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Executives Dealing with Overwhelm

Lessening Your Overwhelm Feelings

Being a juggler is one thing as they can juggle several balls at once. Being an executive having to do the work in order to juggle everything you have to do is very different. Overwhelmed by stress and frustration does lead to overwhelm has you not knowing what to do now. Unless you are proactive in how you do things, being reactive for many leads you into a panic or crisis mode. Yes, you can change this.

Juggling too many balls in the air is overwhelming for many people who don’t know how to balance responsibilities or for those who take on too much. Delegating for many is unheard of if you really want to get things done right. Yet many still delegate tasks and other responsibilities to others.

Taking on too much and not having the time to do it all can be stressful, frustrating and overwhelming. Having too much on your plate and not enough time to get it all done, is when overwhelm paralysis often kicks in. As these situations hold you back from accomplishing what you need to complete, you

Feeling Stuck in Overwhelm

“Often I feel that projects overwhelm us when we look at how many hours are involved until completion. But just getting started is usually not that difficult.” -Emily Giffin

Have you ever felt uncomfortable when you think about how there are no way you will ever accomplish everything on your to-do list? The longer you experience this feeling, the more you will most likely not accomplish what’s in front of you. By working through the small or shortest items first you will get …

Reduce Your Business Complexity

“You can’t calm the storm… so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself.

The storm will pass.” – Timber Hawkeye

By letting things continue the way they are you are adding more complicated things by not reducing the work you have for being more simplified and productive. The more rules, meetings, processes, procedures and report you work on the more difficulty you add to your stress, frustration and overwhelm. You need to clean out what’s needed and up-to-date for what you are working on. This adds more space for you to complete what you have. You may not be able to control what happens, yet you can control how you react to it.

Try these Tips to Overcome Executive Overwhelm

“There are times when external circumstances can overwhelm us, and we do things we never thought. If you’re not aware that this can happen, you can be seduced by evil. We need inoculations against our own potential for evil. We have to acknowledge it. Then we can change it.” -Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D.

Get Out of Reactive Mode

“Opportunities will come and go, but if you do nothing about them, so will you.”

― Richie Norton

Being a proactive leader can help you relieve stress and win you accomplishments where being reactive keeps you staying the same until you are forced to take action. Being proactive allows you to be flexible and focused of your entire company and for you to continuously analyze signs for change. You make better decisions to optimize all employees. This allows you to develop habits to help you move your company forward to achieve growth goals despite potential obstacles.

Keep a Journal with You at All Times

Write down your thoughts, ideas and opinions to situations you encounter and interact with every day. Write down what happened before, during and after a situation occurs. This gives you a better perspective of how to handle the situation.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

You need to feel comfort in order to make changes you feel good about. People who are always “in the moment” don’t look ahead and make plans to pursue their goals. Be courageous and confident by taking the risks you need in small steps to insure you are heading in the right direction.

Ask, “Is this really necessary?”

Challenge your basic assumptions regularly. Ask yourself if you need specific things to take place. These include meetings, reports, how you respond to an email, etc. Eliminate the tasks you don’t need or update those things that don’t work for what you are currently working on. Do this on a continual basis as things change rapidly today.

Taking Control

Sometimes there are things you can and cannot control.  Grasping for control is another source of stress, because many times, we cannot do everything ourselves.

Step Away to Get a Fresh Perspective

Take a few steps away from your overwhelmed thoughts and feelings in order to clear your mind and get a different perspective of the situation.  Take small breaks throughout the day.

Just like going to a buffet where you stack a lot of food on a plate and then you decide to take another plate and can finish both plates, there are too many choices to take you need to ask yourself, “Can I finish what I have before taking on more?” You can’t say yes to everything unless you know you can complete everything you take on.

You can’t always push the reset button on your calendar as specific things are due by a specific time. Some things need to be complete by a specific time which you are responsible and accountable for.

 “Too many choices can overwhelm us and cause us to not choose at all. For businesses, this means that if they offer us too many choices, we may not buy anything.” -Sheena Iyengar

Why Are Leaders Afraid to Take Risks?

In today’s business world taking risks is the name of the game in order to thrive beyond your expectations. Yet too many leaders are afraid to take any kind of risk for fear of failure or making mistakes. Business today requires you to take calculated risks for greater creativity and innovation. This is more so true for those businesses that are steep in the traditional ways of conducting business.

Fear or Afraid to Take Risks

 “Do one thing every day that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Fear is the number one reason people are afraid to take risks. Everyone has fears that are different from everyone else and it depends on how you work through them to get the best result you want and need. In the case of fearing to take a risk this can be due to a specific decision that needs to be made, moving forward to grow your business, or even that of shifting from traditional to unconventional ways to conduct business in order to thrive. For many executives and leaders you may get stuck due to these same issues.

