Monday, July 31, 2006

People Who Let Go of Outcomes Lead Fulfilled Lives

People limit themselves without realizing it by reacting to situations, rather than responding and broadening their horizons.

People who communicate their expectations are very likely to have them met.

It's all about the laws of attraction. If you figure out who you need to talk to in order to explore the possibilities and what that conversation needs to look like, then you'll see and learn far more than you ever thought possible.

When I speak at conferences and teach master level coaches it constantly blows them away that I have no business plan. When I first started out in this profession, I didn't try to figure out where my business will end up 5 years later. What I did do was try to figure out who I needed to meet with, hang out with and interact with, to become absolutely masterful at what I do so I could have a strong foundation and create something of my own that would work for me and my clients.

I started saying yes to every opportunity, later figuring out what worked for me and what didn't and now I say no to what won't grow me in some way so I have time to say yes to what will. Business plan? No way. I see more people who are so fixated on their business plan they miss opportunities at every turn.

If you have a business plan and it's inflexible, toss it.

Once you let go of your business expectations there is no limit to how high you can fly as you'll be open to whatever possibilities come your way.

Donna Karlin

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Lighting a Fire Under Our Highest Potential

Over the past few weeks on the other blog, ExecuBooks Blog, we’ve been blogging on leadership, Evidence-Based Management, and the power of charm. We’re talked leadership, bantered, debated and looked at our fellow bloggers perspectives on these subjects and one thing became very clear to me and that is one doesn’t necessarily have to be a leader in every realm of life. It can be one area of work, life, learning…anything that makes others dream, learn do more, and realise their full potential. If anyone inspires you to that, then that person is a leader, not by virtue of position or title but by who they are and how they look at the world and those within it.

Whenever we’re lucky enough to have met someone who acknowledges us for who we are and what we might be, that leader will have lit a fire under what is to be our highest potential.

Don’t look for leaders, be aware of them when they present themselves. They might not be corporate or political leaders. They might be the wise old man or woman on the corner who, for whatever reason of their own, decides we’re worthy enough to be the recipients of their stories, words of wisdom and insights, hoping we’ll pay attention….or not. Perhaps they see in us what we don’t yet see and seek to inspire us through a narrative or anecdote from their past that we can relate to and draw a parallel to. Whatever reason…leaders are everywhere, in some realm of life.

Are you paying attention?

I can tell you when I was first approached to be a contributor to the ExecuBooks Blog, I was thrilled to be asked and knew it would help me hone my writing skills, never mind, perhaps reach more people than I could in my personal blog alone. However never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d made such a connection with many of my fellow writers and how much they have inspired me, helped me learn, grow, see other sides to life and the world as it is and how very lucky I am to be in such amazing company. Each one of the contributors leads, teaches and inspires. Whether or not they realise it, the ripple effect goes way beyond anything they’ll ever know.

I’m paying attention.

Donna Karlin

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Are You in Email Hell?

I have been asked about email management so many times I thought it should rate a blog. I get about 300 to 350 email messages on average each day, including personal email. At the end of the day, there are no unread, ‘unresponded to’ emails left in my inbox. I often hear “How do you stay on top of your emails?” or “The one thing I can’t seem to get a handle on, is keeping up with my emails!”

Even though it’s a peripheral part of the work I do with my clients, I thought I’d let you in on some tips to get out of email hell.

Your inbox should be a ‘No Parking Zone’.

  1. Set up filters or rules wherever you can. I have a ‘rule’ for newsletters, another for the School, one for my blog, Information Requests through my website and well, you get the idea. This way they’re automatically filed and you can get to them when you want/need to. I don’t have to wade through all 300 or so to figure out which are urgent and which I can read whenever.
  2. I configure my Outlook to have a preview so I can see the gist of my email before opening it. That way I can pretty much determine whether or not it’s urgent.
  3. I read each email once when at all possible (and it’s almost ALWAYS possible). If I read each one twice, then I’d have 600 emails a day and that is just ridiculous. Why do twice the work? If I open it, I do something with it. With the preview set up, it’s easier to figure out what has to be opened first. I apply the Touch Paper Once Rule to emails as well. Trash File Delegate or Act. I cannot tell you how many clients look at the same email 3 or 4 times. It boggles the mind. At that rate, they will never be on top of their correspondence!
  4. Anything that requires a long response goes into a special folder with a flag and completion date so I’m reminded to get to it.
  5. I schedule in time through the day to process my emails….and I stick to that scheduling commitment.
  6. I tell friends, family and colleagues to please (very politely so as not to insult) cease and desist with jokes, petitions, news clipping etc. For those people in your life who you KNOW will be insulted if you ask this of them, set up a rule where they go into a file or bin and you can either glance through them when you feel like it or, if you know you’re not ever going to read them let the rule guide them gently to the trash bin. Remember…it’s not the person you’re rejecting. It’s the email overload that’s keeping you so busy you don’t have time to meet them or call them to catch up. Now which would you rather do?
  7. If you’re way behind and have hundreds in your inbox, you’re likely to procrastinate thinking you have to tackle it all in one fell swoop. If that’s you, then what I suggest is that you start doing this right now with today’s emails. Once you’re applying these tips, process the 10 most recent ones that have been parked. If you do that each time you tackle your current email, you’ll have eliminated all the old ones in your inbox in record time and will be able to stay current.

