Monthly Archives: January 2015

Work-life balance is not a number

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is a quote often attributed to Peter Drucker that has become accepted as a truth. Think how often you have heard it cited in a meeting. Guess what? He never said it!!

Here is adogma-if-you-cant-measure-it-you-cant-manage-itn example of what Drucker actually believed, as shared by the Drucker Institute; “Your first role . . . is the personal one,” Drucker told Bob Buford, a consulting client then running a cable TV business, in 1990. “It is the relationship with people, the development of mutual confidence, the identification of people, the creation of a community. This is something only you can do.” Drucker went on: “It cannot be measured or easily defined. But it is not only a key function. It is one only you can perform.” 

Finding work-life balance forces us to focus on more than how much can I get done in each day and a numerical balance point of “work” time and “life” time.

One of my favorite writers in the New York Times, the Sketch Guy, put it this way; “We can make as many lists as we want and count as many things as we like. But people aren’t widgets, and much of our leisure time is about time spent with the people who matter to us,” and with people, “doing nothing measurable is one of the most important things we do.” Doing nothing

I struggle with this paradox as I plan my week ahead. Meetings, projects, workout schedules, and parenting events all require my attention! And all can be counted, or checked, or crossed off and then tallied up, which feels good. Yet, I still end up feeling out of whack and not balanced if I ignore “doing nothing” with people for too long.

One small step I have taken over the past 5 years is to hold Sunday evenings to get together with a couple of buddies to just shoot pool and “shoot the breeze.” We have no agenda, we aren’t very good at pool, and we don’t want to join a league. No one takes attendance but most Sunday evenings two or three of us are there “doing nothing.”

What do you do to “do nothing” with people in your busy schedule?

Todd Thorsgaard

Legacy mindset and work-life success

buzz aldrinI’ve had several experiences recently that got me thinking about what work and life success actually means for me. First, I heard a book review of Buzz Aldrin’s Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon. In it, he describes the career-topping success of being the second person to walk on the moon, followed by the shattering realization that he had no remaining career goals and no idea of what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

Soon after, I read the most recent newsletter from Doug Stevenson, a consultant who is skilled in incorporating storytelling into effective leadership. Unlike most of his newsletters, this one wasn’t about tips and techniques. Instead, he reflected on his successful career and how his priorities changed once he became a grandfather.

At this stage of my life, having had a level of success that is very fulfilling, the questions I ask myself have changed. Instead of asking how I can get more bookings or what story I should tell in my next keynote, I’m more interested in what to do after the applause. What do I want my life to look like ten years from now? — Doug Stevenson

Glenn Llopis at Forbes described this as a “legacy-driven mindset.” He says it is important, not only at the end of one’s career, but throughout one’s professional life.  It can help us build and sustain our leadership success by:

  1. Knowing our personal identity and values
  2. Leading from a set of guiding principles
  3. Leading with courage and taking risks when needed
  4. Helping others to advance
  5. Promoting responsibility and accountability

So where do you want to be in the next 10 years with your leadership and life journey?  What will work and life success look like at the end of your career? How could a legacy-driven mindset help you to get there?

Dee Anne Bonebright




Success and well-being

huffingtonTodd and I recently had a chance to hear a keynote presentation from Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post. At last year’s international meeting of the Association for Talent Development, she had an audience of several thousand training and development professionals. What topic did she choose to address?  Personal well-being.

As a very successful business professional, Huffington told us about the importance of what she called the “third metric.”  Beyond money, and power, she believes that our leadership success should be measured based on well-being, health, and our ability to unplug ourselves and re-charge our batteries.

As she describes in this TED talk, she came to that belief the hard way.  After pushing herself to exhaustion, she fell asleep at her desk and ended up in the hospital with a broken cheekbone. That started her on a journey of learning about the importance of sleep. I especially liked this quote:

If we don’t take the time to renew when we are healthy, disease will take it for us.  — Arianna Huffington

As many of you mentioned in our recent survey, there is always more to do than time to do it. Taking time to renew ourselves mentally and physically can be critical in helping us perform at our best. It can feel like a luxury, but it’s also a business necessity. 

What helps you feel refreshed? How do you make time for activities that recharge your batteries?

–Dee Anne Bonebright



Are you losing air?

It is one of the most depressing feelings while biking. I can be riding along; happy, outdoors, feeling strong and having fun. Everything is in synch and flowing until I feel myself slowing down and I can tell I am riding on a flat tire. I may hear a loud pop and a fast “whoosh” as all the air escapes at once or a soft, almost evil, hiss as my tire gradually goes flat. Or I may hear nothing at all and just have a soft tire. Either way it means I need to stop what I am doing, assess the situation, and take the appropriate action to refill my tire so I can get back to riding. Bike flat largeSometimes I have just gone too long without pumping up my tires and I  need to use my CO2 cartridge and add air, other times I have hit an unexpected bump in the road or run over a small sharp object and need to patch a hole before adding air. Occasionally my inner-tube has been neglected and ruptured in multiple places and I need to completely replace it with a new one before I can add air.

We go flat in our lives when we lose our work and life balance. How you refill yourself depends on the type of leak you are experiencing. Paul Blatz, founder and president of Good Leadership Enterprises, encourages leaders to utilize his 7Fs Wheel to understand where they may be leaking energy or if they have a major rupture to repair! The seven Fs that help us stay positive and moving forward as leaders are:

  • Future
  • Fun
  • Friends
  • Fitness
  • Finances
  • Family
  • Faith (spiritual)

Over time we can get distracted by the regular demands at work and lose track of our daily choices that keep us fulfilled in all seven areas. Then we may just need to take some small actions that “refill” all seven. Other times we hit a major bump and need to focus on one area that is losing air fast. When I travel for work I tend to ignore my extended family relationships and I need to remind myself to take the time to call my mom and check-in with her.

The Seven Fs Wheel (Seven Fs Tool) is an easy tool to carry with you and use to keep yourself “pumped up” and rolling along as a leader. TT and Ellie bike

Todd Thorsgaard

Leadership challenges

challengesAs my colleagues Todd, DeeAnne, and I began to ponder what we should write about this year, we decided that focusing on common challenges leaders face might present a thought-provoking and interesting framework.

So with that in mind, we surveyed several groups of leaders within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to ask them what challenges they were facing. Here is a short list of challenges that we gleaned from survey respondents:

  • Managing heavy workloads
  • Creating transparency/building trust
  • Holding people accountable; managing performance
  • Managing tightening finances/budget
  • Working collaboratively
  • Building relationships
  • Communicating effectively
  • Developing authentic leaders
  • Changing student populations
  • Managing diversity/increasing access
  • Building an effective team
  • Balancing work and life demands

This list is by no means complete and we need your help. Please post your response below to the following question: What is the most critical leadership challenge you are facing right now?  We look forward to hearing from you!

Since many people engage in New Year’s resolutions during this time of year, we thought it might be timely to focus our January blogs on the challenge of balancing work and life demands.

Happy New Year to you and your colleagues! Here’s to meeting leadership challenges in 2015!

Anita Rios

Happy new year!

Woodland Park free to use

Happy new year from all of us at HigherEDge!

As you read this, I’ll be visiting my family in Colorado. The time away will help me come back refreshed and ready to jump into several big projects in the new year.

Balancing work and personal life is a key for successful leadership.  What did you do for rest and refreshment during the winter break?

–Dee Anne