Leadership Gift Giving

This is the time of year when many people think about gift giving. Whether you celebrate Christmas or simply year end, gift giving is factored into the equation.

As I reflect on the phenomenon of giving gifts, I am struck with several key aspects of why one gives a gift.

First and foremost, people give a gift to someone out of love and adoration. Whether the receiver is a spouse, parent, child or grandchild, giving that special someone a unique gift sends a message of respect, caring, and love.

The idea of finding something new is part of the excitement. The latest gadget or the newest style can be part of the meaning of bestowing a gift on someone.

Sometimes we give gifts to fill gaps for people. If you realize someone is missing something in their life whether by choice or by chance, you decide to give them a  gift to fill that gap. Again, much of the motivation for doing so is about respect and affection.

Then there are the wrong reasons for giving gifts. Ideas like guilt, shame, or materialism are on my list of bad reasons to give a gift. While the occasional “I am sorry” gift is appropriate, you should never feel obliged to give a gift to buy back someone’s favor. Or the proverbial “let’s keep up with the Jones’” gift is really bad too.

Giving a gift to win affection or respect is also a bad idea. If the other person is swayed by such an offering, do you really want them as a friend or associate?

As Leaders, what should you think about giving? On one hand, there are reasons you have to be mindful of the messages you send to colleagues, peers and associates when giving gifts. A gift that is a little too personal for the associate of the opposite sex can send a very wrong message. Gifts given as jokes also can be awkward to explain or defend.

However, just as with gifts given to loved ones, any gift a leader chooses to give someone in their circle carries weight. It can convey a genuine message of appreciation for a job well done. Or perhaps acknowledgement of the role that person has played in making something special happen at work.

It is interesting that the best gift ever still involves time; the giving of one’s self to another. General “Mad Dog” Mattis, the newly appointed nominee for Secretary of Defense is famous for many things. But one very unassuming trait that has been reported by several sources describes a Christmas Day when someone called onto the base and asked for the Officer of the Day (OD). The OD role is traditionally rotated among junior officers. The caller asked “Who is the OD?”. The person answering the call said “Gen. Mattis”. The caller said “No, he’s the base Commander.” The other person said, “No, he’s the OD today. He sent the Lieutenant home to spend time with his family. Mattis is here right now. He’s the OD.”

Here’s a senior executive who decided to give of himself to let a junior officer spend a cherished holiday with family when that Lieutenant otherwise would have drawn “the short straw” to be OD on Christmas Day.

[reminder]When was the last time you gave that kind of time to your subordinates? Or to your own family?[/reminder]

Think about gift giving. Maybe there is one more gift you need to arrange before Christmas or year end comes.

PS –  It’s been a great year here at DougThorpe.com. I am grateful to the thousands who have subscribed to this blog and followed my messages. Please accept my humble wishes for you and yours to have a blessed and Merry Christmas. If you do not celebrate Christmas, may you be blessed too as 2016 winds down and we wait for the New Year.


8 Tips For Productive Offsites

Many organizations have now entered the fourth quarter, the home stretch. But it is also time to begin hard planning for 2017 – and that makes it offsite season.

Here are a few tips to help your meetings be most productive.

