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We’ve all been learning things during our entire lives. That’s called experience, and it’s what helps you build valuable skills and teach others.

But wisdom is more subtle than just stuff you know.

It’s about putting choices into a larger context: namely, your values. And the values of the larger community you operate within.

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How single-minded are you? How focused is your business?

I view this attribute as a continuum, ranging from spineless to monomaniacal. But I’m liking the concept of being fierce, because it combines elements of focus, intensity, and persistence.

So what does it mean to be fierce in your leadership?

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I’ve seen a growing number of conversations recently about certain industries which tend to be collaborative. Here in northern Colorado, one of the most popular is the micro-breweries, who tend to be open, sharing, and generous. 

That might seem odd because there’s a high concentration of these businesses here, but it’s still the mindset of how they work. It’s attractive, energetic, and creative.

Others have noticed that our community of startups seems to be MUCH more collaborative here than in, say, the San Francisco Bay Area. When people travel there, they notice that the environment seems much more competitive and protective.

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Wouldn’t it be nice if plans always worked? But they don’t.

The problem, of course, is that Reality continues to do what it wants, despite the best planning. It sure would be nice if the rest of the world lined up the way I want, but rarely does it work out that way.

So why bother? Why not just spend every moment just responding to whatever’s thrown my way, with all the cleverness and energy I can muster?

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You may not notice, but everything you do as a leader is affecting your people. If you’re having a lousy day, your folks pick that up and will reflect it by being brittle and tense.

Which then affects customers and everybody else.

But you also don’t want to live life behind a mask, right? Just put on the “inspiring, confident leader” face 24/7?

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Leadership is weird.

We’re stuck in this space of always striving, always reaching. Never satisfied with the status quo.

But that wears people out – physically, emotionally, intellectually. So what’s the difference between a leader who uses this effectively, versus just burning people out?

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I was listening to a great conversation with Ed and Peter Schein recently. They threw out a powerful concept:

“Accountability and transparency are needed when you don’t have trust and openness.”

Since I’m a fan of both trust and transparency, this challenged my thinking. But I think they have a great point which is worth exploring.

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Cleaning up after a meeting, I asked, “where’s your recycling?”

I wasn’t that surprised to find out they had no recycling bin in that office, so I simply took the can home with me. No big deal.

I wasn’t trying to be “that annoying guy with an agenda”, but trying to move the needle, even fractionally.

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I have a fun exercise that I’ve developed for business owners. It’s similar to the discussion of varied roles you have in life: worker, leader, parent, participant in a group, and so on.

But this is a little different.

I’ll help the client to realize that there are different personalities going on: owner, primary employee, sales person, chief financial officer, and so on. This can be a whole lot of “people” bundled into one for someone who is a solopreneur or has a very small company.

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We all know compassionate people, those who brighten the world by their very existence. You just know they’re making the world a better place.

Photo by Ludovic François on Unsplash

Business doesn’t have that reputation. It’s about making products. Delivering services. Being profitable. Attacking competitors.

That’s a very functional feeling, even hard-edged. Especially when you’re talking about the numbers.

As your business grows and matures, it is almost inevitable you will ask yourself whether to buy or lease space from which to operate. Here are a few key considerations when making this decision.

So what does it mean for a company to have a more compassionate approach? And does it matter?

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