Every Organizational Problem You Have Comes From One Place

Leadership

Nearly every big problem that persists in our organizations today comes from limitations that live in the mindset of the leadership. 

Bold claim? Maybe, but if you read on, I think you’ll see it’s true.

Let me explain…

There are a lot of big, hairy problems in our organizations, ranging from turnover to disengagement to lack of agility and so on. (If you want a great list, check out Chapter 2 of my friend Doug’s terrific book, The No-Limits Enterprise, where he outlines a ton of these challenges in a clear, straightforward way.)

A person need only spend about a month as organizational consultant to notice that companies tend to see — and treat — these challenges as isolated phenomena. And it’s easy to understand why this happens; upon first glance, a lack of innovation doesn’t look like it has anything to do with workplace toxicity, for example. (It does, of course, but we don’t see it at first.)

Isolationism is a destructively simplistic way to think about our organizations.

As you’ve likely noticed before, the word organization shares the same root as the word organism — and yet, the common perception of organization is more “mechanical structure” than “living being.”

When we look at living beings, it’s a little easier to appreciate the interwoven systems at play; we recognize the inherent complexity of organic material and all the interactions that allow it to grow, move, learn, and so on. And in complex organic material we also find some kind of “strategic thinking center” that coordinates its movements.

And this is why nearly every problem in an organization can be traced back to the mindset of its leaders.

In the complex organizational living system that is a Company, leaders hold the role of coordinating movement. 

They paint a vision that is (hopefully) deeply compelling and magnetic to offer direction and purpose. They create “riverbanks” that provide guardrails around behavior — what’s in-bounds and what’s out-of-bounds. They sanction the governing principles people will abide by and the strategic pathways people will run on. 

Leadership always creates the “container” for behavior: what’s allowed and what’s not. What’s celebrated and what’s denigrated.

As such, all ongoing behavior inside the container of ones’ leadership can be directly traced back to the leader. (I say “ongoing behavior” because individual people will inevitably make their own choices and undesirable incidents will happen; what matters is whether or not they are allowed to continue.)

We don’t choose our future; we choose our habits, and they create our future. And so, the existing organizational reality — and all its myriad problems — were created by the habits of yesterday’s leaders.

Albert Einstein reportedly said something to the effect of: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

So, if we actually want to solve the thorny problems of today, there’s really only one way to do it: upgrade the mindset of leaders, so they can encourage better collective habits that will create a different, better future for us all.

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This was originally posted on #lovework, right here.

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2022: Year In Review

Leadership, Legacy, Life

Hello friends!

Another year (and a half, almost!) has passed with no blog posts from me! I miss writing and the time and space it requires. I am setting an intention to get back to it this coming year… but before I go there, let’s start by reviewing my 6 goals from 2022.

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Goals For 2021 + Reflection

1) More physical fitness

Holy cats, I fell off the wagon in a major way with this one last year. Looking back, I’m not exactly sure how this deteriorated, but it probably started pretty early on, likely with the craziness that ensued after the next item happened…

2) Buy a beach property in Mexico

This one materialized in the second month of last year! I mentioned a “romantic partner” in last year’s update — their name is Kali, we are still together, and we actually ended up buying an amazingly cute little studio in Tulum together at the end of February.

After we returned from that trip, this purchase immediately added a pretty big layer of complexity to life, as neither of us had ever bought a property out of the country before and our Spanish is a little, ahem, rusty. Thankfully, we eventually worked through the mess of contract negotiations and other intricacies. It was just starting to be built last spring, so it was finally completed in the fall.

Right now we’re just making it available for family and friends, so if you need a great place to stay in Mexico please hit me up!

3) Go back to Europe for pleasure

Oops. This didn’t happen.

4) Build relationships

Yes, I see this one as a success! I focused on building depth within my family and my business, rather than going broad.

I invested a lot of time, energy, and love into my relationships my kids and with Kali last year. (BTW, someday the world hear more of Kali’s story, and, well… I would need a whole other blog post to even scratch the surface of how world-changing a human this is, my friends. I am truly honored to know them.)

Also, as you’re about to read below, I had quite a relational journey with the company last year… the team experienced some massive, tectonic shifts, and though I truly believe it will all work out for good, it was also very hard.

5) Create great memories with kiddos

In my view, I did… “OK” at this last year. I did try my absolute best to get to as many of their activities as possible — and I was able to attend almost all of them! — AND I will say I want to work on being more fully present with them over this coming year.

6) 10k users in #lovework

We did not make this goal last year. Turns out, 2022 WAS a “growth year” for #lovework… but NOT in terms of users on the platform.

I didn’t know it when I wrote this goal, of course, but 2022 was going to be a growth year for the #lovework TEAM.

Almost the entire team is different now than it was a year ago — and it’s exponentially larger. My confidence in the new team we are building is a huge reason you see another audacious goal for #lovework below.

But before we do that, here are the most notable things that happened in my 2022!

