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Build Your Team's Circle of Influence

communication meetings Nov 14, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson 


Isn't carrying yesterday on our backs one of the most exhausting exercises in the world?

And how much more tiring is it to carry an entire team's past around each day?

We all have a need for some certainty, so it's quite natural to find ourselves stuck in the past once in a while.

It's better to construct the future than to the varnish the past. - John Maxwell

When times are tough, it can be tempting spend our days lamenting change and instead choose to put a little more polish on what we did in the past.

Circle of Influence

Limitless possibilities await us in the future. Living in the past won't help us unearth exciting experiences, new relationships, and successes.

The past is a dead issue and we can't gain any momentum moving toward tomorrow if we're dragging the past behind us. - Jack Hayford

Dr. Stephen Covey’s circle of influence concept is an exceptional and timeless...

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The Power of a Story

by Melody Stacy


Once upon a time, there was a leader who told powerful stories that influenced her team and led to clarity and cohesiveness around the pillars of her organization.

The end.

Stories connect us at the most basic level of humanity.

We’ve all felt it.

Listening to someone tell a story and suddenly we’re feeling what they’re feeling, on the edge of our seats, and hanging on each word.

And in the next days, weeks, and even years, we recollect and even retell that story we heard.

The story we felt.

If I ask you to think about something, you can decide not to. But if I make you feel something? Now I have your attention. - Lisa Cron

Stories stick.

How do we harness the leadership power of this most historic and basic form of communication?

According to David Hutchens, storytelling expert and author, leaders must tell four core types of stories.

Origin - what it means to be us

 Vision - the future we desire


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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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On the Dot!

meetings time blocking Apr 26, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Do you find yourself in meetings that are chronically late to begin? 

To the punctual majority who are often pressed for time, being late is like saying, "This work is important, but, hey, it's not that important."

Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you. - Karen Joy Fowler

A Typical Late Start

We've all been part of this common scenario:

Some arrive a little early and start chatting. Most of the people arrive just in time to begin. A few have yet to arrive. Often one or two key members, who are usually the leaders, keep chatting until eventually one of them declares, "OK, let's get started."

Unfortunately, far too many meetings organically stumble to a late start, and then stagger to a slow end. Time, enthusiasm, motivation, and focus are the casualties of this pattern.

All of this makes...

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Compliance - Forces of Mediocrity Pt. 3

constructive meetings Feb 07, 2022

by Melody Stacy


“That’s not my job.”

“Don’t blame me. I’m just doing what they told me to do.”

These sentiments indicate a lack of ownership and a culture of compliance.

As we continue our series on forces of mediocrity, those strong inertias that try to pull us back to the status quo just as we are seeking greatness, let’s take a look at compliance and how, instead, we can build a culture of commitment. (check out part 1 and part 2)

Commitment outlasts compliance

Giving orders and expecting others to simply follow those orders is one of our quickest on-ramps to mediocrity.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness

- William H. Murray

Building commitment, on the other hand, allows for growth, freedom, and creativity. It invites contribution and empowers people to take initiative.

How can we fend off compliance as a force of mediocrity?

Try this quick...

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Carry Your Weather

communication meetings Jan 17, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Have you ever noticed how some people seem to brighten and warm-up every room they enter?

Like a weather front moving in, everyone feels a change as soon as that person enters the conversation.

Carry Your Weather

We all carry our own weather.

When you carry your weather with you, you can choose to be consistent, regardless how people treat you.  (Dr. Stephen R. Covey)

Certainly, carrying good weather comes easier to some than others, but whether we are greeting a visitor at the front desk, leading a meeting, or listening to someone else lead, we have the ability to be a room brightener. 

Regardless of today's forecast, we always have a choice.

And maintaining a positive mindset is always easier than regaining a positive mindset, but sometimes we have to dig a little deeper to model what we'd love to see in others. 

Assume a cheerfulness you do not feel, and shortly you feel the cheerfulness you assumed. (Chinese...

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Meeting Déjà Vu: We Talked About This Last Year, Right?

by Aubrey Patterson


The Faculty Meeting: Meritocracy vs Efficiency

Here’s a scenario that many will recognize ... 

It's 4:23 PM. Seven minutes before the faculty meeting is scheduled to end.

The agenda item is very familiar to the veterans in the faculty meeting who had lived it many times before: End of Year BBQ.

Everyone is confident it will take only a few minutes to sign up for tasks and get out with a few minutes to spare.


But Mike is new. He innocently and cautiously puts the efficiency of this well-worn item in peril, wondering aloud about the Start of the Year BBQ that would follow in a couple months.

Just a question and I know I am new here, but given we do the same kind of event to start and end the year--which I’m totally good with, it’s so cool--um, could we prepare the set-up of the non-food materials once for both events? We could even purchase the food in the spring for both June and August. It might save us a lot of work in...

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communication meetings Sep 29, 2021

by Aubrey Patterson


Have you ever sat in a meeting and wondered, "couldn't this have just been an email?"

Of course.

We all have.

And we've all led or contributed items in a meeting with information that could have been better delivered without a captive audience who are all facing their own time-crunches.

Of course, there are times a leader needs to deliver information or a tough message with clarity, but common sense tells us that if we're going to bring people together, in most cases, it should be for shared expertise and contribution.

Uncommon sense maybe?

Other than delivering information ahead of time in an email, there are other tools we can use to win a battle with meetingitis.

Some teachers flip their lessons. Where it makes sense, they use tools like Screencastify or Loom so their students can watch the lesson and spend time in the classroom asking questions.

And this works really well for faculty meetings or when a small team is going to work on...

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Say the Why, Lead the Way

by Aubrey Patterson


Imagine giving your family a 1000 piece puzzle this Thanksgiving.

You show a beautiful picture that adorns the box, then empty the pieces onto a large table, and say how much fun this will be. 

Everyone is excited to get started.


So, feeling a sense of accomplishment, you leave and take the box with you. 

Say the why, lead the way

It’s certainly valuable to identify our why

We encourage this for individuals and teams. 

But with a caveat ...

Our why is a point of demarkation and a reference guide, but not a finish line. 

Too many leaders stop with why and walk away with the vision, losing their team once the work begins.  

He who thinks he leads but has no followers is only taking a walk. (John Maxwell)

Leadership is more than mountaintop moments and trendy declarations. It requires us to be...

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Silence Does the Heavy Lifting

by Aubrey Patterson


Do you have someone on your team that always chooses negativity and loves to bring any room to the lowest common denominator? You know, the kind of person that you always love, but can be really challenging to like?

Silence does the heavy lifting

Trying times certainly lead to even more corrosive behaviors, but of course, we need to rise above the moment and choose compassion for someone who is obviously struggling.

We have a lot of options when such a person isn't in-person, as we can more easily choose to walk away from an email or phone call before responding or even have tools like prewritten scripts to quickly employ.

But when someone is right in front of us and seemingly enjoying the negative spotlight, how do we respond?

Sure, we know that arguing with a fool only makes two, but equally important guiding principles are if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything and what you tolerate sets the bar...

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