    I do have a BlackBerry so I can process emails at short breaks through the day. This also keeps me on top of any scheduling changes. Nothing like showing up to a meeting that’s been cancelled or relocated. Is technology working for you or is it a make work project? Remember, technology is just a tool. How you use it is up to you.
  8. If your email is anything like mine, when I get back from a trip or vacation, I have an overflowing inbox that is about to explode (figure out a week or two times about 300 emails a day. It’s too daunting to verbalize) I take one day off before heading back to work to read, scan, process and answer my emails so when I’m back, I’m back, and can hit the floor running from square one. It’s automatically factored into my time off.
  9. And last but not least, when responding? Make sure you’re clear, definitive and give enough information back because otherwise you’ve just generated 2 or 3 more guaranteed responses in your inbox if you don’t.

    Effectively yours : )
    Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome new subscribers (88 and 89) from Puerto Rico and Sri Lanka. I hope you stay awhile, and share your thoughts and insights with us for a long time to come!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Leading By Inspiration

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog. I was waiting for the launch of another blog I’m contributing to because the topic is way too good to only write about it once. “If Harry Potter Ran General Electric” How perfect is that? To check out my blog post on that subject, go to as we launched, today!

I am going to say it. I’m a sucker for anything magical, whether old folklore which captures the imagination or the Harry Potter stories. He’s the kind of character that makes you hold your breath and cheer for him no matter if he’s in a Quiddich match (no easy feat) to finding himself in the gravest danger. I watch his courage and sense of fair play, his personal integrity and his striving to be the best he can be, in school and with his fellow classmates. There are many dimensions to the Harry Potter story. The same goes for the multidimensional levels of responsibility and intensity my clients live each day, especially when deep inside a crisis, chaos all around them. They rise to the occasion because of their innate leadership and sense of what’s right. People follow these leaders because of example and by virtue of who they are and how they live, not because of their position in the organization.

I see it from the lowest person on the totem pole to the highest. Bottom line is, leaders have a vision, they have energy to go after that vision, they share and inspire others to take part and make things happen and instill a sense of energy into the organization. They don’t talk leadership. They emulate it.

It’s magical.

Years ago when I was on a creative call with Thomas Leonard and we were talking about evolutionary progressions we spoke of leading by inspiration. There are three levels when working with others. 1) Interdependent 2) is interdevelopmental and 3) is intermagical. Interdependent is when you rely on someone else to get the job done. You get the support and it’s over with…mission accomplished. Interdevelopmental is when you rely on someone else to get the job done, but in the process you both evolve and develop into a level of excellence and knowledge you didn’t have before. But intermagical….well, that’s the special place to be when working with others. That’s when you not only rely on someone else, evolve because of the work you do with them but it’s absolutely magical just because. The synergy is there, the joy of popping out of bed each morning and the feeling that you can’t wait to hit the floor running with this person because you know something amazing is going to happen, even if you’re not sure what that something might be. It energizes you, inspires you to greatness and a level of energetic enthusiasm you never had before. Definition of leader don’t you think? Do you see Albus Dumbledore in there, just a little?

How are you inspiring others intermagically? You know what it feels like. What do you have to do to be it….live it?

Looking forward..
Donna Karlin

*Note: I heartily recommend Tom Morris' book "If Harry Potter Ran General Electric". Click here for more information or to buy the book

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Many Faces of Intelligence

Intelligence def. 1) The capacity to acquire and apply knowledge; a) the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations b) the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests) 2) mental acuteness

There are many different forms of intelligence. Many have delved into researching the 8 categories of intelligence and how they are exercised, recognised and demonstrated. Now there seems to be a new ‘Intelligence’ that has emerged and that is ‘Executive Intelligence’.

Looking at the truth of a situation or what is going on at any given time is the main responsibility of leaders for if they cannot determine the reality of the situation, they will not succeed in their role as leaders. Their capacity of recognizing this truth is determined by their level of intelligence. Cognitive ability testing, or IQ tests have proven to be the best predictor of work performance in any profession and, in some opinions give more information than a lengthy job interview. Some research even indicates that IQ tests predict what the performance of managers will be even more than job experience, one of the reasons being these tests show the capacity for a person to grasp information and process it.

As I’m Shadow Coaching™ my clients through their day, I not only have to see how quickly they grasp information and understand it and observe the speed of their learning curve, which is very important for anyone in a leadership role, but see how quickly they contextualize what they've learned. That is critical for a leader. I need to see how fast they integrate what they learn into their present worlds. If they absorb all this information, new processes ways of being etc and put them aside to do what they’ve always done, then I have my work cut out for me as they will struggle in their role as leaders.

Executive or what I call ‘Leadership Intelligence’ is set of abilities and proficiencies that leaders must be able to demonstrate in various contexts of their work in the realms of accomplishing tasks and how they prioritize them, how they work with people and utilize the people around them (effective delegation) as well as being absolutely aware of their own behaviours, responses, reactions etc. and the behaviours of those they work with.

Leaders must find a way to achieve their mandates while at the same time grow the organization and the people within it.

Leaders need to ‘get it’, understand the various perspectives of what they've just grasped, integrate at a very fast pace and evolve because of it.

My role is to make them aware of the roadblocks, tethers and filters that are standing in their way so we can remove them. Then I sit back and watch them, their staff and the organization fly.

Looking forward…
Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome new subscriber from Bangladesh. 87 countries and counting!