alive@work Blog with Joe Contrera

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Closing the Happiness GAP!

At the beginning of each and every month I have the opportunity to work through a process with a group of folks that I spend Monday thru Friday with at 5:15 AM. It is my Accountability group and it is led by my dear friend and colleague, Shawna Schuh. She also leads this monthly call where we set up our goals for the month and then track them each day on a consistency calendar.

This  morning I had an epiphany …

I came to the realization that when I look at the overall goals for my life personally, relationally, and professionally, what I want more than anything is happiness. I want happiness within myself, with others, and in my work.

While I was writing it dawned on me that happiness sounded like something I was striving for or a destination I would arrive at … someday. Than I realized that happiness is simply the cumulative effect of choosing to be happy each and every day.

When you consistently choose to be happy, you ultimately discover happiness.

In other words, my ability to find happiness is based on my weekly, daily, and hourly choices to be happy or not. I have the power to be happy and if I am not happy there is no one else at fault and nothing else to blame. It’s on me!

I then looked at the areas or the components in my life and the situations that caused me to feel unhappy. Sometimes you  have to look at what you don’t want to get clarity on what you do. There were 3 areas I looked at and here they are:

  1. When I am ungrateful for all that I have and instead choose to focus all the things that I don’t!
  2. When I start thinking scarcity thoughts and focus on the fact that there isn’t enough and I have to fight to get my share. This scarcity mentality and can slowly creep in and infect my business, my relationships, and my worldview!
  3. When I am unproductive, waste time, and accomplish nothing of value. I may be checking boxes on my to do list but they have little or no significance.

Lately, I have been working on a new book entitled, The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others. One of the concepts I share in regards to influencing others is that your job as a leader is to help your folks identify the gap between where they are and where they want to be. This gap can apply to all aspects of life whether it be specific to a project, their career, or a relationship.

You accomplish this by asking questions so they can see the gap and you understand what they are thinking or believing about their particular situation. What you think doesn’t matter if they don’t see it and identify with it. Once they establish the gap, you can help them decide what actions they might take so they can start closing that gap and achieving their goals. All of this is done through the art of asking great questions.

When I asked myself those same questions, and I identified the gap between what I wanted and where I was, I decided that I would take 3 actions in order to achieve my ultimate goal of being happy. I decided to adjust my thought process and start behaving differently in these 3 areas of my life:

  • ratitude – I would write each and every day what I am grateful for
  • bundance – I would focus on the fact that there is plenty of everything. We live in a land of abundance, all I have to do is look for the opportunities and do the work. Which leads me to number 3.
  • roductivity – simply put … DO THE WORK! Stop procrastinating, wasting time and start taking action, whether it be massive or minuscule, just move and do something.

This isn’t rocket-science, I think most great ideas are rather simple, and yet it was eye-opening.

When I am ungrateful, approach life from a scarcity mentality,  and am not productive, I AM NOT HAPPY! When I am grateful for all that I have, approach life from an abundance mentality, and I am productive, I AM HAPPY!

Period the end, game over, that’s a wrap!

Let me close with 3 questions:

  1. So where are the gaps in your life between where you are and where you want to be?
  2. What do you need to do to close that gap (what action you need to take or belief do you need to shift)?
  3. What are you willing to do or commit to doing to change that?

When you consistently choose to be happy … you won’t have to look for happiness … happiness will find you!

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Posted by Joe Contrera in Beliefs, Happiness, Joe Contrera, Leadership, Personal Growth, Results, Self Improvement, Success.

(RE)discovering Your Purpose as a Leader

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to kick off a new group for our, Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™ Program.

It is an advanced learning experience that reeducates leaders on the core principles of what it means to lead others, while consistently building their coaching & influencing skills. It happens over a 7-month time frame and utilizes four different learning environments.

During one of our first sessions, one of the leaders shared that she had lost her way as a leader. Meaning, she had forgotten her purpose and the reason she had become a leader in the first place. She woke up to the realization that she was acting more like a glorified, but bored and disengaged individual contributor instead of leader.

