Posts in BIG Leadership Series
Listening: The BIG Link to Your People & Reality

Well hello again, it’s Brian Bratti of Bratti Innovation Group, bringing you another installment in the BIG Leadership Series.  We’re focusing on Leading Others, the idea that is commonly associated with the word leadership.  Last time we focused on how Defining Reality was a BIG Leadership responsibility.  This time we’ll focus on one of the leadership tools that is absolutely essential to helping a leader effectively define and face that reality both inside and outside of the organization and that’s Listening – The BIG Link to Your People & Reality.

When I googled the word “listening” I received 345,000,000 results or hits. Obviously, there’s a lot of information out there on the subject of listening so there’s no way I can encompass all of that into this one article. Fortunately, I don’t have to do that since we all intuitively know that it just makes good sense to be a good listener. Yet, we also know that we can all fall short of the good listening mark from time to time. For example, I have two sons I love very much and can proudly say I’ve spent a lot of quality time investing in their lives. I can probably count on one hand the number of important events they’ve had that I’ve missed and that’s because I made being an intentional father a very high priority. 

That said, I have also had my less than stellar parent listening moments. I recall on one occasion when my youngest son was very young (around three or five years old) and I completely dropped the listening ball. We were sitting on the sofa in our upstairs playroom and he was telling me something about his day. Being a young (and sometimes clueless) father with a million of things on my mind at the time, I recall that I was giving him very little attention, looking off in another direction and responding to his story with the obligatory “aha, mmm, yup.” However, this smart little guy was not going to let me get away with this lack of attention. When it dawned on him that he was the only person present in this dialogue, he literally came up beside me, put both hands on either side of my face, physically turned it toward his, looked me straight in the eye and said quite plainly “Dad, I am talking to you.” That was a highly effective method by which to bring awareness and conviction of my lack of listening in that situation. There was no doubt in my mind that I was not being a good listener. 

Now, let’s be clear, I’m not advocating that you and your team adopt the face grabbing technique to improve your listening skills (although that would be kind of amusing to say the least).  What I am saying is that there are ways to improve our listening skills that will hopefully grab our attention in a more figurative sense as we look at just how important listening is for a leader.  And for some guidance, I’m going back to the book “Leadership Gold” by John Maxwell for a few insights.

John maintains (and I agree) that we all tend to think we are better listeners than we really are (especially if you’re a dad of a young child). That, in my opinion, is the beginning of awareness for becoming a better listener. If we start out with the premise that we are probably not very good listeners or at least not as good as we think we are, we now have the initial self-awareness necessary to become intentional about improving our listening skills so we can add value to our teams, organizations and even our families. Like my young son, your team needs to know that you are listening to them so you can not only be more effective with them but also so you can learn more about what they know concerning the problems they are facing in your organization and what’s going on in your business environment. All of this requires intentional, active and effective listening.

Now, at this point, I know what some of you are thinking and that’s the idea that some people are just naturally better listeners than others. I agree with this. For example, I have found that introverts tend to be much better listeners than extroverts because they are gifted with the ability to think internally before they speak as opposed having to sort out their thoughts out loud. However, as an extroverted Executive Coach whose primary job is to listen intently to his clients, I can attest that over time, with self-awareness, hard work and discipline, anyone can become a highly effective listener. So there’s really no excuse to not improve in this skill. My efforts in becoming a better listener have enabled me to help my clients sort out their issues, put definite plans in place for success, be accountable for those plans and become more effective in their lives. Therefore, I strongly believe that listening is very much like a muscle in your physical body. The more you intentionally work it, the stronger it becomes and the more effective you become with your team. However, to have an effective listening regimen, you need to understand the different levels of listening.

While opinions differ on how many levels of listening there are, my executive coach training and experience have led me to conclude that there are roughly 4 levels of listening. 


  • Level 0 - The Absent-Minded Level of Listening:  Years ago Disney came out with a movie called “The Absent Minded Professor” that featured a brilliant professor who simply struggled with acknowledging the reality around him because he was singularly focused on his own inventions, thoughts, ideas, etc. I call this level “Absent Minded” because, like the professor in the movie, your mind is absent from the interaction with those around you who are trying to communicate with you. I also put this first level at a Level 0 because it’s really not listening at all but trying to cover up not listening with pleasantries and false pretenses. That’s what I tried to do with my young son. I failed miserably. And I have news for you, if you’re doing this with your people, you are too. 

    At this level of listening, you’re really just pretending to listen to someone but you’re actually focusing solely on something else that interests you more and doesn’t involve them at all. Your goal at this level of listening is to endure what you deem to be background static noise from the other person hoping that they take as little of your time as possible so you can retreat back to your own personal agenda and thoughts. Now, if we are to be brutally honest, this level of listening is really a form of disrespect and self-centeredness. It’s really not fair to the other person and yet, it’s something we all do from time to time. So what can we do to counteract this easy trap? First, it helps to have the self-awareness that we all do this and that we probably do it more than we should. If you know you are engaging in this lack of listening then you can stop yourself and decide to do something different by taking two simple steps.  First, after it dawns on you that you’re behaving like the Absent-Minded Professor, simply apologize to the other person for not paying attention to them. Fortunately, this faux pax is easily forgivable, probably because everyone is guilty of it from time to time. Second, either decide to start paying attention to the other person by employing one of other levels of listening that I’ll outline in a moment or ask if you can pick up the conversation at a later time when you are able to devote full attention to that person. This way, you not only give the other person the respect they deserve but you also give yourself the option of whether or not to go forward in the conversation in a polite manner. By giving the Absent-Minded Level of Listening this one-two punch, you stand a better chance of building rapport and respect with others on your team and increasing your active listening self-awareness.
  • Level 1 - The Burning Building Level of Listening: This is when you are receiving information from another person but are primarily focused on how the information affects you causing you to focus your thoughts on how you will respond when you get the chance to talk or act. This is a form of listening that probably takes place more than it should. Now to be fair, I think there are perfectly valid reasons to engage in this level of listening.  Imagine that you trying to escape from a burning building (hence the reason for the label) and you encounter a person in the building (like a firefighter) who is instructing you on how to safely exit the building. In that situation, I believe it is perfectly appropriate to focus only on how that person’s information affects you and you’d be wise to follow his or her instructions quickly. A less severe example is when you ask a person for directions, a librarian how to find a book or resource, etc. In those situations, the focus is on you and that can be perfectly acceptable. The other person doesn’t and shouldn’t have any expectation beyond providing you information other than a thank you. 

