Let go of your past so you can concentrate on your future!

Sheila Talton, C.E.O. of Grey Matter Analytics, a consulting firm, an anti-Vietnam war activist in her youth failed out of college because she focused to much on organizing and protesting. Working as a secretary at a fork lift company a white male salesmen noticed her initiative and then got behind her and pushed her to go back to college offering to help her with her coursework. I shared this part of her interview because I just got off the phone with a minor league baseball player that I’ve been coaching for seven months. He is heading into spring training this year with a clear head, zero drama, and much greater focus! He thanked me for all my assistance and told me that he is now behind his girlfriend much like I got behind him. She too is thriving!

Ms. Talton also shared that she will offer up a member of her team for promotion or another opportunity if it is right because it shows how invested she is in other people’s careers not just her own. Instead of holding on or hoarding good people she prefers the good will generated from letting them go. I love this enlightened approach to business management and leadership. I imagine that she is successful in her personal life too. I often teach people, including athletes and entrepreneurs, to be more fluid and flexible by holding on less and letting go sooner. Often, it is simply the best way to live, create, and be!

Excluding the Takers from Your Life

Each week I do a quick little blurb on Adam Bryant’s interviews in the New York Times Sunday Business section. This week he interviewed Jody Greenstone Miller, the co-founder and chief executive of the Business Talent Group, a provider of project based talent. I enjoyed her open and honest style but what stood out for me most was her desire to hire optimistic people who are problem solvers not just problem spotters.

I often say that anyone can criticize and judge but it takes strength of character to be understanding. In a similar vein, anyone can point out a problem but it takes strength of character to resolve the problem. Ms. Miller also prefers hiring people who “give you energy, and not take energy from you.” I believe this is very important when it comes to success in life and business. It’s what I refer to as eliminating the takers from your life, minimizing the neutrals, and inviting the givers!

Successful Women in Male Dominated Careers

This New York Times Sports Sunday article on female sports agents in the N.F.L. is very interesting. To break into a male dominated profession like engineering is challenging but pro football is a whole other realm! I really respect the women who are up for the challenge and actually succeeding. I often talk about passion, commitment, and perseverance as fundamental aspects of success in life and business. In a profession such as this, Kristen Kuliga, Kelli Masters and others must have all that and more! Good stuff!!

An Inspiring Success Story

Adam Case, the 35-year-old offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos never played college football and was a mediocre high school tight end by all accounts. Through a combination of hard work, ingenuity, and tenacity he worked his way up the ranks of professional football to become an invaluable part of the Broncos offense!

I love success stories like this because as a life coach, business coach, and sports psychologist I am constantly helping others overcome challenges and accomplish things they never thought possible. As I often say: if you want to achieve anything difficult you must believe that it is possible, take tons of action, and tweak your game along the way. In other words, it is essential to constantly learn and make adjustments along the way. Clearly, Adam Case did all that and more!

Developing Listening Skills

Noreen D. Beaman, the C.E.O of Brinker Capital, is a leader who values listening and being present. As she states in this interview with Adam Bryant, The New York Times Corner Office guru: “I’ve also learned a lot about listening – to really pay attention and be present in the moment.”

I find that great listening skills are invaluable both in one’s career and personal life. For instance, if you often come home from work and can’t be present with your partner, eventually he or she will grow tired of your lack of presence. Nothing kills a relationship more than lack of presence. At best it’s boring. At worst, it’s cruel. At work, not being present leads to mistakes and errors in judgment. Having great listening skills means you consistently take the time and energy necessary to be present and pay attention. Presence, like many other skills, is a muscle that develops with practice. Being present and really listening are wonderful attributes and make living so much more interesting!

The Start of A New Change

Maureen Dowd, The New York Times columnist tells the story of a couple opening an inn catering to higher end tourists who want freedom without jeopardy. It’s an interesting twist on what’s happening throughout the state as business moves into a new and ever expanding industry. Conservative, liberal or in-between this change is here to stay. My sense is that the Marijuana is in its infancy and will become much like alcohol – regulated, taxed and ubiquitous.

A lot of people resist change. Some people embrace it. The couple in this article are at the forefront of change in Colorado. My question to you is what are you resisting and what change can you embrace today that would make a real difference in your life? Those are some of the thoughts I had when I read Ms. Dowd’s article!

