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Bucket List

When was the last time you looked at your bucket list? A bucket list should hold us accountable for the things we want to do in life. It should be a source of excitement, providing us with one more reason to wake up in the morning. My bucket list consists primarily of new places and new experiences, ten of which I highly recommend.

10. En route to Machu Picchu, this is one of the camp sites along the Inca Trail. The elevation is approximately 12,000 feet, which is just high enough to reach out and touch the clouds. IMG_5977

9. Lopburi, Thailand has been overtaken by monkeys, most of whom have formed two gangs. Each gang occupies a temple on opposing sides of the street. When the monkeys are not swinging from telephone lines and climbing atop vehicles stopped at red lights, you’ll likely find many catching a short nap in the shade. img_2026

8. The Terracotta Army in Xian, China was discovered in 1974 when local farmers were supposedly digging a well. The sculptures were buried around 210-209 BCE. Each warrior is mesmerizing, as no two faces are alike, and while some are missing parts of their body, they do not break rank. They stand, and they appear prepared to move forward. img_2454

7.  The Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt is considered the second largest ancient religious site in the world (the first is Angkor Wat). Pictured here is a glimpse of Hypostyle Hall, home to 134 massive columns carved with mesmerizing hieroglyphs. IMG_7333

6. The Tunnels of Cu Chi in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam comprise an immense tunnel network that took approximately 25 years to build. The tunnels were used extensively by the Viet Cong guerillas, but they were also home to many Vietnamese. People lived in these secret tunnels. Travelers, escorted by a guide, can now crawl through the tunnels. (Just try not to get stuck in one of the many tight bends, like I did. It made for quite a scare). cu chi

5.  This is what sunrise on the Great Wall of China looked like on a cold morning in February, 2004. I was able to get onto the wall at 3 a.m. and hike to Simatai (the highest part of the Great Wall). I hiked only a few miles by head torch, the help of a few friends, and a bit of luck. Current measurements put the length of the Great Wall at over 13,000 miles. light blues - Copy

4.  If you like lavenders and purples and blues, every sunset in Koh Samui, Thailand will call to you. img_1046

3.  The Padrão dos Descobrimentos in Lisbon, Portugal rests stoically on the edge of the Tagus River, celebrating 33 figures for their role in the Age of Exploration. Padrao dos Descobrimentos

2.  In Palermo, Sicily, an evening stroll after eating handmade pasta and drinking local red wine is precisely what’s necessary so you can do it again tomorrow. img_1683

1.  Just as some nations protect rain forests, Dubai, UAE protects its ever-decreasing deserts. Sand-boarding, as Michelle is doing below, is a thrilling way to see the majestic sand dunes that once characterized the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf. Sandboarding

What’s on your bucket list? What have you crossed off recently? And what are you looking forward to?

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Social-media Savvy

So you’re ready to begin a social-media campaign. Or it’s time to re-evaluate your current metrics. Consider how the following might inform your next move:

Facebook

If your goal is to garner “likes” and “shares,” post on Thursdays (between 3:00-5:00 p.m.). If your post has travel-related content, Mondays and Tuesdays are better. Of course, the worst day to post (if “likes,” “shares,” and page views are your objective) is Saturday. Check out an article by Atiqur Rehman for more information. Also, of the big social-media platforms, the Facebook audience is most receptive to offers and giveaways.

Twitter

Use the Advanced Search function to identify market segments, target audiences, and trending hashtags, and to study your competition. One company on Twitter, @visually, constantly tweets about things that do not seem to have anything to do with their key product/service, which is content marketing. They do tweet about content marketing (every third or fourth tweet), but they also tweet about things like “how much sugar people should consume” or “what Americans spend their time doing in a typical day.” Again, their tweets do not have much to do with content marketing, but they are interesting. I suppose that, as one of their Twitter followers, as long as I continue to find their tweets interesting, I’ll associate interesting things with their brand.

Pinterest

Success on Pinterest does not seem reliant on native content as much as simply identifying good content and pinning it to your company’s boards. Businesses would do well to ruminate on what, specifically, their Pinterest boards are titled, as they need to be representative of the business. Also, if native content is created, it will likely perform better if it is bulleted, or if it is a three-step or five-step process.

