Begin Planning Your Retirement Party Now

The retirement party is in full swing. Associates from throughout the organization have gathered to celebrate and extend best wishes to Bob, a great leader who is retiring. The room is packed.

One by one people go to the front of the room, grab the microphone, and begin talking about the impact that Bob made on them. Some of the stories they tell are funny, some are serious, but every one of them is personal. One person talks about how Bob provided compassion and encouragement during a tough time. Another says that she is thankful that Bob demanded her best and would not accept mediocrity. Someone else states that Bob listened to him and changed his stance on an issue. Another person remembers the time Bob sent a personal congratulation note to her son for his graduation. Someone else talks about a time that Bob made a serious mistake but owned up to it, learned from it, and became a better leader because of the experience.

Other team members begin their speeches with: I remember . . . ; You took the time to . . . ; You helped me . . . ; Ill never forget . . . ; You cared enough to . . . ; and so on.

No one spoke about successful or failed strategies. No one mentioned a successful or failed marketing program. There were no toasts to celebrate winning an account. The evening was filled with personal stories of how Bob treated each person individually.

Meanwhile, in the same building, another retirement party is going on. The party is a not a retirement celebration. It is a celebration that a leader has retired. In fact, the leader who is retiring was not even invited to the party. He did the same job and worked just as hard as Bob. But he chose to do it differently. He was a jerk.

Which retirement party do you want?

Bob understood that leadership was not about him. His primary interest was not in the accumulation of power—it was in developing his people to become their very best. The other retiree was more interested in the accumulation of power and wealth than helping those around him become their best. Typically, jerks are greedy and interested in only themselves. They act and react without thinking. Jerks enjoy taking the easy road and are quick to blame others.

That is not you. You are a great person with honorable intentions, but sometimes you may come across differently than what you really are. Unfortunately, everyone occasionally and unintentionally comes across like a jerk. Even Bob appeared to be a jerk at times. The difference in the two retirees was how often they appeared to be jerks and how quickly they recovered when their jerk moment appeared. Bob’s jerk moments were rare, temporary, and he recovered from them quickly. His team knew that regardless of the temporary jerk moment, he had their best interest in mind. The other retiree’s team knew that his jerk moment was just another ordinary day.

You may be thinking that some jerks achieve extraordinary results. After all, you have heard that nice guys finish last. Yes, some jerks have achieved extraordinary results. You may be a marketing genius, fabulous communicator, and incredible visionary. Regardless, people in your organization will probably not stick around for long if you choose the bullying, arrogant, insulting, and uncompromising leadership route.

Excerpted from The First Two Rules of Leadership. Don’t Be Stupid. Don’t Be a Jerk by David Cottrell Wiley 2016

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Become more optimistic!

Here are two quick actions you can take to become more optimistic.

First, talk to yourself in the same manner and with the same words you would use to encourage your best friend. If you are like most, you’re far more careful and considerate with what you say to others than with what you say to yourself. Typically, a large percentage of self-talk is negative: I can’t, I won’t, I wish, I’m not good enough,etc. Your best friend would never talk to you like that, and you would never talk to anyone else using the harmful words that you tell yourself. 

When you get discouraged, ask yourself what your best friend would say to you, and then say it to yourself. It will make a difference in your ability to become the person you want to be. 

Second, look around. You’ll see that there are plenty of things to be optimistic about. If you list five things you’re grateful for and dwell on them for a few minutes twice a day, your attitude will improve dramatically. Just five things. Taking a couple of minutes for gratitude will help change your perspective. 

Why twice a day? If you acknowledge five blessings before arriving at work, your day will naturally begin better. In addition, before you open your door at home after work, do the same exercise. Even if you had a lousy day, refocusing on the positive things in your life will help prevent work issues from destroying your family time. The most important gift you can give your family is yourself. Give them your best, not just your leftovers from work. 

