From Error to Opportunity

Mistakes happen. Errors happen. Miscalculations happen.

When a mistake is made, there are four questions you need to ask:

  1. Has there been enough training to prevent this?
  2. Was it intentionally done wrong or malicious?
  3. Did it happen from carelessness or laziness?
  4. Has a lesson been learned and corrected?

It is easy to place blame, point fingers or drop your head when a mistake made. Those responses are sure to turn one mistake into two mistakes. If you want to right the mistake or error, find the cause and correct it.

We aren’t perfect, but we should always be looking to improve and learn. Effective leadership can take a mistake and turn it into an opportunity for growth and improvement.


If we knew mistakes would never be made, we wouldn’t need life boats or rings. 



My Team, My Responsibility

The synergy of a team can be the difference in good versus great… or terrible. There are two types of teams that we can be part of, and although they are different, our actions as a member of that team are the same.

The first type of team is the one that you put together yourself. This is your opportunity to pick who is on the team and determine the roles of the members. This structure is empowering. It is your team, your responsibility.

The second type of team is the one that you are placed on. You are handed this team and maybe handed your role. Although this is not your hand-picked team, it is your team. You are still responsible for its success. Your actions as a team member remain the same. You have the choice to look around and feel hopeless at the lack of control and selection of the team OR you could be a leader and make this team the best they can be. It is still your team, your responsibility.

When you can build a team, select the best. When you are given a team, make them their best.

Dog Sled ride

Dog sled team

“Teamwork requires some sacrifice up front; people who work as a team have to put the collective needs of the group ahead of their individual interests.” -Patrick Lencioni

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Rafting team shooting through Deschutes River rapids

Let The River Flow

Deschutes River

The river always flows. It will rise and drop, but it always flows.

If we seek control, we could attempt to contain the current. The fight would be immense, and most likely, futile. Aside from the adverse effects this would have on the surroundings, trying to control things that are out of our control leads to frustration and failure. Authority forces either submission or struggle.

Or we could use the flow of water to our advantage. Accepting that we do not control the current is the first step to seeing its benefit. It can propel us down the river to new places, and the flowing river moves fresh water, gives life, and creates so much for so many. We could attempt to control it, or we could work with it. Adaptation may be the answer.

We are much more likely to succeed by controlling our own actions, as opposed to the world around us. By successfully leading our own actions, we can influence in a manner that supports change. We can always work to influence that which can be influenced, but controlling external factors is a waste of time and energy.  Control your actions, and adapt to the river.



Darkness Holds Opportunity

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There is security in being able to see what lies ahead. When presented with the unknown, fear and skepticism can override our ability to move forward. Darkness does not remove the opportunity ahead, it only hides it from view. Venturing into the unknown takes faith, confidence and an acceptance of moving out of your comfort zone.

When many others will not venture into the darkness, it can become your opportunity. Fear is overcome when we confront it, and when we do, we are better for it. Embrace the darkness as an opportunity, for all it hides and holds.

More Than Just Thankful

As we end a year and bring in 2017, reflection and goal setting is natural. We have much around us to be thankful for, yet we don’t alway remember to give thanks for the people, ideas, gifts and experiences that improve our lives. The simple thing to do, and important thing, is to say ‘thank you’, yet how can we become a person who others want to thank?

For those who we owe thanks, do something for them that is worthy of thanks in return. When a simple ‘thank you’ isn’t enough, the next level is to seek symbiosis. Just as the tree gets its nourishment and life from soil, it gives back to the soil each autumn by shedding it’s leaves and replenishing the nutrients within. Both benefit and freely give, giving true thanks and appreciation of the other. How can you nourish and replenish others around you?

Relationships work best when they go both ways. It’s something we could all work to improve upon, and when we do, we all benefit.

Symbiosis: interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.


Energized By Your Work


Hard work can be draining, leaving you exhausted, negative and wishing you could do anything else. This hard work feeling typically comes from work that does not seem significant, relevant or worthwhile. It can seem like thankless hard work.

On the other hand, hard work can motivate and inspire. It can be a stepping stone to greatness. It can take you to new places, leaving you wanting to see more, regardless of how hard you will need to work to get there.

Find your passion and let it fuel your work. You will find that the hard work hardly feels like work at all.

Train Your Eye


Black bear observed at Yellowstone National Park

Our lives are filled with lots of stimuli that distract us from the course we are meant to take. Once you determine your goals and set your course, keep your eyes trained for the opportunities you seek.

