Your Personal Strategic Plan: How Many Definitions of “Life Balance” Are There?

26 03 2013

It is no coincidence that conferences attracting executives, leaders and business owners worldwide have breakout sessions geared towards helping them find personal balance.  Whenever we finally spend the time to stop and think a bit, we often find ourselves considering a change.  I am certainly no exception to the rule.

How much time do you spend on the following common slices of life?  I mean this literally.  How much time in a 24 hour day, seven day week or 52 week year do you spend on each category of life’s focus below?

wellness pie

  • Your Mind
  • Your Body
  • Your Career
  • Your Spirituality
  • Your Family
  • Your Friendships
  • Your Community
  • Your Finances

Now that you know how you are spending your time, what happens if you wish to become “great” at any one of them?  What would happen to your allocation of time?  Is it possible to allocate time equitably or much at all while achieving greatness?

ali greatness

I think NOT!  Once the decision is made to truly excel, one’s definition of “balance” must change to allow success to be achieved.

Whenever I make a declaration, I tend to be “all in” in order to achieve extraordinary results. That is my personality.  I am an extremist who puts 100% into my endeavors.  When I am in the middle of an endeavor, that does not leave much room for equitable balance.

phelps greatest

  • When I train, I set major goals towards physical fitness.
  • When I present, I prepare and present with passion rarely seen by audiences.
  • When I diet, I set extreme standards that are nearly impossible to maintain.
  • When I implement innovation, nothing stands in my way to succeed.
  • When I love, I will do anything needed to support those whom I love.
  • When I give to the community, I extend beyond the comfort zone.

I know I am capable of doing ANYTHING.  As a successful Eye-Cubed Leader, so are you.  However, I struggle to do EVERYTHING.  I demand greatness in what I do and will not accept anything less.  And I recognize that greatness does not come unless one puts in an effort significantly beyond the norm.

When I was a teenager, a sports psychologist told me the key to success.  I wrote it on paper and stuck it all over my walls, in the bathroom and in my schoolbooks.  The declaration was:


While that sounds a bit cliché, I can tell you that it drives me to be who I am today.  But the key to the statement is the next line…a line that I was also told in my youth by my father, Stanley Sussman,  and reinforced by him throughout my life:


I recognize that if my focus shifts for any reason, I can no longer achieve the greatness I was seeking until the requisite  focus returns.  If I am in a position to self reflect, the decision to shift gears is a recognized sacrifice of which I am acutely aware.  However, reality is a bit different.  While “life” happens, I am not always aware that I have shifted gears and changed focus.  This typical phenomenon can derail anyone trying to achieve greatness.

Idea in chalkboard with yellow chalk

In the next Post, we will explore an exercise geared towards identifying our priorities and recognizing our weaknesses in our personal definition of “life’s balance”.  We need to take the time to decide our path, choose our results and pursue them with passion.


Leadership As The Cornerstone of Inspiration

19 03 2013

To Lead!  To inspire others!  To motivate others!  To guide others!


Without the ability to lead, we would never have an opportunity to inspire and excel as an Eye-Cubed-U graduate.  And as we learned in the post “Leadership, The Prerequisite Of Inspiration”, we strive to achieve the status of “You da man!/wo-man! Leadership”.  Once achieved, we have the ability to inspire others throughout our lives.  The life cycles we move through present the forum to develop ones leadership quotient and build our inspirational platform.  Have you taken advantage of those moments or allowed them to pass by without personal growth and the necessary experience to be the inspirational force to others in your life?

Who to lead/inspire?

  • Friends
  • Classmates
  • Co-workers
  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Employees
  • Community
  • Executives
  • Partners
  • Parents

The potential world in which you inspire grows over time.  Ultimately, when you reach the pinnacle of leadership, you will experience a time period when inspiration and leadership will simultaneously be needed from you to most, if not all, of the groups listed above.  Imagine the day when your inspirational world is complete.  This responsibility can be considered a burden or an honor.  It could be overwhelming or personally “inspiring”.  People either run from it or sprint to it.  Each individual handles this reality differently (possesses different levels of leadership quotient) and as a result, rises to meet varying portions of the inspirational needs of each subset.

Leadership lighthouse

I believe I am there today.  I am at a special point in my life.  And I consider this an honor, a challenge and a responsibility.  While everyone needs inspiration, it can never be accomplished using a cookie-cutter approach.  Like management, coaching and leadership, inspiration is a very personal emotion.  My children are inspired very differently compared to my partners.  The executives working with me in PFP gain their inspirational infusion in a significantly unique way compared to my employees.  And I realize, over the past few years, my parents look towards me for inspiration as well.  They too have special trigger-points that push them, motivate them and ultimately inspire them.  My leadership quotient is at a particular high point in my because I am capable of providing inspiration in a flexible manner based on my targeted group or individual.

I recognize that leadership and athleticism have something in common.  To be truly great, one needs to practice.  To maximize ones potential, one must take full advantage of every opportunity to gain experience, test newfound skills and challenge ones competitive thirst to be the best and “win”.  While the development period is definable, so too is the peak of athleticism and leadership.  There is a beginning, middle and end.

  1. Your children will not always need the same type of inspiration and leadership.
  2. Your community will develop new leaders over time as your position moves from being the active leader to the respected “elder statesman”.
  3. Your organization must execute succession planning and develop a new generation of leaders to inspire others in order to perpetuate corporate greatness.

However, this is not a story of sadness and futility.  It is never time to put oneself out to pasture and wait.  Rather, I propose two reactions.  The first is to “be in the moment” of leadership and truly inspire others when given the opportunity.  If you have the position as inspirational leader, take full advantage.   Second, and most importantly, personally measure and analyze your inspirational world.  Is there a group or sub-group you should be inspiring and leading yet you are not effective in that pursuit today?  Can you add to your world and begin inspiring others?


As of September 5th, 2012, I have decided to do just that.  If I possess the skill and qualification to be inspirational and lead others, my world has broadened to include an ever-widening network on LinkedIn, Twitter and WordPress.  Other social networks will be explored and the inspiration I deliver will spread over the worldwide web in a way I had never imagined.  I will inspire others online as well as face-to-face in presentations, Keynote addresses and all day experiences.  I will not stop broadening my network.

Perhaps the inspiration and leadership lifecycle has lengthened.  Join me on the path.  Inspire me to continue in Eye-Cubed style.  Lead me as I attempt to lead others.

Leadership, The Prerequisite of Inspiration

12 03 2013

What kind of leader are you?


When you are an Eye-Cubed leader, your attempts to inspire will be noticed.  Your words will be internalized and you will inspire movement and action.  Leadership moves perception from false preaching to truth, from irritating banter into music for their ears.  Fortunately, with real leadership, you will graduate from Eye-Cubed-U and will inspire all those around you.

Someone asked me:              How do you know if you are a leader?

For the answer, let us explore some Eye-Cubed-U vernacular describing two levels of leadership:

“Are you kidding me?” Leadership:              Leadership based solely on ones rank, designated title, organizational chart position or presumed status.

“You da man!/wo-man!” Leadership:             Leadership based on ones demonstrated action, personal characteristics, visible beliefs or undeniable skill.

Perhaps, like me, you are the second-generation owner of a family business and initially brought into the firm in a position of leadership.

Perhaps you have a friendship or family relationship with the supervisor, department manager or hiring manager and have been hired/promoted into a position of leadership.

Perhaps, like many sales managers, you were the top performing sales representative who was promoted to a position of leadership and now must manage former colleagues.

Perhaps, like many supervisors/managers of non-sales departments, longevity gave you the upper hand, thus affording you a position of leadership.

Perhaps you have graduated, earned a higher degree and have been hired into a position of leadership.

The aforementioned leadership positions give one the “Are you kidding me?” Leadership roles.  Your teams looked at you with raised eyebrows.  They spoke among themselves and with others about your lack of experience or demonstrated skill.  They watched you closely.  They looked for as many reasons to follow you as they did to reject you.  You were faced with the typical uphill battle to gain respect, goodwill and trust.  You needed to prove yourself and earn the leadership status you deserve.

However, you are an Eye-Cubed leader and place the greatest pressure on yourself to perform and grow. Your performance will move your status as an “Are you kidding me? Leader” to “You da man!/wo-man! Leader” for many reasons. You have integrity in your intentions and truth in your words.  You lead by example, are eager to roll up your sleeves and build a strong team of high performers. You will do anything for your team to help them reach their potential.  Your deep personal understanding of others creates a bond between you and your department.  You have the confidence in yourself to develop the leadership skills in others and promote them within your group and company.  You are “da wo-man” and are profoundly determined to build your leadership status.


When you develop the sought-after status as “You da man/wo-man” leadership, people want to follow you. They seek out your team and wish to join.  They love working on your team since you guide them to consistently produce at levels much higher than the expectations set by others.  They help each other succeed, excel as individuals and ultimately become the performing unit you desired and created.  Even more impressive, there will be folks who choose to follow you even though they do not have to.  You will reach the highest levels of leadership.

All Eye-Cubed Leaders are “You da man!/wo-man!” leaders.  It is a reputation difficult to earn and well worth the effort needed to acquire.  Now you are ready and willing and capable of inspiring your team.  However, your leadership goes beyond the workplace and so too does the network of individuals in which you infuse inspiration.  In my next post, let us explore the inspirational lifecycle as we strive to maximize our positive impact on others during our journey through life.

Find Your Inspiration, Spark Your Innovation

5 03 2013

It is lonely at the top

It is frustrating in the middle

It is tiring on the bottom


Regardless of where we are in our careers, we are often caught in the challenging cycle of focusing on things that seem “urgent” at the expense of those that are most “important”.  This reality prevents us from being inspired and innovative.  As Eye-Cubed leaders, what separates us from the rest is simple; we rise above the mundane and deliver more.  We get inspired, inspire others and uncover innovation along the way.  We inspire innovation that brings a powerful evolution to our companies allowing for sustained greatness over time.

There are many tasks in our day that are required.  And we must do them well if we plan on growing in our careers and giving our organizations the best chance to thrive.  Weather in the form of enduring meetings, extinguishing fires, performing tasks, managing issues or negotiating politics, we must do more for our teams and companies.

“The urgent items we face each day are like gas, if left unchecked, it will fill all available space, smother everyone and suck the life out of each of us as well as our companies.”

That is why we need to periodically extricate ourselves from this ever-present and required part of our day.  As difficult as it seems, we must create sacred space where we can obtain the upper hand on the work that is surrounding us and bring inspiration to our lives and innovation to our teams.

Here are some suggestions:

Formal Education:

There is nothing like it.  All degrees are worthy in some way of adding value to your life and skills that can be applied to your career.


Everything that you learn in a class as part of a degree is available to be taught in a book or found online.  You find tremendous sources of inspiration since you can pinpoint topics that interest you.  You do not need to be a voracious reader.  If you are consistent, you will be ahead of the pack.

Get a coach:

This investment is worth every penny.  A coach will help you through the tough times to find strategies that you may not have considered.  A good coach will help you find resources to get you started down a path at any time when needed.  A great coach will challenge you along the way when appropriate.  If you are a top executive and do not have a coach, you are leaving a critical resource on the table.

Form a personal board of directors:

You need a team of folks who you know, like and trust.  Moreover, you need a sounding board of people whose opinions you value.  This is more than a phone call once in a while or a quick story while out to dinner with spouses.  While your personal BOD does not need to meet as a formal group, you need to commit to meetings with each person once a quarter, twice a year or even once a year.  Have an agenda and make the meeting productive.

Join a peer/industry group:

Networking is one of the easiest methods of finding inspiration.  You will see how others work, what is going on in your industry and what the best practices are in your field.  By keeping your eyes open, you will notice that many have similar issues yet few find credible solutions.  If you can find solutions to problems, improvement to process or new concepts to innovate, your inspiration will be awakened.


Finding inspiration and innovation is the cornerstone for you to reach your goals.  It is neither a quick process nor an easy skill to develop.  Yet like any muscle, the time it takes to shape and build must be a priority.  With consistent effort and the commitment to make inspiration and innovation a necessity and part of our lifestyle, each of us can and will excel as Eye-Cubed-Leaders.