This was holding me back and it holds you back also...

Weeks ago I wanted to launch an idea but I lingered. For days. And then it hit me like a pile of bricks. SightShift has grown. It is happening. And I didn't want to risk a failure. I had started playing "not to lose" rather than playing to win. 

Do you show up like Goliath or David? One is the humble underdog. One begs to be taken down. The key is no matter what to stay the humble underdog. Stay hungry. Stay captivated with your crazy goals and desires.

There's so much I don't know. There's so much I want to learn. (My curiosity can drive me a little crazy with all I want to learn and understand.) The minute I stop being the underdog in my brain the 40,000 certified coaches becomes a result I get attached to rather than loving the process of the continual climb. 

A few current curiosities if you're curious...

Let's talk about intellect and intuition. 
I've been doing a really deep dive into a number of fields and came across a way of expressing an idea. Seeing Blaise Pascal write hundreds of years ago about the the way your intellect and intuition processes an experience shook me.  For the last 10 years one of the most impactful changes that has happened to me is learning to experience the moment and not just analyze it. The way I've been wording it is learning to receive what is happening then process it. Even if the processing kicks in a second after you notice the sensations it opens up your ability to be present. This is what I was trying to say in the Figure That Shift Out book with the story where my daughter slipped me that note. It's a wonderful feeling to feel like you hug your daughter for the first time. You can "receive" that feeling many times. 

Let's talk about identity. 
Learning how to cooperate with how your brain already processes your experiences through identity is the key hinge point for what SightShift is all about. I've been fascinated recently to see some teams I'm working with have a lightbulb moment when they see it. They get their business identity is important. You can't market effectively if you don't know the identity of your business. The same is true for the individual! In fact we could say it is more true. All truth is expressed through language and metaphors and yes so much is perception. But you can anchor in. I've doing a lot more study on social policies as I get more questions regarding building communities around the SightShift ideas. Lots more to say here for another time but it still goes back to the individual and their discovery of who they are.

Let's talk about solving problems. 
If you're not energized to solve problems in your mission or community, in your business or your relationships then you're blocked up. Everyone gets blocked up. Few continually unblock. After the academy came out something in me changed about how I relate to the day to day function of my work. I've spent so many years building and tightening the content of SightShift. I felt stuck looking at computer screen with a pile of tasks that are no longer my "A" priorities. I can't listen to another podcast or read another article and have it end with, "will you tell the people how!?!?!?". SightShift is the how. It's the mindset training for the practitioner. It's not for the monk that wants to run away to the desert. It's for the one who has some Goliaths to take down. One of my mini-Goliaths 😉 is I am changing my calendar. I've found that I need to dial it in about every 6 months. Occasionally I overhaul it and rebuild my week. I am overhauling it. I am changing the structure of my week to spend more time with some options I'll share below. (I think of calendar optimization as building your ideal week.)


What that means is more time with people doing the work of SightShift with others:

1. New coaching group opens in a few weeks. If you're interested in the coaching for yourself or certification to coach others let me know. I love getting notes from our certified coaches on the impact they are having. The people they coach I don't meet with but they are getting the same results. One certified coach sent me a note that said the coachee had sent a note that said, "My coach asked what has been different and I explained how I wasn't wrapping my identity up in my performance any more." WOO. Go here for coaching interest.

2. If you're interested in making a SightShift event happen in your city with some friends or with your team at work let's do it! Email connect [at], "Event" and we'll send you an interest form. 

3. If you can get to Columbus or you are in Columbus then join me HERE for the:  SightShift 2 day workshop. This workshop is an intense 9 hours in which we cover the same 12 steps taught in the full program. It's limited to a small group so you will receive direction instruction and coaching as you work on the exercises. Participants will receive:


Where are you curious? Where do you need to unblock some curiosity? 


You're getting played. Vulnerability isn't enough.

You're getting played. Vulnerability isn't enough. 

The pendulum often swings too far. 

Your job as a leader is to inspire confidence but not deceive. 

A general way to illustrate this:

Yesterday's wrong headed leadership: Seize and keep power. 
"My sales are huge."
"I've done this so many times. I'm an expert."
"I have all the answers."
"This will work with absolute certainty."

Today's naive leadership: Share everything or you're not authentic.
"I'm just a tiny business."
"I've never done this before. Take a chance on me."
"I have no idea what I'm doing."
"I am taking a random guess at solving this problem."

Reality is best lived out in the tension or paradox of truths. You need power and positioning. You need authenticity. 
"Sales are up."
"I've been helping with people with this."
"I've noticed this pattern and I can help you with it."
"I've sough out world class answers and I can give you clear direction but not absolute certainty."

I learned the hard way.

I remember when I first started a public leadership role at age 21. I coudln't talk about any problems in the organization. Without being aware I thought problems would reflect a negative light on my leadership. So I kept the optimism high and forced. 

I've learned a lot since then as I've led teams and organizations. I was wrong. 

It's not my job to convince everyone of a reality that doesn't exist. Nor do I suffocate hope with negativity. 

We move forward with hope and vision while facing reality. And that requires leadership that is both brave and kind. Bravery is necessary to let ambition develop. It's healthy to desire to grow. I want to grow my influence as much as I can. 

As my strength and power increases kindness must increase. The increase of power is for others. The strength you begin to possess is so you can help others. 

Tired of Trump? What about the Pope or Xi?

Organizations get the leaders they deserve so what lurks underneath can be surfaced. (Think of Carl Jung's work on "Shadows".) The stuff is there lurking in the dark. Then it's given permission to come out in the light which is the only way you can heal the darkness. This (and Tuckman's Model of the phases of a team...Forming, Storming, etc) is why there was a Pope in between John Paul II and Francis. And Trump. And why Xi Jinping now has no term limits. 

Religion and politics follow patterns. So does your company. And your family. 

I want the collective "we" to improve but it starts with a healthy "me". You can't fix problems and evils at a collective level first. A healthy individualism builds a healthy collectivism. Reverse that order and you'd need to be the leader of Venezuela. Forced collective change forces more "stuff" underground. 

Bad ideas have to be replaced.

Bad ideas are the problem.

I get fired up writing emails like this and want to start tearing things down. I want to match tactic for tactic. Intensity for intensity. But the best way to render bad ideas ineffective is to replace the world with the better idea.

Vulnerablity like mindfulness is good. It's a start. It's becoming aware. But you have to lean in. Then see what needs to be upgraded before you get into the flow of improvement. 

Developing Awareness, Leaning into the darkness, Flipping the direction, and Enjoying the new Flow are the 4 rhythms or actions of all lasting change. (Any people out there been thru SightShift????)

Let's build a better world. The world needs more courageous and kind leaders. Start with the world around you by becoming that kind of leader. Vulnerability alone isn't enough. You'll just create a vacuum for the next generation's insecure leadership to fill.

Why teens can impact the world in a way you will not impact it.

I can see it in their eyes. I feel it. 

When someone is consumed with a mission or a MISSION it bleeds out of them. 

Sometimes they are consumed with what they get from their mission or Mission. 

And that's dangerous. 


Sometimes they've done as Ray Lamontagne sang about in "Empty":

"Well I looked my demons in the eyes
Lay bare my chest
Said do your best
To destroy me
See I've been to hell and back
So many times
I must admit
You kinda bore me
There's a lot of things
That can kill a man
There's a lot of ways
To die
Yes, and some already did
And walk beside me"

There's a mystical quality to those that have plumbed the depths, faced their fear, and found abundance. 

They are consumed with what they can give to their Mission in all their missions.

I want to stay in the place that I'm facing my fears and continually finding the abundance that gives me courage to move forward. (I"m so passionate about this idea it's one of the main pieces in the mindset course and The Rider book.)


You want to know why teens can impact the world in a way you will not impact the world? 

They have NOT faced the issues of mortgages, health insurance, buying groceries, and driving their kids around to their nightly activities until they are numb in the face. 

So you can let those who are not yet stung by the responsibilities of adulthood become a wake up call for you to find your own mission. They were stung by evil and had to act. Let the sting of your burdens awaken you.

Or you can numb out while you cynically degrade their naivete. 


Because music can so often be the voice that wakes up...I'll hand the mic to Jim.

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first." Jim Morrison


I wish you all the discomfort in the world until you find your own personal revolution. Everything originates out of your identity. Mission will follow. But you gotta go inside first. 

If you want some help with that...there were 6 new podcasts loaded on the show todayThese interviews can be found at the stuck book page. 
Take me to the interviews.

(Or you can go straight to podcast page: Go here to binge on the podcast.

And it kicks off with my guests from Finland (Salla and Pasi) who were nervous about the recording because English is their second language. They did awesome. I asked about how they were such pros after I stopped recording and they let me know they split a bottle of champagne. I felt like Wayne from Wayne's World, "We're Not Worthy". 😜 🍻

Burnout is completely misunderstood.

The shower in our bedroom is getting demolished and will be replaced this week. 

When they put the shower in they didn't put the proper backing on the tile but instead used normal drywall. 

Done correctly the foundation of the wall would support many, many, many showers. Done incorrectly the tile has bulged out and the ceiling below was getting wet in just SEVEN years!

