Tag Archives: growth


Cross-Learning Clarity

Like you, I want to become better.

Better in my practice of faith, loving and providing for my family (wife and kids, which I wish someone would’ve told me are two different responsibilities!), partnership with Shandel Group, participation in local civic duties, member of the Seattle community, etc.

But why are we unable to quickly and significantly get better?

In a word, “clarity”.  It boils down to our lack of clarity in priority and motivation. Which then bleeds into a lack of uncertainty in how to accomplish our growth process. We simply don’t know why, where or how to start the growth process.

Thinking outside the box to jumpstart growth.

One of the most effective and “out of the box” ways I’ve learned to gain clarity (in various areas of life and leadership) is in practicing Interdisciplinary or Cross-Curricular Learning. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll call this Cross-Learning and I’ll share a recent example.

I just finished a book about weight loss and personal organization, two things I have a pretty good grasp on. I chose to work through “Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight” because I wanted to jumpstart my brain into thinking about fresh ways for hitting my targets and attaining my goals by subtracting something in my life.

Alan, this is all fine and good. But I am more interested in how I can lead more effectively. And I certainly do not believe that I have extra space in my schedule to go research and find some sort of Cross-Learning subject to help me do that!

I get it, I’m here to help!

A starting point for practicing Cross-Learning.

You may know that Malcolm Gladwell (author of best sellers like The Tipping Point, Outliers, etc)  has started a new podcast called “Revisionist History”. It is a brilliant podcast that “will go back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.” The most recent episode is called The Satire Paradox.

In this episode, Gladwell and team uncover a brilliant but very sad reality about Western Satirical Comedy. And even more amazingly, whether podcast crew realize it or not, they uncover 2 important lessons that you can take note of. Primarily to gain clarity and learn to be a more effective leader!

So if you are ready to sharpen your leadership skills, click the image below and engage in the Cross-Learning. Listen for the two subtle takeaways (though there may be more than just two).

Consider the following as you practice Cross-learning.

  1. How the general public critically think or process particular topics
  2. In light of this, how can you lead by communicating more effectively

Gaining Clarity Through Cross-Learning.

The two Cross-Learned takeaways that I took from Revisionist History are…

  1. If there is a lack of clarity in communication around a specific directive or discussion topic, your hearers are more likely to comprehend your topic as they want to hear it. Not necessarily as you intend for it to be understood. I.E. They will conform your message to meet their agenda. (A big pitfall in leadership!)
  2. When there is room for interpretation in directive or discussion topic, your people use energy that is intended for execution or implementation of directive. Inevitably wasting energy on thinking and therefore lose effectiveness in taking action or completion of said directive.

Do you agree?

What were your takeaways from this Cross-Learning resource?

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

This article previously appeared at Shandel Group. If you enjoyed this post, read Shandel’s book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.

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The Practice of Personal Accountability – Part 2

Last time we discussed the Value of Personal Accountability. Now we will focus on the Practice of Personal Accountability.

“Personal Accountability is not hard… but it is impossible unless you know where to start.”

So where do we start? Start by looking in the mirror! Personal Accountability starts with “me”.

Think about it, most people attempt problem solving or troubleshooting by looking at everyone else first. Typically asking what the author of QBQ calls “Incorrect Questions”.

Incorrect Questions look like:

  • “Why” did they do…
  • “When” is that team going to complete…
  • “Who” missed their numbers…

These “Incorrect Questions” seem straightforward enough. However in reality whoever initiates questions like these are functionally isolating themselves from a sustainable solution. In light of this, let’s pull the thread on these types of questions, looking at the intended outcome and see just how these harmful Incorrect Questions look from this new vantage point.

Illuminated Incorrect Questions:

  • I am the victim here, “WHY” did they do …
  • I don’t want to procrastinate, but “When” is that team going to start…
  • I will blame the real culprit “Who” missed their numbers…

Can you see how these types of questions undermine trust and instill a lack of confidence in your people?

Asking “Proactive Questions” is the antidote to a lack of trust, the accelerant for how to grow relational equity with your people and implement productive action.

Proactive Questions look like:

  • “What” can I do to help…
  • “How” can I best support…

When you and I switch our focus to asking Proactive Questions, we begin eliminating bureaucracy and lead by example.  Regardless if you’re the Leader, Manager or an Entry-level employee. You and I begin to be the change that we want to see in our company. Not to mention over time you will begin to save time, money and eliminate unhealthy stress by helping people to thrive.

The practice of asking Proactive Questions will empower you and your people to stop playing the unnecessarily common blame game. Equipping you to work collaboratively and accomplish more together…remember, it is a practice. You and I must commit to making Proactive Questions a habit.

Is it time to invite Shandel Group to help lay the groundwork for your team or organization to learn the Value and Practice of Personal Accountability? Reach us here.

- Alan Andersen


How’s Your Attitude?

You’ve heard the phrase, “attitude is everything”. Maybe it was a parent, a coach in school, or even an employer. But really, how important is attitude? Does it play a role compared to IQ? This article from Forbes thinks so!

Read on, and please comment below with your thoughts!

Why Attitude is More Important than IQ

When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people blessed with brains are inevitably going to leave the rest of us in the dust. But new research from Stanford University will change your mind (and your attitude).

Psychologist Carol Dweck has spent her entire career studying attitude and performance, and her latest study shows that your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ.

Dweck found that people’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

Common sense would suggest that having ability, like being smart, inspires confidence. It does, but only while the going is easy. The deciding factor in life is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People with a growth mindset welcome setbacks with open arms.

According to Dweck, success in life is all about how you deal with failure. She describes the approach to failure of people with the growth mindset this way,

“Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’”

Regardless of which side of the chart you fall on, you can make changes and develop a growth mindset. What follows are some strategies that will fine-tune your mindset and help you make certain it’s as growth oriented as possible.

Don’t stay helpless. We all hit moments when we feel helpless. The test is how we react to that feeling. We can either learn from it and move forward or let it drag us down. There are countless successful people who would have never made it if they had succumbed to feelings of helplessness: Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas,” Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a TV anchor in Baltimore for being “too emotionally invested in her stories,” Henry Ford had two failed car companies prior to succeeding with Ford, and Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC’s Cinematic Arts School multiple times. Imagine what would have happened if any of these people had a fixed mindset. They would have succumbed to the rejection and given up hope. People with a growth mindset don’t feel helpless because they know that in order to be successful, you need to be willing to fail hard and then bounce right back.

Be passionate. Empowered people pursue their passions relentlessly. There’s always going to be someone who’s more naturally talented than you are, but what you lack in talent, you can make up for in passion. Empowered people’s passion is what drives their unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Warren Buffett recommends finding your truest passions using, what he calls, the 5/25 technique: Write down the 25 things that you care about the most. Then, cross out the bottom 20. The remaining 5 are your true passions. Everything else is merely a distraction.

Take action. It’s not that people with a growth mindset are able to overcome their fears because they are braver than the rest of us; it’s just that they know fear and anxiety are paralyzing emotions and that the best way to overcome this paralysis is to take action. People with a growth mindset are empowered, and empowered people know that there’s no such thing as a truly perfect moment to move forward. So why wait for one? Taking action turns all your worry and concern about failure into positive, focused energy.

Then go the extra mile (or two). Empowered people give it their all, even on their worst days. They’re always pushing themselves to go the extra mile. One of Bruce Lee’s pupils ran three miles every day with him. One day, they were about to hit the three-mile mark when Bruce said, “Let’s do two more.” His pupil was tired and said, “I’ll die if I run two more.” Bruce’s response? “Then do it.” His pupil became so angry that he finished the full five miles. Exhausted and furious, he confronted Bruce about his comment, and Bruce explained it this way: “Quit and you might as well be dead. If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there; you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”

If you aren’t getting a little bit better each day, then you’re most likely getting a little worse—and what kind of life is that?

Expect results. People with a growth mindset know that they’re going to fail from time to time, but they never let that keep them from expecting results. Expecting results keeps you motivated and feeds the cycle of empowerment. After all, if you don’t think you’re going to succeed, then why bother?

Be flexible. Everyone encounters unanticipated adversity. People with an empowered, growth-oriented mindset embrace adversity as a means for improvement, as opposed to something that holds them back. When an unexpected situation challenges an empowered person, they flex until they get results.

Don’t complain when things don’t go your way. Complaining is an obvious sign of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset looks for opportunity in everything, so there’s no room for complaints.

Bringing It All Together

By keeping track of how you respond to the little things, you can work every day to keep yourself on the right side of the chart above.

Your Coach,




Special thanks to Forbes and Travis Bradberry for the article.

Growth Curve

Overcoming Obstacles To Get To Your Next Level

Do you know what stage of growth your company is currently in and what is takes to get it to the next level? I would like to introduce you to the idea of being a growth curve enterprise, which is a profit driven, people-centered, growth-smart company. Knowing where your organization is in the growth curve is essential to discern how to adapt your style and methods to match the needs of your fast growing entity.

Adding to the True Life arsenal of leadership tools, I was certified last year as a Stages of Growth Strategist by Target Training International based on James Fischer’s research and process. With nearly a thousand high growth companies studied, he devised a complex methodology to navigate intentional growth. To simplify the process, TTI created a battery of online assessments that CEOs could engage their direct reports in and together journey through a process to identify, assess and define the intentional steps to their next level.

Check out this webinar from TTI to get a more in depth overview.


Interested in finding out where you are at in the growth curve? Subscribe to our blog via email to receive your free copy of the Growth Curve Matrix.

My own experience of conducting numerous strategic Stages of Growth sessions has further validated the tool and here is just a taste a few of the take-aways to get you thinking about your own growth:

1. Your Stage of Growth Can and Should Be Defined.

There are 7 Stages of Growth based on the number of employees. Once you hit the defined number of employees, the next stage begins, thus you must begin preparing your team to navigate to the next stage. For example, once you hit 19 employees, your company makes a huge shift from CEO-centric to Enterprise-centric as it enters Stage 3 – Delegation.

2. Know the Top 5 Challenges of Each Stage

Fischer identified there are 27 Challenges of an intentional enterprise. The order and blend of challenges differ for each stage of growth. If you have grown exponentially and fast, you will need to go back 2 stages to see if you have missed any of the critical growth steps and then have headlights to look forward to what you need to start tackling now as a team. Think about the top 5 business challenges you are experiencing today. Get the matrix and see if your 5 compare to other companies in your current stage of growth. Fascinating.

3. The 10 Hidden Agents Impact Leadership Effectiveness

Fischer’s research discovered there are 10 hidden agents that influence a company’s ability to reach their next level. Interestingly, 5 of those 10, have to do with how a leader must adapt themselves first including their mindset, style, mode of thinking and communication aptitude at each level.

Here are a few to get your mind peculating:

Leadership Style is the how the leader links to the “feel of the company.” Your leadership style must adjust at each stage. For now, ask yourself intuitively does my natural style resonate with the style required for this stage of our company’s growth?

Leadership Modality measures the degree of “direct or indirect influence” a leader must apply to see the company goal’s manifest.

Leadership Faces measures the blend (by percentage) of 3 primary leadership roles: visionary, manager, and specialist at each level. For example, with over 40 employees, a CEO should be spending 70% of their time managing the business. Isn’t that depressing for you High D entrepreneurs? But it explains a lot!

Leadership Competencies includes emotional intelligence knowledge as well as other people skills. The assessment measures 18 competencies and identities the unique mixture depending on the stage of growth. Are you growing in your self-awareness and able to scan the landscape to know what skills you need to put away for now and which ones you need to develop?

I love seeing entrepreneurs build intentional companies that want to fulfill a great purpose and willing to invest in their people to get there. Grateful for those of who are out there living it and making a difference in the world.

Your Coach,


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Learning Takes Action Part 3

Leaders learn. They have to, and they want to. Are you a leader who continually looks for ways to grow and expand?

In this third blog post on being a continuous learner, we’re look at two activities that can build the skills you want.

Broaden your knowledge base!

1. Make two lists: one work-related, one personal.

On the first list, write the titles of five books, periodicals or other sources that would directly help you on the job or give you perspective on your performance.

On the second list, write the titles of at least three publications that interest you for personal reasons (a hobby, a charity, a cause). Make time each week to read from these lists and absorb their contents into your daily routine.

2. Research and list three upcoming seminars, workshops or conferences related to your field that you should attend. A good place to get perspective on such events is through professional associations (which you should be a member of!).

Don’t be afraid to ask your employer to contribute to your membership fees in professional organizations or to pay for you to attend relevant workshops or courses.

What are some ways you’ve found that help you keep learning and growing? Share! We want to learn them too!

Your Coach,




P.S. – if you missed the first two installments in this series, check them out! Part 1 and Part 2

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Leadership + Humility = Growth

What happens when a leader begins to look within herself and is willing to be humble? At True Life Coaching we love hearing stories of people who choose to live intentionally. In our last newsletter we featured Jeri Epperson and her journey of growth from a young businesswoman to a brilliant, savvy leader! We are privileged to know Jeri and watch her life!

I first met Shandel about ten years ago when I was working for a hay exporting company in Central Washington. We had a team of six unique and strong personalities that often worked eight hours a day in a room with no windows, just computers and white boards and our personalities working on process improvement in our SCM database. Needless to say we needed a coach to help us play well together and appreciate and capitalize on our differences. Enter Shandel.

We met monthly with her for off-sites that I remember to be fun and frustrating, enlightening and irritating, brilliant and painful. Why frustrating, irritating, and painful? Because I was 23 and thought I knew everything already. Since age ten I had been sitting in on my mom’s meeting with executives from Chrysler, Praxair, and British Airways. I had professionalism down — right? Shandel thought no, and she was right of course.

Everything she was telling me to do was dead on. She was telling me to listen more, to see things as they were and to stop filtering everything I heard and saw through my own story, and to let go of thinking I am right and have all the answers. But my 23-year-old heart refused to listen. I needed to still be the “bright for my young age” girl I had been for so long. How could I be that if I had to admit I didn’t have all the answers?

Fast forward a few years after I had left that job, feeling fully entitled and petulant, to take on a role where I began to be on the other side of management in HR — not to mention the other side of 30 and having to deal with 23-year-olds who were doing all the same things I had been doing. Acting entitled, refusing to listen, and generally making me roll my eyes until I thought they would fall out. And for every one of these interactions a light bulb would go off over my head and I would see something in myself that needed to change.

Then one day while looking for some leadership training for one of my colleagues I saw in Shandel’s newsletter an ad for the Women’s Leadership Summit (now known as LEXI). I signed up and have been on exponential growth mode ever since. All the humility I was gaining, dealing with younger versions of myself, also wracked my confidence. What else didn’t I know? But it was Shandel’s gig and I KNEW it was going to be good. And boy was it ever good. Beyond the wisdom and the actual learning that took place, what I found to be most valuable was seeing women who really seemed to have it together telling stories of how they felt just like me but took the risk, challenged themselves to grow, and take a good long look at what they were and what they wanted to be and took action to get there. I realized I don’t have to have all the answers or be perfect all the time. But I do have to keep learning about myself, I do have to keep listening, and I do have to respect the wisdom around me.

I am booked for LEXI Seattle in May and have the very good fortune of having TLC coach Mary Beth King coming to facilitate our staff retreat in March. I get so excited for these opportunities now because I can’t wait to be a better me. Every time I get the chance to be around a Mary Beth or Shandel — or my own smart savvy mother who is my original and ongoing inspiration — I try to soak up everything they have to give. Wouldn’t you know it, I don’t feel the frustrating, irritating or painful anymore — just fun, brilliant, and enlightening!

- Jeri Epperson

We are delighted to offer you, our blog readers, a special promo code when you register for the 6th Annual LEXI Women’s Leadership Summit on May 2! Use the code blog2014 and receive $40 off.

10 Days of Growth – 2 down 8 to go!

Howdy from AZ!

I am in Phoenix for two days of certification in a new strategic growth model. It is an incredible new tool and I can’t wait to start using it with my clients. Tomorrow the class will use our new skills and knowledge to analyze the growth plan for True Life Coaching and my own leadership style and modalities. 

Then Sunday morning I jump in my rented convertible and drive across the desert to attend TED Active in Palm Springs. For one week, I am spending my vacation with 1000 other avid learners from all over the world to hear over 50 Ted Talks.

My intention is to stretch my mind and creatively grow in new areas I have not yet discovered I need growth.

When TED is over I am putting the top down on the black mustang and head North on Interstate 5 to spend  the last 2 days of my journey in San Francisco. After all this head knowledge, I will grow further by sheer fun and relaxation. I really want to go to Alcatraz at night – scary! 

What I wonder is where will I truly grow the most?

  • Will it be from 2 full days of new brain knowledge?

  • Will it be 6 days of experience knowledge?

  • Will it be 2 days of processing all the knowledge?

I will be off email but will be on twitter and facebook posting thoughts from TED if you want to follow. Oh and while I am away I would appreciate if you would help me grow the awareness of LEXI. LEXI is new name for the 4th Annual Women’s Leadership Summit on March 23rd at Starbucks. It would be delightful if you would spred the love via twitter and like us on facebook or invite your friends via the website. THANK YOU!

Where will you grow in the next 10 days? Please share below.

Your Coach,