90% of product leadership involves communication.  Leadership skills that motivate people to reach both business and professional goals are critical to organizational and personal success.



31.07 20140

Trading Passion for Glory

It’s hot out there. The late summer heat feels like a jungle. Sometimes it feels like we are in a jungle even when it is not hot because the world can seem to be full of predators. A tiger is one of the most vicious predators of the jungle.   A tiger is fast, smart and ferocious. Keepers of captive tigers always have to be on guard for sudden attack. Tigers are tricky.  A tiger has a keen understanding of its prey’s weakness and waiting for the exact moment of that weakness being exposed to attack. Once the tiger’s eye is trained for attack, its strength and tenacity are directly targeted at its prey’s known weakness. When the eyes are seen, the tiger is about to attack, and the battle must be fought based on strength alone verses evasive action. How does prey become the tiger’s fixation? Many times it is our own arrogance and complacency that puts us under attack. Most of us strive to be in a place of glory, to be esteemed as great at our chosen ambitions; however, ironically, achievement of this desired greatness often is the catalyst that leads to our own demise. Passion helps us win; it drives us forward, but when we win, we can become consumed with arrogance. Arrogance causes us to revel in the glory of winning which can lead to complacency and loss. Don’t forget history. He who forgets how he came to a place of achievement is doomed to repeat the process. This is true for great companies and true for individuals as well. We operate in an increasingly competitive environment where there is no room for complacency. There is a song called “Eye of the Tiger.” The song talks about staying alive by focusing on your passion, always in a state of ready. There is a saying that success breeds success; however, in some cases we short change success by becoming complacent. Instead of continually challenging ourselves to move forward, we linger a bit too long in the limelight and don’t see that the eye of the tiger has targeted us. When you let adoration go to your head, you lose your passion for greatness and allow for the kill. Survival is of the utmost importance when you have become the target of attack because even after a significant loss, there is an opportunity for the come back… we don’t have to lose dreams of the past; “we have to fight to keep them alive” … to know that we can push forward in any circumstance. Don’t enjoy successes too much… don’t wallow in failures either. Each is part of life and a temporary state. It is the desire to continually challenge and better ourselves with the situations placed before us—good or bad-- that allows us to stay alive and passionate. Rise up to the challenge by “staying hungry” and developing the ability to survive. Hunger for new strength, new understanding and new skills. Enjoy the thrill of the challenge. Keep your passion … don’t trade it for glory. It has been said people are only truly great when they act from their passions.

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21.06 20140


A shot rings out piercing the air space around it. A bullet speeds towards its intended target. Once released nothing can return it to its previous state of rest. It is traveling on a path of destruction to its intended target or whatever steps in the path between. Does the shooter just walk away oblivious to the moment of impact and its aftermath? No...there is recoil. Recoil is the backward momentum of a firearm once it is discharged. The force of the act that has just been perpetrated travels back through the body of the shooter to the ground and moves the shooter backward in space, but there is no movement back in time because once fired the bullet can never be returned to its previous state of rest. The amount of recoil felt by the shooter is dependent on the mass of the gun. The amount of energy transferred to the shooter depends upon counter recoil forces applied. A gun with free recoil will move the shooter in an angular pattern thus impacting the firing of the gun and the path to the intended target, creating greater inaccuracies and more stray bullets hitting innocent bystanders. I have heard people comment to others "Don't shoot off your mouth." Given the context above this has a good deal of meaning. Anger creates in people a free recoil situation. When a person begins to angrily fire at his or her intended target whether by words or deeds, the angry party has so little aim that innocent bystanders are often wounded. Destructive words and acts move us backward in space, not forward. Recently I heard a speaker talk about the difference between responding and reacting. Our goal should be to learn to respond instead of to react. Let's keep our focus on what we are for, not what we are against. When we focus our energy on what we are against, we create free recoil situations where we create destruction around us and cause stray bullets to harm innocent bystanders. The next time you face opposition think about how you can respond in the positive with what you are for instead of reacting in anger to what you are against. The positive moves us forward and the negative moves us backward. Give great pause before you create war zones in your professional or personal life. Create positive environments that move ideas and people forward and limit the amount of recoil you experience from your own reactions.

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21.05 20140

Getting Real

By: michelemuse Categories:Agile

I recently read a quote from an unlikely source for life advice ...Mike Tyson.  Mike said "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." There is a lot of truth in this quote and in boxing in general because a boxer is forced to "get real" very quickly.  In the heat of opposition, agility and reflexive training become more critical than having a plan.  The ability to maintain composure and adjust a plan means the difference between staying in the fight or being laid out on the mat.  Personally, I never have been a big fan of boxing. It is hard for me to want to cheer on raw aggression, but I have been somewhat intrigued by the sage advice that comes from the ring. Boxers say that a fight is won or lost before the opponents step into the ring.   You are either very prepared for your opponent, or you are at a loss almost immediately.  Effective preparation comes from making a realistic assessment of your opponent's strengths and your own weaknesses and inversely making a plan to take action to maximize your strengths, while drawing out the opponent's weaknesses. Even as you plan and prepare for a match, you must realize that once in the ring, anything can happen.  The most admired boxers are known to be very agile ... adjusting movements quickly and fluidly while maintaining a steady rhythm and pace.  Muhammad Ali's trainer said "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee."  In a world of heavy weights, you must be somewhat unsuspecting to your opponent. You must move around lightly, but at the time of execution you must pack a very direct punch. As an agile coach, from my observations of boxing here are some takeaways for my team trainees: 1.  Always take time to know your strengths and your weaknesses 2.  Build on your strengths, but don't ignore your weaknesses 3.  Have a plan 4.  Be prepared to change your plan, quickly and seamlessly 5.  Find your own rhythm and pace 6.  Take feedback from observers that have an outside view of the situation-- use the wisdom and experience of others to become a contender 7. Keep it real when dealing with the present situation no matter how unfavorable it may be Boxing ...a case study in agility.

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05.04 20140


By: michelemuse Categories:Agile

Winter is over; the cold weather is almost gone.  I am so glad; I hate the bitterness of the cold.  I love it when plants and flowers begin to bloom again.  It gives me hope; it reminds me that no matter how bitter the winter, that there is the renewal of spring, and the chance for the world to be beautiful again.  I recently read the unattributed quote that “what distinguishes what’s alive from what is dead is growth, whether it be in plants or in you.” It is important to remember that no matter what the setbacks that we may experience in life or in our careers that as long as we focus on growth through continued learning, we will prosper.  Continuous learning is a valued principle in the Agile world.  At the root of this concept of continuous learning is the belief that no matter how strong we may be, we all will be challenged with setbacks and failures.  The teams that prosper are those that self-examine regularly and use the power of inspection and introspection to make the changes necessary to be successful in the future. The individuals that are the most successful in life are those that make ongoing learning a part of their everyday lives.  Continuous learners use learning to stay active and alive, and vibrance from their knowledge pollinates to all around them.  Continuous learning helps us grow upward toward the sun, avoiding the weeds that would choke away the light.  This spring, stop in your busy life and take a moment to look at the renewal going on all around you.   If you like what you see, then consider making continuous growth and renewal a part of your personal world.

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