Habits of the Heart

Every morning, regardless of where I am in the world, I get up, make a cup of coffee, and just sit for a few minutes to reflect on the day ahead. I begin my daily ritual with an expression of gratitude, usually for my wife Karen, other members of our family, and for people I know and care about. I cultivate the mindset of abundance and thankfulness that carries me into the day with the feeling of “my cup runneth over.”  

After simple reflection and quiet breathing with no pencil or cell phone in hand, I like to pick up a book of short readings. Recently I’ve been reading Wendell Barry, the poet who lives on a farm in Kentucky and left New York City to connect with nature and the earth. I’ve worked at memorizing his poem, The Peace of Wild Things

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A Formula for Instilling Purpose and Passion

Corporate Purpose + Individual Choice = Collective Passion

Here’s a quick peek at something tangible that really works:  The formula above is the focus for a paper I recently co-authored with the team from Co.tribute, a platform empowering businesses, employees, and clients to connect their work to the social causes they care about most.  The paper will be published soon on their website, but in the meantime, here is an early look.

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Four Principles of Transformation: What I Learned from Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini

Mark Bertolini is an innovator. He likes to push the boundaries of common thinking and find new solutions to big problems. One huge problem we face today is America’s bureaucratic spaghetti mess in health care. Aetna is committed to tackling this problem and is working to redesign health care’s future. As Mark said, “Aetna is a 165 year old company. We have always found a way to make a difference and to lead and innovate in the businesses we run.”  

Aetna does not just want to change health care gradually, but is rethinking the whole system, looking for dramatic changes that will lead to the best possible outcomes for patients.  Mark has said, “Some problems are so complicated you have to step back from the current realities and think through how a new system can be created.” 

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Four Critical Habits that Build Trust

Leadership is a relationship between the leader and those who choose to follow.  Trust is the foundation of that relationship.  If you break trust, you damage your future as a leader.  Trust is complex, but it can be broken down into four habits that, if practiced regularly, will raise your “trust meter” significantly whether you are the leader or the one who chooses to follow.   

In a 2015 podcast interview, Rob Reindl and I talked in detail about the four key habits for building trust across an organization. Rob is the former head of HR for Edwards LifeSciences.  Edwards is the global leader in the science of heart valves and hermodynamic monitoring. The company is known in the health care space for its outstanding culture of trust.

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A Lesson from the Green Room: Never Give Up Questing

7:01am. A push notification arrives on my smart phone from surfline.com“8’ to 10’ swell arriving in three days. Powerful surf.  Extreme Caution Recommended.” 

Avid surfers like me love these push notes and when they arrive, the blood courses, the mind triggers into high alert, and preparations begin for a big day.  

At certain breaks, the wave will tube. This means the top portion of the wave launches out over the bottom and creates a hollow tube of air. The light, refracting against the water, the ocean floor and sky, transforms to green. A surfer, going at high speeds will race through the green room either crouched or standing and experience a beauty and exhilaration perhaps like no other. At the end, he or she knows they've been to “the green room” and it was a near holy experience. 

We all face moments in our lives where we have an option to push ourselves beyond current limits, try new adventures, take new risks, launch a new, uncharted path. It may be something you’ve always wanted to do, but you weren’t sure you had it in you to break through. It might be a new opportunity just presented to you and you have to make a decision - go or no go.  

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