Monthly Archives: July 2015

Exceptional People

Michael Jordan

Sports Psychologist Bob Rotella just released his book How Champions Think.  In it, he shares the “virtuous cycle,” which is the winning formula for success in any field that enables you to serve the world with the gift you’ve been granted.  His formula?  Optimism + Confidence + Persistence = Success

Optimism (Thoughts)

Exceptional people engage in helpful frames of mind.  They go beyond the “Little Train Engine That Could” — which repeated his mantra of “I think I can” — to “I know I can.”  These thoughts include:

  • Visualization. Our imagination is an invaluable tool many of us left in the sandbox.  For visualization to work, it must be vividly detailed and intense.  It must entail the senses: sights, sounds, touch, and smells of the experience.  Rotella: A vivid, sensual detailed visualization helps convince the subconscious that the experience is actually happening. (pg 51)

Be limitless. Rotella believes that if Jack Nicklaus had won 25 majors and Tiger Woods had set out to surpass him, Tiger would have won 20 majors by now (instead of 19 & 14, respectively).  Much like breaking a plank of wood in karate, aim for what’s behind the wood; not the plank itself.  Aiming high enables your chance to be great; it will make your failure be better than most people’s best.

  • Re-framing. Exceptional people respond to perceived failures/misfortunes and react to the events in their lives as lessons to draw from, then they forget the negative aspects. Rotella: There’s a difference between learning from failure and wallowing in it. (pg 178) Bulls coach Dean Smith told Michael Jordan to give himself no more than 10-20 mins to reflect on an undesirable performance, if he ever wanted to reach his personal vision.  Think and remember in ways that will keep a positive outlook.
  • Positive Self-Talk. Exceptional people thrive off of positive input; however, the cost of greatness entails getting knocked down a lot. Be confident in your ability.  Doubt and fear ruin performance.  Jack Nicklaus: You have to be a legend in your own mind before you can be a legend in your own time.

Confidence (Feelings)

Exceptional people gain confidence from their optimistic outlook.  This feeling is fueled by passion for loving what they do.  Healthy feelings include:

  • Enthusiasm. Exceptional people live for their wins. They build on their successes.  They find it every day.  They get into the flow of being good at something they love doing.  Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nothing great has ever been accomplished without enthusiasm.
  • Patience. Exceptional people show enormous patience (and perseverance) when they have an improvement process in place.  Setbacks do not take them off-track from their quest for excellence.  Rotella: You’re unstoppable if you’re unflappable. (pg. 161)
  • Humility. Exceptional people keep their ego in check, despite the level and ranking attained. They do not feel as though they are better or more entitled than anyone else.


Persistence (Behaviors)

It is not enough to internalize success.  Exceptional people create action plans.  Practices include:

  • Network. Exceptional people surround themselves with and listen to, people who will help them be great. Optimism and confidence are contagions; and success is not a journey for the sole traveler.  These are people who support and encourage without going so far as to pander.  These people are “straight shooters” – ones who will tell you what you need to hear in order for you to move forward towards your vision; even when it may be information you would not like to hear. We learn from those who can see what we are capable of achieving; oftentimes more than we can see for ourselves.  There is wisdom to be gained from people who believe in us.
  • Accountability. Exceptional people never blame failures on others. They are fully functional adults who constantly ask themselves, “What more can I do?”  Most people are not capable of self-evaluating, but exceptional are.  They set their own performance bars.

Exceptional people also know when to evaluate themselves.  They suspend evaluation until post-performance so as not to distract their natural ability and get in their own way.  Overthinking can result in “analysis paralysis;” it is best to allow the subconscious to control the moment (and not introduce the conscious to hi-jack your performance), since evaluation is a function of the conscious brain.  Course corrections can come later.

  • Mindfulness. Exceptional people hold onto favorable memories, and let the rest go. Then, there is only the present moment to enjoy and build upon.  Focus on the shot, and do not think about the consequences of the shot.

Call it “The Secret,” learned effectiveness, your vision board, or whatever you choose…one thing is for sure: Exceptional people maintain a vision and dream big—of excellent performances, of a beautiful life, of a stellar career, of a great something.

Rotella:  “When you retire, you’ll like the face you see in the mirror.  On your last day, you’ll look back and think how lucky you were to have lived the life you did.”

Create your own reality.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is an optimistic Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.   We increase retention.  Visit

© Rossina Gil, 2015


L.E.A.P. into Whole-Brained Communication


While most of us use both sides of our brain on a daily basis, men are generally known for leaning more heavily on the left side of their brains, and women are generally known for leaning more heavily on the right side of their brains.  (Comedian Jeanne Robertson on Left-Brain:

The workplace and dynamic between manager and direct report used to be about “Situation and Solution;” yet, now with the prevalence of more women in the work environment, and Millennials who desire more collaboration, there are two more steps which need to be “sandwiched” in between the standard situation and solution conversation.  These two steps connect the mind with the heart.

Look before You L.E.A.P. 

I recently worked with a CIO who shared with me that his secret formula for success in managing people pretty much boiled down to one acronym: L.E.A.P.

L = Listen.  Presenting the situation requires active listening.  Active listening requires that the Receiver stays silent and focused on what the Sender is communicating.  No interruptions (i.e. clarifying questions), because that may steer the communication to deliver information which the Receiver may consider more important, yet it may be of lesser importance to the Sender and steer him/her away from disclosing pertinent information.