    The problem is that some leaders adopt the Burning Building Level of Listening to almost all interactions with their team. Because deadlines are real and the need for results create pressure, it’s easy to regard those who report to you as just a means to an end and thus employ the Burning Building Listening Level day in and day out, especially if your company is being run like a burning building (which should not be the case but that’s a subject for another day). Overuse of the Burning Building Level will erode and potentially destroy the trust, rapport and a strong team dynamic that’s required for you to achieve the results of which you and your team are capable. If people believe their leader views them as the functional equivalent of the Google GPS voice on their phones, existing solely for the leader’s benefit, I can assure you that sooner or later that leader will become isolated and frustrated, involved in expensive and time consuming remedial Human Resource tasks not the least of which is having to constantly find and train new employees due to high turnover. Want to engage with your team more effectively? Leave the Google GPS voice on your phone, save this level of listening for actual burning building or solely information gathering situations and become intentional about bringing your level of listening up a notch or two with your people.
  • Level 2 – The Connection Level of Listening: This next level of listening is more other person focused and helps them to not only relay information to you but also creates a stronger connection between you and them. This and the next level of listening is where I spend nearly all of my time with my clients and thus can assure you that both require a lot of intentionality and discipline to not only reach these listening levels but to also stay at them. At this level, you put your own thoughts and agenda to the side and focus solely on what the other person is saying. You’re not just waiting for you turn to speak. You are genuinely interested in the other person and what they are saying.  You use effective communication techniques like parroting back what they are saying (be careful with this because it can get annoying if overused) so you can be sure what you are hearing is what the other person intends to convey by repeating what you’ve heard and asking them to either confirm or correct your understanding. This level of listening not only helps you understand the message for your own purposes but also validates the other person by showing that they are being heard in a meaningful way which establishes a valid connection between you and the other person. This makes the transfer of information more effective because rapport has been built. The benefit for you at this level is that you stand a much better chance of receiving correct facts and information and improving your relationships with those around you, especially the team over which you are leading.  The benefit to your team is that they will feel heard and valued. If you want to take your listening and functional team dynamics to the next level, ratchet it up to The Connection Level of Listening.
  • Level 3 – The Intuitive Level of Listening: In my opinion, this level is not only the highest level of listening but it is also the hardest. It’s highest because you are really focusing on the other’s person’s highest good by relying on your intuition, that gut feeling that arises in relationships only after you’ve invested meaningful time at the Connection Level of listening with your team. This is the level where your intuition tells you the meaning behind the words you are hearing. It occurs when a person says something but you instinctively feel there is either dissonance or harmony between what they are saying and your understanding of them as a person. Thus, you probe further not merely for your own personal understanding but more so to help them. You’re interested in their highest good, so that’s why it’s the highest level of listening. It’s also the hardest level of listening because it takes time and effort.  You simply have to take more time and personal interest in the other person to get to this level. This is the listening level to which I strive when I am in coaching relationships with my clients because it is at this level of listening that I believe I can fully help them become the leader and person they are meant to be. And, because I think a vital part of effective leadership is being able to coach your team, I likewise believe that striving to become a more intuitive listener of your people is absolutely essential for you as a leader. Therefore, if you want to power-up your leadership and listening skills to their maximum effectiveness, try working on your intuitive listening skills as you interact with your team.  It will show your people you highly value them and give you the information that you need to be the leader you are meant to be.

Do you need some help in trying to develop your leadership and listening skills? Would Executive Coaching or Communication Training for you and your team help you and them become more effective and successful?  I stand ready to help you achieve BIG Results so drop me a line.  Either way, I’d love to hear from you.

Well, that’s all I have for now.  I hope this article is being a blessing to you in a BIG way.   Take care and stay tuned for my next installment of the BIG Leadership Series.

DEFINING REALITY is a BIG Leadership Responsibility!

Hello everyone, it’s Brian Bratti, President of Bratti Innovation Group (BIG) back with you again for this week’s edition of the BIG Leadership Series.  This week and month we move from Part 1 - Personal Leadership to Part 2 - Leading Others, the idea people commonly think of when they contemplate the subject of leadership. For those of you who have the privilege to lead others, one of the first lessons you inevitably learn is that while many leadership roles come with perks like a fancy title, bigger office, more money, etc., there is often a high price to be paid for those perks which take the form of more responsibility.  These increased responsibilities are multi-faceted and while all have varying degrees of importance, I believe one of the primary and most important duties a leader faces early on is to define reality for the team or organization he or she is leading.  In the book “Leadership Gold” by John Maxwell, an entire chapter is dedicated to this critical duty so let’s take a brief look at what that looks like:

By defining reality, John is talking not so much about creating it (although you can create an environment that is conducive to fostering creativity, respect and productivity for those you lead but that’s a subject for another time) but more about facing it.   One of the toughest problems with which you will grapple is dealing with realities you don’t like and those problems are amplified when you are charged with leading others.  Simply put, leaders are required to confront and address the difficult realities facing their teams or organizations so they can in fact lead them through those realities to accomplish their organizational mission and provide an example for those they lead. Some things to consider when facing and defining reality:

A Leader’s Choice:  “You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth.”  In the epic movie “The Matrix” Neo is faced with a choice offered by Morpheus that all leaders must face on a daily basis:  do you wake up in your bed (or office) and believe whatever it is you want to believe (the reality that is easier to face in the short term) or do you see how deep the rabbit hole really goes (and let’s face it, the rabbit hole cannot only go deep but also go to places you really don’t want go)?  I call this the Leadership Red Pill/Blue Pill Challenge and it comes with the leadership territory and no amount of leadership perks is going to make this challenge easy.  Aside from the fact that the story rarely ends when you take the blue pill, it may be easy to swallow at first and might even have a sweet taste but over time ingesting the blue pill has all the propensity of giving you painful ulcers later on.  The red pill can be like choking down a horse pill but, if handled correctly, can save you so much pain and aggravation later on you may not even remember how difficult it was to swallow at first.  At least it will have seemed worth the initial swallow.  So here’s the deal:  if you want to lead others, you’ll be swallowing a lot of red pills during your leadership tenure.  Thus, it is in your and your team’s best interest to identify your red pills daily and take them despite their initial discomfort.  You and your team will be glad you did.