Learn more about how to become an optimistic person. Order  Quit Drifting, Lift the Fog, and Get Luckytoday from AmazonBarnes & NobleCornerStoneLeadership, or through your local bookstore.

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Wisdom from the Nineteenth Hole

Golf is harsh. You can’t quit and go home if you are having a rough day. 

A day of golf typically ends at the nineteenth hole. It is the setting of a plethora of whining, mumbling, and groaning. Regardless of who wins, there is little room for bragging because those who lost dominate the conversation. 

It is weird, but after the round, the worse someone played, the more they want to talk about it.

Here is an excerpt from Fairways, Greens, Lost Balls, & Bad Lies about wisdom from the Nineteenth Hole: 

On the terrace outside you can attend a handicap management session. Mac, the local guru of sandbagging is the professor. He plays the handicap system like a cheap violin. 

Mac’s first insight is simple yet profound. “Never make a putt you don’t need. As soon as the ball rolls beyond the hole, complain under your breath but loud enough for all to hear, you pulled the putt.” According to the guru, pulled putts are easier to fake than pushed putts. 

He then teaches, “Immediately after hitting your drive on No. 17, switch your rangefinder selection from yards to meters. When you are ready to hit your next shot, read the distance to the pin in meters which is flashing in your rangefinder. Then, hit your normal yardage shot to the green. The difference in the distance of meters instead of yards, guarantees your shot will land short of the green. If you are lucky, the ball will bury in a greenside bunker.” Everyone on the terrace is oohing and aahing. They love the plan. 

Mac asks his students for quiet. Then he sips his longneck Lone Star Beer before explaining the key to the strategy. “You must pose as though you hit the shot perfectly. When it comes up woefully short of the green, act like you can’t believe it. Stare at your club for a minimum of six seconds before slamming it into your bag in disgust. No one will ever suspect you intentionally hit the ball short.” 

After taking a short break to answer a few questions, Mac resumed. “If you follow my directions, your handicap will become tournament ready. Remember, pull all putts you don’t need to make and whine when you miss. Switch your rangefinder to meters on the 17th tee. Pose like a champion after hitting your second shot, and act like a baby when it falls short. You, too, can get your handicap where it needs to be.” Brilliant, genius, magnificent, and other adjectives are shouted. 

The players putting on No. 18 green below the terrace look up to see what all the commotion is about. They recognize the guru and tip their hats with respect. A couple of them were grinning because they had just pulled putts they didn’t need to make.

If you like golf, you’ll love this book!  Reading this book will lift your spirits, and you may stumble upon a tip or two that will improve your handicap.  

Order it today on Amazon, CornerStoneLeadership, or your local bookstore. Kindle and Audible versions are also available on Amazon. I hope you enjoy! 

New Golf Clubs!

Everyone enjoys buying new golf clubs. The shiny new look and tacky feel of the latest and greatest is the game-changing answer to your game. New clubs give you the right to throw away the bad memories of how your old clubs disappointed you. But sometimes new clubs are not the answer.

Here is an excerpt from Fairways, Greens, Lost Balls, & Bad Lies about buying new golf clubs: 

Strange things happen when you are considering new golf clubs. 

When you hit a demo club or any club that is not yours, every shot is solid, pure beauty. You are thrilled, certain you have discovered the key to playing championship golf. You persuade yourself you can’t live a wonderful life without the newest technology. You buy it. 

There is one problem. I am convinced that new clubs have a special chip, provided by Bill Gates, inserted in the head of each club. When your payment for the club clears the bank, exactly three rounds later the chip activates. It doesn’t matter if the three rounds occur within a week or a year. Upon activation, the new club magic vanishes into the solar system, and the spectacular shots disappear never to be experienced again until Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos find it somewhere out there. You may think that everyone would learn the secret of the special chip. No one talks about it. If you Google asking about the chip, there are no responses. Golfers will not admit to anyone that new expensive clubs don’t work any better than the old ones did. 

