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Human Resources Today

Dealing With Shame

What decisions have you made recently based on your shame?

Probably more than you realize.

One of the definitions of shame on is, “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.

Shame is a painful emotion responding to a belief we have failed in some way. It can motivate us consciously, for instance if we become embarrassed. This is a relatively minor form of shame.

I am writing to challenge you to go deeper.

The shame that blocks us from being our best is typically more subversive. It is buried deep behind strongholds (false beliefs based on emotional wounds) and affects our decision-making subconsciously.

Brené Brown shared an interesting story from her book, Rising Strong, about shame on her blog this week.

If you are willing to face the shame of your past mistakes, or current belief in yourself, one option is to go through the process of a RAIN meditation. 

Here is a 4-step process and link to the Mindful website offering this advice:

The key reason we experience shame is because humans were designed with a sense of right and wrong. Otherwise, anything goes and shame would not exist.

We have shame because our brain constantly assesses our self-worth against the standards existing in our DNA, established by our parents, and/or developed through our life experiences.

Shame can be resolved in a healthy manner, such as the RAIN process above where you acknowledge the shame; stay with it for minutes or hours; forgive yourself, and if applicable, ask for forgiveness from others; and then move forward learning from the experience and not repeating the mistake.

Is shame potentially motivating some of your decisions, behaviors, and actions?

I suggest the answer is, yes.

Here are some examples of how shame could be negatively affecting you:

Anger / Blame Others

We may understand someone else's mistake and how it hurts others because we have made similar errors ourselves. One common response is for us to project blame and anger onto them, partly as a scapegoat for the punishment we feel we deserve. This is a defensive response to our disgust or disappointment with ourselves.

Anger is more comfortable to experience than shame. (Psychology Today)

Unfortunately, transferring our shame to another person is a form of self-deception. This decision, which is often unconscious, relieves some of the symptoms of shame-based pain and discomfort temporarily, but does not heal the disease of our shame.


Unresolved shame can motivate some people to medicate their pain with alcohol, drugs, overeating (physically abusing yourself), obsessing about your image through over-exercising or other harmful activities.

Feeling Not Good Enough

Another common response to shame is intense competition to prove you are good enough. Unfortunately, the goal of achieving peace and inner joy by being the best can only be temporary. They need to prove yourself never ends until you take the time to go through the process to "peel back the onion" to the point where you reach your shame and resolve it.

Anticipating the Pain

People with unresolved shame may anticipate, rightly or wrongly, that they are about to be judged as inadequate. This motivates them to strike first before being hurt (again).

This may drive them to manipulate the self-esteem of the person they expect will hurt them. They may use insults or other actions intended to hurt that person so they can feel equal or superior to them.

Once again, these behaviors do not eliminate the shame. This meanness only distracts the shamed person away from the pain of their past mistakes. There is no resolution, restitution, or healing.

Low Self-Esteem

One way to consider shame is as an example of powerful deception. Remind yourself the best lies are based on a shred of truth. Yes, you made a mistake. However, was it really a wound that feels like it can never heal?

The intent of shame is to take you out of the game by making you feel inferior and motivating you to live in the mistakes of your past. This keeps you from focusing on the meaningful experiences of your past, the blessings of today, and the potential available in your future.

What should you do?

Shame is a rattlesnake in your garden. Kill it.

Invest time to candidly identify past mistakes that cause you shame.

Spend time alone in a safe place to consider each mistake, remind yourself of how you were trying to do your best at that time, and own each mistake.

Focus on where to go from here, including how to stop allowing shame to dictate your decisions, relationships, and results.

One option is to work with a professional to help you through this process. That is not my expertise. The advice in this article is based on what I have experienced personally and observed in others throughout my life. This commentary is for informational purposes only.

You can win this battle against shame. Start with a reality check. Work through the process. You will emerge stronger, but it is a process you must journey through. It is similar to a caterpillar that has to work its way through the process of emerging from a cocoon on its own to experience the joy and fulfillment of being a butterfly.

Painful. Difficult. Yet, life giving.

You can overcome shame. I cannot help you as a therapist or professional counselor, however I am encouraging you as a fellow leader.


Save $50,000 or more

Where's the $50,000?

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) has said to replace one bad hire can cost up to 5X the annual salary of executives and top contributors.

This means if you hire someone for $50,000/year, then making just one better hiring decision saves you $250,000.

