Mindfulness or Mindlessness? Some good links…


My friend Steve, in Charlotte, NC, is very intentional about his daily practice of mindful-ness.  As an executive coach and yoga master, he has achieved a state of awareness that others cannot imagine.  Yes, this is his car…

Steve would ask, “What daily practice do you adopt to increase mindfulness?”

Prayer? Meditation?  Random acts of kindness?  Daily expressions of gratitude?  Generosity?

Throughout 4,500 years of recorded history, humans have sought insight from such daily practices.

Yoga teaches the value of breathing and moving.   Just like any hard physical activity.   Gardening.  Running ultra marathons.  Doing 10-day expedition adventure races.


Now we have social media triggers such as this clip from Alan Watts to take us on a virtual adventure…



Alternately, for those who need a provocative clip from Alan Watts, consider this:



More importantly, a coaching question is “What daily practice do you adopt to increase mindfulness?”



Skiing above treeline and strategic leadership lessons

skiing above treeline

When 5” of powder blessed Breckenridge, CO, yesterday, I took this stunning video and wrote these thoughts. Here are three short perspectives on skiing above treeline, and strategic leadership.


  1. Flow is designed. Flow can be defined as that timeless psychological state when challenge and skill are in balance. Most people cannot imagine skiing double-black diamond runs down 1,500’. Most people should never try extreme skiing. Skiing above treeline, like any hobby, is an opportunity to experience ekstasis, that state of being literally outside of time and space.   Flow occurs when we take one turn at a time. We live in the moment. We proceed to a new place. Yes, you can design flow into your life. There are seven contributing variables for designing flow. Contact me for details or read this book or this book.


     2. Leaders are creators. Leaders build products or services. Doubt me? Then read any biography. Only those extraordinary leaders with an obsessive focus make the history books. Average leaders do not warrant attention in the history books or the biographies. How about you? By definition, leaders create value for their followers. And all significant leaders create great teams. If you were to say “yes” to that idea, or create something new, or delight a client, today, then you would see for yourself. One example of a significant leadership event in Nashville, TN is here.


     3.  Technology follows goals. Many years ago I climbed this mountain using backcountry ski mountaineering gear. It took all day. My goal was to experience grandeur. The adventure was exhausting but wonderful. Two years ago new lift lines made it possible to ascend to the same elevation without sweating. The technology followed my goals. Ironically, those ski trails are now called “Wonderland”, “Bliss” and “Euphoria.”   Get the point? There is plenty of grandeur to be found when we ski above treeline.


March is a great season for strategic thinking.


March is the season of heavy snowfalls, springtime flowers, new birth, opportunity, and clear intentions.


You may never ski above treeline. But you can certainly make smarter decisions about your professional and personal goals.


Some coaching questions include: (1) How can you design flow in your life or business? (2) What can you create today? (3) What goals will inspire grandeur?


Then let me know your answers. May you excel!


Doug Gray, PCC, CEO/Founder of Action learning Associates, Inc, today at 615.905.1892

Riding a bicycle, learning, and neural plasticity

Like most of you, perhaps, I have demonstrated some expertise at the ability to ride a bicycle since the age of 3.

Unlike most of you, I have perfected that skill in multiple expedition bicycle races, featured on CBS Sport three times, bicycle tours throughout Europe, the maritime provinces, and the U.S.  Big deal, right?

So what would happen if I tried to UN-LEARN that skill?

1.  In this cool video clip, a bicycle was re-engineered so that when the handlebars were turned one way, the wheel would go in the opposite direction.

2.  It took an adult 8 months to LEARN how to ride this new bike.

3.  It took his 3-year old son 3 weeks to LEARN how to ride this new bike.

What do these two facts say about the brain’s ability to learn a new behavior, then to unlearn that behavior after 8 months of reinforcement?

(Pause and reflect here…)


One of my Dartmouth College professors, in an obtuse course called Developmental PsychoBiology, taught me that we have neural pathways that reinforce certain behaviors.  Call them habits.  When we practice using our right hand with a fork to eat spaghetti, we can reinforce that pattern until it becomes “learned.”  If we want to eat spaghetti with chopsticks we need to learn a new neural pattern, until it becomes a habit.

Too many adults say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  Nonsense.  There is abundant empirical evidence to the contrary, for both dogs and humans.  Such a perspective is based upon ignorance.

So an executive coaching question may be, “What new behaviors do you need to learn?”

Examples include:

  • calling 10 former friends to say “Hello, how are you? I miss you.”
  • being kind to someone who needs kindness
  • supporting the strengths of your loved ones, immediately, by doing or saying something complimentary and true.  Immediately.  Repeatedly.
  • learning a new skill, such as how to play the banjo, speak Spanish, or write javascript
  • self-advocate for that promotion or new challenge at work
  • re-design your career or future

If you need a boost (and we all need a boost at times) then give me a call today.


I’d like to know what you are interested in doing.  Or UN-Learning.



Doug Gray, the Passionate Action guy

Fact:  We all aspire to be a superhero

Fact:  I have written a book with a purple cover called “Passionate Actiuon: 5 Steps to Creating Success in Life and Work” (2007)

Fact:  There is no sex in the book.  Sorry.

So what does it mean to be the Passionate Action guy?

1.  Passions are expressions of strong emotion.  They help us create.  Passions lead to something else.  Think of any relationship– there are passionate impulses at the start, yet relationships are hard to maintain over time.  Think of any business- there is a passionate focus at the start- yet it is hard to maintain most businesses over time.  Sparks start fires.  But they do not maintain fires.

2.  Actions require focused accountability.  Nothing sexy involved.  Daily habits lead to results.  Make your sales.  Focus on delivery.

This is HOW I help my clients make money and serve others.  Call me at 704.895.6479 for details.

My experience is that we create success when 1) luck meets 2) prepared opportunity.

In that formula, the only thing I can control is preparation.  And so I continue, day after day, year after year.  Since 1997.

Success starts with the physical actions.  Like running and yoga stretching.  Like daily calls to prospects.  Like KPIs.

So why wait?  Call me at 704.895.6479 with your story.

Most of us need a little more passionate action in our lives.




WTF Coaching

WTF stands for “what the f____”     It’s a swear word.   You should know that.

I swear by this:  WTF stands for “What’s The Focus?”

When you FOCUS on providing great value to people, then you will do so.

When you focus on cheating people, then you will do so.

WTF Coaching is a process of intentionally focusing on positive outcomes in your professional and personal life.

We ALL need WTF coaching at times.

No one is successful when they are alone.  Teams are successful.  The myth of the solo-preneur is dead.  Every successful client and alliance partner that I know of has a tremendous support team providing sales, marketing, delivery, assessments, etc.

Throughout history, our WTF Coaches have helped us become successful.  They help us keep our focus.

I currently work with 2 peer WTF Coaches, because I need more help than many 🙂

So, who is your WTF Coach?

Define only 3 Top Goals, then 1 Top Goal

Jim Collins is credited with saying, “If you have more than 3 “top goals”, then you will not make any a priority.”

Review your goals list.  Narrow it to your Top 3.  No more.  Stay focused on those.

We know from research tinto successful people that they ALL have an obsessive focus on one goal.  Not three goals…  Consider Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr, anyone in any history book.  They had one goal.  Only one.  Only 1.

So, what is your 1 top goal?