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Weekly Wisdoms Blog

Summer Hiatus

Dr. Foster Mobley // Wisdom Leading

Friends - The summer is a great time for me to slow down, reflect and renew energies. I'm choosing to take a hiatus from writing and sharing "Weekly Wisdoms" until Monday, September 15th. Thank you for the great encouragement and stories of how these simple messages touch your lives. My love and best wishes, Foster
Friends -

The summer is a great time for me to slow down, reflect and renew energies. I'm choosing to take a hiatus from writing and sharing "Weekly Wisdoms" until Monday, September 15th. Thank you for the great encouragement and stories of how these simple messages touch your lives.

My love and best wishes,

Foster

8.4.14 0
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Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter

Dr. Foster Mobley // History, Wisdom Leading

In the late ‘50's, folk legend Pete Seeger penned an important song of purpose and renewal based on the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, called "Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There is a Season)". The song's popularity skyrocketed in 1965 when the version covered by The Byrds went to #1 on the charts. If you are of a certain age, I'll bet even this reminder of the song brings a smile to your face. It does mine. It's an important message, rooted in the deepest wisdom from nature, reminding us that every act, and every season can, and does serve a valuable and needed purpose. Allow yourself a moment of grace from your multi-tasked life and consider wisdom from the seasons: · Spring-the season of possibility, creativity and hope; a time of renewed energy, to draw on the lessons and resources from the previous year to plant new ideas. · Summer-the season of growth in a fertile environment; the time for aggressive initiatives and energies. · Autumn-the season of quiet and reflection, whose gift is to allow us to look at our choices and be open to learning in a way that will show up in our actions of subsequent Springs and Summers. · Winter-the season of rest, renewal and recovery; the time of healing, restoration and deepening our roots in that which sustains us. "To everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven." Do you give yourself, and those around you, the important gift of the wisdom of the seasons?

In the late ‘50's, folk legend Pete Seeger penned an important song of purpose and renewal based on the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, called "Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There is a Season)". The song's popularity skyrocketed in 1965 when the version covered by The Byrds went to #1 on the charts. If you are of a certain age, I'll bet even this reminder of the song brings a smile to your face. It does mine.

It's an important message, rooted in the deepest wisdom from nature, reminding us that every act, and every season can, and does serve a valuable and needed purpose.

Allow yourself a moment of grace from your multi-tasked life and consider wisdom from the seasons:

· Spring-the season of possibility, creativity and hope; a time of renewed energy, to draw on the lessons and resources from the previous year to plant new ideas.

· Summer-the season of growth in a fertile environment; the time for aggressive initiatives and energies.

· Autumn-the season of quiet and reflection, whose gift is to allow us to look at our choices and be open to learning in a way that will show up in our actions of subsequent Springs and Summers.

· Winter-the season of rest, renewal and recovery; the time of healing, restoration and deepening our roots in that which sustains us.

"To everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven." Do you give yourself, and those around you, the important gift of the wisdom of the seasons?

7.15.14 0
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Cosmos and the Forgotten Power of Wonder

Dr. Foster Mobley // Education, History, Wisdom Leading

Were you one of the millions dazzled by the original Cosmos? Back in 1980, the late, great Carl Sagan took us on a journey through space and time, black holes and molecules. Recently, a marvelous reboot of Cosmos, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, reintroduced a new generation to the wonders of science, the universe...and wonder. Wonder. Awe. They're among the most primal, elevating human emotions. When we're kids, we have them in spades. We're easily stopped short by everything from a bloom of Fourth of July fireworks to a firefly in a jar. It's easy to take our breath away and make us stop and ask: Why? How? What if? School, adulthood and responsibility replace our wonder with a seen-it-all cynicism. Worse, in the Age of the Internet we think we really have seen it all. That does more than rob us of the capacity to be amazed and overjoyed by the humble. It shuts off our ability to live in the moment and to see the people around us in all their glory. Each of us is a form of magic. If we want to inspire each other to dream and create, perhaps part of our organizational strategy should be rekindling wonder. Go and binge-watch the new Cosmos on NetFlix. Better yet, go outside on a clear, moonless night and look at the stars. Really look. Be present, like a child. Ask "Why?" I think you'll find that wonder is still there, just beneath the surface, waiting to awaken. How do you cultivate wonder for your people?