Instagram

Simply posting links to your blog/offer/giveaway will likely be ineffective. Businesses must make an effort to drive Instagram users into their marketing funnel. This can be accomplished by creating a targeted landing page for Instagram users. Success on Instagram does not seem reliant on native content as much as simply identifying good content and posting it. However, in order to drive traffic from Instagram to your company website, you will need to compel people to click on, perhaps, a dedicated bit.ly link. Consider linking to an article that is somehow relevant to the photo, and then nudge the reader toward more of the content on your blog or toward your services. This might make the transition from Instagram to your website more seamless.


You needn’t become a social-media expert overnight. Arima Business Solutions has expert consultants in social-media management. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.

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Rules of Argument (part 3)

This three-part post will cover six rules of argument that should be important to any knowledge worker, executive, leader, manager, or critical thinker.

What follows is a continuation of part 1 and part 2.

Rule #5: You are not your argument.

Remember that while you may be passionate about your argument, you are not your argument. This might best be supported by Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, when he discusses how difficult this is, yet how essential it is to continued growth. The example he cites is biblical. Rohn cites this about Jesus: “Jesus could say, ‘I love you but I hate your sinful ways.'”

Now, how it is possible to love and hate in the same sentence? If you hate a person’s actions, do you have to hate the person? Or is it possible to love a person (for instance, your mother, father, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, significant other) but hate what he does to himself? An example suggesting the viability of the love/hate relationship can be found in the granddaughter’s love for her alcoholic grandfather. She loves her grandfather. But she cannot stand what he’s doing to himself. In fact, she hates it! Still, she has learned to distinguish the two. She loves him, but she hates his sinful ways. Such separation is a sign of emotional and intellectual maturity. Some critical thinkers would argue that the ability to separate or delineate the two is essential. 

Consider examining another scenario. The trial attorney may argue many cases over the course of a year. In each case, he may present his opening argument. If he were his argument, then we should diagnose him with schizophrenia or multiple-personality disorder because he has become the following: “George Pearson should not have to pay this increase in child support,” “Martha Bivins was not legally sane when she killed her husband,” “Ms. Jodstone did, in fact, violate the contract,” “Robert Ash is entitled to this insurance settlement,” etc. See, in certain arenas, this ability to delineate or separate a person and his argument is developed and honed. For this writer, the arena consisted of three classes: Philosophy of Law, Business Law, and Constitutional Law II. In Constitutional Law II, I was asked to argue for “Brown v. Board of Education.” After doing so for approximately five minutes, I was given ten seconds to collect my thoughts, and then I was asked to argue against “Brown v. Board of Education.”

There are many things to learn from such an exercise. First, when studying both sides of a case, we are often able to see the motivations for people’s arguments. We also become familiar with the facts, and we become familiar with the opposition’s claims. Second (and something “critical thinkers” may wish to examine), being expected to argue both sides of an argument convincingly and passionately helps absolve a person of the emotional connection he may have at one time thought necessary when constructing an argument. Notice, the passion can still be present, for passion can be created simply from a desire to win or to emerge victorious. And hence, hopefully you can still find the passion to argue, even if you do not agree with the claim you’re attempting to advance. But know this: you are not your argument. Just as a person can delineate love and hate, just as an attorney can delineate his many arguments, and just as a student of law can delineate both sides of an argument, you must separate yourself from your argument.

Rule #6: Listen with the intention of listening, not with the intention of offering your retort.

One way people telegraph their intention to offer a retort as opposed to genuinely listen is when they interrupt. Such people are so excited about what they have to say that what you are saying is no longer important and, frankly, it’s probably not being heard. Of course, some would argue that they do listen, but they simply have a terrible habit of interrupting. In that case, note this: those who interrupt are often perceived as pushy, rude, disrespectful, overbearing, and egotistical; they are also often perceived as bad listeners. Thus, if you are guilty of interrupting, even if you do not think you are guilty of the aforementioned “charges,” realize that this is often the perception of such people. If you want to dodge this perception and escape this stigma, exhibit the patience required to listen. And if you’re on the receiving end of a “pauser,” a person who pauses often while speaking, then simply ask the question: “Are you finished?” If the person is not, he’ll tell you. Of course, if he is, then the soapbox is yours.


