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Seth Godin crushes it again!

Alan Andersen


Now I know that may sound hyperbolic or overly emphatic. However, he does such a helpful job and breaking down what it looks like to think and function at the “10X“ level.

Take the three minutes that this note from Seth takes to read and see what I’m talking about!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen 

The 10x lesson

The 10x programmer, the 10x strategy expert, the 10x surgeon.

This is something we are always in search of. The human who is playing at a different level, generating work that changes everything.

The thing is: a 1x contributor can’t become a 10x merely by working ten times as hard. The physics of time won’t allow it, certainly, but it’s also because 10x doesn’t work on the same axis. It’s not about more effort. It’s about more insight.

In order to make that forward leap, you need to trust yourself. To create space. To have the discipline to say no to distractions or even to projects that put you back into the 1x mode.

The reason that there are so few 10x contributors isn’t that we lack innate talent. It’s that our systems and our self-talk seduce us into believing that repeating 1x work to exhaustion is a safer path.

Originally posted at Seth’s Blog

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Legacy or the Long Play?

Alan Andersen


When you think of the idea of “leadership” what comes to mind?

There are a myriad of components that go into “leadership”. However, if we can simplify those factors, I would encourage us to consider true leadership to be healthy, influential, and sustainable impact on the lives of others for the good of all.

In fact, what would our countries, communities, colleges, offices, or families look like if we defined leadership like this?

From my vantage point, as a societal whole, we would look different. We would look better. We would BE better.

Practically, how do we begin to be better?

I’m so glad you asked! A very practical first step is to assess how far down the road we are setting our focus. In other words, are we focusing on our “legacy or the long play”?

As such, we get to learn from Dr. Rob McKenna on this very point.

Sit back, relax… Or better yet, buckle up and lean in so that you can get the mental tune-up that we all need from Dr. McKenna.*

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen


If I told you that much of your impact on others may not be realized for five, ten, or even twenty years, what would you think? I just finished watching a movie about Robert the Bruce, King of Scots. His story has some personal meaning for me because my name is Robert Bruce. I’m not aware of any real connection to him, but as a kid, I never failed to share that I was named after Robert the Bruce – the King of Scots. At the end of the movie, it was noted that an ancestor of Robert the Bruce eventually became the king over the shared nation of Scotland and England, 300 years after his death. 300 years! That’s a long time for impact that he never saw.

Playing the Long Game

What if your greatest impact may not be fulfilled or felt for 300 years? Answering that question for myself is both incredibly meaningful and challenging in the same moment. I recently had the privilege to speak to a group of leaders about whole and intentional leader development and our mission to prepare a generation of courageous and sacrificial leaders.

One of the leaders said, “You are in this for the long play.” I had never heard our work and mission described that way, but it made sense. It was one of those statements you don’t fully comprehend when it’s said, but is powerful enough to drive you to your knees if you let it sink in. “You are in this for the long play.”

At another event only a few weeks before, I had the privilege of watching two leaders I’d mentored share their own thoughts on leadership development with a group of 200 leaders. Their talks sounded like something I might say, but a whole lot better. It occurred to me then that the real impact of the mission I’m on may be felt long after I’m. If I’m honest, it’s both devastating and overwhelmingly fulfilling at the same time. There is a part of me that wants to see the fruits of my work, and another part that feels so free in my understanding that my impact matters, but it’s not all about that.

It’s Not About Your Legacy

Contrast the emphasis in every part of our culture. Whether in athletics, business, music, churches, or even in education, so much emphasis is on quick success, fast weight loss, snappy chats, instant messages, personal impact and meaning, our calling, and the worst of all – our legacy. Focusing on our own legacy is still about us, and if it’s about us and the possibility that we will see our impact, it’s by nature a very short play. Focusing on our calling also misses the point that a calling is as much or more about the one who is calling as it is about us.

I was recently asked to speak on a conference panel about corporate leader development programs and the topic was “Accelerating Leader Development.” We want it fast, we want to see the results.

  • How would your life and work look different if you thought about the long play? And, I don’t mean planning for your retirement.

  • How would your life and work look different if you believed that your impact on people was going to outlive your time in your current organization, or even your last breath?

  • How would you invest in the leaders you are responsible for developing?

  • How would the conversations with your team change?

  • What urgent emails would you put aside for a moment in order to better see the people around you? Think about that long play and the relationship to your mission.

  • How would you organize your work?

  • How would it impact the people you hire, invite, or even how you deal with conflict and moments of pressure?

  • How would a long-term focus impact how and when you speak, who is given credit, and who is given grace?

I’m not suggesting that actions for immediate resourcing, small wins, and even impact are irrelevant or wrong, but that our experience may be more honest and impactful if we realized what it may all be about in the end. My team is driven by a sense of urgency that is necessary to support leaders, but I am also being reminded that much of the impact of our work may be fulfilled long after our time on this earth.

What is your long play?


Dr. Rob McKenna is the Founder and CEO of WiLD Leaders Inc. a firm focused on whole and intentional leader development and creator of the WiLD Toolkit, a set of 10 sequential developmental tools and personalized feedback reports that provide a comprehensive and intentional development plan. He is also Chair, Dept. of Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Seattle Pacific University.

*Originally posted on the Christian Leadership Alliance blog

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Learning from a GOAT: Tom Peters

Alan Andersen

Jones Tombstone.jpg

Tom Peters

When you think of leaders who are in the category of Greatest Of All Time (commonly referred to as GOAT), who comes to mind?

Seriously, consider pausing for just a moment to consider if you can come up with at least 10 leaders that are in this category.

One of those candidates for me, and many others, would be Tom Peters. Tom has done (and continues to do) great work for individuals and organizations. He is probably most known for his commitment to Excellence.

Specifically around the understanding that whatever you do, regardless of the industry, if you are committed to excellence you will more than likely succeed.

The Excellence Dividend

I want to highlight two things from Tom’s most recent book, The Excellence Dividend.

First, in the pursuit of excellence, we must keep what really matters top of mind.

To drive this point home, Tom reminds us that tombstones never list the Net Worth or the Wins and Losses record. Rather, we see what kind of human being he/she was.

Let’s commit this very moment to remember there are never ever u-haul trailer following a hearse. We can’t take it with us. Therefore, lets pursue excellence to the benefit of others along the way. Not pursue excellence at the expense of others.

Second, Tom has compiled this a 600+ PowerPoint Slide Deck that reflects the thoughts in this most recent book, which you can download for free here.

You read that right! Tom has compiled a deck that you can access for free. Click Here to download it.

To be clear, the 600+ deck is not flashy or the most aesthetically pleasing. BUT, the content is good and I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to download the deck and at least zoom through it to pull out a handful of leadership gems that will help you live, love, and lead better.

Cheers to Tom Peters for modeling what excellence is and encouraging us all to pursue excellence the right way.

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

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INTENT and IMPACT: Different Sides of the Same Coin

Alan Andersen

Photo by  Andre Guerra  on  Unsplash

How many times have you said, “I didn’t mean that!” or “I didn’t mean to hurt you!”? Wait, I’m sure you’ve never had those experiences before, but maybe you have a friend who has…

Look, all kidding aside, if we’re honest we’ve all said or done things that if we were granted a do-over, we would definitely say or do differently.

Have you every wondered why that is?

Practically speaking it is because in the moment we were not mindful about making certain that our intentions and our actions were connected.

Connected, how? Like connect the dots?

Somewhat. Think about it this way.

The Platinum Rule

One of the greatest ways to build true trust and lasting, effective relationships is to practice the Platinum Rule. To be clear, you must do so with a genuine spirit or attitude of serving and caring for others in greater ways than yourself. If you practice the Platinum Rule with ulterior motives, you will be found out and you will ruin your relationships. Likely for good.

Okay, I’ve heard of the Golden Rule, but what is the Platinum Rule?

Good Question! I’ll share both “rules” so we’re on the same page.

  • The Golden Rule is essentially the principle of treating others in the same way that you want to be treated.

  • The Platinum Rule is essentially the principle of treating others in the way that they want to be treated.

Now that may seem gimmicky or like a subtle nuance. However, Bernard Shaw shared this helpful insight back in the 1930’s! Yet, the reality is that this idea is more true today than ever before.

A simple reinforcement of this concept is found in a great book by Todd Rose called, “The End of Average”. The gist of the book is this:

There is no more “average”. Instead, humans are more individualized and unique than we ever knew or were taught. Stop treating people based on the “averages”.

Intent and Impact

Now, if you “buy-in” to this notion that we are all unique*, then you can begin to see why it is imperative that we start to put ourselves in the shoes of those that we engage with. Namely, we must begin to exercise the mental muscle that thinks ahead and thoroughly considers not only the intent of our thoughts, words, and deeds. But as well as the impact of those expressed thoughts, words, and deeds.

Alright, but what are you getting at here?

My premise is that we, as a society, have not grown accustomed to proactively making sure that our intentions and our actions are in complete alignment. For instance, when I was in my first career job, I had the opportunity for a promotion. Through the multi-phase interview process, I became friends with the hiring manager and over the course of the 3 or 4 week hiring process, I would pass my “new friend” in our very public hallway at the office and enthusiastically say things like, “Hi, dude.” Or, “Hi, brother.”

That behavior resulted, in large part, to me not getting the promotion because I did not have the tact and or professional courtesy that our corporate setting required.

Did I intend to be disrespectful or flippant? Not at all. Could my actions have come across that way? Yes.

The truth is that I simply misunderstood our relational connection to be more familial than it was. Add to that the company’s cultural norms within the hierarchical chain of command and my impact came across like a “bro” versus a young professional.

Graciously, that hiring manager took me to lunch (which he paid for) and helped me understand what tact and professionalism looked like at our company.

Actionable Takeaway

Do we all screw up? I know I do regularly!

Have we all said or done something that we regret? Obviously.

However, we must remember that our intentions and therefore the subsequent impact of our expressed intentions (via word or deed) are simply different sides of the same coin.

How do we remember to align our intentions and impact?

  1. Pause.

    • I know that sounds too simple, but pause before you speak or act.

  2. Consider.

    • Think about the worst case scenario of how your words or actions will be experienced.

    • Then assess if you can proceed as planned or if you need to…

  3. Clarify.

    • When in doubt, ask it out.

    • Literally, just ask a clarifying question before you mindlessly proceed like you “always” do.

Let’s not carry on without intentionally putting ourselves in the shoes of the people that we interact with.

Even if you don’t desire to be a great leader, I implore you to seriously learn how to align your intent and impact 24/7/365. And if you find yourself regularly making statements like, “I didn’t mean that.” or “Come on, you know what I meant.” let’s talk. There is likely more happening below the surface than you are aware of.

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

*To be clear, I am not working to push the “snowflake generation” idea. We simply believe that there is insurmountable evidence that every human is equal in dignity, value, and worth and simply different in form and function.

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What You Need to Transform and Thrive Pt. 1

Alan Andersen


Immature Leadership

When I was a young leader, I thought my primary job was to have all the answers. In addition to answers, I thought my ideas had to be completely original.

“That’s ludicrous!” you think. Yes, it is.

As I was coming up in my professional career, the “leaders” that had modeled that very tactic would rarely, if ever, “site their source” for the ideas or wisdom they would share.

For instance, I once heard a person in a position of authority share, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” I thought that was brilliant until I later learned that was not their own idea, which they projected as their own.

Some of you even had a freak-out moment because I didn’t instantly put Maya Angelou’s name following that quote. Yet this is a simple and helpful example of immature leadership.

Think about this as you lead…

How profound would it be for an aspiring leader to see his or her manager model the humility to site their source? Not to mention the implicit encouragement to read and learn from others, even people outside of their “camp”!

Maturing Leadership

About a decade later in the 2008/2009 timeframe, I learned that at the beginning of knowledge is typically a very good question.  I learned this in large part from a person named Shandel, who was the head coach of True Life Coaching at the time.

Instead of having answers, I learned that I should strive to have questions. Admittedly, not just any questions, but questions that assume the best and are genuine. Questions that are “positive, proactive questions.”

Shortly thereafter, two pivotal life events took place that reinforced the notion that I must become GREAT at asking positive, proactive questions. Namely: foreclosure and getting fired.

Nowadays, I get to share that some of the the best things that happened to me, next to faith and family, were the foreclosure on our first home (due to getting laid off in the great recession which was paired with the pregnancy of our first child) and getting fired a few years later from what I thought was a dream job (which corresponded with the pregnancy of our second child).

Why do I mention this?

It was during these “hurt so good” moments that I realized I had a very weak muscle when it came to asking positive, proactive questions. In other words, I was so busy telling everyone what to do that when I got caught in a jam, I experienced my poor ability to ask good, hard questions.

Thankfully, I was motivated to learn the “art of asking” positive, proactive questions.

Okay, nice story. Glad you made it through the rough patch, but how can I figure out how to ask better questions? So glad you asked!

If I had to do it over, I would begin practicing the two most helpful exercises that I learned during those hard years:

1.    Positive, Proactive Listening (which I’ll describe below)

2.    Reading very specific Books (which I’ll map out in Part 2)  

Leadership is an ongoing Process

The real secret here is listening (sometimes referred to as “active listening”). Listening for what IS being said and what is NOT being said.

In my later career I had a quality leader that shared listening was a lot like physically attempting to enter a structure. 

Think about it this way, when we’re in a conversation we should listen to what is being said as if the words being used were access points like a “gate”, a “door”, or a “window” into a world. Each example is simply a different angle in.

We would most likely walk through a gate differently than we might climb through a window because either entry point has different nuances and requires ME to be “granted access” to my companion differently.

Now, let’s assume that we’ve been granted access into their world. Once inside, we then follow the positive, proactive listening model which is simple but profound.

Shandel Group Model*

1.    Listen

  • For what is being said and what is not being said, but always assuming the best first and while considering what you need clarification on.

2.    Learn

  • Being fully present to learn from what you just now heard? Not giving into previous assumptions or hunches, but actual, concrete fresh learning.

3.    Lead with Questions

  • Continually practice “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” by asking clarifying questions accordingly. (Want to know where this concept became more mainstream? It’s Habit #5 of the 7 Habits by Covey)

That's it! Now you have a point of reference for the positive, proactive listening mental model. In Part 2 I will share the specific resources that were most helpful in developing quality listening skills in order to care for our people even better.

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

*We’ve learned and adapted from our friends at the Eagle Center for Leadership

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Reduce Emotional Hijacking with Emotional Intelligence

Alan Andersen

While we seem to be keenly aware of leading action toward completing goals, objectives, and even KPI's in business. I've started noticing that we're not as proficient in leading our people in using Emotional Intelligence for our good. And more specifically, how to minimize the Emotional Hijacking!

Our Research Partners have done a wonderful job of making sense of this timely topic. Check this out and see how you can set you and your people up for a big win.

Pulling for you,
Alan Andersen

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Everyone knows someone who gets emotional, or even fears getting on a plane. The person tenses up, hands turn clammy, and they become generally irritable simply by driving to the airport. Although this person may be the pillar of common sense and practicality in any other situation, when they get on a plane they morph into a completely different person; almost a Jekyll and Hyde response.

Why is this? In most cases it’s an issue of control. When getting on a plane, they have absolutely no control since control lies with the pilots. Because their control has been taken away, an irrational response of fear, irritability and even panic is exposed.

Emotional hijacking works exactly the same way. When someone is put into a stressful situation, their brain function is actually altered, and their reaction can quickly turn from reasonable and rational to primal and reactive. Emotional hijacking is a term that anyone in the workforce needs to understand, be aware of, and act to keep under control.

Defining Emotional Hijacking

Emotional hijacking is often referred to as “amygdala hijacking” since that is essentially what happens in the brain during these times of crisis. The term amygdala hijacking was first coined in Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence. The amygdala is the emotional part of the brain which regulates the flight or fight response. In flight or fight, our brain senses imminent danger and blasts adrenaline into our bodies to cope with the perceived danger at hand.

During emotional hijacking, the stressors that we react to actually disable the higher cortex of the brain, preventing us from making sound, rational decisions. A person suffering from emotional hijacking may become extremely reactive, defensive and lash out at the stressor. And if that stressor is another person, things can turn negative quickly. Preventing emotional hijacking from occurring in the first place is paramount to being successful in the workplace.

There are two critical things you can do to avoid an emotional hijack. The first is to increase your emotional intelligence. The second, is to identify and proactively address your triggers.

Increasing Emotional Intelligence

The level at which people control emotional hijacking, or let it control them, is typically correlated to their emotional intelligence, also known as their “emotional quotient.”  The higher the emotional intelligence, the more able a person is to understand, identify and subdue an emotional hijacking situation.

According to Mark Debinski, President and Founder of Bluewater Advisory, “90% of the difference between star performers and average performers in senior leadership positions is EQ.” Leaders at successful companies tend to have very high emotional intelligence. This intelligence helps them to successfully lead and grow companies exponentially in size, while seemingly possessing the ability to always make the right decision at the right time.

So how can you increase your emotional intelligence? By being aware, making choices to take a break, and proactively empathizing.

  1. Be aware. The first step in improving any fault is identifying the need to improve it in the first place. Be aware of your emotions at a moment in time. Look for consistent situations where you find yourself stressed or quick to anger and simply become aware.
  2. Take a break. Once you identify triggers that have the potential to set off your emotional hijack, do anything in your power to address them so you are able to do more than just react. Take a microbreak and walk away from a tense situation by going for a walk, getting a drink or just giving yourself a minute to calm down. If the triggers are recurring and driven by a specific individual, have a respectful conversation with this person to diffuse the situation and find common ground.
  3. Practice proactive empathy. Lead by example by acting in a manner that demonstrates the type of behavior you wish to see by those around you. Show how things should be done and with a little luck your co-workers will take a queue from your example and begin to reduce the stressors that could lead to an emotional hijack.

Identifying triggers

The good news is, just like muscles, emotional intelligence can be strengthened. Practice makes perfect and it all starts with identifying the stressors or stimuli that trigger these responses. Once the stressors are identified, the key is to diffuse the emotional outburst before it occurs. When one encounters a stressful situation and finds their heart racing, muscles tightening and mind spiraling into a reactive mode, the absolute best thing they can do is hit the “pause” button. Think of it as defensive driving in the workplace.

People are all wired differently. Those in better control of their emotions are more likely to thwart emotional hijacking than those who lack emotional control. For someone more sensitive, small things can set a person off. These stressors can surface through any of our senses and can manifest themselves physically, mentally or emotionally. Some people can be triggered by physical things such as bad smells, someone chewing with their mouth open, or a co-worker talking too loudly while another worker may be set off by emotions triggering from political or religious conversation. Have you ever gone ballistic when someone inexplicably cuts you off on the highway? Road rage is a classic example of emotional hijacking. And, it’s important to understand that emotional hijacking can take place in a highly-charged, positive situation just as easily as it can in a negative one.  Think: rowdy fans celebrating a world series victory by smashing windows. Anger, fear, excitement, love, hate, disgust and frustration are all things that can trigger a potential emotional hijacking.

So what do you do when you realize you’re in the middle of an emotional hijack? Use these three tips to help you:

  1. Take a deep breath. Before saying a word, shooting a scathing look or worse, immediately take a breath to start the calming process.
  2. Change the setting. If at all possible, get up and move around. Do anything possible to change your environment. This serves a few purposes. By changing your environment, it makes your brain reactivate some of the pathways it had shut off to handle the emotional hijack. Secondly, it buys time to calm down and begin to think rationally.
  3. Turn a negative into a positive. Take negative stress and use it as fuel to achieve your goals. Whatever triggered the emotional hijack may have made you mad, but you have three choices and two aren’t good. You can lash out at the person who angered you (not good), stay mad and sulk (neither good nor productive) or you can take that energy and use it as fuel to do something positive. Caffeine will only get you so far, so finding another source of fuel to get you through the day is never a bad thing, so why not take a negative and turn it into a positive?

Becoming a victim of emotional hijacking is avoidable and increasing emotional intelligence is absolutely possible. Setting your mind to doing both will help you succeed markedly in the workplace.  Learn more about emotional hijacking by watching the video below.

This article was originally posted by TTI Success Insights

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Why does it take so long?

Alan Andersen


What is perspective, functionally speaking?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, in part, perspective means, "a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view."

This is the perfect definition for what we're about to learn today. Our friend, Seth Godin, helps us understand or reconsider the concept of something taking "a long time".

Let's read this and take it to heart!

Pulling for you,
Alan Andersen

But why does it take so long?

The original book could take three years to write. Retyping the manuscript might take a day or two.

Modern work isn’t time-consuming because it takes a long time to type.

Physical constraints aren’t usually the gating factor, either. It’s not a physical speed limit that holds us back.

It might be:

Coordinating the work of many people often leads to slack and downtime.

Persuading others to go along with our ideas requires clarity, persistence and time.

Pathfinding our way to the right answer isn’t always obvious and takes guts.

The first thing we try rarely works, and testing can take a long time to organize.

Persuading ourselves to move forward can take even longer.

A coordinated, committed group with a plan for continuous testing and improvement can run circles around a disorganized group of frightened dilettantes.

Originally posted on Seth's Blog


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Thoughts on leadership tension that need to be managed

Alan Andersen

Leadership assumes tension. All tension is not necessarily bad. Brad Lomenick shares ten thoughts on tension and how to manage these tensions.

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

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Originally posted by Brad Lomenick

I am reminded of how important understanding this idea is- that tension is constant, real and prevalent when leading yourself and leading others. So we have to realize that tension doesn't go away. In fact, I would suggest tension is a good thing for leaders

Here area a few thoughts on Tension and the perspective as leaders we should have in managing it:

1. Tension is a powerful platform to clarify what is important. Out of tension many times comes change. Change for good.

2. There is a constant tension between who I am and who God wants me to be. The tension of growth and maturity is always present.

3. Resisting average creates tension. Striving for excellence creates tension.

4. We constantly live with a tension of determining in life how much we give away. Whether it is time, money, talents, resources, or focus, leaders must understand and embrace this tension of generosity.

5. Generational tension is essential in passing the mantle of leadership. For the Church to move forward in culture, older leaders must pass on their wisdom and legacy to younger leaders.

6. Tension among and within a team is healthy. Unity doesn't mean there's no tension. Unity means you are pursuing the same mission in the midst of real and purposeful tension.

7. Leaders lead in the fray. Leading in the safety zone is easy, but true leadership happens in the fray where change is happening, and there is a unique tug of war happening in that area.

8. Typically, where there is no tension, there is no real growth. Tension builds courage, character, wisdom and makes us authentic and real. It stretches and motivates us.

9. As a leader, lean into the tension that constantly exist. As Andy Stanley says, some tensions are meant to be managed, not removed or extinguished. 

10. Tension is necessary. The tension makes us strong. Ultimately, the tension is good.


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Job Description 2.0

Alan Andersen

The discussion of Job Description (JD here on out) is something that comes up at least once a day, if not more, in our line of work.

"Why?" you ask...

As a society, we're so focused on productivity, striving to be effective and efficient, that we think if we write up or have written up a JD (typically, once about 5 years ago) that people will magically be more effective and efficient. 

While we certainly need the structure of a helpful JD (which will be a separate post in and of itself) as leaders we must remember that a JD must have the "implied" or more "intangible" effects of an ideal team player captured inside of them.

Enter the one and only Seth Godin. He shares a brilliant post on what is missing in our modern day JD. Please take this his brief write up to heart and set your people up for a win by integrating this into your organizational culture.

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

Missing from your job description

If you're working in an office, here are some of the checklist items that might have been omitted:

  • Add energy to every conversation
  • Ask why
  • Find obsolete things on your task list and remove them
  • Treat customers better than they expect
  • Offer to help co-workers before they ask
  • Feed the plants
  • Leave things more organized than you found them
  • Invent a moment of silliness
  • Highlight good work from your peers
  • Find other great employees to join the team
  • Cut costs
  • Help invent a new product or service that people really want
  • Get smarter at your job through training or books
  • Encourage curiosity
  • Surface and highlight difficult decisions
  • Figure out what didn't work
  • Organize the bookshelf
  • Start a club
  • Tell a joke at no one's expense
  • Smile a lot.

Now that it's easier than ever to outsource a job to someone cheaper (or a robot) there needs to be a really good reason for someone to be in the office. Here's to finding several.

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I Guarantee It (or I'm at least 97% sure these are reality)

Alan Andersen

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What comes to mind when you think of "Guarantees". If you're like me, my cynical, skeptical Seattle brain kicks in and says, "Yeah, prove it."

Hey, I'm in transition just like the rest of us!

So while I am working to live and think from a growth mindset and de-emphasize such cynical, skeptical, and negative mindsets.  I have found that I gain great victory in overcoming fixed mindsets by learning from others that are not in my space, age-range, or profession.

Ron Edmondson is one of those people. He writes a tremendously impactful work on how to take healthy action that helps you pass the test of time. Enjoy this quick read and consider taking notes!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

I  once had a leader who was an emphatic talker. He made statements with no reservation in them about things – honestly – I simply didn’t believe. He would say stuff such as, “There is no way this would ever work.” Really? No way? Maybe the chance is limited, but no way?

He impressed upon me enough I’ve always been hesitant about emphatic statements – unless they are Biblical truths, of course. 

But, I have some emphatic statements to make. I’m calling them guarantees. And, since I talk a great deal about leadership on this blog – these are leadership guarantees.

1.  Every decision you make will produce a multiple of responses.

Some will agree. Some will not. And, some will not care either way. 

2.  Change is inevitable. 

You can deny it. You can attempt to avoid it. You can be afraid of how people will react to it. But, change is coming either way. It’s best to be on the side of change where you at least have some chance of helping the change be for the best overall good of the people you lead. 

3.  You will many times feel under appreciated. 

This is especially true if you are looking for appreciation. Of course, we all want to be appreciated, but great leaders are not as concerned about what other people think as they are about doing the right thing. And, because of this, they aren’t necessarily seeking personal recognition or applause. These leaders are methodical in their pursuit of progress, but not usually aware of how much good they actually are doing. 

4.  You can never adequately predict how people will respond.  

Even the people you felt were your best supporters will sometimes turn on you if the decision you make does not go in their favor. And, then there will be some people who will rise to your support you didn’t even know were in your corner. 

5.  You will seldom be 100% certain.  

There is always a level of risk with every decision you make. If you wait for perfect conditions you will seldom do anything. You should ask good questions, get plenty of input, and certainly pray for wisdom. Sometimes, however, you simply have to pull the trigger and get started. 

6.  Some days it won’t seem you’ve accomplished anything.  

And, sometimes, looking back, these will be your best days. It might be because you spent all day investing in others – while other “work” goes undone. But, remember, if you are leading you are in a people business. People will always be your best efforts. 

7.  You will make mistakes.  

And, you will make lots of them. But, you will learn from them even more than the things you do right. The best leaders I know do not hide the mistakes they make. They use them as life lessons and help others grow through them. 

I guarantee these to be true. Emphatically. 

Or, at least I’m 97.9% sure

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The Problem with Millennials in the Workplace? You

Alan Andersen

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I recently read this article about Millennials in the workplace written by a friend, Dave Berke. What you may not know about Dave is that he has not only survived but thrived in some of the harshest conditions.

Now that he has transitioned out of the public sector and into the private sector, we can all access his truth and wisdom on The Platoon Hut or through Echelon Front. 

Let's take Dave's wisdom to heart and adjust our attitude and action plan to leading Millennials well!

Pulling for you, 

Alan Andersen

The Problem with Millennials in the Workplace? You.

One of the most common issues I am asked to discuss when talking with clients is how to work with millennials. The appearance of a generation gap is stark, and the descriptions of many younger employees are not flattering: Entitled, lazy, unmotivated, disconnected, and the list goes on.

My answer is always the same. The answer is leadership, plain and simple. The negative attributes of millennials are the same as every generation, as are the positive attributes. Remember, there are millennials right now fighting terrorists in combat, leading billion-dollar companies, and succeeding in every way imaginable. The issue isn’t about a generation, society, social media, or any other external factor. It’s about your ability to lead.

Like everything with Extreme Ownership, this is about you. Don’t look for reasons why there is something wrong with someone else, look for ways you can lead better. The moment you accept that the problem is someone or something else is the moment you accept failure. If you have an unmotivated employee, of any age, develop your relationship and find out what motivates them. Do you have a team member who is disconnected? Give them ownership of a problem and bring them into the fold. Does someone act entitled, give them a task and a team so they can learn responsibility.

These approaches are simple, but not easy. Leading people is never easy. Just remember millennials are people, just like you and me. What they need more than anything, is leadership.

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What's for Dinner?

Alan Andersen


As a leader, have you ever considered that you are often the topic of dinner conversation of your employees? Randy Conley shares this very thought-provoking article about what might be going on around the dinner tables of your team members. What will your team say?

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

Changing the Conversation

As a leader, have you ever considered that you are often the topic of dinner conversation of your employees?

Think about it for a second in relation to your own life. How often do you find yourself talking to your spouse or family members over a meal about things that happened at work and how your boss treated you? It happens quite a bit, doesn’t it? So why wouldn’t your employees be doing the same thing in relation to you?

Viewing the impact of your leadership through the eyes of how your employees describe their workday can profoundly shape your leadership style and practices.

When your team members have dinner with their families, are they talking about:

  • How you micromanaged them to the point where they question their own competence and believe you must think they are idiots?
  • How the only time you interact with them is when you find fault with something or have negative feedback to deliver?
  • How you only care about yourself and impressing your own boss?
  • You not having a clue about their jobs, because you never took the time to learn what they do?
  • How untrustworthy you are because you frequently break your commitments?

Or does the dinner conversation of your team members center around:

  • How good you made them feel when you praised them for a job well done?
  • The faith you showed in them by giving them a challenging new project?
  • How you built trust by admitting your mistake in front of the team and apologizing for your behavior?
  • How you went to bat for your team by advocating for their needs with senior leadership?
  • The great example you set by jumping in to help the team meet a critical deadline?

I’m not suggesting the goal of your leadership style should be to make your employees your best buddies or send them home with warm fuzzies at night because you’re such a nice guy. We all know leadership is a tough gig. It’s not unicorns and rainbows every day.

What I am suggesting, however, is to view the ultimate impact of your leadership through the eyes of your employees. Start with the end in mind. What is the legacy you want to leave? What do you want team members saying about the impact of your leadership long after you no longer work together?

You know your team members will be talking about you over dinner. What do you want them to say?

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Ten-ish Must-Read Books Revisited

Alan Andersen

This week we are revisiting what my top 10 (or so) must-read books are.


Well, as we enter the new year, your growth will, in part, be determined by what books you consume.

But I don't know where to start?

Start here! Start with whatever seems interesting or engaging on this list. Here is our list of the top books you should read if you want to learn and grow to be holistically healthy. 

  1. The Advantage by Lencioni

    • After reading this Shandel knew our firm needed an Organizational Health Coach. Ironically, when I read this book in 2014 I said that I was going to grow into an Organizational Health Coach. This book will help you learn how to measure what matters most so you can be a healthy organization, team, or small business.
  2. The Anatomy of Peace OR Leadership and Self-Deception both by Arbinger Institute
    • I love this book because of what it represents. In a word, alignment. The Anatomy of Peace is a great read that will help you learn how to do more of what you need to do, namely connect peaceably with humans. It deconstructs how to create alignment and health in your relationships.
  3. Collaborative Intelligence by Markova & McArthur
    • This book is especially helpful when it comes to figuring out your personal wiring. Clarifying how you hear, understand and communicate is imperative. This book clarifies collaborating with others in a fun and applicable way. If you're working with people or building teams read this!
  4. Extreme Ownership by Willink & Babin and QBQ by Miller
    • Now look, I get it. I shared two books. The reality is that these are different sides of the same coin. Extreme Ownership is vitally important. Equally imperative is QBQ. How so, you ask. These authors will share a perspective on life and leadership that you are unlikely to have. QBQ is 115 pages. Extreme Ownership is 320 pages. If you have less than an hour to read, start with QBQ but add Extreme Ownership to the list.
  5. The Go-Giver by Burg & Mann
    • If I could, I would recommend the ENTIRE Go-Giver series, but that would be a third of my Ten-ish must-reads in and of itself. The Go-Giver will help you understand how to add more value than you take in return and grow into a holistically healthy human. I have given more Go-Giver's away than any other book.
  6. Good to Great by Collins
    • This was the first business book that I was given by my girlfriend. I read the book and realized that I needed to marry Sarah... and eventually, I talked her into it! Collins brilliantly lays out what it takes to become great. And the truth is, it may not be what you thought. Although, this book uncovers just about every area of management, tactical planning, strategic thinking, and the list goes on. 
  7. How People Change by Lane & Tripp
    • This book is really great at simplifying the personal change process. It not a business or self-help book. It is primarily a faith-based book that focuses first on one's heart or attitude and then builds out the functional change process. To be clear, it is steeped in a faith-based approach to life and leadership. 
  8. Mindset by Dweck
    • Mindset helps you learn how to develop a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset (which like me, you likely have!). In so doing, you will be able to be a more fully present and helpful person, partner, parent, professional, etc. 
  9. Scaling Up by Harnish
    • This is a fun read! Well, fun providing you want to perpetually be learning, growing and becoming a more helpful leader, entrepreneur, manager, etc. Harnish and team help coach you on ordering your business priorities, focusing on what matters most and then scaling effectively. 
  10. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey
    • This is a classic. I likely don't need to explain much here. If you want to increase your influence across the spectrum of life, including personally and professionally, start here. Learn to become proficient in all the areas of life that matter most.

Honorable mentions

I realize that I did not list some really quality and influential books. I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts on which book(s) are missing and why!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

*Listed alphabetically-ish

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Discover Your Winning Value Proposition

Alan Andersen


I have never been accused of giving up when striving toward an objective. Yet, the older or should I say, more mature I get, I understand that winning is only as valuable as the people that you empower in the process!

How beneficial would it be if we all understood what "winning" really looked like. Thankfully, today we can learn how to uncover our "Winning Value Proposition". 

Let's follow Daniel Hallak's lead and learn to win well!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

How to Discover Your Winning Value Proposition

Value beats experience and credentials. Most job seekers are selling the equivalent of vanilla ice cream to the job market. Vanilla ice cream tastes great but in a crowded market with custom flavors, it needs more to stand out and catch a customer’s attention. For example, my young children love rainbow sherbet, and bubblegum flavored ice cream, candy-like flavors with colorful synthetic dyes. My parents tend to have a more refined palette and they enjoy flavors with nuts inside. Each flavor is designed with the right audience in mind. Discovering and defining the value that you bring to an organization is just like selling cotton-candy ice cream to kindergartners—a perfect alignment of product and consumer desires. This is similar to what makes a laser-focused value proposition one of the most powerful ways to put you in front of the competition in your job market.

1) Start by focussing on a target. Pick a few similar job titles or by zero in on an or industry. Assess your strengths, values, personality, and skills. You’ve probably got a target in mind already. Don’t be too broad or too specific with your target. Find a Goldilocks focus that’s just right.

2) Do some career research so that you can learn the needs, challenges, and opportunities that Research industry publications. Talk to 4-5 people to where the industry is going. If you’re targeting a specific organization, figure out what is happening internally and where the business is heading strategically.

3) Craft your value proposition in 3-8 bullet points. Answer these questions:

  • What do I bring to the table that is unique?
  • What key issues can I solve?
  • What do I bring beyond experience and credentials?

Be careful selling your experience and credentials. Lots of people tout impressive backgrounds but don’t connect the dots to the value that they bring to the most important challenges an organization is solving. Be sure to take the extra step to highlight how your background and prove how it helps you solve the problems your future employer is looking to tackle. Unless you clearly articulate value, nothing you promote means anything.

Here’s a personal example of what it looks like to identify key business needs and how to articulate a relevant value proposition that overlaps with it. For several years I led career services for graduate business students. Here are some of the core needs that my target organizations were wrestling with

Career Services—Needs and Challenges
Career service professionals solve problems for individuals related to vocational choices and employment as well as help increase student retention and student success for the institution. The problems that a candidate will be hired to help solve are:

  • Increasing the number of traditional students who engage with the career center
  • Increasing the reputation of career services among faculty and staff
  • Increasing the number of companies that recruit on campus
  • Increasing the number of students who obtain jobs and internships
  • Increasing the level of professionalism among the student body
  • Increasing the satisfaction levels of students, and employers with campus career services
  • Scaling career services while simultaneously preserving service quality
  • Guiding career exploration and decision-making challenges of clientele
  • Guiding employment and personal marketing challenges of clientele
  • Increasing student retention and student success rates

Based on these needs, I was able to see where my unique skillset overlapped. Here’s an example of the selling points I’d communicate to an employer in my résumé, online profiles, and interviews:

My Career Services Value Proposition

  • Understanding of the business model and current trends in career services as well as creative ideas to enhance career services and transform it from an institutional cost to a benefit
  • Ability to scale career services with limited or diminishing resources
  • Capable of increasing career service usage by effective marketing to students
  • Increased student hires through effective and assertive employer outreach and engagement
  • Versatility to perform all career service functions at a top-shelf level with any demographic, especially students and young professionals

Discovering and defining your value is hard work. Most people struggle with this but it’s the foundation of a successful job search that sets you up for success once you’ve landed. Take the time to get this right or get some help to guide you along.

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Why Complaining Doesn't Work

Alan Andersen

Have you ever been around a leader who complains? Who talks about team members in a negative way? Michael G. Rogers shares why leading this way will break down a team and erode relationships quicker than you can imagine!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen


Why Whining and Complaining will Literally Destroy you as a Leader

Several years ago I wrote a popular post on this blog titled 3 Ways to Deal With Whiny and Complaining Employees. In hindsight I have should have quickly followed that up with a post on “3 Ways to Stop Being a Whiny Leader.” Because the reality is, we all have our whiny moments too.

Recently I have found myself getting more and more frustrated by “stupid things” and quickly pointing them out. So I decided to stop.

I don’t know if it is an age thing or simply a gradual spiral over time in to negativity (maybe both), but it feels like things that didn’t warrant a complaint in the past, suddenly need one now. And honestly, I don’t like how it makes me feel any more.

Complaining is a fairly common human thing. Complaining about the weather is one thing, but complaining about other people is a whole other level. It is also unhealthy—socially, emotionally and physically.

When leaders complain about others, especially in front of those they are leading, they open the invitation for others to do the same and that has the potential to create a workplace no one wants to come to. They also generate a lack of respect for both themselves as well as others.

When leaders regularly complain at work and outside of work they are also less happier as a person, and negatively affect the mood of those around them. Jeffrey Lohr, a psychologist, who co-authored a study on the effects of venting stated the following: “People don’t break wind in elevators more than they have to, venting anger is an emotional expression. It’s similar to emotional farting in a closed area. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s dead wrong.”

Complaining also opens us up to all types of diseases. Dr. Travis Bradberry wrote an article in the Huffington Post titled, “How Complaining Rewires Your Brain For Negativity.” In the article he talks about how complaining literally leads to brain damage. He states, “When you complain, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol shifts you into fight-or-flight mode, directing oxygen, blood, and energy away from everything but the systems that are essential to immediate survival. One effect of cortisol, for example, is to raise your blood pressure and blood sugar so that you’ll be prepared to either escape or defend yourself.

All the extra cortisol released by frequent complaining impairs your immune system and makes you more susceptible to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It even makes the brain more vulnerable to strokes.”

Okay, who's on board for less complaining?

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Why Trying Doesn’t Work

Alan Andersen

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This post from Michael Hyatt highlights the root cause that separates the winners from the whiners! Enough said, please jump straight to it and take it heart.

Never Settle,

Alan Andersen

The Difference Between Trying and Doing

There’s an instructive scene in the Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. Yoda is instructing Luke Skywalker in how to use the Force. He asks Luke to retrieve his disabled spaceship out of a bog where it has sunk, using only his mind.

Luke, of course, thinks this is impossible. Sure, he has been able to move stones around this way. But a spaceship? That’s completely different. Or is it?

Yoda patiently explains that it is only different in his mind. Luke reluctantly agrees to “give it a try.”

Yoda famously says, “No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Why Trying Doesn’t Work

Tony Robbins gave similar advice to a woman who was struggling in her marriage. She stood up in one of his seminars to ask a question. She complained that she had “tried everything” to improve her relationship with her husband but nothing had changed.

Tony went on to make a distinction that I think is vitally important. He asked the woman to try to pick up the chair she was sitting in. She turned around and picked up the chair.

Tony said, “No, you picked it up. I said try to pick it up.”

The woman looked confused. Tony reiterated, “Try to pick it up.” The woman just stood there, not knowing what to do.

Tony continued, “No, now you’re not picking it up. I said try to pick it up.” Again, she picked up the chair.

Again, Tony, said, “No, you picked up the chair. I asked you to try and pick it up. You either pick it up, you don’t pick it up, or you try to pick it up.”

Just Stop Trying

The point is that when we say we are trying we don’t really have to do anything. It also provides us with an excuse for why we didn’t accomplish the outcome we say we want.

Do you understand the difference? You either do something or you don’t do it. Trying is really the same as not doing it. It just makes it easier for us to let ourselves off the hook when we fail.

Where are you trying to improve?

  • Are you trying to get in shape—or are you getting in shape?
  • Are you trying to improve your marriage—or are improving your marriage?
  • Are you trying to make more sales calls—or are you making more sales calls?

This may sound like a small distinction, but it has huge ramifications.

3 Suggestions

Maybe it’s time to quit trying and just do it. Here are three suggestions:

1. Eliminate the word “try” from your vocabulary. Language is subtle. The words we use can program us to perform certain ways. Using the wrong language can create an outcome we don’t intend.

“Try” is a worthless word that accomplishes nothing. It might make us feel better when we fail, but it actually induces the kind of behavior that leads to failure.

2. Decide either to do or not do. If you don’t want to do something, fine. Don’t do it. But don’t pretend that trying is the same as doing. They are two completely different postures.

This is what Yoda was telling Luke. Everything important we accomplish begins with decision. We don’t slip into our greatest achievements. We commit and then make them happen.

3. Commit 100 percent to the outcome you want. Like the project manager in Apollo 13 said, “Failure is not an option.” Play full out. Don’t quit. Don’t settle for merely trying.

Remember the point behind suggestion No. 1 above. Language is subtle. When we get comfortable with trying, even a bit, we open the possibility of failure because we make it respectable to walk off the field before the whistle blows. Don’t give yourself the out.

As Yoda suggested to Luke, the difference may only be in your mind, but it has a dramatic impact on the outcome of whatever you set out to do.

Question: Where have you been trying instead of doing?


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The Heart and Science of Winning Goals

Alan Andersen


I just have to ask, did you set goals when you turned the calendar to 2018? So many of us do! Let's be honest, though. Sometimes we set goals that aren't really aligned with what we desire for our lives.

Check out this blog by Daniel Hallak, in which he cuts right to heart of the matter on goal-setting.

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

The Heart and Science of Winning Goals, Part 1

I’ve been failing at goal setting since my 6th birthday party. My parents created thoughtful birthday games to keep everyone entertained. We started with a round of pin the tail on the donkey in the yard. They surrounded me with my friends, spun me till I was dizzy, and set me loose to pin the tail on the paper donkey—or the closest person to me. The game was fun but the reward wasn’t fulfilling.

The next game seemed better. Mom and dad setup a piñata full of candy. Sign me up! They gave me clear instructions, “Smash the piñata hard enough to create a candy shower”. It was go time. They again blindfolded me and spun me in circles. With some help I turned in the right direction and I started swinging. Every time I stepped up to bat my parents would pull the string. I’d swing at the air and fall to the ground. I kept swinging, sometimes grazing the piñata, occasionally getting a solid hit. Visions of the candy shower kept me going. Every kid took a swing but none of us could make sugar rain from the sky. Finally, the piñata broke—maybe because my dad was yanking the string so hard—and we all scrambled to fill our little hands with loot.

Is goal setting worthwhile?

When I coach people on setting goals, sometimes it feels just like the piñata at a birthday party. People start with excitement but they give up after a few swings at their goal, even if the reward seems sweet. This is why some people hate setting New Year’s resolutions and why lots of organizations spin their tires with new priorities seemingly every minute. So why do people make such a big deal about goal setting? The short answer is that goals work and goals win. The trick is that not all goals are created equally. It turns out that most people set goals that suck, if they set any at all. The good news is that setting strong goals can accelerate and equip you to cascade that motivation to others leaders who get busy developing even more leaders. Crafting energizing goals can propel all of you forward to create more health and flourishing while building resilience for setbacks. Goals set your leaders up for success. To set goals that work and win you need to tap into the heart and science of setting goals. Let’s start with heart.

What do you truly love? 

“Follow your heart” is the some of the worst, potentially misleading advice that people give on a regular basis. Here’s the problem. Sometimes your heart wants the right thing for you and other times your heart can get you in a lot of trouble. When I mention the heart, I’m referring to the core of who you are as a person. I’m not talking about the blood pumping organ that beats over 3 billion times times if you live to be 80 years old. I’m focusing on the place where your deepest emotions and affections live. Your heart is a wildcard that can equally drive human potential or pathology. This is dangerous. It means that it’s possible to set strong goals in the wrong direction and cause a lot of collateral damage along the way. You can be effective and evil at the same time—all in good faith. We don’t need to look too far into the past to prove this. Adolf Hitler was arguably very effective at carrying out some of the most terrible atrocities in the history of humanity. The worst part was that in his heart he believed that he was creating a better world.

Even though your heart can be deceptive, when it comes to setting goals, your heart is a good place to begin. Starting with heart reveals what you deeply love and what you identify with most closely. Once you begin to explore your core driving forces you can harness them to focus on building the right goals. At the end of the day, running after goals is all about love. We prioritize the things that we love the most. If your heart is invested in something, if you love it a lot, you’ll make it a priority with your calendar and your credit card.

Think about it, why do new parents sacrifice precious sleep for small, helpless humans? Because they love their baby son or daughter more than their own comfort and they are committed to caring for the little person even above their own well-being.  Or think about advancing your career. We all know people who’ve endured long-hours or intensive training to achieve a promotion or earn a credential. Why? Because the reward was greater than the cost.

On the flipside, do you have a “friend” who regularly loves catching up on shows more than consistently going to the gym? Your “friend’s” problem isn’t about getting a bit of down-time, the problem is a stronger love for the comfort of a comfy couch and tasty snacks than the energy and self-confidence that comes with staying active and healthy. The same thing holds true for your conscientious, overcommitted coworker who can’t say no to extra assignments at work even at the expense of family involvement. Why? Because the love for affirmation outweighs the desire for a healthy family legacy. We all have aspirations that we really want to invest in but our efforts get diminished because there is something else that we love more. Forward motion is blocked until we reorient our desires.

This might seem radical to you. How could there be anything wrong with catching movie, or becoming recognized as the reliable person who gets things done? You’re right. Sort of. These things aren’t bad in and of themselves. The danger is when we love the wrong things too much—when we consistently prioritize good things over the best things—to the point that our misaligned affections begin to hurt ourselves and other people.

How do you know if you’re going in the right direction?

How do you know if your desires and goals are rightly aligned? How do you know if you love the wrong things too much? Ultimately, you can test the direction of your heart and the goodness of your objectives by the drawing the line of sight between your goals and human flourishing—yours and other peoples. If your heart loves the wrong things they will eventually harm you and corrode or break relationships with other people.

So, what if you love the wrong things? How do you love the best things so that they get your attention, affection, and energy? You replace them with a greater love. Humans aren’t wired to unlearn something. Trying to stop focusing on something never achieves the desired result. Try it. Don’t think about pink elephants flying around. Serious, stop thinking about pink elephants. You’re welcome. Now tell a child to try as hard as possible not to press a button or not to eat a cookie. Stand back, watch and wait. Working to avoid it only causes them to fixate harder. We can’t just stop focusing on something and we can’t just stop loving something. We need to find something else to focus on, something that we desire more. This is one potential explanation for why people who engage in volunteering and community service experience multiple mental and physical health benefits as well as an increased sense of purpose. Connecting with and serving others and engaging in relationships can help replace our natural inward bent. A person struggling with depression who is focusing on other people instead of their symptoms doesn’t have the time or space in that moment to fixate on their struggles. We don’t undo things, we can’t undo things. But we can replace them over time with the power of a new desire.

Where do you have energy?

Start with heart and consider what you really love before you set any goals. Pause to evaluate your motives and be honest about your true loves. Focus on your loves and consider which ones can help humans grow and flourish. Then harness the power of those deep loves as you start to build your goals. Greco-Roman wrestlers and Jiu-Jitsu practitioners learn early on that one of the best ways to sustain energy is to leverage the drive of their opponent. When pushed, they pull. When pulled, they push, accelerating their power toward the winning pin or submission. If you already have momentum you’re a lot more likely to keep pursuing your goals. A goal isn’t worth pursuing if you if you don’t care a about it. Goals that win already have energy or commitment for you to harness.

OK, are you being honest with yourself about what you really love? Are your motives pure? If the answer is yes, then you’re ready to dissect the anatomy of goals to build some goals that work and win in Part 2 of The Heart and Science of Winning Goals. Check back soon.

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Let's Get Real

Alan Andersen


There have been a handful of people in my life that I appreciate like James Altucher. He has helped me in many ways, namely, learning to unlearn.

Unlearning unnecessary ideas, concepts, and dare I say harmful or limiting beliefs.

In light of this, I appreciate a post he wrote earlier this month in how to approach 2018. I would encourage you to read it. Note: this is a "PG-13" read. There is one curse word, at least that I caught. But I would encourage you to catch the emphasis that this article is highlighting so well.

Pulling for you, 

Alan Andersen

Things I Refuse To Worry About In 2018

“You sound like a moron,” one of my closest friends recently told me. It was because I was feeling sick but I haven’t been to a doctor since I was 18.

In one month I turn 50.

The last doctor i went to was my pediatrictian before I went to college. I don’t even know what doctors do now.

“You could be a hypochondriac,” another friend of mine told me. “Maybe you’re so afraid you might be sick that you refuse to get a check-up.”

So I don’t know if I should go to a doctor or get even more scared. Sometimes I’m always scared.

“You have to move into your own apartment,” my friend above told me. “Moving around from Airbnb to Airbnb is creepy,” she said.

A few months ago I finally did it. I was scared to do it. I don’t know why. I don’t like buying things for myself.

I don’t like roots. I don’t like to lock myself into a place. Bad things happened to me when I do that.

But I did it. I didn’t want to be “creepy”.

It was really hard. I have never had a credit card. So I have no credit score. So nobody wanted to rent to me.

And then I had no furniture. I only had one bag with two outfits and a toothbrush and a computer.

I’m 49. I’ve never moved into my own apartment by myself.

“You will feel stable,” my friend told me. “You don’t even realize how good you will feel.”

She’s right. It’s amazing.

I’m still a 14 year old with acne and braces and afraid to talk to people and begging for people to like me.

I beg my children to like me. Sometimes I try to show off just for them.

I want to please people all the time. And I don’t want to disappoint people so I make promises and say “Yes” to things I can’t live up to. And then I disappoint people.

Aren’t you the guy who wrote “The Power of No”.


I can't predict next year. Last year came out 100% different than I thought it would.

But I feel like (I hope) I'm moving in the right direction.

And here are the things I hope I don't worry about in 2018.

Please, Force, let me surrender these worries to you:


We need money to pay the bills. I get it. We need money to support our families. We need stability.

I get it. I get it. All my life. All my fucking life. I’ve been worried about money. I’m so sick and tired of it.

My parents went broke. I paid for every dime of my college and graduate school.

I moved to NYC with a single garbage bag with an outfit or two in it and lived in a one room apartment with a roommate.

But worrying about money never made me money.

The ONLY times I’ve ever made any money was when I solved someone else’s problem, communicated my ability to solve it for them, and got paid for it.

Look around you. Your friends, your colleagues, your bosses, other companies. Everyone needs help.

And if you are at the right place and the right time, then some of those people will pay you to help them solve a problem. Not always (so you can’t be. disappointed) but sometimes.

Right place, right time, right solution, right communication, right execution, right pay. Then repeat.

That’s a business. That’s an income stream. Then make more.

It’s so hard. And it’s EVERY. DAY. the stress of making money. But I won’t worry about it. When I worry, I’m going to look around, solve a problem, communicate, execute, get paid.


I’m completely ignoring politics. Trump was elected over a year ago. An entire total of ONE bill that he has proposed has passed Congress and ZERO vetos. He does nothing. His one bill (tax bill) does nothing as far as I can tell.

The ONLY thing he has been good at is making one side of the country hate the other side. Good JOB!

I won't fall for it.

Change happens when YOU and I DO things. Not when we argue.

Everyone has critical issues. No one set of issues you care about will ever align with a perfect candidate who agrees with you on anything.

I’m the father of an 18 year old and a 15 year old. The only purpose of war, as far as I can naively tell, is to send teenagers to other countries to kill other teenagers.

I’ve never seen a Senator go off to war. Or a “supreme leader”. Or a king.

This is my main issue.

Kids killing kids. People killing people over hate.

If it all blows up, I don’t really care. I just don’t want my kids to be sent to any war. I wish we had never gotten into the wars we were in, and I don’t know why we are still in them (and why 1/3 of my taxes goes towards paying for them).

Earlier this year, someone wrote a blog post suggesting I run for governor of NY on the Libertarian Party. For the fun of it, I even met with the actual guy who is running for governor on that party (a party I am not a member of).

I would be the worst governor or congressman or whatever of anything because I have so little cares about what is happening in the world.

Naive or not, that is the way I feel.


Please God, please please please let me not pander to other people’s opinions.

It’s ok to listen. It’s ok to entertain and make people happy. It’s ok to judge your progress with the applause (or lack of) of others.

But never get stuck in the hole of where everyone else wants you to be.

Everyone wants to have status over you. I need to remember this. To remember that only I have the power to give myself status.

To never out-source my self-esteem to others. Oh god, please please please.

Anybody who is creative, will start off striving and yearning to be better at what they do.

They see the nuances and the beauty in the art created by masters before them.

I want to have those nuances in the things I do: in writing, in podcasting, in comedy, in career, in whatever I attempt to be creative at.

But people will always hate. And it’s the ones closest to you to be the most careful around. They will hate. Or disappoint. Or accidentally crush you. Or mistakenly make you feel so sad you don’t know how to ever create again.

It’s never the neighbor down the street. It’s the friend you let into your house.

Pandering to what they like, or what the crowd likes, is the one creative sin.

They dig the hole, they put you in a casket, they bury the casket.

But only if you pander to them. Breaking free from the grave might make them angry or disappointed or scared. They don’t want you to escape the nice grave they buried you in.

But it’s the only way to live.


It’s so easy to mortgage the present in exchange for a better future.

To think: if only she/he were like THIS, then I would be HAPPY.

To think: if only I had this amount, then I will be a SUCCESS

If only, this effort works, then I will be WHERE I WANT.

The fiber of life is drunk by our souls only when we squeeze all of the juice out of the current moment. Ugh. That sounds like a cliche.

Also a cliche to say, “be mindful of the current moment”.

So how else can I say it?


What can I be grateful for right now?

Hmmm. Cliche also.

We are insignificant on this tiny dot? Cliche.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m just not going to worry about it.


Every day I feel like I'm disappointing someone. I don't try to. But it happens.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry I can't do everything I promised. I'm sorry I let you down. But it happens. We can work it out. Or not. But I can't worry about it anymore.

I'm doing my best. Please believe me.

I love to do what I love doing, regardless of personal benefit.

Podcasting makes me zero. Writing makes me zero. Almost everything I do makes me zero and costs me aggravation if I let it.

This past year I started doing standup comedy up to six nights a week. I’ve always loved it. And I’ve always analyzed it. But now I’m trying to get good at it. TRYING. It’s so HARD. AGGHHGHAH!!!

And it’s so “in your face”.

I go on the stage, and I say things, and they might not respond how I want. Right then, they might not like me, or they might not understand me, or they might not care. Or they might be tired or drunk.

Or I might be just bad.

I videotape each set. I watch it. I write more. I study. I talk to comedians. I try to learn. Every time I go on stage I want it to be better than the last time.

We’ll see.

But in a microcosm it represents every attempt I have at pleasing others.

My one NEW mantra for comedy, and my one mantra for going on TV, or having a meeting, or being with friends, or being with family, or being with a life partner. or being with colleagues is:


And everyone who wants to join in is invited.

Those are the things I will try (please please please) not to worry about in 2018.


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Responsible vs. Foolish Freedom

Alan Andersen


One of the highest forms of responsibility is the responsibility to be free. One of the highest forms of freedom is the freedom to be responsible…Yet if we examine our lives closely, most of us will find that we are slaves to something that defines our zone of comfort – whether it be the approval of others, a need for status, a need to avoid conflict, or any one of a thousand other things that keep us from being truly committed to a purpose. (Robert Quinn, 2004, Building The Bridge As You Walk On It)

Read on to hear what Bret Simmons has to share about responsible versus foolish freedom.

Your Coach,


Responsible freedom emerges from commitment to the purposeful pursuit of the richer connections of interdependent relationships. Choosing to be responsible for continued personal renewal requires a lifetime of discipline, a lifetime of practice. Only when you continually abandon the hypocrisy of your current self can you grow to know your best self. A balance of self-control and expressive spontaneity mark the speech that flows from the character of a leader modeling responsible freedom. When you choose to step into the fullness of your responsibility for your intentions, behavior, and words, you become a signal in an ocean of noise.

Foolish freedom is the ocean of noise generated by those with unbridled hubris. Now more than ever, you really can choose to say and do whatever you want; however, you can’t pretend that your choices are void of consequence. Freedom without responsibility for consequence is fools gold. The words and behavior of a leader modeling foolish freedom are so spontaneous and expressive as to be undisciplined and irresponsible.

I teach these concepts in my MBA course on Leading Change. Robert Quinn’s is the first book we read in the course because his message is simple and powerful. Quinn’s key point is that organizations do not change significantly unless someone inside the organization changes significantly; hence, self-change is the key to organizational change. Ever increasing integrity is the driving force of self-change; the discipline to chose to daily confront the biggest hypocrite you will ever encounter in your organization – the one you see in the mirror.

I’ve taught the concept of responsible freedom numerous times, yet I still struggle to understand what it means in my own life. The responsibility to be free is easier for me to wrap my brain around. I try to focus less on what people think about me, and more on clarifying my values and aligning my behavior with those values. The more difficult concept for me is the freedom to be responsible. According to Miriam Webster, “responsible” means able to answer for ones conduct or obligations.

I can’t think of a higher freedom than to be able to answer “who am I becoming?” In any group that I’m a part of – family, church, work, city, country – I recognize that my ability to answer “who are we becoming?” will always be a direct reflection of who I choose to be today.


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What Matters Most, Effective and Ineffective. Period.

Alan Andersen


There are few people in the health and wellness industry that I trust like I do Charles R. Poliquin (maybe you know him as the Strength Sensei). While I have never met or connected with him personally, I have used his services and am a part of his online community. In a word, Poliquin is effective.

In the NYT Best Seller Extreme Ownership, my friend Leif Babin captured one of the best thoughts on this exact notion I have ever heard.

The only meaningful measure for a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails. For all the definitions, descriptions, and characterizations of leaders, there are only two that matter: effective and ineffective. Effective leaders lead successful teams that accomplish their mission and win. Ineffective leaders do not.

So with this in mind, let's read how Poliquin breaks down the driving force behind being effective. 

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

The Myth of Discipline, Let Love Be Your Driving Force

There is no such thing as discipline. There is only love. Love is the most powerful creative force in the universe. You are the result of what you love most.

You either love finely etched muscular abs more than donuts or you love donuts more than wash board abs you could do your laundry on. It is as simple as that. Don’t beat yourself up that you have no discipline or further drown yourself in a sea of refined carbs out of guilt. Admit that you like crappy food more than you love strength.

Or ask yourself this, what do you really love? Self-esteem is the reflection of self-judgment. One of the best ways to raise self-esteem is to make truly loving choices that lead to increased strength of body and mind. No need for discipline there. For example, if you truly love yourself in the gym, you choose the full squat with chains over the leg extension machine. At the restaurant, if you truly love yourself, you pass on the heavenly smelling basket of bread and creamy butter, and ask for some more limes for the water. Limes alkalize your body which in turn helps your bones, muscles and your ability to deal with stress.

When you are faced with difficult choices, ask yourself, in context of course, what would a loving knowledgeable expert recommend? For example, when working chest, would a loving strength coach recommend the pec deck, or full range dumbbell presses. When choosing desserts, would the loving nutritionist recommend a bowl of berries or the gluten rich pro-inflammatory triple decker brownie submerged under melting vanilla ice cream.

How to free yourself from the outdated concept of discipline:

  • Accept that all your choices are reflections of what you truly love.
  • Love is the greatest creative force of the Universe. Use it wisely.
  • Choose to love yourself more than external things.
  • Treating yourself well accelerates the growth of your self-esteem. When is the last time you went for a massage?
  • When people comment on your results and say things like “Wow you have a lot discipline” answer “No, I just make loving choices for myself. Reinforcing your own positive behavior will help you grow in strength.
  • What you appreciate appreciates. Whenever you make a truly loving choice, say to yourself ‘Thank you for taking care of me in a loving way”. The more you talk to yourself like a loving parent, the faster you will grow. Let’s say, for example, you just did a single on the squat with a load you didn’t feel like doing. Say: “Wow! I am impressed with your strength of mind, that’s why you are a champion”. By documenting and rewarding your successes, they will grow in magnitude and frequency. Whenever I meet a goal, I reward myself with positive things like a vacation or a new piece of equipment. When I get something better, I make the choice of giving away the old piece to someone who will appreciate it. Living a clutter free life allows for more growth.
  • The more you believe in yourself, the more objectively you will be able to take the advice of authority figures.
  • “Use your faults” was French singer Edith Piaf’s motto. I don’t like to stretch athletes. It is too time consuming and requires too much energy. Using that fault, I developed the Kinetic Chain Enhancement modules, which is a system that uses a myriad of body work techniques such as acupressure points that instantly give increases in flexibility.
  • Always reward behavior/effort not qualities. For example, you made a better a choice, and you say to yourself “You are great”. There is a better approach. Instead, say to yourself: “ I am
    impressed with the ability to make the right choice out of love for yourself”. One the best books you could ever read is “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck. Contrary to most fluffy self-help books, she uses peer reviewed research to provide her advice.
  • Learn on how to meditate. I always knew meditation was good, but not THAT good. Actually, to be completely truthful, it is one of the things where you wished you had actually listened to people. Thanks to Janet “The Passion Test” Attwood, I got to learn transcendental meditation along with Brendan Burchard and Joe Polish. The invested 20 minutes twice a day, has already paid off as in fatherhood, teaching leader, and of course in the weight room.

There is an old Hindhu saying: “The World is as we are”. Are you tired of seeing the condition of the world around you? Start by changing yourself- be the change you want to see in world. Be what you want to attract more in your life. Being loving to yourself is the fastest way to enjoy a more fun and productive life.

Coach Charles R. Poliquin

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