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What We Can Learn from the TSA

What We Can Learn From The TSA - Clear and Open

If they won’t listen
When you speak to them
Did you make a sound?

Here’s a fun story about my own stubborn naiveté, the infamous TSA, and what it means to take ownership of responsibilities. It also helps you save a bunch of time the next time you fly, and since the TSA is too incompetent to communicate their policies proactively, I’m offering my services to them here by proxy.

I just completed a trip that involved the increasingly dehumanizing experience known as “flying,” a term that still invokes a sense of freedom and adventure despite being nowhere to be found in the air travel infrastructure.

With my shoes off, bag of liquids removed, iPad out, and pockets empty, I was ready to have a seamless experience of the art form known to some as “security theater.”

Alas, I was foiled!

On the other side of the conveyor belt, all that emerged were my liquids, my ipad, and my shoes which I gathered awkwardly, wondering what happened. I saw then a line of newly installed desks for inspection carry-on items, and a queue of a half dozen bags being ferried to those desks. My carry-on and my “personal item” (my favorite piece of airline jargon) were despondently waiting in that queue. What new bureaucratic treachery is this? I examined the examinations in progress.

It was then I learned they looked for food, like officious, uniformed hyena.

I heard an agent say the machines can’t tell the difference between food and explosives, something that the elite TSA R&D team apparently discovered through their tireless efforts since the liquid limitations implemented over twelve years ago. I’m sure they figured it out in the nick of time.

In content, I am annoyed, but I can live with the need to remove food from bags. What is inexcusable, however, is how they’ve implemented this change. Moving through security took literally twice as long because there was absolutely no communication about this policy whatsoever at both the airports I had the displeasure of using.

I forgave Maui’s OGG for this because this kind of incompetence is par for the course in Hawaii, but from SFO I expected better, and naively tried to help. As my carry-on was searched, I said, “I don’t understand. If this is the new policy, why don’t you tell people to take their food out like you do liquids and electronics? How were we supposed to know?”

“We have to inspect the food whether it’s in a bag or not,” replied the polite but insipid agent, completely missing my point.

“But wouldn’t it save time to have people remove the food like we do liquids?” Another agent overheard as she ferried another bag from the belt and chimed in.

“But then people from international would have to take apart and repack their bags.”

I see, because the food thing is not (yet) an international policy like the liquids one is.

“So instead of the minority of international people having to reorganize their bags, the majority of all passengers have their carry-ons manually inspected? I don’t think that adds up to saving time.”

“Hey, I don’t make the rules, I just follow them,” the first agent said, but what he really meant was:

“You just found the insensitivity and lack of critical thinking in my organization, and I’m too disengaged to care, therefore too incompetent to do anything, but rather than admit this, here’s an excuse that portrays me as a helpless victim who’s powerless to change the absurd stupidity in which I choose to work for half of my waking hours. Have a nice day.”

The most disappointing part for me was that he could have said:

“You know, that’s a really good point. I’m going to talk with my manager about that. I’m sorry for the hassle and thanks for your feedback.”

Even if he was lying, that would have been ostensibly good customer service. I know what you’re thinking, “Josef, it’s the TSA, what do you expect?” I know, I know, but if I didn’t think we all could do better, then I wouldn’t do what I do. That’s partially an excuse, I admit it, because there’s certainly some parts of reality I still have a difficult time accepting. So let’s sum up the lessons from this blog:

  1. Take your food out of your carry-on even though the TSA won’t ask you to save yourself time and hassle.
  2. Communicate changes to your customers before they happen.
  3. Train your employees what ownership means…ongoingly, and any time they show a lack of ownership.
  4. Speak slowly and politely to TSA agents, many of them don’t follow basic logic and can’t think for themselves.
  5. You’ll enjoy air travel more if you check your critical thinking with your bag.
  6. Train your employees to use customer feedback to make recommendations to management for change.
  7. Stay tuned for more exciting and inevitable inconveniences brought to you by the all-star cast members of TSA’s Security Theater.

