six and twelve month points, measure level of behavior change.

The six and twelve month check-ins could be something like:

  • Behavioral goal to change – I need to be more patient with other people (visible goal).
    • Wait until people stop talking
    • Talk slower
    • Walk around the office slower
    • Listen to people
  • Behaviors to work against the goal (doing/not doing)
    • I interrupt people instead of waiting for them to finish talking
    • I talk very fast and very loud
    • I make quick decisions
    • I walk around the office so fast I sometimes forget to say hello to some people
  • Hidden competing goals
    • Worries:
      • I’ll have to spend more time at work every day if I listen to everyone
      • My attention will be diverted to nonsense things and that will delay important things
    • I am committed to
      • Not wasting time on nonsense things
      • Not damaging my home life
      • Not having my career stalled because my performance drops
    • My big assumptions
      • I need to be fast and impatient at all times or I will not get results
      • If I am not fast and impatient all the time, my results will decrease and my image will be damaged.

Will you try this kind of coaching? Why? Why not? What expectations / concerns do you have?

Cite: Future Trends in Leadership Development by Nick Petrie

Posted in leadership

Adult Levels of Development

I recently read a paper by Nick Petrie at the Center for Creative Leadership that used the metaphor that leadership is perpetual white water. This is my second blog post on the paper. For the first one, check out the August 6, 2017 post. The paper discussed the new era of digital information leadership and talked about how to develop leaders in this new white water era.

Discussing Adult Level of Development, Kegan lists three categories:

Category 3 – Socialized mind. At this level people are shaped by the expectations of those around them. What people say and think is strongly influenced by what people think others want to hear. #Dependent Conformer. #Opportunist. #Diplomat.

Category 4 – Self-authoring mind. At this level people have developed their own ideology and internal compass to guide them. Their sense of self is aligned with their own belief system, personal code, and values. They can take stands, and set limits on behalf of their own internal beliefs. #Independent #Achiever. #Expert.

Category 5 – Self-transforming mind. At this level people have their own ideology but can step back from that ideology to see if it is limited or partial. They can hold more contradiction and oppositeness in their thinking and no longer feel the need to gravitate towards polarized thinking. #Interdependent Collaborator. #Strategist. #Alchemist. #Ironist. (page 13)

Reading this, what category are you? Are you a different category at work? At home? With friends? Did reading this cause you to think about things differently?

A quick list:


  • Characteristics: Wins anyway possible, self-oriented, manipulative, might makes right.
  • Leadership strengths: Good in emergencies and sales opportunities.
  • Weaknesses: Forcibly self-interested and manipulative; Rejects feedback and externalizes blame.


  • Characteristics: Avoids overt conflict; Wants to belong, Obeys group norms; Rarely rocks the boat.
  • Leadership strengths: Good as supportive glue within an office; Helps bring people together.
  • Weaknesses: Avoids conflict; Rigidly conforms and is status-driven; Sees negative feedback as punishment.


  • Characteristics: Rules by logic and expertise; Seeks rational efficiency.
  • Leadership strengths: Good as an individual contributor.
  • Weaknesses: Critical and dogmatic; choose efficiency over effectiveness; Resists subjective feedback.


  • Characteristics: Meets strategic goals; Effectively achieves goals through teams; Juggles managerial duties and market demands.
  • Leadership strengths: Well suited to managerial roles; Action and goal oriented.
  • Weaknesses: Can be over driven to achieve self-chosen objective standards; blind to complex sustainability


  • Characteristics: Interweaves competing personal and company action logics; Creates unique structures to resolve gaps between structure and performance.
  • Leadership strengths: Effective in venture and consulting roles.
  • Weaknesses: Can be a maverick, an outsider, or rebel; Their independence can work against collaboration.


  • Characteristics: Generates organizational and personal transformations; Exercises the power of mutual inquiry, vigilance, and vulnerability for both the short and long term.
  • Leadership strengths: Effective as a transformational leader within large contexts such as organizations.
  • Weaknesses: Tempted by the dark side of power; May not employ their skills in a given context.


  • Characteristics: Generates social transformations; Integrates material, spiritual, and societal transformations.
  • Leadership strengths: Good at leading society-wide transformations.
  • Weaknesses: Personal suffering may obstruct the use of their skills.

Cite: Future Trends in Leadership Development by Nick  Petrie

Posted in leadership

Leadership White Water

I recently read a paper by the Center for Creative Leadership that used the metaphor that leadership is perpetual white water. I was immediately drawn to it because I believe it to be true. There is always something to keep an eye on, always something that may make your day trip of calm water turn into a rapids ride, and always something that could turn your day completely topsy-turvy. There is also something about navigating exciting white water that draws leaders to the role.

On page 7, the author discussed VUCA, an army term, to describe this new environment:

  • V – change happens rapidly and on a large scale (volatile)
  • U – the future cannot be predicted with any precision (uncertainty)
  • C – challenges are complicated by many factors any there are few single causes or solutions (complex)
  • A – there is little clarity on what events mean or what effect they may have (ambiguous)

And on page 5, we are reminded that “In the agricultural era, schools mirrored the garden. In the industrial era, schools mirrored the factory, with an assembly line of learners. In the digital information era…VUCA. “

According to those interviewed for this paper, the most common skills, abilities, and attributes needed for VUCA white water leaders (page 9) will be

  • Adaptability
  • Self-awareness
  • Boundary spanning
  • Collaboration
  • Network thinking

Aids to improve the skills, abilities, and attributes listed above (page 9) will be

  • Training
  • Job assignments
  • Action learning
  • Executive coaching
  • Mentoring
  • 360-degree feedback

One leader interviewed stated, “Some people want to put Christ back in Christmas I want to put development back in leadership development,” (page 10). Suggestions to improve leadership development (page 22) include

  • Open flow of information
  • Flexible hierarchies
  • Distributed resources
  • Distributed decision making
  • Loosening of centralized controls

Does all of this sound familiar and simple? I think so. Do you know of a lot of corporations and agencies who follow it? You be the judge.

Cite: Future Trends in Leadership Development by Nick  Petrie