What Does Failure Mean to You?

“Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.” — General George Patton

The idea of fear of failure and making mistakes comes from your early years in school. You were taught that failing and making mistakes was negative. Today in business you are expected to fail and make mistakes. This let’s you know what works and what doesn’t. With this in mind you are able to experiment and modify solutions for the problems, challenges and difficulties you work with.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

“If you risk nothing, then you risk everything.” — Geena Davis

Comfort zones are decisions and ways of doing things that have the least risks, the least unknowns and are easy for you to do.  Anyone who is too afraid to step outside their comfort zone is also too afraid to take the risks that are often needed as a leader.

Expand your horizon by changing your mindset toward being more open with the things you do. Try to change things using small tasks that impact more than you expect. Change and growth both involve taking steps forward into the relative unknown.

For many stepping outside your comfort zone is uncomfortable. Understand that with today’s business world in order to thrive you need to generate, create and produce for breakthrough results. With this in mind, gradually stretch and take one or two small steps out to feel comfortable. Then take more steps as you feel more comfortable as you need to go forward in order to thrive beyond your expectation to stay in business.


“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” — T.S. Eliot

Every leader says you want creativity and innovation yet you don’t allow employees to move in that direction. Challenge yourself to conquer your fear of taking risks by working on small things that bring you big changes and greater success. Then work on bigger tasks. Let your teams collaboratively work together to complete tasks you started. This allows those with skills, talent and knowledge to give input you may need and want to validate breakthrough results.

Finding Greater Solutions for Greater Breakthroughs

“Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast.” — Tom Peters

With a change in how you conduct business you need to look at the project you are working on and look for patterns. These patterns help you solve for the problems, challenges and difficulties you may encounter. In doing so, start to ask questions to generate thoughts, ideas and opinions as you create and produce what you need to complete the project or task.

Test and re-test each time you believe you have a solution. This helps you know what works and what doesn’t. If need be adjust what you have or maybe add or subtract in order to find the right combination to solve what you are working on.

Having Confidence and Courage

“Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.” — Chinese proverb

Leaders need both confidence and courage to conquer fear of taking risks. This helps you make the decisions your business needs to grow, become creative and innovative and to work through the specific you and your employees require to solve the situations you need to…

People and companies who are unwilling to take risks will become stagnant with no ability to innovate or change. Start taking risks in order to grow personally, professionally and businesswise. You don’t want others to pass you by as if you were standing still. On the other hand, if you are left behind, you will miss the opportunities knowing at your door or you may find someone take over your company without you in it.

What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” — Robert Schuller

Are You Stuck in The Leadership Trap?

“Getting Stuck is Not a Problem. Staying Stuck is”– Alistair Smith

There is nothing more daunting than staring at a blank computer screen or blank page to write your Pulitzer Prize best-selling book with blank pages. Yet business executives just like everyone else from time-to-time experience getting stuck on ideas to help you complete a task, grow your business and experience stress, frustration and overwhelm.

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”

-Bernice Johnson Reagon

If you knew where it was coming from you might be able to head it off, yet it can come on suddenly and you don’t know why, at least at first. Some say the experience of being stuck is the perception of limited choices. No one likes to feel stuck. In order to get unstuck, you have to step back and look at what happened before, during and after you got to where you are right now.

“Right now I’m stuck somewhere between what if, what might, what could have, and what never will and all I want to know is what actually is.” – Christina Hart

Being stuck in a rut doing the same daily routines and not going outside of that can stop you from accepting opportunities because you don’t know which way to go. Focusing on your stress, frustration and overwhelmed feelings can paralyze you. The problem is not just being stuck it is the fact of how you go about keeping yourself in a stuck position.

“If you are facing a new challenge or being asked to do something that you have never done before don’t be afraid to step out. You have more capability than you think you do but you will never see it unless you place a demand on yourself for more.” -Joyce Meyer

Being Stuck Has a Fear Component

Being stuck has the same experience as fear. This is a response to the stress, frustration and overwhelm you have that is perceived as a threat or is harmful to you. As a result you feel anxious and nervous that has you not think on the things that matter most to you.

Typically when people are stuck you don’t realize that fear plays a part. You need to understand how fear allows you to be stuck without realizing it. When you struggle with fear it’s either because of a decision you made or are about to make or because you don’t like being criticized or judged for something you said or did. Most people don’t like the latter at all.

Fear of not getting things done by a set deadline still stands. You may worry that you can’t get things done on time. While fear is completely normal, it does prevent you from creating or producing anything new. Working through this issue helps you deal with it better. Sometimes the fact of doing something outside your comfort zone is fearful. When you do it a few times you get used to it be part of your routine.

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

“Fear is often our immediate response to uncertainty. There’s nothing wrong with experiencing fear. They key is not to get stuck in it.” -Gabrielle Bernstein

With most people using traditional ways to get unstuck you still focus on your stressful, frustrated and overwhelmed thoughts. By doing so, you keep yourself in a stuck position. This is being reactive. You panic and go into a crisis mode. This doesn’t help you to move forward.

Too many leaders expect to stay the course and continue conducting business on a traditional approach. You expect to work the same way as before and get different results.

For many young executives you were promoted because of your skills, talent, problem-solving abilities. You thought it was great to sit in a top spot and delegate work to other. What you did not expect was that being an executive you also had projects you have to complete. This leads you to not work from 9-to-5, but 50 hours or more each week. This can be too overwhelming for many especially if you thought things would be very different.

 “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”. A new approach is probably all you need to get unstuck. (Albert Einstein)

With this Comes Self-Confidence

“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.”-Thomas Carlyle

The most important step in building self-confidence is simply to take action. Take a few minutes and think about your being stuck. How you get unstuck has a lot to do with how resilience to work through your stuck situation with patience.

Be curious and think about the fact that when you are stuck in fear you are close up. Essentially, ask questions. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from being curious about why you got stuck. You may even find that either you caused it or it had nothing to do with you.

“The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear.” -William Jennings Bryan

Work on your self-esteem as you need to build up on your self-confidence and believe in yourself more.

Shift Your Perspective   

“A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it.” -Ray Davis

Adapt a fresh idea of the fear of the unknown keeps you stuck. The more decisions and actions you take – the more you will believe in your ability to overcome your fears. Identify what actions you can take to move forward.

By shifting your perspective I mean for you to not react to your being stuck and go into a crisis or panic mode. This only keeps you more stressful, frustrated and overwhelm. Instead think more proactively. In doing so you need to take a step back and look at what happened. This allows you to start taking action to avoid further feelings of being stuck and stay creative. You are then much more easily able to get out of your stuck feelings and move forward. (This article does not specifically tell how this experience goes beyond what is told right here).

Know When to Multitask and When to Unitask

“I like the challenge of trying different things and wondering whether it’s going to work or whether I’m going to fall flat on my face.” – Actor Johnny Depp

It’s important to recognize when you are taking on more than you can handle. Too many people accept working on more than one task at a time. You may think you can be more productive working on multiple projects yet you need to know what you really can and cannot do. Time constraints also play a big part in deciding what and how much to take on. Comparing multitaskers with non-multitaskers, Stanford professor Clifford Nass concluded that multitaskers performed poorly on a variety of tasks, were easily distracted, and had difficulty focusing.

Conclusion: There are lots of different ways to get unstuck. Use the ones that work for you. A great way to get unstuck and find breakthrough ideas is to ask questions on assumptions and beliefs, reframe the rules your business. Do they fit for today’s workplace? Shift your thinking from traditional ways of doing business and getting unstuck to unconventional activities. Remember, give yourself permission to fail and make mistakes. This is expected in today’s way of conducting business.

“You are not stuck where you are unless you decide to be.” – Wayne Dyer


The Resilient Innovation Leader

A New Way of Seeing, Thinking & Leading More Effectively

Bouncing back from a setback for most people you may not want to continue with what you are trying to do. For resilient leaders, you forge ahead with persistence to reach the goal(s) you set out to accomplish. On top of this is the innovation which is changing all the time. With change comes challenges, obstacles, stress and overwhelm leaders need to manage in a professional way.

In leading innovation leaders are going to learn a lot from the school of Hard Knocks along the way. Leaders are continually put to the test in today’s volatile marketplace. With being creative, innovative and disruptive the products and services your organization produces is on a quick cycle as things are faster than ever before.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from unexpected adversity or change Many innovation leaders know you need to have the courage to move forward without demonstrating frustration, stress and overwhelmed feelings to others.  As a leader, you need to be resilient. Taking on a leadership position is more difficult now than ever before.

Your job as leader is to create a resiliency team. You already know and expect mistakes, experimental failures and have a talented creative and innovative work team you can count on. Now you need to let them be creative and innovative in solving for the problems, challenges and difficulties that enter your workplace.

Reframe Your Mindset

Having the right frame of mind to work on projects knowing you may fail several times through experimentation requires you and your employees to have a growth mindset. Being open, willing to learn from others and by not giving up allows you and your employees to be persistent in reaching your end goal(s).