So I told my wife we are all going to shower less. The house can't take regular showers. (This is all part of my master plan to reduce the water bill.)

The answer isn't to shower less but fix the foundational work that was done incorrectly. 

This makes me think of getting big things done and burnout. 


You're capable of way more. You are more brave than you know. But if you don't know how to make your own meaning then you will burnout. 

The answer isn't to expect less of yourself in a challenging environment. The answer is to learn how to sharpen your mindset in the midst of challenge. 

research shows that the single biggest cause of work burnout is not work overload, but working too long without experiencing your own personal development.” Kegan, Robert; Lahey, Lisa Laskow. An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization (p. 2).


When I am challenged I want to be mindful. I want to be aware of what is happening inside me and around me. But I also want to lean in so I can understand how the challenge will upgrade my mindset. 

Life has a way of exposing the need for a demolition job to your old mindset so you can get a new one. It's time for your upgrade.

One of my favorite mindset statements that I say to myself often: There's a 1001 reasons to lower your head today. You only need 1 to lift it. Your identity isn't on the line. 


Get ready because I see Western society separating into 2 groups that make an attempt at leadership:

Those who think the answer to suffering is to fight for their validation. 

Those who learn to self-validate, seize the moment, grow their influence, move society forward and upgrade their skills. 

I don't know how long it will take but we seem to going through a demolition job society wide. There will be progress from it. But people will also develop bad mindsets that will shape bad habits. I'm extremely concerned about a "victim mindset" I see developing even in the midst of progress. It's why I recorded 4 new podcast episodes on the victim culture that is developing under your nose in your team or familyFly me away to that podcast.

This whole idea of burnout is why I made the Figure That Mindset Out course in the academy yo. You can learn the transferable parts of my mindset and there's a workbook for making your own. Time to move from 😳 to 😎. Whisk me away to that academy.

Where is life challenging the resiliency of your mindset right now?

The SightShift Academy is here!

Have you ever been around someone when they were so excited to tell you something their face, tone, and body posture were a little too intense?

If you could see me right now that'd be me. 

The SightShift Leadership Academy is live!!!!!!! It's been sooooo much hard and fun work. 

More than ever the world needs courageous and kind leaders. That's why the academy exists.

70 skills. Videos and audios for 6 courses!!!! (Full day ahead so I'll have to share more about it later.)

Healthy humans will progress to their 3rd belief system.

The best humans are on their 3rd belief system. 

Everyone has a belief system. They organize their lives around what they value. Part of being human is to organize your life around some set of values.

Whether it's passive or active we are all bowing down. Some think they are shirking off all bias and presupposition but that is impossible. They are bowing down to not bowing down. 😜

Here's a pattern I've observed in stories thousands of years old and modern day lives:

Your first belief system is what surrounds you at an early age. That belief system might be a positive experience from adult to child. Or it could be a negative belief system you formed in response to the hurts and pains. 

Some never completely adopt their first belief system. They give it a nod here and there sitting through church or temple or mass but it stays at the surface. 

You might think you still hold the same belief system you had as a child but for most it has changed even if only a little...

Your second belief system is the first one you choose for yourself. It might be a belief system of bitterness or protest. 

Bitterness results from tragic pain or comparison. The lives of other people are better and you start to nurse the wound that life isn't fair. (And life isn't fair. It never will be.) Some tragedy hits so hard that you develop a mindset to protect you from feeling that level of pain again. 

The second belief system can also be one of protest. You find out that in some way the world isn't fair. (And the world isn't fair.) You're convinced the ill of society is evil corporations or animal testing on makeup or the lack of diversity on the university's board or who the president is. Yes corporations have done bad things. They've also done amazing work and moved the world forward. The anti-_____ (fill in the blank) stance is vacuous. People committed to solutions are those who grow and extend their influence at capacity. Dedicating your life to eradicating a problem is a diminishing return.

Some build their second belief system on positive results they've experienced. Now they're convinced everyone has to believe the same as they do. "Have you tried this supplement I ordered?" "Successful people do _____ so you should too."

Few make it past the second belief system. It's easier to stay riled up than calm down and focus on your mission.

The third belief system is where you progress beyond thinking that life or the world should be fair. You get busy improving what you can for yourself and others. The third belief system is where you learn to make your own meaning. The third belief system is where you pursue your own values. You can use the tactics and strategies of others but at a principled level you own your decisions. In the third belief system decisions originate from a secure identity. These decisions are the change that moves society forward while developing the individual.

There will always be lots of cul-de-sac distractions along the way to your third belief system. But that is where life gets interesting and maxes out your abilities. You'll start to see what others don't. And you won't be able to stop from taking action.


  1. We need to do all we can to level the playing field of life. But it will never be level. So don't focus on your disadvantages. That will erode your mindset. You can't learn resilience when you're drowning in comparison.
  2. Only build healthy institutions. Whether places of work or marriages or any relational group the quickest way to be evil is to reinforce and keep people trapped in their first two belief systems. This is another way of defining co-dependence.
  3. Individual identity supersedes group identity. Your sexuality is a part of who you are but not all who you are. Your race is a part of who you are but not all who you are. 
    "I do not represent blacks or tall women, or women or Samoans or Californians or Americans. Or rather I hope I do, because I am all those things. But that is not all that I am. I am all of that and more and less. People often put labels on people so they don’t have to deal with the physical fact of those people… I simply refuse to have my life narrowed and proscribed." Maya Angelou
    And in the current political climate there's a blindness to this reality. When group identity supersedes individual identity you've turned the clock back to tribalism. You've missed the last 2000 years of development in the West that has learned to champion the individual. When group identity is more important than individual identity a ripe environment exists for a manipulator to rise to power and justify atrocities both small and large. Make no mistake this is how millions were murdered in the 2oth century.
  4. The answer isn't to figure out where you've been victimized but to embolden yourselfand lead others to their freedom (3rd belief system). Whether you're a white male or Asian female you have to figure out you and lead others.
  5. Parents and "evangelists" of causes please remember people are in motion. Abrasive forcing of your beliefs on them will not end well. This is also why SightShift is about helping you get your own insight rather than "breaking you down" to "build you up". 

My obsession is teaching the SightShift framework and helping others teach it. You could word it this way: I love helping people get to their own chosen third belief system. 

By the way, I help you do that in one of the courses in the always-on-and-ready-for-you SightShift academy. Have you checked it out yet? Take me to the academy.

The number 1 feedback I've been hearing is, "It's like having Chris on demand to help me grow ". Here to serve. 🤗

Where do you think you are?

When I lose vision or hope I shrink back.

When the vision feels far out of reach I might...

- not make that phone call
- fail to pitch that idea
- retreat into a distracted busyness (social media can be perfect for this)
- skip going to the gym
- numb myself out in some way (when I eat the whole bag of chips and my tastes bud lose sensation)

If you've hung around here for a while you know my obsession is helping you find your way. So you can live your mission. And build your community. 

Some days I march forth, the sun shines bright, and I can hear the birds singing. 

Some days the clouds merge into the horizon like this suffocating gray blanket, I grovel around on the ground for the next step, and I get knocked down. 

I don't know if I'm stubborn or stupid but I can tell you in 20 years of leading people that if you get back up again then you'll have more sunny days. You'll be so glad you didn't quit. And you'll have more grey and cloudy days where you learn insights so beautiful they change you. 

Life has this way of continually taking you to the edge of your abilities. You can shrink back or power up. But both of those deform you. 

My aim for you and me is to continue to relax our way into who we are (BEING) but not coasting short of our true potential (DOING). To do that you'll have to find your own way. Here's a talk from last year that was recently loaded online. Set aside some time to learn and grow. Be warned I do have a couple pics of Johnny Cash and Kanye flipping the camera off. You gotta hear how the stages of growth work to your advantage tho!


(BTdubs as my teenagers would say or By The Way...I'd love to come speak at your event this year on SightShift. I can leave the Johnny Cash and Kanye pics at home. 😜 The sooner I know the easier it is to try and make a date work out. Speaking interest form here:


Using the word "family" at work and holiday parties are a clue to who the boss is as a human.

Office holiday parties are like bosses who use the word "family". 

There is no middle ground in using the word "family" at work.

  • Some bosses are afraid to use the word "family". They don't love what they do or the community they've built at their company. 
  • Some use the word "family" to justify insecure and narcissistic leadership. Bad human behavior.
  • Some use the word "family" because they mean it in all the right and beautiful ways. Good human behavior.

(Sidenote: I asked an owner of one of my favorite companies that I work with, "Why do you do it? You've achieved enough you don't have to be here." He said, "I love helping people grow". He says "family" and it rings true.)

Office holiday parties are a similar clue. 

  • Some business owners throw the big party like a religious festival from the tribal/nomadic era. Let's go big as an effort to cover up for the past year's sins and how we treated the people. Bad human behavior.
  • Some throw the big party because they are generous and want everyone to feel celebrated. It's a congruent action that fits with how they treat people all year long. Good human behavior.


THE BEST business owners and bosses understand a reality that makes them healthy as leaders:

A business owner isn't responsible for the livelihood of others.

