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Involve me…

Tell me, I may listen.
Teach me, I may learn.
Involve me, I will do it.

If you’re a BTL leader, you need to master this eastern proverb. High performance teams want you to involve them. They want to be engaged with you. Master the art of involving them. I’m in Durp’s team meeting. They are a living example of an involved team.

Involve me. Good…

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According to John & Julie Gottman’s research for the past 40 years, women want a man who is tuned toward them. The big four questions they want answered in the affirmative – Is he safe? Will he be there for me? Is he dependable? Is he trustworthy? These are solid questions that are worth further investigation. Not to worry. The Gottman’s got us covered with an acronym – A.T.T.U.N.E. Check it out…

Attend. Undivided attention whenever possible. When she enters your space, put away distractions and attend to her or tell her when you will. Attend to her emotional needs, first and foremost. Stop swiping, please.

Turn toward. My gosh I’ve written this one so many times it blurs my mind to think any men following this rant need more explanation. Talk. Face to face, men. Tune into what’s not said but written on her face. Again, read her emotions. You cannot look at your phone and her at the same time. Stop swiping, please.

Understand. Do not fix, don’t try to distract her, don’t offer solutions, don’t make jokes, don’t minimize (I know, I know, this sucks. This goes against everything we’re so freakin’ good at doing). It’s not about saying anything, men. It’s about showing up and sitting in.

Nondefensive listening. Again, don’t counter attack, react, justify, or the BTL triple d (defend, deny, destroy). Tune in to all emotions and “downregulate” your anger. In other words, stay calm when the convo gets critical, condescending, and especially when its coming your way.

Empathize. Understanding is the head case, empathy is from the heart. Try to feel what your woman is feeling (I know men, try to feel what you’re feeling first and keep calm. Now carry on and try to feel for her feelings). Good.

Attunement is a learned skill that most men have not built. Attuning begins by tuning in to ourselves. I mean come on man, if you haven’t figured out what frequency you’re on, how you gonna possibly find her channel? You, gotta know who you are, first. Again, this is why at BTL, we begin with every client working one on one with just them. We tune in like an animal being stalked, not like a stalker. We help another human dial in their own station and hear it static free. We call this process authoring your CORE, but you know that. So, friend, go back to look at your inner space, get clearer, dial in to your station, get it super tuned (beliefs to behaviors), and now you’re more than ready to tune into another with a clear mind, welcoming heart, and open hands.

Attune. God, help me tune into Miss. God, help me tune into Mom. God, help me tune into Krits. God, help me tune into family, friends, and clients. God, help me give more than I take. God, help me keep our line wide open. God, help me be who I am, learn to get lost in another, not lose my sense of self, and become more myself through deep connection with you, your creation, and other hurting creatures like me. God, help me…

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War on Drugs…

The War on Drugs is a great example of an epic fail in our country. We are not winning the war on drugs, friends. We are the most drugged population on the planet, here in the land of the free and home of Big pharma. Actually, The War on Drugs is one of my favorite bands. Funny, like so much of life, words alone are not the problem or the panacea, it’s the context that matters most. And most context is open to interpretation…

Back in the day, there was no war on drugs. I guess, it was all good until we selectively demonized what we didn’t understand. Cannabis can help performance and heal. Psilocybin has provided relief and opened doors to levels of consciousness we’re just beginning to understand. It was once used by progressive docs back in the 1950’s to offer “natural” relief, if you will. We kinda freaked out in the mid 60’s and banned it and many others. We went to war overseas with North Vietnam and at home with ourselves. Like a bad trip, it kinda feels like not much has changed.

So, friend, why don’t you take some time this Monday to open your mind. Instead of going to war with someone on your team (funny we mostly war with our own), go give them a listen. Try to understand them instead of going all thermal nuclear on them. Give them a listen. When you speak, ask them to play back what they heard. You’ll be surprised how oftentimes your own words (ones you thought were soothing/healing), ignited an offensive in another. I know this happens to me all the time. Many BTL team practices that seem like a magic carpet ride to me are some kinda demonized trip to hell for another. They took my words in and opened a wound instead of my intention to try to open their mind. They walked away silently and then began to wage war. This happens all the time. Sow down and sit with this thought for awhile.

