Tales of Bad Bosses and why they don't need to be

Posted by Anthony Attan

Dec 17, 2013 12:43:00 PM

Question: What is the #1 reason people quit their job? /br Answer: Their boss


4patterngraphic-new3This is probably not surprising to you, as almost all of us have encountered the dreaded bad boss. The micro-managing boss. The only-care-about-the-bottom-line boss. The disorganized-and-has-no-clue boss. Or the can’t-make-tough-decisions-and-just-wants-to-be-friends boss. Sound familiar? Even this post was inspired by the experience of a friend who recently asked her boss for bereavement days off to attend an out of state funeral of a close relative.  The bosses response, “Can’t you just Skype in?” SKYPE IN!!! I just about fell out of my chair when I heard that one. And I’m sure you have your own horror stories of bosses who seem to want to sabotage the productivity and well-being of their employees.

So why is it that some bosses are great and others are so bad? One big reason is an empathy deficit that seems to get worse the higher up you go in an organization. In Robb Smith’s TED talk he notes how CEOs have the lowest emotional intelligence in the entire workforce. Empathy, what Dianne Stober calls, “one of the most basic capacities required for understanding one another,” is often lacking in leaders. Oh yeah, and it matters to business success! Forbes notes that “the reality is that for business leaders to experience success, they need to not just see or hear the activity around them, but also relate to the people they serve.” We already know how important engagement is, and you can imagine how much engagement falls off around a lack of empathy.  Just think of the shift in engagement when being told to Skype in to a funeral!

With empathy so important, how does one develop this quality that seems elusive to so many leaders? In Ginny Whitelaw’s latest book, The Zen Leader, she describes how to boast empathy in her chapter on the flip From Controlling to Connecting. She describes how the energy patterns of FEBI can be a power tool to help summon real empathy that fully allows you to ‘become the other person.’

“In a pattern sense, we can make this flip by starting in a quiet, listening, Organizer place, and then relax completely. We invite a kind of permeability into the boundary of our self-in-our-skin and sense another’s rhythm. We can listen for their breathing, their pulse, sense their entire being all at once, and we enter Collaborator’s empathetic engagement. If the talkative Collaborator is Home for you, your challenge might be to access the quiet listening of the Organizer as a starting place. If you normally live at the Driver’s speed, you may find it hard to slow down enough to sense depth, rather than racing over the surface. If you normally live with the Visionary’s expansiveness, you may need enough centeredness to connect without losing yourself. Whatever your challenge, you now know how to access the energy pattern that can support you in building a practice of connecting with empathy.”

There are two important points that Dr. Whitelaw makes here. First, we see that the energy patterns can be a great supporter of our effort to summon empathy. If we need help seeing someone else’s vision, we can enter the Visionary energy pattern, which feels comfortable suspending prior beliefs and is open to new possibilities. If we need to better understand someone’s passion and enthusiasm we can enter Driver and use its intensity to better feel into their sharply-focused excitement. As we’ve seen with applications such as virtual leadership and creating a climate of engagement, each pattern has value when it comes to engaging in empathy.

The second point here is that it isn’t enough to just know about the patterns in general, rather we must understand how these patterns show up within ourselves. Our ‘personality’ is our individualized preferences for each of these patterns. Often times, one or two of these patterns are much more preferred, and thus utilized, over the others. When one of these patterns is used at the exclusion of the others, this can result in a gaping hole in leadership abilities.  For example, that micro-managing boss may be over using his or her Organizer pattern while not using enough of the Visionary's willingness to let things play out.  The bottom-line-above-all-else boss may be over using his or her Driver pattern, while not using enough of the Collaborator's concern for the impact on other people.

Before we are able to truly understand where someone else is coming from, we must first have a deep understanding of our own lens, which we use to interpret the world around us. This self-awareness provides us with an opportunity to see any distortions this lens creates.  With a deeper understanding of ourselves, we can begin to understand others from a much more authentic place. This skill is how we close the empathy gap, which is simply imperative for leadership success. In the words of Dr. Whitelaw, “Become the other, and it opens up a world of understanding, in which communication becomes naturally influential, and influence becomes just another authentic dialogue.”


To learn more about the energy patterns within you, take the mini-FEBI for yourself.

