General Leadership

Gather with Purpose

Gather with Purpose. Phillip Kane's blog. Image credit: Pezibear |
Image credit: Pezibear |

Saturday, June 18, 2022

This week, Annie, and I spent a day looking at houses. We are thinking of moving to be closer to our children. We looked at old houses, new houses and in-between houses. We looked at big houses, little houses and in-between houses. We looked at close to town houses, away from town  houses and a bit in-between houses. We looked at move-in-ready houses, gut-job houses, and in between houses. We looked at houses like the one we have now, totally different houses, and in-between houses. We looked at open floorplan houses, chopped-up floorplan houses, and in-between houses. And the one we ended up liking the most was the most unlike anything we expected to like.

It wasn’t in a location we liked. It wasn’t built in the 20’s like we like. It wasn’t in an old neighborhood like we like. It didn’t have a story like we like. It wasn’t particularly attractive like we (and most people) like. It was a house that 9 times out of 10, we’d drive right past. But it felt like a home … because it was built for people to gather in. And as much as I continued to think I wanted the house that was the most like the house I have now in the neighborhood like I live in now, I couldn’t stop thinking about the unattractive, needs everything, feels-like-a-home gathering place. I think that’s because we’re made to gather; we’re happier that way, especially when we have a reason for doing so.

And that’s the point for the week.

Human beings are social creatures. We were created to be together with other human beings – in tribes, in clans, in clubs, in families, in communities, on teams and any other collection of two or more of us in any one place with a reason for being there. We do so because we don’t care for being alone doing nothing for long. Even the more introverted among us like more to be left alone than to be alone; because we are not made for extended solitude.

That’s why cases of depression and worse skyrocketed during the last two years of remote school and work. Zoom was an awful substitute for gathering together. Two dimensional images of those we care about were poor and unacceptable substitutes for the real thing. And when the lack of contact was combined with a lack of direction things became even worse. Millions of listless, lonely workers was a recipe for disaster.

It’s that same lack of direction, I think, which is now creating the bulk of the mixed emotions which are surrounding the return to the office for so many. It’s not so much that people don’t want to return to the office ever … they do. They long to see and gather with those they love and care about. What they aren’t looking forward to, and in many cases outright refuse to tolerate, is a combination of the office with lack of direction. They are willing to tolerate the latter from home but not after dressing for the office then enduring a commute to get there. Plus, when there doesn’t seem to be any actual togetherness once they arrive, the whole thing feels like a giant case of bait and switch.

Those that will win the return to the office game are those who understand that human beings have both a need to gather and a need for purpose. People will gladly show up in the office if they understand why they need to be there and are likewise rewarded by regular and meaningful gatherings with those they’ve missed. What they won’t tolerate are the early stabs at a hybrid model that feels worse even than either remote work or the office of yore because those in charge decided to combine the worst of both together into one awful construct they decided would be best for themselves.

This isn’t about spoiled workers with too much Covid money. Nor should it be about companies waiting people out until the Biden economy gets even worse and their perceived leverage returns. It’s about neither of those things. It’s fundamentally about people wanting to be with people. It’s about people wanting a purpose. And it’s about people wanting direction. None of those things seem like they are too much to ask for. People will gather together on purpose, it’s just what they do. Giving them a purpose to stay, well, that’s just what leaders do.

So, gather with purpose.

And win.

To learn more about the author, please follow this LINK.

To purchase Phillip’s new book, a finalist for the 2022 Hoffer prize, click HERE.

Image credit: Pezibear |

General Leadership

Get Behind the Mask

Get behind the mask. Phillip Kane's blog

Friday, June 10, 2022

Next week, my son, William, is going to racing school. It was a present for his 18th birthday. Like his father he likes cars. Like his grandfather, he like to go fast in cars. So, it seemed wise to combine some education with his fascination. So off to school he’s going to go. It’s something he’s been excited about … until the last week or so. Lately he’s seemed less enthusiastic about the whole thing. When before he’d talk about the adventure in a quite animated way, now he’s more reserved, matter of fact, and ready to change the subject. It has started to seem like something he doesn’t want to do anymore. The nearer time has come to leaving the less excited he’s become about going.

Finally, I asked him what was wrong. Of course, at first, it was, “nothing.” But eventually, I learned it was the 5 hours of flying it was going to take to get there. See, Will hates to fly. He always has. His trepidation about the trip, and what seemed the school, actually had nothing to do with the school. It was the air travel to get there. Will just wasn’t looking forward to the flight and it colored the way the rest of us thought he was thinking about the trip generally. Had I not asked him, I might have just cancelled the whole trip or made some other mistake based on my own assumptions of how and what he was feeling. That would have been a disaster. But then bad things typically happen when we simply assume what other people are thinking based on the masks they are wearing.

And that’s the point for the week.