  1. Have the offsite “offsite.” This seems obvious, but it is worth pointing out that getting away from the office is necessary to get out of the day-to-day mindset. Offsite meetings held in the office, or in close proximity to the office, encourage interruptions and make it too tempting to run there during lunch or other breaks.
  2. Turn off all phones and computers. No exceptions. Consider what is most important. It better be the future of the company, which is the point of the meeting.
  3. Don’t place brainstorming and planning sessions back-to-back on the agenda. The human mind finds it difficult to switch between the creativity of brainstorming and the structure of planning mode quickly. Scheduling such sessions back-to-back mean your executive team will not be able to perform at their best. A great way to avoid this is to hold the offsite over two consecutive days. The first day should be reserved for brainstorming, and the second day for planning. If the meeting group is small or the brainstorming agenda is short, start the offsite at noon on the first day, take a break overnight, and start again with the planning part of the agenda first thing the next morning.
  4. Open the meeting with an icebreaker that steps directly into the first item on the agenda. An icebreaker is great for loosening up the meeting attendees and getting everyone active. Very important. But it doesn’t have to be limited to this.
  5. “Biggest bang for the buck” is not strategic. If during the brainstorming sessions the team discussions focus on selecting the most ideas, the executives are thinking too small. Brainstorming should result in the best choices, not the most. “Biggest bang for the buck” planning is only maintenance.
  6. Break into workgroups to avoid groupthink. Groups naturally work toward conformance (see The Abilene Paradox). Separating the team into smaller groups for evaluation or discussion will result in more ideas to put on the table for the entire group to work with.
  7. Close the brainstorming day with decision-making. Bringing the team to clear conclusions keeps the team in alignment after a day of creative ideas. It is likely the executive team will not be able to come to decisions on all ideas, but this puts a good stake in the ground. Click here for a collaborative exercise that might be useful to conclude the first day.
  8. Hire a third-party facilitator – regardless of your own, or available internal facilitation skills. An internal facilitator already has knowledge and relationships with the executive team members, inserting politics and limiting the degree of openness. Consider a situation where the CEO is running the meeting. The executives will be able to “read” the CEO based on their prior interactions and will be less likely to push back on things he feels strongly about. A third-party facilitator has the ability to provoke more difficult topics or force issues to agreement, since they have no working relationship to be concerned about following the meeting.

Why Limiting Thoughts Are More Lame Than James Franco

James Franco

In my experience, one of the most dangerous types of thought is the limiting thought. You know it, the little negative seed of an idea that gets planted in the brain and keeps great things from happening. Limiting thoughts are lame thoughts; ok perhaps not as lame as James Franco, but still pretty lame.


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Here’s a Simple Test to Determine Your Career Satisfaction

Being satisfied with your current career choice is vital to your own success. Your sense of balance for work, life, and faith can hinge upon the level with which you find your job satisfying.

Far too many people live the grind; going to work at a job that has no excitement, incentive, or sense of fulfillment. Regardless of how you landed in your current gig, the routine may have taken its toll.

People who feel called to their careers are likely to find their work deeply meaningful, he says. Their personal connection with the job makes even the most trivial tasks feel significant. Often the experience of a calling comes with social benefits as well.

“It’s not just that you do the same work, but you’re the same kind of people,” says Stuart Bunderson, PhD, a professor of organizational behavior at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. “It gives you a connection to a community.”

SHRM.org offers an annual job satisfaction survey that presents interesting findings every year. You can access the 2016 report here. For 2016, overall, job satisfaction is up, but not among the millennials.

If you are feeling the early warning signs that you need to make a change, don’t jump too fast. Before you waste any time searching for a new gig, here’s a little tool I am offering you FREE to help you decide where you are with job satisfaction.





Maybe your career is the right thing to be doing, but you are worried you are doing it at the wrong company or with the wrong team.

Finding satisfaction can be hard. We all feel fulfilled and rewarded at different levels and for many different reasons.

Use this handy survey to make your own assessment of where you stand with your current job and career.

Need to Begin a Search?

If your results are on the low end of the scale, you should begin to search for a better opportunity. I also offer a free 6 step guide for organizing and planning a career change. My program is called STRIVE. It has been used by over 4,500 clients since 2008. In this six step guide you can prepare your own priorities for your purpose, your past accomplishments, and your best targets for making the change.





If, on the other hand, your results are on the high end of the scale, CONGRATULATIONS! You have surpassed over 50% of the population who think they need to make a change.

Planning Ahead

Now is the time of year when you should start thinking about your plans for next year. If you haven’t heard about one of the best sources for personal planning and setting high goals, visit Michael Hyatt’s work. He is offering his preeminent product “Best Year Ever”. Right now you can download a free eBook that gives you tips and tricks from 30 of the greatest business and personal development thought leaders.

Some of the contributors include Tony Robbins, John Maxwell, Dave Ramsey, Andy Andrews, Jeff Walker, Marie Forleo, Amy Porterfield, Lysa TerKeurst, Andy Stanley, Chalene Johnson, Lewis Howes, (and many others). Download everything here:

[button href=”http://bestyearever.me/a18419/2017ebook” primary=”true” centered=”true” newwindow=”false”]Download Here[/button]


[reminder]What are your thoughts about your current situation?[/reminder]

Having Intentions Vs Living Intentionally: What’s the Difference?