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and extraordinary results in the coaching industry.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com

What You Missed In High School About Management

What You Missed In High School About Management - Clear and Open

It’s not enough to do
The right thing if it’s
Not for the right reason

Talk to any manager long enough and you’ll hear them say something like, “I can’t get my people to….” While I’m prone to rant about the deficiencies of our education system, there’s something most of us already learned that can help.

In high school social studies, you probably came across Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development. It’s simple, brilliant, and underappreciated. At this time in history, and for any manager, it’s a useful thing to revisit. It maps a continuum of maturity for how an individual morally justifies their actions. Here’s a summary, from the lowest level of morality to highest.

Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development

  1. Fear of Punishment and Obedience: Actions evaluated in terms of possible punishment. “I won’t steal because I might get caught.” “I’ll do the task because I was told to.”
  2. Personal Usefulness: Moral thinking is based on rewards and myopic self-interest. “I’ll take credit for John’s idea because it will make me look better.”
  3. Conforming to the Group: Good behavior is that which brings approval from one’s immediate group. “I’ll say I care about the vision because all the other employees are.”
  4. Law and Order: Moral judgments are based on an understanding of social order and upholding the law. “I won’t steal because it’s against the law.”
  5. Social Contract: Understanding the relativity of laws and values, and that laws and rules require rational analysis and interpretation, and are not absolute. “It’s okay to speed when it’s not dangerous and you’re responding to an emergency.”
  6. Personal Conscience: Moral judgments based on universal human rights, and self-chosen ethical principles with a high value on justice, dignity, and equality. “

The lowest two are called “pre-conventional” and is morality strictly based on first order (immediate) consequences. The middle two are “conventional” and include concern about the perception of others. The highest two are “post-conventional” and are based on abstract thinking, self-reflection, and internally sourced principles.

Maybe you’ve noticed: most people never get to post-conventional. What we’re not taught in high school is how to move ourselves and others through this model. So you’re probably thinking, “How do you do that?”

Great question: it’s a long story, but the short answer is through mentoring that includes rigorous accountability that appeals to the healthy self-interest of the individual. I almost never see this occurring in business, and it’s the reason most employees operate at low levels of maturity, therefore low levels of morality, therefore low levels of engagement, therefore produce low levels of results.

Of course, leadership means you go first, so you must be radically honest with yourself about where you are in this hierarchy before attempting to evolve others.

When you observe yourself and others make judgment calls, see if you can place what you see in Kohlberg’s hierarchy. If you see employees operate below the post-conventional phase, then you have an opportunity to challenge them not at the level of the behavior, but at the level of the thinking behind it. That’s what creates evolution and excellence

All of the Clear and Open Curriculum can be boiled down to maturation, but one course in particular that helps you do this is the Accountability Path. Start a free trial to see for yourself. Stop “disciplining” your people, holding them at low levels of morality, and help them evolve to higher ways of thinking. If you treat them like children, they’ll act like it.

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and extraordinary results in the coaching industry.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com

Truth as an Asset

Truth - Clear and Open

The greatest resource
Is free to the brave
Who behold the truth

What is your company’s most important asset? Your people? Your brand? Your intellectual property?

What if it’s none of these things? What if the most important assert were your culture’s relationship to truth? By this I mean, generally speaking, how honest people are with themselves and others.

Honesty is a quality that people tend to significantly overestimate in themselves—a.k.a. the Dunning-Kruger Effect—and perhaps never before in history has this been truer. In 2004, Ralph Keyes wrote “The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life” where he makes a compelling case for how American society is permeated with deception in ways that have become the new normal.

Have you noticed it’s gotten worse since 2004? Why?

Because deception (conscious or not) is the current normal, and truth is the most valuable asset a business has. Just like the abjectly poor customer service of national banks is an opportunity for the smaller ones to compete, courageous professionals not afraid of the truth have the ability to gain an edge.

I’ll let you in on a little secret about how I help people. It’s really simple. I just look for the truths people are hiding from. They don’t do it intentionally, and certainly not maliciously. Everybody hides until they learn not to, often the hard way. When someone hides/lies, there’s a feeling of a contraction, a “disturbance in the force” if you will. You can feel it. I’m sure you have before. Sometimes you just know someone’s lying, right?