Were you one of the millions dazzled by the original Cosmos? Back in 1980, the late, great Carl Sagan took us on a journey through space and time, black holes and molecules. Recently, a marvelous reboot of Cosmos, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, reintroduced a new generation to the wonders of science, the universe...and wonder.

Wonder. Awe. They're among the most primal, elevating human emotions. When we're kids, we have them in spades. We're easily stopped short by everything from a bloom of Fourth of July fireworks to a firefly in a jar. It's easy to take our breath away and make us stop and ask: Why? How? What if?

School, adulthood and responsibility replace our wonder with a seen-it-all cynicism. Worse, in the Age of the Internet we think we really have seen it all. That does more than rob us of the capacity to be amazed and overjoyed by the humble. It shuts off our ability to live in the moment and to see the people around us in all their glory. Each of us is a form of magic. If we want to inspire each other to dream and create, perhaps part of our organizational strategy should be rekindling wonder.

Go and binge-watch the new Cosmos on NetFlix. Better yet, go outside on a clear, moonless night and look at the stars. Really look. Be present, like a child. Ask "Why?" I think you'll find that wonder is still there, just beneath the surface, waiting to awaken.

How do you cultivate wonder for your people?

7.7.14 0
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Amazon’s Fire Phone and the Death of Connection

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Wisdom Leading

Recently, Amazon.com released a device that pundits are calling the "death of brick and mortar retail": the Fire Phone. Its owners will be able to scan any product's bar code, find the same product on Amazon (presumably for a lower price) and buy it on the spot, with same-day or next-day delivery. It's pretty amazing. Retailers are justifiably terrified for their businesses, and I find the Fire Phone disconcerting for a different reason. With it, people will be able to spend even less time in the public marketplace and more time at home in front of their devices, where we face little risk of being affected by people or situations. To me, that's a flaw, not a feature. We risk a critical loss of that rare commodity called connection. Connection is best cultivated in person, face-to-face, in those messy real-world meetings where we don't have the luxury of hanging up or unfriending. Connection creates a level of communication with empathy, which goes beyond just clarity. It's being on the same wavelength as another person, yielding a deep understanding of emotions, values, and what makes another human being tick. The serendipitous run-ins at the market or gas station, the shouted "Join us for a drink!" invitation from the sidewalk café nurture our souls, and feed our ability to listen and our tolerance for views different from our own. They free us from our cocoons. As leaders, inspiring our people means first connecting with them-understanding what motivates them, what they value, and how they view themselves. We can't do that from a distance, by email or social networking. We need to be in the marketplace. We're at our best, leader and led, when we're bouncing off one another and watching the sparks fly. How are you choosing to connect with the people in your life?

Recently, Amazon.com released a device that pundits are calling the "death of brick and mortar retail": the Fire Phone. Its owners will be able to scan any product's bar code, find the same product on Amazon (presumably for a lower price) and buy it on the spot, with same-day or next-day delivery. It's pretty amazing.

Retailers are justifiably terrified for their businesses, and I find the Fire Phone disconcerting for a different reason. With it, people will be able to spend even less time in the public marketplace and more time at home in front of their devices, where we face little risk of being affected by people or situations. To me, that's a flaw, not a feature. We risk a critical loss of that rare commodity called connection.

Connection is best cultivated in person, face-to-face, in those messy real-world meetings where we don't have the luxury of hanging up or unfriending. Connection creates a level of communication with empathy, which goes beyond just clarity. It's being on the same wavelength as another person, yielding a deep understanding of emotions, values, and what makes another human being tick. The serendipitous run-ins at the market or gas station, the shouted "Join us for a drink!" invitation from the sidewalk café nurture our souls, and feed our ability to listen and our tolerance for views different from our own. They free us from our cocoons.

