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Goals are great, and can inspire you to wonderful things. But I find that people often neglect to answer a critical question: Where are you starting from?

With all my clients, we uncover their goals and visions and possibilities, but then we spend a good amount on their current situation. It’s not about me understanding their challenges.

No, it’s about uncovering resources and limitations, before designing the best next steps to take.

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Returning from my holiday break, I experienced a palpable difficulty re-engaging with my work. In one sense, it felt like I had to put on a completely different brain that I hadn’t used for a couple of weeks.

It was a welcome break, and gave me the opportunity to reflect on the bigger picture.

That’s something I love doing with my clients as well – to give them space to get away from the day-to-day issues. To think bigger.

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Maybe you’ve been discouraged because the better future you’ve been hoping for still doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.

At some point, though, you’re going to have to make it happen. It’s going to take focused, intentional effort. That’s what it means to be a leader.

I was thinking about this because of my recent health scare. Thankfully, I survived this time due to the talent of some great doctors. But it got me pondering the larger questions in my life.

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Very few of us can change the world all by ourselves. That’s the price of having a vision that’s large and has a significant impact.

So we work with others along our journey.

I try to capture this concept with the word “partnering.” But that’s not primarily about the legal structure of being Business Partners. That’s totally fine, but only a small fraction of the people you’ll need to work with.

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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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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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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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A FEW YEARS AGO, Simon Sinek explained a framework he called Why-How-What. He was drawing a distinction between the way we usually market to customers, and a much more effective method of capturing the emotion and inspiration first.

I have a link to his TED talk at the end; it’s quite good.

I’ve noticed that the same process works remarkably well with engaging and inspiring employees.

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WE ALL KNOW that goals are important. If you’re going to make progress, you have to decide what moving forward means.

But that has no emotion in it. It’s just blah-blah-blah management speak.

Our challenge is how to create a sense of excitement and inspiration with your business goals.

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GREYSTONE TECHNOLOGY is a local Information Technology (IT) outsourcing firm. Currently with 85 employees, they’ve been growing at a rapid clip for over a decade.

I had a chance to sit down with Peter Melby recently, who owns the company along with Jesse Armstrong. They formed the business in 2001 with the idea that this would be a fun and motivating environment for employees.

Which is what they’ve built. But there’s so much more to the story.

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