Examples: “I want to talk with you about the lack of feedback I received on my last project, but also in general.  I keep trying to meet with you, and it seems like there is never an opportunity to do so.”  Or, “I am so incredibly frustrated by how my colleague promises to deliver and never does.”

E = Empathize.  This is where it’s important to add an emotion and/or paraphrase.  Right-brain Senders appreciate heartfelt understanding.  If after practicing active listening, you cannot figure out why the Sender would be so agitated, saying, “So what?” often trivializes the Sender’s intent to share.

Examples: “That’s frustrating when that happens; I know the feeling.” Or, “You want your colleague to follow through on commitments.  I value integrity.”

A = Ask.  Clarifying questions can start here to make sure the Receiver fully understands the scope of the situation.  It is also important at this stage to determine whether the Sender wants to just vent or if s/he is coming to the Receiver for problem-solving.  Left-brains have often delivered unappreciated, unsolicited advice, because they skip this step.  The Sender may just wish for a “sounding board” to air out some thoughts and feelings.

Examples:  “How can I help?” “So, to be clear, your interpretation/impact of what happened is…”

P = Problem Solve.  This is the part left-brains wish to leap to…they wish to check a task off their list.  Some conversations are initiated by the Sender for him/her to process, and they’ve selected the Receiver because s/he is a trusted source.  Consider it a compliment.  It is vital to bear in mind that the best way to gain buy-in to a solution is for the solution to come from the Sender.  It is also a prime opportunity for the Receiver to treat the moment as a way to allow the Sender to develop his/her managerial technique in resolving situations.

Examples: “What do you have in mind to resolve this?” “A Best Practice for me on a situation analogous to this one is when…”

Whole-Brained Approach

Remember that instead of the old situation and solution conversation, a more effective approach is to slow down the stimulus-response with an extra two steps.  These two steps include 1) bringing in the heart by empathizing and relating to how the Sender feels; and, 2) demonstrating comprehension of the need at hand by asking clarification what is really being said and for your role in this conversation.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a whole-brained Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.   We increase retention.  Visit

© Rossina Gil, 2015

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At the Intersection of Peck and Disney


The second best-selling nonfiction book of all time after the Bible is psychologist Morgan Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled. His message is that personal growth is a “complex, arduous and lifelong task” — which most choose to avoid.  If we can accept responsibility for our growth by actively embracing the discomfort instead of pretending that it will simply fade away by ignoring it, then we can achieve the quality of our life we seek to have.

Peck’s book is fairly easy to understand, yet its theory is brought to life on the big screen by Disney in the movie Saving Mr. Banks.  By blending Peck’s theory with Disney’s art imitating life, we can readily understand how Peck’s theory of the “sins of the father” impacts us in the workplace.

The Sins of the Father

Peck addresses how individuals are conditioned (i.e. impacted) significantly by parents and/or parental figures.  Poor parenting can result in neuroses and character disorders.

In Disney’s film Saving Mr. Banks, we follow the story of the British author P.L. Travers, who is the creator of the story “Mary Poppins.”  The film reveals how Travers based Mary Poppins loosely around the details of her own life, transposing herself into the role of the nanny – as the rescuer of the family, which enabled her to create, as the nanny, more order and levity in a world that was filled with chaos.

In her real life, Travers was self-imprisoned in pain because she could not get over her past.  Painful reminders triggered her behavior towards others to be off-putting/rude/disrespectful.  When Disney produced the film with a happy ending, Travers experienced a cathartic release.  Mr. Banks was saved.  Saving Mr. Banks saved Travers momentarily.  Peck’s point is we can never self-actualize (i.e. grow into our full potential) until we save ourselves; and, that requires work.

Organizational Impact

The “sins of the father” surface daily within the workplace.  Talent emerges from the home environment into employment with a collection of needs which often stem from pain.  Those who suffer may have a strong driver to succeed in an effort to prove their worth, which can turn ugly.


  • The colleague who lacked attention from her parents growing up will stop at nothing to gain recognition in the workplace…to the point of using Machiavellian moves.
  • The colleague who felt rejection from his mother who sent him off to a strict (barbed-wire surrounded) boarding academy ends up persecuting those female direct reports who he perceives as challenging instead of serving as acolytes.
  • The colleague whose parents never accepted his sexual orientation and ends up winning the trust of a CEO, which gains him a high-level position; whereupon he ruthlessly leads with the thirst of power/revenge he craved for so long as an adolescent.

We are each the sum of our experiences.  We have been conditioned by our experiences to behave in a way which helps us rise above from the pain.  That behavior may not be healthy for you, nor for others around you.


  • Meet regularly with your company’s Industrial/Organizational Psychology or Organization Development practitioner.
  • Request specific, constructive feedback in your 360 review and/or conversations.
  • Utilize your company’s Employee Assistance Program to work with a counselor.
  • Seek counsel from a spiritual leader.
  • Hire an executive coach.

May your journey be enjoyable, despite the bumps.  And, the bumps build character.

Scott Peck: “All my life I used to wonder what I would become when I grew up. Then, about seven years ago, I realized that I was never going to grow up – that growing is an ever ongoing process.”

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a constantly growing Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.   We increase retention.  Visit

© Rossina Gil, 2015