What is Hidden Beneath the Surface?


The year was 1931 - the height of the Depression era in the United States.
In East Texas lived a man named F.K. Lathrop. Like many people at the time, Mr. Lathrop was a common laborer struggling to stretch his meager weekly paycheck to provide for his family's needs.
He worked at the local plow company earning a very small income. The ground underneath his feet was dry and hard - so hard he had trouble even drilling for water. But one ordinary day, an attempt to drill revealed more than just H2O flowing beneath this man's homestead. Rather than just finding water to drink and temporarily satisfy his family's thirst, Mr. Lathrop found a secret that would ensure that his family would be provided for indefinitely. Hidden deep beneath the rocky soil - was crude oil!

Soon, it was cranking out an astonishing 30,000-40,000 barrels each day. Mr. Lathrop promptly sold the well for $3.5 million dollars, marched into his job and quit. No longer did he have to squeak out a living. He was swimming in the oil!

I find this Texas farmer's tale fascinating. For years, he'd lived without knowing the secret his land was hiding - he was the richest poor man in Texas! It wasn't until he drilled down deep that he discovered the liquid gold beneath the earth's crust. Although he lived as a struggling laborer, he was, in fact, a millionaire! However, he was not able to live as a well-to-do mogul until he knew the truth of his situation and tapped into his wealth.

This story makes me ask, what is hiding beneath the surface for us? What value have we not surfaced for ourselves?  What talent have we not revealed?  What talent is hidden in the people who work in our organization?  What has not been recognized or utilized that would not only make our organizations a better place to work, but where we could all benefit?  These questions are worth spending some time considering. 
At this time of year, most of us start to build development plans for ourselves and our employees.  Try adding a few simple questions to reveal what is hidden beneath the surface for ourselves and others we lead. 

  • What are you doing when you completely lose track of time in a good way?

  • Do you sense there is something more you could do?

  • Who inspires you?

  • When do you feel your best inside and outside of work?

  • If there was one thing that you wish you could bring to your work that you haven’t, what would that be?

  • What’s the best job you’ve ever had? What made it so rewarding?

  • What jobs exist in the organization that might be just as rewarding?

Stay curious–don’t take the responses at face value. Keep the dialogue alive.  
Ask follow up questions like:

  • What does that mean?

  • What would that look like?

  • What is stopping you (or me)?

  • What barriers need to be removed?

Sometimes our most talented employees are hidden in plain sight! Sometimes our own talents are hidden in plain sight.  We might get lucky and find them, like F. K. Lathrop, but most of the time we could be missing out by simply not asking the right questions! 


More Than the Usual Goal Setting

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Beginning a new year is such a hopeful time. Whether we break out an unblemished calendar or merely scroll over to the month of January on our smart phones, there’s the sense of being given a fresh start every January 1st. 

We often write goals for the coming year in anticipation of accomplishing great things.  Most of us write goals for the work we want to accomplish and we align them with our department and company goals. 

However, do we write goals that help us professionally improve in our careers, or work better with others, or improve our skills in areas of emotional intelligence or communication?  That type of goal usually gets put on the back burner, or if we do write one as a professional development goal, it is written in a way that is very tactical.  “Take a course in Excel”, for example. 

Do you want to make 2018 the best and most successful year of your life?  Then think about writing your goals more holistically.  These tips are very practical and easy to do, and they will be greatly beneficial to your success.

To write goals holistically, make a list of areas that you want to improve in.  If you set one or two goals in each of them, you’re bound to see a ripple effect in every area.  These could be things like:

A bad habit I want to break.

A new skill I want to learn in order to…..

A person I want to be more like.

A good deed I would like to do.

A place I need to see/be.

A relationship that I want to improve.

A connection I want to make.

A good habit I want to strengthen.

A collaboration that would make both benefit both parties.

A heathy habit I want to create.

When you determine where you want to improve, ask yourself this question…  “Where do I want to be in 12 months?” 

Write down your goals for the areas you want to change and then look at the goals that you have written down. Think to yourself, “If I could wave a magic wand, which one goal would have the greatest impact on my life.”  Do this as you move through the goals you have written and you will get a priority order of which areas to focus on most/first. 

Break them down further into actions and tasks.  Start each day by completing one action or task first thing in the morning. This is one of the great psychological tricks of success…   Get that great feeling of checking something important off the list and it will set your day up for success. Do that every day for 3 weeks and you will develop the habit.

While it would be great to write and accomplish very lofty goals in the coming New Year, make sure that any goals you set are ones you can accomplish in twelve months. Instead of setting a huge goal that involves lots of steps, work on framing your goals as smaller goals that can be accomplished reasonably with some stretch.  Setting goals is a very positive step in the right direction, but setting too high of goals and not accomplishing them will have you feeling at worst like a failure and at best questioning why you bothered. 

So set those goals!  Set your goals more holistically.  Write them down and prioritize your goals.  Then work at accomplishing one actions or task each day.  All of this will take you a long way towards where you would like to be at the end of 2018 and bring value to you and to those around you, sending your career on a positive path forward! 


