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Filtering by Tag: clarity

5 Ways To Prepare Yourself For Success - Clarity #32

Alan Andersen

Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get. –W.P. Kinsella

I love Summer and I love sunshine! It seems this recent heat wave nearly sent my Seattle friends over the edge as evidenced in their tweets and Facebook posts. Bless our hearts. We complain about the grey and rain and yet when we finally get the sunshine we long for.. we complain and grumble.

When I wrote Clarity: Focusing on What Matters I addressed this in week #32 and challenged readers that in order to be successful you first must know how you define success. It never ceases to amaze me how many people have never taken the time to define success for themselves. Instead they go through life with someone else’s definition and find they are never satisfied or better said never fulfilled.

What do you want?

What do you really, really want? Most people answer that question with what they do not have which I think is a lost opportunity. What you really, really want you may indeed already have and by your own definition be a successful person. Shocking!

To identify what you want and be clear on your “why” does not mean you don’t have goals and should not strive for what you want that you do not have. Conversely, there is joy in realizing you just might have more than you ever imagined which will energize the journey toward more.

Take some time this summer and really think about how you define success and prepare yourself to live it and receive it.

5 ways to prepare yourself for success:

  • Define: What is it that you really want? Why?
  • Identify: Where are you at right now in your life? Who are you?
  • Motivation: What motivates you to be where you want to be? (the why)
  • Goals: What are the top 3 goals you have?
  • Preparation: Be prepared for the worst and best outcome.

Remember, you are eagle leaders and success is just who you are! Take one step toward defining your own success story before the day ends.

Your Coach,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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Stop Seeking A Balanced Life! Clarity #31

Alan Andersen

My family’s annual camping trip to Bucks Lake, CA was the 4th of July weekend. It was awesome! In addition to swimming, hiking, and lots of sleeping, I relaxed in the warm sunshine on my parents’ boat and read six books!

A highlight was a five-mile hike to a beautiful vista point overlooking our campsite and the smaller Thompson Lake. A friend of my mom, who had done the walk many times, told her about it and gave her directions. So off we went.


Near the top, my mom stopped to rest. I offered to scout the trail ahead. Of course, there was a fork in the road. So I ran down each way, and based on the direction and worn path, guessed we should go to the right. When Mom caught up I told her my plan and she interrupted me saying, “Oh look there’s a marker, Terry said at the top to just follow the rock markers.”

Well, that was the first I had heard of the markers, and yes I had a “high D” moment of exasperation. Without that knowledge I would have led us down the wrong path and who knows where we would have ended up. Luckily, stacked rocks indeed marked the remainder of the trail. We were on the right path.

I found it ironic that the markers for “the right path” were rocks perfectly balanced on top of each other. They just sat there serving their purpose. I couldn’t help to draw out the parallel, as I had come to the lake to be refreshed — to get back into “balance.”

The experience crystalized something I’d been thinking about for a while. I don’t believe that balance should be utopia, the Holy Grail, the chief end in life. Here I am a life coach and I don’t think people should be obsessed with balance.


That sounds heretical, doesn’t it? Everyone knows that we need to keep balance in our lives, or there’s heck to pay, right? Here’s what I mean. When people are seeking balance, I think they are searching for something more. I think they are looking for what those rocks had: purpose. Their balance enabled them to be markers.

Mom and I felt relief every time we saw those markers on the trail because they saved us hours of wandering. Many times we had to go searching to make sure we were not on the wrong path (and a few times we were). By showing the way, by fulfilling their purpose, they brought us joy and helped us accomplish what we came to do.

Yes, of course everyone needs a good mix of professional and personal efforts, of work and rest. We all know it’s a constant battle to protect the restful personal and family time as a priority. No one gets kudos and raises for being rested and energized in their personal life.

But think about those people you know who are living with purpose — those who look balanced but actually are so passionate about their values and purpose they are everything but “balanced.” They’re over the top in one area of their life. Why? Because they have fully integrated their values into their being and intentionally living those values out moment-by-moment, day-by-day. They are engaged. They are talking about their passion all the time and can lose themselves in their sense of being.


I’m like that. Everyday, I live with purpose, and my clients know it. They know I am as solid as a rock and able to guide them as they journey to their next level.

At the same time, I get out of sync because I let fear get to me and lose sight of who I am and what I am about. (That’s why I have my own coach!) I get out of balance. I need some markers to get me back on the right path.

Back on the hike above Bucks Lake, there was one point where we were very confused as to which way to go. We went back and forth wasting a lot of time and energy guessing. Then I saw a pile of stones, and at the same time glanced down the path 100 yards. I got it. Down there was a marker, and here was a pile of what used to be one. Now it was a heap of useless stones.

That’s how I can get sometimes. All it takes is for a mean person to kick me, or an unexpected windstorm to knock me over. I lose my bearings and collapse into a pile.

The good news is it’s simple to repair. Note I didn’t say easy. You just remember who you are, what your purpose is and get some help to get back on track. That’s what I did for that sorry little pile. I bent down and stacked the rocks and carefully balanced them on top of each other restoring their usefulness. Yes, they were balanced, but that wasn’t the goal. Instantly they were back in action fulfilling their purpose.

I invite you to evaluate if you’re on “the right track” and seeking balance in your life so that you can fulfill your purpose. Let me know what you think here.

Your coach for clarity,



This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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Do you trust yourself? Truly trust yourself? - Clarity #30

Alan Andersen

Do you trust yourself? In week #30 of Clarity: Focusing on What Matters, asking the question today takes on an entirely new meaning.

Trust is a word that is often taken for granted. It is a very delicate “thing” because it is either growing or eroding. That is why I am continually challenging leaders to invest in their self trust, the leadership team trust, and the organization’s trust. It makes or break … EVERYTHING!

