How to Grow the Brain and Learn to Love Learning–10 Life Principles

“Hold on to your own convictions, despite what society and other people want you to believe.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

  1. Be more open and curious by embracing the goal of life-long “learning”. Learn something new everyday.
  2. Find Courage and Mental Toughness by embracing Vulnerability and Failure. Learn the lesson form screwing-up  and then show resilience by snapping back into action.
  3. Accept imperfection by building more competence and confidence through increased Self-Efficacy
  4. Feel Compassion: For Yourself and Others
  5. Except Uncertainty and change with more ease
  6. Express and show more gratitude and kindness toward others
  7. Physically Present yourself in a more assertive and positive manner
  8. Be more mindful and present in the “here and now”
  9. Play and Learn More: Take on learning challenges, try new things, be “gritty” and have fun!
  10. Give Trust away…






Two Ways to Life a more Trusting Life

Two Secrets for Living a more Trusting life:

  1. The 6 word Rule–Don’t take yourself so fucking seriouslyYou trust others unconditionally and firmly believe that most people have your best intentions at heart.
  2. Generally I believe there are two important ways to treat and interact with people: a) Test them until they are proven to have good intentions and you can trust them or trust others without conditions. b.) Give trust away. In this option you believe that people have good intentions until they are proven wrong. I think you will find more people to trust and find life is more interesting and joyful if you follow option b. CAUTION-There is a clear downside to this trusting approach – you might get taken advantage of in the short-term because there are a few looking to con or take advantage of “trusting souls”. However, the upside is huge. When good people feel trusted, they go out of their way to reciprocate.

Remember: You are a gift to the world. Not only can you model more trust and respect by the way you live your life – you bring more happiness and joy to those around you!

Daily Quote– New England Patriots Football Gate

Message for New England Patriots–

“The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the full light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny…it is the light that guides your way.” Heraclitus

Keep deflating the footballs and other questionable activities and watch your integrity and reputation disappear. The means never justify the ends. Good Look guys in the Super Bowl…

Part II: Building a High Performance Team.

Daily Quote: ” Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together for a common goal is success”.  Henry Ford 


What are the four most important factors for building a strong team? If you read Part I where I covered more structural features of building effective teams.

1. Personal Safety. This is genuine belief that we won’t get hurt in participating in this team. The experience will be worth your time and effort.

2. Trust  built on keeping your word and following through on commitments  “We mean what we say and we say what we mean,” you and other members commit to rise and fall together to achieve your collective and shared goals.

3. Self-disclosure as “A willingness to connect both professionally and personally with other members. Team members are supportive of each other and are will to share experiences and stories that make the private public, thus increasing loyalty and bonding.

4. Sense of belonging and acceptance of diversity and differences.

The presence of these characteristics in a team supports the experimentation, risk-taking, shared responsibility and vulnerability that are essential steps toward meaningful learning and growth of team members. When a team develops this type of sharing and supportive culture the team is perceived as a  safer, more trusting and more compatible environment. The value of the team is rated higher than individual accomplishments.  But a challenge is that the steps  required to establish this foundation can appear to take time away from more pressing tasks–and as leaders we can easily get distracted by short-term tasks such as, quarter budget and revenue goals or expenses, project deadlines and request and obligations to bosses or client and other outside distractions. These “do it now” pressures neglect the group’s longer-term emotional and professional development.

In my experience group members themselves sense the need for these factors to be established in the group, and they express that need quite clearly, although often indirectly.  The key for a leader is to listen for and respond to any signals related to members’ needs in these areas, while noting that it may be particularly difficult for members to articulate them in the face of our (perceived) indifference if we seem too focused on just  results.  This aspect of group development is a true test of a leader’s ability to focus on what we know to be important soft skills rather than what appears to be urgent.

Importance of Empathy on Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

Empathy is a building block of one’s interpersonal connections.—for people to cultivate empathy skills, it helps if they can stop and take the time to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It is also a key ingredient of successful relationships because it helps us understand the needs, priorities and desires of others. Here are some of the ways that interpersonal communication research has testified to the far-reaching importance of empathy. 

