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My buddy sat across the table from me listening patiently, his head cocked to one side while making a few scribbles on his yellow pad as I talked.

A project I was working on had stalled, and I was in no small state of consternation about why it refused to find it’s higher gear.

Our coffee time was nearing its end and so at a lull in my droning, he asked a simple question.

“Do you think you might be making things too complicated?”

Nailed.  Again.  It was a question that I had heard before.

Those closest to me know its roots and its tenacious presence in my life and work.

We spent just a few minutes processing the what’s, how’s and why’s of this recurring gremlin in my leadership style.  It was enough to put fresh wind in my sails that a) it was not a fatal flaw though be it an recurring impediment, and b) I could once again, for the 685th time in my life, resume being intentional about keeping it’s salty habits away from my work.

Listening Beyond Your Brain

Sometimes just verbalizing these things empowers you to once again take thoughtful authority over them in your life.  As they say – the truth can set you free.

But all too many times we don’t communicate the truth to the person needing it the most.


Some truths we have difficulty hearing if they come from within our own minds.  We either minimize their nagging reminders, or we over-exaggerate their ominous threats.

And so in one way or another we ignore them – tuning them out of our days mental labors.

But that same truth from the mouth of someone who cares about you as a person, who can hold your story without judgement, and has demonstrated a sustained presence in your life – begins to have credibility.

Because it’s piercing edges have been lubricated by the oil of steadfast friendship.

Every business leader needs a few people with whom they can talk about business, life and their personal business life.  Afterall, personal challenges as well as business challenges do quite often show up together in the same places at the same times.

Career Transforming Conversations

These conversations must go beyond the personas, beyond the masks, and beyond the self-deprecating or self-aggrandizing superficialities of our business veneers.

It’s these kinds of conversations that speak objectivity, wisdom and encouragement into our lives through questions, observations, and feedback.  They are particularly useful to those personal realities with which we struggle.

Because it’s those areas – where we are unsighted, ungifted or just plain stuck – that we need others even if it’s only to provide an encouraging presence amidst the process of wrestling free from their achievement-draining holds.

Many things in business and life don’t change easily.  Some things in our lives may never change.  But most things in our lives can be managed if not transformed.  There can be major and minor steps forward through interventions and remedies that come from training, coaching, collaboration, practice, study or whatever.

But one thing is for sure.  Those areas are rarely remedied by our silent consternation in hunkered-down isolation.

We need community.

And within community we need a few people with whom we can unmask our business personas and delve into the true substance of our fears, uncertainties and doubts.

Because it’s in that small abundance of counsel, among people loyal to your existence, that we find the wisdom and courage to move ahead to live well, lead well, and do good work.

And that, my friends, is very much worth a cup of coffee.

Make Life Count