Leaders Trust Themselves

Leaders who trust themselves are calm, confident and humble. They just know the right thing to do and they trust they will make the right decisions along the way. Leaders who compromise their values, lose sight of their priorities, and gain at the cost of others are the ones who loose first their self trust and then the trust of those around them.

“Leaders who have learned to trust themselves take great pains to live lives of integrity. They do not compromise their values, they have accountability to others, and they do not think higher of themselves than they should but instead they have a very clear vision of themselves. – Clarity page 76

So back to my question, well…do you trust yourself? I am about to take a 4 week sabbatical and travel in Europe. It took many honest scary answers with myself around trust. Do I trust myself to fully unplug? Do I trust that I can get back in the game when I get home? Then the conversation moved to others. Do I trust my assistant to act in my absence? Do I trust my clients to be gracious with me and stick with me? Lastly, Do I trust my business will not go down the tubes and loose all future clients and all those other irrational thoughts? I may as well ask, Do I trust God? 

Once I got to YES to all of the above – I was ready to go. I didn’t get there until I realized health is one of my values and to honor it and myself I must do this. I had to humble myself, realize the world is not going to end because I don’t blog, twitter, or answer the phone. My part is bring my greatness for the long haul but resting and rejuicing my creativity.

How about you do you trust yourself? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your comments

Your Coach For Clarity,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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Being busy does not equal being important – Clarity #29

Alan Andersen

“I’m trying to strike the word ‘busy’ from my conversations. What are some more positive replacements?”

Being busy does not equal being important. Successful people are not generally the most busy ones. The more successful a person is, the more present he is in a given situation.

Don’t be fooled by busy people. They may well be avoiding something important in their lives and probably can’t see it for what it is.

People with a clear vision and mission do not shirk from responsibility but lead confidently forward. They may “look” busy but they are “on mission.” Busy people can’t say no. Intentional people say “no” to busy things because they are compelled to say “yes” to what matters.

People use their “busy” life to hide from their “purposeful” life.

What I have found, is often times leaders are the most guilty of hiding by keeping busy because they don’t have a clear vision for their own personal life. They would rather get their fingers into everyone’s stuff, declare their direct reports incompetent, and take things back into their control, rather than to fulfill their own responsibilities of leading with purpose. In actuality, leaders are often times scared, insecure, and rudderless.

Leadership is about setting the vision, trusting and supporting the team you have put in place It’s about getting out in front of the company. But how many of us are guilty of letting that weight of responsibility send us running back to hiding from our fears of failure under the guise of “too busy?”

There’s more for you!

Here a few hints to leave busy and head toward intentional

  • Be very clear in your language. You are at choice as to whether you are busy or intentional.
  • Adjust your schedule. Add white space and margin. This means you must remove things that are not part of your vision.
  • Two words… say “no”.
  • Be disciplined with your email, phone, etc. to accomplish what matters and remove any noise and distraction you can.
  • Know your mission and vision.
  • Pay attention to your 5 key accountabilities – the things you should be doing 80% of the time.

When will we stop and take care of ourselves, and thus our responsibilities? When will we stop saying yes to things that allow us to circumvent our responsibilities because we are fearful of failure or rejection? It’s when we choose to live a life of significance instead of avoiding the true life we were meant to live. I have decided not to allow people to call me busy because I’m not. I am living a full, intentional life that is my choice and I am proud of.

Think about it. Do you admire, respect, and want to follow a leader who is running around with their hair on fire all the time? How much better to be aligned with leaders who are confident in who they are, where they are at, and what path they are leading down! Which do you want to be known for? Busy or intentional?

Your Coach,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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Are You A Defensive or Coachable Teammate? Clarity #27

Alan Andersen

Do you ever hide your weakness by over compensating with one of your strengths? Are there areas that you know you need discipline and focus, yet get defensive when people point out that area out to you?

I know for me there are plenty. I am a huge believer in working and focusing on strengths AND I believe there is a huge amount of discipline that is needed to strengthen difficult areas. We must lay aside our defensive posture so we can learn and grow in our areas on blindness. Unfortunately, many times we are lazy in our character and skill training.

Lessons From The Court

On the basketball court I love playing defense. I can be pretty good at it too. I need to be, because I can’t shoot. The only way I add value to the team is to play a hard defense and pass aggressively to my teammates. That makes me look like a great team player, but it doesn’t help the team win over the long haul. I need to be able to drive it in and score.

My defensive facade hides the fact that I am too lazy to practice my shot and not motivated enough to get a coach to help me.

And do you know what? I find myself doing the same thing in life and business: excelling at defense to cover up laziness and lack of skill.

Are you playing defense, or the full court?

At times, I believe we forget that we should be defending against the other team, not our own teammates. We are sensitive and defensive. It is rather crazy when you look at it this way, that often from a place of fear we set up a screen to protect ourselves from our own team. In both passive and aggressive ways we hid and isolate ourselves from truth that could bring healing and restoration to a huge pain in the team. The more talented we are at our defensive maneuvers, the more we fool ourselves that we are good team players – that is until we get passed the ball and it is up to us to score.

Who on your team or in your family do you need to be more vulnerable and authentic with to get past the block that is hindering your personal success and fulfillment? Who has strengths that you could benefit from and how can you lay aside your defensive posture to learn how to be the best you can be today?

Let your guard down, listen to your coach, and get help you need…TODAY!

Would love to hear your thoughts from this week’s Clarity reading?

Your Coach,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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Have You Killed Your Curiosity? Clarity #26

Alan Andersen

Curiosity can be defined as: the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness. Like children, great people have an inherent desire to learn from their environment. This hunger drives them to ask questions and explore how all this new information affects their lives.