Well, this is a skill you can develop, and it’s a useful one, too. Maybe I should teach a course on it, what do you think? Hit comment and tell me if you’re interested.

When you can sense that contraction and, in addition, lead a healthy relationship to truth in your business, you create a culture that values truth. In such a culture, people don’t make excuses, provide accurate metrics, embrace accountability, share critical information with management even when they’re afraid, etc.

Can you see how the way a person relates to truth impacts all of these things and more? As a manager, should you have to be teaching your people morality? No, ideally not, but in the “post-truth era” in which we live, if not you then who, if not now, when?

I’m committed to helping the world become a more truthful place. Will you join me? Maybe you already have. If you’re interested in joining a group of developing professionals who practice improving their relationship to the truth every week, consider becoming a Clear and Open Member. Can you handle the truth? 😉

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and extraordinary results in the coaching industry.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com

What Managers Fear Most

What Managers Fear the Worst - Clear and Open

Tell yourself not
That you embrace change
Look for where you don’t

Right now, somewhere in you, you are suffering.

And part of that pain is inevitably a resistance to change. Here, I’m going to tell you the most-resisted change that keeps leaders and managers from success.

Your relationship to change and the way your people relate to change is the most important asset you have. It is the most upstream and powerful lever you have.

Before you say you embrace change like a champ, let me caution you. Telling yourself you love change—because you know that’s a “good attitude”—is a trap because it enables you to not be curious and look at where that isn’t true for you.

It’s inevitably mixed: some change we embrace, some we fight. You’ll benefit from looking at where you fight more than focusing on what you embrace. This isn’t a positive thinking thing, it’s about getting real.

When my clients take the teachings of Clear and Open seriously, it creates change in their organization and in their life. The single greatest indicator of that change is employee turnover. I know they’re really doing it when people start quitting or get themselves terminated. When that’s not happening, usually the client is still warming up to the idea of real change.

Why is this?

When your current employees came to work “for” you, they did so under a set of conditions that includes your demeanor, your values, your management style, the culture of the business, etc. When you change any of this significantly, you change the game they signed up to play. If they are unable or unwilling to play the new game, they either quit or get themselves fired. I’ve never seen an exception to this. When they’re really doing it, they turn over 20-50% of their people, depending on the difference between the old way and the new.

Does that scare you a little bit?

Understandable: that’s your resistance to change.

When you raise the bar, not everyone will make it. If everyone makes it, you probably didn’t truly raise the bar.

I wish this weren’t true, but it is.

I’ve been coaching for over sixteen years and I’d say only about 10% of my clients were willing to take change this far. The thing they resist most is letting people go and/or changing the game such that people leave.

This is one of the fears I’ve been wrestling with related to my new design, and why I put it off as long as I did. This is likely the last blog I write with the old design. Will my new design alienate you? Will nobody like it? Will it appeal to the kind of people I want to attract?

It raises the bar for how I operate and with whom I work. Will I be able to meet its standard? Are the kind of serious, biased-for-action, no BS clients I’m looking for out there in numbers? These and many other questions and fears semi-consciously are on my mind every day we work on this. I can’t tell you how excited I am to cross the finish line when the internal wrestling match ends.

What is your fear telling you about change? And what are you saying in response? What people do you have that you’re not willing to lose, but may be holding you back?

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and extraordinary results in the coaching industry.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com

How to Make the Right Thing Easy to Do

How to Make the Right Thing Easy to Do - Clear and Open

Each moment we sow
Seeds of future goodness
Or painful regret

First, a crazy thing happened to me after I wrote this. I hope you’ll read to the end where I can tell you.

Every day, we’re faced with doing the right thing vs. the easy thing, and it’s easy to see that all the problems in our world can be reduced to when people do the latter.

  • It’s easier to pollute than to dispose of trash properly.
  • It’s easier to eat ice cream than to exercise.
  • It’s easier to watch television than to meditate.

How can you make it easier to choose the right thing? Focus on the results, not the work.

Years ago, I was driving from Santa Rosa, California to Berkeley—a drive that ought to take about an hour and a half. It took over three hours.

After sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for about ninety unnecessary minutes, I finally came to the problem. There was a tire sitting in the middle of one of the two lanes. That was all.

No accident. No ambulances. No sobriety checkpoint. No sinkhole. Just…a…tire.

I was so angry and exasperated—and relieved to see the open road beyond the tire—that I did what everyone in front of me had already done: drove around it and sped off.

I regret that moment to this day.

Of course, the right thing was to pull over, stop traffic, and roll the tire off the freeway. It might have taken four minutes. I had the opportunity to save hundreds, maybe thousands of people, hours of time and frustration, but I only thought of myself.

If it had occurred to me the opportunity I had to be a hero at that moment, I would have jumped at the chance to be it. I would still today think back at that moment and swell with pride, but instead it’s a painful reminder of where I took the easy way out (though that reminder can be useful, too).

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Instead of focusing on how hard the right thing to do is, or whatever emotions you have around it, think about how important it is. See the impact it will have. Feel it. Be it.

What is your tire in the road right now?

Hit comment and let me know. I’d love to hear about it.

P.S. About two hours after I wrote this, I left my house to do errands. I live off of a dirt road, so the first large rock I came across was uncommon but not rare. Of course, I had to stop and move it! Then after about 500 more feet, I came across two more large rocks. I moved them, too. I kid you not, I stopped a third time and moved another large rock before making my way to the famous “Road to Hana” that would take me to town.

In just a few minutes, I saw oncoming cars flash their lights. A cop? Here? Never seen that before. Nope, it was an old couch in the middle of my lane. Cars ahead of me drove around it. I stopped, flagged down the biker behind me, and we moved it. Four opportunities to move obstacles in ten minutes! What does this mean?

I’ve reflected on it a lot, and I think life gave me the opportunity to pay the debt I felt from the tire. I don’t have to regret that anymore. I also think it’s a metaphor for what’s happening in my life–getting things out of the way. And…be careful with your intentions, they’re powerful!

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and extraordinary results in the coaching industry.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com

Holding Employees Accountable – Blame Descartes

Holding Employees Accountable - Blame Descartes - Clear and Open

If you see the stream
They’re swimming in
You’ll know which way to go

“I think therefore I am.”

Most people have heard this pithy piece of philosophy, but have little idea what it means, much less how it sowed the seeds for myriad management problems.

Today, you get to blame the 17th-century French philosopher who coined the phrase, René Descartes, for all your troubles. By understanding what he started, you’ll be better able to hold your people accountable.

Did Descartes know he was paving the way for so-called alternative facts, entitlement, and aversion to accountability? Probably not, I’m sure he meant well. “I think therefore I am” was a radical assertion at the time and the dawn of subjectivism in the west. The idea is that the only thing you can count on as being real is your own mental activity. Everything else could be an illusion.

Read more

The Freedom Paradox – Millennials in Business

Clear and Open - Millennials

What if the freedom
You seek with such passion
Were impossible?

Accountability has been an issue for humans for a long time, but it’s recently becoming stickier for a reason that may make you roll your eyes: Millennials.

Hold on, I’m not running them down like so many do. Everything has a light side and a shadow.

Generally speaking, millennials are entrepreneurial, highly creative, incredibly positive, and see possibilities that very well may save the human race from its own self-destruction. But these traits inevitably create challenges like impatience, difficulty focusing, and an aversion to boundaries. Millennials love freedom and so wrestle more than most with what I call the “Freedom Paradox.”

What do you think freedom is? How would you define it? Take thirty seconds and do so right now.

Most people say something like, “Being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want.” Maybe you did, too, and that’s okay. It comes from our childhood and cultural conditioning, but not from critical thinking.

Critical thinking shows you there’s not a single person in the history of the world who enjoyed that kind of freedom.

As Voltaire—and yes, Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, too—said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The more money you have, the more responsibility you have to manage it. Hire someone to do so? Who manages them? You do. You need to sleep, eat, stay clean, etc. These are all boundaries.

Oh, and eventually you will die: that’s the ultimate boundary.