You Can’t Adjust What You Don’t Address:  As a leader, your job is to set the vision for the organization, no arguments there.  However, the path you blaze to accomplish that vision is fraught with obstacles and difficulties which often require you to change direction, speed and methodology.  All of the tools you have in your toolbox for accomplishing your mission and fulfill your vision are the means by which you adjust the organization as you go.  Having a plan to accomplish this is important, but adjusting the plan as you go to meet the realities that neither you nor anybody else could not have possibly imagined at the time you made the plan is just as important.  To be able to make these adjustments, you need to confront the tough realities that are hitting your organization and define those realities to accomplish that goal.  Your adjustment tools are useless if they’re left in the toolbox because the reality was not defined, faced and addressed.

Paradise Lost:  Often when we think about facing and defining reality, our default mechanism is to focus solely on the negatives since they have the potential to make our lives utterly miserable and our organizations struggle.  However, I’d also add that there are opportunities that can be lost by not confronting the realities our organizations face.  As we look out over the bow of our organizational ships, we surely need to be eyeing coming storms but let’s also consider which way the business current is going so we can use it to pick up speed, engage the crew more effectively and charge towards the horizon more efficiently.  Reality is littered with many opportunities to grow our people and our organizations that we simply won’t see if we don’t take our role to define reality for our organization seriously.

Set Expectations Accordingly:  The difficult realities you face as a leader each day can be overwhelming at times.  They can morph right before your very eyes leaving you to ask just what the heck happened and how did it get this way.  John Maxwell recommends we address self-deception as leaders by understanding 3 simple yet very powerful principles that can help you level-set your expectations when walking into these kinds of situations:

  • The Situation is often worse than you think:  The human tendency to think the problem will go away on its own or easily is powerful.  However, by setting up the expectation that it is probably worse than you currently think, you start emotionally dealing with it beforehand which can help you be fully checked in during the time you address it rather than underestimate it’s full force.  And, if for some reason situation is actually better than you originally thought, then you’re ahead of the game. Not taking the realities of leadership lightly is a sure way to address those realities more productively and effectively so consider adding emotional margin into your expectations of the situation.
  • The Process usually takes longer than you think: The desire to motor through the problem as quickly as possible so you can “wake up in your bed (or office) and believe whatever it is you want to believe” is a powerful attraction.  Sometimes, it can feel that the current reality you are facing is all that stands between you and all the happiness that is left in the universe so you want to get through it as quickly as possible to become happy once again as quickly as possible.  By expecting the process to take longer than originally thought, you stand a better chance of staving off that very valid and understandable desire for happiness until you can get you and your organization through the process that’s needed to face that reality.  Thus, add margin to your process and you’ll be happy you did.
  • The Price always costs more than you think: In budgeting circles, many often use a fudge factor to make up for unexpected costs, like budget +10% or whatever you tend to use for those purposes.  Why not consider using this thinking for difficult realities you are facing?  Most difficult realities you will face as a leader will cost you something in terms of time, money, effort or all three.  You may want to consider factoring into that reality a cushion over and above your estimated price so that, if you happen to be spot on in your evaluation of the problem’s cost, you now have “extra” resources to dedicate elsewhere.  Price margin, it’s a good habit for facing and defining reality

Facing the tough realities of today’s marketplace can be daunting for any leader, especially if you are going it alone. So let me ask you, do you, like so many leaders today, struggle with identifying and dealing with some of the realities coming at you and your organization on a daily basis?  Would you benefit from having a “strategic thinking partner” who can help you sort them out and ask you the questions you need to hear to address them as only you can?  I’m available to talk with you about that and other ways to help you and your organization “Achieve BIG Results.”  Email me at or go to my website to learn how I can help you face and conquer your realities today!  In any event, I’d love to hear from you.

That’s all for this week.  I’ll be back next week when we look at one of the most crucial skills any leader must possess in abundance if he or she is able to address the realities facing his or her organization and that’s the Skill of Listening.  Bye for now and have a blessed week.



Reflection: The BIG Compass of Personal Leadership

Hello everyone and welcome back to the BIG Leadership Series.  I’m Brian Bratti, President of Bratti Innovation Group LLC (BIG) bringing you the final installment for this month’s BIG Leadership theme on Personal Leadership, an essential ingredient to growing yourself as a leader. As a quick recap, we’ve established that you really can’t effectively lead others if you’re not first working on your own personal leadership and growth.  Therefore, authentic leadership requires personal leadership which further requires you to first be intentional, so to avoid the various potholes (or gaps) along your personal growth road that can stall your efforts and thus take you out of the race before you make any serious headway.  We then included the need to take action because without action as a catalyst for your plan, it will always remain just that; a plan.  Next we determined that you need to establish an accountability mechanism to serve as a guardrail to keep you from veering off of your personal growth road and into the ditches of Productive Procrastination, the Shiny Object Syndrome and a host of others. (For more on these subjects check out my previous blog at  Now, we’re going to address the concept of engaging in REFLECTION - The BIG Compass of your Personal Leadership.

John Maxwell’s book “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” dedicates an entire chapter to what John calls “The Law of Reflection – Learning to Pause Allows Growth to Catch Up to You.”  We’ll be taking some material from that book and chapter to help you take the necessary time to periodically pause and take stock of your journey.  Your growth road will inevitably have intersections and detours that come with any growth plan and cultivating the regular habit of reflection can help you continuously evaluate your journey as you as you navigate these critical junctures in your growth as a leader to keep yourself pointed in the right direction.  So let’s take a look at REFLECTION – The BIG Compass of Personal Leadership

John Maxwell indicates there is power in pausing to take stock of your experiences and recommends doing so by you using your “I’s”:

Investigation:  Finding meaning in each experience is crucial to self-reflection.  As you pause to reflect about the road on which you find yourself, be sure to seriously examine your experiences and investigate their meaning to you, how they shaped where you are right now and what they mean for you going forward.  I’ve often been told that part of the task of personal growth is the ability to realize that what may have worked for you in the past may not work for you now or in the future.  For example, what served you as an infant to let the outside world know you were uncomfortable (hungry, needed a new diaper, cold, not feeling well, etc.) was to cry, scream and become upset since without engaging in these actions, no one would have any way of knowing about your discomfort.  As you grew, you learned other techniques to address your discomfort (well, at least I hope you have!) and thus what worked for you as an infant does not serve you (or anyone else really) as an adult.  The same goes for your other areas of growth, including your Personal Leadership.  Pausing to reflect and investigate what worked then but doesn’t work now is a great way to get keen insights during your time of reflection by helping you choose your future actions when you come to crossroads in your journey.

