Illuminate (February 2018)


The Cycle That Leads to Success

by Jocelyn Little

“Innovation is not the result of chance. It is the result of action.  It is not a thing we wait for, it is a thing we do.”

-Phil McKinney

The phone rang. My nerves suddenly seemed to explode, as I had just finished an important team call where, for the first time, I took the lead role. On the other end of the phone was my mentor, my leader, my inspiration – who was also my boss.  “How did the call with the team go? Did you fire them up? Did you come up with a plan?” Big questions!

A plan! What was our plan going to be? My answer was a long-winded one, debriefing how our team call went.  What I thought would be a short debrief call turned into a much needed and very appreciated mentoring session, filled with a lot of golden nuggets of wisdom and inspiration.

We all need some great mentoring and coaching from time to time, no matter our title, responsibilities, or role.  We also all need constant inspiration, which if we pay close attention, can be found anywhere. Together, mentoring and inspiration can walk a person down a path to something huge – a game changing idea or plan.  Ironically, that very night after speaking with my boss, I found some inspiration and wisdom in an unlikely place – my son’s martial arts class at the Las Vegas Kung Fu Academy, where the very topic of success and planning was discussed.

That night, after some warm up exercises, the instructor taught the students the “Black Belt Success Cycle.” As I sat there and listened to the lesson, I quickly began to gain interest in the conversation as I realized that this “Success Cycle” could really be applied to anything. This “Success Cycle” can effectively help me realize my personal and professional goals, as well as any organizational goals that might be driven by the team. It starts with knowing exactly what you want, absolute clarity, and having the end goal in mind.  From there, if certain steps of the cycle are followed, you slowly make your way to your end goal as the cycle repeats. The bottom line is, you cannot go anywhere if you first don’t know where you are going.

The Black Belt Success Cycle

  1. Know what you want – you cannot accomplish anything if you do not know what you want (have the end in mind with absolute clarity).
  2. Make a plan – what steps must you take and in what sequence must they occur to succeed?
  3. Get a mentor/coach – who will help you along the path to success?
  4. Assess your goals – what step by step, incremental goals must you make to pave a path to success?
  5. Review your progress – what goals have you already reached? What goals are realistic vs. unrealistic? Remember to take things one step at a time – there’s no fast forward button, no short cuts in life.
  6. Adjust your plan – once you’ve reached one incremental goal, what adjustments need to be made to continue on the pathway to succeed? Or if you haven’t reached your next goal, why not? What adjustments are necessary to change that result?

As I reflected on my day, I realized that I had all of the starting pieces of the “Success Cycle;” I just needed to lay them all out into this model.  I realized that I knew what I wanted success to look like for the team. The team discussed a possible plan to get there. My boss was my success coach, my mentor. Now, from that point on, what will be required to meet our goal is continuous and deliberate action. The team must act on our plan, assess our step by step goals, review our progress, and adjust our plan as necessary. As a wise man once said, “Ideation without execution is delusion!” The whole idea behind the “Success Cycle” is dependent on first knowing what you want, then having the discipline and the courage to act on it! So ask yourself, what are you waiting for? Success is yours to have – go get it!

“What separates the icons and legends from the ordinary performers is the level of depth and rigor of their knowledge and commitment.”

-Michael Nila

Founder of Blue Courage


Making Stone Soup

Have you ever heard of Stone Soup? It doesn’t sound very tasty – yet the reviews from nay sayers were raving of it’s scrumptious flavors once tasted! This video explains the short story of how inspiration, curiosity, and people contributing key ingredients can make a desired and satisfying result.



Recommended Reading


212° the Extra Degree

How to Achieve Results Beyond Your Wildest Expectation

by S.L. Parker

This quick read discusses how one degree can make a huge difference. “At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train.” That extra degree can mean the difference between something hot and something with enough power and force that can make a tremendous difference.

Why you should read this book:

A short, 20-minute read, this book provides inspiration and statistics to encourage your thinking as to how and where you can apply an extra degree of heat, creating monumental results. Just one degree more of practice, effort, passion, engagement…if all done consistently at one degree higher can help lead to the difference between good and great – the difference between knowing and mastering your craft.  This book provokes your thought and challenges your courage for execution.

Click here to purchase this book.

Reflections From the Field

Learning Put Into Action from Blue Courage’s Inclusive Leadership Course

“Learning without application means nothing.” This is application, reflection, putting content to learning, being aware of being unaware…so much of what we speak about for three days in our Inclusive Leadership class is reflected in Jane’s story below. We may not all be as great and creative and fun of a writer, but we do all have these moments where we can apply the theory of Inclusive Leadership…a story shared is powerful because what we share we deepen!


On my drive home Saturday, I was a barrel-o-monkeys of emotions. What the heck just happened? How was I going to be better? How would I make sure that my energy would follow good thoughts?

On any given day, I get home and I am greeted by AJ and Indy. No, not my family but my two love-hungry, shelter-rescued pups. AJ always wags his tail hard enough to power a water plant. Lookout or the half-lab-half-whippet will, simply, whip ya good. And Indy – the 60-pound bully – is really a mushball. She will rise on her hind legs, ever-so-gingerly, and turn just as you embrace her and back into you. She wants her hug. She will stand for as long as you want and nuzzle as long as you are willing to give her the love. When you say enough or “go play”, they both return to their chew bones or will go romp and frolic outside.

I tell you this not to dote on my dogs, but because I had a revelation shortly after getting home yesterday.

You see I got home, I gave my love to the pups, said hello and then, I had to turn right back around and take my daughter to a dance class. The studio is only two minutes away from the house, by car, so I am back home in less than 7 or 8 minutes or so.

When I walked back in the door, I received the same exact greeting that I had gotten just minutes earlier.

So, my revelation was this: shouldn’t we always have that “dog-like” enthusiasm to return to our teams; shouldn’t we have it when we meet with management; shouldn’t we maintain it when we get in front of our customers; heck, shouldn’t we have it when our spouses walk in the door?

I realized the greeting was always the same. It is the “Oh-my-gosh! You’re back! You’re back! I’m so excited you’re here…. Now you can pay attention to me” attitude. Over and over again. Without hesitation.

Shouldn’t we have dog-like enthusiasm for our daily work?

Shouldn’t we have dog-like loyalty to our [insert “customers”, “leaders”, “constituents” here]?

Shouldn’t we have dog-like “unconditionality”? Shouldn’t we just want to lick our master’s face in appreciation? (And by master, I mean our significant others, not the manager or our immediate supervisor. That would just be weird.)

I think so. *And if you don’t have dogs, maybe this is all lost on you. OR if you’re a cat-person, well… this would be an entirely different story. We would be discussing cat-like ambivalence, cat-like solitude and cat-like mischief.

Jane Lanahan Decker
City of Doral, FL

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