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Topics: zen leader, the zen leader, FEBI, energy patterns, Ginny Whitelaw, empathy

A Lesson in Teamwork from...Metallica!?!

Posted by Anthony Attan

Oct 4, 2013 9:48:49 AM


When you think of harmonious teamwork, perhaps Metallica is not the first thing that comes to mind. Their documentary, “Some Kind of Monster”, was certainly full of explosive arguments between band members; however, I found myself gaining insight about teamwork from this unusual source.

One of my favorite things about the Internet these days is the seemingly endless supply of Podcasts. I love tuning in and feeling like a fly on the wall. What is great about this uninterrupted and conversational format is that guests can really dig into how they got to where they are: the struggles, the success, and the lessons learned. What continues to strike me is that so many of those whom I respect the most, who have seen much success in their own careers, have had to overcome great struggles. Often times these are tales of people on the brink of quitting altogether, and we hear about the sheer determination to push through, against all odds, and eventually succeed. These are affirming stories to hear, as many of us can relate to those times of seemingly impossible struggle (check out my last post on Motivation for ways to kick it into gear).

This afternoon, I was listening to one of my favorite Podcasts, The Nerdist hosted by Chris Hardwick. His guests were Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of the band Metallica. Having been a Metallica fan my entire life, I was pretty excited to hear what these two had to say. After a few tales of life in the biggest metal band of all time, the host asked them how they managed to stay together as a band for so long. If you're not familiar with Metallica, they have gone through some changes in personnel, but the main three members have been together since 1983. Their newest member joined the band in 2003. Here is what lead singer, James Hetfield, had to say about the band:

“It’s like any relationship, it’s as simple as that. Like being married, it’s not easy, it’s hard. You can easily start bickering and point out all the negative aspects of somebody and how it bugs you…bands do that, but there is an imbalance [when there are only] egomaniacs with an insecurity complex.”

James goes on to say, “If you don’t focus on the good stuff and care for that, all the negativity comes in. Kirk is really good…about the positiveness of it all. I can find the negative in pretty much anything and try to fix it or make it better or something, you know, the perfectionist in me. Lars is the brain, I mean he can analyze and he can figure anything out. And Robert is the loose cool guy but he’s the warrior, he the ‘LET’S #$@%-ING DO IT, STEP UP’. Each one of us has an important role in this band and we can’t forget that. All of us need to realize that and together we’re one MEGA-PERSON!”

What really stood out for me in this comment is how self and other-aware they are, and how important that is. James and his bandmates have made this a priority, putting much energy toward this effort. We got to see a glimpse of this during the therapy sessions shown in the documentary I mentioned above, as bandmembers saw how their own personality and issues of ego would get in the way of what was best for the band and for the music, and how understanding where others are coming from can be so important for the cohesiveness of a team. This is a key learning to the development of any team and order matters. The starting point is ourselves, so we must start with a deeper understanding of our own filters, drivers, fears and needs. This can be done several ways, taking a personality assessment such as FEBI, for example, can be a powerful tool to gain this self-awareness.

With a better understanding of ourselves, we can then begin to understand the personalities of others. I've seen the power of this in my own research, for example, in my dissertation study exploring the impact of personality-based coaching on virtual team effectiveness. Even a single session of FEBI coaching allowed individuals to gain insights about their own filters and begin to recognize the filters of their fellow teammates, resulting in greater team effectiveness. Recognizing how personality shows up in us and in others gives us an opportunity to change our behavior when we see that we are making false assumptions, derailing others, or engaging in bad habits.

The last part of James' quote gets to the even greater reward of team synergy made possible through understanding and appreciating the team as a whole. As James said, what makes them work well is that they know and respect that each member has a unique and important role to play that contributes to the team, or band, as a whole. And that the untitledappreciation of each other is the glue that really holds it all together.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the balance that you have in the band with the cards you’ve been dealt” Kirk added in discussing how important recognizing and managing differing personalities is to the success of the band. For James, whose life has certainly had its hardships, including struggling with addiction, that bond with his fellow bandmates went far beyond music, “These guys help me stay balanced.”