In Clarity: Focusing on What Matters we are on Week 26 – halfway through the book! This installment is all about how our character is shaped by curiosity. Not only is it a character trait, but curiosity is an emotion, and driven by that emotion, you are led to explore, investigate, and learn.

That explains why people who shut off their emotions and live from their heads turn off their natural curiosity and settle for fact-finding. The left side of brain sets goals. The right side comes up with creative answers. Did you know the best leaders and problem-solvers are those who regularly practice being curious?

I remember when my niece Kylie first discovered her shadow. It was so delightful to watch her on that warm summer evening. She would lift up her arms and almost jump back when she witnessed her shadow doing the same thing. Now she is five and does not even stop to see her shadow. She is busy and has other things to discover and learn about.

Her auntie however does not want to ever lose the moment when her natural wonderment stirred mine. I just got done taking a walk with a friend and her boys. The boys yelled “STOP” and made us come back and see. There were flowers that had bloomed and we had walked right past them. Shame on me! So glad I was hauled back to smell the flowers.

I invite you to welcome curiosity into your day. It will make you a better listener and more productive.

Awaken your curiosity!

Your turn: Do you think curiosity is more like an emotion or character trait…or both?

Your Coach for Clarity,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching


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Why Leaders Let Disappointment Simmer and 5 Actions you can take to be FREE! Clarity #25

Alan Andersen

I just finished reading Chapter 25 in Clarity: Focusing on What Matters and here is what struck me: When disappointment hits we have a choice to become bitter or better. It reminded me of a speech I gave on Monday about overcoming bitterness and getting rid of anger. Before you can get rid of disappointment and bitterness you have to identify it.

Trials Identify The Cracks

Trials are an opportunity to reveal cracks in the foundation of our plan, life, and vision. As a leader you need to take action and deal with your own bitterness, disappointments, and conflicts. If you don’t you let them simmer on the back burner unti it boils. It costs too much energy, time, and resources to let that happen. Here are some way to identify and address the cracks before you have a crumbling disaster on your hands.

5 Actions Steps to Overcome Disappointment

1. Know your expectations…because they lead to disappointments. If you are a leader you have high aspirations, big dreams, and crazy long term vision as part of your DNA – you can’t help it. The problem is this great strength becomes a weakness and a stumbling block when they morph into expectations. Rarely do people ever meet our expectations so instead of adjusting and communicating our expectations into understandable goals and requests, we experience disappointment. Disappointment not dealt with properly leads to bitterness. Be clear with your expectations, first with yourself, and then with others.

2. Embrace trials. Trials build character. When you experience disappointment or any other hard time you can either see the cloud or the silver lining as they say. Difficult and disappointing times reveal your character. The analogy in the Clarity book talks about the ebb and flow of the tide. The ebb times in our lives exposes what is inside us that needs to be removed. When your flaws and lack of integrity are revealed, therefore repent!

3. Repent isn’t a religious word – so do it! Repentance is a change of mind. It means you were going in one direction with a certain mindset and it’s not working. Therefore you change your belief system by engaging your mind and go a different direction. Of course, it is easier with God because there is something bigger than your own sorry self to help ya’ at, but the concept is true for all. If we are on our way to LA from Seattle and we hit Vancouver BC – there is something wrong. If you are the driver and start ranting about how you can’t believe you did it again, you shouldn’t have trusted mapquest, blah, excuse, blah – as the passenger I am going to say, no shout, “SHUT UP and pull over! Take the next offramp and turn the @!#%%$# around!”

4. Sweat the small stuff. A big part of my coaching is conflict resolution and in my 12 years of experience I am here to tell you – it is the small things that become big things. It is the dumb small thing that you are ashamed of that made you so angry that will morph over night into a huge divide. In fact, it is rarely a big huge thing because everyone would know that is a problem – it is the small thing that means so much to you. It is someone or something you care about deeply that can wound you with the smallest infraction. So you must deal with it.

5. Deal with it now! A good principle we use with our clients is 24 hours. Don’t let 24 hours go by without dealing with your anger, resentment, hard feelings. Most of the time it is a miscommunication that can be dealt with in a quick conversation. The longer you wait the longer the reconciliation will take, the more people get hurt, and the more energy and time is wasted.

Practice What You Preach

Recently, I did not follow my own advice and wisdom and let a very small issue simmer. It seemed too selfish and small to address and I was embarrassed to even talk about it with the offending party. Well, a month later I was a total mess, caused hurt to other people, and was an emotional wreck in this area. Why? Because I did not follow my values and take action. Like my friend Kim Case says, “You don’t get better, you get faster!” Yep, and that is what I am doing!

Your Turn

If you do not identify and deal with your disappointments you will become bitter. Once bitter you will either stop dreaming big or become so unrealistic in your drive to prove yourself – no one will listen, let alone follow. Get clear, repent, and move in a new direction today.

What additional tips do you have on getting rid of disappointment? I only listed 5 – there are more. Please share below.

What action will you take today?

Your Coach For Clarity,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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What Kind Of Risk Taker Are You? Clarity #24

Alan Andersen

This is such a timely subject that I decided to include an excerpt from my book CLARITY: FOCUSING ON WHAT MATTERS. We are on week #24 and if you have not read the book or following along with our year long challenge – join in now.

Real Risk For Real Relationships

Growing up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I had a few too many opportunities for adventure: jumping snowmobiles in the full moon, passing three logging trucks on a two-lane highway in a ’71 Vega, leaping off 40-foot cliffs into the Feather River, and countless other near death experiences. Let’s just say that some adventures were cause for a visit to the chiropractor on Monday morning.

