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 |

Do Good


Enough. Phillip Kane's blog
Image credit: dimitrisvetsikas1969 |

Friday, May 27, 2022

This week, an act of pure evil was committed in Uvalde, Texas.

To all who are shouting, “Enough!” I agree.

Enough of politicians using dead children to score cheap political points. It’s gross. It’s dishonest. And it won’t do one thing to fix what’s wrong in this country.

I grew up in a time when there were more guns in every American household than there are today. We also had more people doing a lot more good and raising their children to do the same. And school shootings were a rarity – less than one occurring each two years during my twelve years of elementary, middle, and high school.

In recent decades, though, school shootings have risen into the hundreds. While every household in America has fewer guns in it, these killings have soared. Because what most households in America also have far less of today than they did forty years ago is goodness, civility, and love. These things aren’t taught much anymore – and our kids are dying because of it.

And that’s the point for the week.

Instead of love your neighbor, we teach our children to physically assault anyone who disagrees with them. Instead of educating young people to perform acts of kindness, we teach them to burn down communities. Instead of showing them how to bring people together in awful times like these, our current and a former President model how to sow division, suspicion, and hate. Instead of raising kids to do for others, we urge our next generations to take for themselves. We tell them that there is nothing good about America, its founders, its flag, or those who protect it.

Then the same people fomenting the hate, manufacture more of it and more false outrage aimed at people who have nothing to do with these killings every time one occurs.

So yes, enough! Enough of not doing good. Enough of teaching entire generations of children that distrust, hate and violence are the answer to any perceived slight or injustice. Enough of all of us forgetting that we are all in this together and that the more good there is in the world, the less room there is for evil in it.

And while a little more good from all of us may not stop all of the killing, it’s going to go a long, long way toward it.

I think the English theologian, John Wesley offered the best advice as any I’ve ever heard for us to follow. He said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

So, do that.

And win.

Enough of all the rest.

To learn more about the author, click HERE.

To purchase a copy of my new book, click HERE.

Image credit: dimitrisvetsikas1969 |


Eat Right Twixes

Eat Right Twixes. Phillip Kane's blog
Image: Sebbi Strauch |

Friday, May 20, 2022

This week, while working with a client, one of them brought in a jumbo bag of assorted fun-size candy bars. Included were small Twix bars of both the Left and Right variety. This led to a discussion about Twix’ Left/Right campaign and their suggestion that their customers “pick a side.” I recall that in one TV spot, Left Twix factory workers were shown wondering what the opposite Twix might taste like; the dislike between the sides being so intense that they had never tried the Right Twix or even socialized with their factory’s workers. The whole point of it was the preposterousness of it all. That’s because inside the wrapper, the Left Twix and Right Twix are exactly the same.

It reminded me of a guy I worked with once who would eat nothing green. I’d ask him, from time to time, about specific green foods. I was curious, in each case whether he’d actually ever tried them. He never had. He just didn’t like green food, and so, refused, like the Twix factory workers, to eat it at all, believing every bit of it was bad.

In both cases, these people had made decisions, based on the appearance of something or on the urging or someone of some influence, I suppose, to have nothing at all to do with it. The more I thought about the absurdity of it all, the more it occurred to me that there’s a lot of that very sort of thing going on in the world right now. People are having nothing to do with people they’ve never even met before because they’ve decided in advance that they won’t like them. And it makes no more sense than not liking food because of its color or candy because of its hand dominance. Making decisions to not like people based on the color of their skin, their political leanings, religious beliefs or any other defining factor before you’ve even met them is ridiculous, abhorrent and wrong.

And that’s the point for the week.

The best leaders in the history of the world have been those who have displayed comfort and ease with every manner, sort, color, and creed of person they have had the privilege to encounter. These people don’t judge books by their covers or paint entire races, religions, or political parties with one brush. They know that to do so is not only intellectually lazy but it’s intellectually limiting as well.

By never eating green things or talking to green people, one misses out on the richness of learning and experience that comes from doing those things. By staying in one’s own little world one only ever learns about that narrow little space – an echo chamber where everyone looks the same, sounds the same, prays the same, loves the same, votes the same, and acts the same. Worse, their mind narrows with the constriction of that known world and their tolerance for difference along with it. As a result, their ability to lead anyone but lesser versions of themselves dwindles away.

