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Leadership Lessons from Ikea

constructive culture Sep 26, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


The IKEA Effect is a fascinating part of our psychological operating system, and understanding how to use it is hugely advantageous for every leader. 

Simply put, people who expend effort or experience difficulty in accomplishing something will be happier than if that result had come to them easily. 

Anyone who has worn out their fingers putting together a poäng chair with an allen wrench fully understands this mix of relief and satisfaction that comes with sitting in that completed chair.

Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig. (Gladwell)

Labor of Love

Of course, not only IKEA uses this to their advantage. We see similar results in Subway restaurants, at u-pick fruit farms, and with parents who get their children to help cook vegetables that might...

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Staying Curious

by Melody Stacy


Curiosity killed the cat.

A useful illustration of why we shouldn’t be nosing around in situations that don’t involve us? Maybe. But as leaders, we may want to take a different perspective.

Curiosity sparks the trust, growth, and joy.

Certainly not as catchy. But this version is leadership gold.

Curiosity is a powerful mindset.

We were all born with an inquisitive approach to our world that, unfortunately, tends to dwindle as we age. As we move along in our careers, things like our ego can completely squelch any remaining glimmer.

Be curious, not judgmental. - Walt Whitman

If we can nurture this pilot light, we can spark many powerful elements for ourselves and our teams.

Stay curious a little bit longer.

One way to nurture curiosity is to focus on asking questions. As we do, we are forced to slow down, unlocking a simple yet powerful leadership strategy.

When we listen more and talk less, we can avoid missteps while building empathy....

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The Problem with Pretty Good

constructive Sep 13, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Would you be willing to change your work habits to make life easier for your future self?

You'd think a quick "yes" would come from most leaders, right?

Sadly, this isn't the case.

When Good is the Enemy of Great

Most successful people have good organizational skills and productivity habits.

Herein lies the problem. Good habits get in the way of building excellent habits that could eliminate many mistakes and worries. 

Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. (Jim Collins)

Leaders sometimes dabble in hacks or embrace a new app that promises to improve their current systems. 

After all, a pretty good system gets pretty...

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I Don't Know What I Don't Know

communication courageous Sep 06, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Have you ever worked for someone who is comfortable admitting not having all the answers and who asks questions like, 'Did I explain this clearly enough?' or 'Did I use any phrases or jargon that might mean something different to two different people?"

We Don't Know What We Don't Know

We often don’t know as much as we think we do. 

Need convincing?

Look around at something you use every day. Perhaps you see a door knob or your car radio. Now, try to explain the basics of how that item works. When we attempt this seemingly simple task, it's likely we'll find gaps in what we actually know. In psychology, this overconfident space is referred to as the illusion of explanatory depth, or the belief that we know more than we actually know. 

We see this illusion frequently in everyday buzz words like time blocking...

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Outsmarting a White Bear

courageous time blocking Aug 30, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Do white bears sometimes show up to ruin a perfectly good evening or keep you up at night?

Ironic process theory, or the white bear problem, says that attempts to suppress a particular thought will only increase its frequency and intensity. This idea from Harvard psychologist Daniel Wegner is derived from an essay by a Russian writer well over a century ago:

Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute. (Fyodor Dostoevsky)

A white bear might be an upcoming contentious meeting, a very busy week ahead, or any foreboding task that needs to be completed. The more we try to push the worries down, the greater they feel. 

So, how do we get our brains to cut us a break and fend off the white bear?

There are a number of strategies to do this, like replacing the thought, going for a walk, or...

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Our Internal Operating System

constructive Aug 23, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Do you ever just wish for a day during which nothing happens?

Of course you do! We all need a slow day now and then.

However, impactful leaders are generally excited by change and don't ascribe to a no news is good news mindset.

Impactful Leaders Choose an Open Mind

Having an open mind is certainly a necessary attribute if we'd like to leave a positive wake. That same receptive and thoughtful mindset can feel like a curse when an exciting idea or great opportunity feels too big to fit into our available time. 

When opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare. (John Wooden)

Most effective leaders have an open mind and frequently find themselves too busy to act upon something that would lead them or their team to greater success. 

Fact #1: Many of our best ideas will come at the most inopportune times. 

 Fact #2: More and better opportunities find those who are prepared to both...

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Domino Falls

by Aubrey Patterson


Just time block it.

People seeking organizational help all too often hear this well-intentioned advice from people whose own calendars mostly display a collection of events and other people's to-do lists. 

Ensuring we get to all the right places at all the right times and track our task with colorful blocks is a nice start, but shouldn't we see our biggest priorities whenever we open our calendars? 

The ONE Thing

When we add tasks to a calendar quickly and thoughtlessly, we're spending time rather than investing it.

In The ONE Thing, author Gary Keller offers a simple and impactful way to begin time blocking. In any given moment, we should first ask ourselves the focusing question, "What’s the ONE Thing I could do, such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?" 

Our next step is to time block that one thing and other priorities to create a series of...

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The Ebb and Flow

constructive impact tips Aug 09, 2022

by Melody Stacy


The sun-kissed, rejuvenated faces bouncing in to check rosters and decorate classrooms. The fresh-faced anticipation of what’s yet to unfold, open to possibilities and wonder.

Ever wondered how we might bottle up all the incredible energy that’s flowing at the start of the school year? And then spread it around during the inevitable dog days of mid-year?

The obvious answer is we can't.

Change is inevitable.

When we not only understand but embrace the natural cycle of a school year, with all of its emotions and shifts, we can truly find freedom in enjoying the here and now for whatever it brings.

We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of time and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible in life, as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom. - Anne Morrow Lindbergh


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Chesterson's Fence

constructive courageous Aug 01, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


It’s best to use a lens of humility and assume those who came before us knew things we don’t or had experiences we haven't yet encountered.

Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason why it was put up. (John F. Kennedy)

Before changing anything, we should accept that their reasons for making certain choices might be more complex than they seem at first glance.

Second-order thinking is the practice of considering not only the consequences of our decisions, but also the consequences of the consequences.

Most of us easily implement first-order thinking, which is simply understanding the immediate consequences of our actions.

First-order thinking requires little effort.

Second-order thinking is far more time-consuming. Unfortunately, many choose not to devote the time or mental calories necessary to truly think things through and instead choose quick fixes that make matters worse.


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courageous Jul 25, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Are you beginning, or aspiring to obtain a new position?

It can be challenging to straddle that fine line between being authentic and living up to the well-established expectations of those you serve.

And it can be even more challenging when you have to take over from someone who is respected, loved, and did a great job, right?

The Front of Your Jersey

Most professional athletes proudly wear a team logo on the front of their jersey and carry their surnames on their backs.

For someone who is new to a position or organization, it's important to strongly support the logo on the front of the jersey, honoring the past and respecting the people who are present.

The Back of Your Jersey

It can be quite exhausting if we choose to leave part of us behind when we walk through the doors, but there's even more we risk when we create a work version of ourselves.

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be...

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