These days, I’ve traded adventure stunts for business tactics. Perhaps you’re like me. A different type of risk defines us…until someone challenges us to look deeper, or within. We may be successful but are we wealthy in relationships?

Intimacy is necessary for rich relationships. The only way to have true intimacy is to risk your self emotionally. At this point, the risk-taker in many of us comes to a screeching halt. Thinking of exposing our inner being is enough to send half of us running!

Where is your gap?

Have you felt a gap within you? You want love, but as you pull people in, your attempt for true intimacy is sabotaged. The fear of rejection and the risk of truly being yourself unconsciously pushes love away, creating a gap.

Here’s the sad part. We medicate the gap. With work, alcohol, food, pornography, shopping, bad relationships, adrenaline sports, travel and vacations, and even the latest pharmaceutical drug marketed to us. We keep our brain just busy enough that we don’t have to connect to our heart. Our public persona is beautifully rewarded, so we keep medicating the gap. Yet our true self is never quite fulfilled and is left searching for significance and purpose.

Bridge the gap

So how do you bridge the gap toward real intimacy? Decide to build up enough emotional strength to be authentic and trust another. Maybe you start by trusting your closest friend, or maybe you start by trusting God. You must start somewhere and yes, you might get hurt. But denying truth doesn’t change its reality. Risk may bring pain, but risk also brings freedom and reward.

I want you to have the freedom to love and to be loved. When you are ready to take a risk emotionally, then you are ready to open up your heart and soul. Develop a team of safe people to support you in your new venture.

Decide to be a true risk taker, today. What risk will you take today?

Your Coach For Clarity,

The article previously appeared at True Life Coaching, a subsidiary of Shandel Group. If you enjoyed this post, read Shandel's book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.

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Ahhh…Relief! Clarity #23

Alan Andersen

My favorite emotion is relief and I wrote extensively about it in Clarity on Week 23. Love is a choice or I would choose love, but think about the glorious feeling around the word relief. Like when you can’t find your child in the store and, after 5 minutes, see the feet pop out from the clothes rack. SHEW! Or running around the house for 30 minutes, now how late for a business meeting and then finally finding your keys.

Can you agree?

Relief is glorious and yet it should never be used a substitute for needed change. Many of us don’t change until we have to and so we thrive on relief when things “work out anyway.” I am telling you that is a lack of integrity that I must address often and I welcome you to do the same thing. What in your life needs to change today? Are you taking action that will lead to real growth or are you just trying to get a reprieve and settling for a lesser life so you can stay comfortable?

Relief for relief’s sake will derail your long-term success. You will choose behaviors that compromise your values just to “keep the peace” and simply react to life like a pinball.

Tools to take control

It is time for you to take control of your life and here in this podcast on relief that will help you get there. On the podcast, I give you a few ideas on how to get your emotions and your values back in line. Enjoy!

Would love to know what you think of the podcast? What questions would you suggest we tackle in upcoming episodes?

Your Coach For Clarity,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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The Perils of Miscommunication. Clarity #22

Alan Andersen

When hired business to drive profit to the bottom-line, the first step we recommend is to assess what is happening with communication. To get alignment, you first must start with how do we get work done. At TLC, we make certain all team members are assessed and on the same page with their team members.

The magic is to have each member understand their own style and gain insight into their unique talents and personal blindspots. Next is to appreciate and understand their teammates’ strengths, weaknesses, and unique style. To start anywhere else, in my opinion, is a waste of money and energy not, to mention foolish. Why?

Business is Relationships

Business is all about relationships. Think about it. Businesses fail because one or more relationships did not work out (partners, customers, vendors, investors, employees). Relationships end when trust is broken. Trust is eroded if not broken immediately – usually because of a miscommunication.

Think About It

We have all had a relationship go bad, right? What happened? Something at sometime broke your trust with that person. Now think really hard about it, see if there is a miscommunication? It may have been instant or a slow erosion over time.

Here’s an example. When I was in high school, I never had a curfew because my mom trusted me and wanted to know where I was at all times. As long as I communicated I was granted freedom. Now imagine if I said, “Hey Mom, I’m going to Scott’s house” and she assumes I meant my boyfriend Scott, but when she checks up on me, I’m not there and then calls every person in my graduating class looking for me. Come to find out, I went to “Scott’s house”, the college guy I met at a party last weekend.

In my mind, I communicated perfectly per our agreement with no hint of misleading her. However, my mom is fuming and her trust in me now has a crack in it. I think she is overreacting when she asks me a million questions the next time I want to go out and so I stop telling her every detail because I don’t trust she still has that love and respect for me. Soon we are barely speaking and the relationship is compromised.

AND it happens in the workplace the same way. We think we are communicating perfectly only to find we are getting passive/aggressive attitude from someone. What do we do?

Deal with the Small Stuff

The problem in the workplace is we rarely talk about the small things that bug us. I am not advocating we nit pick and have to vent every problem; however, if we cannot overlook it and move on…it will erode trust.

I find in the workplace, small miscommunications snowball into huge big issues if not dealt with in a professional, agreed upon manner. Knowing your communication style and the style of the others is the fastest way to trust and respect. Then have a conflict resolution process that everyone agrees to and commits to upholding. It is always the small issues that cause the cancer that destroys relationships.

Start With You

Here is a resource we offer to individuals in order to find out your own communication style. For the leader of a team, we suggest you get everyone on the same page (scroll down on our Workshops page to see our “Building the Extraordinary Team” workshop) to blaze forward into a profitable 2012. Every moment you wait to communicate you compromise results. A culture of accountability and commitment must start with communication.