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Notable Events From 2022

  • COVID — Successfully avoided it until the very beginning of 2022 and then BAM. Happy New Year.
  • Mexico Trip In February — This trip was life-changing, in so many ways. It provided the beginnings for our Airbnb adventure and also catalyzed Kali working more with #lovework, which has been transformational for our company.
  • Accutane — I had struggled with adult acne my whole (adult) life, and decided to try a 5-month adventure with this craaazy drug. I won’t lie to you; it was terrible. But the results on the other side have been worth it, thankfully!
  • Rocky Horror — Believe it or not, I’d never been… until now! (VIRGIN)
  • Kiddo Musical Performances — The oldest created her own show for DCPA’s Musical Madness and was Mrs. Potts in Beauty & The Beast. The youngest was in Tangled and The Infamous Shoe Gang. The oldest also joined a children’s choir, which was just absurdly adorable. Overall, it was a pretty spectacular year for musical performances.
  • Harry Potter + Quidditch — The oldest got WAY into H.P. this year… I think she’s read all 7 books now… twice. The youngest is on board, too, now (phew)…! We also got to play Quidditch for the oldest’s birthday, which was a blast.
  • Roadie” Activities — I got to tag along to a whole bunch of Kali’s shows. Expert tip: if you’re going to be a roadie, do it for a vocalist (not much gear!).
  • Investor Fundraise — Completed our first small fundraise for #lovework via a “friends and family” Angel round with a great group of investors.
  • Red Rocks w/ Kiddos — Pro: got to take the kiddos to Red Rocks for their first time! Con: the band was KidzBop. (Oh alright… it was quite fun!)
  • Fast Company Innovation Festival — Attended this innovation-focused conference in NYC. The on-site events around Manhattan were pretty cool, but otherwise not worth the hype.
  • HLTH — Attended this huge, health-focused conference in Vegas. Overall, it impressed me. Highly recommend watching this video from it.
  • Elitch Gardens — Believe it or not (again), I’d never been!
  • Thanksgiving — Traveled with the kiddos to meet some of Kali’s family. It was a delightful trip!
  • Holiday Disneyland Trip… This Time With Even More MagicHad an awesome time going back to Disneyland/California Adventure again this year… and this time surprised the girls with a trip to Harry Potter at Universal. The ride inside Hogwarts is one of the Top 3 coolest rides I’ve ever been on… I’ve never experienced anything like it.
  • Mean Girls @ DCPA — Right around the holiday, we took the kiddos to a fun immersive game activity and all wore our pink hats. Someone passing by on the street asked me, “Are you going to Mean Girls?” We weren’t (didn’t even know it was in town), but of course we looked it up, and were somehow able to get tickets for that night. What a fun show! The girls know all the lyrics to all the songs already.

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Goals & Intentions For 2023

  1. Physical fitnessI gotta sort this one out. Gonna give myself a bit of grace, though… I just want to have a solid routine in place by the end of 2023 that I can and will stick to.
  2. Build more adult friendships — This is harder than it sounds for more people than just me, right?
  3. Start writing and speaking again — By the end of this year, I want to be on some kind of regular cadence of writing again, and I want to start making myself available for more speaking by then, as well.
  4. Create great memories with kiddos — In addition to being consistently more present, I also want to be intentional about more kiddo time this coming year. I’d like to start doing 1:1 dates with each kiddo, maybe 1x/month…? Seems like this should be easy, but the logistics are REAL tricky! Intending to sort out a plan for this by the end of the year, too.
  5. 10,000 paid users in #lovework — Yup, let’s try this again.

Thank you so much for caring enough to read this whole thing. Even if we don’t talk often, I appreciate you and send you love for your 2023!

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2021: Year In Review

Leadership, Legacy, Life

Hello my friends!

Wow, it’s been a whole year since I posted! Believe it or not, 2021 was the first year I haven’t posted multiple entries since I started blogging in 2005.

I hope this note finds you well as we begin a new year together.

As usual, let’s start with a review of my goals from last year…

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Goals For 2021 + Reflection

1) A little less “fight,” a little more “flow”

I’m going to mark this one a success. I feel I did a good job throughout the year of paying attention to the contrast of drawing from my interior power instead of pushing with external force; I tried hard to note when to go with the flow and when to speak up and express my truth. This will be an ongoing exercise for me, but I feel much stronger in my ability to do this effectively after a solid year of practice.

2) Start learning jazz piano

I didn’t go much further than “start,” but I did get started! I found a teacher I like, and had exactly two lessons before I decided I didn’t have the time and bandwidth to properly put towards this endeavor. I am still very committed to doing this more completely in the next couple years.

3) Take a long vacation on a beach

I wasn’t this specific in my publicly-posted goal last year, but privately I set an intention to go to Mexico for my 40th birthday in June with a romantic partner, and the universe conspired with me because that’s exactly what happened. I also started a new tradition that I will make at least a once-a-year occurrence: a solo trip of some kind where I am intentionally experiencing solitude and time to recharge my individual battery.

4) Continue good workout habits

Overall, this was a success. I developed a pretty solid rotation of a short workout via an app and Apple Fitness+ (usually HIIT). In my company, we also started working with a yoga instructor to do a 30-minute session with our team every week over Zoom, which was incredibly enjoyable and is something we’re still continuing into this year!

