leadership incorporated blog

September 23, 2012

The Re-entry Phenomenon: Coming Back Strong After A Crisis

It’s been one tough summer.

In the last several months, my family has supported both my force-of-nature mother-in-law and incredibly strong father-in-law (and our dear family cat) through intense illnesses and facilitated them in passing on in the most positive, loving, supportive environment possible.

In the middle of all this, we also moved our eldest off to college and have facilitated him through a series of life-rocking transitions. And I had some surgery to solve a neck/shoulder problem.

Now, after several months of immersion in family life, it seems that the crises have passed, the fog is lifting and we are surveying the damage and realizing that it’s time to come back to our lives in progress.

Maybe you’ve been here before. Sometimes events beyond our control pull us away from life and work as we know them and immerse us in another reality. Then —often suddenly — the emergent circumstances wrap up and we find ourselves changed, contemplating a new normal and trying to figure out how to integrate ourselves into it.

My wonderful husband, Michael Leventhal (of MC Squared Law & Consulting, a digital media law & business consulting firm) and I have talked a lot about what’s changed, the challenges facing us now, and how to approach our comeback. We realized that this “re-entry phenomenon” in its broadest strokes also applies in other situations:

  • Having a baby
  • A significant illness or injury
  • The loss of a client
  • The loss of a job
  • The loss of a business partner
  • The end of a project

Can you relate?

A few of the biggest, most common challenges:

  1. You’ve formed new habits that aren’t compatible with normal life. For example, our sleeping and waking patterns have shifted in ways that are inconsistent with normal working hours.
  2. Residual feelings flow over you in unpredictable waves. Seemingly unrelated comments or images trigger powerful memories. Sadness, loss, guilt, stress can take you by surprise and leave you feeling exhausted and in need of a nap. Not exactly a great recipe for productivity.
  3. You have fear stories and other thoughts that get in the way of getting back to work and life. You may worry that people have felt underserved or needed to move on without you. You may believe that you have lost your momentum and don’t know how to get it back. These stories can shake your confidence, and paralyze you from taking even baby steps that lead back to life.

The power of ritual. In the Jewish tradition, there is a three-phase process prescribed for mourners. First, you immerse yourself in mourning for a week. Over the next month you begin to incorporate normal activities at a reduced pace while refraining from certain aspects of life.  For the rest of the year that follows, the balance shifts again: more normal life, yet you keep some practices that create a structure that enables you to make a gradual and supported return.

Whether or not you believe in the religious or spiritual, this is brilliant from business leadership and coaching perspectives.

We need to process. Those who don’t have religious traditions may find themselves pressured by the world to skip some necessary steps that help us to honor what needs honoring, clear what needs clearing and rejoin our lives in a gradual way that allows for predictable discomforts and challenges and makes them acceptable and natural…thereby supporting us in our return.

How many of us force ourselves to come back from a profound break too soon and too abruptly? What is the cost to our well-being? What is the cost to our effectiveness upon our return?

In strategizing our returns, Michael and I sketched out a few practical rituals (spirituality optional) that I thought might be useful to you someday. Here they are:

Process, process, process: Talk, write, think, read, explore and otherwise immerse yourself in what you have just been through for a focused and limited time, say a week. These thoughts and feelings need to be exposed to the light. Grow with them. Don’t stuff them.

Connect and Reconnect: Your relationships are the most powerful path back into your life. Reach out to people. You don’t have to talk about what you’ve been through with everyone, perhaps only a select few. More importantly, find out what’s been happening with them.

Be of service: Shift your focus from self and family to others. How can you assist clients, colleagues, staff, friends? Rediscover your purpose and value to others.

Create with words: Get back into the language of what you do. Make a plan. Use words to talk and write about what you want to do next.

Replace habits one at a time. Prioritize the habits that will make the biggest difference, but don’t try to change them all at once. Gently, yet firmly, go one at a time. Remember it takes about 21 days to create a new habit. Be sure to reward yourself in healthy ways for success.