Where do you struggle with communication?

Your Coach For Clarity,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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Have You Ever Been Accused of Not Living in the Present? Clarity #21

Alan Andersen

Gratitude keeps you in the here and now. It has you reflect on what is happening all around you in the present moment. Most leaders have vision for the future and have a natural ability to see ahead. This trips them up about what is going on today. Having a daily routine to keep you in the present is one of the most powerful things you can do. A tool we have put in place to assist our leaders and gratitude folks is the quote of the day.

Reflection Time is Key

It is my hope that a simple quote will stop your brain and have you reflect. Pausing in your day to remember what’s most important and to write down something you are grateful for. Then each week take time to plan your week. Did you read Week #21 of Clarity: Focusing on What Matters? The title says it all -”Jumping Off the Hamster Wheel”. Clarity is designed to give you a weekly inspiration to help you prepare for your week. Then once a month, find a half day or full day to get away and examine where you are and where you are headed.

You only get to live this day today. Being present is a gift you give the key people in your life and yourself. What can you do today to stay present and enjoy the here and now?

Please share how you stay present and focused on a daily or weekly basis.

Your Coach,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching


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Can You Gain Power and Strength via Being Meek? Clarity #20

Alan Andersen

Does anyone else watch old timeless movies this time of year? EVERY year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I watch “ELF” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” One makes me laugh and the other causes great reflection and gratefulness. This week’s Clarity reading pulls from lessons learned from “The Man From Snowy River”, another favorite. A young client of mine had never seen the movie. WHAT? You must see this sappy little movie immediately. In it the main character, Jim Craig, not only tames a powerful, dangerous and beautiful wild colt, he captures the whole mob of brumbies, (the term for feral horses in Australia – BTW) How? Only with the help of his faithful saddle horse, the real hero of the story. 

Powerful Leadership

Because its strength and power had been bridled, trained, and controlled, Craig’s horse could carry him where other cowboys had not dared to go. It had the potential to go wild, to return to the herd, but it was obedient and loyal to Craig, part of a two-creature team on an outrageous mission. Was the meek saddle horse any less of a brave leader than the scene-stealing, bucking black brumbie?

Strength Under Control

Meekness is not spinelessness or sentimentality. The term meek comes from the Greek word praus, which is used for a strong beast that has been tamed. In other words, strength under control. Translated, you, in control. Many times, we as leaders think we have to do the rearing-head colt-thing to get things done, yet isn’t it the humble power of a mentor we remember?

Test It For Yourself

Test it, list the qualities of someone who has influenced your life in a meaningful way. If you are like most, your list will include moral integrity, humble confidence, gentle strength, and genuine interest in the good of others, a team player who invested in you. It is not the guy who strutted in and had it all together looking down on the rest as the smartest guy in the room. We gravitate to people who have been tested in their character and in their times of weakness became strong, confident and humble. What we experience in them is the character trait of meekness.

That person is so strong, so confident they could take anyone out with their wisdom, intelligence and experience – instead they quietly and meekly serve others.

Who is a humble and meek person in your life? Someone who has influenced you with that quiet strength?

Be sure and secure copies of Clarity for the leaders in your life for Christmas. They can follow along into the new year. The gift of Clarity: Focusing on What Matters in 2012.

Your Coach For Clarity,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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6 Steps To Change Your Story

Alan Andersen

You can’t change behavior.

What you can change is your story, by understanding your motivators, which ultimately drive behavior. Lasting change will not happen if you try to change any behavior without first addressing what drives your actions. Sure, there may be a season of performing the actions in the right way, but soon your true motivations override the “trying,” and the old learned behaviors sneak back in.

Without proper motivation and changed belief systems, long-term behavioral change is nearly impossible. Fortunately, the opposite is true as well: When you have meaningful, desirable motivations, change is definitely possible. True change happens when you correctly align your internal motivators, values, and beliefs to initiate and drive the daily actions and behaviors. In fact, I would go so far to say as people are transformed when they change their beliefs! Below are a few tips on how to change your story into one that leads to transformation.

How to Change Your Story

1. Find it – Get in touch with what you are saying in your head. What is the internal dialogue you have going on? We all talk to ourselves all day long – what are you saying to you?

2. Listen to it – Listen to your story. Do you like it? Is it really what you want to be listening to all day long?

3. Challenge it – If you don’t like what you hear, think about whether your story is accurate. Challenge it by asking others to hear your story and see if it aligns with what they know are your values and the vision of the man/woman you want to be.

4. Share it – Telling your story is one of the most effective communication tools available. Who can you confide in?

5. Compare it – Ask others to share their story. Investigate the similarities and where you have incomplete information. It is essential to stay humble and curious as you listen. Be open to changing your story with the new info.

6. Start a new story – Now that you’ve figured out what’s wrong with your old story, think about what you want your new story to be. It might be helpful to start by thinking about the person you want to be every day. What’s the kind of story that person would listen to? Scrap your old story and start with this new one.

What do you think? Can your story be changed?

Your Coach,

This article 6 Steps to Change Your Story originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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Communication - the real work of leadership

Alan Andersen

Communication is the real work of leadership. –Nitin Nohria

 The key to business success is relationships. Without high functioning relationships with employees, customers, vendors, and stockholders, your chances for success are nil. At the core of any relationship is a very small word and a very big concept:TRUST Without trust, communication breaks down, conflict escalates, productivity declines, business suffers, and mostly individuals suffer.

What is the source of trust, then? It’s simple, really: good communication. And we’re not talking about how people pronounce their words! Trust is being able to rely on your teammate’s character, skills, ability, and integrity. It is also, knowing and trusting the leader has well-defined roles, goals, and systems for sustainability and growth. Trust is knowing your team has your back.