There is a big difference between having intentions and living intentionally. Our intentions are our thoughts about what we should and shouldn’t be doing. Some think about it as choices.

We are faced with dozens of choices every day — some little, some big; from whether to choose a salad or a chocolate sundae for lunch to what job we take, our world today is full of options.


On the other hand, living intentionally requires action. Your good thought is meaningless without action. Once your thoughts get put into action, then you can become intentional.

The thing is, sometimes it’s much easier to just go with the flow and not think about those options and the required action.

What is an Intention?

TheFreeDictionary.com defines intention as

a course of action that one intends to follow, an aim that guides action, an objective.

Merriam-Webster.com defines intention as a determination to act in a certain way.

As shared in “When your Relationships are Good, your Life is Good”, an intention is a clear and positive statement of an outcome you want to experience.  An intention is a goal, or vision, that guides your activities, thoughts, attitudes, and choices.   Hence, your intentions influence your actual experiences.

You can set an intention in any area of your life- physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.  Although intentions start with a mental picture of your goal, intentions require focus, action, and positive energy to manifest.

Having Intentions; Good or Otherwise

Many fathers have stood in the doorway to their homes as a young man approaches planning to pick up their daughter for a dance or a date. The Dad usually works into the conversation “what are your intentions young man”? That may sound a little dated phraseology, but its meaning is clear. The Dad is saying tell me what you are thinking about doing even before the evening has begun.

Our active minds can conjure thoughts of very good intentions like:

  • I’m going to lose weight
  • I’m going to spend less or save more
  • I’m going to get that promotion
  • I’m going to marry him/her

Why are Intentions Important?

Intentions provide a framework for you to set priorities, use your time wisely, and align yourself with the resources you need to manifest your goals.   The process of setting and working towards your intentions declares to yourself, others, and the universe that you are serious about your dreams and goals.

A strong, positive, and energized intention is likely to repel that which is not in alignment with it.  The opposite is also true.  A strong, positive, and energized intention will attract the essence of what it is.

Having good intentions is a far cry from living intentionally. As the sage wisdom tells us “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. This sentiment makes it clear that having good ideas, or well meaning ones will not be worth anything without action. This is where intentional living kicks in.

Living Intentionally

Living intentionally is about doing the things that are important to you even when they’re not easy. It is about solid choices consistent with your vision about where you want to go.

Too many people get lulled into routines and habits that never produce the outcome they dreamed about. Instead of intentional living, they drift.

In the best selling book “Living Forward“, Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy describe the need to stop drifting through life. They ask the question are we drifting through life as spectators, reacting to our circumstances when necessary and wondering just how we got to this point anyway? Or are we directing it, maximizing the joy and potential of every day, living with a purpose or mission in mind?

They describe three stages of the transformational change that can occur when one decides to live an intentional life; drift, shift, and lift. I’ve added a fourth segment; gift. As you decide to stop drifting and move to intentional living, you ultimately become a gift to those around you and the communities where you live.

When you apply these four stages of growing toward intentional living, you can see the differences in each of the three key areas of work, life, and faith.

Intentional Leadership

If you are in any position of leadership whether at work, at home, or in your community, you must be intentional. You know that, you feel that. Yet how often do you sense the drifting in your own actions? Are you just riding the wave? Or keeping it in cruise control?

Perhaps you have found your own ways to stay intentional with everything you do. Congratulations. But I am guessing that there are many of you out there who suffer from the occasional drift in your actions.

Let today be the day you decide to change. Forget yesterday and the opportunities lost. Today is a new day. Start fresh. Get your focus. Set your course. Remember, your good intentions need action.

There are way too many great plans and coaches available to help you plotting that course. There is no excuse. You can make a difference, right where you are, right now.

[reminder]How are you living and leading intentionally?[/reminder]

What Is “Slowly, Rarely or Never”?

Leadership, purpose

That’s the answer to the question “how do people change?”

There are plenty of situations in our lives and in the world around us when people want to talk about change. Whether it has to do with a red state/blue state matter, an economic trend, a market condition, or the price of something, change is all around us.

Leadership, purpose, meaningYet why is it that individually, people don’t really embrace change all that well. I mean it’s great for the other guy, right? However, when you ask me to change, how dare you!!!

