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Category Archives: Success Strategies

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Why are we so dismissive of the signs around us?

Contrary to what we’d like to believe, most of us don’t behave congruently to what is shown to us. In fact we often disregard or even completely ignore what we see. For example, the picture above shows boxes containing stained glass, clearly something that shouldn’t be stacked, hence the “Do Not Stack” warning printed prominently on the box.

Why do we do this? Part of the reason is advertising. As buyers, we have been conditioned to disregard the claim of the product or service being promoted. Consider the Big Mac, a sandwich served millions of times a day around the world, and promoted through advertising just as often.

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A New Message for the New Year

For those of you that know me or have read or listened to my work, you know that the core of my work is about focusing in on how individuals and organizations define themselves in relations to others. I focus on self-definitions, and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves—again, both individually and organizationally.

It has always been difficult for me to explain to those who aren’t familiar with my work how what I do is different from how most consultants work. While my processes are fairly consistent, each client is unique and therefore must be approached differently.

I have finally culled the essential and critical aspects of the process I bring to my clients in the simplest manner yet. I’m excited to share this with everyone who is interested, as I believe it is the reason my consulting work has succeeded so consistently with so many different clients regardless of their respective challenges.

We have decided to devote an entire page on the website to explain the intricate and inextricable human sequence that drives all individual and organizational behavior. It is the key to changing outcomes because it focuses first on meaning and definition, literally changing hearts and minds, before it provides solutions and recommends changes.

This is the key: Self-definition drives perception. Perception helps create what something means. We then behave to what we’ve defined, the way we define it.

My work starts in the beginning of this sequence, which I believe distinguishes it from what most consultants provide. Once definitions and meaning shift, people naturally behave according to the new understanding. Trying to change people’s behavior without changing the way they understand things will only bring a modicum of success, or more likely continuing frustration.

To learn more, feel free to check out the page on the Caruso Leadership website: http://www.carusoleadership.com/about/

I am opening up comments for this blog post, as I hope to constantly improve the message. I wish all of you a very happy 2010 – make it an undeniable year!

A Unique Mother’s Day Gift

In just a few days, this nation will celebrate one of our most sacred commercial holidays, Mother’s Day. The media will carry millions of odes, tributes and dedications that will reach nearly every living American in some form or another. More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year.

Millions of Americans will reflect on one of the most special, unique relationships of their lives; that between a mother and a child. We will spend at least a part of our day thinking about the institution of motherhood and all it stands for. Some of us will have had or still have a personal relationship with our mothers that validates and edifies all of the good feelings and thoughts that the word “Mom” can invoke. Yet for millions of Americans, Mother’s Day will feel quite different. While they’ll still be thinking of their mother, for them it will be less a day of honor and gratitude and more a day of reckoning. Those millions of odes, tributes and dedications will serve as sour reminders that amplify the bitterness and ache of a sacred promise that was never kept.

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Myth is Greater Than Truth

In my work with individuals and organizations, I focus on people’s “stories.” I call them their “myths.” Many people who study my work are at first put off by my use of the word myth and suggest that I use a different word. They feel that the word myth implies that the story is less than true, and therefore, somehow less than valid.

I suggest, however, that the very essence of my success in helping organizations and individuals make positive, drastic and lasting change is because I understand that their stories or their “myths” represent great truths to those who believe in them. If someone asked you, “What’s your story?” isn’t that another way of asking, “Who are you, why are you here, and why do you do what you do?”

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Sincere Change: Looking in the Mirror

A reader from Indiana recently wrote,

“Dear Joe,  I know I could be a better mother and a better friend if I could improve the way I communicate. My problem is I don’t want to change into somebody I’m not. How can I stay sincere to myself and change at the same time.” — Susan V.

This is a very good question and one that most people aren’t willing to acknowledge. It is one of the biggest challenges that keeps most individuals and organizations from making true transformation. While they may sincerely desire to make fundamental changes, they have a greater psychological desire not to change anything by which they define themselves.

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Make Objectives Understandable (Gideons)

Vision statements, mission statements and strategic objectives are often misused and abused because they’re too often misunderstood.

Too many organizations understand that it’s important to have these things, yet don’t seem to understand just how powerful they can be.

Each year, I spend more than 170 days traveling, flying to various cities and staying in different hotels. While the comfort and decor of each room varied, there was one thing I knew would be consistent.  If I looked inside the drawer of the bed stand, I’d find a Bible. I could be sure I’d find that Bible because of the strength of a vision and the conviction of a mission.

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