Recent Blog Articles

That One Time I Was a Corporate Spy and Got Fired for It

The second time I got fired, it was for corporate espionage. I’ve never told anyone this. In my mid-twenties, a few years before I became a coach, I recruited for high-tech companies in the Bay Area. I mostly hated it. It’s not uncommon practice in that world to “poach” employees from one company and move…

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work-life balance myth

Your Engagement Problem is Worse than You Thought, Part 2

Last week in Part One, I discussed how I realized in the middle of having drinks with a friend that the lack of engagement I’ve been frustrated with in working with some of my clients pretty much exactly mirrors the disengagement levels shown in Gallup’s ongoing study. I’ve been coaching for seventeen years, and I’m…

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Your Engagement Problem is Worse than You Thought, Part 1

When I re-launched my practice in 2016 as Clear and Open, it was in part to focus on engagement. I saw that all business problems come down to this. It’s the deepest root issue that my clients struggle with, and it’s what I’m most passionate about. Since then I’ve noticed I do a lot of…

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Excuses, Excuses: Stock Language

I recently asked a group of my members to define in two sentences what they got out of our work together last year and declare what they want to get out of 2019. Here was one participant’s response: Member: “In 2018, the group taught me how to notice and question behaviors I’d like to change…

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Excuses, Excuses: Does Being the Underdog Serve You?

Playing the underdog is a form of victimhood that forms a noble identity around the delusion of powerlessness and the fear of change. The deflection attracts good-hearted, sincere, hard-working people who truly mean well. However, their relationship to their own power is deeply conflicted. They unconsciously create an external world that matches their anxious inner…

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Getting Beyond Good and Bad

There’s a zen story of an old farmer who worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck!” they said, sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful!”…

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excuses socrates

Excuses, Excuses: Socrates and Un-Knowing

This deflection is named after the oft-called “father of western philosophy,” who was killed for how he used not-knowing and powerful questions to expose flaws in people’s perception, reasoning, and values. It won’t surprise you that he’s one of my heroes, and certainly one of my teachers. After you learn to use the Socratic Method,…

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excuses self contradiction

Excuses, Excuses: The Mask of Self-Contradiction

In my series of excuses, today I’ll be talking about Self-Contradiction. It’s a lack of clarity on its surface but often arises from deep-seated commitment issues. Not often used blatantly, this type of deflection may be tricky to spot. The contradictions are sometimes so subtle they require deep listening to detect. Manager: So who’s going…

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