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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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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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constructive courageous Jul 21, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Some times, everything goes according to plan. Other times, life feels overwhelming.

Remarkable leaders certainly must feel like giving up at times, but they persevere and often inspire their team to greater successes.


Perseverance and Practice

No matter how talented people are, there is no success without perseverance. Tenacity is not an issue of talent nor is it limited by time. It’s simply about practicing and finishing.

Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing that makes you good. (Gladwell)

In So Good They Can't Ignore You, author Cal Newport debunks the notion that we should follow our passions, arguing that passion is the result of putting in the hard work to excel at something valuable.

Remarkably successful people are experts at practicing. They have the ability to push themselves to the limits of their skillsets,...

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Calendar Before To-Do

by Aubrey Patterson


A great many swear by their to-do lists, and with good reason. Psychologist, author, and film-maker David Cohen maintains that a completed list greatly reduces anxiety.

Individuals with a strong internal locus of control believe events in their life derive primarily from their own actions, whereas those with a strong external locus of control tend to praise or blame external factors. A list is a way of being in charge. Sorting things out and getting jobs done gives you a sense of having influence on a world that seems beyond your control. - David Cohen

But these feelings of influence and control come at a cost.

Because it’s easy to add things to a list, our to-do items can quickly grow to an unmanageable number. To make things worse, as our well-intentioned lists expand, lesser items begin to take on equal importance with our most impactful work.

Simply put, putting too much stock in that convenient and coveted to-do list often leads to us spending...

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Leaders Walk the Talk

by Aubrey Patterson


We all have good ideas.

And we should share them and hope our teammates elevate them into something remarkable.

When we have an idea but don’t act upon it, at best it’s just a good intention.

Some people think generous sharing can help a relationship, but vision without action creates disappointment in those we've excited with a new idea.

Someone who frequently offers ideas and rarely acts is communicating, “I have the ideas, you need to do the work.”

Good intentions only count when accompanied by good effort.

Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.

- Peter Drucker

When we offer a new thought that is received enthusiastically, the actions of each team member should immediately be entered into some form of a shared task document.

Dreams are turned into action when we know who will do what by when, including the commitments of the leader who just motivated the...

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