Incubation:  John likens incubation to crockpot cooking: it allows experiences and thoughts to grow to their full potential.  In the rush and unrelenting pace of life, especially for someone charged with leading others, decisions often have to be made quickly thus the ability to make quick decisions can become habitual.  Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing.  Quick decisiveness in leadership is an important and necessary skill to acquire and cultivate because many of the problems we face and opportunities that arise before us don’t often wait for us to get comfortable with them or allow us to examine all of the available alternatives as completely and as thoroughly as we would like.  Thus, quick decisions can be very good.  However, when it comes to our Personal Leadership Growth, the habit of making snap decisions may not always serve our best interests and thus the need to pause and reflect so ideas and decisions can incubate can be invaluable.  For example, some people I have mentored in the past have asked me about whether they should pursue an advanced degree.  As someone with a graduate degree with many years of schooling, I have a keen appreciation for higher education.  However, I’ve also learned that a degree alone is not a silver bullet for all things career and professional.  Nor is it necessarily the key to bliss and happiness.  Thus, when asked this question, I have often advised people who are considering obtaining an advanced degree to know why they want it, what it will do for them, what it will not do for them and how they believe it will be a good return on investment in terms of both the time and money it will cost them.  And make no mistake about it, education costs are high in terms of both time and money (for more on the value of time see my previous blog@  In essence, I’ve asked them to engage in deep reflection at this important crossroad decision by asking some reflective questions about their values, goals, tradeoffs, etc.  By doing to so, they stand a better chance of not having buyer’s remorse after they’ve plunked down a large chunk of change and agreed to trade what can be years of time in books and studious isolation in exchange for family time, recreation, hobbies, another career, etc.  Thus, as you move down your growth road, you’ll inevitably come to a crossroad similar to this so making time for regular reflection on matters important to you will better equip you to take the turn or detour that works best for you based on your values.

Illumination:  This involves the process of placing value on your experiences and performance.  One of biggest enemies of reflection is going through our days (and our lives) on autopilot.  Often we go through our day unconsciously, the result of which is our experiences are just that – experiences, with no thought as to what they mean for us to move ourselves forward.  Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living.  While people can debate that statement I don’t think there is much debate about the importance of regularly examining or shining light on our lives and experiences.  The idea behind illumination is to daily and intentionally shine a light onto our daily experiences and performance so we capture their meaning while the memory is still fresh.  If you hope to use reflection to ensure your growth compass is always pointing in the right direction, place value on your daily experience and performance so you can take the next step which is…

Illustration:  This is the process of expanding your experiences into teachable lessons. As stated above, you need to shine a light on your experiences and performance so you can give them value.  However, if you were to stop there I think these steps would have been in vain.  Reflecting on your experiences through investigation, Incubation and Illumination wouldn’t help much you if you didn’t learn from them and use that information to keep your compass pointed in the right direction.  Illustration does this.  By viewing your experiences as teachable lessons, you can then use the information derived from those lessons to adjust your compass readings to keep yourself on the proper course.   Be sure to use daily illustration to as your teacher from your experiences to make sure you’re taking the right road for your Personal Leadership Growth.

Now that you have a rough outline of what could constitute elements of a good reflection, I think it’s important to drive home the idea that this exercise needs to be habitual and frequent.  John Maxwell engages in reflection at the end of each day so no day goes by wasted.  In essence, he wrings out the most value he can from each day by choosing to reflect on it via asking himself the following three questions:

  1. What did I learn today?
  2. How can I apply what I learned today?
  3. How can I pass on what I learned today?

I’m not going to go into each question in depth in this article since I think they are pretty self-explanatory.  Suffice it to say that if you could make this exercise part of your daily regimen, it would go a long way to help you keep your growth compass oriented in the right direction and you on the right road.

In closing , bear in mind that the concepts I’ve outlined here and in previous articles are only snippets from the book “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.”  If you have found this and the past articles on Personal Leadership and growth helpful, I encourage you to consider enrolling in one of my BIG Mastermind Groups that cover the entire book (for more what a Mastermind Group is, see my blog of last week on Accountability @ ).  By being part of a BIG Mastermind Group, you not only further invest in your Personal Leadership Growth but you also become a part of a larger online community comprised of other like-minded professionals who are eager to grow themselves as well. I’m available at to help you pursue personal excellence and growth.  In any event, I’d love to hear from you.

Well, this wraps up Part 1 of this Big Leadership Series on Personal Leadership.  I hope you found the material helpful as you seek to be intentional, action-oriented, accountable and reflective about your Personal Leadership Growth Plan while leading your team or organization towards achieving BIG results.  Next month we explore “Leading Others” which is what’s commonly referred to as leadership.  Thanks for letting me be a part of your weekly leadership odyssey for the past few weeks and I’ll be back at you next week.  Take care and have a blessed week.




Accountability: The BIG Guardrail of Personal Leadership

Hello everyone, it’s Brian Bratti again with this week’s edition on BIG Leadership.  This is the 3rd installment in a 3 month weekly series on Leadership with this month’s theme being Personal Leadership.  Next month we’ll delve into leading others (which is what is commonly referred to as “leadership”) and end in June on the subject of developing others – the legacy responsibility of all leaders. Initially, we looked at how not being intentional about Personal Leadership is a BIG mistake.  Last week we considered how action was the BIG catalyst in Personal Leadership.  This week we’ll look at the subject of Accountability – The Guardrail of Personal Leadership.  I call Accountability a guardrail because I believe your Personal Leadership Growth Plan is like a road that is full of potholes (or gaps as we discussed two weeks ago) and surrounded by ditches and ravines that are easy to veer off into as life throws its demands your way as you pursue to improve yourself as a person and as a leader.  Thus, if you want to keep yourself from careening into a ditch or off a cliff from the road that will take you from where you are to where you desire to go, getting involved in an accountability program is one of the best actions you can do for yourself in this regard.

When we think of accountability we often harken back to the old fashion (and in my opinion completely outdated) yearly performance appraisal process with an employer.  To be quite frank, I’m surprised that employers still rely on this antiquated and generally ineffective tool to drive results and influence behavior.  It’s a process that can be can be perfunctory at best and unnecessarily painful at worst, often riddled with subjectivity, errors and documentation issues.  If an employer annual review is your idea of accountability, then I wouldn’t blame you for not embracing it as a means to help you grow.  But, I’ll leave the subject of improving that process for another day other than to say this is not what I’m suggesting when it comes to accountability in the personal growth context.  So if you are interested in looking at a more practical and user friendly mechanism for accountability, let’s take a look to see what other accountability possibilities you can consider to help you enhance your chances of staying on your personal growth road.