As leaders, inspiring our people means first connecting with them-understanding what motivates them, what they value, and how they view themselves. We can't do that from a distance, by email or social networking. We need to be in the marketplace. We're at our best, leader and led, when we're bouncing off one another and watching the sparks fly.

How are you choosing to connect with the people in your life?  


6.30.14 0
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June 28th, 1914

Dr. Foster Mobley // History, Wisdom Leading

This year, Americans will commemorate the June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which sent much of the world into World War I. I'm not going to explore the geopolitical consequences of the Great War. Instead, I'll address the nature of conflict. One of the myths about the assassination is that it was the cause of the war. It wasn't. It was merely the match that lit the bonfire. Tensions between the Kaiser's Germany and the rest of Europe had been high since the turn of the century, with both sides jockeying for position and allies. The overt conflict may have kicked off in 1914, but the covert conflict simmered under the surface for years. Conflict between individuals, teams and departments is the same way. It can bubble quietly, unseen, for a long while before it breaks out in the form of heated argument or angry ultimatum. But all the while, it breeds resentments, robs us of our ability to be present, and blocks our streams. Conflict in an organization is nothing to fear; disagreement can be a source of vibrant, sustainable energy and air-clearing communication that shakes us free of complacency. But only when it's addressed and properly harnessed before it turns into war. In your organization, is conflict a source of tension or positive change?

This year, Americans will commemorate the June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which sent much of the world into World War I. I'm not going to explore the geopolitical consequences of the Great War. Instead, I'll address the nature of conflict.

One of the myths about the assassination is that it was the cause of the war. It wasn't. It was merely the match that lit the bonfire. Tensions between the Kaiser's Germany and the rest of Europe had been high since the turn of the century, with both sides jockeying for position and allies. The overt conflict may have kicked off in 1914, but the covert conflict simmered under the surface for years.

Conflict between individuals, teams and departments is the same way. It can bubble quietly, unseen, for a long while before it breaks out in the form of heated argument or angry ultimatum. But all the while, it breeds resentments, robs us of our ability to be present, and blocks our streams. Conflict in an organization is nothing to fear; disagreement can be a source of vibrant, sustainable energy and air-clearing communication that shakes us free of complacency. But only when it's addressed and properly harnessed before it turns into war.

In your organization, is conflict a source of tension or positive change?

6.23.14 0
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Hallmark Holidays

Dr. Foster Mobley // History, Wisdom Leading

I simply couldn't resist this topic. Maybe not for the reason you think. Sunday was another of the "Hallmark Holidays," a contrived time of reflection and acknowledgement of a loved one. The origin of this slang term derived from a clever marketing tactic perfected by the greeting card company, Hallmark Cards, whose sole purpose was to (wait for it)... sell more cards. I'll admit to minor cynicism, in times past, over such contrivances. Don't get me wrong - I love acknowledgements as much as the next person. My distrust and dislike stemmed from the fact that Hallmark was agnostic as to what the day was and who it was calling out - mother, father, co-worker, babysitter. They simply wanted to sell more cards. So, they invented days, provoking my ire. This year, however, I've taken a different stance. This past weekend, as I read at the countless, heartfelt acknowledgements of fathers on Facebook, staring at dated and cherished Kodak photos, I started to view each one as a prayer, rather than a boast; a moment of presence in a world so void of presence. Each post became a chance, for that fleeting moment to pause, reflect, honor, feel something. Those are good things, things I say I like, so why would I feel otherwise? Like the daily childhood ritual of reciting, often sleepily, the Pledge of Allegiance or the Buddhist cymbal that lightly rings us into presence, perhaps the occurrence of these invented days is a simple, gentle reminder of the value of reflection and acknowledgement. I'd like to take it one step further. Why not every day? Do you recall the concept of "un-birthdays" from Lewis Carroll's classic "Through the Looking-Glass?" It's like that; every day not our birthday is cause for celebration. While we have Father's Day once each year, every day is an un-Father's Day (on un-Mother's Day, or...) and still a cause for honoring and acknowledging important people in our lives. What would a daily ritual of reflection and celebration make possible in your life?

