Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Advice when you move to a new job

June 22nd, 2012 Kevin No comments

Coaching is a wonderful profession because our clients become friends.

Here is the advice I offer my friend on the way to a new job, in a new city. The person has been on the job a few days with mounting stress, concerns for not getting things right, and an awareness that failure is an option– preferably, an avoidable one! I have changed information to share this advice with a wider audience.


Homework: please get out a dictionary, read the definition of “perspective,” and then write out five examples of how it can happen more at your office. I sense, I feel, and yearn to hear more about different perspectives in the current situation and the experiences you are facing.


You have lots of love. In this instance, work love is different than romantic love. It means connecting, building rapport, earning trust, and being fair with coworkers and your boss despite the conditions. Love is really important for you in that office since the way you describe things so far, there may be a shortage of it; in other words, love may be a scarce/hidden/fleeting commodity. Your arrival means they just struck a rich vein. Spread the wealth, spread your love.

Let whatever happens be okay

That office has survived a long time without you. There is solace in that thought. You are there now and things will still work out. Remember, Rome did not get built in a 2 hour span, nor did it fall down that fast. As we discussed, since you are perfect for this job, the things that are happening sound just about right!

Your job description and its possible shift

It is unusual that the job description you were hired for shifts in the first week, usually the honeymoon period is at least two weeks these days. Oy. You told me they hired you for your experience in the job you had before graduate school. Focus in on that. By your description of the first few days, they may be expanding your role. If that is true go ahead and discuss the parameters of the change. You deserve to know what’s going on.


From the sound of things happening in your first week on the job, you deserve to get your bearing. By this I mean check in with your toes and the balls of your feet. There is sound and solid ground in the new city you find yourself in, this I know. FEEL it. Smell the air, be in the moment. Love your job. Love your city. Good.

True or false narratives

You are a professional who offers clearly defined services. Other titles, with other service parameters including tattle tale or spy (your words not mine) seem far away from what your profession does. Feel free to drop any unhelpful narratives.

Being too nice

You mentioned a tendency to apologize for not understanding some of the new things you are learning right away. Instead of apologizing, take a long extended breath. Then review what happened and after that, thank your coworkers for their understanding of the newness of your work. Make your desire to succeed with them and for them clear to them.


Success comes in so many colors. Each minute you are there in that office is success. Smell it. Taste it. Feel it. Success demands errorless learning. You are learning the ropes: it turns out some of them are slippery; some feel rough; and a few are quite frayed by your description of things. Success for your coworkers means that you help them. So go ahead and help them. All of them. That delivers group success. The few that cannot or will not be helped, give them up to a higher power. Help the ones that can handle help and be fair to everyone else.


Surely with that large an office you will find allies. You deserve them. So cultivate them. Friends come in many forms. Be slow, invite in relationship, and help them help you help them. Allies matter.

The First 90 Days

I attach a review of an excellent book for your situation called “The First 90 Days.” Go ahead and read it. Then apply what resonates with you.


I’ll summarize my advice with two words: PERSPECTIVE and BEARING. Get some! [They are like milk, and different]. You are perfect for this job and your new city is the exact right place for you to be in right now! Maybe this advice can help you along your journey in a new job, a new city, and give you new hope.

Peace, bearing, and perspective to you,

Kevin Leahy

Austin, Texas

Categories: Consulting, Thoughts Tags:

The Back 98™: Ego– Shrink Wrap for Our Selves

October 25th, 2011 Kevin No comments

“The Back 98″ is the name of this blog series. The name refers to parts of our brains that work with or without “us.” Some say 98% of our brains’ efforts are generally off limits to us, no one knows for sure. This series is about controlling more of our nonconscious brains if we choose.

Is my ego part of the Back 98?

It depends on what you call “ego.” Some people can control behaviors associated with their egos, many cannot. For those who cannot, ego behavior is part of the Back 98, and it can pack a wallop.

Are you saying that some egos are like shrink wrap?

Yes. Many egos are like shrink wrap: we see right through them and they can get in the way of proper operation. Over time, people who reduce ego-related behaviors achieve much better performance.

What’s the point of this post?

