Archives For Change

I’m a casual poker player.

Say what you will about poker, the game itself can be a very useful allegory for life in the business world. When you play a game like poker, you have a set of cards that are dealt to you. Every move in the game is about evaluating and measuring risk. In fact, on the card table, gambling can be seen as an investment in your available resources and the longevity they may have against the other potential hands at the table. As you weigh the strength of your hand, you will inevitably (or should inevitably) reach a point where a hand you’ve been dealt is incapable of competing, and you will have to fold your hand.

The same dynamic can be true for leaders. At some point, every leader has to face the reality of an underperforming facet of the organization, and sometimes after weighing the risks and the benefits, a cut is necessary. There’s a very good reason why we call it “cutting your losses”: it’s painful. It can feel personal. It’s never easy.

Knowing when to cut your losses is the real challenge. Whether it’s an unsuccessful product launch, an obsolete department within your organization, or even an otherwise productive employee who has developed a toxic attitude – often, we will “stay the course” assuming that if we keep our hand to the plow, we’ll be able to navigate through the situation. As we consider the investment we’ve put into these things, it seems better to push through rather than to take a loss. This could be your downfall.

Two kinds of mindsets when facing a major loss

How we think about the situation has a lot to do with how we come up with a solution. Psychologists identify two kinds of mindsets when facing a major loss:

  • Prevention Focus – concerned with what is lost if we don’t succeed.
  • Promotion Focus – think of goals in terms of new potential gains.

If you adopt a prevention focus, you’re more likely to see all the investments you’ve committed to getting where you are today, making it difficult to cut your losses. If you adopt a promotion focus, you’ll be much more likely to see the cuts as an opportunity to reinvest.

While both positions have merit, studies show that people will more often instinctively take a prevention focus because the effort they’ve invested is a tangible factor in the decision. In other words, they’ve shelled out the money, time, and effort, and they hate to watch it go down the tubes.

Often the promotion focus is the less obvious, but much more fruitful, position. The person sees that there is still money, time, and effort that are yet unspent, and those resources would be better allocated to other investments, rather than continuing to send them down the drain. This is the focus of the visionary.

Knowing when to fold your hand and cut your losses is a great challenge that can’t be taken lightly. Often, the decision to keep going can have as big an impact on your life or your business as the decision to cut. When you face the question of cutting your losses, step back and know your focus: prevention or promotion. It can make all the difference.


A friend once told me that how you process major change in your life is one of the most important things you do.

Change can either be a catalyst to new opportunities or it can create a crisis of identity. Or more likely, as it has been with me, it creates both. Change often is both an opportunity and a crisis of identity. The key is figuring out how to get more of the catalyst side and less of the crisis side of things.

Don’t waste the changes in your life.

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Are You Ready For Change?

April 21, 2013

This post is adapted from my forthcoming book Change, the third in a series of practical books about life and leadership. The other two, Money and Authority are available for $2.99. 

Whether it be your personal life or the life of your organization, everything changes. What’s your response to change? Does it inject adrenaline into your system, or cause you to panic?

Change isn’t always easy.

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I have a friend, his name is Bill, but we call him Yoda because he comes out of nowhere with amazing bits of wisdom. One particular nugget has stayed with me for years. In response to talking about young leaders, he said, “The problem with many young leaders is they don’t think there is enough success available in the world for everyone.” Meaning, we’re prone towards jealousy, excited to celebrate our own growth but hesitant to celebrate the accomplishments of others because they might steal our success.

Earlier this week, I wrote about 7 Ways We Stunt Our Growth, I need to add Bill’s insight to the list and make it eight. Envy paralyzes you and will always thwart our personal growth.

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Is your growth, or the growth of your organization, stunted? Do you feel like your mission is paralyzed? Does everything feel static and uninspired?

Maybe your growth hit a rocky patch, causing you to feel withered or choked out. Maybe you just feel stuck in one of these areas of your life: spiritually, emotionally, financially, organizationally or relationally. You woke up one morning and realized nothing is changing for the better, and nothing has changed for a while.

There are some clear warning signals we send out when we’re stuck. I’ve seen these in my own life and leadership and offer them in the hope they may help you get unstuck. See if any of the seven following pitfalls are true of your current situation.

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This post is adapted from my upcoming book Change.

There are good and bad ways to grow. 

As an organization, are you relying on truth to inspire growth? Or are you shortcutting truth with parlor tricks and distracting devices to give it that steroid jolt—things that actually detract from your mission rather than add to them?

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Hiring Change Agents

February 19, 2013

No organization is stagnant – everything that lasts is capable of evolution. Even brand logos change over time, and these shifts in branding represent major shifts in a company’s identity. Changes in technology can drive brand evolution, and so can company reorganizations, geopolitics, and even war. Companies that can’t adapt are sunk.

The same is true for individuals within an organization.

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Money, Authority, and Change

January 10, 2013

The titles of the three e-books I’m working on. Money is already out and the other two will release in the next few months. Update: in 2014 I published the revised and expanded edition of Money: God or Gift.

When I transitioned from my previous professional role, that I held for over 12 years, I set out to write a longer, more traditional book on leadership. Then I thought: why am I writing a longer book? I hate reading long books, and many of the books on my bookshelf are only marked-up and highlighted through Chapter 4.

I decided to apply this realization to my writing; why not write the way I like to read? Who cares if no one else reads it, at least I will. For those who know me well, I’m not interested in a lot of fluff. In fact, writing can be lot of work for me, but it’s a discipline that forces me to think through my thoughts and convictions.

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