If you like golf, you’ll love this book!  Golf stories are remembered long after scores are forgotten. Reading this book will lift your spirit! And you may stumble upon a tip or two that will improve your handicap.  

Order it today on Amazon, CornerStoneLeadership, or your local bookstore. Kindle and Audible versions are also available on Amazon. I hope you enjoy! 

Slow Golfers – Please just hit the ball!

Does any golfer enjoy waiting to hit every shot?  Probably not.

Here is an excerpt from Fairways, Greens, Lost Balls, & Bad Lies regarding slow golfers:

Occasionally we are paired with a golfer who slows us down. We call him Brain Delay. Brain Delay approaches every shot as though it is the determining shot for him to make the cut in the U.S. Open. 

Before he hits his drive, he checks the satellite coordinates, takes five practice swings, throws grass in the air to measure the wind, waggles four times, and repeats the same process at least twice before hitting his tee shot, which goes about 240 yards if he gets it all. If we are lucky, his phone doesn’t ring while he is going through all of his shenanigans. 

Most of the time, the next thing we do is help him find his ball. He hits it so deep into the woods or weeds that even St. Anthony could not find it. We tell him to just play another ball, but he transforms into Mr. Ball Hawk exploring to find other people’s lost golf balls. 

Finally, he pulls out a scuffed-up Pinnacle he found in the woods and drops it on the fairway. Then he methodically reads and re-reads his range finder to make sure the distance for his next shot is 142 yards (not 144 or 139) before he hits a shot that goes 129. When he reaches his ball after that shot, he will then read and re-read his range finder to make sure his remaining distance is 13 yards, before checking the wind to see if it has changed direction since his last shot. 

When he reaches the green, he stalks his putt. He slowly sneaks up on the ball like he is a praying mantis stalking a fly, afraid any quick movement would scare it away. He evaluates the putt from the north, south, east, and west. He squats behind the ball with his putter hanging, closes one eye, and plumb bobs his line. Then he walks toward the hole, straddles his putt’s line, and supposedly evaluates the putt’s break with his feet. Next, he puts three fingers up while closing his other eye. He finally concludes that the putt is a double breaker, so he will play it straight. After all that, he forgets to hit the putt hard enough, and it comes up five feet short of the hole. 

He actually believes every cart girl can’t wait to see him. Are you kidding me? He thinks he is as fashionable as Travis Mathew, but he is wearing a blue-and-white polka dot shirt that looks like he bought it from Ron Burgundy from Anchorman. His shorts expose his white legs that resemble out-of-bounds stakes. By the end of the day, the sun will toast them the color of penalty area markers. I assure you, the cart girls are not anxiously awaiting his arrival. 

If you like golf, you’ll love this book. Reading it will lift your spirits, and you may stumble upon a tip or two that will improve your game.  

Please order it today on Amazon, CornerStoneLeadership, or your local bookstore. Kindle and Audible versions are also available on Amazon. I hope you enjoy! 

If you like golf, you’ll love this book!

Fairways, Greens, Lost Balls & Bad Lies is a new, fresh, amusing, and entertaining story about golfers just like your golf comrades. You will read about adventures of friends who share the thrill and torture of playing the game we love.  

“The most delightful and humorous golf book I’ve read.”  That is what David Cook, author and producer of Seven Days in Utopia said about Fairways, Greens, Lost Balls, & Bad Lies.

If you like golf, you’ll love this book. Reading it will lift your spirits, and you may stumble upon a tip or two that will improve your game.  

Please order it today on Amazon, CornerStoneLeadership, or your local bookstore. Kindle and Audible versions are also available on Amazon.  

FREE! Quit Drifting, Lift the Fog, and Get Lucky Reproducible Book Study Participant and Facilitator Guides!

You can lead your discussion group at work, home, school, or church through Quit Drifting, Lift the Fog, and Get Lucky with our free, five-session, small-group guide, and reproducible handouts.

You do not have to be an expert facilitator to lead your group. The FREE small-group guides provide everything you need.  A PowerPoint presentation is also available for purchase.