For many, their egos simply get in their way. This post explores removing or dampening the effect of our egos. Do that and we can improve our relationships and increase our performance too.

What’s the link between the “ego” and claims that we do not use our brains much?

I define “ego” as that essence that seeks to protect our self image from physical and mental injury. By default, egos remain mostly stable throughout our lives, i.e., they don’t change much. Indeed, parts of the brain related to the ego are hard to change… even when we want to change them.

What parts of the brain relate to the ego?

Great question, and one that is hard to pin down exactly. Ego appears to derive from a couple of different areas. The anterior cingulate cortex, insula, and orbitofrontal prefrontal cortex, for example, translate into conscious attention much of the data generated below them by the limbic system and the brain stem. The amygdala, located in the limbic system, is responsible for the threat response that drives much of our “ego behavior.” The hippocampus and hypothalamus are also involved, as are regions of the parietal and temporal lobes that integrate much of our sensory experience that makes up our self image.  The parts of the brain associated with a dampening of those regions are located more to the very front of our brains, areas such as the medial prefrontal cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The ventrolateral prefrontal cortex is responsible for blocking some of our egos more pernicious behaviors, like wanting to sock someone in the stomach for hurting our feelings.

Does it matter if I know all of these parts of my brain you just named?

Not really; not for applying this blog in ways that can reduce ego-oriented behaviors for you.

You mention “shrink wrap”; what is that again?

“Shrink wrap” is the plastic material that protects things we buy in the store. We usually remove it when we get home because it gets in the way of the product’s best use.

Can you offer an example?

Sure, most CD cases have shrink wrap surrounding them, that is the clear plastic material that they come in. That wrap is called “shrink wrap” and it protects the product until purchase.

Do you believe we can consciously control our egos?

In a sense, yes, because we can rewire them. Our egos establish our “first natures,” which is the way we are without any changes. We can modify the ego’s wiring to create our “second natures.”

You mean, like this: “do something enough times and it becomes second nature?”

Yes, exactly.

We can create new brain patterns that change our egos for good?

Yes. And because it is hard work, we must consciously do so. When it comes to egos, it takes lots of gumption– that is, will, intent, and belief, to do whatever it takes to get what we want.

What is the “our selves” in your title, is that a type of self that lies behind our egos?

Great question and one that awaits your own discovery. Research suggests the ego-less self may be far more productive, loving, and energetic than the one that the ego protects.

My ego catches me by surprise a lot; so is it part of the Back 98, or not?

It depends. Triggers, or hot buttons, tip us off that the ego is in the “shields up, fire the torpedoes” mode. That is Back 98 stuff. We can change our ego response and it takes lots of practice to do so.

Why bother if it takes so much practice?

Because over time, new wiring in your brain will transform your “first nature,” which is a fight or flight and ego-filled response, to a more desirable “second nature,” one of your choosing.

Alright, can you go over again what you mean by ego?

“Ego” relates to our notion of self. It refers to the set of behaviors we use to contrast how we view ourselves compared to others. It includes the idea of personality, or who we think we are.

We are who we are, right?

Maybe, yet we are always subject to change. Also, it turns out our personalities are not stable. We have proof of this when we act differently on a first date, or, when a policeman pulls us over.

What are you suggesting we do with these see-through egos? Take them off?

We all have the right to remove our egos (or at least calm them down). Our egos have served their purpose. By adulthood, if we are not careful, they can get in the way of our best performances.

I thought I needed to have my ego present and accounted for to do my best work?

You are not alone in your thinking. Commonly, people think the ego is necessary to perform well. That is simply not what the research suggests. During peak performance the ego takes a holiday.

Are you saying we do our best work when our ego is not even present?

Yes. That is exactly right, our best performances happen without the ego being present at all.

Do you have research to back that?

There is a long line of research dealing with this from the 1970s. Investigate the concept of “flow,” as identified first by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He studied top performers and discovered that during their best performances, their sense of self seemed to reduce, if not go away entirely.

So why do we seem to need our egos to get through challenging performances?

Beats me. All I know is what the research shows: if you have your ego present as you perform something, there is a high chance you are not peak performing at that time.

What do you recommend for removing the ego?

First, figure out your definition of ego.

Second, consider how it helps you.

Third, consider how it gets in your way.

Fourth, do a cost/benefit analysis: should it stay, or should it go? Ask others for help on this one.

Only if you are convinced it should go, or at least, be modified, then go to the next step.

Fifth, if you desire, begin to reduce your ego. Here’s some ideas on how to do just that:

1) meditate: Rick Hanson has some wonderful insights on reducing ego with meditation;

2) love: adopt a specific approach to love, e.g., Jesus Christ offered great insights as did Buddha;

3) share: sharing will bond you to others and expands your intimate circle of trust;

4) question: challenge assumptions by questioning more, do it with a sense of wonder and joy;

5) wait: be patient so that the forward-most part of your brain has time to assess things properly.

That’s it?

That’s a great start. I wish you the best of luck,

Kevin Leahy, founder

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Categories: Brain power, People, Thoughts Tags:

Is a brain in love more vulnerable to harm? Of course.

October 14th, 2011 Kevin No comments

Brain researchers are confirming something that makes sense.

When we intentionally love some thing or some one, we encourage more glucose to travel to the brain areas associated with love. When we do that, there is less energy available in the areas that help protect us from immediate harm, whether that harm is physical like a punch, or mental, like an insult. In other words, in love our brains’ design makes us more vulnerable to attack.

Does that mean when I am in love I reduce my chance of protecting myself?

In a sense, yes. Love is a risk, we have all heard that. From a brain perspective, when we actively love, our intent to love takes energy away from the areas of our brains that help protect us.

Which areas are those, which brain areas protect us from harm?

Some that come to mind include the amygdala and hypothalamus, the insula, and the anterior cingulate cortex. These parts, which are close to the front center of our brains, help protect us.

Do you mean those areas are responsible for our ego?

They can be. As ego is commonly defined, it is a way of being that relies on a massive network of cells throughout our whole brains. These areas help define who we are in relation to others.

And you are saying in love, the definition of ourselves changes?

It can. In love, the ego seems to dissolve, or at least dampen, the need for separation, contrast, or distinguishing things. In love, the brain connects things and accepts a profound “togetherness.”

So now what? What’s the point of this post?

This post makes clear that we have the right to make a conscious decision to love at every moment and accept that when we do that, we will pull energy away from our brain’s protection system.

Does that make sense?

It can, depending on how you value the long term benefits of love. Love, once built, lasts far longer than the momentary urge to protect, repel, and disconnect. It is your choice.

Anything else?

Not for now. Thank you for being here and have a great day.

Kevin Leahy, founder

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Categories: Brain power, People, Thoughts Tags:

The subtle difference between a knee jerk and a brain jerk

October 8th, 2011 Kevin No comments

What’s this post about?

Mental reflexes. They can show up as “brain jerks” at times, which is socially awkward and can get in the way of results. In a word, they are “jerky.”

What is the point of the post?

Instead of saying “knee jerk reaction,” let’s say “brain jerk reaction.” That is more accurate because it’s usually a brain, and not a knee, that just jerked.

For what reasons would I change that phrase, I kind of like it?

When we say to ourselves or others a “brain jerk” just happened, we stand a better chance of deciding to do something about it. We can change brain jerk reactions.

They’re “jerk reactions” because they happen fast, without intent, right?

True. So the work of changing brain jerk reactions happens long before the moment when they occur.

So this post simply wants me to say “brain jerk” instead of “knee jerk”?

Exactly. And identify it often, as often as it occurs if you can.

And that lets me pay close attention to the jerky aspect of brain jerks?


I can change my brain so the jerkiness gets dampened, or goes away?

That’s the idea.

Tell me about it here:

Kevin Leahy, founder

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Categories: Brain power, Thoughts Tags:

Got gumption?

September 19th, 2011 Kevin No comments

Gumption is a Scotch-Irish word that appeared first in the 1700s. There is no specific word origin mentioned. “Gumption” in context: “He’ll make it through this tough time because he’s got so much gumption.”

What does it mean?

It means many things to many people. In business, it means doing whatever it takes to get the job done.

I mean, what’s the real definition?