Leading with Gratitude is a Vital Skill for Successful Leaders


Adapted  and written by Pam Burgess

This time of year is often when we pause and think about what we are grateful for in our lives.  Gratitude sees what is right with the world and usually finds something meaningful in every situation. Being grateful not only enriches our lives with joy and appreciation for the present, but appreciating what we have and who we are today will enable us to see new opportunities moving forward.
How does Gratitude help us as Leaders?
Gratitude Taps into Potential
As a people leader, those who see others through the lens of gratitude will always see the untapped potential in people and inspire them to achieve what others think is impossible. Remember, where our attention goes, energy flows. 

Gratitude Leads To Opportunities
The doors to opportunities often open from unexpected sources. We have all experienced this. Showing appreciation draws the interest of those with whom we come in contact, and will attract other leaders who will help us become even more successful.

Gratitude Increases Trust
When we show others that we value their hard work and contributions, their trust in our leadership and direction increases.

Gratitude Helps Us Have Perspective
As we look at any business situation, we can easily get overwhelmed if we focus on just what’s not working. Fear and anxiety can set in and prevent us from thinking clearly. Gratitude is the antidote to fear and anxiety.  By focusing on “what’s working” we can create a vision for the business or ourselves that is grounded in “strengths”. Starting with an understanding of what’s working is a strong foundation upon which to grow and change. It will literally affect our attitude and the attitude of those around us.
Gratitude also keeps us from becoming self-absorbed; it sustains a focus on our purposes in life. Leaders can become absorbed in themselves and their problems; gratitude breaks this self-absorption.

Gratitude Builds Connections
When we focus on and express what’s good in others, it builds our connection to them. Others feel valued for their work and cared about as individuals. “Being valued” is a key driver of sustainable engagement. No single behavior more intuitively and reliably influences the quality of people’s energy than feeling valued and appreciated by their leader. Genuine words of gratefulness never fail to have an impact—both on the one who speaks them and the one who hears them. Remember -- gratitude is a gift to be given and received. 

Gratitude Creates Resilience
Facing our challenges with gratitude creates resilience to push forward to implement the vision we set for ourselves and meet our goals as leaders. Resilience is critical for leaders as they face the challenges of their work. And Grateful Leaders will tell you they appreciate what came from the experience.

▪ Gratitude Develops Success
Our success ultimately depends on collaboration with others. Having gratitude for those who help us become successful influences them to do more to help us and support our cause.


As Alfred North Whitehead said, “No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.” 

Learning Creativity and Innovation From Children


I read something recently that really resinated with me about how we can look at creativity and innovation in a way that we once could, but have learned to suppress.  As adult in the adult world, we can really benefit from the wisdom of children. 

When we approach children with the awareness that they can teach us, we automatically become more present ourselves. As grown-ups, we often approach children with ideas about what we can teach them about this life to which they have so recently arrived.  It’s true that we have important information to convey, but children are here to teach us just as much as we are here to teach them.  They are so new to the world and far less burdened with preconceived notions about the people situations and objects they encounter.  They do not avoid people on the basis of appearance nor do they regard shoes as having only one function.  They can be fascinated for half an hour with the pot and the lid, and they are utterly unself-conscious in their emotional expressions.  They live their lives fully immersed in the present moment, seeing everything with the open-mindedness born of unknowing.  This enables them to inhabit a state of spontaneity, curiosity, and pure excitement about the world that we as adults have a hard time accessing. 

Yet almost every time we need to change, envision, decide on, move forward with, something (in business and in life) it calls for us to rediscover this way of seeing. In this sense, children are truly our gurus. We need watch and learn to be more like we once were.

Personality Profiles:  How Do I Chose?

Personality Profiles:  How Do I Chose?

Written by our own Visionary, Cindy Morley

If you have ever conducted an internet search for personality profiles, chances are you were overwhelmed with all the choices.  Information on Myers Briggs, Social Styles Series, Social Styles, DISC, Insights, True Colors, and even assessments asking you to select your favorite tree or which character from Winnie the Pooh best describes you all “pop up” and scream for your attention on internet searches. 

How do you select which assessment to use?  Start by learning the basics of each instrument.

What are the basics?

Leaders, Are You Hitting The Right Note At Work?

This article by Heather Parks on the Lead,Live,Play website offers an interesting look at different leadership styles.  She uses music to help us connect with the different styles and shows once again how our right brain and the arts can add to our learning and make it easier to grasp and remember!

She also refers to being an Authentic Leader, which is exactly what Prequel Coaching and Development can help you better understand and embrace through our Leadership and Coaching products.  

Contact us today! 


Value of understanding work styles

Harvard Business Review promotes the value of understanding work styles in their March/April issue.  Understanding who we are and understanding others can change the game in communication, conflict, creating synergy, and in times of change. Explore your unique communication strengths, the strengths of others and strategies for effective communication and navigating conflict in our Communicating with Canvas workshop.  .

Engaging Participants in the Learning Process Using the Arts

(Written by our own Visionary,  Pam Burgess, for Training Industry, Inc)

How do we get more out of training our employees? What can we do to raise engagement? How do we make sure our employees are retaining more of what they’re learning?

Bottom line: How do we get more learning and, in turn, behavior change from our training dollars?

Interactive Training IS More Effective

Each of us prefers to learn in a different way, but one of the reasons that interactive and drama based training courses are so popular and effective is because they are likely to cover many, if not all learning styles. Conversely, a written presentation will cover only a few.