A leadership development resource

from the Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development Inc.

Volume I

Number 1

On the Horizon This Month:

Learning from Last Year
Make this one of the best years ever by taking the initiative to live illusion-free.

Tools You Can Use Save time and reduce clutter: Managing your bills online.

Stress-Free Productivity
Interview with productivity guru David Allen, author of Getting Things Done.

Leadership Links
Links to articles to help your personal and leadership development.

Special Offers from the Institute
Special offers on resources from the Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development Inc..

Click here to order!

Click on the book  now to get your copy of Jerry Weinberg's classic! Just about everyone will benefit from this book, regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a consultant.

Click here to order!

This is one of the best, easy-to-read books on practical marketing. Straight talk on the real job of marketing. Click on the cover now to get your copy!


Click here to order!

This interview provides a small taste of what David has to offer. Become more productive this year! Click on the cover above now to buy Getting Things Done.


[Learning from Last Year]  [Tools]  [Interview]  [Leadership Links]  [Special Offers]  [I LEAD Online]  [Printer-friendly]

Learning From Last Year


By now the ’Happy New Year!’ e-mail greetings have probably died down, and the real work of making this a better year than last has begun. In conversations with countless people from organizations around the country, a common theme has been "Good riddance, 2001!" Indeed, the tragedy of September 11 and the abysmal economic conditions throughout the year left many starting this one without a job (and many more awake at night wondering if their job was next in line for the hatchet).

Yet with all the obvious downside that marked 2001, it is a year we will not soon forget. It was a year that demanded leadership – from government leaders, certainly, but also from us personally. Each of us had a role in helping those we lead (such as our teams, our families, our friends) to gain the necessary perspective to work through each turn of events. It was a year that provided us all a giant slap of reality that we are not as secure nor independent as we might have imagined.

In his book The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving & Getting Advice Successfully, Gerald Weinberg offers one of my favorite lessons about a crisis:

It may look like a crisis, but it’s only the end of an illusion.

Think about a crisis or two that you faced in the last year. Can you see where some illusions may have lead to the crisis? For the U.S., we were certainly under the illusion that such a horrific event as 9/11 could not happen on our soil. We pretended airport security was not an oxymoron. We allowed our intelligence system to atrophy and assumed things would be OK. In our corporations and financial markets, it’s clear we were deluded to think profits did not matter, and that "if we build it, they will come." Though not true in all situations, there is much wisdom in the principle that illusions eventually lead to crisis.

Could it be you are walking into this new year blinded by some illusions that have you heading toward a cliff? There’s a difficult lesson we need to keep in mind in our personal and professional leadership development: We are all self-deceived! Some call it the “Lake Wobegon Effect” based on Garrison Keillor’s radio show sign-off from fictional Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, “where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all of the children are above average.” Self-deception can blind us to fundamental habits or behaviors that lead us down the path of challenge or crisis.

Want some examples?  Consider the manager who believes he can meet the same objectives but with many less people. How about the manager who decides that a year without training the staff will not impact department performance?  Or the marketing director who assumes her product is still exactly what the market needs, but does not take the time to ask customers?  

In Harry Beckwith’s classic book Selling the Invisible, he warns that the Lake Wobegon Effect can lead to us thinking our services or products are better than we think, causing us to ignore where we need to improve. An implication is that illusion is not just a problem for us as individuals, but for entire teams, departments, or organizations.

Here is my January challenge for you. Make a resolution for you and those you lead “to not get burned by the same problem twice.” This single resolution can be extremely powerful! It implicitly acknowledges that we will get burned! Mistakes happen in the real world (and if you have a relatively low occurrence of mistakes, it could be you are not taking enough risks!) However, getting burned by the same problem over and over means you are not learning from the mistake, and there lies the opportunity.

To take action on this challenge, here are two suggestions:

  • Allocate some time in your next staff meeting agenda for what I call Horizon Time©. The idea is based on the sailing principle that when the wind and waves start making you queasy, focusing on the horizon helps restore your equilibrium. In many workplaces, the churning waves of the day-to-day have people turning green! Allocate some Horizon Time in your staff meeting – some time to get their eyes off the day-to-day and onto the bigger picture. You (and they!) will be pleased with the results!

  • Print this newsletter out and bring it as a handout at the staff meeting (click here for a printer-friendly version or go to www.i-leadonline.com/newsletter/0201friendly.htm). Use the questions below to facilitate a discussion with the participants. Capture key discussion points on a whiteboard or flipchart, and make sure all action items are captured, assigned, and followed up on.

Let’s make this year one of the best ever! A year of growth… a year of results…. a year when you let go of some long held illusions and reap the joy of living and working in reality. You can make it a Happy New Year! I wish you and your teams all the best!

Team Questions

  • Directions: Take a couple minutes to read through the newsletter article, highlighting interesting points.

  • (After everyone is done reading) “What did you agree with? Disagree with? Have questions about?”

  • Exercise: Have people grab a piece of paper and something to write with. Ask each person to take 2 minutes to write down a work-related problem or crisis experienced last year.  Then, have them write down one or more illusions that could have played a part in causing the problem.

  • When the time is up, have each person relate the crisis they chose and their thoughts on the contributing illusions. It is important to not judge the validity of the input at this point; just get it captured.

  • As you go through this exercise, see if one or more illusions seem to occur multiple times.

  • Finish the time with brainstorming on actions the team can take to address the illusions. Document the actions and follow-up on them in a future meeting.

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Tools You Can Use


Most leaders I talk with these days are wrestling with ways to simplify their life. Here is an idea for your consideration. A while back I started using an online bill paying service that saves me time, reduces clutter, and makes it more convenient to manage it all even if I am on the road.

Here’s how it works: Instead of having our bills mailed to my home I get an e-mail from PayMyBills. There’s an easy click from the e-mail to a secure Bill Management Center. If I want, I can click a link to see a scanned in version of the actual bill. With a click, I notify PayMyBills how much to pay and when to pay it. The bill is paid directly from my checking account. That’s it! It’s as easy as using e-mail! No more paper bills in my mailbox. No more stamps to buy. No more checks to write. Managing my bills each month is so much faster and easier with PayMyBills. The Bill Management Center stores complete bill-paying history, and works with Quicken, Microsoft Money and Microsoft Excel.

I had to get past the "banking on the Internet" fears at first, and there are certainly other bill paying services out there.  However, after using PayMyBills for over a year now, I have no hesitations in recommending it to you. There is no long term commitment, so you can try it out and cancel at any time. Click here to learn more. Let me know how you like it after you try it for a couple months!

NOTE: For more tips on reducing clutter, check out the July 2002 Horizon Time by clicking here!

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Stress-Free Productivity: An Interview with David Allen


Labeled by Fast Company Magazine as "the guru of personal productivity," David has more than 20 years experience as a management consultant, productivity coach, and educator. He has conducted performance enhancement workshops for more than 300,000 professionals, with current ongoing programs in government, aerospace, financial services, retail, and information technology. David is the author of the best-selling book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Viking Penguin, 2001). If learning is defined as "I do things differently", David's 2 day Getting Things Done seminar is one of the richest learning experiences in my life. I caught up with David in early January for this interview.

AK: The message of your subtitle is intriguing. What does stress-free productivity mean?
DA: "Stress-free productivity" in a way is really a lie. You can't get rid of stress, in that anything that you want to have happen that hasn't happened yet creates a cognitive dissonance that seeks resolution. If you never had stress, you'd never grow. Nor would you deal well with change and movement, which is endemic to this world. It is possible to deal with that dynamic tension, though, in ways that manage that energy positively and productively instead of allowing it to create negative pressure and anxiety. You can learn to consciously surf on top of that wave of things to deal with instead of allowing yourself to feel overwhelmed and unproductively stressed about it.

AK: How does your approach differ from traditional time management teaching?
DA: You can't manage time, it just is. So "time management" is a mislabeled problem, which has little chance of being an effective approach.  What you really manage is your activity during time, and defining outcomes and physical actions required is the core process required to manage what you do. You get things done by defining "done" and deciding what "doing" looks like. Until then you don't really know how much time you need, in what context. Most "to-do" and "priority" lists are still incomplete piles of unclear things. I teach the thought process necessary to apply first, and the best practices of how to manage the results of that thinking. Also, traditional time management approaches usually don't emphasize the importance of tracking and managing everything that's incomplete - they tend to ignore less-than-top-priority things and try to get you to codify those priorities in some structured way. My approach turns that upside down: you need to be responsible to track and manage every single agreement with yourself and others (big or little) to free up psychic RAM, and you should keep your priority criteria hard-wired internally, with lots of flexibility to change what you are doing based on many complex criteria.

AK: Your book is filled with rich principles and tools to improve personal productivity, such as the Weekly Review, "Get it out of your head", and the Two Minute Rule. Of all the concepts you teach, is there one or two you've found that provides the greatest leverage?
DA: It's hard to segment the advice, because it all works together to create a completely trusted set of behaviors and systems - the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of the parts. But the advice boils down to 1) get it all out of your head, 2) decide what your commitment is with all of it and what actions are required to fulfill each, and 3) review and renegotiate with yourself continually what you are doing in light of the total inventory of work at hand.

AK: If you were to encourage a 2002 personal productivity resolution for our readers, what would it be?
DA: Sure. "I deserve the fabulous creative energy I am freeing up for myself as I successfully handle the responsibilities I have put in motion in my life and work."

Getting Things Done is a book I strongly recommend to everyone striving to improve their personal productivity. Click here to get your personal copy and begin reaping the benefits of stress-free  productivity.  For more information about David Allen, please visit his website at www.davidco.com.


NOTE: David is also interviewed in the July 2002 Horizon Time.  Click here to view that newsletter.

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Leadership Links

Each month I include links to help in your personal and leadership development. Here are the links for this month!

"How to Get and Keep a Life", by Patricia Wallington. January 1, 2002 issue of CIO Magazine.  Ready to take control of your work and life? It requires choices, and this article provides some practical advice on how to get started.

"What We Learned", by Matthew Boyle. December 24, 2001. fortune.com.  Layoffs, slashed perks, disappearing bonuses--it wasn't a pretty year on the job. In fact, there isn't much you can do except learn from it. Some of the lessons are obvious, but as this article shows, not obvious enough. :)

"Career Changes Surge In the Wake of Sept. 11", by Kelly Greene and Carlos Tejada, Wall Street Journal Online. Though there are no hard statistics, anecdotal evidence suggests that many working Americans, from top executives down to the rank-and-file, decided to make a big change in their lives after the terrorist attacks.

"Keeping Nose to Grindstone Can Make You Invisible", by Hal Lancaster, CareerJournal.com.  One of the big lessons from the massive layoffs of 2001 is the need for all leaders to spend time networking. This article provides an example of how we can easily forget this lesson and the resulting consequences.

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Special Offers from the Institute

Experiencing any change lately? It’s all around us. Layoffs. Reduced budgets. Less people being asked to do more. Increased anxiety. Uncertainty about the future. Whether at work or at home the environment we have to lead in is characterized by change, and there are few signs the change is about to stop.

Would you like some help navigating all this change? Would you like to be more confident in your ability to detect the changing winds so you can leverage them instead of being driven by them?


"The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators." Edward Gibbon

Here are three ways I can help:

1. I have a powerful presentation called Navigating the Winds of Change: Staying on Course in Business & in Life. I can come to your organization or conference and clearly give you the practical tools and concepts to help you better navigate today’s changing seas. Do you have a staff meeting, department meeting, company offsite, etc. being planned for this year? Contact me today to get your dates reserved. I personally 100% guarantee your satisfaction. And, if you reserve your date before the end of January, you will get an additional 20% off the normal fee for this session, so contact me today!

2. I am now offering an audio tape version of “Navigating the Winds of Change” presentation. Please contact me for information on how to order.

3. In early April, the book “Navigating the Winds of Change: Staying on Course in Business & Life” will be published. An early draft of the book is available for download from the Institute’s web site. Click here for details.

2002 can be great year for you and your team. Though training budgets are particularly tight this year, there are many ways that I can help you without breaking the bank! Contact me today to see how I can help you develop your team while benefiting your organization and your customers!

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Staying in Touch

Horizon Time is written by Andy Kaufman and is available via e-mail or on the Web for free to all registered subscribers.  You are invited to forward this newsletter to anyone interested in growing their personal and leadership skills!


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Horizon Time contains hyperlinks to web sites operated by persons other than the Institute for Leadership Excellence and Development (I LEAD). Such hyperlinks are provided for your reference and convenience only, and I LEAD is not responsible for the content or operation of such web sites. A hyperlink from Horizon Time to another web site does not imply or mean that I LEAD endorses the content on that web site or the operator or operations of that site. You are solely responsible for determining the extent to which you may use any content at any other web sites to which you might link from Horizon Time.

Copyright © 2002, Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development Inc. (I LEAD)