Going through life without a purpose can be self-defeating. It causes people to wander aimlessly from one job or relationship to the next, it can allow someone to wallow in a dead-end place for years because their life or their work has no meaning.

Losing your sense of purpose as a leader, can be even more devastating, because your lack of engagement can infect the people you lead, the very same people you are supposed to be leading, developing, and helping them get out’ve their own way so they can do their best work.

So How Does a Leader Lose Their Way?

Some leaders are never clear as to why they became a leader in the first place. They may have wanted the promotion, the status, the money, and the title so they accepted the position without fully understanding the responsibility it requires or possessing the skills to lead others. Some leaders get worn down after years of leading the charge, they get tired or bored and slowly wander off-course, it doesn’t happen immediately, it happens eventually. Some folks never ever wanted to be a leader and when you ask them why they did, they say … “I just sort’ve fell into it!”

In all 3 of those situations what typically unfolds is that the leader becomes so focused on themselves and their own needs that they forget that being a leader means you have to be other-centered. We have all worked for self-centered leaders and it’s typically a bad experience that produces poor results.

So What if You’re a Little Lost?

  • Step 1 – Ask yourself why you decided to be a leader in the first place?
  • Step 2 – If after completing #1 you realize that you fell into it or that you wanted the title and the paycheck but you really struggle with the people aspect of your job … QUIT! Seriously you will not be happy, effective, or successful and you will end up doing much more harm than good.
  • Step 3 – If on the other hand you realize that for some reason or another you have gotten out of alignment or lost your way, I highly suggest that you adapt the following definition of a leader – Leaders are people who influence others to do or to be their best. Write it down, put it where you see it consistently throughout the so you can remind yourself of what you’re supposed to be doing.
  • Step 4 – Then go to amazon and order this book StrengthsFinders 2.0  and take the assessment in the back of the book.
  • Step 5 – When you get your results for your top 5 Strengths, ask yourself on a scale of 1-10 (1 – low and 10 – high) “How well am I leading/working from each one of my strengths?
  • Step 6 – Pick your lowest score and ask yourself, “What would I need to do to make my score a +1, +2, +3?” Write it down.
  • Step 7 – Do  those 3 things for the next 30 days and watch what unfolds in your work and your life!
  • Step 8 – After 30 days share the book with a colleague or even better … one of the people whom you lead!

Some of the most influential leaders in history have transformed the world, moved mountains, and toppled monarchies. People followed them because they trusted them. They were crystal clear about their purpose and they wanted to make life better for those around them. They weren’t lost … they helped others find their way

You don’t need to have direct reports to influence others … and if you do … consider it a privilege and your purpose!

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Posted by Joe Contrera in Coaching Others, Executive Leadership Development, Executive leadership training, Influencing Others, Leadership, Leadership Skills Training, Leadership Speaker, Results.

The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™: Worldview – Friendly or Hostile

A brief excerpt from Joe’s new book, The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™, coming out later this year.

Albert Einstein once said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” In other words, you have to decide if this place you inhabit, is a safe place or a dangerous one.  A place where you approach each interaction with a self-protective mindset or a place where you can relax and trust the process.

Our experiences, along with our upbringings, play an important role in how we pass through our days on earth. When, where, how, and by whom you were raised, has an enormous impact on what we understand to be “normal.”

Our definitions of “normal” varies widely from person to person, family to family, and culture to culture. For example, folks raised during The Great Depression of the 1930’s see the world much differently then a child raised in the economic boom cycle of the 1990’s.

In our inter-connected, multi-cultural world, the culture in which we were raised significantly impacts how we lead. In organizations with locations scattered all over the world, it is quite typical that as part of their leadership development program, they transfer leaders between the different countries so they can broaden their perspectives and expose them to different cultures.

I once worked with a leader from South America who struggled with conflict because in his town growing up, conflict would literally cost you your life. So he learned not to confront others (including his people) on performance issues or anything that resembled a conflict. His cultural background manifested itself in his desire to make everyone happy and to not make waves. The results: his employee’s pushed back on him, disrespected his authority, and had no accountability or ownership for their work, all of which reflected on him as a leader.

