“Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

Many of the ‘smartest’ executives I know have the greatest difficulty seeing the genius in the people around them.  I see this especially with grit-based leaders, who often suffer from what I call “smart people’s disease.”  It’s an affliction of the very intelligent, who feel they are surrounded by people who just don’t measure up to their standards.  They have succeeded by knowing what they know, doing what they do in the way they do it, and acting and thinking as quickly as they think and act.  And they assume that everyone else should and could do the same.  In other words, they are expecting fish to climb trees.

As long as these leaders expect others to be carbon copies of themselves, they will be endlessly disappointed.  They will also be unable to recognize, cultivate and leverage the sheer mastery all around them.   And, as Einstein says, they will also be making a lot of geniuses feel stupid.  This benefits absolutely no one.

What about you?

Try making a list of all the people in your world (staff, colleagues, bosses etc.) whom you feel just ‘don’t get it.’

Identify exactly what it is that each of these folks doesn’t ‘get.’

Then, identify at least one area of “genius” in each of the people you’ve listed.  If you can’t find it, you haven’t looked hard enough.

How does that help you see this person differently?

As a leader, what can you do to help this person utilize his/her genius?   How can you more intelligently and respectfully leverage that genius to benefit the team or the organization?

And if there really is no place for this ‘fish’ in your team or organization, then how can you help them find the water where they can really swim?

Escape the illusion of balance and the tyranny of multi-tasking

Here is an excellent article, written by a career coach, that dispels the myth of balance and urges you to use “focus” as a way to navigate the many demands on your time and attention.


The Limitations of Willpower

It’s New Year’s Day.  The day when we set goals and start to martial our willpower to achieving them. If you are naturally driven and focused, you’re probably one of those rare folks who actually accomplishes her New Year’s Resolutions.  Willpower can be a real force for good, especially as a leader.  Driving and self-discipline allow you achieve more, reach higher heights, and do it all in less time.  And it can propel your team into doing the same.  In our organizations and culture at large, ‘drive’ has very positive connotations.

But is it possible to have too much drive?  Absolutely.  It is possible to impose your own goals, timing and standards so rigidly that you actually slow progress down.  When this happens, you’ll experience the downside of ‘drive:’ driving people away, driving yourself and others to exhaustion, driving productivity and morale down.   If you overuse them, drive and willpower can wreak havoc – on productivity, relationships and personal well-being.

What about you?

  • How do you know if you’re “over-powering” in your leadership and your life?
  • And how do you find out before it’s too late?
  • What are the signals, both from within yourself and from the external world, that you’re nearing or crossing the line?

Examining these questions in depth now could save you from having to recover later from personal burn-out, damaged relationships, or an all-out career derailment.