  • Empathy is good for bonding and team development: Managers who demonstrate empathy have employees who report greater job satisfaction and engagement 
  • Tied closely to empathy is the concept worker engagement and positive work climate this  recent trend towards positive psychology, where the concern is positive aspects of employees’ behavior. According to Maslach and Leiter (1997), when there is a person and positive job match, employees experience engagement with their work, characterized by high energy, involvement, and positive efficacy. As per Schaufeli et al. (2002), employee engagement is a positive, work-related state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption. In this regard, attention is paid to human strengths, optimal functioning, and positive experiences at work (Seligmen and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004) not on negative feedback or focus on weaknesses. While, disengaged employees display incomplete role performances and task  behaviors become effortless, automatic or robotic (Hochschild, 1983). According to the author, disengagement may be result of employees who lack positive social interaction and support, who experience little autonomy in work roles, or who feel their work and contribution is unimportant to others.  

So the question is -How often do you stop to listen to and engage your fellow workers? Or Do you focus on the task and getting the job done? 

Want to improve social-emotion connections cultivate empathy in your relationships.

1 Model empathy. Show people what mens to appreciate them. Observe and show interest in the lives of others. Listen to other people’s experience and opinions. Talk about your experiences practicing empathy, and about the times you forgot to act with empathy.

2. Start with safety and security. Fear and self-centeredness interferes with the development of empathy. Learn to stop and demonstrate consideration and toward others.

3. Practice self-regulation skills. Self-regulation skills are the foundation for empathy. By learning to calm yourself, regulate emotions, delay gratification, persevere, and stay focused on the right things, fellow workers and family members develop the skills which allow them to look beyond themselves.

4. Notice other people’s feelings without judgment or put downs. Talk about these feelings and assure the other person they are okay to share and have these inner experiences. Learn to use words that focus on the so-called “soft things” in life and avoid only the “hard stuff” like project schedules, profit, or task activities.

5. Follow the Golden Rule of relationships and empathy  “ Treat others in the same way that they themselves would like to be treated because relationships matter. Relations emphasizing empathy are built on focused attention, active listening and demonstrated caring and trust. For example, most of us would like to be listened to and understood by others.

Daily Quote and Reflection:Leading others to Discover their Highest Potential

Daily Quote: Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching On Leadership:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”


This has always been one of my favorite quotes because it focuses on how we don’t accomplish anything with others support and effort. Like you I have worked with some egocentric bosses who take all the credit when things go well and look to blame others when things go bad. Of course this de-motivates and times infuriate the team but in addition it is selfish and not constructive in building loyalty and trust which are the keys to empowering others. Really, Lao-Tzu’s advice tells to be unselfish and in to this we become “servant leaders”. When leaders focus on developing the people around them they challenge people to perform and do things they never though they could do. This is the true job of leaders–developing and helping others discover and reach their full potential by encouraging the to take ownership of their lives at work. This adds a wonderful sense of meaning and purpose to their lives.

Challenge Activity: When was the last time you gave the credit away to others. If it has been awhile ago try in the next 24 hours surprise some with a sincere compliment about their self-initiative and job well done.   Doing nice things for other people makes you feel good too.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Trust Is…

Daily Quotes:

“Our distrust is very expensive…Self-trust is the first secret of success.” Emerson

“Being connected and personal is to be in the process of discovering and accepting each other…trust begets trust; fear escalates fear.”    Jack Gibb . author of Trust: A New View of Personal and Organizational Development

Trust is . . . is a critical part of being human.  It’s as simple as that. If we can’t trust and openly share who we are, our sense of self-worth diminishes—and we won’t trust others or ourselves ” Dr. Carl Rogers

Reflection: In another post I defined trust.

Here are some of my random reflections and comments about trust that I have learned in over thirty years of listening to and observing others when they are talking about trust.

Trust is …is being courageous enough to open fully to another and accept the vulnerability of this state of being…

The unexpected truth behind building trust, connecting with others, and inspiring collaborative action is belief in yourself and others “to do what they say they will do”. ( DWYSYWD)

When we are sincere and authentic we usually earn other people’s respect and trust. They begin to open up and now are more amenable to influenced and change.  Imposing our point of view only makes others defensive and resistant to change.”

