What’s Inside Your Pain Letter?

If you haven’t heard about them, pain letters are a brilliant way to reach inside an organization and show key decision makers that you understand their pains (the real problems they’re facing) and have the experience and skill set to help solve them.

Although it can be challenging as an outsider to identify the real problems facing an organization, it’s often just as difficult to articulate your own real pains as an insider. Trouble is, it’s easy to waste a lot of time, energy and money when you’re not sure what your real problems are.

pain perspective

So here’s what to do: Use the questions below as a guide, then quickly write yourself a bulleted pain letter describing your pains. You’ll gain tremendous clarity on the real problems you’re facing – and you’ll be better equipped to see your pain from the perspective of an outsider.

3 Reasons Why Your Choices Aren’t Creating Impact

I get it. It’s frustrating.

You’re a respected leader. You do the right thing. You research your options. You seek out wise counsel. And you agonize over key decisions to ensure great outcomes.

Yet somehow your choices aren’t having the impact you had hoped for – and you’re not sure what’s missing.

Here are 3 reasons why your choices may not be creating impact, and what to do about it:

How to Take Control of Your Schedule and Stop Hijacking Your Own Agenda

Staying in control of your schedule isn’t easy – especially when you’re stressed out, pressed for time, or dealing with multiple deadlines and the demands of others.

Control Your Schedule

But let’s face it: Sometimes the saboteur is you.

If you’ve ever created a great agenda for your day but found yourself doing something completely unrelated when you actually sat down to work, then you know exactly what I mean.

Having your agenda hijacked by someone else is bad enough, but when you’re the main culprit, the loss of control is even more demoralizing. But rather than play the blame game (haven’t you had enough of that?), let’s focus on solutions to the problem.

Here are 3 quick tips you can immediately put into practice to regain control of your schedule and stop hijacking your own agenda.

3 Signs You’re Not Managing Yourself Effectively (and How to Fix It)

Effective leaders pay attention to how well they’re managing themselves, because they know that when the first car in the train gets derailed, it’s not long before the entire train jumps off the tracks.

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Here are 3 signs that you’re not managing yourself effectively (and how to fix it):

  1. Ignoring Your Rituals: Mature executives and elite performers share this in common: They both rely heavily on rituals. Your rituals, which may include an early morning run, a time of meditation, a refocusing on your vision statement, or a nightly review of next day priorities, are the deliberately cultivated habits that give your life stability, structure and stamina. Ignoring your rituals is a red flag that you’re not managing yourself effectively, so if this behavior describes you – stop what you’re doing and make sure you’re fully aware of the why behind what’s crowding out your ritual. Perhaps you’ve been operating in fear mode and you need to confront your fears head on. Or maybe you’re in a time of major transition and you need to modify your rituals to better fit your new circumstances. Or it could just be that everyday life has overwhelmed you, and you need a reminder of why your rituals are important to you. Whatever the reason, take your rituals seriously and get back on track. You’ll be the first to thank yourself that you did.

How To Survive Your Own Change Initiatives

Have you ever had your life turned upside down by a radical change that you initiated?

It may have been a good change, or an unpleasant one which just had to be done. Either way, I’m willing to bet that somewhere in the middle, you almost lost it. Or you did lose it – and you barely managed to regain control. You had come too far to turn back, but you didn’t know how long you could keep going – or whether you even wanted to.


I’ve been through many of these personally-initiated changes, such as starting a new business, leaving or starting a job, moving to another country (and coming “home”), and I’ve discovered a pattern that I’d like to share with you – a pattern that you may find helpful in your current or soon-to-be change initiative.

I call this pattern the “3 Cs of Change.” Keep reading to see which stage best describes where you’re at right now.

How to Move Past Your Hidden Fears

Today I want to share with you a secret coaching technique – a powerful question that will help you move past your hidden fears.


You see, we all engage in a running dialogue with ourselves about our abilities, goals and perceived limitations. We do it through self-talk, and we do it through the words we use to describe ourselves to others.

Elite athletes use this running dialogue to reinforce the positive things they believe about themselves, but most of us employ words that reinforce our self-doubts and hide what we’re truly afraid of. And the more we hide what we’re truly afraid of, the more stuck and confused we become about where we’re going.

That’s why I’d like to share with you a secret coaching technique that can expose the hidden fears behind your words. This tried and true technique is a question – a powerful question that requires active listening to key words and phrases.

3 Simple Steps To Begin Writing Your Book

You’re a writer and you have a book inside you, but it doesn’t know how to get out.

Here are 3 simple steps to begin getting your book out of your head and where it belongs, on paper.

steps - Copy
3 Simple Steps To Begin Writing Your Book:

  • STEP #1: Write Your Introduction. Writing begins with…writing. It sounds silly, but just sitting down to write is the one simple step that many people never take. So take it. Grab a paper and pen, or your laptop, and sit somewhere comfortable. Now imagine we’re sitting there together, and I ask you to tell me about your book. “What’s your book about?” I ask you. Now write or type your answer. That’s it. Just tell me about your book. If it’s helpful, try to answer questions such as Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Once you’re finished, you’ll have created the Introduction to your book! Now on to step #2.

The Importance of Learning How to Fall

I started my first day by getting thrown for a loop. Literally.

It was the mid 90’s, and I had just signed up for my first Aikido class in Japan. I didn’t yet speak Japanese, so the teacher knelt on the ground and motioned to me to grab his arm. Then he threw me to the ground. Over. And over. And over.

All I remember from the rest of that day is that I left with too many bruises to count, and a fierce determination to go back and do it again, because I knew that it would keep on hurting until I learned how to fall.

learning to fall

Well, I did keep going back, and I did learn how to fall. And the insights I gained from that experience have served me well as a leader for nearly twenty years – because even though the throws and bruises of leadership may not be physical, they still happen, and they still hurt.

So here are five reasons why learning how to fall is important for leaders:

The 1 Word That’s Holding You Back

There’s a word that you’ve been using, and it’s time to let it go. Time to erase it from your vocabulary.

You’re not the only one who uses it. I do, too. We all do. But it’s holding you (and me) back.

It comes up in conversation whenever we talk about our deepest dreams and aspirations. And it’s almost always said with a sigh – a wistful and defeating release of air from the lungs.


So what’s the word?

The word is “Someday,” as in, “Someday I’m going to…”

Just think about the last time you said it or heard it. For me, it happened just a few days ago. A friend of mine shared a magnificent dream that he wanted to pursue – a wonderful dream that’s entirely doable. But then he used that word, “Someday.” And he said it with that wistful sigh that always seems to tag along.

But someday is more than a wistful word loaded with longing. It’s a glass ceiling that’s meant to be shattered, and it’s preventing you from taking hold of your future.

Here are three reasons why “someday” is holding you back:

First Things First

This blog is for you.

My goal is to create content that matters for your life, your dreams, and your work. As a coach, author, speaker and teacher, I help dreamers to become doers, and proven and emerging leaders to excel by improving performance and increasing impact.

first things first
I plan to write about Getting Unstuck, Coaching, Leadership and Writing – and I welcome your requests for me to write posts related to these major topic areas. From time to time, I will also write about other topics that are relevant to your life and work. Let me know what matters most to you.

What are your dreams and leadership challenges?

I post two or three times a week. Stay updated on my newest posts by subscribing here.

Photo by Ales Krivec.