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What We Can Learn from the Olympics about Life and Leadership

With the Olympics underway­­­—with all the competition, drama, and intrigue—what can we learn from them not only about excellence and teamwork but also about life and leadership? Sure we admire the grueling physical feats and the mental preparation. The years of punishing practices, discipline, focus, and skill-building that go into the nine-second sprint, the epic overtime soccer match, or the attempt to shatter records. Part of what’s great about the Olympics is the quest for excellence—and the occasional flash of it that electrifies the world. “Excellent” is one of the three components of our “triple crown leadership” model (the others

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Tribute to General Jack Chain—An Extraordinary Leader

A great leader and our dear family friend, Four-Star Air Force General John T. (Jack) Chain died peacefully in his sleep this month at the age of 86. All who knew Jack mourn his loss and are grateful for the time he had with us. Jack and his dear wife Judie were neighbors of Bob and June not long ago in the Vail Valley of Colorado. We shared many wonderful hours with them at dinners, parties, and on the golf courses and ski slopes. Once Gregg and Bob learned about Jack’s extraordinary leadership in the U.S. Air Force, we interviewed

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Leadership for the Long Haul—The Endurance Imperative

It’s one thing for an organization to achieve outstanding results. It’s another thing to do so ethically. And it’s another thing altogether to get outstanding results ethically and to sustain it over time. “Enduring” is the third imperative of what we call “triple crown leadership” (excellent, ethical, and enduring). By “enduring,” we mean standing the test of time and operating sustainably. Some organizations accomplish impressive feats by pulling out all the stops, sacrificing the long term for the short term. They cut corners for temporary advantage. Big mistake. Eventually, they face a rude awakening. They realize they can’t sustain such

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Leadership and the Ethics Imperative

It’s one thing to achieve outstanding results. It’s another thing to do so ethically, especially when others are cutting corners. Operating ethically is the second imperative of what we call “triple crown leadership” (excellent, ethical, and enduring). To us, “ethical” means acting in accordance with accepted principles of right and wrong: acting with integrity. Leaders must pay attention to how results are achieved. Triple crown leaders insist on doing the right thing, even when it’s costly or hard. All leaders confront ethical challenges and dilemmas. Many people take ethical leadership for granted. While they have sophisticated financial spreadsheets and multifaceted

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Leadership and the Excellence Imperative

Getting results is one of the preeminent tasks of leadership. What we call “triple crown leadership” (from our book of the same name) seeks not just any results, but excellent results—exceptional outcomes. It strives for the pinnacle of performance. (Our “triple crown leadership” model has three aims: excellent, ethical, and enduring. Leaders should begin with this question: what kind of leadership does it take to build an organization that is excellent, ethical, and enduring?) Without strong results, you’re unlikely to remain a leader for long. Beacons of Excellence In different fields, there are beacons of excellence. For advanced military missions,

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What’s Your Leadership Quest?

It’s time to raise your leadership game. What’s your leadership quest? What are you seeking to do through your leadership, and where do you want to take your team or organization? What kind of leadership does it take to build excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations? How can we lead ventures for both high performance and positive impact on all stakeholders? How can we avoid breakdowns? We know it’s possible, because we’ve seen it in action and been part of it. Most people want to be successful, maintain their integrity, and have a positive impact. These aspirations are powerful, but they’re

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Back to Normal? Not So Fast

In fortunate parts of the world, there’s a palpable sense of relief and celebration as life begins to get back to normal after a brutal pandemic year. In some quarters, there’s jubilation—and rightly so after so many shocks to so many for so long. And of course the pandemic rages on, with so many people suffering, struggling, recovering, mourning, and more. But back to normal? Not so fast. We sense, beneath the surface, that this is an opportunity to revisit and reinvent. Surely there are some things we just want to bring back—things we missed. But we should be wary

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Tips for New Graduates on Life, Work, and Making Big Decisions

With graduation season upon us, new graduates have much to celebrate after navigating a brutal year. Now they face a big transition from school to work (or further school, or gap year, or other pursuits). Here are tips to help them craft their life and work–and make big decisions that will serve them well. Your work now is to find your work. Don’t commit prematurely to the first path you walk. Don’t over-invest in or over-identify with a professional area without having pressure-tested the reality of it against your initial conception of it. Don’t satisfice. Create an intentional process for your

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The Comparison Trap

We all fall into traps in life. One of the most common is the comparison trap: constantly comparing ourselves to others and judging our worth by how we stack up—mostly on things that are superficial and unimportant: Where do I live? What do I drive? How much do I make? Where do I fall in the social hierarchy? According to researchers, this kind of comparative thinking is common: “…the urge to make comparisons is strong. Our research has found that more than 10% of daily thoughts involved making a comparison of some kind.” -Dr. Amy Summerville, “Is Comparison Really the

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The Urgency of Sustainable Leadership—and the Promise of Social Entrepreneurship

On this Earth Day, we honor our planet and recognize the importance of climate action and environmental stewardship. We acknowledge our interdependence—and the gravity of the stakes if we fail to meet the moment. What is the role of business in this epic challenge? Of leaders and entrepreneurs? Of all of us? The Role of Business Business leaders of course must address cash, profits, and growth as they manage their venture’s financial health amidst market pressures. Thankfully, there are not just costs associated with environmental stewardship but real opportunities. “For far-sighted companies, the environment may turn out to be the

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