Action Assignment: Complete the following sentence to get at how and why you trust others.

Trust is___________________________________.

Then reflect on your  sentence and try to figure out whether you give trust freely to others or they have to earn trust.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Emotional Connection and Trust

Daily Quote: “As many of us know trust begins and ends with emotional communication.  Though we may wish this was not so, no situation or person is absolved from this principle for effective two-way communication.” Coach Mark

Reflection: An emotional connection needs to start with listening and understanding. It is difficult to do with unstable and reactive people because you never know when you are going to trigger their anger. Remember in life there are just many situations you can’t control. Learn to be patient and know when to remove yourself.  

Action Challenge: Identify a difficult relationship and figure out how to neutralize and re-frame conversations. Share your stories so we all can learn.  

Daily Quotes and Reflection–Trust and Vulnerability


“Vulnerability is . . . part of being human.  It’s as simple and as complicated as that. If we can’t be in touch with (and openly share) both our vulnerability and our strength in a balanced way, our self-regard suffers—and we won’t see others or ourselves clearly.” Dr. Carl Rogers

Trust is …is being courageous enough to open fully to another and accept the vulnerability of this state of being…

Reflection: I think to be trusting you need to be comfortable about self-disclosure and realize in being open you are vulnerable to other people labeling you less than… In addition, you risk being labeled as something you are not.   Trusting requires you to have a clear and strong self-awareness.  Trusting removes defensiveness and enables you to connect in a more meaningful way we others.

Action Assignment: Complete the following sentence to get at how and why you trust others.

When dealing with others trust is___________________________________.

Then reflect on your  sentence and try to figure out whether you give trust freely to others or they have to earn trust.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Why Trust begins with Yourself and other observations

Quote:  Emerson once said: “Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great”

Reflection: Emerson was talking about how to learn to trust, connect with others and build loyalty. His point of view is that trust doesn’t start with the other person, but begins by looking in the mirror and deciding what it takes for you to trust others. Do you give trust away automatically or do you make the person earn your trust? Do you expect great things from others or just wait for them to screw-up and then remove trust?  Essentially, Emerson is talking about how to connect emotionally with others. He is expressing his belief that in order to build an effective relationship we must start with trusting others. Trust needs to be demonstrated through your behavior not just by mouthing the words to others.  As I reflect on my own experiences in building an effective team I think trust is the cornerstone for creating a climate that accelerates cooperative working and building together the behaviors that support effective and efficient teamwork. 

If your team individually and collectively is supportive of others and respectful you can build on this positive climate to create the potential for team synergy (1+1 =3. In building synergy you tap the energy and commitment for the team  to reach way beyond what any one individual could accomplish by themselves. Effective and synergistic team members are shown to stretch way beyond what is expected by being engaged in both work and personal issues to achieve organization goals. Trust like this reduces defensiveness and unhealthy competition so that you team can produce spectacular and high levels of satisfaction for themselves and clients or peers they work with.  This respectful approach of giving trust away reduces individual insecurities and opens the door for maximizing possibilities. Your expectations and ability to trust will great enormous energy and self-belief in others and after growing in this positive environment, they’ll not only believe and trust you, they will prove to themselves that they can accomplish more than they thought they could. I think Emerson is coining the idea of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy (SFP) before Robert Merton, social psychologist, identified and labeled the power of this concept to influence and motivate people to be the best they can be no matter the stress or situation they find themselves in.

When Trust is Broken…Lesson from the Anthony Weiner Debacle

‘ I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” Frederich Nietzsche

“The glue that holds all relationships together – including the relationship between; the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on TELLING THE TRUTH AND INTEGRITY. MWH

The only person who now can correct this situation is Representative Weiner. He needs to make a difficult choice about whether to stay or resign his position in Congress. Based on the information revealed so far and the standards of Congress he now needs to do the right thing—resign. Let’s get beyond this distraction and start solving the rel problems ofAmerica—the need for quality jobs and a thriving economy. What do you think?As the American public contemplates another man acting badly (Congressman Weiner’s lewd behavior and cover-up) I reflected that at the core of this issue is broken trust. When we look at Weiner’s and many other men’s inappropriate and embarrassing personal behavior we see a lack of impulse control and in general an inability to monitor their testosterone urges. They have difficulty anticipating or measuring consequences for their action or think they are to powerful to be held accountable for their actions. Remember that trust is the glue that holds and keeps relationships together. Without trust you lose credibility and without credibility it is difficult to do your job for the people you are representing. Connecting with others becomes difficult, and collaboration to solve problems next to impossible. To be trustworthy means to be dependable or that you can be counted on to do what you said you will do (DWYSYWD).

Daily Quote and Reflection–Creating Trust and Respect

Quote–“When we are sincere and authentic we usually earn other people’s respect and trust. They begin to open up and now are more amenable to influenced and change.  Imposing our point of view only makes others defensive and resistant to change.”


Blind spots and Self-Awareness–“Holy Shit” or Aha Moment

“What you bring forth out of yourself from the inside will save you. What you do not bring forth out of yourself from the inside will destroy you.”-– Gospel of Thomas

For me St. Thomas captures the essence of coaching and counseling for difficult moments in speaking the truth. These moments of truth I am calling the “Aha moment or the Holy shit ” moments.  When these moments arrive I find asking yourself and answering this question helps you make a good decision on what to say. The self-talk question is to ask–What is the worst thing that could happen if I say so and so?

No matter the cost, resolution and action are required for improving and stretching your potential.  The human spirit seems incapable of leaving cognitive dissonance or painful memories unresolved.  Even if we are good at compartmentalization there is an emotional price to pay for denial or inattention.  These unresolved conflicts rattle around until they unconsciously appear at the most inappropriate times as a destructive alien popping out of your chest.

In a recent Leadership Development workshop I received feedback on my first impression with others.  Sorting through whether this observation had merit I decided it did.  The feedback– I was too transparent and open.  I came on to others with too much, too soon, too fast. What did this mean for my ability to lead people?  It wasn’t a matter of figuring out what I needed to do differently or what I needed to know to change this impression.  It was a question of figuring out who I wanted to be, which I call the essence of leadership.

It’s the context of the being aspect of leadership that enables insight into what I do or don’t do to influence or connect with others.  These moments of “aha” kick-start and illuminate the power of self-discovery.  These moments provide a beginning of a new story as a person and potential leader. This type of  in the moment experience and insight seem more meaningful than tying to learn a sterile and logical model or framework for leadership development.  In ordinary life, we face feedback and dissonance every day that is difficult to resolve.  For example, there’s not enough time for family obligations, we can’t sort through which issues or organizational or personal needs are a priority, we find it difficult to say no to requests, we don’t have the authority or the control or the knowledge or wisdom to solve problems.

On the other hand, when we talk to another person and feel truly listened too we feel the pain and dissonance dissipate through the mere sharing and honest acceptance of that issue or pain by another human being.  The experience of unconditional acceptance and love makes the journey from denial through confusion to insight by providing us with hope, courage and strength to face the heartaches of setbacks and disappointments in life.  When there is no such promise of resolution but only the deep pain and suffering of life’s mysteries it is difficult to build a constructive and trusting relationships.

What all this comes down to, are a few critical factors that make coaching and counseling effective. They are:

  1. The need to believe in the other person’s ability to change and grow.
  2. The viewpoint that when people are believed in they begin to believe in themselves.
  3. Trust others; they learn to trust you and then themselves.
  4. Human beings have a deep and unending need to be understood and connect with at least one other person.  Just one connection has a positive effect on creating a climate for self-awareness and personal growth.
  5. The ability to confront misperceptions, untruths, fears and blind spots provide the structure to help people think, feel and act more constructively in meeting their needs.
  6. Encourage accountability, participation and ownership for behavior and results.
  7. Encourage congruence in thinking and authentic action that leads to positive behavioral changes and concrete action. The old fake it till you make it adgage.

In the final analysis, if we earn other people’s respect and trust they will open up to being influenced by us and work on needed changes.  Imposing our point of view only makes others defensive and resistant to change.

The MMFI Gift -Interpersonal Communications Tools 4 Building Trust

“A man who doesn’t trust himself can never really trust anyone else. ” Jack Gibb

Learning to love and accept ourselves is basic to human development. So is using language in a positive way. Ultimately when we learn to truly love and accept ourselves, we’ll be able to live well and love each other and every thing we encounter.

Three interpersonal rules that build trust and provide selfless leadership to others: Here are a few of the  main ways to  make people feel important (MMFI)  and recognized others for their good work::

  • Catch people doing something right, and acknowledge their behavior, thus reinforcing the desired behavior.
  • Give the credit away to others in front of other people
  • Never say anything negative about others when they are not present.–Praise people in their absence. If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

Praising and complimenting people in their absence is the most  powerful way to win people over. Start doing it actively and systematically from Today on, You’ll be stroked by the results.

On Becoming more Trusting–Be Present, Aware and Authentic

On Become more Trusting

” As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”  Cicero

  1. Being present when others speak builds trust. Being present encourages  others to speak their mind and share their view of the world. It is opportunity for would be leaders to connect and understand others.  Over the years I have learned a  “magic formula” for connecting in conversations– speaker talks 75% and Listener 25% . This formula signals I care. Try it and see what I mean.
  2. Trust is more than confidence. One dictionary tells us that trust implies instinctive, unquestioning belief in and reliance upon someone or something. Confidence implies conscious trust because of good reasons, definite evidence, truthful and fact-based data or past experience .  Confidence is cerebral, more planned and based on expectations than trust. Trust is more intuitive and instinctive, it is spontaneous and more freely given. So ask yourself:  What is trust?  How do you know, when it is present? When broken how do you repair the damage?
  3. Interference blocks trust and openness. When I am fearful I direct my energies not in discovering the truth, but toward protecting myself from seen, expected, or disaster fantasies or dangers. I am not sure of who I am, cover up and put on protective masks, become concerned about how I ought to meet the expectations of others, and find it difficult to be truthful and authentically interact with others. Trust enriches my experience; fear robs it. When someone smiles they seem to be reaching out and connecting to a friendly. To me it signals that the person is transparent, open, and ready to be engaged. With the smile they are non-verbally communicating and seem to be saying I will trust you to enter my world. In my very best moments, I feel inside the way they seems to be when they are smiling at us. Trusting, calm, confident and full of life.  We all can boost our odds of harnessing the power of trust and open communication.

Your assignment is  to become more trusting with a significant other in your life by using one of the principles just mention. Give us some feedback: On what worked? Where did you get stuck or miss the mark? What would you do differently next time to improve your trust level with this person.

Self-Trust Glue to Empathy

“Being connected and personal is to be in the process of discovering and accepting each other…trust begets trust; fear escalates fear.”    Jack Gibb . author of Trust: A New View of Personal and Organizational Development

“Our distrust is very expensive…Self-trust is the first secret of success.” Emerson

Without trust, listening and understanding are impossible, connecting with others becomes more difficult, and collobration to solve problems next to impossible. To be trustworty means to be dependable or that you can be counted on to do what you said you will do (DWYSYWD).

In the end trust is in the eye of the beholder. Trust effects reputations, productivity and relationships.  Being trustworthy is a fundamental element and character trait for inspirational leaders leaders. It is being authentic, honest, reliable and responsible. People will want to continue relationships and dealings with you the more you demonstrate trust not in words but action. Also, you will feel a sense of confidence and security because you can be vulnerable in sharing information with others. Trust helps build an empathic climate  and emotional caring with others. Trust creates an empathic climate because it allows people to share their personal fears, ambitions and dreams. Thus, a deep trusting relationship goes beyond short-term concerns and goals to explore what people really want in order to feel fulfilled in their life. Developing a strong trusting relationship provides a safe environment to experiment and try out new behaviors at very low risk. In the end when I reflect and examine the issue of trust I think in order to trust others we must start with ourself to understand what trust looks like to us and identify because of life experiences what barriers or issues keep me from trusting others.

Respond to the following–Trust is…

After you have completed the above incomplete sentence. Reflect on what you said. Does it indicate that you generally give trust away untl someone dissappoints you or do you make others earn your trust?