When building a team, trust enables you to maximize the skills and talents of each individual and then bring those talents together to do something bigger than any one person can do alone. The one thing that gets in the way of having a high performing team is the lack of productive conflict, which leads to a lack of commitment and accountability. If you are not having productive conflict about ideas and issues you lack trust and simply stated are not a high functioning team.

The best tools to build trust and ensure good communication is through industry standard scientifically based assessments of behavior, motivation, and communication style. In our company, we use the TTI Talent Insights assessment to make sure all of our teammates know each other’s style and adapt their style to open up communication to the team.


When there is trust and stellar communication, you will find higher job satisfaction, decreased turnover, less interpersonal conflict, greater efficiency and productivity, commitment and ownership of the job, a greater sense of reward at work.


Remember trust is indeed earned and it is either growing or eroding. It is not something you “get” and then forget. It must be invested in and worked on daily, weekly, monthly, annually in order to maintain and grow it.

 Steps to Start the Process:

1. Know your own leadership style. Take a TTI Talent Insight and get a certified coach to debrief it with you. Be clear on your strengths and aware of your blind spots.

 2. Focus on Emotional Intelligence. The number one attribute of leadership is emotional intelligence: The wisdom of knowing how people are individually wired and how you can build a team from strengths that supplement your gifts.

3. Build a team. As soon as you can begin to let go! Let other people help you and give them authority equal to their responsibility. Continually invest in your people. It is tempting to overlook this in start up mode but if you are a natural task master you will only get so far so add to your wonderful talent of systems and processes the discipline of building a culture of trust and communication.

4. It all starts with you! If not now, when?

When you have trust you can then have clarity. With clarity and focus on the right thing, the right way, while focusing on key relationships, it will result in faster growth that breeds long-lasting results. 

Your Coach,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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On Track or Derailed? Five Reasons Goals Fail

Alan Andersen

My grandpa was a railroad engineer, so I grew up loving trains. From real ones to the models around the Christmas tree, I love to watch them roar along their clack-ity track. To this day, I love to walk along an endless railroad track balancing on the rail to see how far I can get before slipping off and then trying it again.

Because of this fondness, the thought of a train derailing is troubling. The image of that massive strength and power of those fierce engines lying helpless in a field or worse, in heap of metal, disturbs me.

Derailments are far and few between but when they happen, it's a big deal. While they are unintentional, you can count on authorities investigating to get to the source. Why? So the tragedy won’t happen again.

Why Goals Fail

1. The WHY Is Not Identified.

WHY do you want this goal? You have to start with something bigger than your goal. You must get to your purpose — “the why” you exist. Your values should dictate your goals, not the other way around. I love digging deep to identify the barriers to living your values and only set goals after your values are identified. In business, core values and purpose statement are essential for your culture and the why people work for you.

2. The WHAT Is Not Defined.

Once your WHY is identified, then you need a plan to live it out. This is your defined vision and mission. WHAT is it you want to accomplish in order to live your WHY? WHAT is needed? WHAT is wanted? WHAT will you do? In business, this is your strategic plan, from the five-year plan to the one-year goals to the quarterly theme to every single person on the team knowing their WHAT. This a big part of my work with executive teams and is absolutely key to organizations… and to you personally.

3. The HOW Is Not Clear.

Now that you know WHAT you are going to do to fulfill the WHY, it is time to get very clear on HOW you will accomplish it. Clarity and ownership is essential at this juncture. The fastest way to clarity is to get a trusted team around you to turn over every possibility, challenge the status quo, and identify every blind spot. It’s called productive conflict and will take you and/or your team to the next level.

4. The WHEN Is Not Serious.

Action steps to accomplish your goals must have a “by when” assigned to it. When the HOW is not broken down into action steps with dates attached to the steps, it is in grave danger of derailment. Solution: Calendar Management! Put the due dates in with appropriate reminders included, schedule blocks of non-negotiable time to work on the next step, and secure white space so you can think clearly. (Confession: This is my personal downfall!)

5. The WHO is not aligned.

Last but far, far from least you must get the right people in your life to help you achieve your goals. This may mean dismissing Negative Nellie or Downer Don from your circle of influence. It may require re-evaluating your culture, allowing those who do not align with your direction to exit gracefully and then attracting people who appreciate and support your WHY gratefully. Alignment of the right people doing the right thing in the right time for the right reason is sheer bliss and is actually quite simple – it’s just not easy!

The First Step — Today


So what is one thing you could do today to get yourself back on track? For me, it is calendar management. I need to block some time out, and so I am going to go do that right now. How about you? You are all smart leaders on this list. Listen to your gut and take two minutes — set the timer on your phone to commit and calendar your one thing! Right now!

Your Coach,

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Your Words Matter! 7 Tips to Better Communication. Clarity #14

Alan Andersen

Have you ever been mismanaged? This is often a question I ask as I kick off each “Building The Extraordinary Team” workshop. Without fail, every person raises his or her hand. If I am working with the leadership team, I follow up that question with, “How many of you have been the one who mismanaged?” Again all hands meekly go up.

Communication is at the root of nearly every management issue.

What is your leadership style?

Most leaders do not know or cannot articulate their personal leadership style. Let me challenge you: Do you know what your leadership style is and successfully navigate within it? Let's just take one small area – words. Are you in tune with your words and how powerful your nonverbal language is to those around you?

Your Words Matter

Jeane J. Kirkpatrick once said, “Words can destroy. What we call each other ultimately becomes what we think of each other, and it matters.”

Now that I have your attention. What can you do to grow in kindness and effectiveness around your words?