Does that sound high to you? Then conservatively, let's say the loss is 20% of that number. This still means every bad hire costs you $50,000, or about one year of their annual compensation (a lot of experts agree with this amount).

But... how do you hire better people? How can you avoid a bad hire in the first place?

You have to learn how.

Join me 8am-noon on Wednesday, February 21st at Microsoft's Glen Allen offices near Richmond, Virginia for a 4-hour workshop on how to Hire The Best (and avoid the rest).

In just 4 hours you will learn my most powerful hiring secrets I have proven over the past 45 years. Come and learn my Hire The Best system.

How much is it worth to you to answer these questions better?

... Where can I find more candidates for my openings?

... What questions should I ask in a phone interview?

... How can I get the candidate talking outside their "hire me" script?

... What is the best way to interview someone?

... What homework should a candidate do between interviews?

... How can I discern a good from a great candidate?

... How can I confirm a candidate's true behaviors and motivators?

... How can I get candidates to choose my company vs. other job offers?

... What is the best way to get references to talk, and be honest?

... How can I get people to accept your offers, AND show-up their first day?

Don't miss it. Register here

I will answer your specific questions so you can hire better people. I guarantee your satisfaction, or we will return your workshop fee.

The Harvard Business Review says 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. Can you really afford another bad hire?

Don't wait. Register now, before we fill all 22 seats!


The ONE Thing Webinar Series - Part 1


Win the battle against your Army of Orcs

Every day we have too many options. However, the more you focus your time, the clearer you see the masses against you.

There are the urgent tasks and requests screaming at you for attention.

There are the family and health requirements that you want to do to experience love, joy, and good health.

There are friends who struggle to find time in your calendar for fun and laughter.

There are projects and tasks to improve something in your career, team, and/or organization.

And then... there is your ONE Thing, that special opportunity to accomplish something to make everything else easier or unnecessary.

Yet, this activity gets pushed aside most easily.


(warning: spoiler alert!)

The photo above is Aragorn, the man who would be king of Gondor, in the final episode of the movie trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. He is making a final stand against the army of Mordor, a foul horde of orcs and goblins and trolls.

Aragorn and his allies have fought long and hard over many months against the evil that seeks to keep them from living a long, fulfilling life.

Are you in a similar battle, consciously or subconsciously?

Is your schedule overflowing, yet unfulfilling?

Are too many days lost to fighting fires, rather than building something meaningful that lasts?

Are you driven by past wounds to prove yourself or somehow compensate for one of your mistakes?

These are some of your "orcs". These are the challenges, put in front of you by yourself or others, consciously or subconsciously for one purpose: To destroy you.

How do you fight your orcs?

Aragorn leads his allies into battle against insurmountable odds. There are tens of thousands of orcs, yet only a few thousand men with him.

Not exactly stacking the odds in his favor, eh? Sometimes leaders have to make tough decisions.

In this case, Aragorn is trying to distract the army of Mordor while Frodo and Sam climb Mount Doom in an attempt to destroy the One Ring.

But let's assume that Aragorn is not trying to become the poster child for suicide missions.

How could he possibly win a battle against such odds?

Notice one thing: Aragorn and his men can only fight one orc at a time. Yes, he may slash two with his sword, moving in an arc from one to the other. However, his focus has to be on what is in front of him.

One at a time. One foe must be down before he can move on to another.

So it is with you, as a leader. (If you are breathing, you are a leader). The challenges you face cannot be tackled successfully all at once. You must focus on one domino at a time.

Try this approach:

  • Pause at a time when there are no distractions from people, email, etc.
  • Focus this daily time in brief Sanctuary - confirm you are focusing on the most urgent task
  • Make it a habit by scheduling regular time in your calendar to reflect, evaluate, and focus

Pretty soon you will find that Sanctuary is a longer look at your battlefield, and a boon for your productivity. Are you heading in the right direction? Are you pursuing the "flag" you really need to capture, or are you chasing an illusion of achievement that is actually less important?

To win your daily battle against your unique army of orcs, it takes focus, commitment, and comprehension of what is truly most important.

We are going to discuss this more in my upcoming webinar series below.

Reserve your seat now!

I am leading four complimentary webinars at 6:00 a.m. PST Mondays, February 5, 12, 26, and March 5. Recordings will be available on our website after-the-fact.

This webinar series is inspired by one of my favorite business books, The ONE Thing, written by Gary Keller, the founder of Keller-Williams Realty.

