Today, a friendly ghost asked me why I end rants with the word “good.” Here’s the long way ‘round.

Friend, “distinct and deeply connected” is a catchy phrase. It’s meant to be. However, distinct and deeply connected is much more than words you mouth to sound cool or kinda all BTL, if you will. Distinct and deeply connected describes the kind of oneness we’re trying to build within ourselves, the individuals we build, and the teams we have the privilege of practicing with. You see, friend, we want you to become distinctly who God designed you to be and form deep connections with the teammates around you. The good life is found here – deep unity within and with others, a few others. Distinct and deeply connected describes real community, the kind you can’t imagine until you’re in it, the kind we’re building at k-dev, Eddie Jones, DePauw University, CCC, Whataburger, White Castle, OSU Women’s Basketball, OSU Men’s Wrestling, Choice, BeecherHill, Lockton KC, Lockton Chicago, HCM, ASF, Homeside, and a few more.

Distinct and deeply connected is never easy but always worth the work.

So, friend, don’t get discouraged and tell yourself that you and your partner aren’t ever gonna get there. Instead, replace the childhood script with one from today. Remind yourself to keep working, keep putting forth a full effort, and that as long as you’re still breathing you’re good. And, Casper, that is why I end nearly every rant with the word good. You see, the SEAL’s use this word when they communicate with each other. When they ask another SEAL how he’s doing, the response is either good or silence. Their belief is that nothing is taking them out of the fight except death itself. So, in their mind, they’re always good. I use it as a reminder to me. My personal mantra is two words – keep working. I whisper these to myself all the time and they keep me calm and keep me going. Thanks for asking, Ghostly. Now you know a bit more about what makes our band so distinct and deeply connected. As Bono said so eloquently – “We are one but we’re not the same.”

Keep working. Good…

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Socratic thinking…

424 b.c. there was this battle between Athens and another little town called Boetia. The battle of Delium was a battle between 50,000 men that lasted only a few hours and resulted in one of Athens biggest battlefield disasters. They were crushed and mostly turned and ran from the battlefield. As they ran, they were easy targets for their enemy. Most died from a spear to their back.

Hippocrates died fighting here. The entire generation of Thespians suffered a holocaust here. And, Socrates fought here. Yes, that’s not a typo. Socrates was a warrior/philosopher. He survived the battle that killed so many of his Athenian brothers because of how he exited the battlefield. He exited with a sword in his hand and armor on his back. He exited slowly. He walked out backwards while protecting one of his countrymen. Here’s what Plato recorded in his work titled “Symposium” from an eyewitness, Alcibiades.

“…He (Socrates) made his way there just as he does here in Athens, ‘swaggering and glancing sideways.’ So he looked around calmly at both his friends and the enemy; he was clearly giving the message to anyone even at a distance that if anyone touched this man, he quickly would put up a stout defense. The result was that he and his partner got away safely. For it is true that attackers do not approach men of this caliber but instead go after those fleeing head-long.” Reflective action is what BTL is all about. We want our clients to slow down and relect so they can speed up – productively. We want them to reflect, contemplate, and then choose the most productive action to move them and their teams toward their dream, through their crisis, and in alignment with their guiding principles. Reflective action producers the kinda team that “gets away safely.” Reflective action produces the kinda team that say’s “don’t mess with us.”

Are you building a team with shoot in their eyes?

Are you walking off the current battlefield or are you fleeing head-long?

Does your body language tell all around that you believe?

Are you defining these MOT’s (moments of truth) or attempting to avoid ’em by fleeing head-long?

What are you telling the team when you win and when you are suffering a loss?

Are you taking care of the BTL buddy beside you, or leaving teammates behind that can’t quite keep up?

Slow down and sit with these questions for awhile. Talk to a truth teller. Ask them to open your eyes, illuminate a blind spot, and hit you with some hard truth. Make it safe. Let their feedback in. Process what they’re telling you. Slowly decide how to put some of it into action. Make this a habit of your heart, friend. Kinda like Socrates, you’re learning the power of slowing down and using good questions to produce better thinking. Socratic thinking. Good…

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Naive to native…

Today another team tasted BTL team practice. Some drank from this crazy fountain for the first time. A few of them understand BTL language and a few understand the language of their teammates. Most speak some form of English, but it’s not anyone’s native tongue. Like some kinda naive child, we all accept others words and interpret ‘em as if we’ve said ‘em instead of taking the time to “play back what we heard” and truly learn what was meant. We’re so naive, aren’t we?

Words matter. Assume less. Learn the native tongue. Don’t be so naive.