Reassess. This is a great time to look at what’s working, get rid of what isn’t and refocus yourself on what really matters. Create new opportunities. Nothing is as re-energizing as what you really care about.

Work the dichotomy of patience and encouragement: Allow yourself extra time and be understanding and gentle with yourself if you aren’t adapting as fast as you thought. At the same time, strongly encourage yourself to get back on your game. Most of us tend to do one or the other. Finding the balance between these two makes for the smoothest possible re-entry.

Ask for what you need. If you share, you’ll probably find that people relate. The most surprising people have stories just like yours. And if they don’t yet, they will. That’s life.

My request: I want to reconnect with you. How are you? What have you been doing while I’ve been gone? Please let me hear from you.

December 11, 2011

Go Like a Puppy

A high school freshman I know is failing two of his classes. The level of work that he used to get away with in middle school is no longer working. In the past, he could slide on the directions and still get a decent grade. That work is no longer acceptable at the high school level. 9th grade is a different animal than middle school. New skills and levels of detail are required — as are new levels of relationship and responsibility.

This student sees his new situation as a loss. He sees himself in a hostile environment, a no-win situation.

Sound familiar? For the last several years the business world has largely been in a mindset of loss. The rules have changed here, too. You might say that we’ve moved from a more forgiving “middle school experience” into a tougher “high school” environment. We’ve been plucked out of our safe spaces and thrust into unfamiliar territory in which we are no longer sure what’s expected. The stakes are higher, the consequences tougher. More is being asked.

And, like my student, many business leaders are still committed to seeing their situation from a perspective of loss: of clients, income, resources, people, security.

But what if we didn’t see it as a loss?

What if we saw this as an opportunity for personal and professional and organizational development? It’s more obvious in the student’s case, but in all situations, challenging change is an invitation. To be different. To expand. To see things from new perspectives. To ask more of ourselves. To grow. To seize different opportunities. To build new relationships. To drop outdated practices and replace them with new approaches that will support continued growth.

Of course, our losses are real and I don’t want to deny or diminish them. But, the loss is not the point. What we gained through the experience is the point. The point is where we are now and where we are going next.

What happens to us when we focus on the loss? We get stuck. Our attention remains backward-focused. We develop stories of ourselves and our environments that are no longer true. By focusing on what was, we miss what is.

And is it true that anything was actually lost? Could it be more true that whatever was, had its life and was only ever meant to last the time it did? What if what we see as lost was actually meant to give us the tools to face whatever is coming next?

Things come to go. Change is the way of life on planet earth. Resisting the change only gets in our way.

As my dear friend Lee said upon being diagnosed with one of the biggest challenging changes there is: terminal cancer, “I’m going into it like a puppy.”

By which she meant: with curiosity, openness and enthusiasm.

She was onto a profound truth that applies to every aspect of life, especially creating business. You can’t lose in moving forward if you follow these 5 simple steps:

1. Appreciate where you’ve been

2. Learn from it

3. Look for the opportunity ahead

4. Go like a puppy

5. Repeat


February 6, 2011

Why your first act in any leadership role (or any role) should be designing your exit strategy

This week I found myself in several conversations with clients about exit strategies.

As often as I hear from leaders who want to create something they can retire from or hand over to someone who can take it even further, I also hear from people who feel they are reaching the limits of their growth within an organization. I hear from directors who feel they’ve taken their team, department or company as far as they can with their current situation and constraints. I hear from people who feel frustrated and ineffective and stuck.

When I mention exit strategy, often people balk. They feel that planning an exit is somehow disloyal. Quite the opposite! Having a strong exit strategy in place will:

  • facilitate the growth of your organization
  • enhance your personal and professional growth
  • positively impact your leadership
  • help you to meet both your and your organizations’ goals and objectives
  • set you up to leave on good terms and in a way that’s best for everyone
  • make for a far more satisfying career
  • and keep you from getting to a point of complete frustration that is toxic for both you and the business

Not only is it NOT disloyal to have an exit strategy, it’s one of the most loyal actions you can take.

First of all, to think that you will never leave your company is to be in denial. We all will leave at some point, even if it’s when they carry us out on a stretcher. ( Not a desirable way to go for you or the company.)

Your best executive exit strategy may well be one that plans for you to stay with the company until you retire at 99 after having adequately prepared and transitioned to your perfect successor. An equally valid exit strategy outcome is to accomplish x, y and z for your organization and then hand over the reins and go do the same for another business. It may be to sell the company and retire. Or start another one. Or perhaps, your strategy is built on your intention of a series of promotions that lead to becoming that perfect successor for the current CEO.

Regardless of what your greatest desired outcome is, knowing how you want to leave has a profound influence on your actions during your tenure. As you might imagine, the decisions you make would be very different if you knew you intended to hand over control than if you intended to take on more responsibility.Knowing where you are heading makes you more effective. It’s really that simple.

Acting-as-if  you’re in it for the long haul, when you aren’t, doesn’t actually benefit the business— or you, either.

So, what does a potent exit strategy look like? It has the following elements:

  1. Where you are going: Your ultimate goal
  2. How you will get there: A clearly defined step-by-step path made up of objectives which lead logically to your ultimate goal
  3. What you need: The traditional (and non-traditional) requirements to reach each step. (Who says you have to take the usual path??!)
  4. Your ETA: Your ideal time frame…as well as explorations of ways and reasons to speed it up, or slow it down
  5. Who you will be along the way: What are your values? What standards will you hold yourself to? what kind of leader will you be?
  6. How you will exit at each step: Be specific (you can revise as needed) and always strive to make it a win-win
  7. What you will accomplish: When you set these intentions ahead of time, you are much more likely to meet them!
  8. What’s so great about that: Know what’s in it for both you and the organization

If you don’t already have one, I invite you to sketch out an exit strategy today. And see how it immediately impacts the choices you make and the actions you take.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and insights.

Wishing you an inspired week.


January 23, 2011

INSPIRED TO SUCCEED: Is your drive to create results getting in your way of achieving them?

Have you ever been so driven to reach your vision for growth so quickly, that you skipped steps?

Have you ever looked back to realize that you hadn’t even seen all the essential little steps along the path that you missed — and then had to compensate for?

It’s often in the nature of leadership to focus so much on scoring the home run that you neglect to touch all the bases. People who are driven to achieve results can create incredible forward motion only to arrive at a somewhat different destination than they intended OR show up to the performance only knowing half of the song. They want to start pitching business before writing (or revising) the business plan. They want to execute on ideas that excite them without exploring how (or whether) they fit into the mission. They want to execute new initiatives before they’ve fully explored (and planned for) all the potential pitfalls. They want to jump in and land their next gig without spending a lot of time or energy on knowing exactly what they are — and aren’t — looking for.

If this describes you (and it sometimes describes me) this story is for us.

I recently facilitated a workshop with the management team in a manufacturing company. We began with an activity designed to surface the challenges of communication between teams in remote locations. The task was for one person to build a structure using colored blocks then communicate to a partner how to build the same structure with a matching set of blocks, without either person being able to see what the other was doing. Two of the teams jumped right in and started directing their partners through the building process. The third team began by cataloging their blocks into colors, shapes and sizes. They made sure they each had matching blocks. They hammered out a common language to describe the various pieces. They created a strategy for working together.

I was beginning to wonder if they would even begin building before I called time. But then an amazing thing happened. They did begin to build and although they were second to finish, the total amount of time they spent in the actual building was about 1/4 of the time the building process took the other teams. They made no mistakes in the building, needed no time for corrections. And their result was a perfect replica. One of the other teams also created a matched copy, however, the third team demonstrated breakdowns in understanding and quality control that made for a hilariously mismatched structure.