5) Build more relationships

I accomplished this in multiple ways. Since early last year, I’ve been building a new romantic relationship that has been fun, deep, and incredibly meaningful. Through that relationship, I also made a number of new friends as I got back out into the world a bit: going to shows, festivals, parties, and even a road trip. On the business front, we invited a number of new “work friends” (i.e. colleagues) into the company, and I also built relationships with a some very interesting people in the investor community. I still want to work more on building more new friendships in Denver, but I believe that will happen more organically now that we’re nearing the endemic stage of this crazy COVID thing.

6) Orbit the entire Helios biz around #lovework

We did this in some really big ways last year. It mostly happened behind the scenes — it’s an absurd amount of work to pivot a company in the way we have, especially in such a condensed timeframe and with the corresponding pressure from a pandemic — but the fruits of our labor will be much more publicly-visible in 2022 as we bring the #lovework product more fully to the world.

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Notable Events From 2021

  • Flood in my house — Right around Valentine’s Day, something strange happened in my 3rd floor laundry room and water ended up pouring down through the walls on all three levels. This also happened to be at the same time as a bitter cold front rolled through Denver (below-zero degree temps) so everything was frozen… like, “tiny icicles hanging from my garage ceiling” frozen. Fortunately my home insurance covered most of the cost, but it was a multi-month process to get my house put back together!
  • Staycation — As mentioned above, I discovered a new tradition for a solo recharge trip. In 2021, that came in the form of a long weekend “staycation” at a local Denver hotel/spa… maybe I’ll wander a bit further from home for this in 2022…
  • New romantic partner — This was without question the most transformative part of my year. I’ve learned so much from this relationship already, and I feel sooo amazingly lucky that we somehow met each other (ask me sometime and I’ll tell you the story).
  • COVID vaccine — I was thrilled to get the Pfizer vaccine as early as I did. For someone like me with health-related anxiety, the vaccine did a ton to move my mental wellness in a positive direction.
  • Mexico trip — Mentioned above of course. I definitely need a LOT more beach in my life, y’all… something about the ocean is pure healing for me.
  • Cat Café — My youngest daughter loooves kitties, so we took her to the local Cat Cafe for her birthday. Cue: overwhelming adorableness.
  • Playing and singing again — I didn’t do any public performing in 2021, but it felt REALLY good to get back into playing and singing again, if only a little here and there.
  • LEGOLand — Allison and I took the kiddos on a surprise summer trip to LEGOLand. This was SO very much fun, and I’m deeply grateful Allison and I can do things like this together.
  • True Power Mastermind — My friend Rúna created a beautiful Mastermind experience and invited me to join; this was a really transformative thing for me to be part of in the last half of 2021.
  • Festival & roadtrip — As mentioned above, I got to attend a music festival and we road-tripped through Pagosa Springs on the way back. I had been itching to get some hot springs in my life, so this was fabulous!
  • So. Much. Content. — A huge amount of my work-life last year was spent creating content for the #lovework app. I am very glad I did it, but wow… the scope of that project made writing a book feel easy.
  • Holiday Disneyland — The romantic partner and I took my kiddos to Disneyland at holiday time. I’m already experiencing so much joy from the beautiful memories created by this trip. I was also reminded of my deep love for travel, and I’m thrilled by the possibility of including my kids more on future trips… they are becoming great little travelers. Side note on this topic: my friend Mark posted a quote that really impacted me — he said, “I used to prioritize my schedule. Now I schedule my priorities.” Taking this advice to heart was the singular reason I did the kiddo trip, and I am very committed to living my life in a way where I schedule my priorities moving forward.

Priorities/Intentions/Goals For 2022

  1. More physical fitness — Now that I’m, ahem, officially in my 40’s (but just barely, thankyouverymuch!), it’s definitely necessary to keep up my physical fitness habits. Might even work on a few vanity projects this year… no time like winter to get ready for pool season, right!?
  2. Buy a beach property in Mexico — This feels like a bit of a stretch, but I’m gonna put it out there: I want to buy a property somewhere on the Yucatán peninsula before the end of 2022.
  3. Get back to Europe for pleasure — It’s been far too long since I’ve set foot in Europe. Specifically I want to visit Amsterdam again, but maybe I can visit a few other places while I’m there, too…
  4. Build relationships — Continue to put myself out there more, making more new friends, reconnecting with old friends, and deepening the most important relationships in my life. More love, y’all… more love.
  5. Create great memories with kiddos — I don’t have specific plans for how I want to do this yet (other than hopefully another holiday Disney trip next winter!), but I absolutely want/need to do more day-trips and travel with my kiddos… it brings me so much joy.
  6. 10,000 paid users in #lovework — On the work-front, 2022 is when we start really helping large numbers of people learn how to love work. Our goal is to have at least 10k paid users by the end of the year, but we’ll see… maybe we can do more!

Thank you so much for reading this.

I wish you light and love in 2022, and if we haven’t talked in awhile please reach out! 🧡

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