Let me practice being ccd (clear, concise, direct). I speak Chet, first and foremost. Chet, you see, is my native tongue. You speak something based on where you’re from, how comfortable you are within, and, oftentimes, depending on who you’re with. You want someone to get you and be fully vested in figuring you out. You feel so misunderstood by most and yearn for some deeper connection but you’re just not sure how to simply be you, remove the mask, and speak your mind. You want to be transparent but my God you’ve been burned so badly when you gave too much trust to another. So, you play it safe. Talk all kinda politically correct, sound good, and let next to nobody in.

Flip the script,friend.

Take the time to get someone on your team. Unpack their words and learn the meaning. Do not accept the mask. Make another so comfortable that they want to remove their fortress and let you in. Get them. Give them the gift of understanding. Don’t be so naive. Move from being naive to a master of anothers native tongue. As you give this gift of understanding, you too will receive. Trust me. You’ll see.

Naive to native. Who knew the missing “t” could make such a difference. Good. Btw – Do you know why I finish most of these rants with the word good? I didn’t think so. Why don’t you ask me sometime? Good…

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Edge, execution, and excellence…

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” Achilochus 650 B.C. “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you fall to the level of your training.” Navy SEALs.

It’s easy to have an edge for awhile or when you have something to prove. Keeping an edge, especially when your team is leading or winning is another thing. You’ve got to train harder once you reach the pinnacle of your work. You can’t simply let them turn it on when they think they have to. Your job, if you’re a leader, is to make your team train with an edge, relentlessly focused on execution, and commited to excellence. Your job is to make them think they’re behind even when they’re way ahead. Hard to do, regardless the sport or market.

What are you doing to increase the level of your training, leader? Start by kicking your own. Nothing keeps the team on edge more than the edge of their leader. Study Alexander the Great, you’ll see. Today, I’ve got a few teams to make do what they can. I’ve got to make them do what they can regardless their record. You too, huh, leader.


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Pass to passion…

A BTL team practice participant recently wrote me to share his reflection on a recent promotion that passed him by. His initial reaction was frustration and almost instant fatigue. Like somebody took the air out of his balloon. Here’s what I reminded him.

Most hinge moments in life are following perceived adversity. When I was passed over, way back in the day for a position I thought was mine, it opened my eyes to my passion for pushing others. The pass turned into passion. See your pass in this light, I told him.

Pass to passion. Good…

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Lost and found…

Leonardo da Vinci is known as the worlds greatest genius. He was a master in many domains. However in 1491, early in his career as a painter, he got passed over for one of the best gigs in history – painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Instead of doubling down his effort in paint, he decided to become more than an artist. He moved to Milan and pursued all the crafts and sciences that held his interest. Architecture, military engineering, hydraulics, anatomy, and sculpture became his domains to dominate. The worlds never seen such a refined Renaissance man since.

So, friend, learn from Leo. You may be bummed about some big project or promotion that just passed you by. You may be dealing with some closed doors for something you had your heart set upon. You may be learning how to live with loss – personal, financial, relational, or professional. Remember, historically speaking, most great accomplishment emerges from great obstacles. As Marcus Aurelius observed – “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Thank God Leonardo da Vinci lost the bid to paint the Sistine. Thank God Leo lost and found his life’s calling as a result. Lost and found is the gig. What is seemingly standing in your way, friend, just might be the way to your next expression. From great obstacles emerge great accomplishment. See your predicaments as obstacles enabling your ultimate, God directed way. You’ve got to surrender at some point and let the sense of loss set you free. As Bono describes his creative journey – “It’s always the darkest just before the dawn.” Thanks, Leonardo, for showing us the way. Thanks for not staying down. Thanks for moving from lost to found. We are all lost and found, aren’t we?

Lost and found. Good…

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Your natural state is to be lazy. The brain, remember, doesn’t know any better. So, when given the option, the brain is gonna tell you to hit snooze. “It’s 4:15 am, Robert. You’re tired. One day off won’t hurt anything.” This is the untrained brain speaking smack to it’s owner. This is human nature. Today, Robert built a better nature – a second nature. He ignored his brains attempt to save energy and wrote me to tell me it was one of his best workouts in quite awhile. He’s training his brain. Are you?

Today, another Robert, was told by yours truly that he’s getting fat and lazy. He didn’t disagree. We got out the 8 playbook and got busy. He devoured the lesson like somebody building a better nature ‘cause he is. I love kicking his ass and allowing him to return the favor. We walked out with a couple PA’s each. Together we transform. Together. Always together, friend. Who are you transforming with, friend? It’s human nature to be lazy. Fact. Your natural state is energy save mode, friend.

Find a friend. Fight it. Always together. Good…

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