We are going to start with Gary's premier question:

"What is the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"

Gary's ONE Thing approach is awesome, it is a great starting point for anyone interested in being all you can be. I have some tools that can help you achieve your ONE Thing more systematically, easier, and more consistently.

Register here. Join me bright and early at 6:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time for wisdom that will change your life. (Applying The ONE Thing is changing mine).

By the way, we just released an update to Dave's Charm School - soft skills training that is a REQUIREMENT for any business. Sign-up by clicking the link below. We offer a 14 day free trial.


4 Hour Hire The Best Workshop at VISIONS 2018

Whether you have hundreds of applicants for your jobs, or none, you still have to make the right decision about whom to hire.

Learn how.

For the first time years, I (David Russell) will be teaching my popular Hire The Best system in-person, in a 4-hour workshop on February 21st prior to the popular VISIONS 2018 Conference in Glen Allen, Virginia.

We only have room for 22 people.  Your hiring questions will be answered. We will have time in this workshop to respond to plenty of specific questions.

Seats will go fast.

This is a unique opportunity to learn how "to get the right people on your bus," as Jim Collins said in his classic business book, Good to Great.

You will LEARN:

  • The entire HIRE the Best system, including...
  • How to RECRUIT in Good Times & Bad,
  • How to QUALIFY Dr. Jekyll from Mr. Hyde, and 
  • How to ENGAGE New Team Members in a Career.

Click here for the event brochure, or register below.

Do you have specific questions about hiring? Do you need to work through some interview scenarios or another common hiring challenge? Bring it to the workshop. We will give you answers and one or more options to try.

Get more information

Register Now!

Are there holes in your hiring system? Do you not have a formal hiring system at all?

Hiring haphazardly is too costly.  Join us to develop the framework and many of the key best practices for your new and improved hiring system in just 4 hours.

Learn proven methods to Hire the Best and get some new ideas about hiring that you never knew before.

See you in Glen Allen on February 21st!


Let me teach you about The ONE Thing

What's the opposite of stress?

I am leading four complimentary webinars to answer this question at 6:00 a.m. PST Mondays, February 5, 12, 26, and March 5.

Don't miss it. Register here.

The opposite of stress is feeling like you are in control, achieving objectives.

How do you do it? You only achieve control over your workload when you (1) choose to work on the right priorities, (2) make timely, difficult decisions, and (3) fully commit your schedule to complete the right priorities.

This webinar series will in-part be based on one of my favorite business books, The ONE Thing. It is written by Gary Keller, the founder of Keller-Williams Realty.

Part of our journey out of stress and into fulfillment is to ask ourselves Gary's premier question:

"What is the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"

Isn't 2018 time for a significant, positive change?

Reserve your seat now

Gary's ONE Thing approach is awesome, it is a great starting point for anyone interested in being more productive. I have some tools that can help you achieve your ONE Thing more systematically, easier, and more consistently.

The only way we move from stress and being stuck in bad habits is to make a commitment to do something different.

Here's your chance. Register here. Join me bright and early at 6:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time for wisdom that will change your life. (Applying The ONE Thing is changing mine.)


Avoid Using Broken Shovels

President Abraham Lincoln once commented, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

We regularly survey employees of Clients to assess the strength of an organization's culture and leadership systems. The survey has 50 statements. Participants are asked to agree, disagree, or label the statement "neutral" if they are ambivalent about it.

One negative answer used to surprise me, but no longer because the negativity in this area is surprisingly common.

The statement is, "My company provides me with everything I need to perform well."

Every question in our survey ideally should be answered as, "Agree" or "Strongly Agree." However, this statement is often assessed as, "Neutral," "Disagree," or "Strongly Disagree."

One critical responsibility of leaders is to give our people the tools they need to do their job. Great tools are necessary to work and compete effectively.

Therefore, prudent investment in high quality tools is just good sense. It is a requirement for your organization to thrive.

For instance, would you require someone to dig a ditch with a broken shovel?

No "broken shovels"

Of course not! No wise leader would demand a ditch be dug with broken shovels. It would be foolish or cruel, or a combination of both.

Does that mean you have to only buy the best? Not necessarily.

For instance, if you provide company cars to salespeople, should everyone be driving a Tesla?

No, unless your competitors are driving a Tesla and you cannot identify an alternative, lower-cost vehicle that reinforces the image that your organization offers the best value, expertise, and wisdom for your clients' needs.

Why should you worry about "broken shovels"?

Because most leaders assume their people have the tools they need to succeed, yet some or most of their employees disagree.

