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Author Archives: Caruso Leadership

Pickpockets and Conmen: Attraction Distraction

My wife, Carol, and I consider ourselves fortunate to have traveled extensively. It’s something we have always loved to do together. In our travels to big cities we have had the occasion to observe many types of people—from business people, to families on evening strolls, or out to eat, and everything in between. We’ve found that in the bigger cities around the world, it’s not uncommon to see people who make their living by preying upon unsuspecting tourists.  

Fortunately, Carol and I remain largely unscathed by predators. While we acknowledge luck’s role in life, we firmly believe that the biggest attribution to our good fortune is due to the diligent attention we pay to three little words that one of my worldly mentors shared with me almost 30 years ago. The words are…‘Big City’ Rules.

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Organizations That Exercise Agility Remain Relevant

Many studies reveal a simple human truth: we most often choose what is comfortable over what is most beneficial. 

I’d like to consider this truth in light of the natural tendency of the social human to create bureaucracies. Even the most socialistic countries become bureaucratic entities. By nature, and arguably the driving force of a bureaucracy is to perpetuate its existence. In other words, as a bureaucracy becomes bigger – a business, a school, a government, a church, an association – it becomes LESS inclined to take the necessary steps to lead to a change or even a transition. Given that bureaucracies themselves are made up of people, the bureaucracy itself reflects similar psychological and behavioral tendencies as the individuals within it. (See more about Joe’s thinking on “the individual and collective mind”of any organization.)

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An Honest Assessment to Start the New Year

I would like to wish all of our clients, friends, followers and supporters a very Happy New Year. I wish you the best for 2019.

I often advise the leadership teams I work with that how one defines the problem determines the solutions your mind CAN’T POSSIBLY consider. So if you are feeling stuck, an honest assessment of the problem (how you are defining the problem), can open up possible solutions that the mind could not see or fathom in the previous context or definition.

Make An Honest Assessment

As you enter the New Year, I encourage to consider how an honest assessment can get you on the path to better solutions, and greater success and happiness. This can work for personal growth and professional development, and across organizations and teams.

Here is some quick reading to help you do just that.

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A Little Thanksgiving Everyday

May your Thanksgiving be more about giving thanks, than getting a second helping. 

More importantly, may all of us truly learn the impact and importance that bringing a little thanksgiving to every day of our lives can bring. Gratitude is nutrition for the soul and can suppress the anxiety and intellectual indigestion that events, especially the holidays, can often bring us.

Happy Thanksgiving Day from all of us at Caruso Leadership to all of you!

A Little Thanksgiving Everyday

Here are some reflections to her you have a little Thanksgiving everyday. Click on the image to read more.
Humans Seek Happiness

In Celebration of Idea – and Narrative

This September I had a unique opportunity to join people together from the intersection of the fields of my life’s work: business / leadership and psychology / psychoanalysis.

A few longtime friends and mentors in the field of psychoanalysis, Dr. Joe Lichtenberg (along with Mady Chalk), as well as Dr. Curtis Bristol and his wife Marie Drissel, all came to Detroit to spend time with me and my wife Carol, to walk the grounds of our home, to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Athletic Club downtown, and to celebrate “idea”. We were also pleased to be joined by a bright young leader in the education industry, Dr. Shawn Mahoney, one of my leadership mentees.

In addition to the wonderful conversation and amazing food and drink, we had the opportunity to discuss several upcoming publications, news of which I want to share here.

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Those Who Journey Inward Find Greater Success

“The genesis of many of our problems is that too many of us are peering into the murky future of our secondary world, hoping that there will be something “out there” to finally make us happy.

But in fact, we ought to be looking inward, because the source of true happiness is always available to us. It lies in how we choose to respond to those external circumstances — in our ability to understand, accept, and manage ourselves. This is what will determine how we go about finding our meaning and what kind of higher meaning we can find for ourselves.”

Joe Caruso, The Power of Losing Control, Chapter 8

A compelling quote from Agnes Repplier on taking this journey:

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How Do You Respond Rather Than React

In my work with leadership teams and developing young leadership talent, it is true that those who experience the greatest growth and success are the individuals that commit to the process. A decision without a commitment can often end in less than optimal results or even failure. (More about decision vs. commitment).

Many of my clients are CEOs and senior-level leaders. They live in a world of incredible pressure to reach their goals with market challenges and internal conflicts flying at them at great speed. In this fast-paced business environment, it is easy and even understandable to take a reactive approach. But as all great leaders (and great parents and great teachers) learn, it is always better to respond than react.

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The Importance of Context. Period.

(Context is the general that lends meaning to the specific.)

Sound bites. Headline grabbers. Head-turning quotes. All in the hope that the content goes viral. This is what drives today’s “news”.

While these dramatic, if not misleading headlines might pull eyeballs, turn ears and gain air time with their shock value, they do a huge disservice to those of us trying to find news where we can get facts, figures, as well as interpretation and analysis by an ‘expert’ in the field. [Of course many of us know enough to understand that bias always plays a role, and you must always consider the source…as discussed in my previous article about bias and fact vs. fiction].

In a day and age where Russian bots influence what’s trending, spin gets typed up in 280 characters or less, and the term ‘fake news’ is bandied about when someone doesn’t like what they are hearing, it is refreshing to see reporting that is grounded in fact, understands historical context, and attempts to acknowledge the culture.

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Another Storytelling Device to Know

This article is about a storytelling device known as a macguffin. As you enjoy reading about how film directors and writers have used macguffins for years, possibly in some of your favorite movies, try to keep track of how many times I use the word “good” in the article below.

A Storytelling Device To Move the Plot Forward

A macguffin is described as a plot device that propels a story forward. A macguffin can be an object that is valuable in and of itself such as a diamond, an artifact or an expensive piece of artwork. Or the macguffin can be valuable in that it is an object or person of interest, such as something containing valuable data or secrets. A macguffin can also be an ideal such as power, love, or glory.

Examples of Macguffin

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Humans Seek Happiness Above All Else

We Seek Happiness, But Happiness, Like Success, is Elusive

Above any other goal, humans seek happiness. Aristotle came to this conclusion more than 2,300 years ago when he reasoned that happiness is sought for its own sake, whereas every other goal – health, wealth, power and others – is only valued because we expect that it will bring us happiness.

While much has changed since Aristotle came to this conclusion, one could argue that we are no closer to understanding and teaching the path to happiness than the ancients. That is Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s argument in a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-hi) states that happiness,

“…is not something that just happens. It is not a result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power can control.  It is, in fact, a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated and defended privately by each person.”

To seek happiness is to grab water. Not only do we feel continually frustrated by our failure, we also feel miserable in the process. Another way to state this: happiness is a byproduct, not an end product.
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