Manufacturing Jobs

The Myth of Industrial Rebound, a feature article by Steven Rattner in this week’s Sunday Review section of The New York Times offers a broad perspective on the unlikely notion that high paid manufacturing jobs are ever coming back to the U.S. New plants that have opened recently are offering manufacturing jobs that start at wages that are hardly middle class like $12 to $14 an hour. The problems are multifaceted and diverse but essentially we don’t have enough skilled workers and we aren’t competitive enough compared to countries like Mexico whose average wage per worker is roughly $8 an hour versus $45 an hour in the U.S. Increased research and development, added spending on infrastructure, more foreign direct investment, and other policy changes will help but as Mr. Rattner argues, the issues are deeply structural in nature and unlikely to change significantly over time. He states: “in a flattened world, there will always be another China.”

My mantra: The more awareness and the more action we take based on that awareness, the better! If we know what the issues are and don’t deny them then we can create policies that make a real difference. Early childhood education is proven to make a real difference. The more educated we are as a nation the better. Let’s put resources towards aims that matter so our next generation actually lives the American dream!

Success Is A Skill

According to Amy Chua and Jeb Rubenfeld, Yale law professors and authors of What Drives Success? A New York Times Sunday Review feature article, success in certain ethnic groups has to do with three underlying principles: 1) A superiority complex 2) An inferiority complex 3) Impulse control. For instance, believing that certain groups are chosen, better than or more elite can add extra confidence for individuals to persevere when times are tough. Feeling not good enough, not smart enough or not successful enough can add extra drive or motivation. Without the ability to delay gratification or learn to control one’s impulses, people won’t work hard enough in the now to secure longer term success. This article is very interesting and worth considering. Some statistics are especially interesting like Nigerians who make up less than one percent of the Black population in the United States yet in 2013 nearly one quarter of the black students at Harvard Business School were of Nigerian ancestry.

Having been raised Jewish I can relate to this article personally. On the one hand there was a sense of pride bordering on elitism on behalf of my parents in their cultural beliefs and yet there was always this feeling of not enough as well. Learning to delay gratification, a skill or trait that parents can enhance by teaching it to their children is was a quality my mother instilled in us with her patience and nurturing. Motivation too can be taught, especially at early ages. There is nothing about success that can’t be enhanced through good parenting and proper training. Remember Trading Places with Eddie Murphy – perhaps an exaggeration but nevertheless it makes a potent point – success is a skill that can be taught and learned like many others! I often refer to myself as a high end teacher. I teach success in life and business!!

Innovative Leadership Approach

Each week I write about business managers and leaders featured in Adam Bryant’s Corner Office section of the Sunday Business section of The New York Times. Mr. Girish, the C.E.O of eClinicalWorks, a privately operated provider of IT healthcare solutions, says that he hires primarily on “heart” because the rest can be taught. He is seeking passion, commitment, and desire for excellence above all else! Instead of firing people, he tells the employee that it’s not working out and to take three months off to seek something else. If after three months, they want to come back they must change. I love his innovative approach to employee challenges! He also spurns job titles instead creative teams and team leaders! Good stuff Mr. Navani!!

Ross Ulbricht and Silk Road

The story of Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht in the Sunday Business section of the New York Times is an interesting sketch on a complex personality. On the one hand, he seems to be kind, compassionate, and deeply philosophical young adult who graduated from several top schools, was well regarded by his peers and parents and found a way to create an interesting living confidentially matching buyers and sellers on the web using Bitcoin, a computer generated currency that is currently unregulated. On the other hand, Silk Road seems to have been set up  primarily to provide buyers and sellers of illicit drugs and other illegal activities with a means of connecting anonymously through advanced encryption technology called Tor. Mr. Ulbricht  believed strongly in economic freedom and extremely limited government. The FBI recently arrested him and charged him with a series of crimes that make him out to be a sociopath.

Without knowing Mr. Ulbricht personally it’s hard to determine who he really is. It does seem, however, as if he might be an honorable guy who committed crimes for which he is in big trouble. How can he be honorable you might ask? There is a big distinction between virtue, which is largely about moral behavior, and honor which has to do with how you go about doing what you do!

Go to http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/business/eagle-scout-idealist-drug-trafficker.html to decide for yourself!