I believe accountability can come in one of two forms:  group and one-on-one and can be formal and informal.  Let’s take a look at the group model first:

Informal Study Groups

Generally, groups of this nature take the form of people getting together for a common purpose like a church Bible study which can involve both men and women in the same group or be segregated by gender.  I am a big supporter of these groups as they help enrich us and others through shared learning, fellowship, receiving and giving varying opinions and insights, etc.  And, as a married Christian man, I have participated and continue to participate in both men’s and couple’s Bible study groups on a weekly basis.   While these experiences have been a huge blessing in my life, I find they do not by themselves offer the level of accountability needed for me to further my Personal Leadership Growth Plan to drive the positive results I seek.  The reason for this is, as a general rule, these kinds of groups normally have informal accountability among members at best.  The main goal of these groups is learning and socializing, not accountability necessarily.  Many times confidentiality among members of these informal groups is based on the Las Vegas model (what is said in the group stays in the group) rather than a formal written agreement.  Finally, these groups are often not professionally facilitated with the intention of solving particular problems, establishing definitive plans of action going forward or creating a vibrant system of accountability for change and results.  Thus, while these kinds of groups definitely fill a valuable need in all of our lives and I highly recommend them, relying on them as your guardrail can be a bit dubious at best.  However, if you find you need more fellowship, ideas and camaraderie with others who can give you some loose level of accountability, these might be a smart choice for you.

Mastermind Groups (MMGs)

These groups offer more in the form of structure and are formed for a particular learning objective (For example, I lead an MMG that is centered on leadership and based on John Maxwell’s book “Leadership Gold”).  They normally have a definite beginning and end, the duration of which can be for as little as a few weeks or as long as a few months and usually meet for about an hour or so once a week.  Most MMGs are organized and facilitated by a professionally trained facilitator whose job is to keep the process productive and ensure the learning is not just for information but for application as well.  Confidentiality issues are usually handled Vegas style as well and the participants make personal obligations from what they learned from the material studied.  There is often encouragement for people to reach goals but goals are not formally tracked from meeting to meeting in most instances other than a general discussion among the group.  Thus, while these groups tend to have an increased level accountability over an informal Bible or book study, it is often limited to the time available for each member during the weekly sessions and when the group ends, the accountability usually ends. For those interested in pursuing this concept further, I offer some great mastermind group programs via the John Maxwell Team both in person and online.  See my website for more details.  So, if you are hungry to learn and apply growth and leadership concepts to your life with a higher degree of accountability for results, MMGs might be the way to go for you.

Formal Peer Advisory Groups or Boards (PABs)

I call these kinds of groups the graduate school of accountability in a group setting because their main objective is not just learning but, more importantly, application and accountability for professional and organizational growth and solutions to particular problems.  Unlike MMGs, PABs normally meet monthly for either half a day or a whole day and are designed to continue meeting for as long as the members desire with many groups of this nature meeting for many years, growing and holding each other accountable for results.  Like MMGs, they are often facilitated by a professionally trained facilitator but follow a more rigorous and defined meeting agenda.  Unlike MMGs, they normally require a signed confidentiality agreement because the nature of the subject matter that could be discussed (such as corporate financials, etc.).  The PAB program with which I’m most familiar is the CBMC Leadership Institute Peer Advisory Board Program for which I am the Director in Charlotte North Carolina.  In this program, designed for Christian men who are CEOs/Business Owners & Senior Executives, we take these leaders out of their businesses once a month so they can work on their businesses and faith with other like-minded business leaders.  I tell people we offer MBA level business and leadership training with MDiv level theology along with a crucial meeting segment that is specifically designed to help a business owner solve a pressing spiritual/family/business problem with the help of his “Board of Advisors.”  Key to this process is the leader deciding from among the suggestions provided by his peers, a course of action the progress on which he will report to his “Board” in the following and subsequent months.  Thus, while business and faith learning and training is an integral part of the experience, the accountability of following up on next steps is likewise crucial.  There are also secular forms of this model, all of which help leaders in critical positions of authority navigate their businesses without feeling they have to “go it alone.”  If you are a Christian businessman with the title of CEO, Business Owner or Senior Executive and is interested in being part of a group of 8-12 similar Christian business leaders to help you take your personal leadership, faith and organization to the next level, then CBMC’s Leadership Institute may be something for you.  Again, feel free to check out my website at or go to for more details how you can take advantage of this amazing tool available for your Personal Leadership.

Executive/Leadership Coaching

Now all of the above programs offer tremendous personal growth opportunities and I highly recommend you consider exploring each one for yourself.  As indicated, each has varying levels of accountability and all serve a great purpose in our lives.  However, I strongly believe if you really want to increase your chances of accountability and take your Personal Leadership Growth Plan to the next level, a formal Executive/Leadership coaching arrangement cannot be beat.  In a formal coaching relationship, the sessions are all about the person being coached (namely, you) but unlike athletic coaching, you are not “taught” or “trained” in the classical sense (remove the picture of a barking, yelling, drill-instructor type football coach from your thinking).  Rather, you are coached to think for yourself, look for answers inside yourself and come up with solutions and accountabilities that only you can provide with the help of a dedicated and professionally trained coach who is only focused on one thing – you.  While group coaching and the others mentioned above can provide varying levels of accountability, you are still sharing a resource for this purpose and thus your results will be limited to what that resource is able to provide to the group as a whole.  In a personal coaching format, all the focus is on you, your goals, aspirations and agenda.  It is similar to having private golf lessons vs. group golf lessons with the major difference being that you are not being “taught how to” do what is you want to do but are encouraged to think for yourself and explore the resources already inside you for taking your game to the next level.  Moreover, if you are simultaneously part of a MMG or PAB and in a formal coaching relationship with a professionally trained coach, you get the double benefit of receiving sound training and advice from others along with the assistance of a coach to help you sort out where it all fits into your growth and plans.  So, if you want to ratchet up your accountability to the highest level, consider engaging an Executive/Leadership coach to help you grow in your Personal Leadership.

That’s about all I have this week on accountability.  While certainly not exhaustive, these are some of the many options available for you to keep yourself safely on the road to Personal Leadership by avoiding potholes/gaps and steering clear of ditches and ravines awaiting you when you face the inevitable curves and bends that comprise every personal growth road.  At Bratti Innovation Group (BIG) we offer Mastermind Groups, Executive Coaching and Christian CEO/Business Owner Peer Advisory Board Programs to help you establish accountability guardrails as you navigate this terrain.  Again, check us out at for more details.

Next week, we’ll finish up this month’s topic on Personal Leadership by looking at the topic that safeguards us not by keeping us on the road but by making sure the road we’re on is still the right one:  The Law of Reflection from John Maxwell’s book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.”  Thanks and have a blessed week.