Resilience is the key to fostering that growth mindset and finding the opportunity or lesson in any challenge.

Building Resilient Muscle

“I tried and failed. I tried again and again and succeeded.”  -Gail Borden

Many organizations are facing change and disruption at a rate they have never seen before.  By getting your employees more engaged in interested creative and innovative projects can turn many disengaged employees around to work on something they really have a passion for. Those who mentally check out, cause productivity, innovation, and creativity to plummet. Reinvigorating them through finding out what their interests are and what they are passionate about helps give them assignments they can be engaged in.

Building a Resilient Workforce through a Culture of Learning

As a business skill your organization needs to learn to build a resilience organization. This helps you in times of difficulty. Remove sources that can produce unnecessary stress by asking employees about what gets in their way to produce greater results.

Characteristics of Resilient Leaders

Managing challenging situations and demonstrating resilience requires a strong sense of self awareness and mental control. Being confident in your abilities, having a purpose of what’s driving you, being adaptable and flexible to focus on accomplishing your goals, and having insight for a vision without anything stopping you to reach your end-goal motivates resilient leaders.

Results of resiliency include leaders with high resiliency having lower levels of stress and burnout. You may find increased productivity, lower turnover of employee rates and lowered healthcare costs. Resilient leaders celebrate their successes and learn from their failures.

Stress lowers employee performance, productivity, morale, and strained workplace relationships. Many who experience excessive stress have difficulty managing emotions, focusing their attention on their work, making decisions, and thinking clearly. Stress for many feels overwhelming and creates a disengagement of getting work done.

Resilient Culture Change Required

“Do not judge me by my successes. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela

Change is inevitable but in today’s world change is becoming the status quo. Leading a team where change is so constant requires you to Resilient cultures begin with leaders who understand how resilience can impact the organization as a whole. A change of mindset is needed as the leader needs to get buy-in from all employees.

Manage Stress with Reframing Techniques

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before.” -Elizabeth Edwards

Managing your stress sometimes needs a slight re-framing of what is going on and how you can handle it better. Unconventional thinking can help relieve your stressful, frustrated and overwhelming feelings.

The Challenge is to Take Smart Risks

O.K., let’s call it what it is- Calculated Risks. Too many people are afraid to

A resilient team uncovers and leverages strengths to achieve their goals.

 “In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.” – Albert Bandura

Preparing for Unexpected Change

How well can your organization deal with disruption to your business?  Disruption does not necessarily mean innovative changes. It can mean that your business is disrupted by the economy or possibly by another organization beat you to the punch with a product they put out before you in the market place. What risks will you be prepared to take risks when climate change occurs?

Resilience is more important than ever for organizations to cultivate. In order to be resilient, you have to prepare for unexpected events. By picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and continue going resilient leaders are persistent in reaching the goals you set out to accomplish.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”    -Japanese Proverb

Leaders Surrounding Yourself with Big Thinkers

How Not to Surround Yourself with “Yes”-People

Can Conflict Make You A Better Leader?
“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” -Warren Buffett

One of the most important decisions you make in life is who you choose to be around. Surrounding yourself with people who bring out the best in you is what you want in order to make greater decisions, work better with others and to understand the organization and your employees in how they may perceive what is needed.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, once said: “Surround yourself with people who complement your weaknesses and share your passions — success will follow.”
To stay grounded executives must prepare themselves to confront several vast complexities and pressure that you sometimes need to surround yourself with those who can help solve these problems. Here are some tips to help you generate thoughts and ideas to meet these challenges.

“A leader is someone who turns a great thought into an even greater action.” – Linda Poindexter

It is usually the first reaction to surround ourselves with those who completely agree with us. It feels great and of course, your self-esteem goes up. Then you have those people who actually disagree with you. There are those times when these same people give you the real answers you want even though it is tempting to want like-minded people to always agree with you. You need people who challenge your thinking and decision making to put perspective on what the actual issues are that need to be looked at carefully.

Surrounding yourself with big thinkers come in a variety of what you really want to do. Big thinkers are not “Yes” men or women. These people are creative challengers who generate, create and produce great ideas for breakthrough results. They add a little spice called details into their thoughts and opinions. It helps to have those around you who don’t always agree with you as you begin to see other perspectives for other new ideas to support what is possible and what is not.

What Drives You?
Every organization needs people with greater focus on the things that matter most. This talent helps to continually learn better and helps the organization perform at a higher level.