There is no escape from boundaries. Tragically, many people start businesses in the pursuit of boundarylessness they think comes when they don’t have when they work “for” someone else. What they discover is that being a boss means more boundaries, not less, than having a job.

I’ve known about this for a decade, and I’m still experiencing the shock right now, as my business expands and I find myself feeling less free. It’s what happens when one’s immature relationship to freedom is flushed out.

The lesson for many leaders and even more millennials is this: freedom happens within boundaries, not without. Until this lesson is learned, you see things like the following, especially in millennial business cultures:

  • Chronic overwhelm from the unwillingness to say “no” to opportunities and frequent changes of mind from leadership
  • Lack of accountability because managers don’t want to be “the boss” and employees think they’re operating in a consensus environment
  • Unclear roles and responsibilities because people don’t want to be boxed in, often exacerbated by friendships inappropriately transacted in the workplace
  • Managers who swing from “nice guy” to tyrant because their need to be liked stops them from giving negative feedback early on

These are all issues that have challenged entrepreneurs for a long time. Because millennials have an entrepreneurial spirit, they have these challenges in spades. If any generation is going to clean up the mess that our world has become, it’s going to be the millennials. And the price they surely need to learn along the way is that nothing comes without a price, and freedom means choosing to pay for what you get.

What freedom truly is and how to realize you already have it is one of the results you’ll get in my new course which starts tomorrow.

As a reminder, this is your LAST chance to sign up for Accountability, Metrics, Money, and Shame: Get Better Results by Living in Reality. Want to learn more? Click here.

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and extraordinary results in the coaching industry.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com

Irresistible Subject Line Designed to Make You Read

April Fool's Day

Mysterious yet
Compelling, the last line
Really makes you think.

A great subject line gets at best twenty percent of viewers this far, and you’re met with:

A pithy appeal to one of your biggest problems.

You know the one. I know the one. That way you think, “They understand what it’s like to be me.” And then the volume turns up on that pain just enough so that you want to do something about it.

Because now you can. Here’s the dramatic promise that everything can be different: you have the power, and it’s easier than you think.

Awakened is that little part of you who’s always thought it didn’t have to be this way. And after a little taste of the dream, contrast is created with more words about the pain you’re in. Now you’re left with a gap, a widening choice.

What’s it going to be?

And while you’re thinking about that, here’s an insight or two, maybe a reframe for your problem. “What if it was actually about X, not Y?” You won’t get so much as to completely solve your problem, but enough to whet your appetite and make you want more. You get hungrier to solve the problem.

And to further increase that appetite, it takes away the dream momentarily by challenging you with some kind of exclusion that stimulates the fear of missing out and/or of not being enough. It starts with phrases like, “This only works for people who…” or “For those serious about X…” which gives you pause, causing you to muster your strength to act, and preparing you for the call to action.

Finally, before your attention span wanes, here’s a specific thing you can do that is small enough to be easy but big enough to be minimally valuable, usually involving a click here to learn more. And despite all the effort, the most successful outcomes lead only a few percent to do so.

Happy April Fools Day. This message was about one thing:

Do you need to be persuaded to solve your problems, and if so, what do you make of that?

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and extraordinary results in the coaching industry.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com

How to Inspire People to Rock

How to Inspire People to Rock

What would you do
If you knew you could not
Fail?

You can change the course of someone’s life by seeing something in them they don’t see themselves, and then showing them they can do something they think they cannot.

This is the essence of great mentoring.

I spent my summers as a kid at a pool club. Anyone could go in the three foot section, but to venture into the deeper water alone, you had to pass “The Test.” [cue scary music] It was basically a fifty yard swim with a minute of water-treading at the end, and I was terrified of it, but I never said so. I tried once and failed. So I just did my best to appear content at the deepest part of the three-foot section. I was around eight years old and most kids my age had already passed the test. That was uncomfortable.

I remember my parents and other authority figures egging me on. “Take the test,” they said, “You can do it.” But I didn’t believe them. I didn’t want to fail again. Then one day in a swimming lesson, my teacher led us through a series of drills. It wasn’t easy, but I managed. We finished by treading water. I still remember the teacher counting down the last seconds and surprising me with, “You passed the test!”

