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?”



Invitation to join the Positive Organizational Leadership Project

TO:  Positive Psychology practitioners/ leaders/ consultants

FR:  Doug Gray,   

RE:  The Positive Organizational Leadership Project (POLP)


Invite practitioners/ leaders/ consultants to share digital stories of HOW they are applying Positive Psychology individually and organizationally.


  1. Leaders practice leadership.  We can all be better leaders.
  2. We can leverage technology and our communities.
  3. Relationships matter.  When we model relationships that matter, then we increase awareness and learning.


After attending  the International Positive Psychology Association conference in Montreal, Canada, in July, 2017 one theme stood clear.  Marketing and branding for practitioners using positive psychology is NOT well defined.  Market confusion abounds.  This Positive Organizational Leadership Project emerged as one initiative to help practitioners share HOW they serve clients in our global marketplace.  Join us?


(a) share this invitation broadly,  (b) schedule a 30-minute session with Doug Gray here or at   (c) receive Time Trade confirmation with calendar link (d) encourage participants to write responses to the 5-7 questions below and email them to  24 hours prior to our scheduled call so that we can each be well prepared, (e) download software and familiarize yourself with software on YouTube, (f) at the scheduled time, record 5-10 minutes of video session using  (g) send MP4 recording to practitioners for their distribution, (h) post on channel with invitation to be included in the project.

Possible questions:

  1. Self-introduction: Who are you, what do you do, where are you located, do you have a website or invitation to share with others?
  2. Self- awareness: If you have taken the assessment at, what are your top 5 signature strengths?  How would you describe yourself, at your best, using those top 5 signature strengths? (FYI, my top signature strengths are creativity, hope, perspective, honesty, zest.)
  3. Definition: One common definition of positive psychology is the science and practicing of flourishing or thriving… how do you typically define positive psychology?
  4. What attracts you to the science or practice of positive psychology?
  5. Clients: Who do you typically serve in your PP consulting work?   Please share 2-3 examples/ case studies/ successful interventions or client experiences.
  6. Trends: What trends or market opportunities do you see in the future for positive psychology consulting?
  7. Referrals: Who else can you refer me to who (a) is a Positive Psychology consultant and (b) might be willing to be interviewed in this project?

How can you help?  Share this invitation broadly.   Thank you in advance for your participation.

Here’s to you, at your best…

Introducing the AD-FIT model for positive psychology coaching, managers, leaders

Please share this short video with any coaches, managers, or leaders who care about business outcomes.  

Our research indicates that the AD-FIT model works.  Contact us today for details.

Then apply this model to your clients ASAP.

What are the best speaking topics for managers and leaders?

I get this question all the time… so here are some details on speaking topics for new managers or emerging leaders.

Assumption #1:  Leaders practice leadership, just as physicians practice medicine and attorneys practice law.  Speaking is one way to reinforce evidence-based practices that should work for you.  If you practice them.

Assumption #2:   Positive relationships matter.   The quantity and quality of our relationships is the greatest predictor of career development, human longevity, flourishing and well-being.  Speaking is one way to practice developing positive relationships

So what are some great speaking topics?  Here are some of my recent examples.  

How to apply positive psychology in your talent development practice.  A 50-minute presentation on the science and practice of positive psychology in any organization.

  • The Association for Talent Development (ATD) International Conference and Exhibition, Atlanta, GA, World Congress.  One of only 2 presentations on positive psychology, amid 400+ presentations, and 12,000+ speakers.  Book signing.
  • Association for Talent Development (ATD) chapter meeting presentations in Chattanooga, TN (June, 2017), Nashville, TN (August, 2016), Birmingham, AL (November, 2016)
  • International Coaching Federation (ICF) chapter meeting in Nashville, TN (September, 2016)

How to Increase Employee Engagement: For You or Others.  A 50-minute interactive workshop designed to help leaders apply the science of employee engagement, and the AD-FIT consulting model, to their work.

  • State of TN, Human Resources Conference, Nashville, TN, 4 sessions July 18-19, 2017.

Trends in evidence-based talent management.  A 50-minute presentation on the costs of human capital and analytics, technology and consulting.

  • Project Management Institute (PMI) Nashville chapter meeting (April, 2015)
  • International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) Nashville regional chapter meeting (February, 2015)

Action Learning Summit.   A day of thought leadership designed for select leaders in Franklin, TN (May, 2016)

Talent Summit.  A day of thought leadership hosted in Nashville, TN for select leaders in talent management, analytics and consulting (March, 2015).