This disconnect is hurting your results.


It is time for a reality check. How can you know for certain that your employees have the tools they need to be their best?


In meetings with individual teams, simply ask the question:

"Are we providing you with everything you need to perform your best?"

Have the discussion as a group, because when you ask individuals they may not have the guts to tell you the truth. Also, discussing the issue with others means one person's comments may remind another person of a need they keep forgetting to mention, or have been afraid to share.

Giving your people the best tools achieves the following:

#1 - Communicates you care about them and value them as a member of your team. This demonstrates Sincere Gratitude, the third strand of 3strands LEADERSHIP.

#2 - Providing and maintaining the best possible tools for your team is part of Systematic Power, the second strand of 3strands LEADERSHIP.

#3 - Increases employee engagement, and results.

#4 - Increases employee retention.

#5 - Makes your company more attractive to top performers who consider making a career move to your organization.


The 4th and Final Secret is Sanctuary

On November 30th last year I explained how to define killer TARGETs that enable you to achieve more than ever.

Then on December 7th, you learned how to avoid unnecessary drama by defining clear expectations.

On December 14th, I shared the secret of having employees define a business plan for their success - employee strategic plans.

But I promised 4 secrets to make 2018 INCREDIBLE.

Sanctuary is a combination of mental retreat, strategic planning, and self-accountability so you stay on track to achieve your best, not just something good... or "okay."

1 Degree off-course means missing your destination

Dozens of websites explain that if you are heading off into the sunset, pursuing your dreams, yet are just off-course by only one degree, then you are in deep trouble.

After you move one foot, you will miss your target by 0.2 inches.

Not a big deal, right? But you keep moving...

After 100 yards, you are now off-course by about 5.2 feet.

Just a few steps off, but more noticeable.

After a mile, you are off by about 92.2 feet - over 30 yards.

Most of us have to travel thousands of miles to reach significance.

Let's first consider a common trip: Racing from San Francisco down to Los Angeles is about a 400 mile trip. 1 Degree off-course means you will miss the address you are trying to reach by about 6 miles.

Are you getting the picture? Staying on track is more important than speed. Focus is more important than multitasking.

Here's one more: If you fly from San Francisco to the White House in Washington, D.C. to complain to the President, but are 1 degree off-course, then you arrive on the other side of Baltimore, Maryland, about 42.6 miles away the President's security team waiting to meet you at the front door of the White House.

So how do you stay on-course?


Lee Iaccoca led an effort that saved Chrysler Corporation from bankruptcy decades ago. One of the leadership disciplines he credited for helping achieve that success was every Sunday evening he would separate himself from the family to spend two hours in his study.

He was alone. No interruptions. No email. He held himself accountable. Being inspired by Iacocca, at the end of each hunting season (week) we should do a simple three-step accountability process:

I. Score: Did I accomplish my weekly WIN this past week? (See WIN below.)

II. Help: Where do I need help, or to make adjustments to stay on track? This can be tasks, people, resources…

III. Hunt: What should be my key objectives ("WIN") for the upcoming week?

Achieving TARGETs is primarily a function of (1) Focus; and (2) Time management. Therefore the best thing you can do is to have a weekly time to focus yourself.  I call this time, Sanctuary, because it is without interruptions. (You have to make it that way.)

There can be daily and weekly times of Sanctuary. (More on this is below.)

Do NOT open your email, instant messenger, or other communication program. Turn your cell phone face down to avoid texts. Do not answer the phone. Eliminate all distractions.

Sanctuary is a reality check of each weekly hunting cycle as you strive to hit your TARGETs.

If you are on a multi-day, or week hunt it is an expedition. Sanctuary time is crucial for you to pull out your “map” and confirm you are on track to your destination. Being “off track” focusing on less important activities is deadly to your mission.

Here are some example agendas for Sanctuary time:

Daily Sanctuary / Evening

(5-15 minutes)

  1. Self-accountability for the day. How well was each task and activity completed in my plan and schedule?
  2. Review schedule with key objectives defined for the next day.
  3. Have a reality check.
  4. Make adjustments as needed.

