We are proud to welcome guest-blogger Cathy Laffan back to the blog! In her last post, Slow Down to Grow, she wrote about slowing down to allow yourself to grow. This week she considers how taking risks can lead to growth.



When the opportunity to take a risk arises do you take the risk or shy away from it?  Do you see risks as a chance to grow or fail?

Earlier this year I got an unexpected phone call from someone I barely knew.  The caller offered me the opportunity to speak at a conference on a topic that is very important to me.  A rush of several emotions came over me; I was surprised, flattered, excited, validated, honored, and frightened all at once.  Despite not having any experience speaking at conferences, I knew I wanted this opportunity so I accepted and this started a journey of growth.

After my initial excitement wore off, procrastination set in.  Although I knew it would require quite a bit of time and effort to be prepared, I found myself operating ‘below the line’.  I was justifying why I was procrastinating.  I was also approaching the speech preparation from The Control Cycle.  I evaluated what I needed to do, I sought advice from others, and I imposed deadlines on others and myself that required compliance.

I thought I was in control.


Source: http://tinyurl.com/ocuxurv

Then deadlines weren’t met and further evaluation led me to Lay Blame on others and shame on myself.  Initially I didn’t see that I was stuck operating from The Control Cycle but I certainly knew I wasn’t going to be successful if this continued.  The risk I took by accepting the speaking opportunity was manifesting as anxiety in me that felt a bit like being at the edge of a cliff.

The conference organizer sent an email outlining key milestone dates leading up to the conference.  The email helped me realize I was not operating from Responsibility.  I sat back and looked at The Responsibility Process poster and the diagrams of The Control Cycle and The Power Cycle.   I began Looking for the truth.  I chose to forgive myself for justifying, laying blame, shaming and being stuck in The Control Cycle, and then I got clear about what I wanted to do to be prepared and make my speech a success.  Then I trusted myself to do it.

Ultimately my speech was a success, I felt great doing it, I enjoyed the entire conference experience, and I look forward to the next speaking opportunity.  What did I learn about myself?  I learned that taking risks can lead to growth, that the risk may bring discomfort, and that feeling discomfort and confronting the problem using The Responsibility Process and The Power Cycle is the path to growth.

Cathy Laffan

Cathy LaffanCathy Laffan is a member of  The Leadership Gift™ Program and recently accredited as The Leadership Gift Practitioner. She is a Managing Director with 24 years of experience working for a leading global financial services firm. She has 20 years of experience in the project management field and is certified as a Project Management Professional.

A champion of flexible work arrangements, Cathy has been working remotely full-time for 4 years. Cathy is also a Toastmaster and has earned the Competent Communicator and Competent Leader designations from Toastmasters International.

Attention business executives and supporting partners — Do you seek proven exceptional solutions for leadership development and culture-shaping? See Partnerwerks approach to sustainable change with measurable results enterprise-wide.

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power cylce

When reacting to problems people choose from two mental paths, each an identifiable pattern. One path we call The Control Cycle. The other is The Power Cycle.

The more common reaction to problems is the need to feel in control, but The Control Cycle addresses only the anxiety caused by a problem, not the problem itself. The Power Cycle is the choice to be and act above the line and confront the Continue reading

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We planned a post introducing The Power Cycle for today, but Mike Edward’s piece from his blog is a fantastic transition. This is a great example of the transition from Control to Power.


Last week Chris Chapman and I did a presentation in Waterloo at the PMI-CTT Annual Symposium. For the past 5 years I have done numerous presentations at conferences and other professional events each year. Things have always gone well (although I’ve looked back at some of my earliest presentations and I’ve come a long way). My reviews have always been good, and doing this work brings me a great deal of fulfillment.

After the presentation in Waterloo I think Chris described it best when he said “it’s as if we farted and they Continue reading

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Guest Post by Mark Roberts

Christopher Avery here. With pleasure I welcome Mark Roberts again to this blog. Mark is in management in a security services company in London, England. He shares a love for responsible leadership. Read more about Mark at the end of this post. Enjoy.

Last Friday evening, I was relaxing and looking back at the week that had just passed.

As I reflected on my actions and attitudes towards others, I was thinking about the way I acted within my working environment and how and why the week could have been better.

I suddenly realized that although I may be full of advice for others — with my best intentions at heart — I steer toward compliance with regards to my advice.

Eureka, it suddenly hit me: “The Control Cycle.” I’ve been leading from a place of control over others instead of looking at the real problems. I was the problem. Continue reading

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The Control Cycle

When reacting to problems people choose from two paths. One path we call The Control Cycle. The other is The Power Cycle. The more common reaction is the need to feel in control. This need comes from angst or similar below-the-line feelings in The Responsibility Process, and being from below the line they lead us to act below the line.

Continue reading

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I work with a lot of executive leadership and large organizations on culture change issues, and I often hear the question, “Should we go agile?” or “We’re thinking about going agile. What do you think, is agile for us?”

My usual response is that I don’t think that’s the right question — because agile is not a noun, it’s not a thing.

The right question is, “Am I exposed to change, complexity, and uncertainty in my business, my department, my function, my team? Am I exposed to people on my team not stepping up?” Continue reading

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Guest Post by Mike Edwards

Thank you Mike Edwards for allowing us to re-blog this post from  www.mikeeedwards.ca

I was out running this morning enjoying a beautiful fall morning run. I was thinking about the number of great wins I’ve celebrated in the last few months and how fortunate I’ve been. I have renewed clarity regarding my career goals, I am feeling aligned with myself, I continue on my path for health & fitness, and so much more! Continue reading

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The final step to clean up a broken agreement after you have made amends is to recommit to the relationship.

How do you do that? By telling the other party (who has received your acknowledgment, apology, and amends) exactly how you intend to treat the relationship in the future.

What does this do? If you are sincere in making this recommitment, you will reduce the likelihood of repeating the past mistake or mistakes similar to them.

Recommitment also allows your partners to restore their faith in you.

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So I made a mistake

How companies respond to their mistakes demonstrates their Responsibility culture.

Target’s stock was slaughtered after their credit card data breach last year. In May Ebay waited two weeks to report it’s database of personal information on 145 million active buyers had been hacked, and this weekend Kmart reported it’s payment systems have been compromised since September.

Yet Home Depot just had a huge breach and responded very effectively, giving everyone who might have been affected a year’s worth of free credit security monitoring (likely a great business development partnership for the supplier of that service, eh?).

So imagine my desire for a responsible and effective clean-up when I accidentally spammed 800 people in my database. Continue reading

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Tackling issues as a teamGuest Post by Jessica Soroky

Christopher Avery here. If you are a regular, then you know Jessica — an evolutionary event in our time. If you don’t know her, check her last 52 posts here. Enjoy. (I appreciate you Jessica.)

Many people believe that nothing is truly a selfless act because if I am to do something, then I must be getting something out of it.

I don’t disagree with this idea. There hasn’t been a time when I have done something and haven’t gotten anything out of it.

I go to work and get not only a paycheck out of that but a satisfying feeling in my soul that I am doing something purposeful. I spend time with my parents because it is a place I feel unconditional love and complete acceptance of who I am.

Continue reading

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