Visit CornerStoneLeadership.com to download your free guides.

Occam’s Razor

How can you become the person you want to be? The answer may be right in front of you, camouflaged by things that are not real. Make sure you don’t stagnate because of your fear of situations that are not going to happen.

English philosopher William of Ockham is credited with Occam’s razor theory. In a nutshell, the theory states that the simplest explanation of a problem is likely more accurate than a complex explanation. He “shaves away” the common explanations before spending time and resources on rationalizations that require more assumptions. Albert Einstein had a similar philosophy when he advised: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

In medicine, doctors are taught to use Occam’s razor in illness diagnosis. The doctor looks first to the most common cause and moves to the next alternative only after ruling out the most common cause. Except in rare cases, a diagnosis of a common illness is the result.

What does Occam’s razor have to do with you? If you want to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be, start looking to improve the simple things.

Ask yourself: What am I doing today that is preventing me from being the person I want to be?  What can I do differently? The solution begins with you. More than likely, no uncommon conspiracy is preventing you from being your very best. You have control over your actions, so take control. 

Don’t try to complicate what is within your control. Beginning today, take control of what you can control and quit blaming and justifying. You will see your results improve immediately.

Learn more about how you can become the person you want to be. Order Quit Drifting, Lift the Fog, and Get Lucky today from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CornerStoneLeadership, or through your local bookstore.

Special price – $15.95 (Reg. $22.00)

Doer or Drifter?

Are you a doer who is on a mission to achieve your clearly defined goals? Or are you a drifter who allows external circumstances to determine your next move?

Finding and pursuing your purpose is essential to success and happiness. Your purpose is more than a wish; it’s your guide that powers everything of importance. Even though your purpose evolves throughout your life stages, it doesn’t change based on temporary events that occur during each stage.

I’ve seen people who have not identified a priority that they would put above everything. Then, when the next hot deal comes along, they overreact. If you’re consistently creating a new reason for being, you don’t have a compass that reveals the true direction of where you’re heading. You may believe you’re winning, but you’re not winning at all.

Without a clear and consistent purpose, you will drift. You’ll move wherever the winds of the moment take you. That’s not a good or productive way to exist. No one I’ve ever known planned to become mediocre, but most people who don’t have a clearly defined purpose unintentionally allow mediocrity to seep in as they drift along.

The following story illustrates my point:

A couple was vacationing in Hawaii. Neither of them was a beach veteran, but they decided to try snorkeling. Before going into the ocean on their own, they took snorkeling lessons in the safety of their hotel pool. Soon they were prepared for their adventure. They got their fins on and masks ready and headed toward the Pacific to discover the unseen beauty of the ocean’s depths.

They were having a great time. No one else was snorkeling in the area. In fact, there was no one within sight. The water was perfect—calm, gentle, and relaxing. As the couple snorkeled face-down in the water, they were fascinated by the radiantly colored fish, spectacular plant life, and coral reef. It was a remarkable experience, but it was about to become unforgettable.

The guy lifted his head from the water and looked around. He quickly realized they had drifted out to sea. He could barely see their hotel in the distance. His wife was only a couple of yards from him. When he got her attention, she looked up and immediately recognized the dangerous situation they were in.

Their relaxing snorkeling adventure was over. They began swimming for their lives toward the shore. They swam for quite a while before finally reaching shallow water, where they could stand up and walk to the beach. Once they reached the beach safely, they collapsed in the sand, totally exhausted.

When they woke up that morning, they had no idea what was in store for them. They were near disaster while enjoying what they thought was a peaceful, relaxing time. They had drifted without realizing what was happening to them until they looked up. Then they were shocked to find they were not where they began and certainly not where they intended to be.

Most people drift occasionally. However, rarely does anyone drift to a destination they would have chosen. They get caught up in their day-to-day activities and become distracted, disoriented, and lose perspective. Then, they look up to discover they’re a long way from where they thought they’d be.