When we try to diagnose the feelings of others from a distance bad things almost always happen. That’s because we’re almost never correct in our assumptions. The masks people wear are generally meant to hide their true feelings, not to portray them. But most of us miss that. Instead, we, at a glance, attempt to figure out what’s behind their expression, their body language, their eyes, not once thinking to simply ask them what’s going on. Then, acting on our own bad intelligence, we make matters worse.

In attempting to fix things we cause further damage. In attempting to heal, we create a greater rift. In attempting to bridge a gap, we widen one. All because we thought better of simply taking the time to get behind the mask, by showing that we care enough to ask what’s behind it.

After all, that’s what most people want anyway – to be cared about … to be listened to … to be unmasked, in their time and on their terms. No one wants by told by someone that they just fixed their problem when they haven’t even told that person what their problem is. But in most cases it’s not even about solving their problem. It’s simply about being listened to, about being understood, about not being judged, about someone saying, “I still love you no matter what” and “I’m not going to make stupid decisions based on stupid assumptions anymore.”

Most people want little more than that from their leaders, from their parents, from their siblings or from people they bump into on the street.

People don’t want to be the objects of assumption, they want to be the objects of affection. It’s truly no more complicated than that.

So, take the time to care enough to get behind the mask.

And win.

o learn more about the author, please click HERE.

To purchase a copy of Phillip’s new book, a finalist for the Eric Hoffer prize, please follow this LINK.

Image credit: Geralt |

Inner Beauty

Seek Inner Beauty

Seek Inner Beauty. Phillip Kane's blog. Image credit: Caroline Hernandez |
Image credit: Caroline Hernandez |

Saturday, June 4, 2022

This week, my daughter Charlotte decided to go through, then digitize, a number of old paper photographs that my mother had taken and meticulously catalogued in album after album during her too-short lifetime. Mostly, Charlotte was interested in finding photos of her infancy and early childhood which, of course, her grandmother had troves of. Charlotte was having a ball mining for these little treasures. She sat by the printer-scanner for hours, well into the evening. Each time she found a photo of note, she’d joyfully describe her new discovery loudly enough for the entire neighborhood to hear, including her mother, Annie, who appeared in many of the photographs and, who seemed, as the hours dragged on, to be enjoying the festivities a great deal less than her daughter.

See, Charlotte’s common refrain upon finding a picture of Annie was to exclaim, “Mom you were so beautiful!” or something to that effect. As I watched this wider interaction unfold, I could see Annie becoming more and more upset. The issue wasn’t that she wasn’t beautiful. Of course, she was. She was often confused with actress Jeanne Tripplehorn as a young woman. More than once, she was asked for her autograph when we were traveling or out at dinner together. The trouble with Charlotte’s exclamations though was that Annie no longer recognized herself as the person in those old photos. So, she heard each outburst from Charlotte as, “Mom, you don’t look this good anymore.” And it hurt her feelings. But what the photographs failed to capture was the person inside. To me, that version of Annie is even more beautiful than the one in those 21 year old photos (as if it were possible). To me, and I think most people, that’s what truly matters anyway. 

See, people care a whole lot more about what’s on the inside than what’s on the wrapper.

And that’s the point for the week.

Annie is not going to look like the person in those 20 year-old photographs ever again. Neither am I. Neither is any of us. But to even hope for that would be entirely shallow and superficial. Because it doesn’t matter. How a person looks never improved the life of anyone, except maybe the person staring back at them in the mirror or in the thousands of images and videos they post on social media. But who a person is inside does matter. It determines how they show up for others. It determines what they do for others. It determines how they care for others. It determines whether they are the center of their universe or if that space is reserved for others.

Ultimately, those who are beautiful on the inside attract more people around them. That’s because true charisma lies in inner beauty. It’s like a magnet. It’s a thing that draws people near because it inspires them to become better versions of themselves. More than that, it’s eternal. Looks fade. But the wellsprings of inner beauty – things like kindness, empathy, and love for others – are enduring. These are qualities that inspire others, reassure others, and make others believe in themselves and in the goodness of those around them. Those with true inner beauty tell others, without saying a word, that they matter, that they are important, and that what they believe has value. It’s because those with inner beauty make it abundantly clear that it’s not about them.

Meanwhile, those obsessed with their own beauty tell others that feeding their own narcissism and sense of self-importance are what matter to them. It’s a psychosis that eliminates concern for anything or anyone besides who they see in the mirror. It’s rooted, though, in feelings of inadequacy and insecurity and a belief that self-advancement requires the tearing down of others. It’s why almost no one – except sychophants and those just like them – willingly follow these people. Life with them never improves, not one little bit. That’s because they only feel filled up when they are emptying another person out.

Run from those who are obsessed with their own reflection. Seek, instead, those, like Annie, whose inner beauty reflects the authenticity of their soul and invites others to draw near for a minute, an hour, a day or a lifetime to know love and to know that their life can be made better by someone who cares more about them than the person they see in the mirror or a faded photograph from days gone by.

Seek inner beauty.

And win.

To learn about the author, click HERE.

To purchase a copy of Phillip’s new book, please follow this LINK.

Image credit: Caroline Hernandez |