See, it’s impossible to manage that which you’ve never seen before. It’s equally impossible to lead people you’ve never fully and completely known – or worse, that you’ve presupposed about, particularly when in a wrong-headed and bigoted way.

No one wants to listen to a bigot – of any color, creed, or religion – let alone follow one. That’s because most people want to get along with each other. People want to be around those who lift others up not those who tear people down. Too, most reasonable people don’t believe that all people of a certain race, creed or color are all a certain way. They know better. They’ve lived better. They know that’s as preposterous as believing that a Left Twix tastes worse than a Right one or that all green food is bad. It’s lazy. It’s hateful. And it should have no place in a world where meeting and talking to someone different than you is as easy as walking across the street, down the hall, or to the other side of a classroom.

So, reject the notion that all of anything is bad. Eat Right Twixes, try green food, and occasionally even talk to someone who believes different things than you.

And win.

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Image: Sebbi Strauch |

Diversity Love

Practice Radical Hospitality

Practice radical hospitality. Phillip Kane's blog.
Image: Phillip Kane

Saturday, May 14, 2022

This week, my daughter graduated from The University of Dayton again. She first graduated in May of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. At the time, in an abundance of caution, the school canceled all commencement exercises and simply mailed diplomas to graduating students.

But with fears of COVID-19 now dissipating, UD’s administration decided to do right by these kids and hold their own make-up ceremony this weekend. It was typically Dayton. Run by the Marionist Fathers, community is a big deal there. They preach about, and actually practice radical hospitality – a term attributed to Doris Day, who, along with Peter Maurin, founded the Catholic Worker Movement, known for its social justice campaigns in defense of the poor, forsaken, hungry and homeless. 

Radical hospitality is simply love by another name. It’s about welcoming, embracing and including others unconditionally. And the fact that The University of Dayton lives it is why The University of Dayton is a leader factory. See, true leaders are those who love others without stopping to question whether they deserve it. 

And that’s the point for the week. 

True, caring leaders don’t pay attention to things like race, creed, color, age, gender, hair color, hair length, height, weight, nationality, orientation, body art, or other identifiers because they recognize how little they matter to anything related to winning in life or in business. Because color of anything makes no difference, they are indifferent to more or less of it. The same goes for any other label. These leaders don’t care. Leaders who practice radical hospitality accomplish greater things and win more often because they focus more on the quality of the output than the complexion of the people who produce it. 

They will behave radically hospitable to all comers, because they play by a different set of rules in a game with a significantly longer timeframe than this month, this quarter, this year, or this planning horizon. And because they aim for something of value beyond the here and now, they wind up winning more often here as a simple matter of course – mostly because they attract more people to their cause.

See, people seek to follow these leaders because they make them feel welcome and like they truly matter. These leaders don’t turn people away because they are different or seek to collect up quotas of them because they are either. People flock to be part of what these people are building because they are made to feel individually special by one special individual, not part of some wider, faceless, corporate initiative.

These people have no favorites and they don’t play sides. They believe that true diversity is that which comes from different thoughts, ideas and experiences – not differences in appearance. No voice has more weight, no voice has less. There’s no call for guilt, shame or reparation. Only forgiveness, redemption and love – founded on trust, which bonds their teams together and fuels them forward to win year in and year out – a blurred patchwork juggernaut. 

So be like the gang at UD. Practice radical hospitality. 

And win. 

For more about Phillip Kane, click HERE.

To buy a copy of my new book, please follow this LINK.

Image: Phillip Kane

Make Others Big

Light a Candle Instead

Light a candle instead. Phillip Kane's blog
Image credit: Ben Lambert |

Saturday, May 7, 2022

As a way to spend time together and to get away from normal life for a bit, my wife, Annie, and I enjoy watching British crime dramas such as you’d find on Acorn, Masterpiece, and BritBox. This past week, we invested three nights of our life in a NetFlix Originals offering called, The Anatomy of a Scandal. It was engaging enough … until the end, when it became apparent why NetFlix is struggling.

The mini-series follows the prosecution of a British MP who has been accused of a heinous crime by a former subordinate. The viewer learns that the crown prosecutor, who seems far too invested in the case, is, in fact, far too invested in the case – having both a story of her own to tell about the man, and an unhealthy obsession with making him pay. Eventually, though, the man is acquitted as the prosecutor fails to make a case. But in an almost unfathomable turn of events, the man’s wife recounts to the prosecutor knowledge of her husband’s and the Prime Minister’s involvement in an even more horrific scandal, bringing down all of (yes, Tory) British government. The film ends with scenes of the man’s (ex?) spouse enjoying life with the couple’s children outside new, posh, but magically affordable, seaside digs near Dover, and of the prosecutor, who had, just before, looked sadly beaten and worn, now shown back at it in court, bright, happy, and confident-looking, shoulders back, with a gleam of satisfaction in her eye, as if riding on a cloud – number 9, no doubt.

While there were near-countless reasons to dislike this mess and to have regretted pouring three nights into it (that I won’t ever get back, mind you), the biggest issue I had with The Anatomy of a Scandal is the moral of its story: that it’s possible to lift yourself up by tearing someone else down. See, it doesn’t work that way. No one ever got taller by cutting the legs out from under anyone else. 

And that’s the point for the week.

It’s not possible to make one candle burn brighter by blowing another one out. Doubt it? Try it sometime. For fun, light three, then blow two out. The one remaining will not provide any more light. Those who go through life believing that it is possible to improve their position at the expense of someone else are the same sort of people that compete with people they work with and the same kind of folks who make films like The Anatomy of a Scandal. It’s the same mentality that fuels cancel culture; the thought that by destroying someone else, I can make myself look better, feel better, do better, or somehow be better. But the only thing that gets better is the likelihood that decent human beings will want almost nothing to do with me.

See, people don’t want to be around negative people, or people who seek to move ahead by tearing others apart. Instead, people want to spend time with, and be led by, people with something positive to say – by people who lift others up and who by their words and actions seek to make others bigger, not smaller. People want to spend time with people who have something to give, not people whose entire persona is built around taking things away from other people.

Most often, despite the fact that these people believe the problem they are having is with someone else, the problem they are having is solely with themselves. It might be some insecurity or grudge that they’ve ascribed to someone else, but the issue they are having exists only in their own mind. They’ve given control over their life to some offending party for some real or imagined slight –  or simply because that person reminds them that they aren’t good enough, smart enough, kind enough, or whatever enough. But that person is going merrily along living their life while the brutish candle-snuffer makes their own life and the lives of every person they touch a living nightmare because of it. Because they become obsessed with the notion that it is possible to make their life better by making someone else’s worse.

But it’s not possible. Not even once. Not ever.

But the good news is, it does not have to be that way. There is a better way to live and to lead.

The alternative to living this life of hate and resentment isn’t hard. Like almost everything else in life, it’s a choice. It’s a simple choice to reject the notion that your life can somehow improve when someone else’s life gets worse. It’s a choice to lift up rather than put down. It’s a choice to build up rather than tear apart. It’s a choice to make others feel big, not small. It’s a choice to give more than you take. It’s a choice to light candles instead of blowing them out. And it’s a choice to start forgiving others for everything. For until we stop giving other people control over our lives, we are not in a position to lead the lives of anyone. It’s no more complicated than that.

So, make the right, better choice. Light a candle instead.

And win. 

PS. It’s apparently also a choice to stop watching NetFlix originals.

For more about me, please follow this LINK.

To purchase a copy of my new book, please click, HERE.

Image credit: Ben Lambert |


Tell Them

Tell them. Phillip Kane's blog
Image credit: Marc Shaeffer |

Friday, April 29, 2022

In my work with clients, at the end of each engagement, we conduct an exercise among the members of a firm’s leadership team wherein each member of the team takes a moment or two to tell each individual in the room what they mean to them personally. It is not uncommon for these sessions to become emotional. One I was a part of this week, in Hot Springs, AR, was particularly so. At one point, a member of the team shared with the business leader that the things he was told had so profoundly moved him that he felt like a new person, ready to take on anything, adding that there was not one thing he wouldn’t do for his boss.