Perhaps you aren’t looking to be the next band with a hit album, but chances are you work on a team in some part of your life and there is a great lesson to be learned from this metal icon. So I challenge you to find the value within all of your teammates, ask yourself how you can support their efforts and gain a deeper understanding of yourself and how your own personality impacts how you behave on the team. With a good deal of understanding and appreciation, your team may be able to cohere into a highly effective team, or in the words of James Hetfield, one MEGA-PERSON!

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Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, energy patterns, team development, teamwork, teams

Motivating the Whole You

Posted by Anthony Attan

Sep 19, 2013 9:17:08 AM

MotivatedDogMotivation can be an elusive thing, especially when we need it the most. Too many factors can attack our motivation, the biggest two being distractions and emotions. In today’s world of ‘shiny things’, we have constant distractions from our smartphone alerts to that new app we just downloaded, or the ever-addicting world of social media. For a quick way to get motivated in spite of all the noise around us, check out my earlier post on how the Driver energy can help overcome distractions.

The emotional factor that zaps motivation runs much deeper and thus requires a deeper approach to overcome. Our emotions play a major role in our day-to-day, or sometimes minute-to-minute, motivation. This can have huge implications on how engaged we are in our work, in our ability to problem solve, to think creatively, to collaborate, or to just get stuff done.

The irony I must share is that I intended myself to write this post days ago. I had the title and concept ready to go and then received bad news which greatly impacted my emotional state and zapped my motivation. I even said to my wife yesterday, “I have no motivation to write this blog post about motivation.” Oh irony, how I loathe you! “Well, you have a great opportunity to try your motivation activity and see how it works.” She promptly responded, and perhaps the only reason you are reading this post at all is a result of me taking her advice.

The problem with most attempts to get motivated when dealing with this emotional factor is that they are partial approaches, motivating perhaps only one or two aspects of ourselves. Nothing is more de-motivating than a failed attempt at getting motivated! Imagine instead an approach that motivated our whole selves.  Research on personality has shown that there are four fundamental needs/drives that have to be met for us to be fully motivated. We saw how these needs showed up in creating a climate of engagement in a previous post. These needs directly correspond with the four energy patterns as measured by the FEBI, so we can use this frame to help us get fully motivated.

Here is how…

Real motivation starts with connecting more deeply with the thing you are getting motivated to do. What larger picture is this activity a part of, what is the purpose of your work? If there is no purpose, then perhaps your lack of motivation is telling you a deeper truth. The energy pattern that can support this first step is the Visionary, so enter this pattern first to start with motivation as big as the Visionary energy. Once you are connected to purpose, it’s time to hone in on what to do so bring up your inner Driver to gain clarity and focus about what needs to get done. Knowing what to do is good for short term motivation, but if you want lasting motivation you will want to make sure to track your progress. The Organizer pattern can help with this by setting benchmarks, tracking progress, and recognizing success. Now you’re ready, and hopefully motivated, to get to work. Here is where the last piece of the puzzle comes into play. When performing, find ways to bring in the Collaborator energy pattern. The rhythm, engagement, sociability and sheer joy of this pattern can make whatever you're doing feel less like work and more like play.


Having just used this formula, I can tell you that taking the extra effort to become wholly motivated can make a huge difference. So next time you are struggling to get motivated, don’t settle for a half measure, motivate your whole self.

Topics: energy patterns, Motivation

How to create a climate of engagement

Posted by Anthony Attan

Jul 24, 2013 4:08:00 PM

When they did their research around the Power of Full Engagement, Loehr and Schwartz found that most people reported they are partly or largely disengaged at work. Gallup estimates a cost to US businesses in excess of $300 billion due to employee disengagement. Companies often rely on employee engagement surveys to guide their development efforts, but those efforts often miss important areas or don’t go far enough.