See part 1 and part 2 for the other Rules of Argument.

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Rules of Argument (part 2)

This three-part post will cover six rules of argument that should be important to any knowledge worker, executive, leader, manager, or critical thinker.

     argument = a discussion (an argument is not a quarrel)

     thinking critically = this does not mean thinking negatively. Critical thinking can be completely positive, completely negative, or, more likely, an amalgamation of both.

What follows is a continuation of part 1.

Rule #3: When arguing, if you must raise your voice, do it quickly, and do it for emphasis.

Employ such vocal inflection like a writer would employ italics. On occasion it may be necessary, but be conscious of it. Those on the receiving end of your amplified voice may only tolerate it for so long. Remember to lower it, take a deep breath, and remember that if people think you are about to explode, they might be more concerned with the results of the explosion than they are with the argument you’re attempting to advance.

Rule #4: Try to control your argument.

While “control” is an illusion or a state of mind, and while we human beings find ourselves steeped in our own subjectivity, it is still advisable to attempt control or restraint, especially when you find that your appeals are far more emotionally-driven than they should be. Emotional appeals, of course, may be a component of any argument, but they become lofty unless they are grounded by logical appeals. Similarly, ethical appeals, if relied upon too heavily, can find themselves floating among the unwarranted and unsubstantiated.

This is a problem with such appeals. While logical appeals may seem dry, academic, or simply boring, if delivered responsibly, they should seem more credible and reliable than emotional and ethical appeals. Further, emotional appeals often flirt with bias, prejudice, fallacies, blind assertions, and sweeping over-generalizations. An example of this can be found when a student argues to his professor that he should have earned a higher grade on an assignment. The argument may begin in a responsible manner, for the student may cite logical appeals to advance his contention. If, however, the professor is able to combat each appeal and the student becomes frustrated, the student might blurt, “You’re unfair. You’re mean. You’re outrageous.” In this situation, the student has just articulated three assertions, and as a critical thinker or a person who values the formal constructs of argumentation, he should be prepared to offer an example for each one. Unfortunately, these assertions were (most likely) emotionally-driven. They are steeped in anger, immaturity, and bias.

Try to control your argument by remaining conscious of the appeals you have chosen to employ. Use emotion, for it is attractive, and it can advance an argument. But do not forget to mix it up. And if you find yourself becoming too emotive (relying too heavily on emotional appeals), make a decision immediately to correct your current course of action.

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Winning Psychology

Many books never age for me. Huck is still Huck; Holden is still Holden; Think And Grow Rich and The Magic of Thinking Big still resonate. I read and re-read these books. The books are the same, but I have changed. This remains a curious method for measuring growth.

Recently I re-read Dr. Denis Waitley’s The Psychology of Winning. Published in 1979, plenty might consider it ancient. But its wheels are still true.

Here are the takeaways that I find most valuable:

Make a List of “I Am’s.”

Create two columns. Place your assets or “I am good at” in one column. Place your liabilities or “I need improvement in” in the other column. Pick your ten best traits and your ten traits needing the most improvement. Take the first three liabilities and schedule an activity or find a winner who will help you improve in each of the three areas.

Accepting Compliments

One good indicator of an individual’s opinion of himself is the way he can accept a compliment. It is incredible how low-achievers belittle and demean themselves when others try to pay them value:

“I’d like to congratulate you on a job well done.”

“Oh, it was nothing . . . I was just lucky I guess.”

“Wow, that was a great shot you made!”

“Yeah, I had my eyes closed.”

“That’s a good looking suit. Is it new?”

 “No, I’ve been thinking of giving it to Goodwill.”

The Loser believes that the quality of humility should be pushed over the cliff into humorous humiliation. And the devastating fact is that the robot self-image is always listening and accepts these negative barbs as facts to store as reality.

