Next Level Blog

Simple, practical, applicable

Mindful Mondays: Travel Tips for the Mindful Road Warrior September 15 2014 no responses

emptyflightMy work requires a lot of travel to meet with and present to clients. As the recent news stories about high altitude disputes over reclining seats on airplanes suggest, business travel can be stressful. That stress can eat you alive if you let it. Over the years, I’ve adopted some routines that have helped me stay healthy and sane when I travel for business. I thought I’d start to share some of them with you today. Let’s call them travel tips for the mindful road warrior.

As I discuss in my forthcoming book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative, I think being intentional about your routines in four big domains – physical, mental, relational and spiritual – can help you show up at your best most often than not. What I try to do when I travel is keep up my routines as much as possible. It requires some preparation and flexibility to do that but I’ve found the pay off to be worth it.

Today, I’m sharing what I’ve learned about the physical routines that work for me when I travel. In the weeks to come, I’ll share the mental, relational and spiritual routines that help me stay more mindful on the road. Of course, I don’t think I have a monopoly on good ideas. Please share any tips you have to share for the mindful road warrior in the comments section at the end of the post.

The NFL Shows That Culture Change (Or the Lack of It) Starts at the Top September 12 2014 one response

uphillclimbIn the annals of interesting timing, it doesn’t get much better than an article that ran in the Financial Times this past Monday morning. It was a piece titled, “The HR Guy Cleaning Up NFL Locker Rooms” and described how the League’s new head of HR is on a mission to get rid of bullying, homophobia and racist language in the workplaces of the NFL’s 32 teams. As the new NFL CHRO, Robert Gulliver, said in the article, “Football is special and important, but this is also a workplace and we have to reinforce the idea that there are certain standards of workplace conduct.”

Nice sentiment. And then, as anyone who was exposed to cable news or the internet over the past week knows, on Monday afternoon the celebrity gossip site TMZ released the video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancé (now wife) in an elevator. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had suspended Rice for two games a few months ago when another video clip showed him dragging his fiancé out of the elevator after knocking her out.  Hardly anyone felt like a two game suspension was enough punishment but Goodell stuck with his decision on Rice. He stuck with it until the second video of the punch became public. Within hours, Rice was cut from the Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the NFL. And now we’re down to a case of what did Goodell and the League know about the Rice case and when did they know it? The timeline will be investigated by a former director of the FBI.

Which brings me back to the Financial Times article. In opening the piece, the columnist Andrew Hill writes that “even by the thankless Sisyphean standard of such culture-change programs, the National Football League is beginning at the foot of the hill.” Later, in summing up the task before the HR chief Gulliver, Hill writes, “So if you are standing at the bottom of the mountain, worrying about the long ascent, remind yourself that the worst thing you can do is to delay starting the climb.”

Fair enough, but you can’t expect to make the climb by yourself. The challenge facing Robert Gulliver or anyone else responsible for a culture-change program is that there has to be alignment between what you’re asking people to do and what those same people see from the top leadership. The hypocritical, craven way in which the NFL has handled the Ray Rice domestic abuse case renders any meaningful chance of culture-change mute. Culture change doesn’t start with a program, it starts with top leadership. And, in that respect, the NFL is sorely lacking.

What’s your take?

Join the OOTMA Launch Team and Receive Six Exclusive Benefits September 10 2014 no responses

ootma-teamNew research shows that the smart phone equipped professional is connected to work 72 hours a week. According to the American Psychological Association, the number one source of stress is the job pressure of a 24/7 world, so it’s no wonder that 48 percent of Americans report their stress level has increased over the past five years.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’d like to invite 100 of my readers to join the OOTMA Launch Team and help us spread the word that being overworked and overwhelmed doesn’t have to be the norm.

In Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative (OOTMA), I offer “must know” mindfulness basics that today’s professional needs in order to thrive in a 24/7 world. The book includes:

  • a self assessment to understand how you perform at your best

  • simple routines to reduce stress and sustain your peak performance

  • a personal planning framework for creating the outcomes that matter most at home, at work and in your community.

I’m humbled that this book has been endorsed by best selling authors like Dan Pink, Adam Grant and Marshall Goldsmith and business leaders like Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, DIRECTV Senior Vice President Linda Simon and GE’s Chief Learning Officer Raghu Krishnamoorthy.

By working together to get the word out on this book, we can make a big difference in the lives and work of a lot of people.  Here are the details on the OOTMA Launch Team and how to join.

Team Member Benefits:


As an OOTMA Launch Team member you will get:

1. A free, electronic review copy of the book in advance of the publication date.

2. An exclusive 60 minute Life GPS® call for the Launch Team where I will walk you through how to use the tool that’s at the heart of OOTMA. The call will give you a hands-on taste of some of what I share in Overworked and Overwhelmed.

3.  Free downloadable copies of our new Life GPS® Personal Planner and our Overworked and Overwhelmed group discussion guide.

4. Exclusive access to me and other team members via a private Google+ group.

5. A special THANK YOU post on my blog and to my mailing list with a link to your blog or website.

6. A 25% discount on my soon-to-be-released The Insider’s Guide to Coaching Success product.  This audio program includes some of the most important lessons I’ve learned about how to build a successful coaching business based on your experience, unique point of view and original content.

Team Member Requirements:

As member of the OOTMA Launch Team you:

1. Help spread the word about the book through your existing platforms including your blog, newsletter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest starting the week of October 6th.

2. Write a brief review of the book on Amazon and other e-tailer outlets

3. Share ideas and brainstorm additional ways we might share the message with an even greater audience. All ideas are welcome!

Next Steps:

Apply through the link below through September 16th to be considered for the OOTMA Launch Team and help us spread the word! Once we receive your application we’ll review it and be in touch by September 18th with more information including an invitation to the exclusive 60 minute call. We’ll activate the OOTMA Launch Team the week of October 6.

Click here to join the OOTMA Launch Team!

Thanks for your continued support and your help with getting the word out about Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative!

Mindful Mondays: How To Keep Your Smartphone From Taking Over Your Life September 8 2014 no responses

smartphone-addictAs smart phone addicted people around the world await Apple CEO Tim Cook’s introduction of the iPhone 6 tomorrow, perhaps this is a good day to think about how to keep your smart phone from taking over your life. While I was doing the research for my new book, I came across a lot of interesting stats about just how addicted many people are to their phones and how that affects their lives.

For instance, one study I saw reported that the majority of smart phone owners are never more than five feet away from their device. Likewise, many people report that the first thing they do when they wake up and the last thing they do before going to bed is check their phone. Maybe that’s why, as the the Center for Creative Leadership learned in a 2013 study, that the average smart phone enabled executive, manager or professional is connected to their work an average of 72 hours a week.

So, perhaps your smart phone has already taken over your life or maybe it’s about to. Whatever your threat level, here are some ideas for how to reclaim your life from your smart phone.

What Any Leader Can Learn from Pope Francis September 3 2014 no responses


Jeffrey A. Krames has been involved in publishing more than 400 business books over the course of his career and has written books on business and government leaders like Jack Welch and Donald Rumsfeld. As Krames describes himself, he is the son of Holocaust survivors and believes that Pope Francis is the most authentic leader he has ever seen. As he told me in a recent conversation, he felt moved to write a book on the Pope. It’s called Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis and is available this week.
Krames defines leadership as the ability to articulate a vision and get others to carry it out.  In our conversation, I asked Krames to share some examples of how Pope Francis embodies that definition. Krames is a keen observer and has a real talent for explaining how the Pope operates as a leader.
Give a listen to the conversation for compelling stories of authentic leadership in action, reflect on what you can learn from the Pope and how humility combined with ruthless consistency may be the secret to effective leadership.
If you’re fascinated by Pope Francis, you’ll love Lead With Humility.  Check it out.

Three of the Most Common Delegation Ah-ha’s August 28 2014 3 responses

delegationOne of the biggest shifts that most rising leaders have to make is the shift from being the go-to person to someone who builds teams of go-to people.  As you take on more and more scope in your leadership role, you can’t continue to operate as the go-to person who acts as if you’re personally responsible for everything that happens. You need to be accountable and own the results but you can’t expect yourself to do everything that leads to the results.

That, of course, means that you need to be really effective at delegation. Unfortunately, a lot of leaders aren’t that good at it.  Too often, they delegate something to a team member and it doesn’t get done well, or on time or at all.  One of the big reasons this happens is because too many leaders take a “one size fits all” approach to delegation. As I’ve written here before, effective delegation needs to be custom-fit to the people involved and the tasks that need to be accomplished.

That might sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t really have to be. For several years now, I’ve been teaching the executives in our leadership development programs how to use a simple delegation checklist I came up with called TRACK™. Using the TRACK checklist, a leader can come up with a really clear picture on how to custom fit the delegation by considering:

  • the what’s and why’s of the Task,
  • how to make a clear delegation Request,
  • what full Achievement would look like,
  • the depth and frequency of Check-in’s needed along the way
  • and the Knowledge and Kudos that should be gained and shared as a result of the work.

Given time to think about and practice their delegation techniques, the leaders I work with come up with some pretty big ah-ha’s about what would make them more effective in sharing the work with their teams. Here are three of the most common delegation ah-ha’s:

Mindful Mondays: What If We All Hugged It Out? August 25 2014 4 responses

airportrushBecause I fly a lot for my work, I get upgraded to first class a good bit. Sometimes, it’s just a happy surprise and other times, I’ll use frequent flyer miles to secure a seat up front at the end of a long week of travel.

Last week was one of those long week of travel scenarios. I had a connection at Washington Dulles to catch a late afternoon flight to Los Angeles. My connecting flight to Dulles was late taking off and then got put in a holding pattern over the airport for 45 minutes. By the time we landed and I got my bags, it was five minutes after the door to the LA flight was supposed to close. I decided to make a run for it anyway because I really wanted to get home. After running a half mile through concourse D with my back pack strapped on and my roll aboard trailing behind me. I made it to the gate and was thrilled to see that the door was still open. I wasn’t so thrilled when the gate agent told me that she had just given my first class seat away. I was too out of breath to argue about it and took the seat she gave me.

As I got on the plane, a flight attendant named Catherine greeted me. I mentioned that I had just lost my seat up front and was hoping to get dinner on the plane since I was really hungry. She said that there were snack boxes in coach that I could buy. It was at that point that I said I was pretty upset that the gate agent had given my seat away. And in that moment, Catherine began what was one of the more amazing sequences of human kindness that I have ever encountered.

She looked at me and asked, “Do you want to hug it out?”

Overworked and Overwhelmed? We Have an Offer for You and Your Colleagues August 22 2014 no responses

Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative - New Book by Scott EblinIf you’ve been reading this blog the past few months, you know that I’ve been working on my next book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative. There are two questions that people usually ask me when they hear the title of the book. The first is, “When can I read it?” The second is “How does the new book relate to what you’ve been doing?”

On the first question, I’m thrilled to let you know that Overworked and Overwhelmed is now in production and will be available on October 13. On the second question, I view this new book as the logical successor to my first book, The Next Level. The connection is explained in the tag line of the new Eblin Group website we’re launching in a few weeks:

Leadership presence requires being present.

 The Next Level is all about leadership presence. Overworked and Overwhelmed is all about how to be present.

As you can see on our dedicated website about the book, it’s garnered very strong endorsements from best selling leadership experts like Dan Pink and Marshall Goldsmith and business leaders like the Chief Learning Officer of GE. In the same way that The Next Level offers leadership tips that are easy to do and likely to make a difference, Overworked and Overwhelmed makes the principles of mindfulness practical and accessible for stressed-out professionals who think they’re too busy to meditate. Go to the Overworked and Overwhelmed book site now to download a complementary copy of the Introduction to the book.

We’re very confident that this book is going to make a difference for you and your organization so we’re making it very attractive for you to share it with your colleagues. Here are the details. (Please share this post with those who would be interested):

Tired of the Fire Drills? Appoint a Fire Marshal August 20 2014 no responses

firemarshalOne of the things I talk a lot about with my executive coaching clients is the highest and best use of their time and attention. When they think about what they really need to accomplish and how they should be spending their time to do that they often see a gap. The gap is between what they should be spending their time and attention on and what they actually are spending it on.

When they itemize the lists on both sides of the equation they usually recognize that a lot of what sucks up their time and attention each week is fire drills. If you’re an executive or manager, you know what fire drills are. They’re the unexpected customer crises, data calls from the top or systems breakdowns that draw you into a vortex of email chains, impromptu meetings and circular conversations. Before you know it, you’ve turned over ten or twenty hours of your week to stuff you had no idea was going to even come up on Monday morning. Fire drills make it really hard to stick with and follow through on all of those more strategic and value added uses of your time and attention.

How do you get out of the fire drill time suck? Appoint a fire marshal to handle them. If you think back on your own development, you’ve likely had fire drill experiences in your career that forged you into the leader you are today. You learned a lot from those fire drills.

Give the people on your leadership team the same opportunity. Every week or two, designate one of them as the fire marshal for the team. When a fire drill sounds, the fire marshal is the first responder. If it’s a brush fire, it’s their job to get it put out and maybe not even get you involved until they tell you it’s over. If it’s a raging forest fire, they should bring you in earlier but you should give them the space to coordinate the response. If half the state is on fire, then you should probably take the lead. The good news, though, is that most fire drills don’t require water drops from big huge planes. Most are smaller than that and probably don’t require your hands on attention.

So, if you’re tired of the fire drills, try appointing some fire marshals. They’ll get some valuable experience and knowledge and you’ll have more time to do the things you know you need to but never seem to have the time for.

What’s your take? What conditions would need to be in place for you to appoint some fire marshals?

Mindful Mondays: Inject Some Life Into Your Daily Grind August 18 2014 no responses

peppergrinderBack in 2007, Tim Ferris released a mega best-seller called The 4-Hour Workweek. He’s since gone on to release a couple of other best-sellers but it was his first book that really put him on the map. It was a great title for sure. Who doesn’t want a four-hour work week?

I’ve always joked, however, that there was no way Tim Ferris was only spending four hours a week working on writing and then getting the word out about his book. As I’ve been doing the same thing on my second book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative this year, I’ve been reminded of what a time intensive process it is to write a book and then let the world know about it. (After all, what’s the point of writing it for people if no one knows it’s there?)

The biggest challenge for me this year has been to write the book and meet my normal business obligations without becoming – you guessed it – overworked and overwhelmed. It’s been an interesting exercise in eating my own dog food. I’m happy to report that it actually tastes pretty good and that most days and weeks turn out pretty well.

Still, as my wife and business partner, Diane and I move closer to the October 13 launch of the new book, we’ve found the daily grind to be more intense than usual. The good news is that working on the book has made us more acutely aware of the disparity between showing up in a mindful – aware and intentional – way and just putting our heads down and continuing to grind it out hour after hour.

For us, being mindful includes things like regular quiet time and exercise each day but it also means tuning into when we just need to inject a little more life into the daily grind. For instance, after a long day of work last Wednesday, we decided about a half hour before dinner time to go out to eat instead of the normal routine of having dinner at home. It was just a couple of hours that made it easier to get out of our heads, enjoy each other’s company and get a change of scene. Going out to eat was a super simple but highly effective way of injecting some life into the daily grind. When we got back to the work the next morning, it was with a little more energy, enthusiasm and creativity.

What super simple thing could you do this week to inject some life into your daily grind?