He’d tricked me. He gave me the test, one piece at a time, without calling it the scary “test” and showed me I could do it. In content, it changed my relationship to the water forever. I became a state-ranked diver, a competitive swimmer, and a water polo player in college. In context, it changed my relationship to challenge. The thrill of doing something that seems impossible became the central theme of my life and still drives me today.

Did someone ever do this for you? Is there someone in your life who needs you to do it for them?
Lastly, do you have a goal that seems impossible that you want to make possible? That excites me. Let’s talk. Maybe I can help you break it down and show you it’s not as impossible as you think. Find out more about my mentoring services now.

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and extraordinary results in the coaching industry.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com

Why Being Yourself is Hard

Obstacles - Clear and Open

What if the obstacle
Over which you fret
Is your greatest teacher?

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

What hard thing is life asking you to do that you haven’t done yet?

Confession time: I’m going to tell you what I was avoiding, and still wrestling with.

Last autumn, I got a very sweet and tentative email from a coach I trained years ago. Here’s a piece of it:

“I feel a little like a heel sending you this email, but please understand that I’m coming from care… So here goes… If you haven’t done research on your logo… In other words, if you built it yourself or had a company build it without getting customer feedback… You may want to. I dislike it so much that I feel a responsibility to let you know.”

I groaned a little, but mostly I laughed with gratitude. This was just the sign I needed. My current design is not even a 1.0. It’s more like a 0.1.

It’s a long story why, but I created the Clear Workspace, Open Mind online course, the website, and set up all its infrastructure in three months. I wasn’t going to have a logo except that a friend of mine had a crude vision and wanted to try his hand at Illustrator.

So, that was my very reasonable excuse for avoiding my arch nemesis: design. In content, it goes back to feeling like a klutz in middle school art. High-achievers like me tend to avoid anything we can’t completely rock. But in context, it goes back to never feeling like I fit in as a kid, and that I had to become someone else to get along with others. Maybe you can relate.

I realize now I was unconsciously glad I didn’t have time to do a “real design.” But it’d been niggling at me, and life spoke to me through this criticism.

It was time to do the thing I thought I couldn’t do.

I’ve helped hundreds of clients find their brand voices and identities. I know a lot about it, but it was time to take my own medicine, and that’s different.

There’s a lot to it: the time commitment, difficult creative decisions, finding the right people, the expense, etc. But the essence of the challenge that I think all people face is saying to the world in a deeply vulnerable way, “This is who I am” and risking painful rejection.

The fact is that I was hiding behind a crude design and a part of me loved it. I got to play safer and smaller than I was capable of. It protected me from risk and failure. It kept things more or less the same. But I didn’t realize any of this until I saw my designer’s first draft.

It scared me.

It scared me because I knew it was me, the best version of me, but I was only being that maybe ten percent of the time. The new design challenged me to be better, to step up, to risk bringing all of me to my work, without hiding.

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” — Jesus, The Gospel of Thomas

Since the process began about two months ago, I’ve struggled with overwhelm, stress, existential fear, doubt, and anxiety.

“Will people respond to this?” “Whatever there’s nobody who resonates with my new direction?” “What if it doesn’t work?”

The answer to all of these questions that inevitably arise is to trust the process, trust life, and trust yourself. The biggest mistake people make in marketing is to try to appeal to everyone. If you don’t alienate some people, you’re not being yourself. Even the biggest brands in our world turn off large portions of the population. Trust that you’re worthy and good enough to have a place in the world without having to compromise who you essentially are. Trust the process, and so trust the outcome.

So, my new design is coming soon, and while I hope you like it, if you don’t I can live with that, too. In the meantime, here’s some food for thought, “Where are you hiding, holding back some essential aspect of yourself, to avoid rejection, and causing yourself suffering as a result?” Life rewards risk. See where it takes you.

P.S. I couldn’t announce something this big without giving you at least a little bit of a teaser. Here’s a glimpse at my new logo and a taste of what’s to come over the next few weeks.

Clear and Open

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and extraordinary results in the coaching industry.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com