Action: The BIG Catalyst For Personal Leadership

Last week we kicked off this series on leadership by beginning with the proposition that to properly lead others we need to begin with ourselves.  Moreover, if we want to lead a successful and growing organization or team, the members of that organization or team must likewise be successful and growing which includes you and me.  But, if we give ourselves a pass on personal growth while expecting it from our teams, we are then committing the leadership sin of “do as I say, not as I do”, which damages our credibility as leaders.  Therefore, to be effective leaders, we need to have an intentional Personal Leadership Growth Plan in place for ourselves.   We then outlined eight pitfalls or gaps that can keep us from establishing such a plan.  We’ll now take a look at one of the next steps in our journey to grow ourselves, lead our organizations and subsequently grow others. Last week I also indicated that our next subject would be Accountability.  However, I jumped the gun.  So, I’ve decided to step back from Accountability for this week and be true to BIG’s KAAIR FormulaKnowledge + ACTION + Accountability = Improved Results.  Therefore, I’m dedicating this week’s subject to Action - The BIG Catalyst for Personal Leadership because without action, your Personal Leadership Growth Plan is nothing more than that; just a plan and plans without action are merely wishes or pipe dreams.  So, let’s take a look at action and some of the pitfalls that we all can experience as we put our plans into ACTION.  We’ll dive into the subject of accountability next week.

Now there are many aspects to action.  I don’t intend for this article to be exhaustive in that respect.  However, I’ve included some critical action elements you may want to consider as you seek to increase in your Personal Leadership:

  • SMART Actions from SMART Goals: I would be remiss if I left out the time tested SMART acronym for action steps since SMART goals should create SMART actions.  For those of us who need a refresher or are new to the SMART acronym, it states that, for goals to be effective, they should be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.  I believe this applies to actions that come from the goals as well.  For application purposes, let’s take Specific as an example.  Let’s say you have determined that you would like to grow in the area of listening this year (check out John Maxwell’s book “Leadership Gold” Chapter 6 that is entitled “The Best Leaders are Listeners” for some insights on this.).  For this very worthwhile goal you could establish specific actions that would help you improve your listening skills.  As outlined in the book, you could make as a weekly action step to be more attentive to small issues or choose to utilize your intuition more during discussions, or pay closer attention to what is not being said, etc.  The idea here is to take your specific goals from your Personal Leadership Growth Plan and assign specific action items to them.  You can then apply the remaining elements of Measurable, Attainable, and Relevant & Timely in much the same fashion.  When you assign SMART actions to SMART goals you increase the likelihood of implementing them and achieving your goals.
  • Line of Sight to the Plan: This may sound elementary, but your action steps need to be tied directly to your Plan.   I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed people who had great goals but then were engaging in activities that did not have a direct line of sight back to their Personal Leadership Growth Plan.  The result of that is they get down the road a bit and then wonder why they haven’t realized any change or improved results.  Sometimes the most obvious things are neglected.  Make sure you tie your action steps directly to your plan and do them, plain and simple.
  • Focused on and supportive of plan results: Having desired results that drive the plan is what differentiates action steps from mere activities.  Personal Leadership Growth Plans are goal oriented and therefore the action steps that derive from them are focused on and supportive of the desired results. A good way to make sure this is happening is when you devise your action steps, answer this question for each action item:  how does this action support the results I desire that drive my Personal Leadership Growth Plan?  And, when you’re engaging in those actions, make it a point to remember how they support your goals as you reinforce yourself being on the right track.  You can’t go wrong if you focus on and engage in the execution of the action steps that support your Personal Leadership Growth Plan.
  • Time limits and milestones: This is covered under the SMART acronym but because I think the lack of this feature is often a major culprit in dooming many plans before they get any traction, I am singling it out here.  If we don’t put a time limit by which we will take action or include milestones/checkpoints along the way so we can pause and see how we are doing in our actions, we probably won’t take action at all.  Other pressing matters will steal our attention.  We’ll get caught up in the urgent and leave the important (like our personal and professional growth) out in the cold.  We’ll be reacting to our environment instead of being a force in it.  Therefore, we need to make sure those plans don’t sit on a computer somewhere, taking up space on a server or hard drive rather than in our lives.  To ensure our actions actually take place, we need to establish due dates, checkpoints and timelines for them.
  • Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize! If it is location, location, location in real estate, then I think it’s prioritize, prioritize, prioritize in personal leadership.  I heard Albert Einstein once said “the only reason time exists is so everything doesn’t happen all at once.”  Without prioritization of action steps it can seem as if everything is happening at all at once leaving us unsure of what to do next.  That’s why when creating our plans, prioritizing our action steps is so vital.  By predetermining which steps come first and in what order we stand a better chance of putting them into action since that decision would have already been made beforehand and not in the heat of the moment when the world and all of its demands come bearing down on us.  After all, that’s one of the hallmarks of being a great leader:  the ability to prioritize.  If we believe we can prioritize for our team or our organization, we should be able to prioritize for our Personal Leadership growth and the more we exercise the prioritization muscle in our actions, the more developed it will become.  Don’t forget prioritization when taking action.
  • Sense of Urgency & Emotions: Personal Leadership growth must come from a deep desire for change in ourselves so the action steps associated with our growth plan must likewise be tied to that desire.  When taking action, don’t forget the value of your heartfelt desire when you established your action steps.  It can help you later on when you don’t’ feel like taking those steps.  For example, want to create action steps to lose weight?  Consider writing down how you felt about your weight and yourself when you started your plan, how you believe you will feel when you’ve achieve your goal and then refer back to those feelings when you are engaging in your action steps.  Don’t be shy here.  Write it out in rich and vivid detail.  Take pictures.  Do whatever it takes to keep that desire fresh.  It could make the difference between the decision to jump on the treadmill or the sofa!
  • Value, Risks & Tradeoffs: People value different things in life.  Some value having a big home, others want a smaller home but the ability to go on cool vacations.  Some people value expensive cars while others would rather have an inexpensive car but a nice boat (Having owned a boat myself I now tend to favor having a friend with a really nice boat but that’s just me).  So, not only do many things in life involve tradeoffs but they also have relative value depending on the worth a person ascribes to them.  However, there is one thing that I think we all can agree on as being truly priceless because once it is gone, there is no amount of money that can bring it back and that’s time.  As a side note, I recall hearing a story of a person who complained about not having enough time and wanting more and the response to that complaint caught me by surprise.  The retort was we all get all the time there is – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There simply is no more time to be had or given, so asking for more time is not a worthwhile way to spend our time (isn’t that ironic?).  Well the same can be said about actions relating to our Personal Leadership Growth Plan.  Engaging in the action steps to grow yourself personally will require risks and tradeoffs of this invaluable asset we call time which will take you away from other things that might not necessarily be bad.  In fact, these other things might be very good but not very great.  Thus, there are costs that need to be weighed when mapping out these personal growth action steps which also need to be remembered when actually engaging in them.  Remember why you put yourself on the path you are on and it will help you maintain the actions you need to take to achieve what you have planned.