Ah, we are creatures of such strange habits. I’ve spent many years encouraging managers and executives to make changes in their own lives, so that the lives of the people around them can be enriched. Highly successful people still need to make certain shifts, hopefully for the greater good.

There is a great principle shared by John Maxwell. Maxwell says:

Success adds value to you, while significance adds values to others.

When he founded the The Halftime Institute, Bob Buford challenged business leaders to think about moving from success to significance. For many people, the early years of their career is about achieving some level of success; bigger bank accounts, better job title, fame, reputation, notoriety, etc. Eventually there is a realization that what is really desired is significance. The higher levels of success do not fulfill a deeper sense of calling and purpose.

The quest to find significance can be summed up in three simple questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • Where am I going?

Leadership, purposeMaking the transition from success to significance may be the toughest change of all for most people. Which, brings me back to the opening statement. How do people change?

Slowly, Rarely, or Never.

If you are a regular reader of my articles, you have embraced the concept of striving for personal change. You are seeking to learn more about being a better manager and business leader. You want to do more for your family, providing them with the right leadership. Or perhaps you want to grow as a leader in your community. Simply, you want to be a better YOU.

Beginning the journey to move from success to significance will be a life changing experience. That I can promise. For every client of mine who has committed to taking the first step in that journey, the rewards have always exceeded the wildest expectations.

I invite you to join me in some upcoming webinars I will be hosting. The sessions will be free. I will introduce you to some irrefutable laws of leadership that will propel you to new heights of inspiration and understanding about becoming that leader with real significance; impacting others in great and wonderful ways.

Be on the watch for more information coming soon.

Leadership and Foundation Repairs

Not long ago, my neighbor had to have some foundation repairs done at his house. I live in an area of the Texas Gulf Coast where there is long term terrain subsidence. Foundations can shift and begin to crack without intervention.

business, entrepreneur, coaching, leadership

If you are not familiar with repairing a foundation, the crew will dig holes around the edges of the slab. The holes go as deep as it takes to hit bedrock. Then concrete piers are poured into the holes. Once the piers dry, shims are used to level the structure, returning the foundation to a true and level condition. Once the piers go in, there is very little movement. The foundation becomes strong and firm again.

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Managers – What Will You Be on Halloween?

This evening is Halloween; celebrated in many different ways.

Business executives, entrepreneurs

Of the many best loved traditions in America, the donning of costumes is at the top of the list. Many, many years ago, in times past, adults began dressing in elaborate costumes for Halloween parties, also known as Masquerade parties, long before it became an annual event for children. Dressing up in Halloween costumes is a recent tradition that developed in the twentieth century. The first store bought Halloween costumes were not available before the 1930’s.

With the holiday being very loosely based on old Celtic legends about the closeness between the mundane world and that of the spirits at this time of year and the Catholic Church’s celebration of their saints, it is no wonder that Halloween costumes have taken on a rather macabre appearance.

Witches, blood thirsty vampires, moaning ghosts, zombies, vicious werewolves and many other frightening monsters became the popular choices of trick or theaters every where. Thus the American idea of a creepy Halloween was born. Dressing in costumes gives one the opportunity to “let their hair down” and be someone else for a while, all in good fun of course.

When you are in a leadership role, do you dress up for the occasion? Is there a mask you like to wear? Or perhaps there are several “costumes” you choose depending upon the circumstance.

business executives, entrepreneurs

In leadership it can be very easy to revert to alter-egos, whether good or bad. Let’s roll this altogether and call it wearing a mask.

Do you ever wear a mask at work? I don’t mean the silly kind you buy at a Halloween store. I mean the face we put on when things aren’t working as they should or you have been “found out”. Masking can be a convenient way to dodge ever having to fess up to something or admit a short coming.

Dealing With Feelings

On one hand, we are taught not to complain, right? If things aren’t going well, we need to show strength and courage. People ask “How are you doing?” and we respond “Fine, thank you.” Yet you’re NOT! Now, obviously, we don’t let the folks who report to us get inundated with our “stuff”, but there are times when being real with our team is more important than masking over it.

Taking off the mask with those around us allows us to build trust and credibility. Being real doesn’t mean you have to be like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, constantly looking at life like the glass is half empty. However, you can share honest reality of what may be going on.

