E pluribus unum..

E pluribus unum. Since America’s founding, this Latin phrase has graced our seal and countless coinage. “Out of many, one.” Our founders dream was to unite thirteen colonies into one country. Our aim at BTL aligns quite nicely with our founders. “We Awaken, Challenge, and together we Transform a few individuals, teams, and leaders into ONE. ONE, distinct, deeply connected, and BTL.” This is why we are here. This is why we practice one on one, one on a few, and one on a few more. This is why we practice speaking and listening BTL style until our clients achieve mastery.

Monday, I was in KC holding a couple team practices and a handful of one on one practices. We’re working with high performing teams filled with talent and overflowing with success. They’ve been enjoying this kinda success for decades. Only recently, however, have they begun the hard work to practice with BTL and attempt to transform a team of individuals into a team of ONE, distinct, deeply connected, and BTL. They are far from unified as they once were back in the day when they, kinda like our thirteen colonies, were younger, much smaller, humbler, and a bit more open to ideas that weren’t their own. Normal.

So, yesterday, BTL facilitated more practices and provided the conditions to deepen the trust between a few distinctly different.  We always agitate a few along the way. Yesterday, I poked Paul without even trying to. Paul responded in the moment he was tweaked. Trust was built and it didn’t even hurt. These teams, like every team we work with has to learn to agitate their own. The best agitate without aggravating and alienating. The best agitate and align. Never perfect. Never complete. The best simply find the common ground and unite on what they can. This is true for your team, leader, and it’s true for all of America. All couples, communities, and companies have conflict. Fact. It doesn’t get better by ignoring it. It doesn’t get better by whining about it. It gets better when you choose, kinda like Timmyd and team, to grab the reins and do something positive about it. Good.

If our best days our ahead, it will be because we found ways to align very distinct and very different people groups and “out of many, one.” E pluribus unum. Easy to say. Hard to win. Harder to order. And, hardest to maintain over time and through success. Funny, almost any system can handle adversity. It’s too much of a good thing that tends to divide.

What kinda system you building, friend?

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Believe in and believe them…

Today, during practice 36 with a very productive team, we ended practice with me summarizing what another associate said to his teammate. He used more words than I do in finding the melody line. My ccd summary seemed to hit home as I told the young beak what his teammate had shared. Here’s what I said, for what it’s worth to those of you reading along. It told the young beak that his teammate wanted him to hear – “I believe in you. I don’t believe you.”

Leaders are believers, remember. We run through walls for those whom we believe in and we believe at their word. Today, young beak, was told some hard truth. His teammates seem to believe in him but not believe him. History has always taught us that the transformational leaders capture our belief. We believe in them and we believe them. Don’t make the mistake of missing the “and.”

Are you believable? Do you know what you believe? Are you living on your potential or living out your beliefs with the discipline of productive action? BTL leaders are the kind we believe in and believe them. Be one. Good…

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Talk does not cook rice…

BTL has made it our purpose to discover what causes individuals, teams, and leaders to sustain high performance. There is much to study and learn on this very broad and interesting topic. On this journey, we study, learn and apply. Our applications are first and foremost on ourselves, then on our clients and those that attend BTL team practice.

Here’s the melody line for sustainable high performance individuals, teams, and leaders – more love than fear. In my mind this is the definition of courage. As I look back over nearly sixteen years of practicing BTL, the greatest limiter of human performance is more fear than love. Most of you reading this rant suffer from fearing the scourge of power. In other words, most readers are like a former client of mine who loved our work and the strength he gained within, but when it came time to fight, he feared his owner more than he loved his life. So, he chose to follow his owner instead of chasing his opus. He settled for comfort and safety. The road to sustainable high performance does not come to settlers.

More love than fear. More love. Most of my clients tell me half truths they’ve been telling themselves. They tell me their plans to stand up for what they want. Few, however, have the courage to take the leap when they discover with clarity that it’s time to go. Durp and Brett are leading two of the highest performing companies in cbus and both of them had to take the leap and choose to fly higher. One left a comfortable partnership and one left a comfortable family business. Neither left out of anger of frustration. Neither left out of fear. Both chose to leave because they had more love than fear.

More love than fear. This is heart of high performance, friends. You cannot fake this character. You cannot borrow it from another. You must muster the inner conviction from deep within your strong CORE. It’s easy to talk about courage. Many former clients of mine talked a good game. Talk, however, does not cook rice (Thanks, RR). It is only courage that causes sustainable high performance, because it is only courage that enables consistent action. High performing individuals, teams, and leaders are defined by a lifetime of consistent PA (productive action). PA, not when it’s easy, not some of the time, or not when it’s what your owner proclaims. PA sounds easy. It’s not.

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” Suu Kyi

Sometimes it takes courage to stay. Sometimes it takes courage to leave. Sometimes it takes courage to fight for right. Sometimes it takes courage to fight another day. Sometimes it takes courage to wait. Sometimes it takes courage to initiate. Slo down, friend. Think, reflect, write, and gain clarity regarding your situation. Think ‘bout the best way forward. Make a decision to move. Burn the boats, remember, ‘cause you know this to be true.

Talk does not cook rice…


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Game changing kinda strength…

I can remember back to 1984 like it was yesterday. 1984 brought the birth of our first son, Jordan, and I very clearly recall conversations with Miss regarding our (her’s really) choice of name. My only concern with naming him Jordan Michael was around people thinking we were naming him after this rookie basketball player by the name of Michael Jordan. I remember telling Miss this Jordan dude was just a rookie but he looked like the real deal. We laughed and chose to name our baby as planned.

I’m reading a book at the moment titled Relentless, by Tim Grover. Turns out ole Grover got famous training none other than Michael Jordan back in the day. Grover’s training techniques are not the focus of the book, instead, he focuses on what he learned about the minds of the elite over the years of training such greats as MJ, Kobe, and D. Wade – Talk about a big three, huh. I’m almost finished with the book and haven’t agreed with much of it. However, there has been great learning throughout. My favorite has to be a couple paragraphs on page 136. Grover describes one of the worst draft decisions in the NBA. Yup, the year was 1984 and Portland was debating the second pick. It came down, in their mind, between Sam Bowie and MJ. So, knowing legendary coach Bob Knight was coaching MJ that summer on the USA Olympic team, Portland called Knight and asked who he suggested they take in the upcoming draft. I had never heard this convo took place and couldn’t believe how ccd it came down. Here’s what Grover included in his book. Check it out.

“Take Jordan,” said Knight. “Right,” said Portland, “but we need a center.” “Play him at center,” Knight said.

Portland took Bowie. Chicago, picking third, took MJ.

Here’s my extrapolation to you and me. When it comes to picking talent, remember our wiring defaults to overly thinking about what someone can’t do, instead of what they can. What the best systems do is figure what someone can do and put them in a position to play to these strengths. Portland overly fixated on what they didn’t have (quality big man) and missed on a once in forever, game changing kinda talented guard. Of course there are thousands of nuances to your hiring practices. Finding the rare, game changing kinda talent, however, requires you to overly look for someone with incredible strengths that your system can exploit and expand. Don’t make the mistake of filling a need while missing an MJ. Slow down and sit with this one for awhile.

Focus on game changing kinda strength. Good…


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MORE Good. OPUS. Conviction…and FOCUS

O.P.U.S. Focus is what you want.

When you get the kinda clarity the clients which Chet just wrote about have, the team starts believing and will soon be-living out their beliefs with uncommon practice.   What you say “yes” to and “no” to and WHY becomes crisper.    As goals become clearer, so does the mojo as you go into mo’ flow as ONE – distinct and deeply connected.

I love what my start-up client has done with their O.P.U.S.   A picture is worth a thousand words, so here it is.    I took this one during Team Practice #34.  Behind 3 team members you can see their O.P.U.S. is up on the wall as big as a Jumbo-Tron.  It’s clear, it’s living, it’s constantly under construction – and of course, don’t miss this – it’s literally HUGE.

OPUS Scoreboard

At the very top in a clean-mounted font is their P-urpose followed by the next phase for their O-verching Vision.   It’s the Dream State for where they want to be by June 2018.

In the 5 rectangles below are their Five U-nifying Strategies.   Below each U-nifying Strategy in a clean-mounted font are the priorities for each, and then on the whiteboard in blue marker is their Playbook of Productive Actions (Goals) with a date and initials for the mustang in charge.   Behind that is their S-corecard – a sticker in Green/Yellow/Red for whether they are on track, under caution or in trouble.

This team is building trust to tell each other exactly what they want, what they are doing, and how they are doing.    Like FLOW, the goals are clear, feedback from the work itself is immediate, there is challenge in the zone stretching their capacity, and they do it as ONE.

They have O.P.U.S. Focus.    Together we improve.



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Masters integrate…

Today, during practice with Worldwide Bob, we went all the way back. We went back to the opening two quotes in the BTL 12 Essentials of Excellence. I reminded him why these are here and what they mean. The opening quote, which we’ve attributed to Chateaubriand even though an old dude named Jack is actually credited with it, kinda says it all.

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.” This quote is the aim of our work. We want to master the art of living and build a few masters along the way. FM, baby.

The second quote is much shorter and accurately attributed to Kit Carson – “Done so.” As I reminded Worldwide Bob, these two quotes are the epitome of dream and do. Great lives require the master to dream and do, dream and do, and dream and do some mo.

For most, it’s much easier to dream in one compartment or another. For some, dreaming about being on their bike is the equivalent to falling out of bed easy. For others, dreaming about their bride or bro is a neurochemical bath and straight way to heaven. For a few, dreaming about their wopus (work opus) is the cats meow – they can’t wait for Monday and the chance to pursue big business getting bigger and better. For some, dreaming about contributions in their Church or charity causes a natural high, they would simply say. Masters, however, see work and play as, well, one. Masters integrate.

Today, Worldwide Bob, Tay, and I played with some dude named Jack and another named Carson. We turned into the BTL 8 Essentials of Leading Teams and learned a little bit mo about the power of the “O” (overarching vision). You see, friend, it’s much easier to be a foot soldier and follow orders. It’s much easier to progress up the org chart and continue to take orders as you rise. It’s much easier to leave the dreaming to the one in the one up position, until it’s not. My client is learning to dream and do. He’s been a great doer. You can’t be a great leader without “anding.” Lead anything, friend, and you’ve got to be a dreamer. Ain’t nobody signing up to follow your process or procedure. People sign up to follow your passion to make a difference in and for the world, leader. You gotta dream and do. Are you beginning to see why we invest so much time on the “O” to your OPUS, to your labor of love, friend? Slo down and take a gaze back. Is your vision big enough, clear enough, and are you convicted enough to create a coalition of krazies who want to dream and do too?

Dream and do. Integrate work and life. Masters integrate. Good…

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We relate to weakness and wounds more than wins…

Today, at the very, very end of practice 243 with a team of talented collectors, my son, Taylor, asked to share his learning. I was already putting a bow on it and was not expecting his hand in the air. Without hesitating, I gave him the green light and he took it from there. His learning was spectacular and it felt as if we were transported from a conference room to a Church. Very cool.

He shared his learning which was mostly a challenge to the team to go deeper, more real, and get to the roots of the struggle. The breakthroughs, he shared, come when we go down and get after the raw stuff, even though it’s not easy. His voice shook with emotion as he shared his heart and you could sense his hurt. He put a bow on it and it was good.

My mind was transported back to some of my favorite learning about our country’s first president, George Washington. You see, friend, George almost lost his team before we won our independence. His warriors were wounded and even worse feeling unappreciated by Congress. Pay had been promised and promised and promised. Nothing had shown up in the warriors bank accounts. Nothing. So, George called a huddle and brought his rebellious troops together before they went all awol on him. He had prepared a pep talk for this moment of truth. As he looked out over the crowded Church where they had gathered that morning, he pulled out his written notes and realized he couldn’t read them.

Fumbling for his spectacles, he muttered something about how he had grown weak and nearly blind in service to his country. The men wept like babies. You see, friend, most of ‘em had never seen George with glasses. In George’s moment of weakness he won them over. Who can’t relate to dragging ass? Who can’t relate to feeling weak and nearly blinded by their plight? Who can’t relate to your struggle?

So, friend, take Taylor’s challenge and stop playing on the surface. It’s one thing to say we’re real and raw ‘round here and a whole nother thing to actually be it. Thanks, Tay, for taking a last minute swing and knocking it out of the park. It was a good bow to a day filled with barriers being broken. Who knew the wrapup would come from exposing a weakness and wound. Who knew that sometimes the best way toward victory isn’t found in focusing on the wins. Who knew?


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