The Winners in life accept compliments by simply saying “thank you.” Bob Hope says “thank you”; Frank Boorman says “thank you”; Steve Cauthen, after winning the Triple Crown, doesn’t say “gee, I almost fell off my horse”; he says “thank you.” Neil Armstrong, Jack Nicklaus, Cheryl Tiegs, Nancy Loopez, Chris Evert all say “thank you.” Self-esteem is the quality of simply saying “thank you,” and accepting value that is paid to you by others.

Wants and Desires

Make a list of five of your most important current wants or desires, and right next to each . . . put down what the benefit or payoff is to you when you achieve it. Look at this list before you go to bed each night and upon awakening each morning.


Indeed, Dr. Waitley’s Psychology of Winning has reminded me of the things I’ve lost focus on. And today, when the competition for your attention is likely greater than it has ever been before (the incessant alerts, updates, notifications via smartphones, computers, social media, etc.), one of his admonitions hits home: “Concentrate all your energy and intensity, without distraction, on the successful completion of your current project. Finish what you start.”

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Rules of Argument (part 1)

This three-part post will cover six rules of argument that should be important to any knowledge worker, executive, leader, manager, or critical thinker.

     argument = a discussion (an argument is not a quarrel)

     thinking critically = this does not mean thinking negatively. Critical thinking can be completely positive, completely negative, or, more likely, an amalgamation of both.

Rule #1: If you ask a question and do not get the answer you desired, ask the same question differently.

This strategy can be found when people take polls. For instance, a pollster might compose the following question: “Do you support programs that provide money to people living below the defined poverty level?” Now, if the percentage of people answering “yes” were 79%, and if the pollster needed a much lower number to satisfy his organization’s needs, he might ask the same question differently. For instance, he might write: “Do you support welfare programs?” Since the question is essentially the same—and it is just being asked differently—perhaps the percentage should still be the same. Unfortunately, words have an awful tendency to frame perceptions and, hence, that might explain why when this question was asked after the initial question, a much lower percentage of people answered “yes.” By asking the same question differently, the pollster was able to elicit a different answer.

This strategy is also evidenced in sales. Essentially, whether the salesperson is selling houses, automobiles, office buildings, airplanes, or businesses, the answer he is looking for is “yes.” However, you may notice that when a salesperson asks you, “So, would you like to get this car today?” and you say “No,” the salesperson does not pack up his proverbial bags and leave. Instead, he attempts to address your objection, identify with it, and refute it. His refutation, of course, will probably end with the same question being asked differently: “So, based on that new information, would you like to drive away in this car today?” Similarly, when engaged in an argument, if you ask a question and do not get the answer you desired, ask the same question differently. Offer new information. Offer hypothetical examples. Of course, you may never get the person to change his mind. You may, however, get the person to make a new decision based on new information. And that new decision may be the answer you were looking for.

Rule #2: If you offer an assertion, you must have an example to support it.

By definition, an assertion is “a statement or declaration, often without support or reason.” Hence, if you asserted that the school systems in Europe are better than those in America, then you’d best be equipped with the requisite examples, for even though Wayne Booth suggests that “nobody’s from Missouri anymore,” we know that some people do desire evidence. Some people do desire proof. These people might be deemed “critical thinkers.” When arguing with someone who possesses such desires, the proof ought to be there. If you deem yourself a critical thinker, then do not offer an assertion unless you have an example to advance it.


For more Rules of Argument, have a look at part 2 and part 3.

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Finding Peace

Some parents find peace at the end of their child’s recital, or performance, or perhaps, on a lazy Sunday morning when the kids and the dog all slumber on the bed together with Mom and Dad—quiet, relaxed, happy.

Students may find peace—albeit brief—after composing an essay or completing a final exam.

Athletes have regular opportunities to find peace. Peace, like many things, is fleeting. But there is a moment—and every athlete knows this moment—when you’ve turned in a good session, one where you pushed through the uncertainty and the discomfort, the doubt and the discord, and you’ve reached your goal. There’s that moment, when you’re sitting in your truck after a hard swim session, when you’re standing in your driveway after a tough run, or when you’re slumped over the top tube of your bike after a positively brutal ride.

That moment—when you stop moving—and when your brain is no longer urging your body forward—that is a peaceful moment. Everything, in that moment, is right. There are no bills to pay, no errands to run, no complaints to address.