I simply couldn't resist this topic. Maybe not for the reason you think.

Sunday was another of the "Hallmark Holidays," a contrived time of reflection and acknowledgement of a loved one. The origin of this slang term derived from a clever marketing tactic perfected by the greeting card company, Hallmark Cards, whose sole purpose was to (wait for it)... sell more cards.

I'll admit to minor cynicism, in times past, over such contrivances. Don't get me wrong - I love acknowledgements as much as the next person. My distrust and dislike stemmed from the fact that Hallmark was agnostic as to what the day was and who it was calling out - mother, father, co-worker, babysitter. They simply wanted to sell more cards. So, they invented days, provoking my ire.

This year, however, I've taken a different stance.

This past weekend, as I read at the countless, heartfelt acknowledgements of fathers on Facebook, staring at dated and cherished Kodak photos, I started to view each one as a prayer, rather than a boast; a moment of presence in a world so void of presence. Each post became a chance, for that fleeting moment to pause, reflect, honor, feel something. Those are good things, things I say I like, so why would I feel otherwise?

Like the daily childhood ritual of reciting, often sleepily, the Pledge of Allegiance or the Buddhist cymbal that lightly rings us into presence, perhaps the occurrence of these invented days is a simple, gentle reminder of the value of reflection and acknowledgement. I'd like to take it one step further. Why not every day? Do you recall the concept of "un-birthdays" from Lewis Carroll's classic "Through the Looking-Glass?" It's like that; every day not our birthday is cause for celebration. While we have Father's Day once each year, every day is an un-Father's Day (on un-Mother's Day, or...) and still a cause for honoring and acknowledging important people in our lives.

What would a daily ritual of reflection and celebration make possible in your life?

6.17.14 0
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California Chrome and the Myth of Winning

Dr. Foster Mobley // Sports, Wisdom Leading

Saturday California Chrome did not win the Belmont Stakes, finishing in a tie for fourth place. Chrome is now the twenty-third horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but failing to grab the Triple Crown. That begs the question: is California Chrome a failure? Should we consider the team that trained him a failure? According to current practice, the answer might be "Yes." In many organizations, winning means one thing-obliterating last month's/quarter's/year's numbers, winning the account, getting the external recognition - cost be damned. For some, getting the immediate win is so critical that they'll sacrifice everything: the team's resources, the mental and physical health of the people they lead, you name it. In many cases, it's unsustainable - losing disguised as "winning." In my view, true winning is about the sustainable long game. Most of the battles we lose don't imply we'll lose the war. A wise leader takes the lessons from setbacks to direct attention to improving performance for the ultimate goal, not just the next battle. Consider a definition of winning that is both about winning races and a sustainable future of health, vitality, and continued excellence. What do your words and actions communicate about what winning means to you?

Saturday California Chrome did not win the Belmont Stakes, finishing in a tie for fourth place. Chrome is now the twenty-third horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but failing to grab the Triple Crown. That begs the question: is California Chrome a failure? Should we consider the team that trained him a failure?

According to current practice, the answer might be "Yes." In many organizations, winning means one thing-obliterating last month's/quarter's/year's numbers, winning the account, getting the external recognition - cost be damned. For some, getting the immediate win is so critical that they'll sacrifice everything: the team's resources, the mental and physical health of the people they lead, you name it. In many cases, it's unsustainable - losing disguised as "winning."

