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I look out into the world. There’s much to admire. And so much that can be improved.

In an attempt to help, I try to pinpoint the issues, the reasons for their existence, and who or what is the cause.

Despite my good intentions, I am falling into a trap.

I am pointing to the system and its problems over there, as if it was all separate from me.

But what is the ‘system’, if not you and me?

If we were to remove all human beings from the earth, what of the system would remain?

We are the system, and the system is us. I am the system and the system is me.


An exploration of the dangers of seeking to overcome

Overcoming.

I hear the word and its synonyms often.

Getting over our fears. Winning the fight against the crisis. Overcoming our inner struggles.

Our culture is thick with such phrases and metaphors.

This all might seem natural and obvious enough.

But I wonder. What does it all mean? What does it lead to?

Dare I ask: Must we overcome?

Any time a problem arises, we want to remove it. We seek to overcome the obstacles that stand in our way.

Whether it’s our own lack of confidence, our business’s strategic issue, or a societal crisis, our inclination is to overcome it. …


What type of conversation do you want your leadership to be?

In between, that’s where the magic happens.

Whether it’s a dialogue between two people or the interplay between the players of a sports team — greatness emerges from the interactions between the parts. The magic lies in the betweenness.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re always giving and receiving with what’s around us. We’re in a continuous dialogue with other people, other beings, and other things.

Life is a constant conversation — between you and the world around you.

Leadership is a conversation, too.

Unfortunately, too often we forget this basic fact.

The outdated model

Most people view leadership as telling, controlling, and fixing. …


How to create the breathing room to think, feel, and do

No air means no life.

Yet so often we forget this basic fact.

We strip the air from our schedules like it’s the plague. We sprint instead of walking; we react rather than daring to reflect.

As we push forward in our perpetual panic, we miss where we are. We don’t see the ground beneath our feet. We run past our lives, and then we wonder where it all went.

Giving more air to the seeds of our lives — to think, to feel, to be — is a task that stands before us all. …


The pickle of progress for doers vs. leaders

You’re entering into a new phase. You’ve performed well in the past, but now you’re stepping up to the next level. A new role is demanded of you, and it’s a different beast.

It’s time to become a leader.

But you’re stuck, and you can’t figure out why. You feel frozen in place. It’s frustrating. You know what needs to change, but something’s stopping you. You’re not developing into the leader you want to be.

Although you feel frozen, your situation is not due to an icy lack of energy. In fact, the opposite is true. …


Use your assets, know your tools, and turn weaknesses into marketable strengths

Last week, I spent three days in Columbia, Missouri, for the inaugural edition of Capital Camp, hosted by Patrick O’Shaughnessy and Brent Beshore.

One of the morning activities took place on a picturesque farm. Overlooking the rolling hills below, we learned the basics of butchery from the master Michael Sullivan.

On the bus ride back into town, Dhani Jones and I discussed what we had learned. The more we talked, the more insights we realized we had gained.

These lessons apply to the kitchen. But, more importantly, they also apply to mastery, leadership, and life.

1) The Skin Noodle Principle

Utilize Your Asset

A pig is an investment. You purchase it from a producer, with the goal of selling the butchered pieces of meat for more than you bought it for. You generate a profit by adding value. …


Why reaching your goals won’t get you what you want

Goals can seem like a good idea. They allow us to focus our attention and channel our energy toward a common direction. They sound innocent enough.

But goals can quickly turn into destinations to get to. And in doing so, they become the conditions for our success.

While a goal-focused approach might work for the small things in life, for the big things it can lead to despair.

For the big things, you have two options. You can either set conditions for success. Or you can adopt conditionlessness.

Small things versus big things

For achieving small and mechanical tasks, conditional goals are effective.

An example: If I want to make a cup of coffee, then my goal is to make a cup of coffee. If I manage to brew it, then pour it, and finally drink it, I have achieved my goal. My conditions for success have been fulfilled. I have been successful in the task that I set out to accomplish. Simple enough. …


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How to put yourself in the driver’s seat of your own adventure

Adventure has a nice ring to it. The thrills. The rush. The magic. It’s a prospect that tickles the senses.

But in daily life, it’s easy to feel deprived of adventure. Routine tasks, unappreciative bosses, and overcrowded schedules zap the thrill out of the daily grind.

This state of affairs, however real it might seem, is an illusion.

Opportunities for growth and adventure are everywhere — if you know where to look, that is.

If you raise your gaze, there’s a special place a bit further beyond. …


Why the barrier to moving forward is the guilt of belonging

Few ad campaigns have been more successful than Apple’s ”Think Different” campaign in 1997. It featured snippets of the “crazy ones” — the Einsteins, the Edisons and Earharts of the world — set to a rousing soundtrack and an inspiring monologue.

“Here’s to the crazy ones….The ones who see things differently…While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

It was an epic campaign that won worldwide praise. It cemented Apple’s place in the minds and hearts of creative talent and free-thinking spirits. And in the years since, it remains a manifesto for every innovative entrepreneur and aspiring contrarian out there. …


How to move forward by removing what’s in the way

Learning might seem like a simple equation.

You take your current level of knowledge. Then you add new knowledge. As a result, your level of knowledge rises. You have learned something new.

Current Knowledge + New Knowledge = Learning

This is how we usually think about learning and growth, at least. Whether it’s a new skill, a new muscle, or a new technique, we think it’s always about adding something new.

There is a lot of truth in this approach. But it denies another, more effective source of learning.

Learning isn’t only addition. Learning is also subtraction.

Learning isn’t the only form of learning. Unlearning is learning, too. …

About

Alex Carabi

Executive coach. Coaching at www.alexcarabi.com. Leading group learning journeys at www.yellowlearning.org.

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