In November of 2019 I gave a keynote to 40 CEOs of some of the largest credit unions in the United States. The #1 and #2 “Best Places to work” in the entire nation were among them. The event was held at the beautiful, world-class Pebble Beach. What I shared with this audience, I will now share with you.

You are a success.

You have reached the pinnacle of success. You are a C-suite/executive-level leader of a value-based organization that serves thousands, no doubt positively impacting many more people in the communities and businesses in which you operate. Well done! It is extremely important to your future leadership impact and success that you really accept this acknowledgement. Why?

  • Because what you do inside of yourself you will do with others out there.
  • If we cannot acknowledge, validate, and champion ourselves, we simply can never do this well for others. In your role, it is imperative that you easily and frequently acknowledge, validate, and champion those in your care.

Nothing could matter more than you feeling good.

And by good we mean whole, loved, enough; valued, seen, recognized; alive, excited, inspired…


  • Simply because your life matters.
  • Because you feeling good will make you a significantly better leader and how you think and how you feel affects everything you do and how you do it. And you impact and touch so many! You are kind of a big deal!!
  • Your ability to focus your thoughts on all the beauty, success, and joy that exists today will make life wonderful for you. When you feel that life is wonderful, you will be great with other people—present, available, encouraging and inspiring!
  • Because everything, EVERYTHING, gets done through human relationships, it really does matter that you learn how to feel good and wonderful daily.

The most important thing you will ever do is to learn to think thoughts that make you feel good.

  •  Have you been able to focus your mind on good-feeling thoughts?
  • Again, you are doing this so that you have the inner resources to not only handle the numerous challenges in your day job, but to do so with greater presence, humanity, grace, and compassion.
  • Have you been feeding your mind a diet of good-feeling thoughts daily, such that it is starting to become a natural way for you to think and experience the world? If not, keep reading for how you can begin to do this today.
  • Neurons grow and recede according to use throughout our entire lives. The more we think a thought, the more we will continue to think it. By repeating a thought, we strengthen the neural connection and shape, in a very real way, the physical structure of our brain and what we experience as reality.

What research tells us about the impact of this to the bottom line.

  • Over the last 18 years, the Leadership Circle Organization has surveyed more than 155,000 C-suite and senior-level leaders in more than 25,000 organisations, 246 countries, and more than 80 industries.
  • What they found was that 70–75 percent of these people lead with a Reactive Level of Mind or Quality of Thought: one that is largely critical, distant, arrogant, passive, complying, autocratic, and overly driven.
  • This Reactive Level of Mind is strongly correlated with leadership ineffectiveness and diminished business results. In addition, it is simply a much less enjoyable way of life.
  • Only 20-25 percent of C-suite and executive leaders are moving towards or currently lead from a Creative Level of Mind or Quality of Thought: a teacher, coach, and mentor orientation focused on caring human connections, emotional and interpersonal intelligence, composure, integrity, courageous authenticity, self- and systems awareness, one that is visionary and purposeful. Not to mention, this is simply a much more enjoyable way of life!

What needs to be my daily inner dialogue?

Truly effective leadership requires an inner identity and dialogue that sounds something like this:

  • I like who I am.
  • I am proud of all I have accomplished and achieved. I know I am a success.
  • I am pretty great at the couple of things I do exceptionally well. I am also pretty bad at most everything else. And that is just fine.
  • There are so many talented people around me; I don’t need to look smart, be right, know all the answers, or go it alone.
  • I love leading, learning, and investing in the talent and success of others.
  • I love the camaraderie I feel and foster among my ELT/SLT/board. I know we are all in this together.
  • These are challenging and uncertain times so there are days when I get down, am exhausted and feel overwhelmed, but overall, I am proud of how I am holding up.
  • I love how my team and I support, encourage and champion each other. I know we will get through this time and be better and stronger for it.
  • Because I know I am a success, I no longer need to look for evidence of this or external validation in its many forms. I am finally free. I can now fully focus on making interactions that advance the success of others.

It is an inner identity that says “I am good. I’ve got enough inside,” and is therefore able to focus on these daily questions:

  • Who needs me today?
  • What do they need most? What are the human beings behind those powerful titles really hungry for?
  • How can I best assist?
  • And, because I am still a human being, what do I need today to ensure that I can be my best and highest self for others?

If this is to be a rewarding year—below is a daily practice we highly recommend. It is our gift to you.

Do this daily.

This one exercise alone has the potential to improve virtually every aspect of your leadership and life.

Each morning set five minutes on a clock and do the following:

  1. On a blank piece of paper, write down your intention for the day: the top two or three things you want or need to accomplish and who you want to be as you accomplish them. On the latter, you might write a single sentence like “I want to be present, encouraging, and inspiring.” Or “My intention today is to be open, curious, and approachable.” Or “I want to have fun and make the day fun for those I work with and through.”
  2. Then write down as many good, exciting, inspiring thoughts as the day ahead could hold for you if you let it. Capture what you are most grateful for and what you could be excited about if you wanted to be. The purpose is to ensure you are in the best emotional state to handle the events of your day with the intention you set above.
  3. Fold this paper and carry it with you. Schedule a time to take it out at least once during the day to remind and refocus yourself and to give you one moment of pause in your hectic schedule.

Love and lead yourself.

The world is changing faster than ever before and in order to thrive, we each need to acknowledge and champion ourselves in ways most leaders are not yet skilled at doing. What we know is that if you can champion yourself well internally, you will easily be able to do so with others and do it well under pressure. You will then be a magnet for talent, as others will love working in your presence, thriving under your leadership and gladly giving you their best and all their discretionary efforts. Then together, you just might find yourselves having the time of your lives serving others, as it is the only purpose of leadership.