“Great leaders can see the greatness in others when they can’t see it themselves and lead them to their highest potential they don’t even know.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

I believe you need to diversify your circle of thinkers. For example if you are going to choose someone who is an extrovert, you should also choose an introvert. If you include someone who is logical then you should include someone who is more imaginative. Don’t just choose people who are like minded as they may

“Spend time with people who will challenge your thinking, your goals and your actions.” – Vanessa Shaw

Agreeable People Boost Your Confidence
You may interact with like-minded people yet you need to surround yourself with big thinkers for greater business results. Get feedback from others on a regular basis to help improve on the organization as well as your leadership. Gaining new perspectives from others allows you to explore what is said and possibly think of other possibilities. Leaders can benefit by hiring talented people who share their unique insights.

Develop Your Strength By Interacting with Other People
“Surround yourself with good people, then the important thing is to listen to them, and not let them know what you think before you ask them what they are thinking. Once they know what you think, most of the time they will just go along with it.” – J.W. “Bill” Marriott of Marriott International

Appoint challengers who are subversive and who have alternative points of view.

“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” -John Wooden

Writer Susan Tardanico, lists various types of personality who can help provide different perspectives to the decision-makers:
•The Contrarian pushes you to think differently by taking opposite views and is always thinking of the worst-case scenario.
•The Everyman is plugged into the lower levels of the organization, helping you understand how your decisions affect them.
•The Optimist is a best-case scenario person, and provides positive energy during difficult times.
•The Bleeding Heart is the empathetic member of the group, making you aware of how your action affects people.
•The Sage is the strategic thinker and coach, helping you to stay calm in a crisis.

How do leaders ensure they have a mix of these people? Among other things, look through your list and identify the roles each plays with regard to the different types mentioned above.

“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you even when you don’t see it yourself.” – Edmund Lee

Leading Your Company Forward During Difficult Times

“Remember when you see a man at the top of a mountain, he didn’t fall there.” – Unknown

The old saying of “when the going gets tough the tough get going” could never be more appropriate for leaders during these extremely harrowing economic times. Hard or difficult times for many businesses today have a lot to do with the business complexity you deal with for gaining greater productivity.

Business leaders face many challenges each day. By leading your people to rally around a common cause, you need to inspire them. Getting ahead of the curve means taking a hard look at what the future might hold, and that requires a degree of courage on your part.

“When something bad happens, you have three choices: You can either let it define you, let it destroy you or let it strengthen you.” ~Unknown

Old business models are experiencing tectonic shifts across all industries. Times are tough when your business is not doing as well as you expect. Great companies shine with leaders who take time to think of proactive steps. Usually more problems take place when you don’t think and you react.

Using Creativity to Move Forward

This can be a time when you change things in your organization. Such changes can take place as going from traditional way of doing business to looking at things from an unconventional perspective. Can you afford to keep going the way you’ve been conducting business? Or you may start to reduce complexity and increase simplification for greater productivity.

“If you can lead people through tough times, and show them a direction and give them something to believe in, you can certainly do it through good times,” says Darci Congrove, CPA, managing director at GBQ Partners LLC.

Challenges to Lead Your Company Forward

Challenges are a normal part of business — that’s a fact. No matter what your company faces- a slowdown in the economy, a merger or acquisition, complexity issues or even the death of a key executive, moving through any of these challenges in a specific manner can build strength. Finding opportunity sometimes results in greater decision making for greater priorities.

Think of a challenge as any type of different way you conduct business. This will impact your organization for greater results. Don’t let these differences stop you or your organization to grind to a halt to moving forward. You need to see the challenge not as a waste of time, instead as part of the process to the next level of breakthrough results.

The ways of doing business as usual has been changing. Previous structures, rules, processes and procedures are fading into the sunset to make way for the new normal of creativity and innovation. On top of this, technology sneaks in to give an extra push for greater breakthrough results.

Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Instead of hiring new people as you did in the past, it is becoming required that new people know how to use their creative thinking skills. Before starting, these new people must demonstrate their skills by being interviewed with a team in a brainstorm session. By showing their abilities toward generating, creating and producing ideas needs leaders to give support and encouragement to keep moving forward.

 “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places.”   – Unknown

Do you know what to do as a leader when you’re suddenly under fire? Confronting reality is difficult. Getting your entire organization on-board to work through the difficult time without letting things hold you back is challenging. Leaders need courage to not blindly charge ahead in the face of adversity.

Leaders Avoiding Disaster with Your Company’s Complexity

Every Disaster Is an Opportunity You Must Seize

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” -Brene Brown

With the inability to solve the ongoing projects due to not having enough time and running into obstacles at every turn, how can you as the leader help reduce these difficulties? Both managing or leading people and making sure complex and complicated situations don’t interfere with the daily operations of your business needs you to constantly observe your business daily.