Here's a conversation that happens often, 

BUSINESS OWNER says to Chris: "I drive up and see the cars and think about all the people depending on me to take care of their families."

Chris says to BUSINESS OWNER: "That's a burden that will suck the passion out of your mission. Over time it will cause you to resent the team. Mix that in with some frivolous legal battles from people who want to take advantage of you and you will become calloused."

Chris says to EMPLOYEE: "You don't want to outsource your provision to someone else. One day you'll have a painful wake up call to reality when that check isn't there."

Chris says to BUSINESS OWNER: "You're responsible to create and advance the infrastructure and environment for them to show up, work, and lead. You're not responsible for their livelihood."

Chris says to EMPLOYEE: "You're responsible to figure out how to contribute at your highest level in cooperation with main objectives. Show up fully present. Pay attention. Learn fast. Be brave to move the mission forward. Keep improving systems. Work to have healthy relationships and reduce politics."

The best holiday gift you can give yourself is to assume responsibility for your own livelihood. 

Run thru the tape with your work and mission before the year is up. Earn it. Rest. 

Can you hear it? The pedestals are crashing down.

This is the sound of our times.

For some it brings despair. Frantically they wonder who they can trust as their idol crashes.
For some it brings delight. Sadistically they enjoy seeing people being taken down a notch.

We are in an era of great change. Society will move forward. Even if it takes a couple steps backward. 

You can recognize an era of great change when old paradigms that no longer serve society come crashing down.

The sound you hear on the news all the time is the sound of the pedestals crashing. 
The pedestals need to crash. You'll never learn who you are fully until no idol blocks the expression of who you are into your mission as you build your community. 

There is no one you know, admire, or respect that has it all together.
There is some area in their life where they aren’t making great decisions.
Or they are doing right things for wrong reasons.

Live long enough and every pedestal you construct will crash down.
The higher you build the pedestal the greater your disillusionment.

You have to smash your pedestals.

And if you're a leader then it's your responsibility to smash your pedestal and inspire the people you lead. Yeah, I recognize it's a paradox. 

How do you navigate this tension?

Give people your best self. Inspire them. 

Share where you've struggled. Relax them. 

There's more practical advice on this in a previous book I've written ( but last night I needed to topple my own pedestal. I find I have to do it often.

Last night I had to smash a pedestal.

Last night was an amazing experience. The Wild Path helped me throw an epic book launch party. But it was completely different than any book launch party I'd ever heard of. They had the idea to invite artists to create pieces around passages from my new book They did such a fantastic job. And it was so cool to have my own daughter create a piece. Which of course I told everyone there, "Do not buy her painting because I am!" Also while Columbus is a small part of my business (but I hope it continues to grow here!) it was so FUN to introduce my wife and daughters to some of the wonderful folks SightShift serves in this amazing city. It was a powerful experience of community for me. 

As I was preparing to share a little bit one idea struck me with so much force. My life is full of so many people who have been absolutely amazing to me. I've had plenty of experiences with other kinds of people too. I've been cheated, yelled at, publicly torn down, etc. etc. If you lead in the public eye things will happen. But I've also had COUNTLESS, FREAKING COUNTLESS moment after moment of people being awesome. The idea that struck me so forcefully was that up until the last few days I've had this conviction that I have to pay everyone back. As I prepared to share with friends last night I realized: I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO PAY EVERYONE BACK. I can't do it. Insecure Chris wants to put his head on his pillow thinking he doesn't owe anyone. Insecure Chris wants to know that everyone who's ever done something for him is paid back. Falsely I've believed that I can only feel good when I've earned my worth by performing for the favor. Secure Chris knows it's a gift to receive. That's the point. The point isn't to pay everyone back but keep paying it forward. 

The pedestals aren't done crashing. Insecure leadership needs to be vanquished. Secure leadership needs to be defined so clearly that the insecure can't get away with it any longer. But in the rubble of the broken pedestals let's keep helping people figure out who they are. 

If you haven't done so yet then grab a copy of my newest book the stuck book at Smash your own pedestal and look honestly at any place you might be a stuck. Then review it on Amazon so I can build a pedestal and smash it down again. Hahaha. 

A free resource to help you.

This month's podcast for those in the leadership coaching covered this. Here's an itunes link if you want to listen how to stop being a camel to the pedestal of others:

No one else is responsible to get you to the edge of your abilities except you.
No one else has the privilege to help you become your best self each day.

In the next week or two I'll be opening up the sign ups for my 12 month leadership coaching. Last year filled up. You can only join if you've been through the identity coaching first.



(secret link buried at the end: if you want to learn the process insecure leaders use to build and reinforce a false pedestal)

Everyone gets stuck. (new tattoo, new book, & 10 podcast episodes) 🔥🔥

We let ourselves off the hook too easily. 

And we're way too hard on ourselves. 

We fail to admit what isn't working and we beat ourselves up for the results.

The Stuck Book is alive and breathing on amazon. 

If you want the backstory of the book and to see an image of the tattoo go

You'll also see a new podcast series I'm beginning. We launched 10 new episodes!! Last month was the biggest month for the podcast yet and I haven't loaded a new episode in 2 months. So I'm really excited for you to hear those stories and see where this takes the podcast!

If you want to go straight to the book go to for the amazon listing. Friendly reminder: iPhones block Amazon kindle purchases in the app so you have to do it thru Safari.


Imagine me with a big smile on my face asking you to PUHLEASE...

  1. Grab a copy or two now rather than waiting? EVERY SINGLE purchase helps it build early momentum on Amazon.
  2. After you read it and it changes your life 😉 (it's a short read) then please give it whatever is your honest review on Amazon? I've got all the emoji hugs for you. 🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗


Friends make the world a better place. 

  • Thank you to the generous supporters of the book campaign. Your rewards will be on the way!
  • Thank you to The Wonder Jam for being on top of the moving parts and pieces. And thank you to Allie for the best book cover ever. 
  • Thank you to Brave Little Beast for the fantastic work on telling the book's story at I'm still stunned how quickly you see a better vision and execute it.


Don't stay stuck!!!



Making 2018 awesome starts now with these 3 actions.

I want to enjoy today. And I want to prepare for tomorrow. 

We've got a lot of time to enjoy 2017 and I want to soak it up. 
AND I want to position myself for 2018 to be as rad as possible. 

There's no fluff here. It's just a straight forward reality check.

Here's 3 actions that will help you:

1. Surface your values. 

I choose the word surface intentionally. Your values are already there. Whether it's your personal values or the organizational values the skill is to strip away the bs. In a world of everyone trying to do too much and be too much I see a common fallacy: make everything important. If everything is important then nothing is. I faced a war within myself over a recent decision. I got stuck. So I used a mental model that helps me while I was sitting in a sauna. Covered in sweat I felt my body relax as I was honest with myself about the value I didn't want to compromise. (This was after hours of wasting too much emotion and mental energy.)

Your decision making is faster when you know your values. There's less deliberation. And you feel good because those decisions are emanating from your core.

2. Sift your priorities and commit to a few with deep focus.

List out all the systems of your company or your life. Now go through each of them and ask:

  • Where am I winning with this system?
  • Where am I losing with this system?
  • Where am I stuck with this system?
  • Where am I inspired with this system?

Take all the data and look for the themes that will shape next years focus.

3. Dial in your daily flow (and team if you have one) to support #1 and #2.

Are the team members around you positioned to support the values and priorities in the expectations of their roles and tasks?
Is your office setup, calendar, and the meetings you agree to attend positioned for #1 and #2?
Have you broken down the priorities from #2 into small and medium steps?
Have you put into place a timeline that makes deadlines early so you'll be left with generous margin?

Transitions between roles and moments are key to being present.

The transition from work mode to home mode isn't always easy. I remember a Mad Men episode where Don Draper came in the house and walked by Betty's friends. She exclaimed, "It takes him about 45 minutes to transition". I'm sure I'm remembering some of that wording incorrectly but the problem is real. And I don't have 45 minutes.

It's really important you learn how to switch moments and roles with effectiveness and stop dragging parts into other parts. Your life partner is talking to you while you replay the meeting with your business partner. Or you're in a meeting at work thinking about the fight at home. 😖

Transitions between roles and moments are key to being present.


I've got a resource coming out soon that I've worked really hard on this last year. It will help you in all the transitions big and small. 

How are your transitions?

Being weird, building a tesseract, and honing your intuition.

What is wrong with me??? I am weird. But at least I know it, right?

Don't I care more about what people think? Sure I care what people think about me. Sometimes. But I can only imagine what my neighbors think of me. My summer routine on the weekend has included at least one evening around the fire pit. I place the bluetooth speaker under my chin and I wail. I mean wail. I sing with abandon. I am in the band. 

My wife texts, "I can hear you in the house." One weekend she let me know that when she was in the neighbor's backyard (three houses down and across the street) she could hear me all the way from there!

I love being me. I also love the movie Interstellar. It's my current fave yet to be dethroned. In fact defining SightShift at its deepest level would be like the movie Interstellar. I teach you how to build your own internal tesseract as you become a 5th dimensional being like Matthew McConaughey. Except for the hair. I can't pull off the hair. 

See? Weird. 


I don't always like my reactions. I for sure don't like all my circumstances. But the more challenging the circumstance the more I learn about myself. 

Maybe you're in a challenging circumstance right now. It's a great time to learn who you are and how to like yourself. Learning your story and how to figure out who you are in the midst of the life you're living right now is critical. This is your moment to hone your intuition. 

I talk about this in my book Figure That Shift Out. I describe it like a War of Voices. 


As you learn your story and pay attention to what’s happening, you’re going to notice a war of voices within yourself. I want you to pay attention to that. I know it sounds weird, but stay with me. You can break it down if you think about it as three competing voices: the voice that pressures you to project, the voice of shame, and the voice of who you are. I am not saying these are audible voices, but pressures at an intuitive level. Let me be your trail guide on this and see if it matches your experience. 

The first voice is the part of ourselves that we want to project to others. We want to make people think something about us. This is the proving or hiding. We’re trying to control their perception of us. Our internal chatter in this voice is constantly consumed with what others think. 

The second voice is a shaming narrator. We end up being driven by a false story that we feel we have to live up to. Whether or not we are aware of it, the narrator is harnessing voices from our past that spoke in a voice of shame. We talked about shame in the previous chapter. Shame is when you feel like you will never have a place where you are accepted and can feel at home. We have an image we want to project (the first voice) because this internal narrative of shame (the second voice) is driving us. The image we want to project by proving or hiding isn’t who we really are. The driving narration of shame isn’t who we are. Both of these voices are clues and signals to who we are. We need to learn why the shame is there and where it came from so it will stop blocking the truest expression of who we are and thus the uniqueness of our leadership. 

We want to find our third voice: who we are. Who we are at our core is free of the pressure and the shame. 

How are you going to do that? How are you going to separate the image shame drives you to project from who you actually are? The answer is simple but difficult to practice especially for high performers: Pay attention to your emotional state.

This is awareness. And it's only the beginning.

See you around the fire pit, 


I want maturity but I don't want to lose childlike wonder.

The eclipse helped us feel a sense of a wonder. It passed in a moment. But that moment was special. It's easy to see how most of human history experienced so much transcendence they could build religions around these moments.

The possibility for transcendence is always there.

I'm a sucker for a great quote. 

A fave that I have shared with you before, "But genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will — a childhood now equipped for self-expression with manhood’s capacities..." It's a French translation and I've seen some that read "with the skill of adulthood." Charles Baudelaire, French poet and jilter-of-my-brain ladies and gentlemen.

I like the way he frames that. I hope to live that. Recovering the childhood at will with the skill of adulthood is the highest and most whole of aims. 

The common path is to lose the childhood of play and wonder as you slowly become a rigid, uptight adult. There's a reason the Twenty One Pilots song "Stressed Out" got so much radio play. Statistically speaking your kids won't want the life you're currently living when they become adults. They dream about the future but they don't want the stresses that have been falsely equated with being an adult. They don't want to lose their wonder. 

We need to grieve our lost wonder.

I don't want to discourage you. I want to facilitate a wake up. The maturity that comes with adulthood is EMPOWERING. Learning who I am and how to let my emotions enhance my life and not dictate direction has been amazing. 

But I also need the child. I love being an adult with the curiosity of a child. Please hear me, I still screw up. I still succumb to the worst parts of who I am in moments. I either become childishly immature or an adult who's too serious and can't lighten up. But I've learned to interrupt my own dysfunctional patterns by embracing life with a childlike, eyes-wide-open, raging hope for what life can bring in the smallest of moments. (Cue me singing around the firepit late on Saturday nights at the top of my lungs. I love it!)  I want maturity with wonder. 

I don't want to miss any of my growth. I want to get to the edge of my abilities and go as far as I can. But I don't want to lose the child and be so serious in my pursuit of growth that I fail to enjoy the journey. I want to show up to each moment with a sense of, "How good can this get? I wonder what will happen next?"

I want to get where I want to go AND I want to enjoy getting there. This requires honesty about what I actually want my life to be about and the ability to embrace the inevitable setbacks and challenges.

Announcing SightShift:Athletes !

One day a dad brought his son to me. The dad had heard me speaking about identity and he brought his son in for a visit because the son had been kicked off a Division I team. His son was crushed. It was a conversation I've had with numerous athletes: You are more than the sport you play.

His son was stuck. When he grasped identity > mission > community it unblocked him. I love how quickly athletes can grasp and live out SightShift.



6 years ago this guy from Arizona made a comment on a blog that I used to have. 858 emails or so later (plus 4 books and hours of phone conversations) we are ready!

It THRILLS me to share with you the official launch of SightShift: Athtletes under the leadership of Bret Burchard!! is now the home of the athletic division of SightShift. As SightShift is for leaders and businesses so SightShift: Athletes exists for the world of competitive sport. GO check out the site and let me know what you think!

While the work is mainly centered around professional and collegiate athletics this is for everyone irregardless of the level you compete. It's also for coaches and team management.

And I'm jacked for you to meet Bret! (In fact below the sign off I have a little q/a with him.)



Thanks for being here. I always want to help you grow through everything I do. And while this is more of an update than sharing specific help...we are all connected to people that need SightShift in some part of their life.

This marks a giant leap forward on 2 levels to help more people get unblocked and start overflowing healthy performance. How?

1. Bret is our first certified SightShift trainer. I only want people to accomplish certification that I believe can do a better job than me in their respective worlds. Bret is already doing that and I'm so proud for him to be first. I aim for many more certified SightShift trainers of such high caliber.

2. Bret is also our first divisional leader! As things progress we have plans for other divisions. We are just getting started.

I don't want to get too far in the future. 6 years, 858 emails, and hours of phone calls means we are so fulfilled to be in this moment.






MEET BRET (my questions in bold):

Tell us a little about yourself. Hi, my name is Bret, and I cannot resist pizza - no matter how much I have already eaten! :-)

But seriously, I live in Phoenix, Ariz., and work for the Phoenix Suns. This will be my 8th season with the Suns organization. I grew up in Missouri. My dad has been a college basketball coach for my entire life so I was literally raised in the gym. I played college basketball in Indiana for a Hall of Fame coach, worked for him as an assistant and then escaped to warmer weather! I am not a fan of being cold so I love living in the desert.

You're passionate and ambitious...why SightShift? For about 10 years I devoured every leadership and self-help resource I could get my hands on. I was around so many really successful coaches that I was on fire to reach their level. I learned a lot from all the reading, but it really only told me what the great ones do. SightShift has been the only resource that taught me how to become the leader and performer I admired.

What's your vision? The vision is to see a bunch of really ambitious athletes and coaches smile and dance while they play on their journey to the gold medal stand. I remember when I was a kid watching an episode of the TV show Smart Guy. In this episode the intimidating enforcer on the basketball team found religion, got soft and quit the sport in the name of peace, love and happiness. Everyone was devastated. That's not my dream. I love competition. I'm as ambitious as anyone. And I want to win. I want to help people like me become the champion they desire and enjoy the process along the way.

What's the first step? Well, the first step already happened and is happening. It has been allowing SightShift to influence my worldview and application in my performance and leadership. The second step is launching this site to reach a bunch of people and tell our story. In September we are going to host a webinar for coaches and then this coming basketball season I will be leading the Phoenix Suns' minor league affiliate through the training program.

How can they get in touch with you? The best way for us to connect is through the website: Or I'm on twitter @b3burch.

My 7 favorite templates for leading. (part 2 of Leaders need to be misunderstood)


(For part 1 of this post go here.)

As a practical resource, I want to make sure that you have some tools that you can draw on. If you are going to have the courage to set the pace as a leader, to be willing to be misunderstood for a moment as people are joining you, I don't want you to be surprised by their reactions. You're going to be surprised in circumstances as a leader. You can't control all circumstances. But we should not be surprised by reactions, because they fall into patterns. I actually use seven different kind of templates that keep me sharp. I teach them all the time. I used to carry some of them around in my wallet, laminated, because I want them just to become a part of me.

You have knowledge that you draw on that aids you every day, so actively choose to make these a part of who you are. I've shared them before, and I'm just going to do a quick overview because we want to keep these in our bones, in our guts, part of our soul.

Template #1: The Four Stages Of A Team

The first template is the four stages of a team. This has been researched and studied. The four stages are forming, storming, norming, and performing. When a team forms, it forms around an initial idea, vision, enthusiasm. Then at stage two, storming, there's going to be conflict because it's not like we thought, and then it normalizes into a good rhythm, and then it hits that fourth stage of performing.

Healthy leadership means knowing what phase you're in. It's called situational leadership. You can research that with Ken Blanchard – he did some work on what to pay attention to in each phase and what you need to bring.

Template #2: The Four Approaches To Change

The second template is the four approaches to change the Myers-Briggs personality test talks about: visionary, guardian, relational, and activist.

Visionaries see the future. That's you. That's me. Our first impulse is to respond to the activist's enthusiasm, and we leave behind the guardians who think that they need to protect the ground that's been taken in the past, and if they take this new direction it's going to give up what needs to be held onto. When we only respond to the activist's enthusiasm, we make the guardians nervous and they check out, and people are thinking, "Not everyone is unified on this vision. I can't have peace about it. I'm not going to support it."