When you take into consideration the constant barrage by a news media who peddles fear and sensationalizes the facts, add the social media factor and the ability to share violent and horrific videos live, it can be extremely difficult to not be over-run by a fear-based mind-set.

For the record, I understand that the world is not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. And yet, as a leader if you choose to see that for the most part, the world is a friendly place and people are good, more times than not, you will give others the benefit of the doubt. You will realize that not everyone is out to get you, make you look bad, or throw you under the bus … and you will be happier.

As a leader, when you trust others you delegate more and you micro-manage less. When the world is a friendly place you collaborate more with your people and your peers. Your ability to collaborate will allow you to get more things done than you ever could if you were isolated and hiding behind a fear-based shield. And when you get more things done, you increase your value to the organization and therefore your ability to be promoted.

In the end … you win.

If you believe the world is a friendly place, there will be times when things don’t go as planned and you may occasionally get burned. In those situations, you’re more likely to search for solutions and ways to make it better than to point finger, blame, and condemn, in order to protect yourself.

Each day you have the opportunity to choose between whether you live in a friendly or hostile universe.

Maybe old Albert had it right when he said … this truly is one of the most important decisions we make.



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Posted by Joe Contrera in Coaching, Coaching Others, Culture, Executive Leadership Development, Influencing Others, Joe Contrera, Leadership, Leadership Speaker, Leading Others, Productivity, Values.

Leadership Training: Transactional or Transformational

When you go to McDonald’s there is a pretty good chance that you’re not going with the intention of having an exquisite culinary experience.

In fact, going through the drive-thru is a four step process that is repeated tens of thousands of times a day in drive thru’s all across America:

  • Step 1 -Shout what you want into a speaker.
  • Step 2 – Listen to someone mumble back what you just said, plus a total, then tell – to pull up to the next window.
  • Step 3 – You hand them money
  • Step 4 – You receive your bag of food and drive away.

This is an exchange, money for something that resembles food.

Seriously, have you never heard these words from anyone after they’ve eaten McDonald’s, “There it was … that dried out puck of beef  … resting gently on a bun that had been overheated in the microwave so that one half of the bun was gooey and gummy, while the other half  was hard as a rock! It was at that moment … I knew I was in for a real treat!”

This is what I refer to as a transaction, I give you X and you give me Y … period the end!

Now, think about going to the most expensive restaurant in Chicago, Los Angeles, or NYC. It is a much different experience. An experience where they pay attention to every little detail, from the time you pull up and are greeted by the valet till the time you hear the car door close behind you as you drive away … and everything little detail in-between.

You’re willing to pay more because you know that every detail of your dining experience will be perfect.

Your experience will cause you to tell others about that restaurant for months and maybe even years. It was transform-ational.

Transformed means to be changed. They took what could’ve been a simple exchange of food for money and turned it into a lasting memory.

So what does this have to do with Leadership or Leadership Training?

I find that many companies approach training in a transactional way. It’s as if they’re going to thru a McDonald’s drive-thru, ordering the value meal and expecting Chateaubriand.

You don’t get Chateaubriand when you send your manager to an all-day seminar for $79.00. These training classes are designed for the trainer to sell books, Cd’s, and Dvd’s (Yes, the trainers get paid more to sell you products then they do from doing the training).

5 Things That Happen When You Approach Training in a Transactional Way:

  1. Attendees show up in training classes who don’t want to be there, so they are not engaged, and so they don’t change.
  2. People walk out’ve the training with ideas and absolutely no idea how to put these ideas into actions.
  3. People walk out’ve training classes with no accountability to change or an avenue to continue the learning and so it fades within days.
  4. Leaders of companies waste hundreds of millions of  dollars on training and get no visible signs of return-on-investment to show for it. They can’t measure the impact.
  5. Most training is generic and so attendees don’t get the personal attention or the specific skills they need and so the issues that were supposed to be resolved by the training continue.