Leaders need to show more composure than ever before in the workplace. Knowing the difference between complex and complicated impacts your business differently. Most people use these words interchangeably. If you’re a leader and you treat a complex problem like a complicated problem, you are setting up yourself and your company for failure.

Learn From Failure

“Learn to listen. Opportunity could be knocking at your door very softly.” -Anonymous

Too many leaders fail at change management efforts because you either don’t follow through completely or when you begin to fail you give up. Don’t give up as failing is part of the learning curve. Trying to experiment with rules, processes and procedures works best takes some time see what works and what does not. This takes place with everything you do in order to get the right things in place.


“Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.” -Demosthenes

Look carefully at what you have in place. Some are self-imposed that you and your employees put in place. Some are assumptions and beliefs. You need to separate them out before you start looking at what works and what you can eliminate or change. Updating your processes and procedures allows you to work better.

Start allowing your employees to “break the rules” when generating ideas for innovative breakthroughs. This means they cannot get rid of specific regulations that are required.

Move Beyond Same Old Approaches = Same Old Results

“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”

-Elon Musk

Breaking away from the traditional ways you’ve been conducting business sometimes happens when a crisis occurs. The problem for many organizations is that you’ve been working the same way for years- the same rules, processes and procedures and have not changed with the times. O.K., you believe that what’s happening is a fad and everything will get back to the way things were. Sorry, in today’s business world creativity, innovation and technology are the way to go. On top of this is using simplification for getting things done is the extra your company needs to be productive.

Shift Your Mindset

“Picture your brain forming new connections as you meet the challenge and learn. Keep on going.”

― Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

In today’s business world your mindset needs to change for what you need right now. Yesterday’s mindset was for yesterday as business change in the blink of an eye. Looking at your business you need to change more often than before. Instead of having one product to work with, today’s business cycles are faster requiring your company to have at least 2-3 other ideas generating in the pipeline ready for the next cycle before the current one begins.

You need to use your creative thinking to generate greater ideas as your competition is already doing this. Don’t be left behind to think that everyone wants you product or service and that a slow period will eventually bring people back for more of the same. The world has been changing and it is getting faster with newer products and service. You need to think this way too.

Start Taking Risks

“Spend eighty percent of your time focusing on the opportunities of tomorrow rather than the problems of yesterday.” -Brian Tracy

Besides asking thought-provoking questions, you and your employees need to look at what is possible from the complexity you have in front of you. Yes, you do need to take some time to look at what you have and try small changes that will make a greater impact on what you currently do.

Taking a risk requires leaders and employees to go both inside and outside the box in search for other ways to find ideas as well as how to get things done more efficiently.

Leadership is not rocket science and in reality some people think it is especially when it comes to avoiding the problems, challenges and difficulties complexity brings. As the saying goes “Don’t take your eyes off the ball” this is what many do to let complexity into the workplace. You do need to work hard to make simplification work. It is better than the alternative- bankruptcy and fading away.


Leaders Thinking Beyond the Obvious

“If you want one year of prosperity, grow seeds. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.” -Chinese proverb

Conventional or group thinking results in conventional results-something no business owner wants. With this in mind, what’s the best way for you to think to get the best results you want?

Beyond the obvious is that which is not obvious. Going beyond what is obvious requires you to think non-traditionally or unconventional in order to focus on the opportunities that will move your organization forward, not backwards or from being in a stagnant position. 21st Century leaders have the ability to make the most out of every situation. Being courageous and not afraid to challenge the status quo and to push the boundaries to make things better leaders need to look beyond today for where you really want to take your company in the future.

“Going beyond the obvious requires you to think differently” – Phil McKinney

Generating and executing great ideas is the key to staying ahead in a rapidly changing world. It seems so basic.  Instead of corporate executives making the decisions for what ideas to accept or reject, let your employees make the decisions to use their thoughts, ideas and opinions as they are more creative and innovative than what leaders give them credit for.

Successful People Tend To Look Beyond the Obvious

“Leadership’s job is to groom that next generation. If you’re not doing it, you won’t get there.”

-Jonathan Kass

Looking beyond the obvious requires you to be open-minded, accept feedback, and to listen to both other leaders and employees with their thoughts, ideas and opinions. Specifically ask employees the question, “How are things going?” Listen to the responses people give. How can you work with employees to give them what they need to accomplish what matters most to the company?

Rethink the Way you Conduct Business

“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” -Pat Riley

Moving away from using traditional or conventional ways toward unconventional means leaders need to rethink how to conduct business different from everyone else to get greater results. By eliminating or modifying the rules, assumptions, beliefs and processes and procedures to reflect the way business is gives you a different way to take risks and opportunities for greater results.