The number one thing I can recommend is to know your style first and then the myriad of styles you interact with every day. An immediate action you can take is to take the online Behavior and Motivator assessments. I highly recommend this as a first step in learning what your style is and how you are being perceived by the key people in your life.

Because, a huge part of emotional intelligence and self-awareness is knowing the power of your words. I suggest you start with using your words to encourage and build up those in your sphere of influence. Then add to your words the nonverbal aspects of communication.

Here are a 7 tips to get started:

  1. Know your leadership style. Order the DISC and PIAV assessments via the Next Level Communication Course and the True Life Motivator Course.
  2. Eye contact. Looking people in the eye tells them you are confident and you care about them. 
  3. Listen. Communication is a two way street. Try and listen and ask questions as much as you speak.
  4. Ask meaningful questions. Avoid asking questions that could be answered with a “yes” or “no”.
  5. Write it out first. If you struggle with finding the words write it out first. It will help you organize your thoughts. THEN go talk face to face.
  6. Be an encourager. People love compliments. Give them out freely!
  7. Grow in your self-awareness. Give yourself positive feedback regarding your interactions. Thinking about your last communication – what did you do well?

Who in your life has used their words to motivate and influence you? A mentor? A teacher? Tell me about them.

For more ideas and insights, check out week #14 in Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.

Your Coach for Clarity,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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Take the Time to Invest in Yourself by Investing in Others. Clarity #17

Alan Andersen

As a leader, what are you missing that would help you achieve “the next level'?  Chances are it is a person. Even more likely it is a person who is in the next room or down the hall from you at this very moment!  Yet, we sit stressed and maxed out as they sit underutilized and bored.  They desire meaning, mentoring and challenge, while we desire initiative and productivity. Still both parties sit in their comfortable and familiar rut. This is a very poor utilization of assets and leaves huge profits on the table.

The Art of Investing

Think of your time as you would your money. A wise person thinks in a long-term manner about their money and how to spend and/or invest it for the greatest ROI (return on investment.) Consider the focus, time, and energy you devote to making, saving, and investing money for a specifically defined purpose. Now, that is exactly how you need to approach the time you invest in the people in your sphere of influence; and it is an art.  A skill that must be learned and then uniquely applied according to each individual who can share in accomplishing the goal.  

Steps on Investing in Others

1. You must have clarity about what you are trying to accomplish. What outcomes you want to focus on and why does it matter? Is the vision compelling enough to get others involved and want to share in the ownership? 

2. Focus on the few things only you and you alone can do. What are the unique strengths that you bring to the vision that no one else possesses on the team?  What are the other things or tasks you are currently doing (and yes, we know you can do them well) but others could do just as good if not better? Make a list and identify the ones that steal the most time.

3. Find people that have the strengths and abilities to do the tasks you have identified. Before you approach them, work through all the fears you have about delegating, letting go, and giving up control. You may need your coach for this portion.

4. Connect with the person you would like to delegate your tasks to and make sure you have plenty of time to talk it out and get buy in.  Share your vision and your goal of investing in the person's professional and personal growth by passing on these specific tasks. Press for push back, find all the holes together, make sure you have healthy conflict to vet out all their fears and share your concerns as well.

5. Train the person on how you currently do the task.

A: Show/tell them how to do it.

B: Do it with them.

C: Observe them as they do it for you.

D: Coach them as they do it without you.

E: Trust them as they do it alone.

F: Check in often and create space for continuous improvement.

You have just invested in one of your people and they are feeling empowered and trusted. Equally as important, you have just opened up a huge amount of time to operate in your strength and talent which you alone do best. It is now time to do it again and again until you are only operating in your strengths!

What do you think about investing in yourself by investing in others?

For more content on this subject, check out week #16 in Clarity:Focusing on What Matters Most

It's Simple, It's Just Not Easy!

Your Coach For Clarity,

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When Your Values Are Violated This Should Be Your First Response. Clarity #16

Alan Andersen

We all possess a personal set of core values that drives our lives. It is what some call their North Star or Internal Compass. The way successful people navigate effectively and efficiently through life is by orienting their life around their values. They do not compromise them, they know them by heart, and make every decision with their top 5 values in mind.

Tips To Honor Your Values

When a value is violated there is a prick to your conscience and you know instantly there is something wrong.  At this precise moment you must HONOR that value. How? STOP everything until you know what went wrong.

Stand up for what matters most

You honor your values when you stand up for what you believe is right and do not go along with something that runs against your core values.  Now I am not saying you make everyone else agree with you nor do you have to go into a verbal battle with every person who has a differing opinion. You simply don't back down and, when pressed, you humbly state your position without shame or compromise.

For example, if everyone is talking about wanting to cheat on their spouse and they say to you, “Come on Joe, you know you want to,” you can either honor your value and respond, “Actually I do not want to, my family is the most important thing to me on this Earth.” or you can compromise it by going along with the jokes and agreeing with your laughter even if you tell yourself,  ”I would never do that.” 

Know the Hierarchy

You honor your core values by knowing the top 5 in order of importance by heart. So key is this point, that I run every client, be it professional, corporate team, or personal, through two assessments. The most telling of the two is called the PIAV (Motivators).  It clearly serves as a tool to help demonstrate the power of the hierarchy.  I use it in every conflict resolution.

Here's a quick example: if you and I share in common our top 5 values of Collaboration, Efficiency, Results, Love, Adventure, then in theory we should be on the same page at all times. However, If my #1 is Collaboraion and #5 is Efficiency and yours are flipped with Collaboration being #5 and Efficiency being #1, we will have conflict. Imagine leaving a meeting where everyone was heard and valued but we ran 2 hours overtime and did not finish the agenda items. I am going to feel great leaving that meeting because my #1 value was met and so I am confident we can now function efficiently. You will leave very disappointed and probably upset because your #1 was totally dishonored.  You believe that when things run efficiently then everyone will collaborate more willingly to get things done. 