Training becomes transformational when you start to look at your entire training process. From the time your new employee walks in your door on their first day until the time they leave the company.

Companies are transformed when you pay attention to your leaders. When you train, support, and develop your individual contributors as they make that giant leap towards leadership. And when you provide your Leaders with programs that teach them how to integrate their new knowledge into their daily work interactions and help them to build their skills.

If you are interested in learning more about how to transform your organization with a transformational leadership development program, click here  and ask for more information about The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others ™ Leadership Development Program.

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Posted by Joe Contrera in Executive Leadership Development, Executive leadership training, Leadership, Leadership Skills Training, Leadership Speaker, Professional Growth.

The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™: Authority versus Control

A brief excerpt from Joe’s new book, The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™, coming out later this year.

A number of years ago a colleague of mine recommended a book entitled, Power versus Force by David Hawkins. It was an extremely powerful book that discussed applied kinesiology, quantum physics, particles, waves, and vibration, it was fascinating. In my studies and research on the topic of leadership and influence, I came to the conclusion that the concepts of power versus force  applied to leadership as well. What follows is one of the key components of leadership between a power-based leader and a force-based leader.

Power & Leading from a Place of Authority: Most people have a negative connotation about the word authority. They seem to confuse authority with the word control. The word authority appeared around the early 1300’s and comes from the Latin word auctor which means author.  Author – meaning, enlarger, founder, one who causes to grow. This is a far different meaning from what most people believe about authority today.

A few thousand years ago, there was a very wise man who was actually a revolutionary. He spoke of a new way of living that was rooted in forgiveness and love, and in doing so, he changed the world. His enemies feared him and even asked, “Who is this man who teaches with such authority?” He spoke with authority and people were drawn to him. In turn, they followed him by the masses and still do today, some 2000 years later.

All great leaders lead from a place of authority. They are committed to enlarging the talents and skills of others, they are committed to helping other to grow.

Force & Leading From a Place of Control: When a leader is all about controlling their people, it can cause quite a few issues, especially in the context of the workplace and most of them are not good. Why? Because people don’t like to be controlled. They want to feel like they have some sense of control in their work and that they are empowered to make choices. Leaders who are all about controlling are more focused on themselves and their own fears. In an attempt to control their people, they project their fears onto their people, and then allow their fears to play out on the workplace stage in sometimes very dramatic and harmful ways.

Try this the next time your with someone. Ask them to hold up their hand palm facing you, place your hand against theirs and start pushing, without a word they will automatically start pushing back on you. This is a great example of how Newton’s Third Law of Motion applies to Leadership. It states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

When I am leading from a place of force, and I exert force on you in an attempt to control you, you will find a way to push back. It may be outwardly in a direct and aggressive way. It may be inwardly in a passive when I  disengage or shut down. Or it may hidden in a passive-aggressive way by attempting to make my reaction appear different then what it really is, false agreement, talking behind your back, etc. The results: in your effort to control you lose control.

Each and every day, as a leader, you have the power to lead from a place of authority or a place of control.

What will you do today … that causes others to grow?


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Posted by Joe Contrera in Coaching, Influence, Leadership, Leadership Speaker, Leading.

The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™: Transparency & Opaqueness

Transparency – the quality or state of being free from pretense or deceit.

Opaqueness – attempt to block, making something hard to understand or see.

Much can be said about these topics because they touch every aspect of our lives. Whether it is politics, the news media, your partner/spouse, or yourself, every area of our lives are impacted in either a positive or negative way based on the choice we make to be transparent or to be opaque.

As a leader, if I intentionally and purposely set out to deceive you or block you from seeing the truth (the facts), then I am attempting to manipulate you. Being opaque is simply an attempt to make things appear to be something other than what they are and is usually being driven by a self-centered agenda. It might be driven by a desire to:

  • Maintain control
  • Manipulate or deceive another party in an attempt to benefits themselves (usually at the cost of the other party).
  • Hide their missteps or indiscretion’s.
  • Make something appear to be something other than what it is (facts versus fiction).
  • Hide their selves so their true motives are hidden.

I remember being in a relationship with someone who thought that leaving out some of the facts (lying by omission) was “okay.” According to them they didn’t lie … they just were protecting me?

The Truth: I never asked to be protected, I never asked to be lied to, in fact I made it crystal clear that I wanted the truth. Apparently they felt like Jack Nicholson in the movie, A Few Good Men, when Nicholson screams back at the attorney played by Tom Cruise “You can’t handle the truth!”

Which raises the question: When did you get to decide for me what I can and can’t handle? When did you get to decide whether I should hear or see the truth. Part of the problem with folks today is that they have been shielded from the truth. Truth’s like:

  • In life there are winners and losers and losing sucks. Pretending everyone wins is a lie.
  • He who yells the loudest and points the biggest finger usually has more to hide than the person they are accusing. Screaming and yelling is just a diversion away from themselves. Think about that next time you watch the news or a politician condemning the other party. Oh, I’m sorry they’re protecting the “American People!”
  • Nothing is free, you end up paying for it one way or another and sometimes that ‘freebie’ will rob you of your sense of self-worth, value, and your sense of purpose.
  • When you feel entitled to things you haven’t earned, you stay stuck and dependent on others. Eventually this will rob you of your self-worth, value, and sense of purpose. You can scream about it (see point #2) or just remember that you’re holding the gun!
  • There are consequences for each and every action that you take or don’t take. It is the Universal  Law of Compensation … you cannot outsmart, outrun, or outmaneuver it!
  • Karma is a bitch.

So that said can we just call all the opaqueness, spinning, shaping, omission for what it is … LYING!

As a leader it is not your job to decide for others what they can handle. I understand the need for discretion especially in a leadership position with knowledge that is not to be made public. I’m not talking about that situation. I’m talking about speaking the truth and being transparent so that people can decide for themselves what is their best course of action and not you deciding for them.

Opaqueness creates a false, egocentric mentality that you have the power to decide for others what is best for them. Opaqueness can contribute to low self-esteem and low self-worth because it creates a false sense of reality. Opaqueness depletes trust and people don’t follow leaders they don’t trust.

Transparency allows others to make the decision as to what is best for themselves and that is empowering. Feeling empowered builds self-worth and value and reduces that sense of helplessness and victim-hood. Transparency, even though it is hard at times, creates vulnerability and vulnerability creates trust. People follow leaders they trust.

As a leader each and everyday you have the opportunity to choose to be opaque or transparent.

Part of being a great leader is trusting that your people are capable of making their own decisions and creating their own solutions to their problems and challenges. You can’t do that by shrouding the truth, reality, or being so self-centered that you believe you’re more important then your people.



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Posted by Joe Contrera in Accountability, Coaching, Empowerment, Influence, Influencing Others, Leadership, Leadership Speaker, Leading Others.

The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™: Integrity & Authenticity

A section from Joe’s new book, The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™ coming out later this year.

Integrity & Authenticity

Years ago when I was married, my wife and I were going through a rough patch and so we separated for a while. After a short time we reconciled and in celebration of our decision, we threw a party. At that point my life was pretty compartmentalized because I felt the need to keep all my facades (faces) very far apart.  My church folks were separate from my work folks, who were separate from my in-laws, who were … you get the picture. I’ll never forget walking outside onto the deck with a pitcher of Margarita’s and hearing bits and snippets of all the conversations that were taking place.

My dear elderly friend Helen who I met when she read my Tarot Cards, was smoking a cigarette and deeply engaged in a conversation with Lucy, my friend Jim’s wife, the arch-christian from my church. I can still see the word bubbles over their heads. “Lucy: So how did you meet Joe?” Helen, in her raspy, throaty, smokers voice from years of cigarettes, “Well if you must know the truth, I read his ta-roooooooo .” The words just hung there in slow motion over her head as if time and space came to screeching halt.

Oh my god, my worlds were colliding. I felt like George Costanzo in a bad Seinfeld episode!

I turned to the left where my friend Phil, from my men’s therapy group was explaining a little bit about our group retreats to my brother-in-law Bruce, yes, my wife’s older, overly protective brother who never really liked me. Did I mention both he and his brother were cops? I swear I heard Phil finishing his sentence with … “running naked through the woods!”

My world was crumbling and with it all the walls of defense I had constructed to keep me safe and separate. The truth is I was out of integrity. Why? Because my world wasn’t integrated. I felt like I had to be a different person in each and every group.

When it comes to integrity as a leader I think we have to ask ourselves: Am I the same person with my team in the office as I am with them at happy hour? Am I the same person at happy hour on Friday night with my friends as I am at church on Sunday morning with my family?

Sure I understand the need to adjust our behaviors in different situations. However, I am talking about who you are at your core.

The more you separate yourself, the more out of  integrity you are because the pieces and parts of your life are not connected and whole. Besides keeping up facades and separate lives will eventually come to roost … it is just a matter of time. Yes this might seem like an extreme example and … this is the stuff that shows up on the nightly news and shocks the neighbors and coworkers, “He was always a quiet person and a great neighbor, I’m shocked.” Or “I’m shocked, they were together for 25 years and always seemed like they were so happy … in public”

The point here is if you have to play all these different roles at different times with different people, how can you be authentic? Besides which one of those facades is the real you?

At some point your true self will come out because trying to hold all these separate lives together is like trying to hold a beach ball under water in the pool. Eventually you are going to get tired and that thing is going to launch out from under you like a rocket and you might just sink like an anchor.

People are pretty good judges of character and especially if you’re their leader. They know when their getting manipulated no matter how eloquently you speak or what you say. Think politicians … “it depends on what the definition of is … is?”

Look, you are either being truthful or you’re not. Period the end.

Let me let you in on a little secret. As a leader, you cannot give away something you do not have. If you demand honesty and integrity from your people but you don’t give it to them you won’t get it from them.

There are Universal laws in this world (laws that cannot be broken) and this is one of them … The Law of Reciprocity – If you want something in return you first have to be willing to give it.

For example, if you want honesty from others you have to be first willing to be honest with them first. If you want respect from your people you have to be willing to give them respect first.

So if you find your life compartmentalized and feel that you need to be someone else, especially as a leader. Now might be a good time to ask yourself the question: What makes you feel like you can’t be who you are? Or better yet … “What do you believe is so wrong with you that you feel like who you are, isn’t enough?

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Posted by Joe Contrera in Authentic, Authentic Leadership, Authenticity, Coaching, Influencing Others, Leadership, Leadership Speaker, Leading Others.

The Power of One …

At times it can  be easy to forget the idea that it takes just one idea, action, or belief to transform the world. Whether that be the world-at-large or the much smaller world that you inhabit, especially the one in your head.

Most of us have forgotten the impact we as individuals can make when we are aligned with what I refer to as our internal T.A.G.S.™

T.A.G.S.™ is an acronym that stands for:

  • Talents – Your strengths, our genius, and our brilliance.
  • Attitudes – What you think, what you believe, especially what you believe about your self-worth and value.
  • Goals – Not in the sense of your daily goals and to-do lists. I’m speaking here about your big picture goals. That big overarching goal for your life – yes, your purpose.
  • Skills The things you are working on and learning, the skills you must develop if you want to continue to grow and perfect your craft.

Your ability to impact others changes dramatically when you know who you are and what you believe. You can influence your world and the world of others when you are clear about why you are here and the purpose for your life. When you continue to invest in the growth and development of your skills, you  can then unleash the maximum power you are capable of and provide the utmost value to the world around you.

But you cannot unleash this power unless you decide to own the fact that you and you alone are responsible for uncovering  your gifts, what you truly believe about yourself and your purpose, and what you must work on to be your absolute best!