How to Address Healthcare Leader Burnout.  A 50-minute webinar or presentation.  The need to diagnose burnout and treat healthcare leaders with resilience is critical.   This presentation provides practitioners with evidence-based tactics to apply at the individual or organizational levels.

  • Webinar on July, 2015, partnering with eVisit and CEUs provided by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM)

Doug Gray speaker bio:

Doug Gray is the co-founder and CEO of Action Learning Associates.  He has demonstrated expertise in applying positive psychology practices for thousands of individual and organizational leaders.   Doug is a PhD candidate in Organizational Leadership at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. His research topic is the effect of positive psychology on business leaders and executive coaches. Since 1997, Doug Gray, PCC, has been an author, researcher, teacher, and organizational consultant.  His top five signature strengths include creativity, honesty, gratitude, hope and love of learning.  He manages executive coaches for the largest global provider of executive coaches.  He also volunteers as the ATD Nashville chapter president.

Speaker links: 

Contact Doug Gray, PCC, today at 615.905.1892 or  by clicking here.

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

The Coaching/ Consulting Process in 4 Phases

The goal of coaching is behavioral change toward a desired personal or professional outcome.   For instance, Sarah may need to develop her business development skills to grow her new franchise by 50% within the next 6 months. John may need to develop an assertive meeting style with his new manager, in the next 30 days, or risk opportunities for promotion. How do these leaders attain their goals?


Some leaders like to imagine the coaching process in the following 4 phases. My experience, since 1997 with hundreds of coaching engagements, is that coaching engagements rarely fall into the neat categories of these 4 phases.   One reason is that learning is a messy process. The process is ongoing, iterative, client-focused, both an “artful craft” requiring practice, and a scientific management consulting process requiring expertise.   The action learning process implies that coaches and leaders jointly learn what works, and why it works, so that the leader can do more of that behavior.


That said, the process of organizational development can be described in these 4 phases. (Source: Gallant & Rios, 2014).





  1. The start-up phase requires candid assessment of what is working, what is not working, and what is needed. The selection of a coach or consultant is crucial. Leaders should not select someone they like as a potential confidante or best friend. Leaders should select the most expert consultant who can help them master a new behavior. For instance, if a leader needs a woman who speaks Spanish to help prepare for relocation to Mexico City, then I am not qualified. The goal of this start-up phase is to define boundaries of the engagement, and to mutually agree on those boundaries in a written contract.


  1. The diagnosis phase includes learning what the leader thinks about their reputation, brand, strengths, and weaknesses. That self-assessment often conflicts with data gathered from others. Techniques include surveys, interviews, assessments, observations, and video. The word “diagnosis” is not accurate, because it implies a gap or deficiency that is static and needs correction. I prefer the words “development” or “focus” or “assessment” because they accurately describe the ongoing quality of coaching engagements that reinforce the strengths of leaders.


  1. The intervention phase is the core of any coaching engagement. The process includes ongoing assessment of the client’s agenda, review of behaviors, feedback, and constructive actions. There is both art and science involved in coaching. The art requires constant attention to the leader’s words and actions, following intuition, and what I call “dancing with curiosity.” The science requires ongoing consideration of recent research in evidence-based behavior or world-class tactics that may be useful to the leader.


  1.  The transition phase occurs at the end of every coaching session, in monthly written summaries, after any feedback session or observation, quarterly frequency reviews, and opening and closing meetings with the leader, HR business partner, direct manager, and the coach. Those 4-way meetings insure that behavioral outcomes have been exceeded. As a 4th step in this model, the transition phase reminds all stakeholders that coaching has a beginning and an end. There are some “executive coaches” who boastfully declare that they have provided value to a leader for years. I sincerely hope that they regularly review the behavioral outcomes and business needs so that each phase of that engagement is closed. If not, they may be describing a dependent relationship that has little to do with a leader’s need for behavioral change.


This neat model with 4 phases may be useful for those who like structure. Accountants and engineers and some HR managers may find them useful.


One final thought: if the client needs a more fluid model, then these 4 steps can be twisted into a circle or a spiral.


Call us if you need to assess step 1 above, the start-up phase.


If we cannot help you, then we will refer you to someone who can do so.




Gallant, S. & Rios, D. (2014). The organization development (OD) consulting process. In B.R. Jones & M, Brazzel (Eds.), The NTL handbook of organization development and change (2nd ed.) (pp. 153-174). San Francisco, CA: Wiley.