Loving Limitations!

Abundance Growth mindset Personal leadership


Key Point: I’ve always asked people who worked for me to do more than the resources available seem to support. Why? I believe constraints are helpful because they allow us to prioritize, make choices, and be resourceful. Limitations can inspire creativity and build enormous character. You discover that some people focus on the limitations and spend their time explaining why they “can’t.” Others, (those whom I’m most attracted to, frankly), LEARN to think “yes” first and just “find a way.” This is abundant thinking and behavior.

A Beautiful Constraint,” the thought provoking book by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden, uses research and social science to discuss the approach to constraints. They talk about how the relationship between ambition and constraints is clear. The conclusion: Those who refused to scale back ambition in the face of constraint were more likely to find the constraint “beautiful,” (and vice versa). I find, perhaps counterintuitively, that it is very liberating to realistically understand limitations AND inspirational to declare great ambition in spite of them.

Perhaps rather than labeling people relative to their ability to navigate constraints, it would be more helpful to consider ALL of us traveling through three stages. If we recognize constraint management as a process, we can move more effectively through each stage. If we are in the VICTIM stage, we may feel stuck and choose to lower ambition. If we can get to the NEUTRAL stage, we will choose to embrace the constraints and refuse to lower our sights. However, if we can evolve to the TRANSFORMER stage, the mind focuses on finding a way to make constraints an opportunity and even raise ambition.

The little bank I work for has all the constraints to feel like we should sit in the victim stage. The multi-national banks are much bigger, with way more scale and resources. We are chartered to work in one small province in western Canada. Fintechs are faster. It is hard to compete for digital talent, etc. Perhaps, what I love most working for CEO Dave Mowat and my leadership colleagues, is the belief that all of these constraints are truly beautiful paths to reinventing banking; to do it better than ANY financial institution in the world. And this is exactly the path we are on. We have exploded out our ambition. The belief and culture in this stage is so friggin’ exhilarating!

Personal Leadership Moves:

1. Believe transformers are made NOT born and know you are one!
2. Embrace constraints, be realistic and then engage everyone in asking, “how might we?” Think BIG. Increase ambitions by harnessing and riding those constraints to the highest peaks.
3. Be an abundant thinker and doer. Act as an abundance generator. Expand everywhere and give more to all stakeholders. It is the “little engine that could” that becomes a “rocket ship that will.”

Loving limitations in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: Facing constraints and puzzle-solving your way through and above them, arguably leads to some of the most satisfying results life can give us. Let’s look at a hypothetical New Years Eve as an example. Many Millennials dread NYE because it’s stressful, expensive, and takes more effort than usual. So, let’s pretend pricey NYE event tickets are out of question: A victim might say, “I’m just going to sit home and watch TV because NYE sucks and everything is too much of a hassle.” The Transformer may say, “I too am staying home, but I’m going to take the time to organize a modest dinner party with good friends, create an itinerary, plan food and beverages, and we’ll make the most out of it.” Come midnight, the same countdown will be airing on both the victim and transformer’s TVs. Which NYE would you choose to partake in?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Also: If readers have any Personal Leadership questions for Lorne Rubis that they would like to be answered via text on an upcoming blog, and/or addressed on a future episode of the Culture Cast podcast, please email them to the CultureCastPodcast@gmail.com. Or DM them to @CultureCastPod1 on Twitter. 

Women Carrying the Casket

Contribution Kindness Respect


Key Point: My mother-in-law, Louise Crowley, passed away last week. She was 96, a remarkable human, and someone I’ve known and loved for 50 years. One of her dying wishes was to have her granddaughters (including our proud daughters who also loved her so much) be the pallbearers at her funeral. My wife, her daughter, is giving the eulogy. What statements.

Louise was of a generation where her physical presence was most obvious in the kitchen and in service to eight children, the church and community. However, if one came to the conclusion that that’s where she “lived,” as quiet “wallpaper” in a very male-dominated household/world, you would be very mistaken. Her voice was soft, but her personal strength was harder than diamond. This is her legacy: A quiet voice that boomed out notes of “soft steel,” singing the lyrics of decency and righteousness, setting examples for ALL. Her, behind-the-scene life of service and undying kindness became center stage inspiration for the women in the family, and much needed guidance for us men.

The sacrifices and tireless work of the Louise’s in the world seem to be the underlying foundation of a much needed women leadership movement that is surging globally. The world seems to be crying out for women everywhere to lead in full stride.

On Jan. 4, 2018, Melinda Gates published the following:

“You may never know their names. They work beneath the headlines and far from the spotlight. When they receive formal recognition from bodies like the Nobel Committee, it is the exception, not the norm. But the fact remains: Under the radar, grassroots organizations led by women are quietly changing the world… In recent years, governments like those in the Netherlands and Canada have invested significant resources in women’s movements, and I hope that others will follow suit. You can be sure that Bill and I will. Over the next three years, our foundation will be investing in women’s funds like Mama Cash and networks like Prospera, which provides financial support to women’s funds and grassroots women’s organizations in over 170 countries, spanning Africa to Asia to Latin America.

Imagine what’s possible if the world decides to partner with these organizers as their allies. Imagine how much more we can accomplish if the women who are doing so much to move the world forward finally have our full support behind them.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Men: We have an opportunity to redefine our full partnership with women and respectfully build on our collective unique strengths to exponentially advance humankind.
  2. Women: Be relentless in advancing the movement to the full partnership you deserve everywhere; including carrying the “casket” when appropriate.
  3. Louise… Thank you. Your quiet contribution as a woman leader will be a hum in the background forever. You remain.

Women in personal leadership,


One Millennial View: Grandma Louise, whether she knew it or not, had such a positive impact on everyone who knew her. In effort to bring awareness to another great person, I think both men and women Millennials should start taking notice of Tyler Haney. Still in her late 20’s, she’s the founder and CEO of Outdoor Voices (an athleisure brand that is competing with Lululemon and Nike). Her company and motto of “Doing Things” is outstanding, and taking the industry by storm. Getting to know her now is like getting her “rookie card.” I’d like to put less focus on the “men” or “women” thing, and strive to be a “Tyler.” Grandma Louise was.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Culture Cast: 8 Ingredients to Build Great Culture at Work Through Personal Leadership (Part 2)

Organizational culture Personal leadership Podcast


Hey Culture Cast fans! In Season 2, Episode 4, Lorne and Lynette unpack and discuss the final 4 ingredients to help build a great culture in an organization through personal leadership values at the workplace. 5. Develop personal equity/investment to your organization’s culture to increase your value. 6. Acute listening skills between all team members. 7. Have a growth and disruptive mindset. 8. Peer to peer communication/connectivity. 

Please listen on Soundcloud and iTunes, and don’t forget to rate and review.

If listeners have any questions or thoughts, feel free to email the podcast at CultureCastPodcast@gmail.com.

Also, please follow the podcast @CultureCastPod1 on Twitter, and advance the conversation.

Wisdom of Chairman of the Board

Management Organizational culture Respect


Key Point: Serious directors on boards of significant organizations have so much to teach us. Unfortunately, few of us ever get to observe, let alone participate, on public boards. And the Board Chairs are often most interesting because they have the responsiblity to extract value from both the board and management. To do this effectively requires exceptional IQ, EQ and insight to deftly guide the entity.

This past Friday, we live streamed an interview with the Chair of our Board, Brian Hesje. He is a very respected leader, recognized and admired by impact players in Alberta and throughout North America. For almost 20 years, Mr. Hesje has been at the governance helm of ATB Financial. When he took on that role, ATB, despite in existence for 60 years, was essentially insolvent. Bit by bit, with the steady guidance from Hesje, his board colleagues, and refreshed management, the company is now thriving. During the last 8 years, with Dave Mowat as CEO, the organization is arguably one of the best run companies in Canada. So what lessons did we learn from the reflections of our Chair? The following are just a few important gems that are worthy of consideration by all of us, regardless of what role we have:

  1. “One way to evaluate the value of both directors and management is the degree their driving agenda is determined by what’s best for the organization versus what’s best for them personally. Ego is well governed and the very best leaders are always about doing the right thing rather than just being right.
  2. While the fiduciary responsibility of Board members (in Canada) is about doing what’s best with the entire corporation (all stakeholders and not just the shareholders), the most important thing is to be “people first.” Hesje believes the route to happy customers and an acceptable shareholder return is through employees being at the front of the value line. 
  3. To understand what we have to do improve things for customers is sometimes overworked. Management establishes focus groups, hires consultants etc. However, if we just thoughtfully asked ourselves what makes us happy or unhappy as customers we would know what to do. Just fix the basics first.
  4. The most important product that service companies like ATB have to ‘sell’ is TRUST. Everything must be done to protect the trust between all stakeholders. This means living up to the commitments we make.
  5. Everyone in the organization must be committed to personal growth. Because the institution is made up of the collective mindset, this thinking will drive continuous innovation. No growth, no job, no company.
  6. Have the ability to consciously choose what to keep and improve, versus what to disrupt (eliminate and completely reinvent). Not everything needs to be ‘thrown out.’  Making these choices is the hard work of hard work.”

One attribute that Brian really values is the ability for leaders to think and find the essence of things. Complex problems are not necessarily calling for complex solutions. Rather, the most important contributions are often elegantly simple.

Brian… Thank you for your wisdom and taking the time to share it with all of us.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Take the time to seriously consider Mr. Hesje’s lessons and how they might make you and me better leaders and people.

Wisdom in Personal Leadership


One Millennial View: Mr. Hesje sounds like a great man with positive intentions for everyone involved with the company. Sometimes I think Millennials might hear the position of “Chair of our Board,” and immediately invision Darth Vader. Thanks to people like Mr. Hesje, we have a more balanced view of the tremendous responsibility they have to effectively govern.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


How Much More Meaningful Can Your Job be in 2018?

Abundance Organizational leadership Purpose


Key Point: “Purpose isn’t magic — it’s something we must consciously pursue and create. With the right approach, almost any job can be meaningful.” This is a quote from a wonderful HBR article by John Coleman. You may have read this site and/or listened to our podcasts in which we’ve reinforced the importance of “purpose” in organizations over last few years. The complete magic is when it connects with both personal meaning and purpose at work. From time to time, skeptics have challenged me on the reality or utility in finding that personal meaning or purpose at work. Isn’t a job at the end of the day just that, a “job?” Coleman offers a practical response to that question and a framework to help each of us find more of that personal work connection. He comments:

Remember why you work. Most of us don’t have the luxury of working solely for fun. We may enjoy our jobs, but we also work to earn money and pay bills. For most of us, work in and of itself is a meaningful act of service. Parents often work hard to invest in their children; and those without kids often help support aging parents or other relatives. Those without families often use their resources to support organizations they love in the community or their friends in times of need. It’s rare to find someone working with only their personal needs in mind. Who are you working for? Identify that person or group of people. When the hours are difficult or the tasks are unglamorous, remember that your work is an act of service for those you care about in your personal life. Keeping this front of mind will help you tie more purpose into your work, even when accomplishing the most tedious of tasks.

Coleman goes on to offer a very thoughtful and accessible personal framework:

The following advice on how to consciously endow your work with purpose regardless of your profession.

  1. Connect work to service. When I was in graduate school, I once heard Bill George tell a story about how he’d highlight both patients and employees at the Medtronic annual meeting when he was CEO. He’d invite a person whose life had been saved by a defibrillator, for example, to speak to his assembled colleagues and tell them how their work had saved his life. He’d highlight someone in the Medtronic quality control department and explain how her dedication and rigor were saving thousands of lives. He’d connect his colleagues directly to the people they served.

    While everyone may not handle situations of life and death at work, we each do serve someone in what we do… Who do you serve? Connecting our day-to-day jobs — consciously and concretely — to those we’re ultimately serving makes completing that work more purposeful.

  2. Craft your work – and make work a craft. Yale Professor Amy Wrzesniewski once did an in-depth study of hospital custodial staff to determine what helped certain members of the custodial team excel. Her results (recounted by David Zax) were fascinating. Wrzesniewski uncovered a practice among the happiest and most effective custodians she termed ‘job crafting.’ These custodial workers, focused intensely on serving patients, would ‘[create] the work they wanted to do out of the work they’d been assigned—work they found meaningful and worthwhile.’ One would rearrange artwork in rooms to stimulate comatose patients’ brains; others devoted time to learning about the chemicals they used for cleaning rooms and figuring out which were least likely to irritate patients’ conditions. They were pursuing excellence in service to others and would adapt their jobs to suit that purpose. They enhanced their assigned work to be meaningful to themselves and to those they serve.

  3. Invest in positive relationships. Who we work with is as important as what we do. Psychologist Martin Seligman (among others) has written extensively on the importance of relationships to happiness and fulfillment (it’s a core element of his ‘PERMA’ model for flourishing); and the now famous Harvard Grant Study found that happiness and even financial success are tied to the warmth of one’s relationships, with the study’s chief architect famously concluding, ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Be clear on who you’re serving, working for and why.
  2. Become a masterful job crafter, regardless of role.
  3. Love the people you work with.
  4. Connect your personal meaning with the organization purpose.

As always, it’s that simple and that hard. Happy New Year in finding more personal meaning in our work.

More meaningful work in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: This is so true and valuable for a personal and positive mindset. It’s easy to be disheartened about some positions “on paper,” and society likes to say things like “well you’re not curing cancer.” Fine. That is likely the case. But for example, surgeons need coffee too, so even if you’re a barista, your good service (and a smile) might highly impact their performance… The point is, you just never know, your role could matter a lot more than you might think. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Personal Leadership: The Best Blogs of 2017 E-Book

Abundance Books Personal leadership


Dear Readers,

Key Point: We write our blogs for you (and us). You give us the gift of reading them and much encouragement. Thank you!

So, just like last year, we wanted to give readers a “Best of 2017” e-book that we’ve created with 12 of the most well-received and thought provoking blogs.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Please enjoy this e-book and share it with those you care for.

Season’s best greetings, and here’s to a happy 2018!

– Lorne and Garrett