We have become a society of entitlement. Many of us believe we are owed certain things without having to do the work. We value the wrong things and then wonder why we are not paid what we believe we should be making. I’m sorry, but being a fast-food worker does not entitle you to $15.00 per hour. The market doesn’t support an $8.00 McDonald’s hamburger to support you and that is why they cost a $1.00. Eventually, you will be replaced by a machine. One of my favorite mentors is a gentlemen by the name of Jim Rohn who used to say that the marketplace determines your value. If you want to make more money bring more value to others and the market.

If you are looking to be more powerful and impactful then here are 4 questions you can ask yourself and a few ideas to help you get moving. These questions will help you make sure you’re on the path to unleashing your ultimate T.A.G.S.™  on this world.

  1. What are your unique strengths? If you don’t know, click on this link to and buy the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book. It will provide an assessment that will help you uncover your strengths.
  2. How is your attitude about your work? Your life? Yourself? Is it that you are owed something or even worse, that because of your circumstances you have no value? Let me share with you a little secret. Every single human being on this planet has value, some of us over-value it greatly and some of us under value it immensely. Either way someone sold you a pack of lies and you need to reevaluate your reality.
  3. Do you know what your supposed to be doing here on this earth? Or are you wandering aimlessly from job to job, relationship to relationship, or buying the next shiny, pretty whatever hoping that the next one will fill the hole you feel inside. I’ve got great news for you … your purpose is already inside of you, you just need to uncover it! Start by ridding yourself of the old beliefs, stories, and lies you’ve picked up along the way that tell you you’re not enough. Then you can start clearing the path to your true purpose.
  4. What are you working on to improve yourself or your skills? Have you read or learned anything new in the last 30 days or do you educate yourself by watching that crap on TV like the news?

The power of one is a compelling idea that can change your life and the lives of those around you in an extraordinary way. But remember, the power of just one self-defeating belief or behavior can change it for the worse.

The good news is that there is only one person that can decide how all of this will play out in your life …  just one person … and that person is you!

You have total control of that one decision … actually it’s the one thing you really do control.

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Posted by Joe Contrera in Accountability, Empowerment, Goals, Influencing Others, Joe Contrera, Leadership Speaker, Ownership, Personal Growth, Professional Growth, Results, Success.

The Key To Teamwork is 100% Ownership

If you are not taking 100% ownership for the results you are getting in your life, you are not reaching your maximum potential as an individual or as a team. You may also negatively impact your relationships in both your personal and professional life.

I was taught a long time ago that when things weren’t going my way … I needed to change my way. I was taught not to point my fingers and blame others for my mishaps or misfortunes. Now that doesn’t mean I’ve never wasted time blaming others at points in my life, oh believe me, I have done my fair share of blaming others for my missteps.

That was until  … I came to the painful realization that each and every time something went wrong in my life, whether it was a blown business deal or failed relationship, there was always one person who was always at the scene of the crime … ME!

Bitching and complaining about my woes to someone else or attempting to place the blame for my mishaps on others eventually became extremely debilitating. You see, at first I thought I was getting attention and sympathy and bringing others closer to me which is what I really wanted. The truth was that I was actually doing the opposite, I was driving people away because after awhile, no one wants to listen to that garbage over and over and over. Apparently they also came to the same conclusion that I did … only sooner. I  was always present and highly involved.

Over the years of working with leaders, I have learned that one of the key components for a successful team is that individuals on the team take 100% ownership for their actions and their work. When this happens, the level of cooperation, trust, and productivity is extremely high.

However, when just one of the team members places blame on others for what they didn’t accomplish, doesn’t show up for work or meetings, and then blames everyone else for their shortcomings, it has a disastrous impact on the functionality of the team. The folks carrying the load get more frustrated and further alienate the blamer. The blamer get pushed farther away which creates a greater feeling of isolation and so they bitch and complain even more thinking that will get them the attention, sympathy, and sense of belonging they want. Bottom-line: Everyone is miserable, especially the leader.

If you’re the leader of a team that isn’t clicking quite right, you could blame the inability of the team to perform on the fact that you inherited a lousy team. Or you could take 100% responsibility and take the necessary actions needed to start weeding out and getting rid of the non-performing gears. Getting rid of non-performing gears is critically important, even in environments where the deck is stacked in favor of an over-protected employee which can happen in institutions, governments, unions, and with employees who abuse FMLA.

Yes, it can be more difficult in these situations, so as a leader, you have to keep focused on what it’s truly costing you and the team and be sure to not allow the system to wear you down. Other-wise you end up being just another broken gear in a broken system and eventually end up blaming the system for your misery. Think Washington D.C.

Like a finely tuned watch, cooperation and teamwork doesn’t happen unless each and every member of the team takes 100% ownership for themselves and their part.

And that’s where the magic of time comes into play …

You can choose to live with a bad gear and hope it will change or you can replace the gear and know it will change.

Either way you will get results … it’s just a matter of time!

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Posted by Joe Contrera in Joe Contrera, Leadership, Leadership Speaker, Ownership, Poor Performers, Productivity, Results, Talent Management, Teamwork.

The Art of Leading Coaching & Influencing Others: Privilege & Calling vs. Entitlement

         CLICK THE VIDEO ABOVE & LEARN WHY                      LEADERSHIP  ISN’T A REWARD FOR PERFORMANCE                                              … IT IS A CALLING!

When you look at how most companies select leaders, it is a rather simple process.

We take a great performer (because they achieved great results) offer them more money, a prestigious title, a bigger office or cubicle, and sit back and think “How in the world could they not want to be a leader?”

We don’t always have a great vetting process in place because we are in a hurry and so we end up putting a body in a position instead of a person with a true desire to lead. Our hope is that as a leader, they will achieve the same results they did as an individual contributor … only times 10.

It gets worse when we don’t offer leadership training or development because we assume their leader will handle it. Or we assume they know how to Lead, Coach, & Influence Others or they will learn as they go and figure it all out.

What can complicate the matter further is if the leader feels that they are qualified to lead simply because they were successful as an individual contributor and earned their stripes. They may believe that people should follow them because of their title, position, or previous accomplishments.

These types of managers or supervisors don’t understand that the true job of a leader is to develop their people. It isn’t about doing the work … IT IS about influencing their people to do the work. Not by telling them, but by guiding them and using the art of leading, coaching, and influencing and asking great questions.

If you hold the pseudo-belief that you can control others just based on your title or position you’re in for a big surprise. If you believe people will follow you or must follow you because of your title or position you’re in for an even bigger surprise.

Being a leader is not easy! At times it may be the most difficult thing you have ever done in your life besides raising your children. It requires dedication and a commitment. A commitment so strong that you have to lean in so far that you can’t go back. It is truly a privilege and if you don’t feel called to be a leader then I seriously doubt that you should follow the path. You’re better staying an individual contributor.

If you’re interested in seeing exactly where your mindset is in regards to whether your leadership is a privilege/calling or an entitlement answer the following 5 questions as honestly as possible:

  1. Were you promoted to a leadership position because you were a great individual contributor?
  2. Do you love the title, the money, and the prestige of being a leader and if you could rid yourself of the people (issues) you would be much happier?
  3. Do you spend more then 50% of your time wishing you were doing something else, somewhere else, for someone else?
  4. Was the first time you truly thought about being a leader when they asked you to interview for the leadership position or offered it to you?
  5. Do you feel that your people should follow you because you are their boss, leader, manager, etc.?

If you answered yes to 3 or more of these questions you need to seriously consider whether or not you belong in a leadership position. Life is too short to be unhappy or to make other folks unhappy.

Being a leader is a privilege and if you don’t feel called to do the work it might be best to exit gracefully while you can …

Otherwise the day will come when it won’t be your choice … and it most likely won’t be so graceful either.


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Posted by Joe Contrera in Coaching, Executive Leadership Development, Leadership, Leadership Speaker, Leading.