With so much at stake, how can you ensure that you are creating a climate of engagement for your employees?  We gain some insight from Daniel Pink’s whiteboard animation video on Drive, where we learn that the 3 factors that lead to higher performance and personal satisfaction are autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  In other words, people want to have some control over their job, be great at the work they do, and know that their work matters.  The Harvard Business Review further synthesized the research and discovered that in order to create a climate of engagement, 4 basic needs must be met:

  • The need to acquire
  • The need to bond
  • The need to comprehend
  • The need to defend

We also tackled this topic in the chapter E is for Engagement, in The ABCs of Energy-Based Leadership.  As illustrated in this book, the energy patterns are a great frame for synthesizingABCs of Energy-Based Leadership all of this research, and building a climate of engagement.  If you read my recent post on video game design, this list may look familiar, as these same factors of human personality are also key to designing products that appeal to the human psyche. Likewise for designing climate, the energy patterns of FEBI can help you ensure that your climate is meeting needs that are basic to human personality.  Does your climate meet the Driver’s need to acquire, with enough challenging goals to push people forward?  Does your climate meet the Organizer’s need to defend as it seeks safety, stability and consistency within its environment?  (Taken together, the Driver/Organizer patterns also relate to Pink’s needs for autonomy and mastery) Does your climate meet the Collaborator’s need to bond, connecting with others and building relationships?  Does your climate meet the Visionary’s need to comprehend, connecting with the purpose and seeking understanding?  In order to create a climate of engagement, ALL these needs must be met.  Nohria et al. found in their research that a low showing in any one of these 4 dimensions resulted in a significant decline in engagement. 

To help you discover if your climate is currently meeting the needs required for engagement, download the engagement worksheet.  You can also learn about other applications of the energy patterns with The ABCs of Energy-Based Leadership.


Want to learn more about the energy patterns of FEBI?  Join us on August 1st @ 10am Eastern US time for the free webinar Energize Yourself, Energize Your Business with FEBI.


Topics: FEBI, energy patterns, engagement, climate

Video Game Design and Personality

Posted by Anthony Attan

Jun 26, 2013 9:14:00 AM

mario and luigi

Video games are a 67 billion dollar a year industry and growing.  In fact, Forbes estimates that the industry will hit $87 billion in annual sales by the year 2017.  One reason for this continued growth is that games keep getting better and better.  Just think back to those early Nintendo or Sega days and compare them to a modern day game.  Although better does mean new technology with HD graphics, game designers know graphics, gameplay and faster computing speeds are only part of the story.


Just as personality provides insight into how we behave the way we do at work, or on the weekend with our families, it also provides us insight into our gaming behaviors.  What motivates us to play the games we play?  This is an important question that game designers are asking when they work on creating new games.  Jason VandenBerghe, Ubisofts Creative Director, sought to answer this very question and used the five factor personality model (Big 5) to develop his own model of player motivation, which he termed the five domains of play.  These domains, and their corresponding personality traits, are:


With a little help from his psychologist sister, Jason conducted a study regarding how personality interacted with gamers motivations to play. Using his framing of how these personality traits related to the five domains of play, he was able to make fairly accurate predictions about people's gaming habits based entirely on their five factor model personality report.  Pretty cool stuff if you’re a psychologist or a game designer!  The only exception to the rule was Neuroticism, which isn’t surprising since this personality trait historically doesn’t quite fit with the other four.  Just like with models of personality, it seems that models with four domains of play tend to be more widely utilized, but more on that shortly.


So why do we care about predicting gamers' motivations to play this game or that?  We certainly aren’t going to give a 240 item personality test to every person who wants to buy a game.  We care because understanding the individual differences that drive people to play different games can be a powerful tool when designing a game that you want to appeal to a wide range of people.  This was the thinking behind the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology which is a short test to determine a preference order of four gaming characteristics (competition, socialization, exploration, achievement).

Furthermore, game designers have discovered that the most successful games are those can effectively satisfy all four of these domains of play.  This means, the more deeply they can understand each of these domains, and the human drives behind them, the more successful they will be in their design efforts.  For this task, I turn to the FEBI, the most useful tool in understanding leadership behavior I have ever come across.  Just as Jason compared the five factor model of personality to his model of gamer motivation, we can easily see how FEBI relates to the four domain model above.  Those with a strong preference for the Driver energy pattern will gravitate to games that are competitve, challenging and high intensity, such as Call of Duty or Gran Turismo.  Those high in Organizer will prefer games that track progress and reward achievements, feeling compelled to solve all the riddles in Arkham City and get all the coins in Mario.  Those high in Collaborator will play games that involve other people such as oline gaming or Wii Sports Resort.  Those high in Visionary will play games that let's them explore, such as creating new levels in Little Big Planet or exploring Lego City.  If game designers can deeply understand the essense of each of these energy patterns of FEBI, they will be better able to design games that appeal to the unique drives and motivations of each of these patterns.