Exercise

Daily exercise might require 20-60 minutes, and it might involve a few minutes of preparation. However, the science suggests that exercising will give you more energy, reduce stress, help you sleep better, and help you feel better about yourself.

Meditation

Meditating is a practice you can engage in daily for 10-20 minutes. If you don’t know how to meditate, you have plenty of options. You might begin with Headspace, an app that provides guided meditation.

Gratitude

If exercise and meditation are too much of a time commitment, then simply spend 5 minutes each day writing down all that you are grateful for. Like exercise and meditation, practicing daily gratitude should help quiet the mind.

I meet people who seem to believe they’ll find peace once they travel. Or they’ll find it when they retire. Or when their kids go off to college. Or when they get that promotion. Or when they get a new car or a bigger house.

Don’t wait to find peace. Create daily opportunities to swim in it. To bathe in it. To enjoy it, however brief it may be.

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Transformation

I was slow for most of the 15 years I spent as a triathlete. Not until 2014 did I become fast. People who knew me when it took 12-14 hours to finish an Ironman have asked, “How is it possible that you went from finishing in 12-14 hours to 9 1/2 hours?”

Determining how to transform begins by asking specific questions, and these questions can be applied to any endeavor. I wanted to transform from slow to fast, but these questions cross over to other things, like going from fat to fit, lazy to motivated, bad to good, poor to rich.

Step One. Ask yourself:  Do I look like __________? (Fill in the blank with the name of the person who is currently where you want to be.)

The first thing I did was take a hard look at the “fast guys.” Did I look like them? The answer was “no.”

This compelled me to action.

I lost 20 pounds. Losing 20 pounds was simple, but not easy. I had to stop drinking. (Alcohol was not keeping me heavy. However, the nutritional choices I made after a few pints of Guinness certainly kept me more plump than necessary. I’m referring specifically to how good a can of Pringles—the whole can—tastes while enjoying a good beer buzz, or how great a few hotdogs taste at a ballgame. I didn’t make these poor nutritional choices when I was sober. But give me a few drinks, and pow! I’d eat everything.)

I also shaved my head. And I shaved my legs. (Body hair has been proven to slow people down in the water and on the bike.)

So in looking at what you want to become, one question is very simple: Do you look like “them?” (What actions can you take to close the gap?)

Unfortunately, after losing weight, I still did not look like them. Physically, I was getting close. But then I looked at their equipment. They had aero wheels, aero helmets, and carbon fiber time-trial bikes. I did not.

Step Two to the transformation:  Do I work like __________? (Fill in the blank with the name of the person who is currently where you want to be.)

Asking myself this question led to a realization: many of the fast guys I met were training 20-25 hours per week. I was training 10-15 hours per week.

Step Three to the transformation: Do I think like _________? (Fill in the blank with the name of the person who is currently where you want to be.)

I thought it looked cool to look like you’re suffering. And sure, maybe that’s cool. But what’s cooler? The way these guys make it look so easy. (I thought going sub-11 hours in an Ironman was fast. My friend Keish, who’s always been a fast guy, is disappointed if he doesn’t go sub-10. For him, sub-10 is not a PR. It’s simply an expectation.)

Step Four to the transformation: Do I execute like ___________? (Fill in the blank with the name of the person who is currently where you want to be.)

For me, the question was simple: Do I race like them? In simply comparing my transition times to the fast guys, there were enormous differences. They transitioned with urgency. I would dilly dally. (In life it’s encouraged to stop and smell the roses. In triathlon, not so much).

The answers to these four questions—and the subsequent changes I made—are the “magic formula” to the transformation I enjoyed.

Of course, my contention is that these sorts of questions are applicable to any endeavor. If you want to improve at something, simply have a look at those who are succeeding. What are they doing differently? And why? Answer these questions, see how the answers relate to you, and then adapt accordingly.

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A Dynamic Life

James Citrin’s The Dynamic Path is among the most valuable books I’ve read. Like many titles that reside in the success-literature canon, Citrin identifies and describes key characteristics of successful people. However, Citrin observes that the most successful and most inspiring travel along something called The Dynamic Path, which is a series of three stages:

Stage 1: The Champion achieves excellence as an individual or member of a team in sports or business.

Stage 2: The Great Leader transcends individual accomplishment and becomes dedicated to the individual and collective achievement of others.

Stage 3: The Legacy is left by those leaders, household names or otherwise, who achieve meaningful societal change and enduring results.

Let’s say that you are currently traveling along The Dynamic Path. Where are you today? Are you The Champion, The Great Leader, or The Legacy? If you are currently striving to become The Champion, have a look at your goals. Make sure you continue to refine them. Similarly, if you are trying to transcend individual accomplishment, or if you are focused on your legacy, refine your goals accordingly.

In his book, Citrin interviews Buzz Aldrin, Colin Powell, Bono, Tony Hawk, and a host of other top-performers. When interviewing famed cycling coach, Chris Carmichael, Carmichael offers this insight about the role of 99% in aspiring champions: “People hold back that 1 last percent so they don’t have to face not being good enough. If there is always something they could have done better, they are still safe.”

Consider that for a moment. Do you hold back? Have you done so recently? How has this affected your trajectory?

Carmichael’s observation is punctuated by sports psychologist, Bob Rotella, who notes: “It is actually much easier for people to work hard than it is to believe in themselves. I think there are so many people who are really talented and hardworking who don’t believe in themselves. What strikes me more than anything is that in the American culture, we have sold the importance of the work ethic for years so totally and completely that we have lots of people who will work their tail off and yet will choose to never believe in themselves.”

Is this you? What systems do you need to put into place so that you can go from aspiring champion to champion? What systems do you need to put into place so that you can make sure that you are traveling along The Dynamic Path?

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Core Values

With exception to sashimi, the one time I’ve eaten part of an animal in its most unadulterated post-mortem state was when I ate a goat’s heart in Rajasthan, India.

I was in the desert, confronted by miles of yellow sand and an occasional weed jutting up from the ground like two outstretched arms after a long slumber. It was dusk.

A goat had just been killed by two of the Bedouins with whom I’d been traveling. One held the goat down while the other cut its throat. They proceeded to dismantle the animal. This was all done on a small blanket, on the sun-colored sand, wind blowing just enough to remind you it’s there.

The strips of meat that were pulled from the body would soon see a flame and then become the main ingredient in a stew. But the heart, which had been beating 30 minutes ago, was special. It was a prize. And as their guest, it was offered to me.

I held it in my right hand. It was warm. Uncooked. Its viscous blood coating the sides of my fingers. I didn’t want to eat it. Oh how I wish it could’ve sat in coconut milk and spices, like the cow brain I tried in Jakarta . . . or have been deep fried like the water snake I ate in Shanghai.

Instead, there it was. Undressed. In my hand. I gripped it like I was trying to assess its weight, almost like a pitcher holding a rosin bag as he stands on the mound, trying to figure out what to throw next.

I was not steady. Thick blood rivulets plopped from the heart and onto the sand canvas beneath me, looking like a yellow and crimson Jackson Pollock.

I held it up to my mouth. At that angle, the blood began to creep past the meaty part of my palm and onto my wrist. As it greeted my forearm, it was time to make a decision. Go big or go home. I opened my mouth and thrust the heart deep into me, like I would a jelly donut. My jaws clenched. The thick warm blood—the taste of mercury—shot through my mouth and coated my throat. Then my teeth, instinctively, sawed back and forth through the ventricles. I didn’t know the inside of a heart was so tough, so I cut with my teeth and pulled with my hand until the heart broke free. With a full-body Popeye-esque thrust, I tipped my head back to jerk the heart down my throat and into a place I could soon forget.

Then, with blood smeared about my face, I offered the heart, now an oblong crescent shape, to my Bedouin hosts.

They accepted, greedily devouring what remained.


When I consider why I took a bite of the goat heart (as opposed to handing it back to my hosts), the answer is clear: respect. I’d rather endure gag-reflexes and gastronomic fears than be disrespectful to people who’d been good to me, for respect is one of my core values. Make sure that your company’s core values are consistent with your own. If accountability is one of your company’s core values, then you’d do well to hold yourself accountable not only at work but also at home. Leadership is not a part-time job.