Weekly Sanctuary

(15-120 minutes)

Self-accountability for the week

  1. Success Rate: How well was each task and activity completed in my plan and schedule?
  2. Score: Consider my score for the week of Complete versus Incomplete tasks and activities. Learned from the result, then apply what I have learned as I continue with my accountability exercises and planning for the upcoming week.
  3. My TARGETs: What needs to be in my calendar this upcoming week so that I am on track for all of my TARGETs?
  4. My Team’s TARGETs: Review the TARGETs and/or strategic plan of each direct report. Email follow-up, add to the agenda for our upcoming meeting, and/or add to my schedule for the upcoming week anything I need to do to help them achieve their TARGETs. (ADVICE: I do not have to review our Company TARGETs because they are all covered in the Leadership Team’s SP’s, however, based on my review, I may need to update some Company TARGETs as Complete, or note activity.)
  5. Expectations: Is there anyone on my team who might think I am not meeting their expectations? Is anyone on my team failing to meet my expectations? (Define tasks/activities to take action to correct, or discuss, and then take action to correct. Schedule actions in my calendar.)
  6. Cornerstones: Where did I provide clear examples of how to live out our company culture cornerstones? Where did I fail? When did I encourage someone else to demonstrate our cornerstones? (If necessary, move this to a daily check to more fully immerse myself and my team in the strengths of our culture.)
  7. 10X-100X ROI: Recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I need to spend my time doing what will grow our team / organization 10x-100X. Where did I waste time last week by not focusing on activities that have the highest return? What needs to change in the upcoming week for me to better play to strengths and eliminate weaknesses in how I am spending my time? (Define it. Calendar the activities.) Plan my schedule for the upcoming week...
  8. Review my current schedule with key objectives defined for the upcoming week.
  9. Have a reality check. Can I actually get all of this done? Do I have a healthy balance of family time and exercise? Is there anything else I can delegate? Have I forgotten anything that needs my follow-up for accountability?
  10. Make adjustments as needed.

Download my free TARGETs guide. A full explanation of Sanctuary time starts on page 14. (Part of this guide is above, but there is a lot more.)

I waited until this week to share the 4th secret, a change of plans, to hopefully avoid missing people who were on various vacations.

Our Certified LEADER launches this afternoon. It is technically full, but we can squeeze 1-2 more people in if you are interested. Learn more here.


The value of a smile at Christmas

The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends.

Dale Carnegie decades ago wrote about the value of a smile at Christmas.

Let's consider Mr. Carnegie's wisdom as our holiday brings many of us our deepest lows, as well as some of our warmest moments.

The Value of a Smile at Christmas

It costs nothing, but creates much.

It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.

It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.

None are so rich they can get a long without it, and none are so poor but are richer for its benefits.

It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a business, and is the countersign of friends.

It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and Nature's best antidote for trouble.

Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody till it is given away.

And if in the last-minute rush of Christmas buying some of our salespeople should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours?

For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!

From Dale Carnegie's book: "How To Win Friends & Influence People," which will always be on one of my bookshelves.

May you and your people be blessed this holiday season, and in the year ahead.

Thank you for allowing me to share some thoughts with you!


Employee strategic plans

Job descriptions are dead because they are static documents that died on completion. Into the file folder they go... never to be seen again.

Instead, why not create a success plan for every team member?

Last week I explained how to avoid assumptions. The week before I shared secrets on how to better hit your TARGETs in 2018. Today is the 3rd of my 4 secrets to make next year, your best year.

Consider this statistic from the Gallup State of the American Workplace released in September 2014:

“Managers who focus on their employees’ strengths can practically

eliminate active disengagement

and double the average

of U.S. workers who are engaged...”

What percentage of your employees are fully engaged in pursuing a clear plan for success?

According to Tony Schwartz in The Harvard Business Review, over 100 studies conclude only 20% of your employees are fully engaged.

Kind of makes you want to puke, doesn't it?

My 4 secrets can help you turn the tide... You help them set meaningful TARGETs. You avoid assumption drama with clear Expectations.

Now let's get all of this into a strategic plan for each team member.

The Process is Simple

Here is a brief overview of the process to create and manage employee strategic plans ("SP"):

Download a complete sample employee strategic plan (Word | PDF)

#1 - Team members draft their strategic plan for success.

#2 - Meet to agree on the plan. Focus on meaningful win-win's.

#3 - Manage the plan weekly or biweekly. Stay on top of it.

#4 - Follow-up without fail.

#5 - Evolve the plan. Learn from mistakes; evolve as needed.

#6 - Celebrate accomplishments.

#7 - Renew commitment. Update plans annually.

Check out our sample plan above. Use the Word templates to create your own.

The information in the header and graphics on the first page are from our MANAGEtoWIN Talent Assessments.

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