Game design certainly isn't the only application of the FEBI energy patterns. Indeed, game design is increasingly informing e-learning platforms, which are expected to become the dominant mode of workplace training and development within the next decade. Moreover, there are numerous applications of these same patterns to the everyday work of leaders and managers. We recently published a handbook that outlines 26 of these applications - one for each letter of the alphabet, called (not surprisingly): The ABCs of Energy-Based Leadership. Click HERE to read more about the ABCs and view the list of topics covered in the book. Any number of them could be just the ticket to improving your game.


Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, energy patterns, game design, video games, domains of play, motivations to play

Virtual Leadership is Whole Leadership

Posted by Anthony Attan

May 20, 2013 11:08:00 AM

In a recent issue of Training + Development magazine (February 2013), an article recapped research on what critical leadership skills were required to effectively lead a virtual workforce.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Establish and meet metrics for work projects and goalsVirtualLeaders
  • Be extremely clear with goals and directions with a constant focus on the big picture
  • Work with a high degree of complexity
  • Promote organizational commitment

The article goes on to talk about the importance of effective communication, increasing feelings of connectedness, ensuring clear working protocols, and remaining focused on goals.  In other words, virtual leadership is whole leadership.

By whole leadership we are describing an approach to leadership in which we develop all four energy patterns, as assessed by the FEBI coaching tool, so that we can utilize each when it's called for.  Although we have preferences for which pattern we naturally use most, which we call the home pattern, we also have access to all four, and the ability to strengthen any of these patterns enough so we can use them when we need them.

Working with leaders of top companies around the globe, we find that the most successful leaders are those who can use any of the four patterns, and the right pattern at the right time.  They have self-awareness of their natural pattern preferences, they know how to win on those strengths, AND they develop access to weaker patterns so that they can still be effective when the situation calls for something different than their typical, home-pattern repsonse.  Although partial or short-term success is possible by developing and focusing only on one's natural style, each pattern is indispensable in the long run.  Leaders need the

  • Driver’s focus, ensuring they clear barriers, motivate their people, and reach goals
  • Organizer’s stability, ensuring quality by building process, defining roles and responsibilities, and maintaining conscientiousness in everything they do.
  • Collaborator’s engagement, ensuring effective problem solving by seeing multiple perspectives, meeting people at an emotional level, and being fully engaged while engaging others.
  • Visionary’s expansiveness, allowing them to embrace the chaos, expand their world to all that is possible, and be more effective at strategic planning for the future.

Could you imagine a leader lacking any of these qualities?       

Leading virtual teams and organizations is much like leading their face-to-face counterparts except more difficult, and so requires more focused effort to be successful.  My dissertation research was on virtual team effectinesness, in which I studied real teams in real companies, all with real challenges. Virtual teams struggle more with building trust and maintaining full engagement.  Their members make more cognitive errors (e.g., false assumptions), and share less information among themselves. These challenges result in less effectiveness when attention isn’t given to overcoming them.  One reason for this added struggle is that virtual teams communicate in less feedback-rich ways, such as phone and email.  When we, as the receiver, have less information from our communication mode (think facial expression and tone of voice), we tend to fill in the ‘blanks’ on our own. Personality is the lens through which we filter this information, which can get us into trouble when our filter is unknowingly distorted.  Suddenly a short email response or an unanswered phone call makes us frustrated as we conclude that our co-worker is disengaged and unmotivated.  In virtual communication we are more at risk of drawing a false conclusion because we tend to have less information in the communication mode.  My research showed that simply helping people become self-aware of their own filter (i.e. personality or home pattern), reduces these errors and ultimately increases team effectiveness.  We found that even one session of FEBI coaching led to a significant increase in virtual team effectiveness. 

I would further argue that it's not just any coaching but FEBI specifically that is best positioned to help increase virtual team effectiveness because of its whole leadership approach.  As we saw in the list at the beginning of this article, whole leadership is equally as important to virtual leaders as well. 

  • (Organizer) Establish and meet metrics for work projects and goals
  • (Driver) Be extremely clear with goals and directions with a constant focus on the big picture
  • (Visionary) Work with a high degree of complexity
  • (Collaborator) Promote organizational commitment


You see, virtual leadership is whole leadership!


Want to learn more about how to use FEBI to develop teams?  Join us on June 8th for our upcoming free webinar.  Click the link below to register.


Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, Coaching Tool, energy patterns, leadership, whole leadership, virtual leadership, team development

In Defense of Driver - Even for Servant Leaders

Posted by Ginny Whitelaw

Mar 21, 2013 9:02:00 AM

describe the image“I used to have a lot of Driver, but I don’t need it much anymore.” I’ve heard countless people comment as we reviewed their FEBI reports, especially those with low Driver scores, including many successful leaders and colleagues in leadership development. They’re not surprised by the low Driver score; they know it’s the pattern of pushing, competing – “the accelerator pedal of business” – we sometimes call it. And for people who recall earlier days of arrogant certainty and ambitious striving, it can feel like a pattern outgrown. Indeed, there’s a lot not to like in the Driver pattern. In our latest research comparing the FEBI against the NEO – more on that in other posts – Driver correlated as expected, showing up as the most disagreeable pattern. Among its significant correlations we find action-orientation – just do it! – but not trusting, not altruistic, not compliant, and prone to anger. No wonder so many people willingly relegate this pattern to their past.

But the last group who came through our core program at the Institute for Zen Leadership showed me anew what Driver energy is good for, even among mature, servant leaders, and certainly among people who would train in Zen. In The Zen Leader program (as in the book), we move people through each of the 4 FEBI energy patterns and let them experience the corresponding emotions, mindset and behaviors. As we were debriefing the Driver pattern, we talked about its role at different stages in life, from defining our boundaries during our terrible two’s, to teenage rebellion, to the warrior, the disruptor, and ultimately the guardian. I likened this more mature role to something of a temple guardian that, at a metaphorical level, keeps out evil spirits. In dealing with dozens of things to do and endless distractions, the Driver serves as our own guardian - helping us focus on what is most essential. As we put our ideas or work out into the world, the Driver protects them/us from being stopped by barriers or dismissed as lightweight. Even in Zen meditation, we subtly engage the Driver pattern during every exhale, as something of our inner temple guardian to keep the mind clear.

This remarkable group took it further. The jiki – that is, the person who leads the meditation sessions – is also a Driver guardian, they noted, that pushes us to get serious, be here now, and put everything into our sitting. “There’s yet another role the temple guardian plays,” offered one of the participants, already a seasoned Zen practitioner. “Because it’s counter-productive, even dangerous to open stuff in ourselves until we’re ready to deal with it.” I’ve come to trust that the mind-body doesn’t open something up until it's ready to deal with it. But the truth of his point hit home as my mind flashed to people who took mind-expanding, acid trips in the 60’s and were rarely able to integrate the experience and, at worst, were jumping off buildings thinking they could fly. “The fierceness of the guardian is supposed to give us pause at the gates of the temple,” he continued, “and we only enter if we’re ready to face whatever the training will put us through or pull out of us.” The fierceness is meant to either raise our own fierce determination or make us stay the hell out. For fierceness will be called for. As a Zen Master of old put it, “If you’re going to do battle with yourself, better go in armed to the teeth.”

So thank you, oh disagreeable Driver, for helping us be warriors when we need to be, great protectors of our work, our teams, families, companies and countries when we need to be, and great destroyers of delusion! -GW

For more ways to engage the Driver in you, download this Driver Pattern Energizer from the bestselling book Move to Greatness. 

Download Driver Energizer


Topics: zen leader, FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, energy patterns, Driver, Institute for zen leadership, zen leadership

FEBI: The Power of all Four

Posted by Anthony Attan

Jan 31, 2013 1:35:00 PM

In this final part of the five-part blog series called The Patterns of FEBI we look at the power of combining all four.  This series explores each pattern measured by the FEBI.  The FEBI is a validated psychometric assessment and coaching tool that measures four fundamental patterns of personality and the various contexts in which they are expressed; cognition, physical movement, emotions, environment, etc.


When thinking of what to write for this post I was hoping to start with a funny story, a wise saying or some brilliant research.  What instead kept popping in my head was the theme song to a cartoon from my childhood, Captain Planet.  The basic plot of this cartoon was five extraordinary people around the globe had special powers derived from the planet; wind, water, earth, fire, and heart.  When villains sought to harm people, animals or the environment, one of the five would spring into action, utilizing their superpowers to fight crime and take down the bad guys. When a force was too great for one of them to take on, however, they would combine their powers, summoning Captain Planet: “With your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!”


describe the imageSo far in this blog series, we have seen how important each energy pattern of FEBI can be: How the Driver can be a great warrior, ensuring we clear barriers and reach our goals.  How the Organizer can give process to our brilliant ideas, giving them a way to become reality.  How the Collaborator can recharge our internal batteries, allowing us to be fully engaged and engage others.  How the Visionary enables us to embrace the chaos, expanding our world to all that is possible. Interestingly, these four patterns aren’t far from Captain Planet’s elements of fire (Driver), earth (Organizer), water (Collaborator) and wind (Visionary), and all of them manifest heart. Could you imagine being at your best with any of these players not on your bench?   

The good news is you don’t have to; you have all four of these patterns available already and, with a bit of awareness and practice, you can summon the right pattern at the right time! 


Through our work with leaders around the globe we have found that the most successful leaders are those who are best able to utilize all four aspects of themselves.  In one chapter of The Zen Leader, author Ginny Whitelaw asks a group during a leadership development program to describe a ‘whole leader’.   Here is what they say:


“gets the big picture and the details, drives results, gets it done, is good with people, thinks short-term and long-term, has a clear focus but still listens, balances work and life, can handle ambiguity, works well with diverse people…”


To become such a multi-faceted leader, you better have a full bench!  The best leaders do.  And this goes beyond corporate leadership.  If you’re a parent, a coach, an artist, a teacher, a sailor, a nurse, or an active member or your neighborhood, to be at your best you need all four.  No wonder the Captain Planet theme song kept ringing in my head!


While you don’t have to hum the theme song or dress up in blue tights and a cape, the power of multi-faceted excellence can be yours.  It starts with self awareness.  While it is certainly true that we have the ability to summon all four energy patterns, we also have preferences.  In psychology we might call this personality type.  Most people have a preference for one or two of these patterns, naturally utilizing those patterns more often – both when they’re useful and when they’re not.  Conversely, most people also have one or two patterns they use less often; it takes more energy to engage these weak patterns and may cause some discomfort.  Discovering what patterns you prefer and don’t prefer, what you are utilizing and not utilizing, is the first step in creating that full bench of pattern players.  Perhaps you already have a sense of your preferences just from reading this blog series.  If you want a more scientific answer, you can complete the FEBI, a validated psychometric assessment that measures these four patterns and tells you to what extent you prefer each of them. It will also show you numerous ways to cultivate a weak pattern, and how they might help you.  Armed with your newfound self awareness, you can begin to use your personality more fully, rather than be stuck in it.  You’ll also gain new insights into those around you, and be able to pick out which patterns they prefer.


As we saw throughout this blog series, certain patterns are best at engaging certain situations.  For example, the Visionary is best for creating a strategic vision.  The Organizer is best at creating steps to bring that vision to reality, and so on.  You’ll begin to have awareness of what pattern is best for a particular situation.  Putting this all together, with a bit of practice and intention, you can become proficient at bringing out the right pattern at the right time.  Since we do have preferences, those patterns that are least preferred do require more energy and intention to access. You can kickstart any pattern by engaging its various forms, such as using physical movement, cognitive activities, playing a certain kind of music, or putting yourself in a particular environment. Take time to practice engaging all the patterns, especially those that you are less comfortable with. This will allow those bench players to be ready when they are needed – when your inner equivalent of Captain Planet needs to summon those elements.  With your powers combined, what couldn’t you handle?


Need help getting started using all four patterns?  Download this worksheet from best-selling book, Move to Greatness, to learn how to build your own best by effectively utilizing all four energy patterns of FEBI.

Want to learn more about FEBI?  Join us on February 12th for the free webinar, Energize Yourself, Energize Your Business with FEBI.