Of course, like intentions, there are also pitfalls that lay in the path of the actions we endeavor to implement as we seek to grow ourselves.  Again, this is not an exhaustive list by any means but some of the more prevalent ones I have witnessed in my coaching experience.  Aside from the 8 gaps mentioned last week which can also apply to actions, here a few more to consider as you move forward on your Personal Leadership Growth Plan:

  • Productive Procrastination: This gap or pitfall is probably one of the most insidious of them all because when you’re engaging in it you actually feel like you are accomplishing something.  If you are allowing yourself to slip into Productive Procrastination, you are technically moving the ball forward but only by inches or millimeters at best.  The actions from your plan, however, are designed to move it yards, gets you first downs and ultimately a touchdown (an analogy for my fellow football fans).  An example of this pitfall in action is deleting junk email (which admittedly needs to be done and is a good thing) but doing it during your most productive time of the day rather than making sales calls or analyzing data, or whatever it is you do that moves your ball the most.  When this gap or pitfall creeps in, remember the actions from your Personal Leadership Growth Plan and what they mean to you in terms of achieving your goals or what you have determined to be your “touchdown.”  Will deleting that junk email right now when you should be making your next sales call really get you where you need to be?  Beware of Productive Procrastination’s feel good illusion and remember your growth action steps when it rears its ugly head!
  • The Shiny Object Syndrome: This is a phrase I learned from the John Maxwell Team and is akin to productive procrastination.  But, rather than seeming productive, the shiny object is merely more interesting.  It can affect everyone from those just starting out in business to the seasoned CEO of a large corporation.  The Shiny Object Syndrome involves dabbling in other interesting and desirable ideas, tasks or activities that pop up in the midst of implementing our Personal Leadership Growth Plan action steps that, at first blush, seem more appealing than what we originally planned to do.  They’re new, fresh and alluring but designed to take you off track and torpedo your growth and goals.  They are a candy bar and not a healthy and nutritious meal.  Sure you get a momentary good feeling from them but they don’t move you forward toward your goal.  They sideline you, waste your value time (see the above) and undermine your Personal Leadership Growth Plan.  Beware of the Shiny Object Syndrome as you take action in your Personal Leadership.
  • Fatigue: So you’ve created a really cool Personal Leadership Growth Plan.  It contains some very smart action steps and you’re growing yourself as a leader.  You may even be seeing some positive improvements out of the gate.  You’re not quite where you want to be but you can definitely see some results.  And then, reality hits.  Days and weeks get long, deadlines press down and the world (which is not remotely interested in your Personal Growth Plan by the way) pushes against you and you start to feel fatigue.  You will get tired of working on yourself even though it’s in your best interest.  It’s coming.  So what do you do?  Sure, part of the answer lies in your own perseverance and discipline.  A leader needs to be focused and self-disciplined, no questions there.  However, could you use some help?  Sure, and that’s the next bullet point and subject for next week.
  • Lack of Accountability: Again, this is one we’ll address next week.  Suffice it for now to say that actions stand a whole lot better chance of actually taking place when accountability is part of the growth and improved results equation.  Stay tuned for more on that next week.

So, as I wrap up this edition on Personal Leadership, I have to ask you, where are you with regard to action?  Are your goals pretty amazing but your results not so?  Are some of these pitfalls or the ones we discussed last week tripping up you or members of your organization and thus preventing you and them from moving forward as quickly and effectively as you would like?  Check out my website for some information on how BIG Coaching, BIG Training or BIG Mastermind groups could help you and your organization at or drop me a line at  I’d love to hear from you either way.

That’s all for me this week.  I look forward to being with you again next week when we look at one of the most effective safeguards to your Personal Leadership – Accountability (no, I really mean it this time).  Thanks and have a blessed week!

Accidental Personal Leadership is a BIG Mistake!

Hello everyone I’m Brian Bratti with Bratti Innovation Group (BIG) where we help you achieve BIG Results.  Welcome to my weekly BIG Blog Series.  This month I’m kicking off a 3 month series on the subject of Leadership.  For the month of April, I’ll be discussing Personal Leadership, the foundation for all leadership pursuits.  In May we’ll address the topic of Leading Others, the primary calling of a Leader.  And finally, for the month of June, I’ll be discussing the topic of Developing Other Leaders, which involves the legacy responsibility all great leaders embrace.  For each week I’ll tackle one aspect of these three subjects in hopes that it will “Help You Achieve BIG Results!”

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Subject of Personal Leadership.

Leadership assumes that you cannot effectively lead others if you cannot lead yourself.  As a former military officer, I remember learning the leader’s mantra: “don’t just do as I say, but do as I do” and believe that statement applies to anyone in a leadership role.  This is because leadership by example creates legitimacy in the eyes of those you lead so if you struggle with leading yourself (Personal Leadership), you most assuredly will struggle with leading others.  In fact, John Maxwell, the author of numerous books and the founder of the company for which I am licensed and certified to Coach, Speak & Train says there are two questions every leader must ask himself or herself:  1) What am I doing to develop myself and 2) What I am doing to develop others.  This month, we’ll tackle the first one.

One of the foundational principles of leading yourself is the idea of being intentional about your own personal growth.  If you lead others and are not intentionally growing yourself, you will soon be left behind in terms of ideas and cutting edge thinking, resulting in the loss of credibility with those you are trying to lead.  This is because those you lead who are on intentional growth plans will grow and you will not.  Moreover, if you are not intentional about your personal growth, you leave your own personal well-being and growth to chance and, chances are, when left to chance you don’t stand much of a chance in succeeding in being the person and leader you are meant to be (try saying that five times fast).  So what does being intentional about personal growth as a leader look like and what are some of the pitfalls of choosing to not being intentional about investing in yourself?