It is simple to spend energy dwelling on the past and the things that could have been or you could use your energy seeking the next opportunity. We all work with limited resources, but opportunity is all around us. It is not abundant and opportunity usually sits hidden or unnoticed. We need to have the vision to see it and the hope that it will happen.

Recently, prior to our family trip to Yellowstone National Park, I taught my daughter how to locate animals in the woods or from afar. We discussed and practiced training her eyes to see the color, shape and movement of animals, as they are so well adapted to not being seen.  While in the park (and now anywhere), she is great at locating the opportunities to watch the animals she so excitedly wants to see and experience. She seized the opportunity by training herself to see it, and then was able to help others who did not have the same skill.

This is not unlike business or life. Once we know what we are looking for, we need to keep our eyes and ears open to the possibilities. Partnerships and resources don’t typically fall in your lap and it takes a keen eye to find the possibilities, but you need to be trained to look for them.

Take some time to identify your goals and needed resources, and then train your eye to find them. Give yourself the edge over others who cannot see these opportunities and those who do not even look for them. It requires some patience and perseverance, but the time will come and your keen eye will see an opportunity that will propel you closer to your goals.

Opportunities are all around if you know what to look for. If you don’t see them, surely someone else will. Train your eye!

Achievement (On the Lighter Side)

It is common to set goals, dream and desire past times, but what separates dreams from success is those who do it. Follow your passion and purposefully make progress: step by step, brick by brick, day by day, skill by skill, place by place, person by person. Take the time to make progress toward these goals and their achievement becomes possible. There is one guarantee: If you aren’t working to achieve your goals, they are only dreams. In the words of the famous philosopher, Calvin:


Now, get your knees dirty and make progress toward your dreams!

In Case of Emergency… Prepare!


Even with the best plans and experienced leadership, things can go wrong. When they do, the window of time to resolve the emergency is short and you may not be positioned well to resolve it. You may not have the resources, ideas, manpower or time to resolve or mitigate the effects of the situation without a plan.

Since we know emergencies will happen at some time, plan your response strategy ahead of time. In stressful situations, our ability to think clearly may be hindered and these situations always happen at the worst time. (Since really there is no good time for an emergency!) As we know, practice makes perfect. It is not possible to plan for all types of emergencies, but we can practice how we will strategize a response.

First off, always keep note of where you are and what resources are available. The most important resource you can plan for ahead of time is to know who you can call for help. Of course, certain situations require a call to 911, but what about the emergencies that are not a life or death situation, but sure can feel like it to a business owner or a person going through a stressful situation.

Take some time now, before an emergency, to list out who your contacts are for certain types of situational needs. Who can you call for help when you have an HR issue, a relationship issue, a PR problem, tech problem, financial situation or you just need advice? Think about who you work with, live with, mentors or just wise people you would call to help you through the emergency. They may not even be content experts in your field, but they are level-headed people who can strategize next steps, expecially when you may not be in the right frame of mind to make these decisions. It is also comforting to get a second opinion prior to action.

You may need to delegate. Finding help to plan and take tasks can save time and add resources to your pool in an emergency. Taking a few moments to plan who, what, when, where and how will help you strategize a better response. Know who these resources are, prior to the emergency.

Wise people are all around. Seek them out now and think about who you would call when the need comes. Emergencies will happen. Are you prepared to respond?

Above the Fray

Desk Skunk

Have you ever been in a conversation with an angry person or had a frustrating situation where everything inside you wanted to yell out and lose it? Well, join the club. Our emotions are easy to come by, but controlling our urges takes self-control and an understanding that our repution and integrity is worth much more than the moment at hand. You must retain your composure and avoiding falling into their pit.

A great mentor of mine gave me a gift shortly after he retired. In the box was a stuffed skunk and a note. To this day, the skunk sits on my desk as a reminder to me, as it did for him for many years prior. This small symbol means a lot and has given me peace in moments of conflict. It has given me the strength to retain my composure. Upon receiving this gift, I recieved a note congratulating me on my new executive position along with the following quotes:

“Always stay above the fray” (the clean version) OR

“Never get into a pissing match with a skunk” (because no one wins!)

It only takes a moment to lose control and risk compromising your reputation and integrity. Stay above the fray and conclude all conflicts with your integrity intact. You’ll smell much sweeter in the end!