See, the thing about this little exercise is that in it, people say things that they never have and maybe never would have to people that they’ve worked alongside for years – decades in some cases. It puts people in a position to let others know that they care about them, that they are valued, and that they matter; and for many people this is knowledge enough to run through a wall or walk over broken glass for the person who said it. See, people don’t do things for others because they have to; they do things for others because they want to, and almost always because somebody made them feel like they were loved and had value in the world. But people won’t always know these things if their leaders don’t say it out loud. To be certain that people know that we care, we need to tell them.

And that’s the point for the week.

Assuming that others know how we feel is one of the gravest errors we as leaders can make – right behind believing that love has no place at work. Most leaders routinely make both mistakes, and as a result, they sub-optimize in almost everything they do.

Too often, whether at home, at work, or in our communities, we fall prey to the notion that those closest to us, those we spend the most time with, and those we see every day must know how we feel about them, for no other reasons than they are closest to us, spend the most time with us, or see us every day. Surely, we think, they must know how we feel. And besides, we go on, we’re not comfortable with all of this lovey-dovey, soft-skill stuff. We’ll just slip them an Amazon gift card one day next week, we tell ourselves.

But people don’t want Amazon gift cards. They want gifts from the heart – words that say you matter to me, I care for you, and I couldn’t imagine doing this without you. More than anything they want to know that they are loved, and they long to actually hear it said out loud.

Our engagement-ending exercise is so powerful because it is the closest thing most of these organizations will ever get to experiencing love in their workplace. And once experienced, it becomes transformational. People will do almost anything for those they love and will likewise do anything to avoid hurting them or letting them down. Such is the result of simply opening one’s mouth and telling people that they count for something – that they are loved.

Organizations that trade on love are able to accomplish extraordinary things because those in them want extraordinary things for the other human beings that work there. It is no more complicated than that. 

And the key to unlocking the extraordinary power of it all is no more difficult than telling people what they mean to you, that you love them, and that you never want them to leave. Because if you do, they won’t.

So, tell them.

And win.

For more about the author, please follow this LINK.

To pre-order my new book, please click, HERE.

Image credit: Marc Shaefer |

General Leadership

Choose the Light

Choose the light. Phillip Kane's blog.
Image credit Bruno van der Kraan |

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Today is Easter Sunday. For the more than 2 billion Christians on the planet it’s the day we commemorate Christ’s resurrection from the dead – God’s triumph over darkness. It is for those of us who believe, the proof of salvation and the evidence that good will prevail over evil. For just as Jesus Christ was condemned by the wicked to suffer and die a horrible death upon a cross, he did rise again on the third day, exactly as he said. And just as the tomb in which he had laid was flooded with light the moment the stone was rolled away, so too was the world, the instant he stepped back into it. But that’s the thing about light. No amount of darkness can ever overcome it; the light will always prevail. 

And that’s the point for the week. 

Don’t believe it?  Bring a dark shoebox into a light room and open it. The room won’t become one bit darker. But the box will be flooded with light. Try a bigger box. Then a bigger box. No amount of darkness will ever prevail. But walk into the pitchest of black with the tiniest of flames and watch what happens. The light will always win. 

Leaders who bring light prevail similarly. Because people willingly follow light. People want to be uplifted, to be fed, to be part of something bigger than themselves. Leaders who recognize these things collect more followers. And they win more, for the simple reason that people are attracted to the light.  

It’s the reason that 2,000 years after he walked this earth, 2 billion people still believe … in the light. 

People who follow blackness do so because they have to, because they are forced to, or are under some control or addiction to the dark. No one grows up wishing they could be an addict, or a thief, or a horrible boss. They do so because there is no light in their life. Because the thing they worship is black. And it’s why when they’re gone no one remembers them. Because light quickly swallows the darkness – as if it never even existed. 

So, make today a choice. Make it about more often bringing light into a room or a home or a business or a community. Live your life as a bright, shining reminder of He who conquered sin and death for us, who deserve naught, so that we might have life and light everlasting. 

So, choose the light. 

And win. 

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

To order Phillip’s new book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, please click HERE.

Image credit Bruno van der Kraan |

General Leadership

Be the One Others Want to Follow

Be the one others want to follow. Phillip Kane's blog.
Image credit: Todd Greene | 

Friday, April 8, 2022

This week, the North Carolina men’s basketball team very nearly beat Kansas to win the 2022 National Championship game in Boston. I say nearly because the Tar Heels lost by just 3 points, 72 – 69, after having led for much of the contest. UNC was not even supposed to be in this game, let alone be in a position to win it. They were an 8-seed. The last and only time an 8 seed ever won the tournament was 1985 (with no team lower than an 8 having ever reached the final game.)

But the Tar Heels were, in fact, there, and almost won.

Along the way, they beat a 1-seed, a 2-seed and a 4-seed. They got there the hard way. They won their way there.

And they did so with almost the same group of players that had lost in the first round to Wisconsin just one year ago. UNC returned 4 starters from the 2020 – 2021 season. So, with the exception of newcomer, Brady Manek, the team wasn’t much different.

What changed was the coach.

Hubert Davis was different. Hubert Davis was someone these kids wanted to play for. See, teams perform at a significantly higher level when they do what they do for someone they want to follow.

And that’s the point for the week.

In the semi-final game, UNC played Duke in a rubber match it was not supposed to win. Duke, a 2-seed was favored to win by 2 baskets. But it became clear relatively quickly that Carolina would be only the fourth 8-seed to ever play in an NCAA final. It was clear because it became plain to see that the Tar Heel players love playing for Hubert Davis. These kids would follow him anywhere. Duke’s players, on the other hand, were listless. Even in Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final game ever, the Blue Devil players didn’t rise to the occasion. There was no apparent love of Coach K. There was no one going over a cliff for him that night.

Those who unwillingly follow someone will bolt, curl up or mail it in at the very first sign of trouble, pain, or difficulty. Even in the best of circumstances, they will rarely give their all. That’s because in the human markets of give and take, the worst leaders take way more than they give. So, when it comes time to ask for more, they find only empty hearts. Those they lean into walk away, leaving them to fight alone.

But those whom others willingly follow are those who put in more than they ever take out. They invest in others with no expectation of return. They seek to make others really, really big, by making themselves really, really small. That’s because they understand the cardinal rule of leadership – that it’s not about them.

It’s the paradoxical truth of all of this: that the more we put others ahead of ourselves, the more they will stand behind us … willingly, without reservation, without fear, and without anyone ever having to throw a dry erase marker in the direction of another human being.

So, be like Coach Davis. Be the one others want to follow. 

And win.

To learn about booking Phillip to speak at your event, please contact us.

To order Phillip’s new book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, please click HERE.

Image credit: Todd Greene | 


With Everything You Want Will Come Something You Don’t

With Everything You Want Will Come Something You Don't. Phillip Kane's blog
Photo credit: L. Ann Kane

Friday, April 1, 2022

This week, my wife, Annie, who almost never complains about anything, reached the end of her rope with our dogs. We have four of them – three English Bulldogs and a stowaway Boston Terrier. For those of you who have ever had English Bulldogs, you know that they are much like having toddlers. They are only about that bright, are always needing something, and forever requiring this or that to be wiped … all on top of their routine indoor “accidents.” And if you’ve ever had a Boston, you know that they are pot stirrers. So whatever problems the Bulldogs are creating become near infinitely worse when you add a Boston to the mix. Normally, Annie is their chief cheerleader and life chronicler. She has 738,000 photos of them on her phone and texts at least 19 life updates of each dog every day. So, for her to have had it with them took quite a lot. Naturally, she came to me for help. I say naturally because whenever the dogs misbehave their ownership status reverts to me; they become my dogs again. My advice for Annie in that moment was simple: with everything you want in life, will come something you don’t.

And that’s the point for the week.

It’s also true.

Don’t believe it? Think back to anything you’ve ever wished for and subsequently received. I’ll bet you that it came with something you didn’t want as well. It’s a simple fact of life. Everything comes at a price.

Rainbows come with rain. The down part of a rollercoaster ride comes with the boring click-clack up part. Spring always follows Winter. Higher income comes with a higher tax bracket. You get the idea. It’s always the case. With everything you want will come something you don’t.

The best leaders understand this intuitively. And they plan accordingly. They don’t draw up plans with lines that move only in an upward trajectory, because they recognize that ups come with downs and that highs come with consequential lows. They hire great people knowing they will have developmental areas. They recognize that any two steps forward will likely come with one taken back. They know that humans never get everything right; so, they don’t expect them to. 

As a result, they hold people to realistic standards. They factor in the inevitable back-ups. They rarely lose their patience or their minds when bad things happen – mostly because they expect them, but also because they recognize the futility of temper tantrums. They know that no good ever comes from dwelling on the bad. So, they don’t do it. Instead, they celebrate progress and those who achieve it. They happily endure rain, the click-clack parts, and the backward steps. Because they know that they bring with them progress, beauty and joy.

They are people that others willingly follow, mostly because they are people who hold others accountable without destroying their dignity. Because they know they will live through minor setbacks and simple mistakes. And because they know that they will be encouraged and consoled when they fall, not berated, embarrassed or belittled. Most of all, it’s because they know that they will be accepted for who they are – taking any bad with all of the good and all that they want with everything they don’t.

So, recognize that anything you want always comes with something you don’t.

And win.

To learn more about Phillip Kane, please click HERE.

To purchase a copy of Phillip’s new book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, please follow this LINK.

Photo credit: L. Ann Kane


Not Much Happens Without Pressure

Mot Much Happens Without Pressure. Phillip Kane's blog.
Image credit: Katherine Chase |

Saturday, March 26, 2022

This week, I read an article about the upcoming Axiom-1 mission to the International Space Station scheduled for early next month. The piece featured renowned chef, José Andrés, who is providing a meal for the crew of Axiom-1 and the NASA, Russian, and European astronauts aboard the ISS. Cooking a gourmet meal for consumption in low-Earth orbit is quite a lot different than preparing small plates for diners in places like South Beach, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York. Ultimately, Andrés and his team solved the issue by applying pressure. By utilizing high-pressure cooking methods, he was able to solve for the atmospheric and other challenges to produce a winning outcome – a chicken and mushroom paella he was proud to put his name on. 

As I considered the situation for a bit, it occurred to me that life and leadership are typically like Chef Andrés’ paella dilemma. Not much happens without pressure.

And that’s the point for the week.

The best leaders understand that the level of output in any organization is almost always directly proportional to the amount of pressure applied to it; subject, of course, to the law of diminishing returns.

I recently saw a piece about a leader advocating for dead calm in the workplace. She posited that the path to prosperity could be found in a magical state of zero stress, zero pressure and zero heat or weight. In these heaven-like places, workers could be free to work when they want, how they want and at their own pace, to deliver results for the organizations that employ them. The only problem with such utopias is that they don’t exist – except in magazine stories. When tried, they don’t work. That’s because human beings work best when subjected to some amount of pressure.

Pressure is good. Pressure clarifies. Pressure brings needed focus. Pressure forces learning. It leads to growth. It engenders trust and strengthens bonds between people. Pressure highlights areas of opportunity and causes us to let go of things that matter less. Pressure brings with it maturity and separates those with integrity from those without it. Pressure shines lights on posers, pulls back curtains on frauds, and elevates those who tell the truth. Mostly, pressure separates the kind from the unkind.

See, pressure and unkindness are not synonymous. There is a vast difference between effectively using pressure to clarify deadlines and to ensure accountability, and being a jerk. Those who effectively use pressure know that there is a point at which too much pressure is just as bad as too little. In forming wood, apply too little pressure and the wood will never take shape; apply too much and it will break, likely hurting someone in the process. Leading people is no different, and the kindhearted know it. They know that the key is being aware of when to stop bending. People will tell you where that limit is; all you need to do is listen. True leaders do. And they win because of it.

But nothing happens without pressure. If you’ve ever tried to boil an egg in the mountains you know this. Leading people is no different. Without pressure, everything takes longer and things seem to matter less.

Those who win do so because they engage more fully, more urgently, more passionately, and with more care than the other person – because they accept the privilege to toil under the weight of pressure – which is, after all, just another way to say the weight of responsibility to improve the lives of others – nothing more, in fact, than any of us were called to do in the first place.

So, be like Chef Andrés. Apply pressure.

And win.

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Image credit: Katherine Chase |