In his book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” John Maxwell discusses 15 laws that we must learn, live and master if we want to reach our true potential, the first of which is the Law of Intentionality.  The Law of Intentionality states, quite simply, growth doesn’t just happen.  And by growth we mean getting better.  By not improving ourselves through personal growth, we remain as we are with the only difference being we’ve added to ourselves more years but not more wisdom and improvement.  I’m sure you’ve seen examples in your own life where a person can have 10 years of experience and another can have 2 years of experience five times.  That’s the difference between growing and aging.  They can take place simultaneously but not necessarily.  Unfortunately, many of us are not intentional about growing ourselves and this could be due to the 8 gaps that John says stand between where we are right now and the action needed to get us where we want to be.  So, to be intentional in our Personal Leadership and growth, we need to identify and avoid or get ourselves out of these gaps which are:

  • The Assumption Gap: This gap arises from the belief “I assume I will automatically grow.” As stated above, the problem with this assumption is that meaningful growth does not happen on its own and if it does by some miracle happen, the obvious question is how will we know it?  If we haven’t set a desired outcome beforehand and have not been intentional about growth, how will we know when we reach it?  Many assume we just grow naturally.  We don’t.  Don’t fall into the Assumption Gap.
  • The Knowledge Gap – This gap arises from the belief that “I don’t know how to grow.” Because many of us haven’t had the structure of formal education for a long time, we aren’t in the habit of setting aside organized time for intentional learning and growing.  Therefore, we might have forgotten how to grow ourselves.  If you find yourself yearning for growth but not knowing how to do it, consider becoming more intentional in investigating how to put in place a plan for your personal growth today.  It will be one of the wisest investments you can make in yourself.
  • The Timing Gap – This gaps involves the idea that “It’s not the right time to begin.” This is the gap that may be one of the worst of all because if the timing is never right (and it often isn’t), then the growth never starts.  Many of us are constantly starting to start and that normally gets us nowhere.  He’s the reality: it is rarely convenient to start anything meaningful because those activities often require effort and personal growth is one of those activities.  If you’re waiting to start, then you might be struggling with the Timing Gap.
  • The Mistake Gap – This gap centers around the notion of “I’m afraid of making mistakes.” Admittedly, no one likes to make mistakes.  They can be painful and often embarrassing.  However, we often have a wrong viewpoint on mistakes (for more on this, please see my other blog post on this subject entitled “Give Yourself Permission to Fail” or consider joining my online mastermind class based on John Maxwell’s book “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn”).  Suffice it to say that if you aren’t willing to make mistakes, you aren’t willing to grow because growth doesn’t happen without mistakes.  If a fear of making mistakes is holding you from pursuing the creation of a personal growth plan for yourself, you’re in the Mistake Gap.
  • The Perfection Gap – This gap is formed around the belief that “I have to find the best way before I start.” This is akin to the Timing Gap.  Being intentional about your growth will never be perfect nor will there ever be a perfectly straight line between where you are right now and where you want to go.  If you’re waiting for the perfect way or timing, you’ll probably be waiting for a very long time.  Don’t wait for the “best way” to magically appear before you put in place a growth plan for yourself and avoid the Perfection Gap.
  • Inspiration Gap – This gaps arises from the emotion “I don’t feel like doing it.” Here is where we need to address our feelings head on by acknowledging feelings can be unreliable.  Ask any professional athlete if they train only when they feel like it and I’m pretty sure they will tell you absolutely not.  In fact, often the most growth and improvement an athlete may experience is precisely when they “don’t feel like doing it.”  The same is true for you and me if we want to grow beyond where we are now.  Chances are, there will be many times we “won’t feel like doing it” but the ability to push through those feelings is absolutely essential to growing both as a person and as a leader.  If you don’t feel like putting a growth plan in place for yourself right now, that’s probably the best indicator that you should do precisely that – start creating a growth plan for yourself right now!
  • The Comparison Gap – This gap comes from thinking “Others are better than I am.” Here’s another truth: there will always be someone better than you and me at something.  No champion gets the title “Champion for Life.”  All wins are temporary and all trophies tarnish.  Also, you probably don’t have all the facts concerning what that person did to get to that champion status.  One of the cures for this gap is the ability to cultivate the discipline of rejoicing for those who are in front of us so that we might not only be able to now shift our focus from them to our personal growth plan (where it belongs) and thus actually move ourselves forward but also be able to help those who are behind us and watching us as examples to follow.  Comparisons never help us in our own growth.  In fact, they stymie growth.  Do you want to get out of the Comparison Gap?  Start by being happy for those who do well around you so you can move on to working on your own growth plan by staying out of theirs.
  • The Expectation Gap – This gap arises from the expectation of “I thought it would be easier than this.” We all know that nothing worth having is easy so it’s no different when we look at our own personal growth.  As Henry Ford said, “Most folks miss opportunity because it’s usually dressed in overalls and looks like work.” If we want to grow, we’re signing up for work, plain and simple.  John Maxwell says the difference between a winner and whiner is a whiner wants to feel good before they do something and a winner does something and then feels good.  The winner understands that the right emotions follow the right actions and not the other way around.  Therefore, if you’re thinking you need to feel good to create a growth plan for yourself you run the risk of abandoning it when the going gets tough (and it will) and thus forego the chances of it doing you any good.  Growth plans cannot rely on expectations that growth will be easy.  Don’t allow your personal growth to be held captive to this illusion and resolve to make yourself an effective growth plan today.

So now that you’ve seen these gaps I have to ask you – do any of them resonate with you right now? Below is a chart taken from John’s book where you can measure where you are with regard to any gaps in which you may find yourself.  Go ahead and take a moment to see where you stand in the intentionality gaps:

Accidental Growth                                                                                          Intentional Growth

0              1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9         10

Plans to start tomorrow –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Insists on starting now

Waits for growth to come –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Takes responsibility to grow

Learns only from mistakes –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Learns before mistakes

Depends on good luck –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Relies on hard work

Quits early and often –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Perseveres long and hard

Falls into bad habits ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Fights for good habits

Talks big –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Follows through

Plays it safe ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Takes risks

Thinks like a victim ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Thinks like a learner

Relies on talent –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Relies on character

Stops learning after graduation ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Never stops learning

If you’re like most people who do not have a growth plan in place, your scores in one or more of the above areas may indicate where you are being held back and where you may need to become more intentional about taking control of your Personal Leadership.  So I commend you to use these scores to become intentional about creating a Personal Leadership growth plan today.  Next week we’ll address what I believe is one of the most effective safeguards to your Personal Leadership – Accountability.

Finally, do you want to put your Personal Leadership growth on the fast track?  Email me at or check out some of my coaching, training and mastermind group services on my website for more information on how I can help you and your organization achieve BIG Results.  Thanks and I look forward to being with you again next week.