In my view, true winning is about the sustainable long game. Most of the battles we lose don't imply we'll lose the war. A wise leader takes the lessons from setbacks to direct attention to improving performance for the ultimate goal, not just the next battle. Consider a definition of winning that is both about winning races and a sustainable future of health, vitality, and continued excellence.

What do your words and actions communicate about what winning means to you?

6.9.14 0
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And They’re Off…!

Dr. Foster Mobley // Sports, Wisdom Leading

On June 7th, thoroughbred California Chrome will try to become the twelfth horse to win the elusive Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes. And as so often happens, the upcoming race got me thinking...about performance and noise. Distraction and preparation. The role of the trainer in getting the horse ready and then turning him loose to run. Thoroughbreds are sensitive, skittish and brilliant. With hearts twice the size of the average racehorse, they're extraordinary machines. And they're temperamental. It's the trainer's job to get his Triple Crown contending horse fit, keep it healthy, teach it, and develop a race strategy around its strengths. But his most important job is to block out noise. While chaos might swirl around the animal in the form of news media, other horses, pressure and money, the great trainer keeps his thoroughbred wrapped in a bubble of quiet, focused calm. Equipoise, it's called. That way, when the gate opens, the horse doesn't feel any distractions. It just runs like hell. We want our people to perform like thoroughbreds, to do the extraordinary. That means as leaders, it's our job to protect them from distractions, to create environments that breed equipoise. The noise-financial hubris, news stories, office gossip-should break against us like waves against a seawall. Behind us, things are calm. People are free to focus on the moment, to be their best, to run their race. To win. How are you being a source of quiet, focused calm for your team?

On June 7th, thoroughbred California Chrome will try to become the twelfth horse to win the elusive Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes. And as so often happens, the upcoming race got me thinking...about performance and noise. Distraction and preparation. The role of the trainer in getting the horse ready and then turning him loose to run.

Thoroughbreds are sensitive, skittish and brilliant. With hearts twice the size of the average racehorse, they're extraordinary machines. And they're temperamental. It's the trainer's job to get his Triple Crown contending horse fit, keep it healthy, teach it, and develop a race strategy around its strengths. But his most important job is to block out noise. While chaos might swirl around the animal in the form of news media, other horses, pressure and money, the great trainer keeps his thoroughbred wrapped in a bubble of quiet, focused calm. Equipoise, it's called. That way, when the gate opens, the horse doesn't feel any distractions. It just runs like hell.

We want our people to perform like thoroughbreds, to do the extraordinary. That means as leaders, it's our job to protect them from distractions, to create environments that breed equipoise. The noise-financial hubris, news stories, office gossip-should break against us like waves against a seawall. Behind us, things are calm. People are free to focus on the moment, to be their best, to run their race. To win.

How are you being a source of quiet, focused calm for your team?

6.2.14 0
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Get Your Hands in the Dirt

Dr. Foster Mobley // Wisdom Leading

There's something primal and satisfying to me about digging in the soil. It's low-tech and meditative, strenuous and healthy. Moreover, the acts involved with gardening - preparing, tilling, amending, nurturing, harvesting - are all wonderful, if overused metaphors for leading. Think about it. How I prepare the soil is an apt description of laying the foundation for future performance through talent selection, onboarding, training, goal-setting and the like. Tilling speaks strongly to mid-course corrections with talent and plans to insure ultimate performance. One thing the gardening metaphor doesn't address is the parts of growing that lie outside the control of the gardener. Many leaders believe in a deterministic world, in which they control all the variables. Neither business, nor life are so predictable. The best we can ever hope to do is put the odds in our favor for a great outcome. We can plant the right seeds in the right time of year, water carefully, fertilize, provide protection from pests and do all the right things, but we can't make plants grow. Gardening and leadership are both lessons in diligence and humility. Our jobs as gardeners and leaders is to prepare appropriately, do the right things, follow our best practices, be as diligent as we can be-and at some point trust our team members will grow and flourish. We can't make a teammate rise up, any more than we can make a tomato appear. How are you tending the garden that is your work? How about the one that is your life?