Although this was a fun and harmless exercise, we only have to read the news to see that these kind of breakdowns happen in business — with much more at stake — every day.

So what’s the takeaway? Besides taking extra care to create trust, common vocabulary and other agreements among team members, the big learning is that being in a hurry to get to results doesn’t necessarily get you there faster — or get the job done right.

It doesn’t get you clients faster. It doesn’t grow your business faster. It doesn’t get you your next job faster. And the hurry can — and often does — lead to disastrous results.

What I observed with my client is totally consistent with studies that show that every 15 minutes of planning saves an hour. Perhaps this story begins to illustrate how that works.

We may feel that the time it would take us to get really clear about the results we want to create, to design a detailed and strategic path to our goals, to get others fully on board, and to prepare for breakdowns, will slow us down — but that’s just how we feel. It’s not what’s real.

Consider shifting your focus FROM the hurry to reach your vision TO making the time to create the conditions that will result in your vision. You’ll save time and breakdowns much faster than you think.





November 22, 2010

Delegating: What’s on Your To-Don’t List?

I’ve got a client who is having a hard time delegating.

It’s time for her to hire an assistant. No, it’s actually past time. She’s grown beyond her ability to handle all aspects of her business herself. She needs to manage this change. But she resists. She has her particular way of doing things that she likes. She feels vulnerable. Hiring someone will take a lot of her time. She worries about choosing someone trustworthy. What if they mess up her systems?
The truth is, she’s not even that good at organizing, and she doesn’t like it. Anyone with some basic skills could do a better job for her. And yet she resists.
Can you relate? Are there things you are doing that you don’t have to? Things you don’t like to do and that you could delegate to someone who is much better than you? Could delegating buy you time to focus on far more important things? Maybe you already have an assistant, but there are still tasks on your desk that are taking your time, sapping your energy and keeping you stuck.
My client and I are working on letting go of that resistance. Seeing the value of trusting someone to support her. Most important, I have her making a To Don’t list for herself. What things does she need to stop doing to enable her to be more effective, more impactful, more successful?  She needs to delegate those to someone who can help her go further than she can go on her own.
So that’s what she’ll be doing in the new year.
How about you? What are you hanging on to that’s getting in your way? What needs to be on your To Don’t list for you to grow in the new year?

Wishing you and yours much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

October 25, 2010

Making the Leap: 7 steps to create rapid nonlinear growth

Had enough recession? Ready to leap into growth mode? You don’t have to wait for the economy to bestow growth upon you. You can proactively bring it on.

As I’ve worked with people and organizations going through major change for over 5 years, I’ve noticed that  people are seeing the greatest results in the area of non-linear rapid growth.

What do I mean by that? Well, linear growth is the simple, steady continuation of what you’ve already been doing. And you may be able to create growth by simply dialing up your activity in your same areas and with your same clients. But sometimes this isn’t enough. Particularly in a world that is rapidly shifting in many ways, in order to grow we need to innovate, to shift, to become something new, or become a resource to someone new.

I’ve identified some steps that can help you create rapid nonlinear growth whether you are leading a middle-market organization, a smaller entrepreneurial business or simply leading yourself into a new career:

1. Perform a strengths inventory. Put aside what you think you know and do a clean reassessment. Ask  current clients and associates to tell you what you do better than anyone. What problems do you solve best?  What new skills have you developed? What old untapped skills, tools and perspectives might become useful with a fresh coat of paint? Don’t edit at this point. Surface everything you and your team can think of.

2. Identify important need trends in the marketplace. Once you have looked inside, turn your attention outwards. What’s going on out there? Look at your current client base first. Brainstorm. What needs do they have beyond the ones you’re already aware of and serving? Then look to new audiences. Who has needs that might fit your areas of strength? No editing or judging at this point. Get it all down on paper where you can work with it. I  like to scribble it all up on a large piece of butcher block paper affixed to a wall.

3. Find intersections between 1 & 2. Look for themes and new applications. Mix and match. Put on your detached perspective hat, as if you and your organization weren’t the topic. Again, no judging or editing, think up every possible way you might use your identified skills, tools, & perspectives to meet the needs of various audiences.

4. Now, create a specific vision for your growth. Specific is the operative word here. Now is the time for editing & discernment. Don’t worry yet about the how. Focus on the vision itself. What excites you? Where is your biggest possible vision? Who would you be working for/with? What will you be doing for them? What value will you create? What results will you produce? How will you be compensated? Paint a detailed picture of success.

5. Imagine that you have already achieved this picture of success. What will you and your business become once you have realized this vision? Will you be a bigger entity? Who will now be a part of your team? Will you need a bigger space? Will your brand have evolved? Will you have developed new skill sets? What new activities will you be engaged in? What new resources will you have access to? Define your future state as clearly as you possibly can.

6. Prioritize and Plan. Now that you’ve defined the objective, identify the shifts that will make the biggest difference. Also note those that may make no difference at all.  Zoom in on the former. Be creative. Don’t do this alone. Get people you trust to play devil’s advocate, to poke holes in your plans. Keep planning until you have visualized the clearest, shortest and most effective path to your picture of success.

7. Step into the change. Stop thinking that your business will change once growth comes. The secret of creating rapid growth is that if you create the change, the growth will follow. Shift now. Start thinking, acting, talking, being, and making the choices and decisions of that future state right now. And get your team doing the same.

This is not for the faint of heart. To be successful, you have to fully commit to staying on this path even if you get some “nos” early in the game. Remember that successful ventures rarely look exactly as they were envisioned. You’ll need to pay close attention to what’s working and what’s not and be able to balance staying the course with allowing your vision to evolve as you go.

As we approach the beginning of a new year, it may be time to recognize if your efforts at linear growth are actually leading you nowhere. If so, perhaps a little reinvention is exactly what you need to leap into growth.

October 4, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: 6 ways to get your innovation wheels turning

Recently I’ve had the great honor of working with a brilliant client who is the head of R&D in an organization that develops and manufactures medical devices. I’m supporting him in creating a culture of innovation in his company. So I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and thinking about innovation lately.

There are plenty of thought leaders out there who will tell you that innovation has become more essential than ever to the survival of every organization. All you have to do is look at the rate of change happening in virtually every field to know that if you aren’t riding the wave, you will be left behind. People’s needs are changing. Fast. And not only will your current competition be working hard to beat you to the solutions, new businesses will spring up with new ideas as well.

Change is the new status quo and innovation is the vehicle that allows you to ride that change.

Now, when most people talk about innovation they mean changes in their products or services. Innovation can also refer to your methods of delivering that product or service. Or your ways of getting and keeping business. Or the way you approach virtually any aspect of your business model. And innovations can be suggested by or inspired by anyone inside or outside your business…not just the “creative” people.

So the first thing to do to get your innovation wheels turning is open your mind, break through any limiting thoughts and broaden your description of what innovation might mean for you.

By the way, innovation is a relevant concept even if you’re in transition right now. Because the old ways of looking for work don’t work anymore. Those who are open to creating new approaches will prevail. (For more on this, visit http://www.layoffbounceback.com.)

Whether you are a solopreneur, or leading people in a global conglomerate that employs millions, the basic principles for encouraging innovation are the same:

1. Articulate your desire to innovate and your reasons why. Don’t just assume that anyone (including yourself) will automatically shift into a state of innovation without encouragement, reminders or connection to the vision. Put it in writing. Speak it frequently.

2. Create space. Innovation doesn’t like to be crowded. Schedule empty time for yourself and your people to allow the kind of thinking that leads to innovation.

3. Encourage failure. And then drop the word “failure” from your vocabulary. Failure = Learning. Learning leads to new approaches. New approaches lead to…you guessed it.

4. Reward new thinking, whether it moves forward or not. Don’t forget to reward yourself as well as others! Make new thinking synonymous with success and you will have many more new ideas to build success with.

5. Encourage play. Play is critical to innovation. It relaxes the mind and encourages new pathways for thought. Provide yourself and your people with the tools that encourage play. This might look like paper and markers, clay, building blocks. It might also look like a field trip to an art museum or other places where you can be inspired by the ways others have thought outside of their boxes.

Try something new this week and feel free to let me know how it goes.

September 13, 2010

Inspired To Succeed: 5 Things You Can Do To Stop Infighting, Backstabbing, Bickering and Obstructionism

Imagine you are on the leadership team of a great organization.

Perhaps that organization is approaching major change (and really, what organization isn’t tackling change now?!) It could be the exit of a strong leader, a change in the structure or ownership of the organization, a shift in the business model. At first it looks like everyone is going to rise to the occasion, but then politics threaten to tear the organization apart.

This isn’t hypothetical. It happens to many organizations each year. And although major change creates the conditions that are ripe for politics — bickering, backstabbing and obstructionism can threaten the productivity, and  the viability, of any organization.

Have you ever been in this kind of situation? What did you do? Trying to change what’s become an embedded culture of politics can seem impossible. Yet, if you’re in a position of influence, you can refocus the team for success.

Here are 5 strong requests you can make to help get a self-destructing organization back on track.

Request #1: Take personal feelings out of it. Get everyone, including yourself, to look at where you may have a personal agenda or personal hurt feelings and have the maturity to put those aside.

Request #2: Look at the inevitable outcomes if you continue on this path. It’s not hard to project what will happen if infighting and politics continue. But people lose sight in the emotion of the moment. Walking through the natural progression of the path you are on can be an excellent wake-up call.

Request #3: Reconnect with what’s at stake. What is the purpose of this organization? What will be gained if it fulfills? What will be lost if it doesn’t?

Request #4:  Remember, amend and agree to the values of the organization. What does this organization stand for? Do we need to add or change any values that will help us to stay on track? Which behaviors and principles will support our success? And which will not?

Request #5: Anyone, including yourself, who can’t put the interests of the organization ahead of your own, needs to be confronted (as kindly as possible) and agree to either correct the situation or step down.

Have the courage to ask this of the leadership team and if the people are mature and honest enough you may turn it all around, refocus, and breathe new life into the mission.

Finally — and really first — if you ‘re a leader in an organization that you care about, no matter how old or healthy you are, make a succession plan. If you don’t know experts who can help you with this, get in touch. I know some great knowledgeable people to direct you to.

August 22, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Why New Hires Fail 46% of the Time

An associate of mine was meeting with a business owner whose business was struggling.

He mentioned how onboarding principles might help her. She paused for a second, gave him a strange look, and asked, “Does it really work?”. He replied emphatically that it does. She then asked, “Do you use it with all the employees?” He responded that he requires onboarding of everyone in the company now, and they love it! “They do???” she asked, seemingly stunned.

At this point my associate looked at her right hand man who had his head down and was shaking it back and forth. He said, “Eric, she thought you said water boarding.”

She wasn’t alone in not understanding the meaning of the term onboarding. I often find that people who have years of business experience have never heard of this practice of supporting a hire or promotion in making a successful transition into their new position.

So, it’s not surprising that 46% of new hires fail within 18 months. Only 19%  achieve unequivocal success. The training most people receive upon starting a new position tends to focus on procedures and technical skills. But only 11% of people are let go because they lack technical skills. Competence doesn’t even make the top 8 list of reasons people fail.

How about you?

In your career, have you ever been let go less than 18 months into a job?

Have you ever been in a position without quite fitting in or figuring it all out?

Or perhaps you’ve been the one who hired a disappointment, but you put up with the situation anyway, perhaps for years?

What was the cost to you? To others? To the organization?

  • Financially?
  • Emotionally?
  • In lost productivity?
  • In lost opportunity?