Make Solid Decisions

You honor your values when you make decisions that are in line with your core values. The most indecisive people I know are actually not aware that they have too many things they desire and have not yet defined what is most important. They just flip flop and are wishy washy driving themselves and others crazy.

This example may help. When helping the Life 301 students define their values I ask them to pick one value, either taste or health before going into Qdoba or some other Burrito Bar and see how easy it is to sail through the line. Now try to have both of those as #1 and there you have the person that everyone is staring at! Don't be that guy – know your values.

Start Today

The next time you have the sense that something is not quite right, stop and see if one of your values are being violated and then instantly get back to the core 5. If you do not have your values defined you've come to the right place. You can have your team or family go through a workshop or get 1:1 Coaching.

As you journey through Clarity: Focusing on What Matters you will find many tips and helpful ways to live by your values. We are on week #16 and so join in today - your life is waiting.

I would love hear below your views on values.

Your Coach For Clarity,

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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Is your TO-DO list value-based? If not ditch it now! Clarity #15

Alan Andersen

Why are you letting that one annoying task, errand or habit hinder your success? If you're like me, it just seems easier to tolerate it and let it hang there than do something about it.

The problem occurs when you let too many of these “little” tolerations pile up. It will get in the way of you living by your values and with purpose. I guarantee it!

This week's Clarity challenge is to take care of one thing that has been nagging you.  One thing you have been allowing to steal your precious mind space and energy.

Is your TO-DO list value based?

Consider your top personal core values. Next, take your ongoing “To-Do” checklist and alongside each item list what core value of yours it supports. The process of aligning the to-do with one of your core values or top priorities will help you see if you are focusing on what matters most. This should either help you want to get the task done or leave you more drained and unmotivated than ever. To read more about the benefits of defining your values check out Clarity Week 5 here.

Ditch It

A dear friend of mine was in my Life 301 class in 2005. We were working on this exercise and she said one of the main drainers of energy for her was the fact that she didn't want to reconcile her checking account but it had been on her “to do” list for years. Hearing her reason, knowing how ultra organized and conservative she is, and having knowledge of her financial situation I said, “don't do it”. Ditch it, cross it off the list, and don't think about it again. You are free.

Six years later she is still telling the story and still has freedom..and an unreconciled account.

Prioritize it

When you do find items that align to your values it is time to prioritize. Find the one that you have been avoiding the most and do a cost / reward analysis. What will it cost you – financially, emotionally, etc? What is the cost of not getting it done? What will you gain by getting it done? What are the long-term rewards? Now do it! Seriously, one step right now.

I was babysitting my niece this weekend and as we were working on saying “please and thank you”, I suddenly remembered my “to-do.”  I have two thank you notes that I have carried in my backpack for 2 weeks, 4 states and 6 flights! They are still not done. 

Convicted as I write, I promise they will be in the mail in the next 24 hours. Why? Because I highly value my relationships and I desire them to know how much I appreciate them in return.

Envision It

What will be the outcome if you just get the thing off your plate? DONE! What will it allow you to accomplish? It is now time to change the language of the “to-do” into a WANT. Right now, put a date on the calendar, find someone to hold you accountable, and say out loud what it is you intend on doing and how you will feel when you have accomplished it.

In fact, shout it out loud below – I'd love to hear and support you.

Your Coach For Clarity

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching


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Leadership is about laser focus

Alan Andersen

Mary Beth King is one of our Shandel Group coaches that has a decade of proven success. She and I share the same heart and methodology for coaching leaders to their next level. 

Join her in this conversation about leadership and learn a few things about Leadership and Laser Focus. Clarity fans will love this one.

Join Mary Beth’s conversation…


Yes, strategically choosing to give time and energy to nothing but the goals.

What goals?

The goals that come from the leaders above and from personal leadership within.

Goals are over-arching and complex:

  • the company’s vision statement
  • the expected profit for the division
  • the two-year project
  • the date of the triathlon

 What gets in their way?

 Everything that is not the goal. Everything is a potential distraction.

 That sounds cold-hearted.

 Not if one of your goals includes being warm-hearted.

 Should it?

 There are no should’s for the leader. There are the goals and the focus.

 Where does the focus come from?

 Focus is born out of integrity.

 But why focus? It sounds rigid and inflexible.

 Not if your goals include flexibility.

 Why focus?

 Focus handles distractions. They melt away.


 When focused, the leader knows what to do and what not to do.

Knowing what not to do makes it clear what to do.

Many a leader has crashed simply due to lack of focus.

Distractions can be very compelling. Even dressed up to look like part of the goal.

I can’t focus like that.

There’s one of those demanding little voices inside that:

  • compares the leader with others
  • judges the leader incompetent
  • tries to crowd the leader’s plate with too many tasks

How can the leader get more focus and move beyond their own doubts?

Leaders get focus and combat doubts when they:

  • clarify their goals
  • create reminders
  • compare each potential task to the goals
  • choose those tasks that align

 That sounds easy.

 Simple, yes. Easy, no.

Gaining focus also means checking out the back burners for important tasks that are being ignored.

How far back?

All the way.

Leading is about focus.

Focus keeps the leader’s “doing” aligned with the leader’s goals.

Focus is the leader’s power to ignore negative internal messages.

Focus gets things done. Well.

Focus leads to success and it models the pathway to get there.

Focus lets the leader sleep at night. It’s part of the goals.

 I can focus. 

Mary Beth King

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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