Encourage Employees to Think Different

“Let no one or anything stand between you and the difficult task, let nothing deny you this rich chance to gain strength by adversity, confidence by mastery, success by deserving it. Do it better each time. Do it better than anyone else can do it.” -Harlow Curtice

Leaders need to change the mindsets of employees as underneath it all they have good judgment and the ability to make sound decisions that are imperative if an employee is to make the most of the opportunities that come their way.

Instead of using conventional or traditional thinking that will lead you to the same results you’ve been getting, encourage employees to think unconventional or non-traditionally. In doing so, you get all of your employees on the same page to create and develop a culture of creativity and innovation. As a result, your employees will be able to solve the problems, challenges and difficulties that sit in front of them. Let employees be the simplification to move your business to being productive and profitable.

Asking Questions

Gain control of situations by asking questions leaders want employees to ask.

Allowing your employees to ask thought-provoking questions and to have them generate ideas leaders and decision making will find greater results for breakthroughs your company has been missing. Too many employees in companies are held back from expressing their thoughts, ideas and opinions that letting employees do so allows for the creativity and innovation leaders want from your employees.

Raising the Bar

Leaders need to encourage employees to eliminate or modify the complexity within their teams in order to be more productive. This also requires teams to challenge each other beyond the obvious thinking they already have. By doing so, leaders need to not just challenge employees with generating greater results you need to keep your employees learning more creative ways to be innovative. This keeps your organization from lagging behind.

Using curiosity beyond what is obvious, leaders need to expand your horizon knowledge to lead your people for a competitive advantage. Encourage, strengthen, change the mindset and experiment allowing your employees to make mistakes and learn from them. These are the ingredients for a culture of creative innovation.

“Leadership is about coping with change” – John Kotter

Simplicity Minded Leadership

Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done

Business leaders are frequently frustrated by their organization’s complexity. Yet very few have developed a strategy for simplification. Streamlining your organization’s way of doing business will reduce or eliminate the rules, meetings, processes and procedures your company now runs on. So how can you simplify your organization in order to be productive to work on the things that matter most?

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus

Instilling a growth mindset is not an overnight fix. You’ve been used to the same old, same-old routine for some time. It can only take you so far. By expecting to get different results you have to do things different from the way you do things right now. Yes, this means you have to change what you are doing.

Start with small incremental changes. These small changes can have a big impact on what you do. Then add more changes for improving your existing rules, meetings, processes and procedures. This can also be done with the emails you get flooded with every day. Do you really have to write long emails and do you have to answer or respond to each email that comes in?


You started out with great intention as you created rules, processes and procedures. Meetings came with the territory to have all employees know what’s going on and possibly for everyone to give feedback, thoughts ideas and opinions to what was said. As time went by more rules, processes and procedures were added. Meetings came and went with more of them and longer times.

Nothing was getting done because of too many scheduled and unscheduled meetings that were unproductive. The same has been happening with receiving too many emails and thinking that you have to respond to each one.  On top of this, many assumptions and beliefs are thought of as “rules” when they are not.

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” – John Maeda


The key to solving complex problems may be to simplify as much as possible and approach them with your mind. The more you think simplification, the more it will be ingrained in your thinking. Some people say this habit takes anywhere from 21 days to 90 days to stay with you.

Productivity changes from day to day and person to person and place to place. Leaders you need to check-in with your employees and get feedback from them as to their performance and how their work is versus how complexity was stopping them from productive work.

“At the core of productivity is the feeling that you are doing the work that matters to you most at the moment you most want to do it, without having to make huge sacrifices along the way.”

-Charles Duhigg

Doing the Work that Matters Most

Simplicity matters when you know you have to complete and it has to get done. What matters most is the work that is important to the productivity of the organization. On a simplification basis you need time to complete the work that brings in more work and generates revenue.

Stop working on non-productive things and start working on what’s priority. You were not hired to sift through the gobbley gook and be in a crisis mode every day. You were hired to be productive. Take some time out and look at what you have that’s not working. Get rid of those things and use trial-&-error to find what does work.

Put your focus on one thing at a time. Constant changes need to take place to weed out complexity. Whether this is done with every project, every quarter, twice a year, it needs to be done every year as a strategic planning guide.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

The bottom line is that some of the complexity in your organization is self-imposed because people are afraid so you cover yourself (CYA) with writing long reports. Sometimes power and control gets in the way that leads to complexity that ends up lessening work performance.  An excess of choices can lead to fatigue and can make people feel dissatisfied with the experience. This leads to exhaustion and frustration.

Instead, taking action on eliminating complexity and complacency can lead you to simplification of your entire organization. This is where you want to end up. By being proactive you need to be aware when you are creating the complexity you don’t need. Otherwise, you may not remember or not have time to get rid of what’s not necessary.

“Simplicity: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” – Leo Babauta


Great Leaders Simplify Complexity

Innovate to Simplify a Winning Strategy

There’s been a quiet revolution happening in corporate America and many still have not accepted the invitation to the party. Every year the world becomes more complex and new technologies arrive that make certain tasks easier at the cost of hidden complexity. No one enjoys struggling with complexity. With too many outdated processes and too much to do as technology moves you more and more into doing other things, you need to focus on what matters most.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein

Every leader wants simplicity in your organization. If so, start embracing complexity first. Some have called complexity the silent killer of growth. Take a look at your own company and see for yourself what holds your employees back from the work you hired them to do. How many emails do they receive and respond to or how many scheduled and unscheduled meetings are they required to attend.

Some people overcomplicate even the simplest tasks. These self-imposed ways of trying to get things done need to be looked at for change. Maybe you feel comfortable adding extra to an already complicated system that no one else is able to get anything done.

“The simpler we can make things, the more understanding and beliefs our teams will have which will help improve their efficiency and effectiveness which generate better results.”

-Gordon Tredgold

The impact of simplicity has a lot to do with complacency and complexity. How much and how long you stay still doing the same things to get the same results is what needs to be noticed before you see what is working and not working. You often get bogged down in what is happening. Things that have worked for you in the past may no longer be enough to solve what you need to get done now.

Simplification is a Key Ingredient for Your Success

“To complicate is easy. To simplify is difficult.” – Bruno Munari

How many times have your executives told you or have heard this from others that you need to “Simplify” in order to get things done. So much gets tangled with unnecessary things that it takes some thinking time to untangle what you have for simplifying what you need.

When you engage in simplicity, you have to begin to think about what really matters. One of the greatest compliments you can ever receive is that you have “the ability to simplify complexity”. It is rare to hear anyone to say that to others.

An easy starting point for simplification is to get rid of stupid rules and low-value activities, time-wasters that exist in abundance in most organizations. If you can shed a few tasks, you will create focus and time allowed to work on opportunities.

Take an Outside-in Perspective

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – General Colin Powell

One thing we all want is simplicity.  Great leaders take complex strategies and simplify them down into key messages and action items that everyone can follow. Simplicity is fast becoming the competitive advantage of our time.

Leaders need to take an outside perspective to see how simplification can drive the need to add value to your organization- internally and externally. Reassess your organization’s processes, meetings and employees to see if they are up to the challenge. Eliminate or modify how complexity is inefficient and ineffective that stops your employees from getting things accomplished better than they have been.

The Butterfly Effect

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The butterfly effect describes the small change in one part of a system can have a significant impact to other parts of a system elsewhere. Leaders need to possibly adopt this within your own company.

Complexity requires a different kind of leadership. In order to create new ways of leading, we first need to let go of some of our old beliefs about what makes a good leader.

“Simplicity. Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” – Leo Babauta

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

Prioritize what’s really important and what’s not. One of the keys to simplification is to figure out what’s really important (and what’s not), and continually reassess the priority list as new things are added. Take the shortest path from here to there. Once it’s clear that you are working on the right things, root out the extra steps in core processes. Where are the extraneous loops, redundancies, and opportunities to make our processes as lean as possible?

Stop Being So Nice

One of the patterns that causes or exacerbates complexity is the tendency to not speak up about poor practices. This is particularly true when people hesitate to challenge more senior people who unintentionally cause complexity through poor meeting management, unclear assignments, unnecessary emails, over-analysis, or other bad managerial habits. To counter this, use constructive feedback.

“You get a competitive edge by doing something every day your competition don’t or won’t!

-Billy Cox

Great leaders live to eliminate or simplify the complex, while average leaders allow themselves and those they lead to be consumed by it. Complexity stifles innovation, slows development, gates progress, and adversely impacts culture. Complexity is expensive, inefficient, and ineffective. …great leaders understand opportunity and profits are extracted from complexity through simplification, not by adding to the complexity.”

Many of our organizations are way more complex than they need to be. In his blog on startup businesses, David Cummings wrote, “Great leaders take complex strategies and simplify them down into key messages and action items that everyone can follow.”

Complexity doesn’t automatically resolve itself. Some organizations endeavor re-design from time to time, but the work is typically limited in scope and stays inside functional boundaries. Results are more assured when the initial work is well planned and executed with precision.

What else? What are your thoughts on great leaders being able to simplify complexity?