Now, when the big boss is raining on your head, bringing heat and pressure to perform better, it is wise to NOT simply pass down the heat. Instead, you need to be the buffer for your team, fading the heat from above. You still need to distill the message so that your team understands the new expectations. You can do that without masking.

Fear and Doubt

Fear and doubt causes some to put on a mask. If you are suffering from any doubt about your ability to manage your team, you may expose yourself in various ways. There’s the nervous laugh when others get too close to the truth. Or the dodging of questions when you truly don’t know the answer.

Masking over fear and doubt only serves to perpetuate the problem. Instead, take a proactive approach. Identify the exact reasons you feel this doubt. If it is about knowledge, go get the training you need. Sometimes simply asking to be mentored by someone in your field, outside the company can fill the knowledge gap.

It’s Tiring to Pretend

Wearing masks at work is exhausting. Fake it ’til you make it can only last so long. Maintaining a false persona takes incredible energy; energy that could be spent on far more positive efforts. Give yourself a break and remove the mask.

Deal with any root causes of the need to have a mask. Masking is only a symptom of a much deeper cause. Fix that and eliminate the need to mask.

entrepreneurs, business executives

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

Brian Tracy has been quoted as saying:

“No one lives long enough to learn everything they need to learn starting from scratch. To be successful, we absolutely, positively have to find people who have already paid the price to learn the things that we need to learn to achieve our goals.”

You need coaching and mentorship to grow. Many companies are providing leadership development programs for their rising stars. There are services available, provided by trained and certified coaches to help you grow your leadership skills. Go to the web and check out a workshop or lunch-and-learn near you.

What is your favorite mask to wear at work? Why not take it off permanently? Let your people see the real you. I promise you’ll be happier for it.

Still Use a Desktop PC?

Here are all the reasons why a hacked PC can be a juicy target for hackers.

As a bit of public service, I want to share this post. In light of the big hack last week attacking “the Internet of Things”, we are all reminded about the need for better data security. If you think investing in at-home PC protection services is not necessary, think again.

hacked PC


Read more here.


Also, you may want to consider a master data backup plan for all those family photos and documents you keep on home computers. Visit my affiliate partners at Carbonite for effective and low cost ways to secure your precious data.

Finding Purpose: Know Your Swim Lane

life purpose

Competitive swimmers must stay in a prescribed lane during the race. It’s actually a violation to get out of your lane.

life purpose

Business professionals occasionally have a hard time defining their lane and staying in it. This often happens when an individual is asked to step into a supervisory or management role. Several things might occur:

  • They embrace the promotion and adequately shift gears (change lanes) to work on becoming a good manager.
  • They take the role, but stay in their old lane, trying to still be a contributing worker when the real need is for team supervision.

I was talking with a new contact who was relaying his job history. He shared the fact that at one point he had been promoted into management. That chapter of his career did not end well. He reverted to sole contributor mode and became a very successful professional, outside of any supervisory duties. He said he loved being his own boss again (although he has a real boss). The fact was, he hated being a manager. It was not his “thing”.

The root of this phenomenon has to do with passion and purpose. Finding your lane and staying in it is about seizing an understanding of your purpose.

We’re all wired differently. The strengths we have help to define our purpose. When you accurately identify your strengths, and follow the pursuit for using those strengths, things get easier. Your purpose emerges and you can see a better definition of your own, personal swim lane for life.

When we attempt to operate with our weaknesses, life seems hard. Conflict is everywhere. Our energy levels are low. We get tired and frustrated far too often. Our purpose seems muddled and unclear.

Reverting to our strengths gives us energy. You seldom get tired of operating inside your set of strengths.

Using my new friend’s example, being a supervisor was not his strength. He hated it because he just didn’t want to deal with the people and their perceived problems all day. He felt far more comfortable, no energized, doing his own work, growing his book of clients, and making a difference for his company as a sole contributor.

Finding your swim lane means finding your purpose.

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe” text=”As you live life on purpose, you make better, more meaningful contributions.”]As you live life on purpose, you make better, more meaningful contributions to your work, your family, and your community.[/shareable]

[reminder]If you need help finding your swim lane, write me here.[/reminder]