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

Thanksgiving Week 2020

Thanksgiving 2019 feels like a few decades ago doesn’t it?  This has been one CRAZY year that has stretched our sanity to the max. Staring into the near future produces quite a bit of angst as well. Regardless of our level of anxiety, one thing is for sure – we still have plenty to be grateful for right now.

Here are three blessings at the top of my list:

  1. I live in the greatest country on earth.  Even with our disagreements and quirks, who would trade the USA for anywhere else?  I wouldn’t. 
  2. I have a wonderful family.  Madeline and my family is quite large – six children, six in-laws, 14 grandchildren plus two on the way. We are richly blessed.
  3. I am thankful for you.  Somewhere along the way our paths have crossed. Maybe we grew up together, schooled together, worked together or perhaps you have read some of my work.  Regardless, thank you for sticking with me!

Who knows what’s ahead?  Hopefully the virus will be long gone by Thanksgiving 2021.  Hopefully the Presidential transition or continuation will be relatively smooth. And, hopefully the gap between ideologically different thoughts with be narrowed with more respectful understandings.

Most of our fears will eventually dissipate. Fear and overreaction is a natural response to the unknown and we have been living in the unknown land for quite a while. Piled onto our fear is fatigue which impacts how clearly we are able to see things. 

Fueling even more fear is our reaction to information that is not entirely accurate.  We choose our sources and listen to what we want to hear, socialize with people similar to us, and worship with those who agree on the same social issues.  That is not necessarily bad, but it creates an insulated personal world where reality is not as bad… or as good… as it is portrayed on whichever side you believe.

Some things are worthy of fear and anxiety.  However, I believe that most fear is based more on predictions, assumptions, rumors, gossip, and opinions than facts. Conspiracy theories are intriguing and generate ratings, comments, likes, and shares.  However, when you look backwards and see how have they lined up with the facts of what actually happened, the conspiracy record is not so great.

Together we can make America even greater.  We can be greater at valuing lives of all colors and ages – including the lives of unborn babies.  We can do better by adhering to law and order. We can make our cities safer.  We can work together to defend our constitutional rights. We can work harder to live peacefully together.  We can be nicer and more compassionate to each other.

Don’t you think we can all do a little better?

Our lives will continue to move on.  We have work to do, issues to solve, and wounds to heal. We will have plenty of other work, issues, and wounds after the next election or crisis and the next and the next.

I hope during this Thanksgiving week you will take a few minutes to quiet the fears of your future and dwell on your blessings of today. Take a minute to call someone who you may have disagreed with and provide them a little nudge of encouragement.  You may be surprised to discover a smile and fist bump of encouragement coming right back at you.

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Resolutions to Habits


Do you want 2017 to be your best year? Of course.  But, what can you do differently? Begin by answering the following questions:

How do you feel about yourself? If you don’t feel good about yourself, figure out why. What is missing? Take responsibility – nobody can make you happy, it is futile to look elsewhere to find happiness. There is something that can be done and there is something that you can do to address your emptiness. Take charge.

What are you giving? Think of those people whom you love to be around. What do they do to make you feel that way? Chances are they are enthusiastic, happy, encouragers who take the time to demonstrate that they care about you. You can do the same for someone else. You can be an enthusiastic encourager. It is almost impossible to feel bad about yourself when you are helping others feel good about themselves.

Who are you hanging out with? You respond to life similar to those you spend the most time with. That could be a blessing or a curse. If you want to be negative and cynical, hang with negative and cynical people. If you want to be a positive problem solver, hang with positive problem solving people. It is pretty simple. You will be a reflection of those you chose to be around.

How do you handle conflict? Conflicts happen in every relationship – can you ask for forgiveness? Can you forgive and let it go? Forgiveness is the “oil” of relationships … don’t let a disagreement destroy your life.

Don’t brood over mistakes, carry grudges or harbor hate. Take charge of how you feel about yourself. Encourage others. Hang with positive people. Settle conflicts quickly. You can make 2017 the best year of your life!

Recommended reading Monday Morning Choices. Available at or everywhere books are sold.

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