There's something primal and satisfying to me about digging in the soil. It's low-tech and meditative, strenuous and healthy. Moreover, the acts involved with gardening - preparing, tilling, amending, nurturing, harvesting - are all wonderful, if overused metaphors for leading. Think about it. How I prepare the soil is an apt description of laying the foundation for future performance through talent selection, onboarding, training, goal-setting and the like. Tilling speaks strongly to mid-course corrections with talent and plans to insure ultimate performance.

One thing the gardening metaphor doesn't address is the parts of growing that lie outside the control of the gardener. Many leaders believe in a deterministic world, in which they control all the variables. Neither business, nor life are so predictable. The best we can ever hope to do is put the odds in our favor for a great outcome. We can plant the right seeds in the right time of year, water carefully, fertilize, provide protection from pests and do all the right things, but we can't make plants grow.

Gardening and leadership are both lessons in diligence and humility. Our jobs as gardeners and leaders is to prepare appropriately, do the right things, follow our best practices, be as diligent as we can be-and at some point trust our team members will grow and flourish. We can't make a teammate rise up, any more than we can make a tomato appear.

How are you tending the garden that is your work? How about the one that is your life?

5.28.14 0
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Our Thoughts – Prison or Pathway?

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

In a recent interview with Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and best-selling author Ron Suskind, he shared the background of his most recent book Life, Animated, a beautiful and touching story of a family dealing with autism. A gifted writer with an important and personal story, for sure. During the interview, Ron introduced the notion of autism, a complex brain disorder as a "prison or pathway." As so much of my life and practice deals with mastering mental processes, I thought it appropriate to borrow this phrase as an appropriate reflection for each of us. Consider that our thoughts, invited and uninvited, are our constant companions. We can't control their volume or timing, but we control their influence on us - on our emotions, on our perceptions and on our actions. According to don Miguel Ruiz, our minds, hearts and senses perceive things as they truly are, but our thoughts filter, distort and interpret them to suit our needs. In this interpretive dance, occurring in a nanosecond behind an invisible curtain in our consciousness, the result can be a "prison or pathway". My thoughts are a prison when rooted in my worries, unresolved issues, fears or expectations. They imprison me as they lock me into a limited view of myself and are most acute when I'm not present, living out the day on autopilot. My thoughts are a pathway when rooted in my passions, my possibilities, my best self. These are most accessible when I'm clear, present and intentional. Alive, to me, is synonymous with "enlivened" - the sensation I have when my thoughts are working for me. When your daily thoughts imprison you, what can you do to elevate and enliven?

In a recent interview with Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and best-selling author Ron Suskind, he shared the background of his most recent book Life, Animated, a beautiful and touching story of a family dealing with autism. A gifted writer with an important and personal story, for sure.

During the interview, Ron introduced the notion of autism, a complex brain disorder as a "prison or pathway." As so much of my life and practice deals with mastering mental processes, I thought it appropriate to borrow this phrase as an appropriate reflection for each of us.

Consider that our thoughts, invited and uninvited, are our constant companions. We can't control their volume or timing, but we control their influence on us - on our emotions, on our perceptions and on our actions. According to don Miguel Ruiz, our minds, hearts and senses perceive things as they truly are, but our thoughts filter, distort and interpret them to suit our needs. In this interpretive dance, occurring in a nanosecond behind an invisible curtain in our consciousness, the result can be a "prison or pathway".

My thoughts are a prison when rooted in my worries, unresolved issues, fears or expectations. They imprison me as they lock me into a limited view of myself and are most acute when I'm not present, living out the day on autopilot. My thoughts are a pathway when rooted in my passions, my possibilities, my best self. These are most accessible when I'm clear, present and intentional. Alive, to me, is synonymous with "enlivened" - the sensation I have when my thoughts are working for me.

When your daily thoughts imprison you, what can you do to elevate and enliven?

5.20.14 0
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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams