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How to Silence Your Itty Bitty Committee

A while back, I was coaching an executive who found herself getting emotionally hijacked. Like a lot of executives in large organizations, her job required her to work cross-functionally with lots of different people. That kind of work environment leads to lots of conversations, meetings, e-mail threads, presentations and the like. With all of that information flying around the matrix, there are lots of opportunities to get hijacked if you’re not watching out for it.

For instance, someone doesn’t respond to your email. Or, maybe someone else leaves you off an e-mail thread you should have been on. Maybe they didn’t invite you to a meeting you think you should have been in. Or, you didn’t get the recognition you thought you deserved for a job well done.

Any of those things can trigger that little voice inside your head that tells you that you must not matter that much or your contributions aren’t valued or that this whole thing is just a grind and really unfair to boot. You may be familiar with that voice. I like to call it the itty bitty shitty committee.

That itty bitty committee is what cranks up when...

Five Reasons You Should Rip the Band-Aid Off Fast

Unless you’re a sociopathic (and I’m sure none of my readers are), you probably don’t enjoy delivering bad news. It could be announcing that the quarterly numbers aren’t on target, letting someone know that they underperformed, admitting that you made a mistake or telling someone that they no longer have a job with your organization.

Working up the courage and intestinal fortitude to do any of those things can be tough. So tough, in fact, that many people find it easier to rip the proverbial Band-Aid off slowly. You know, one excruciating arm hair at a time. You sit on the information. You agonize over what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. How much should you share at once? How will people react? Pluck, pluck, pluck. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

This post is an argument for ripping the Band-Aid off fast. It’s going to hurt either way, so why not get it over with? Here are some thoughts on how and why to do it fast.

The subject of Band-Aid ripping has come up in our house recently as my wife, life and business partner, Diane, has been trying...

Those Emails You Send From Home At Night Are Creating More Problems Than You Know

There's an epidemic no one talks much about because it's rarely seen that way. Even so, it makes no distinctions from one industry to the next; I've seen this bad habit infect the ranks of Fortune 500 companies in technology, retail, manufacturing, health care, pharmaceuticals, hospitality—you name it. The good news, though, is that it's easy to diagnose.

In my experience of working with managers and executives, that starts by asking a single question: "How many of you send out emails from home at night?" Nearly everyone raises their hand.

Reading that may only inspire a shrug—you probably do the same thing. And you might roll your eyes to learn that the pernicious habit of answering work emails after hours is the widespread problem I'm talking about. Far from being news, we've grown amazingly adept at discussing overwork in general and email overload in particular.

But there's one thing that might surprise you about that late-night emailing habit: It's overwhelmingly voluntary, and therefore largely avoidable.

You’re Doing It To Yourself

After the resounding yesses I usually elicit by asking professionals about their evening email habits, I'll pose a...

Five Things That Changed My Life Over Five Years

Today is my 55th birthday. Yes, I said it. It’s part of my new policy of radical transparency. There was a time in my life when 55 sounded really old. Now that I’m there, I realize how relative that is. Old compared to what or who?

It seems especially relative when I consider all that has happened in the five years since I turned 50. I was looking back yesterday on a blog post I wrote then. I pretty much still agree with everything I wrote five years ago but am struck by how much my life has changed since then. Five years ago, I lived in Herndon, Virginia. Now, I live in Santa Monica, California. When I turned 50, I was just beginning to figure out to manage the multiple sclerosis I had been diagnosed with two years earlier. Today, for now, I know much more about how to take care of myself. Speaking of the MS, five years ago that was a secret that Diane and I shared with only a few very close friends and family members. We were scared that if we told everyone, people would think I couldn’t be depended upon to...

Three Simple Steps for More Mindful Leadership

Every so often I have the nice surprise of talking with someone who was in one of my leadership programs a few years earlier. It happened again last week when I was conducting colleague feedback interviews for an executive coaching client. As I started one call with a guy named Ben,  I said, “I don’t think we’ve had the opportunity to talk before have we?” Ben graciously reminded me that he was one of the participants in a Mindful Leadership workshop I conducted at his company a couple of years ago. I apologized for missing the connection and he couldn’t have been nicer. He went on to say that he is still using and benefiting from a number of things we went over in the workshop.

I always love hearing that and asked Ben to share with me specifically what he was doing. It didn’t take him long at all to come up with three examples. Interestingly, they are three of the things that are on the short list of takeaways that past participants almost always tell me they’re still doing when I have the opportunity to talk with them down the road.

Since they...

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