Unlocking your power to lead worlds ahead

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5 Questions with an MVP: Ron Israel (former Pittsburgh Steeler)


Watch this quick video and learn how this MVP has charted his path post NFL –  Meet Ron Israel! Oh, how could I forget;  Ron played for Notre Dame as well. Notre Dame is the number one team in the country!Go Irish!




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Your Compass

by Patrick Parks

YOUR DREAMS serve as your personal compass

when you are your most uninhibited

when you have no fear

when you are not able to get in your own way

you fly, you move forward, you are triumphant

you are able to give completely

without a notion that winning is not possible

when you awaken

what makes you lose this gravitational pull to your greatness…

i know

i am going to tell you

if you ask

i will help you find your compass again


More than anything coaching is about a few things:

1. Insight (self-insight and the insight of others that support you in your journey that function as an accountability system )

2. clarity of vision

3. action planning / actionable intelligence

4. execution

5. course correction

6. refueling and resting

7. arriving at your destination

8. charting a new course (and starting again)

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Upon first meeting someone, people generally follow this line of questioning: What is your name? Where are you from? What do you do? ….When I answer that last question with “I am a leadership coach” most people’s next question is “what exactly is that?”

Many people have heard of an executive coach or leadership coach but have never met one in the flesh. I liken the look on people’s faces when I tell them my profession to that of a person that has just seen a unicorn. Still, the question remains “What exactly is a leadership coach?” Well, the answer to that question is both simple and complex all at once. Put simply, a leadership coach is a person that coaches people on being a better leader. Ground breaking definition it is not but that is the simple answer.

The more convoluted answer is in how the individual coach approaches that objective of making the person a better leader. Most often, the best leadership coaches have a strong understanding of behavior. Therefore, someone trained in psychology is best suited for this role. However, experience in leadership roles can definitely augment and sometimes take the place of that academic training. But just because a person was a top performer doesn’t make them a good leadership coach. Leadership involves enlisting and enrolling others to accomplish a goal or set of objectives not just enlisting one’s own skills and capabilities. Similarly, if a person can’t tell you why or how they were effective then its not likely they can tell you why  you are or are not effective. Still, what maketh a great leadership coach is as variable as the answer to the question of what maketh a great leader — it depends. But once you have found a coach you feel you can trust and that demonstrates a deep understanding of behavior, the next step is defining why you need a coach?

There is no one reason why people get a coach? Similarly, the types of coaches  (leadership, executive, business, life, relationship/marriage, etc.) create more specificity and directional focus on the answer to this question. Still, if you desire coaching as it relates to your job or career, here are just a few reasons why a person might get a coach?

  • My boss tells me I have untapped potential but he or she has given me little to no guidance on just what that means.
  • I know I have barriers blocking me from doing better in my current role but I would like more guidance on codifying what those opportunity areas are.
  • For some reason, I cannot get past a certain role or level; I just can’t make director/partner/VP/SVP/CEO
  • I am in a leadership role and sense  that I could be doing better if I had more understanding of how to create change in others.
  • I am a first time leader and know I need help.
  • I feel like I would be better starting my own company than working “here.”
  • I don’t know why my job is making me unhappy.
  • I don’t know what my passion is? Am I in the wrong career?
  • I want to make a cross-functional move but fear it could be career suicide.
  • Am I as good as my functional peers?
  • Am I as strong of a leader as I think I am?
  • My team is not delivering the results I know they can deliver – is it me, them, or both?
  • I am not leading my life in the way I want to?

Most importantly, I advocate people getting coaches if they a) want to gain better awareness as to why they are not creating the impact they want, and b) most importantly if you actually are willing to change to get to your desired result or destination. In short, do not seek coaching if you are not open to change. Because what I know for sure is that if after answering the questions “What do you do?” and  “What is a leadership coach,” and the person’s next question is “do you think you can help me?;” I think the person asking me that last question is already halfway there on their way to the results they desire.

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FALLING FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF SOUND: Three Simple Ways to Find Your Inner Felix Baumgartner

If you were anywhere but under a rock this morning, you have heard about Felix Baumgartner. If you haven’t heard about or seen Felix yet on the news, well, you will as soon as you turn on your television. Felix just set a world record. The Red Bull YouTube channel reports:

“After flying to an altitude of 39,045 meters (128,100 feet) in a helium-filled balloon, Felix Baumgartner completed a record-breaking jump for the ages from the edge of space, exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket-powered airplane. Felix reached a maximum of speed of 1,342.8 km/h (833mph) through the near vacuum of the stratosphere before being slowed by the atmosphere later during his 4:20minute long freefall. The 43-year-old Austrian skydiving expert also broke two other world records (highest freefall, highest manned balloon flight), leaving the one for the longest freefall to project mentor Col. Joe Kittinger.”

No doubt RedBull and Felix will be able to capitalize off of this historic jump well until he drinks his last RedBull. But, I would like to use his jump and preparation therein as a metaphor for how any change we undertake requires these three things (at a minimum):

1. VISION: Where do you want to be? Where do you see yourself in “X” days/weeks/ months/years/decades from now? What is the vision you have for yourself? Have you written your vision and made it plain?

2. A PLAN: How have you prepared yourself and what is your plan? Is there a plan B? Plan C? What will you do if something comes up that you did not predict? Have you prepared yourself to handle unforeseen obstacles or unforeseen reward?

3. SUPPORT: “I will be there to catch you when you fall.”  You need others to hold you accountable to your goals along the way. Just as much as you need others to be there when you fall to help you get back up. Further, and maybe the less obvious support you need, is your own personal parachute. How can you create reinforcing systems within yourself to make sure you are not only staying on course but to know how to recover when the “crazy spin” of life happens to find a smooth patch of air before reaching your destination. You will need self-correcting systems. Such systems could include journaling, making video diaries, meditating, and any other form of reflexive activity that you can use to track the ebbs and flows of your journey. Comparing and contrasting your progress overtime will no doubt help you course correct quicker than if you weren’t looking for patterns and trends in your own behavior.

So where is my inner Felix? Well, I often tell people about a time when I was interviewing for a job in 2007. I knew one of the big requirements of the job would include weekly travel on a plane, and I was literally petrified to fly. So much so, that while I was at Harvard in grad school I would take the bus 36 hours to Memphis, TN — my hometown — to avoid getting on a plane during our holiday breaks. Even still, I interviewed for  the job and received an offer. However, I did not reply back immediately. I prayed. I called a few friends (and maybe even my mother if I am honest). I had to think to myself: “This is a dream job…am I going to let my fear (of flying) stand in the way of saying yes.” Needless to say, I took the job. It changed the trajectory of my life. And now, I have been an Executive Platinum or Platinum frequent flyer on American Airlines since 2007. I have reached that status so many times consecutively that the airlines invited me to their “George Clooney” conceirge key club. And like clock-work,  if I have not already met the agent that meets me when I get off the plane to shuttle me to my connecting flights on their golf  cart he or she will say “You are Mr. Parks? I was looking for someone much older.”

I guess that’s evidence that I am setting my own records. Though it’s not quite in Felix’s rarified air just yet, I can see my inner Felix shining through each and every time I take flight.

Watch Felix Baumgartner’s historic fall and get inspiration to chart your dreams today.