Onboarding makes a significant difference in helping people avoid the main causes of failure: (note many new hires fail for more than one of the reasons below)

  • 75% of new hires fail because they don’t fit in with the organizational culture
  • 52% of new hires fail because they are unable to build a support team around themselves
  • 33% of new hires fail because they don’t understand expectations and prioritize accordingly
  • 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback
  • 25% fail because they lack political savvy
  • 23% of new hires fail because they’re unable to understand and manage emotions
  • 17% of new hires fail because they lack the necessary motivation to excel
  • 15% of new hires fail because they have the wrong temperament for the job

Most people don’t just naturally know how to manage change and transitions well. And most managers don’t know how to help others transition effectively, either. Many companies have no process in place for the successful assimilation of employees into the company.

Onboarding is about shortening the learning curve. Being brought onboard to an organization (or any new situation, really) in a deliberate and thoughtful way. Onboarding takes into account all aspects of the experience ahead. It supports both organization and individual by planning for success and anticipating breakdowns. It addresses the building of emotional intelligence, communication skills, relationship development and early and consistent wins, to name just a few of the areas generally overlooked in hiring.

And it compares very favorably with waterboarding as a tool for leading change.

*Statistics come from: 1) a Leadership IQ study of 5,247 hiring managers from 312 public, private,
business and healthcare organizations. Collectively these managers hired more than 20,000 employees
during the study period. 2) a Manchester Inc. Study of executives in Fortune 1000 companies

August 16, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: How To Turn Business Losses Into Wins

This week I heard the loser in a recent congressional race interviewed on the radio. As the numbers came in and it became clear he was going to lose, he received a call from former President Bill Clinton.

Clinton told him that the way he handled this loss would decide the rest of his political career. If he moped and was bitter or negative, people would feel justified in not having voted for him.

So instead, this candidate went out and, as he put it, “acted as if he’d won.” He thanked everyone profusely. He was positive and gracious. He focused on what had worked and not on what hadn’t.

You don’t have to be a fan of Clinton to see that this thinking applies to your business, as well. Whether and how people — your staff, your clients, your peers, your supervisors, your associates — will follow your lead, will trust you, and sometimes whether or not you will get a second chance, depends on how you respond when you lose; what you do when you are faced with challenges and problems and failure.

Whether you are leading an organization, in middle management or searching for your next job opportunity…

Here are some tips on how to win even as you’re losing:

Play the long game. Know that success often looks like failure from the middle. Don’t quit in the middle.

See failures as part of the process. Expect it. Perhaps more important, stop expecting not to fail. Things will always go wrong. So what?

Embrace failures as a learning experience. If you’re not failing occasionally it means you’re not taking risks. Which means you’re only doing what you’ve always done and not moving forward. Forward movement and change are essential to long-term success. So are failures.

Make failures part of your plan. And plan for what you will do when you fail. Know how you will respond now to failures you haven’t even imagined yet. Although this may sound counter-intuitive, there is almost no failure you could experience that others haven’t experienced before you. You can have a strategy in place for what you will do when the “unexpected” happens. And that will make all the difference.

Stay in the flow. Don’t stop to fight reality. Reality wins, but only every time. The clue to help you notice when  you’re fighting reality is feeling stuck. Accept your interim setbacks and look for their message for you to inspire your next move.

Associate failures with success. Some people choose to use failure as an excuse to stop trying or to shoot lower. Guess what? You can choose to use failure to learn how to do it better and keep aiming higher. That’s what the spectacularly successful people in our world have done. Click here for an incomplete list of successful people who’ve filed for bankruptcy — some over and over again.

Help those around you to embrace failures. Encourage people around you to take sane risks, find the learning and keep moving forward.

Keep your focus on the now with an eye to what’s next. Look back just long enough to get the lessons. Stay grounded in the present, with your eyes to the future.

If you keep learning in the present and stay firmly committed to winning in the long run, success is the only possible outcome.

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