Listen to the band – The War on Drugs. My son, Jordan, turned me on to them. They are worth a listen. Listen to your team. Understand them. Play back what you hear them saying and ask them to do the same. Most conflict, remember, is simply a conversation to be had. So, before you escalate things, before you prepare for war, go have a talk. Talk. Speak and listen, BTL style. Focus on listening.

Today, I’m in Chitown trying to bring a few tribes together. We’re not going to war within or with each other. We’re going to work and learn to work together. I feel better already. How ‘bout you, friend?


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Nickies, Kairos, and love to’s…

Nick Cannell, Missi’s dad, is now 99. Yesterday, Kristi, Josh, Taylor, Miss, her brother Jim, and sisters Sue & Lynee celebrated his birthday (August 11, 1919). He’s survived the Battle of The Bulge (WWII), built a Frozen pie business (first ever), and been one of the most generous men along the way. He’s seen a lot.

Yesterday, I was waiting for him at the Muirfield valet stand when his son Jim pulled up to drop off the birthday boy. I had a golf cart with my clubs ready to go. As Nick got out of their car with some much needed help from his son, I told him to grab his cane and get in the golf cart instead. “We’re just going to hit a few putts on the practice green while your kids sit on the porch, have a glass of wine, and watch. Come on, it’ll be fun.” He gave me a puzzled but hopeful look and asked me if I thought he could do it. You see, Nick hadn’t held a golf club for a few years now. Last year we tried to pull this off and he flat refused. He wasn’t sure he could stand up on the green.

“We’re doing this,” I told him and helped him into the cart. He’s had a rough year with lots of physical setbacks and we wanted this birthday to be one to remember. We had no idea.

A few minutes later we were on the practice green and his signature jab stroke was right back like he never left it. He smiled as he hit the first putt and almost made it from ten feet away. Again and again he stroked the ball toward that little hole. After about the tenth or eleventh try he made that ten footer and we all erupted with applause. He turned to me with a child like grin – “Do you think I could hit a chip?” My heart filled just a little bit more and I squeezed hard to maintain my emotional status quo. “Of course, I blurted out as I ran back to the cart and grabbed the pitching wedge. Nick hit chip after chip after chip. He was wobbling a bit but you could see his concentration and focus. He was not going down. After five good minutes of chipping, I asked him if he wanted to swing away and see if he could hit it over the practice green. He looked at me like I had offered him one of his big three wishes.

“Do you think I can do it?” He asked with a little trepidation. I smiled and told him to choke up on the club a little, it will steady your balance. He agreed, smiled and took a few practice swings. Then, he hit the thing. It didn’t go far but he loved it. Again and again and again he swung away. Miss and Jim came down to make some video’s, while Lynee, Sue, and Tay enjoyed the view from the porch. After another good chip, I looked Nick in the eye and asked him if he would like to go the first tee and tee one up. “You mean hit one with a full swing with a wooden club? Do you think I can do it?” He hardly took a breath between sentences, he was beyond excited. He grabbed my arm with one hand and his cane with another, we were doing this thing.

The first few drives didn’t get airborne and he was clearly feeling frustrated. I tried a few tips. Nothing happened. Still no air. He was doing it though and I was so happy to see him having fun. By now, Josh and Kristi arrrived and he wasn’t about to give up. Jim (doesn’t play golf) told me to tee it up a half inch higher. I thought this is gonna make him completely miss the thing, but said nothing and adjusted the ball high up on the tee. The next swing?


He hit it out of sight. Not three hundred yards, out of sight. Not two hundred. Not one hundred. It did not matter. He hit it out of sight. It felt like a Tiger roar as all his kids roared their approval. As I ran down the first hole picking up his drive after drive after drive, I had to really work to fight off the tears. Dinner was gonna be an hour late, he usually can’t stand that. He was loving it tonight. You see, friend, one of Nick’s “love to’s” is playing the game of golf. He hasn’t been able to play a round for a long time and he misses it. Last evening he played again. He was a kid again. We could all see it in his tiring eyes. Last night was a Kairos moment for Nick, Jim, Lynee, Sue, Miss, me, Josh, Kristi, and Taylor. We were missing his son Steve and his wife Susan. We were missing Jordan and Andrew. We were missing tons of grandkids and great grandkids. We made the most of the moment. This morning, Jim is editing the slow motion video he took of Nick’s first drive in the 99 and above championship at MVGC. He won it, btw, with a score of ONE.

You will forget many dinners, friend. You will forget many Monday’s. Do not let life turn into nothing but a steady stream of Wednesday’s. The ones you love will not always be beside you. Make some moments, some Kairos moments alongside your Nickies. Sometimes you may have to push them out of their comfort zone. As we grow older, a lot of times we grow even more afraid, not less. Give some courage. Take some risks. Life is a gift. Don’t forget it’s in the little things that we live it.

Thanks, family, for making last night more than just another meal (nothing wrong with that, btw). Thanks for the Kairos. Thanks Muirfield for letting us break a few rules. Thanks fellow members for giving Nick that standing ovation. Last night was filled with love. FM, baby…


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Build, anyway…

Yesterday, during practice 45, a team talked about tough stuff. They are going through some trying times, you could say. Leaders admitted mistakes. Teammates asked hard questions. Transparency and honesty prevailed. Leaders challenged other leaders. The owner pushed the tension to its rightful owner. Real. Hard. Work.

Today, he and I talked about it. We held a short practice of our own. We do this all the time – when no one sees. When I look back at the progress with any BTL teams, it comes more often than not from the work the leader is doing after hours, in between practices, with me behind closed doors, and, most importantly, on their own. The BTL leader understands they cannot take anyone further than they’ve gone themselves. Tough stuff for certain.

There are no self managed companies. There are no companies with every seat filled by a soul on fire. There are no companies where everyone acts like an owner. There are only a few in any system that do most of the heavy lifting. Your system does not need another snowflake. Your system does not need another whose taken up residence in victimhood. Your system does not need another whiner who is always complaining to coach that nobody throws them the ball.

Your system needs you to open your mind, learn new skills, get comfortable outside your comfort zone, and push yourself for performance. Build anything, leader, and obstacles will find you. Build anything beautiful and durable, and bigger obstacles will block you. Fact. Today, during another difficult one on one (unscheduled practice), a leader decided to double down on a couple new productive actions. He’s got messes in work, at home, in community, and seemingly all around him. He’s made a hard call because he gets the gig. His decision?

Build, anyway…

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Leadership fail…

Anytime you have to reduce your workforce, it is a leadership fail.

You can blame it on the competition – leadership fail is the root. You can blame it on the changing market conditions – leadership fail is the root. You can blame it on lagging sales – leadership fail is the root. You can blame it on anything and anyone – leadership fail is the reality.

Lead anything and you are going to fail, friend. Do not be afraid of failing. However, leader, learn from your fails. Learn. Do not repeat your mistakes. High performing cultures are expanding, growing, and invigorating places of commerce and community. RIF’s (Reduction in Forces) are bound to happen. Ain’t no leader worth their salt that hasn’t grown resources beyond revenues. Happens. Just don’t make it an acceptable pattern. Make sure you realize how harmful RIF’s are. Avoid them like the plague, because they are a plague on sustainable, high performance. Do not swallow the rif pill.

Anytime you have a RIF, it is a leadership fail. Learn. High bar, I know. Sucks to lead. I get it. Lead, anyway, leader. Good…

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Moving toward…

Today, like everyday in BTL team practice, emotions were on display. Our job, as BTL Builders, is to move people. Emotions have been designed by God as our internal early warning system to get going. Healthy humans are not emotion free and healthy humans are not overly emotional. Some of us are ruled by our emotions and kinda wear it all on our sleeves for even casual bystanders to see. Too many people know too much about this unhealthy human. Some of us hide behind a fortress and nothing gets in or out. Nobody knows this seemingly strong man/woman, who eventually finds life behind the fortress as a very lonely way to live.

Today a few leaders were vulnerable. Nobody was scared by what they saw. Nothing rash was said. Trust was built. The right amount of emotion, to the right degree, at the right time, toward the right people, was shared. Your job, leader, is to be tough and tender. You will be vulnerable when leaning against whatever is your tendency. You cannot connect, deeply connect, without risking a loss in control. You see, emotions move us. Oftentimes, we would rather hide, protect, and play it safe. If you want a team to run through the walls with you, you’re gonna have to take a few more risks. You will not move your team until you model the way by moving yourself. Do not hide behind a fortress. Do not overshare. Figure it out, leader.

Tough and tender. Tough and tender, always with humility. Your job, leader, is to move people. Are you worth moving toward?

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