Life doesn’t have to be that way. You can choose to drift or choose to live and work with meaning and purpose. A clearly defined purpose allows you to intervene in any drift that may come your way.

Learn more about how you can quit drifting and become the person you want to be. Order Quit Drifting, Lift the Fog, and Get Lucky today from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CornerStoneLeadership, or through your local bookstore.

Special price – $15.95 (Reg. $22.00)

Change is good … You go first.

Change is Good … You Go First was the pithy title of a book several years ago. As creative as the title is, the candor that it infers is even more true. Who wants to change? Without a crisis, why change? If we must change, you lead the charge. 

I believe we should hug change when it comes our way. Change is usually resisted because we are confined to our own perspective, personal experiences, and data points. For instance, if you were raised in a military family, your perception of normal is based on the experiences you had growing up. If you were raised in a small rural town, your data points are small-town experiences. If you were raised in a large urban city, your opinions are formed by completely different data points. You also have data points based on the size of your family and your place in it, such as oldest, middle child, etc., as well as the gender of family members, religion, ethnicity, and significant personal events that molded your thinking. In most cases, your beliefs and ideas are generated from a small sample size of people whose experiences are like yours.

When a change comes along, foreign data points are introduced. A natural reaction to basically anything new and different is intimidation. When you expand your data points, your knowledge and wisdom are increased proportionately. However, even with new information the passion and pride of your traditional viewpoint may subconsciously overrule your ability to endorse a new perspective.

If you want long-term success and happiness, you must continually make changes. I’ve seen people hunker down, refuse to change, and wind up losing everything. They keep trying to saw sawdust at the risk of losing everything.

Change should be hugged and welcomed, even when things are going well. John F. Kennedy once said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” There is a lot of wisdom in that simple statement. Most people won’t even think about their roof until rain is dripping on their sofa and flooding the floors. Then, they have to repair the roof, the sofa, and the carpet. They would rather do anything but change…even if a disaster is coming.

In order to grow, you must let go of your comfortable, traditional ways of thinking. That’s the beginning of progress. Change should be embraced and hugged without fear. It allows you to move forward and look to the future with confidence.

Since things will change, why not hug change when it shows up?

Learn more about how to hug change and become the person you want to be. Order Quit Drifting, Lift the Fog, and Get Lucky today from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CornerStoneLeadership, or through your local bookstore.

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My friend Phil

Being great in small things is among the best traits of the most remarkable people. You, too, can stand out from everyone else by doing just a little more than people expect.

Phil is a friend and one of the most amazing people I have ever known.  I consider him the gold standard of being great in small things.

I have thought a lot about what makes Phil so exceptional. My conclusion is that he is extraordinary because he is naturally friendly, well trained, and an avid reader. But he has a greater talent. I think Phil’s main quality is that he loves his work, and it shows. He once told me: “I love going to work because I get to meet more new people every day.”

Phil is a terrific example of how happiness at work begins before you leave home.

Most people say they “have to go to work.” Do they?  Of course, you have a duty to make a living. But if you continually say you “have to,” you reinforce that you’re required to do something you don’t want to do. I would be shocked if Phil ever woke up and told his wife, Amy, that he had to go to work, even though work is necessary to pay his bills. It may sound like a minor thing, but “having to go to work” is a negative way of looking at something important in your life. I bet as soon as Phil wakes up, he smiles and tells Amy, “I get to go to work again!”

To be great, you must be like Phil and love what you are doing. What if you changed your attitude from “I have to go to work” to “I get to go to work”? That one attitude adjustment transforms you from being a victim who must work into an optimist who acknowledges that work is a gift and a privilege. This small thing can make a huge difference for you and those around you.

Learn more about how to be great in small things and become the person you want to be. Order Quit Drifting, Lift the Fog, and Get Lucky today from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CornerStoneLeadership, or through your local bookstore.

Special price – $15.95 (Reg. $22.00)