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We are trained to operate our businesses, and our lives, out of a fear-based mentality.

If that sounds rather severe, just look around. We’re focused on restrictions and limitations. We’re constantly on the defensive, protecting from every danger.

It’s not just you. This is what our ancestors learned when attempting to survive day to day.

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SOME CONVERSATIONS are more confused than helpful. Nothing seems to be working. I don’t think I’m making progress.

I’m sure you go through times like this too.

My personal coping strategy is to step back, breathe, and try to see the bigger picture. That’s easier to say than to do, of course, but I try to give it a go.

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RECENTLY I WAS TALKING with a colleague this week at a Conscious Capitalism meeting. We were exploring why customers should even care about the character of your business.

It’s a great question, and an area which is shifting.

Customers look for the best deal, right? So they’re not going to let you get away with even two percent higher prices just because you think you’re the “good guy” in the industry. But there are many, many counter-examples.

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THE NEW YORK TIMES recently published an article called Hey Boss, You Don’t Want Your Employees to Meditate.

They pointed to a confusing study which seemed to indicate that meditation neither improved or reduced motivation on the job. I’m not sure if it’s solid or not, but to me it exemplified the wrong way of thinking about employee productivity.

And that thinking has been with us since the industrial revolution. We’re merely building on old myths. How so?

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Here we are, staring down the barrel of a new year. Fresh and shiny and unspoiled like the newfallen snow.

I find it really helpful to focus on the opportunity, to use this as a chance to be optimistic. If that leads you toward making resolutions or reviewing your plan, wonderful!

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YOU HAVE THE BIG CHANGE you’re trying to take your organization through. You’ve created the wonderful slides which explain why it’s necessary, how the org chart is changing, and even why life will be so wonderful after the change.

And then having all the employees actually change what they’re doing … it slows to a crawl. You even see instances of reverting back to the old patterns.

What the heck is going on?

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I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but for me this is a great time to avoid doing hard work. It’s cold. I just got back from vacation. Everybody’s out of the office.

Don’t get me wrong – we all need to have some relaxation and downtime.

But we know that most of these reasons are bogus excuses.

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RECENTLY I HAD the opportunity to participate in a discussion about the newly emerging specialty of investing – called Impact Investing.

The idea is basically that you, as an investor, can decide to put your money where it will advance the causes that you’re most passionate about. It’s obviously an outgrowth of specialized investment funds which focused on avoiding fossil fuels, or promoting societal contribution, or whatever. That’s been going on for decades.

But Impact Investing is newer and more sophisticated. It’s especially interesting for mission-driven companies, because it addresses questions like:

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BUSINESS OWNERS ARE GETTING OLDER, as is everybody. But as you near retirement age – whatever that’s going to look like – you’re going to be faced with the Big Question.

What does your exit mean to the future of the business?

Most owners would like to see the company survive, and even thrive. After all, you’ve put your heart and soul and passion into it for years, even decades.

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NO DOUBT YOU SPENT many years in this classroom situation. Sit up. Pay attention. Take notes. Be quiet.

And there will be a test in a few weeks.

I’m not a fan of this model for adult learners like you and me. Why? Because it ignores the fact that the best learning is active collaboration.

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