Well, there are a variety of definitions. They have to do with a person’s fortitude, courage, and certainty for what they are doing. Initiative, resourcefulness, enterprise, these words give you the idea.

So, what is this post about?

This post is about gumption. I believe gumption is critical in today’s business environment. If we’ve “got gumption,” wonderful things will happen for company profits, people, mission and purpose.

Any tips for how to get it?

Yes. There is a formula that helps build gumption. Here’s the formula: with an open mind and generous heart add equal parts of (1) belief, (2) will power, and (3) intention.

Can you give an example of the formula?

Sure. If I hear about a new skill that helps improve my work performance, I will have gumption to learn that skill when I believe the practice will help me improve the skill, have the will power to do the practice, and have the intention to practice the skill as instructed to achieve the maximum benefit.

That’s it?

Well. There is lots more, and that is good for now. See where gumption shows up in your work life and when it is lacking, help folks learn the formula. Good luck!

Kevin Leahy, founder

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Categories: People, Thoughts Tags:

Inner speech, inner voice, and self talk: what do they all have in common?

August 27th, 2011 Kevin No comments

Before we get started, just what are inner speech, inner voice, and self talk?

These terms all refer to the same thing: that is, how we “talk” to ourselves within the privacy of our own heads. We use this kind of talk to script our stories, ask ourselves questions, answer things, and the like.

What do these terms have in common with one another?

Well, we don’t talk much about any of them. In fact, we hardly mention inner speech and inner voice at all.

What are you saying?

Well, when was the last time you told someone that you talk to yourself? Ever? Despite using inner speech daily, almost no one mentions it. We just don’t broadcast to others that we talk to ourselves.

I barely know I am doing it! Say some more?

Exactly, this talk happens so naturally that we barely know that we are doing it at all.

Do you have some examples of self talk?

Sure. We ask ourselves things like: “Will I get the promotion?” Or we say: “I am not good enough,” or maybe, “I am the best.” Or, we answer a question to ourselves: “Well at least it wasn’t my fault.”

When we think (or say) these things we are using inner speech/inner voice/self talk?

You bet.

I never ever talk about this talk; I don’t want people to think I’m a mental case, you know?

I don’t know, but I do know that our self talk is critical for our mental health. When our ability to talk to ourselves stops, that is when our ability to relate to life goes way down or worse, away, if it’s really bad.

You claim we need our inner speech to think and live in a healthy way?

That’s right. Google “Jill Bolte Taylor” and learn how a stroke knocked out her ability to talk to herself. With no inner speech she lost track of things and could not think well. Her book, My Stroke of Insight, is a brilliant exploration into how she survived her stroke and recovered her inner voice. Here is a great video about her story too:

Can you summarize the point of this post for me?

Yes: inner speech is critical to how we think. We deserve to become more aware of self talk and spend time improving how we do it. It makes good sense to talk well to our brains and to work hard to get better at it.

Any other suggestions… how should I talk to my brain?

That’s a long answer. I teach a course on commanding your inner speech. You learn to use inner speech to communicate with, manage, and lead your brain. Happy to tell you more about it.

How can I contact you?

Use this email:

Thank you for your attention,

Kevin Leahy

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Categories: Brain power, Consulting, People, Thoughts Tags:

Worrying too much? Try this for brain relief.

August 11th, 2011 Kevin No comments

What’s this post about?

This post is about worrying too much. For example, you think about a problem over and over in your head. Not fun; don’t recommend it. Here’s how to deal with it: concentrate on two senses at once.


Our brains don’t multitask well. So if we focus on two senses at once it’s hard to do anything else.

If I am worrying about my job, a friend, or my weight… this helps stop the worrying?

You bet.

It happens because I focus my concentration on two of my senses at once?


Example: I see something and focus on it, I hear something and focus on it; that’s it?


I taste something and focus on it at the same time I smell something and focus on it?


When I focus on two senses at once, I overload my brain and it stops over thinking?

You got it.

I stop worrying because I am busy learning what my two senses are telling me?

That’s it. That’s the reason.

That’s cool, thank you.

You are welcome.


Kevin Leahy, founder

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Categories: Thoughts Tags:

Motivation or Participation?

August 4th, 2011 Kevin No comments

The universe is talking. When it does that for me, I listen. Here is what it’s saying:

Focus more on participation and less on motivation.


I know. It seems so unsexy, participation. Followers participate. Leaders, now they motivate!

Not only that, but motivational speakers are awesome!

Yes they are. Very entertaining too. Motivation, it seems, has joined the ranks of theater.

Wait a minute, motivation is the real deal! Motivational speakers teach me stuff, right?

Well, maybe. Motivation’s goal is participation. The doing, it turns out, is the hard part. Go do that.

Exactly. Attending another motivational speech helps me! Fun, entertaining! It works!

Maybe so. Try a participation speaker next time rather than a motivation speaker; feel the difference.


Motivation, without more depth, emotion, and awareness, falls flat. Participation, just doing it, that anchors our actions, increases our motivation, and lets us achieve our goals. Nike got it right. Just do it.

So no more motivational speakers?

Entertainment is great. If you are lucky, it might help you remember what you really want. Then, you will participate. So if you go to get motivated, go to “get participated” too. Just do it (thank you Nike).

Where do I find a participation speaker?

Ask around. Find out who speaks and actually brings about participation that leads to action. And go listen to those folks talk. They have good things to say and will help us do things. Get participated!

What was this post about anyway?

This post challenges the common belief that we need more motivation. This post and the universe suggest to me our core need is to participate. Let’s do more of it and motivation is bound to show up!

Good luck!

Kevin Leahy, founder

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Categories: People, Thoughts Tags:

Talk tool: set the frame of reference in a conversation

May 23rd, 2011 Kevin No comments

What’s a frame of reference?

It is a phrase that refers to what each person thinks or feels in a given moment. In other words, what is on the person’s mind is the reference being framed by him or her. People don’t always share the same frame!

Is it important to share the same frame of reference?

Yes, if you want to make common sense. Frames of reference guide conversations. Skilled communicators help frame references so each person gets “on the same page;” so each person shares the same reference.

What’s this post about?

This post claims that when we know what the frame of reference is and ask our questions or offer our answers with it in mind, then our talks fit in that frame better and we understand each other better too.

For example, it’s important for questioners to pay attention to frames of reference?

Yes. It’s essential.


Because all answers link in some way to frames of reference; when they are different, the answers can get confusing real quick. That’s because they often end up being answers to difference frames of reference.

How do you know that?

Experience and observation. People say things either with forethought or no thought; either way, what they say comes through in part from a stream of consciousness sponsored by the frame of reference.


So when asking questions do your colleagues a favor and make sure that you place the notion of the question in the right context, in other words, in the right frame of reference, so they can answer it well.

And if I don’t do that, then what?

Then there is a strong chance you will hear something that matches the frame of reference they had in their mind prior to your question, or, matches the frame that gets triggered by your question that is not the frame you had in mind when you asked the question in the first place.

So the point of this post is to pay attention to the frame of reference?


And we should aim our questions and answers to match it?


Anything else?

No. You’ll do great by attending to the frame of reference. Make sure you share the same one as your conversation partner and ask questions, form answers, and make statements with that frame in mind.

Good luck!

Kevin Leahy, Founder

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Categories: People, Thoughts Tags:

A rather big question that can replace, “Hey, how are you?”

May 18th, 2011 Kevin No comments

Here’s a rather big question that arose yesterday during a discussion about critical life skills:

What are the three things we can practice every day, day in and day out, that will forever change the way we live in ways that are far better than right now for us?

Imagine if the spirit of this rather big question replaced the common greeting: “Hey, how are you?

For example, imagine if we greeted each other with: “How’s your big three coming along?”

Here’s a follow up question:

Are we acting on our answer right now and planning to do so later on today and tomorrow?

Here’s the last question:

Do we speak or act in ways that share the answer we came up with at work or elsewhere?

Here’s the gist of what I’ve heard so far:

1) love something far bigger than yourself (this can relate to quality of life issues);

2) love yourself (this can relate to learning and growing);

3) Share your love with everyone you can, including the whole world if that works for you
(this can relate to contribution and relatedness with others).

If you would like please share your answers with me here:

Thank you!

Kevin Leahy
Categories: Questioning, Thoughts Tags: