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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.
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How to Overcome Your Fear of Thinking

If you haven’t seen it, take a look at this recent article in The New York Times.

It’s a fascinating recap of a study at the University of Virginia that confirms what you may already know. Lots of us are keep ourselves “super busy” because we’d rather have a day packed with doing stuff than leave anytime to be alone with our thoughts. The UVA study showed that most people don’t like being in their own heads for even six minutes because if you give yourself time to think you might have to think about difficult, unresolved problems or challenges.

Just like you can’t solve a problem if you don’t know about it, you can’t solve it if you don’t think about it. But if you don’t think about it, it’s just going to eat at you. It will still be lurking in the background as you avoid thinking about it.

The impact of all that lurking is stress and anxiety that will cause you to think that much less clearly. Avoiding your thoughts damages your relationships because not tuning into your own thoughts and feelings makes it much less ...

Don’t Burn Your Calendar at Both Ends

Perhaps you think I meant to use the word candle rather than calendar in the title of this post. Nope, calendar was what I meant but the idea came from a brain blip I had recently.

I was conducting interviews with about a dozen colleagues and friends of a new executive coaching client. One of my questions was, “What do you hope he gets out of this coaching engagement?” and someone answered, “I hope he’ll quit burning the candle at both ends.” When I went back to review my conversation notes to write the report, I saw that what I had actually written down was, “I hope he’ll quit burning the calendar at both ends.”

I laughed at my mistake and thought that there’s actually something to that. So many people today are burning the calendar at both ends. I see so many people who are trying to cram way more stuff than they can possibly fit into the 168 hours that each of us are given each week. In the category of true confessions, I’m sometimes one of those people myself.

But, based on personal experience, the best practices of my clients and what I ...

ESPN’s Stuart Scott Brings You the Best 15 Minutes of Your Day

Last night at the ESPY awards, SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott took up the mantle of Jim Valvano when he accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award.

Scott has battled multiple forms of cancer for seven years now. As recently as last week, he had four surgeries in seven days because of complications from his latest round of treatment. And yet, he stood on stage last night and delivered a speech on living and loving that you need to watch. It will be the best 15 minutes of your day—even if it makes you cry.

What Leaders Can Admire in LeBron James’ Letter to Cleveland

Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed that I don’t write as often as I used to about leaders in the news. There are different reasons for that. One of the biggest is the great examples seem fewer and farther between. Another is that I’m skeptical about being spun.

You may have heard about the way NBA superstar LeBron James shared the news last week that he’s returning to his hometown to play again for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rather than staging a press conference or a media spectacle like the classless broadcast The Decision in which he announced four years ago that he was “taking his talents to South Beach,” he posted an open letter on the Sports Illustrated website.

So, yeah, I recognize that when someone as famous as LeBron James makes a big announcement that I am, to some degree, being spun. In this case, I don’t care. The points he made in the letter and the way he made them are, at their most basic level, ones that leaders can admire.

In reading through it, I identified six admirable traits that are worth reflecting on and aspiring to.

Perspective. Early on, James ...

3 Executive Productivity Hacks That Any Leader Can Use

One of the things I love about my work is getting to meet and learn from some very talented top executives. That happened again recently when a senior vice president in a Fortune 500 client company stopped by for a lunch conversation with participants in our Next Level Leadership® development program.

She was one of the clearest thinkers and communicators I’ve met recently. Her organization is responsible for billions of dollars in sales so, as you might imagine, she has a very full plate. Recognizing that her time and attention are limited resources that she must deploy as effectively as possible, she’s come up with three productivity hacks that help her determine where she needs to focus.

They’re simple, effective and can be applied by leaders at any level in any organization. Here they are:

1. Three Things on the List. Over the years she’s learned that in any given week she can effectively focus on no more than three big things at once. She carries an old school paper based planner that she uses each week to review what’s on her plate and to boil it down to the big three. She confirms that ...