As visionaries, we want to go to the guardians first, win them over, and tell the activists to chill. The relation will come along, and we're moving forward. Not that it's that simple. But I have led organizations using all these templates, and they will help you in moments quickly get a sense of where you are and what to do next.

Template #3: The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team

The third template is the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you've not read it, Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a book by Patrick Lencioni, and it provides an awesome model to get you really aware of what blocks peer accountability. Healthy teams aren’t just about one person bringing accountability. It's about team accountability, each person on the team holding the others to what they said they would do.

Template #4: The Seasons

The fourth template I use is The Seasons. I did a whole podcast on The Seasons. It's actually the next book I'm working on, because The Seasons are a model to recognize the next action to take any time you might feel stuck or not happy with the result you're getting. Am I in the fall? Is there something to let go of? In winter, lean in and study. In spring, wait for that new energy to come. In summer, rest with vigilance.

Template #5: The Leadership Challenge

The fifth template is a book called The Leadership Challenge, and there's five pieces to that. The two that are most relevant to what we're talking about here is “challenge the process” and “model the way.” They're simple. What does a leader do? They do these five things. Modeling the way is what we're talking about today. You get a vision and you start living it out, and that vision is usually built on challenging the process. You're challenging what was done before. It's Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Jesus, and Mandela, to use the earlier examples, saying, "There is a different way."

Template #6: The Five Stages Of A Vision

The sixth template is the five stages of vision, which I've taught you. That vision starts with getting bothered. You get bothered. Then you prepare. You execute. As you begin to execute, you'll face distractions, so you is focus. You celebrate the ground that you've taken, and then you get bothered again. If you're not stirred emotionally on something, then you're blocking up. Something is blocked up within you and you're not going to be able to access that vision. You got to get into that visceral guts of what is bothering me, what needs to change, what needs to be better.

Template #7: Leave Everything Better

The seventh template is a very simple thing, and this is the simplest way I know to express leadership. Leadership is all of your life. You lead in every category. You're never not leading, and you want to leave everything better. By leaving everything better, you're actually leading. It doesn't matter what it is. It's a relationship. It's walking through the parking lot. It's picking up a piece of trash. Leave it all better. I know that sounds weird, but if you do the small things, the big things take care of themselves.

When you're leaving everything better, when you have a question of what to do in leadership because most of life is gray, always err on empowering people. That's what healthy leaders do.

Let me conclude by saying this. I've talked a lot about vision. What is the vision? Ultimately, the people are the vision. The vision isn't some separate thing that we impose and push on the people. The people are the vision. Any great vision is about growing people.

I lost sight of this. It was my late 20s and I was talking to one of my buddies and he's been a key voice at different points of my life where I was making a decision. He said to me, "The way that you talk about the organizational vision, it's like you're pushing it on the people." And he said this phrase: "Chris, the people are the vision." That hit with a thud. That was before I started doing a lot of the research that I've done this last decade on identity and identity formation. Now I know that secure leaders are focused on building people, helping them become better.

The pace of the team is directly correlated to the pace of the leader. You will feel unhindered when you make peace with the fact that you're going to be misunderstood for a moment, you're not surprised by people's reactions, and you have the courage to keep casting the vision through all means necessary until people join you where you are. When they join you where you are, it'll be time to be misunderstood again and stretch that vision out. Happy leading, happy setting that pace and embracing the courage to be misunderstood. Lead with vision, leave it all better, and err on the side of empowerment.

(all of these are in addition to the template SightShift is based on: identity>mission>community)

(iTunes podcast link here for more about being misunderstood as a leader)

Leaders need to be misunderstood. (part 1)

Have you ever been misunderstood? Have you ever wondered, “why can't they just get it?” It doesn't matter if it's the team you're leading or the team you're a part of, if you're trying to lead sideways or lead up, or you're leading the team you're charged with and are responsible for developing. But you’re trying to help people understand your vision and they're not getting it.

I look back at my 20s, and my worst mistakes were because of hyped decisions. I didn't slow down, pay attention, see where I was sabotaging myself - or I wasn't being heard, so rather than increase the clarity of my message, I just increased the intensity. Sometimes there was yelling. Sometimes there were tears. It was messy, but you know what it feels like to be misunderstood. You want people to get it. See, as leaders, we never just experience things. We always see a better way.


Leaders see a better way.

This is in the simple stuff, like getting out of the shower. When I get out of the shower, there's this mat that I step out on to; it soaks up water and I dry off there. Beautiful system. My wife, however, thinks when get out of the shower, dripping wet, you put a towel around you and then walk wherever. She leaves some wet footprints on the rug in the bathroom and she leaves some wet footprints on the carpet in the master bedroom, and then I come walking through and step in the puddles of water in my socks, and now my socks are wet. This is a very troubling issue.

See, as leaders, we don't just experience things, we go through them and we see a better way. I remember as I started to study speaking 20 years ago, I would have moments where I would be so moved by a speaker and think, "I want to do that." As I started to study it, it does take a little bit of the magic out. I have to see somebody perform at a very high level to really be caught up in the performance. Once you start to study and break things down, you see behind them because you're always wanting to pick it apart. You look at things, everything you go through, and you think, "This is how this could be better." When I worked at Chick-fil-A and I learned how the nuggets were made, they weren’t magical anymore. I knew how it happened.

As leaders, we're always experiencing things and we see how it can be better and we try to share that with others, and sometimes we're misunderstood. We want people to get it, and they're not, and this is frustrating. We want to move unhindered in this new direction, to dry off when you get out of the shower and not get water on the carpet.

Obviously, that example is minor. But big, life-changing things have to happen. Big vision has to happen. We want to move at a pace that is exciting to us, where we feel unhindered and we're able to run. How do we do it?

There's a thought that a lot of us have. I can move unhindered in the vision. I can blaze the trail if I can just get everyone taken care of and happy. If I lead perfectly, everyone will be good and they'll understand and be able to run with me into this new vision.

I remember thinking that when I was about 23. I was helping navigate organizational change, and we were leading a turnaround effort. I was leading with a new vision, and not everybody got it. Some people were upset and angry, even expressing that to me in violent ways. It was crazy. I remember thinking, "If I could just lead everyone perfectly, then everything would be okay. If I could just lead that well…"

Then I started to think about it. Who are some amazing leaders that have done amazing things in the history of this planet? Martin Luther King is one. He had a vision, and some people understood it. He wanted everybody to get it, but not everybody did, so he was a threat to some and his life was ended. I think of Gandhi. I think of Jesus. I think of Nelson Mandela. I think of people that led with a blazing clear vision and moved the marker of what it means to be a good human forward, but not everyone understood.


You'll only go as far as the lengths to which you're willing to be misunderstood.

See, here's the reality. You'll only go as far in your leadership to impact and influence others as you are willing to be misunderstood. You need to be aware of where you're misunderstood so you can still be relatable. It's smart to be conscious of what in your message and what you do might be off-putting or challenging to others. I know there are things about me that are just weird - some of the intentionality with which I live, my zero-drop shoes that I obsess over, the fact that I don't want to use aluminum for my deodorant, whatever it is. I know there are some things that I do that are weird, so I'm going to relax, people, and joke and be relatable, but I'm not going to give up the courage of being misunderstood.

Here's the skill that we want to learn to develop if we're going to be pace-setting leaders, we've got to understand it's okay to be misunderstood. In fact, I would say it this way. When everybody around you fully sees what you see as a visionary leader, you're no longer ahead, and it's your job to start looking ahead to get a long-term vision. And if you're going to have that long-term vision, as soon as everybody is seeing what you're seeing, you're out in front again with the next piece of the vision.

It doesn't mean that you, in an insecure way, put that in front of them, saying things like, "I see what you don't see." You're not reminding them of this. You're not beating them over the head with this. You're not trying to make this the hill that you die on. You're not just the leader. Healthy leaders will actually let others on the team stir up their vision and expand what they see, but there is something mysterious, I'll even say mystical, that when you are at the helm and it's on your shoulders. It just means that you'll see further than other people, and as soon as they start to feel like they may catch up to you, there's already something else that you're seeing that's next.


Stay with the vision even if you have to change strategies and tactics.

This isn't about changing the direction every few months. I'm not talking about an insecure leader who constantly is changing tactics and strategies and doesn't know how to sit with something and get the data and make smart decisions. I'm talking about the best visionary leaders that I've ever worked for. As soon as I start to fully see what they see, they then stretch my vision another distance out in front of the ground that we had just taken. If you're going to see beyond what others are seeing, you're going to be misunderstood, at least for a moment. Your job as a leader is to bring them along with you.

We're all wired differently. My wife can see a room from a decorating standpoint in a way that I never can, and she'll transform it. Likewise, just through real estate stuff and looking at houses, we can go into a place and I can see an old kitchen and how it can be transformed into something beautiful. That's not her gifting. Until I give her pictures and explain it, she's not with me. As a leader, we're understanding that it takes courage. It's a skill to sharpen our vision. As we take this courage, we're going to be misunderstood, at least for a moment.

Here's the thing. If we're visionaries and we're actually trying to move something forward, we're going to take some arrows. There are some people that aren't going to understand, but with the people we lead, when there's a misunderstanding, we're going to take the blame, and we're going to credit the wins. We're going to own that they don't understand it, and we're going to take the time to explain it, to catch them up to our vision without shaming them and making them feel like they are behind. We're just going to patiently tell stories, sharing results of our vision, showing the credibility of it through the small wins.

On our team with SightShift, I constantly share the wins with them - not because they need to be inspired, but because I want them to constantly be surrounded by the vision. I want them to feel it. When I mess up, they're not going to follow wholeheartedly if I'm not willing to say, "I was wrong. I lied. I failed. I don't know the answer to that question. It's a great question. Help me." Whatever it is that's happening, I want to be in that place that I say, "Yes, you can understand that I am not a perfect leader. I may see something you don't see, but it doesn't mean I do everything else awesome, and I need you to help me with this." This is healthy leadership. This is secure leadership.

Some of you who are reading this need to know that it's normal for you to go through a phase where your vision loses its sharpness. Maybe you worked for a leader long enough or have been in an environment long enough or you've tolerated something long enough that your vision has gotten sloppy at the edges. It's lost its laser-sharp quality. What I want you to do is stir up that emotion so that you can understand where you need to get out in front again with the vision.


If it was easy there'd be no need for leaders. 

The other day, I was driving by a Wendy's restaurant and a sign said that they were interviewing for certain positions. I was having one of those days where I felt like everything I put energy into did not do what I thought it would. Driving past that sign, I thought, "I want to just go into Wendy's and do that interview and see if I can nail it because it'll feel so good to win one." That interview wasn't going to stretch me. I wanted to do it just because it would be easy.

The vision that's stirring within you for what the next year of your life - or the next 3 months or the next 40 years - looks like, for the thing that you're facing resistance on doing today, it's going to be something that makes you feel like they don’t get it. That's normal. That's how you know you're actually taking the next courageous step - because if you don't have vision, it's like not having water. As a leader, you become dehydrated.

It's funny to me to watch my kids. They run in the house on a weekend. Every few minutes, it seems like somebody's coming in and needs water. I'm asking, "What the heck is going on?" Were we all this dehydrated as kids? They’ve got to have a bottle of water with them everywhere. They're coming in and getting water all the time.

Vision, it's like water. You've got to have it. You've got to see with hope what's out in front of you, and even if you can only see the next step, that's okay. When he was at GE, Jack Welch talked about how there were just some days when he would be done casting vision and think, "I can't share this vision again. I'm about to puke. I've said it so many times to so many people." That's how you know it's starting to get heard.

(iTunes podcast link here for more about being misunderstood as a leader)

4 movements of manipulative leadership

Audio of the below available by clicking here.

What I want to break down for you now is a process that's happening all the time that moves a group of people to a direction towards whatever that leader wants to accomplish. Now, the focus of this post is about helping you lead from a secure identity. If you're going to lead from a secure identity, you're going to be a healthy leader. You're also going to learn to recognize the ways that people attempt to lead you in an unhealthy way.

A lot of people have never tapped into this reality, but once you see it, you can't unsee it. Fear is the controlling narrative of so many different rhythms and parts and pieces of our lives. Credit scores, cable news, the idea that you have to get a college degree or you won't get a job. We'll talk a lot about some of these as we move forward. What I want to do is break down a sequence that happens. This is just from me studying movements. It's from me looking at a resource called The True Believer by Eric Hoffer. Dwight Eisenhower had his staff read this to understand different movements were happening around the world.

As I've looked at different resources, I've broken it down, and I want to show you four movements, four parts and pieces that make robot kingdoms. When you're secure in who you are, you escape the robot kingdom.

Let's jump in. The four pieces are you're stunned, then you're influenced, then mass hysteria kicks in, and then you numb out.

Let's talk about what it means to be stunned.

My mind goes back to when I was in college and had pledged a fraternity. One of the things that we had to do is we cleaned this cafeteria. It was nasty and it stunk. We came outside one by one, and they flicked a quarter into the trash. It's got all the crap from the meals of that day. There's water in there. It's a hot, greasy, nasty mess. But they flicked a quarter in there and they told us we had to dive in and get it. Everybody was surrounding you, staring at you, and you're stunned so that you'll get influenced into this action. Of course, people would dive into it to get that quarter. Some threw up in it, and some threw up when they came out, and it was nasty and you smelled that smell for month afterward. I don't care how much Palm Olive you tried to wash your hair to get all that grease out, it messed with your head because the scent is so powerful.

It's the same thing as going into the mall. This is something named the Gruen transfer. It was an unintentional phenomenon. When you would walk into a mall, you would be spatially stunned. Let's say your original plan was to go in and get some socks. But you go in and a mall disorients you, you're spatially stunned. Now you're getting a chicken sandwich and an airbrushed t-shirt. Your original plans are gone.

When they lay out these massive interior spaces, they're actually doing it in such a way to intentionally disorient you. The angles confuse you so that you can get lost, so to speak. You're stunned, spatially, so you'll be influenced to buy more.

A car salesman is trained to match your language. They're listening for cues that you give them so that they can speak in such a way that you feel seen, known, heard, and understood. If there is, in a retail clothing space, a bigger checkout counter so that you can fit more clothes, it's proven you'll buy more clothes. Most casinos don't have windows or clocks. Why? They don't want you to know what time of the day it is. They don't want you to know what's happening outside. They want you to get lost.

Now, let me just pause right here and say this real quick. Influence isn't bad. As leaders, whether we're in the startup world and we're trying to get something moving or we're in a corporate environment that has a lot of layers, we need to not be afraid to leverage all of our influence. We don't need to be afraid to be the most strategic person in the room. It's what we do with the influence that's so important. Are we helping people develop? Are we empowering them?

I want you to think about this a little bit. Look at massive movements where people have been lead astray in huge ways. An easy example to use is Hitler. What was Hitler doing? He was stunning them with the voracity of his ideas and the way that he argues them, the way that he staged military things to show Germany's might. I remember reading one time that he used every airplane light that he had, these massive lights that beam up into the sky, for a giant display. The idea was that if they had that many to waste on a display, how many more did they have access to? What does he do? He stuns a group of people and then he influences them and he moves them to mass hysteria, fear. Then he gets them to numb out while he commits these atrocities.

Beware the mass hysteria.

Disorientation is good. It's what you reorient to after that makes the difference. For a lot of leaders, a lie that they fall into is “The leader above me knows best.” This is just hardwired into some of our evolutionary thinking in regards to religion, thinking, "They're closer to the divine than me." What a lot of people are doing is they're projecting and transferring their fears and their past experiences into this leader. It gives them a way to find some kind of false certainty. "I'm just going to trust in this person." The first thing that we do when we get stunned is believe somebody in authority over us and we're not questioning things.

The second lie that we fall into that allows us to get stunned is that people are worth what they produce. We don't see human beings, we see objects, and we objectify them. Because we objectify them, then we can blame them for our problems. Brené Brown says, "What are we afraid of, and whose fault is it?" I love that. It's such a narrative that we buy into. This was what was happening in Germany with Hitler. We fall into this lie, and we blame them. Or the way that we interact and relate--I mean, this is a huge deconstruction of corporate culture. You're only worth what you accomplish today.

Now, I know a number of people that I work with where it's in two extremes. It's either in the startup culture or layered corporate environment. Maybe this could be a shout of understanding to those of you in layered corporate environments, and a little bit of a survival guide that the leader over you doesn't always know best. It doesn't mean you have to be aggressive or intentionally rebellious and press against their leadership, but it doesn't mean in your mind you're non-conformist. You're not allowing yourself to be stunned into just falling into step. In the way that you treat people around you, you're not just engaging them based on the reality that they're worth what they produce, you actually see human beings with real struggles.

One of the huge things that has to happen in our leadership is to separate people's personhood from their performance. Sometimes you've got to say to people, "I like you as a person, I like you on the team, but when you do that and it scares the client away, I don't like that. Let's talk about how to stop that and how to replace it with better behavior." Sometimes, though, people aren't going to fit on the team. Their repeated behavior means they self-select off the team. Either way, when you understand people are worth more as human beings than just what they produce, you will lead, coach, engage, and help them better.

A third reality that positions you to be stunned is to believe that the company or organization is your provider. Here's the reality with that. When you wake up thinking that way, it automatically locks your brain into a limitation. It’s much bigger than your company being your provider-- you are the provider. You get to go out and figure different streams of income and different ideas. You may be already doing that. If you’re in a layered corporate environment, that seems far off. It may be five or ten years from now before you start building separate streams of income, but you can't fall into that trap that the company is your only provider.

If you're going to not create a robot kingdom and if you're going to be healthy in your leadership, you're not trying to stun people into getting them to do what you want. Unhealthy leaders don't look at to see you and help you feel seen in a good way, they stare you down into submission or they totally pull back. They give you the silent treatment. They twist a story, they spin it to always make it about what they can manipulate or they play the victim card. They get you feeling sorry for them.

An unhealthy leader will stun you with some of these tactics so that they can influence you.

A healthy leader is a leader who empowers you. There's two types of leaders. There are those who want you to conform to the vision they have for you, and there are those who empower you. You need to know the difference.

Robert Kegan was an adult development specialist at Harvard. He's retired now. In his book that he wrote for the business sector, he talks about how most adults never move from a socialized mind to a self-authoring mind. A socialized mind is where you say, "Tell me how to believe and behave so I can belong with you." A self-authoring mind means you're not part of the robot kingdom anymore--you find and taste freedom. You get to build your identity around what you choose, who you are, and then you choose your beliefs and behaviors out of that.

A healthy leader is going to take you to empowerment. Yeah, they need you to play team ball, they need you to help accomplish the initiative, they need you to get the objective done, but as they go about doing it, they’re lookin to helping you develop. Think of the kind of leader you are and the kind of leaders that you're surrounded by. Everybody is influencing. It's going to happen. We're building robot kingdoms if we stun people to influence them. That's the tactic that's used to build robot kingdoms.

Let's talk a little bit about the difference between what it means to be an unhealthy leader, building a robot kingdom who wants to use influence to increase your influence, or a healthy leader, who wants to use influence to build others. As I talk through this, you might be afraid to bring influence. This isn't about being afraid. Again, we're all influencing. If we can recognize these distinguishing characteristics, we can use our influence for good.

An unhealthy leader is going to stun you so they can influence you. As they influence you, they want to focus on staying king of the hill. They fought for this top spot, and they want to keep it. They're focused on results over motive. All they care about is the bottom line. They're focused on what's being accomplished, not how you're getting there. The most important thing you can realize is how you go about doing everything in your life shapes you so much that it actually becomes more important than what you're doing. You didn't wake up this morning and think, "Am I going to go to work or am I going to rob 7-Eleven?" The choices you aren't making between bad and good, you're making a decision every day between good and great. You're doing good things--how you go about doing them gets you to the great level. A healthy leader focuses on motive over results. An unhealthy one focuses on results over motive.

An unhealthy leader will build systems to reward compliance and punish innovation. It's not about whether or not you're innovative, it's about whether or not you do what they say. All kinds of environments will say, "We want you to feel empowered and go make decisions," but the minute you make a mistake, they're not secure enough to let you fall off the bike and let you skin your knee. They're afraid about how that makes them look to their leadership. A healthy leader says, "No, you can skin your knee. I'm here to help coach and guide. I want to help you ride the bike."

A healthy leader doesn't focus on staying king of the hill, they use their influence to ask others to join them on the top of the hill. They use their influence to get you to think about motive. Motive is foundational. How you go about doing things becomes important in shaping your brain. It's shaping your responses, , it's shaping your mood, all of these things. A healthy leader uses their influence to build systems to reward personal development and team risk-taking. This isn't about being the most powerful person in the room.

A healthy leader isn’t afraid of being strategic. They're not afraid of using their influence. They're not afraid of being the most cunning person in the room, but their motives are in check and solid because they're using their influence to build and develop others. If you want to escape the robot kingdom, what do you do? You think through how you use your influence. Are you using your influence to accomplish the task, or are you focused towards developing others?

Now, people that are building robot kingdoms are going to stun you so they can influence you. Once they influence you, they get you moving as a mass in group with other people, afraid. Again, I want to break this down for you.

Take the example of the Betty Crocker cake mix. It had the egg already in the mix, and it wasn't selling. So they take the egg out. Now, a mother has to add the egg. She feels like she's doing something, and sales took off. What happens? They removed the obstacle of guilt and shame. Take Axe body spray. I'm going to spray this on, and it's going to handle the awkwardness andshame that I feel as a pre-adolescent. One unblocks it, one covers it up. All of these little things add up to move people in big ways.

Labeling is a huge part of moving masses of people into certain things. I don't know if you know how this works, but if you understand psychiatry, they have a massive psychiatric bible, if you will: The DSM. It's this massive booklet that's put out. When it's published, it's full of labels, and it's changing with each new edition because it's not a perfect science. It's not like we can look at the human psyche and break it down at a molecular level. Instead, it's people's best guesses. Somebody's coming up with these things. I think it's helpful, and it can move the conversation forward. It can also confuse and get people stuck in labels.

One of the things that I remember reading was going to go into the fifth edition was Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD). Here's how it read. "DMDD is characterized by severe and recurrent temper outbursts that are grossly out of proportion in intensity or duration to the situation. These occur, on average, three or more times each week for one year or more. " Do you know any kids like that? If you don't, you don't know any kids, I would say. What it would look like for a parent to read that and to be stunned, influenced, to mass hysteria, and think, "Oh, my kid has DMDD. I got to get this treated." Maybe they need to learn self-control. I don't know. Every situation is different. Some need help. Get help if you think that you need it.

What I am telling you to do is to peel back the layers here, look underneath what's happening. Just because the memo says it's this way doesn't mean you have to think it's this way. Just because this was proclaimed to you on the news doesn't mean it actually happened. I loved Nicholas Taleb in The Black Swan where he pointed that out and how Saddam Hussein was captured, market goes down, but Saddam Hussein to stand trial, market goes up. All the false causation that happens.

Here is the reality of why branding exists. I think it was Douglas Rushkoff that talked about this in one of his books. I love the way that he phrases things. Code or be coded. Program or be programmed. He talks about this reality of branding that branding exists to create the perception of a relationship that isn't there. You go down the street to buy oats from your oat guy because you do that, right? No, this isn’t colonial times. As history moves forward and consolidation occurs, you're not going down the street to buy oats from the oat guy, but you need to feel like that. Quaker Oats develops this imagery that makes you feel like you're still going down the street. The name, the imagery, everything, makes you feel like a relationship is there even though it isn't.

Your brain wants a narrative. The smartest people that have the most influence on society give you the narrative that you need. We'll talk about what the narrative accomplishes in just a second.

The man who designed World War II housing said something like, you can't own a housing lot and be a communist. You have too much to do. One of the things that he worked on, as these guys came back from the war, was that it's hard to turn a warrior into a farmer because your brain gets wired for war, PTSD can occur, and all that comes with that. One of the things that was developed was this idea that everybody needs to own a home, and when you own a home, you have so much to do, you won't be able to be distracted and be a communist.

Anybody that owns a home out there, you know how much work it is--an endless list of all these things to do. My neighbors would be really happy if my yard got mowed right now. It is longer than theirs. I just don't have time to do it right now, and it is what it is.

What I want to do is help you be free of the robot kingdom. What does it mean to be free of the robot kingdom? You see where the fear narrative stuns you to influence you, to move the masses into a certain direction. This is why websites use psychographic typing, so that when you go there, they're positioning the text and the copy in such a way to trigger certain responses. The people that can see all this for what it's worth, that actually learn how to have a secure identity apart from the stunning influence of any leader, almost become mystical.

I love Josh Waitzkin in The Art of Learning, the way that he talks about what a mystic is. A mystic just sees things in a slower time frame than others, so they're able to respond in such a way that their actions seem mystical. They're just more aware. That's why I'm talking about awareness all the time. The mystic laughs when others panic. They'll go where others won't. They'll see, feel, and hear things what others don't.

We don't want to build the robot kingdom. We want to escape the robot kingdom as we look at our reality and say, "I won't fall into the trap of the fear narrative."

Now, if you're part of the trap of the fear narrative, what happens is a leader stuns you to influence you, which builds mass hysterics. This is the last piece of what it takes to have a robot kingdom: you numb out. The mass hysterics have to numb you out so the action can keep building.

Numbing Out

I remember reading accounts in Hitler's Germany where Christians would be in a church and would hear the trains going by that they knew had Jewish people on them, and they would sing louder to drown it out. You talk about using something to numb out--anything can be used. Anything can be used to numb you from reality.

What do you do? How do you escape this? We want to get to the point that we have a real courage to break out of the robot kingdoms and not build robot kingdoms for others. How do we get that courage? We know an abundance in our identity where other people are trying to trigger us with scarcity, and we learn that everything is a false threat to our identity. Everything. If you're just diving in this, listen to the first twelve episodes of my podcast, because I walk you through a sequence to understand that.

Then you get clarity in what you do because there's a peaceful feeling that allows you to not be unnecessarily stunned and influenced by unhealthy leaders. Then, you have compassion for others. You see the oppression of the robot kingdom, and you want to help them get free of that.

How do we recognize when we've gone into this fourth piece of the robot kingdom? We've moved from stunned to influenced to the mass hysterics to being numbed out. We allow ourselves to live lies. One of the ways is our affluence, what we possess. We can eat and spend our way into staying numb, past our pain and past the pain of others. We'll make future plans to distract us from any present pain. We'll believe the next purchase will make us happy. Here's the thing: You've got to feel that pain because pain means you're alive. Pain shows the gap between your current reality and what your future reality could be.

I think sometimes our political power allows us to dismiss the marginalized as weird and unambitious. It's their fault they're that way, so we stay numb. Self-help content hypes us up so that we miss the reality of internal despair and we miss the opportunity to actually experience a new identity.

How do we wake up? How do we wake up out of our numbness? It's not going to happen through managing our time better or managing our money better or trying to put some superficial Band-Aid on the situation. We're not going to relieve it, this numbness, by just doing something nice for somebody so that we can relieve our affluent guilt. We're not going to be able to hype our way to hope. This is why I think the zombie narrative is so powerful for today.

The college classes I used to teach were coming and talking about this show. I remember the first time I watched an episode of The Walking Dead, I'm just captivated by this storyline. I think the zombie narrative fits with today's reality, because we are totally numbed out. I had a college professor, a religious professor, I was talking to. He was making this point. He said we need somebody to breathe life into us.

What do we do? This sadness between where you are and where you want to be, between what you see that pisses you off and what you want to make better, wakes you up. The tears, the grief, the rage. Endings are real. They happen. The pain in the present can make the future exciting because you see what has to change. Passion breaks through the numbness.

My hope is that you recognize any robot kingdom you're part of. If you're in corporate culture, you see it and you can play the game intelligently and cunningly, but not lose yourself in it. If you're building something, if you're leading a team, or if you're starting something, don’t contribute to robot kingdoms but actually dismantle robot kingdoms. You don't stun people to influence them, to create mass hysteria, and get them to numb out. You break that cycle. How? By empowering others. You get empowered. You learn about your own path for development. Go back and listen to the first twelve episodes of my podcast for that. Then, you empower others.

There are two clear actions here. Number one, do not settle. Don't settle for anything less than growing and being empowered. You're either growing every day and becoming a better person and leader, or becoming a worse one. As you grow, secondly, you build kingdoms that empower others, not robot kingdoms. As you have influence around you, use that influence to dismantle robot kingdoms, even subversively, by empowering others and helping them learn who they are.

Audio of the above here. 


Should I invest in this relationship? (analyze someone's growth trajectory)

I want to talk about the idea of partnerships and relationships. There’s a business application here for some of you. You may use this for any kind of relational commitments you want to make, but really fly at a high level at what it means to be able to understand, "I only want to form partnerships, business associates, people that I bring on the team and make hires with or make relational commitments to people that know how to live from a secure core or a secure identity."

I want to walk you through some questions that I am processing. Maybe I don’t ask them directly, and maybe I do. I’ll give you a way to practically do this at the end so that you can do the same. I want to dive into those questions first and give you a sense of how this works for understanding someone at a real depth.

If I am interviewing somebody, whether to hire or a business associate or team member or partner I want to get into this issue, I ask these questions. Like I said, I may not ask it directly, but if it’s a relational commitment, I'm going to look for these things.

One: Do you know your pressure points and how to eliminate repeating mistakes in high-pressure situations? I want to know if you know yourself. What are those trigger points when you’re under pressure and your form breaks down? Do you know how to recognize that and eliminate mistakes in high-pressure situations? You’re a resilient person if you’ve always got that forward lean towards growth, and when you do, you’ll learn how to use mistakes to propel you. You’ll nurture momentum out of those. For a lot of people, what they don’t understand is what sabotages their life are lots of small choices, and these have an accumulative effect when the pressure is intense.

Life doesn’t tell you when the game is on the line. The movie reel doesn't stop and no one says, “Okay this is the intense moment, dig deep!” No, it just happens. Something goes wrong in a relationship you value, there is an unexpected curve ball you get with your business or with your startup or with the team culture you’re building, maybe there’s a health crisis. Usually what happens is a stacking of events. The phrase that I use is I’m trying to develop “powder keg awareness."

When are those moments when it starts to feel like it’s really building and that powder keg could explode? I want to know my pressure points and I want to know how to eliminate mistakes in high-pressure situations. I want to be on a path with those that are the same.

Two: Do they know how to recover under pressure? Because here is the reality. That pressure isn’t just going to magically go away. Most people think, "Oh, I’ll get all the pressure and all the problems gone, and then I can feel peace and rest."

That’s never going to happen. You solve problems, new problems come about. The key is, do you know in the moment of craziness how to recover under pressure? I want to know if they know themselves and what brings them emotional fulfillment, how they get margin in their lives to make sure that these activities are happening. For me, I’ve had to change my morning routine recently because of some other circumstances in life. It’s just changed. So I need to make sure that in the morning I’m doing three certain things, and if these three things happen, I can approach the rest of the day like it’s an adventure.

So I'm learning how to recover under pressure with a new rhythm, a new routine. I love lingering talks with friends, movies, being out in nature, whatever it is. I've got those things. You've got to find those things, and then build time for them. You read when your life is crazy, if that's what refills you.

Three: Do they know how to quickly recognize when others are being objectified? I want to know, do you know how to recognize when you're being insecure and others just become objects to meet the insecure needs of your identity? If you do that, you're going to put a focus on what they can do for you. You're not recognizing that there are interpersonal fears at work, you're not aware of everything that's happening around that. If you want more insight on this one, listen to my podcast episode on Mastering Conflicts, where I go deep into what it looks like when these fears are bouncing off of each other's insecurities.

Four: Can you articulate a time where you were being your own worst enemy and what you did to change it? Again, if I ask it directly or if I'm looking for this, I want to know that there's a trajectory of growth in their life, that they recognize what's happening when things start to break apart for them. It's just as simple as the word "awareness"--that they see it, they understand it, and what do they do to change it? I want to know about growth moments that they've had and I want to know that they can at least articulate one, especially if it's in a situation where I'm interviewing someone but a relationship could be forming.

I'm on the lookout for this because this changes everything about what it means to take a journey with somebody. Sadly, so much self-help stuff about relationships talks about how “you become like the five people you spend the most time with,” and the advice given in this sad way of saying, "If you want to change, you've got to change your friends." Well, they may be in seasons where they need your support, and yes, you do need to have a pro-growth trajectory for your life and that will often times either move relationships forward or the relationship changes. I want to know that I'm connecting with somebody who is viewing things from a standpoint of growth.

If I'm talking to somebody who is a possible business associate or partner or a team member or a new hire, I'm going to want to know two other things. The first four apply to all relationships, but these next two really gets specific with that.

Five: Tell me of a time you decreased your influence to step away from something you helped build or lead. Everybody is involved in something that they dove into and helped to make better or something that they started. If they're applying for something and want to be on the team with you, there's got to be something they can point to. Here's the thing that I've noticed in working with people. When people are insecure, they cannot step away from something that they've helped build or lead. When they're secure, they can let it go on to its next iteration. So I want to get into what they've helped build or lead, how they stepped away, and if they caused it to crash and burn because they needed it to only be successful if they were a part of it or if they helped nurture it beyond them. Not that it's a guaranteed thing that they could step away and it'd be successful, but I want to know what they did to try to help ensure that.

Six: Tell me of a time when you were frustrated with a team member and what happened so that you could lead them better--or did it break down? I want to know if they can get aware of their frustration in leading people. You can't lead people that you're perpetually frustrated with. All good leaders are going to see farther and move smarter than some of the team members at different points, but I want to know an example of how you handled that frustration well and what you did in the midst of that frustration. It doesn't mean you've handled every situation perfectly--this isn't a situation where I want them to feel pressured to prove--I just want to know that they're recognizing the inner workings of these things.

These are the questions that I'm looking for. I want to see where their growth trajectory is at, how they're structuring their thinking, their mental framework, their routines. The tips below will help you evaluate partners, team members, and relational commitments. Learn from the bad decisions I have made and save yourself some unnecessary pain. My worst decisions have been because I was covering up present concerns, chasing the future, and believing people just because they say they're going to do it. Through pain I’ve learned to recognize when people want to do a favor for me only to tie strings to me. Learn how to recognize trouble coming around the corner with the tips below and you start to see those strings coming

So here are some tips.

A - Do some investigating. Don’t let subjectivity get in the way and your emotions run crazy. I've been there and done that, and I should have asked more questions. A lot of people buy a house because they emotionally want it and then they use their logic to justify it. The times that I want to think fast, I need to think slow, the times that I want to think slow, I probably need to think fast. If you want some help on this, listen to my "Improving Decision Making" podcast episode, because I gave you a filter for it.

B - Know why they want to help or link up. Know their motive, and if it's a team member or associate or partner, ask about it.

C - Understand clearly what they expect to get from you and what you expect to get from them. Specifically in business partnerships and associates and team members, you want that to be as clear as possible. This is what I'm doing, and this is what you're going to get. This is what you're doing, and this is what you're going to get.

D - Ask somebody you trust; an advisor, a mentor. If you are married, see if it passes your partner's test. When I haven't listened to my wife's concerns, it's hurt our family, and so I've just had to learn to go, "What the heck am I doing, not slowing down and asking what she thinks?" Some of you may hear all these and need to make some changes and cut some strings or do some more homework, but there is a way. That is, you learn to live and lead and relate out of security and you can get a lot more intelligent and aware. Not perfect, though--we're still going to make mistakes about the relationships that we're forming.

Keep on this journey. When you're relating out of a secure identity, it's going to overflow into clarity about what you're doing and building the party that you want to build, not trying to break into somebody else's party, and it gets to be based on these different characteristics and qualities we've talked about. 

Listen to the audio here.