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Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, FEBI Certified Coach, energy patterns, leadership development, Visionary, whole leadership, managing energy, Organizer, Collaborator, Driver, whole leadership. whole leadership development, whole self

Visionary: Embracing the Chaos of Possibility

Posted by Anthony Attan

Jan 25, 2013 2:50:00 PM

Part 4 of this five-part blog series called The Patterns of FEBI, expands into the Visionary.  In this series we explore each pattern measured by the FEBI.  The FEBI is a validated psychometric assessment and coaching tool that measures four fundamental patterns of personality and the various contexts in which they are expressed; cognition, physical movement, emotions, environment, etc.


“No chaos, no creation.  Evidence: the kitchen at mealtime.” – Mason Cooley

 Visionary logo

As a child, one of my favorite toys was a set of bricks made of cardboard that I could stack and build into just about anything.  I used to love creating forts, race car tracks, cabins, buildings, castles and more.  Have you ever watched a child play with blocks, legos or other such elements of creative construction?  For that child, those random pieces can turn into anything, limited only by imagination.  I still recall the feeling that all the possibilities in the world existed in that chaotic pile of cardboard bricks.


One of the more unfortunate side effects of growing up is that we often lose this childlike imagination.  Instead of envisioning a fort, we see a mess of boxes that needs to be picked up.  Instead of seeing potential, we see only the stress that chaos can bring.  Chaos, however, brings with it possibility.  Losing one’s job, for example, can be one of the most chaotic events that a person can encounter.  This event can certainly be stressful, and full of all the negative side effects that accompany stress: headaches, stomachaches, lack of sleep, feeling inadequate, depression, etc.  Now, consider if this event were instead approached by embracing the chaos.  Think of all that is now possible, that you are no longer tied down by that job, that you can now create a new chapter, a new world.      


Consider chaotic events in your own life that have shaped where you are today.  I can certainly think of a few.  For me, those events earlier in my life were not filled with the enthusiasm and excitement of possibility.  They were full of fear and stress.  “What am I going to do now?”  “How will I get past this?”  Questions like these ran through my head as the fear took over my body, making me physically ill.  I felt small, unimportant and inadequate.  Just think of the kind of world I was creating, one that was just as small as I was feeling.  Now, imagine I instead embraced the chaos, empowered by all that is possible. 


Now, this is exactly how I approach situations cloaked with unknowns and chaos.  The energy pattern that got me here is Visionary. The Visionary is a pattern of no pattern, it is a pattern of big picture thinking and future orientation, of connecting with the essence of situations and thriving in the unknown.  For me, a strong Organizer/Driver, this was not a natural pattern.  It had to be cultivated.  When I approached chaos as an Organizer, especially when the solution could not be immediately known, the result was always fear and stress.  When I learned to instead approach these situations as a Visionary, the fear went away and I felt big with all that was now possible. This shift in emotion occurs because the Visionary is simply better in these situations.  In fact, it thrives in them. 


NVisionary Energy Patternext time you’re faced with chaos, try this exercise to approach it with all the possibility of the Visionary.  To get the most out of this activity, I strongly encourage first entering Visionary physically, such as is shown in the Visionary Pattern Energy you can download below.  With blank paper and a pen, find a quiet open space.  A park bench, a meadow or by a body of water is a great space for this activity.  Become aware of your breathing, let your body relax, and let your eyes soften to take in full peripheral vision – seeing the entire scene around you all at once.  Now, in the middle of the paper draw a circle and write the phrase “what is possible now?”  Over the next 20 minutes, write down any thought that pops in your head.  You don’t have to think too hard about it, nor do the thoughts need to make sense now.  Just keep feeling the flow of your breath, feeling into the bigness of the Visionary, and let thoughts of all that is possible arise on their own. After writing down a thought, rather than focusing on it, just let it go and await the next thought.  With this random smattering of possibilities in front of you, turn your page over and again draw a circle except this time write the phrase “what wants to happen here?”  Again, take 20 minutes powered by the Visionary and, with this question, write down whatever thoughts decide to pop in your head.  By the end of this activity, take a look at your paper and see what you came up with.  Check in on the feeling this framing brings whatever issue you were facing.  Empowered by the Visionary, it will be hard to find anything you can’t handle.

Want to learn more about FEBI?  Join us on February 12th for the free webinar, Energize Yourself, Energize Your Business with FEBI.


Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, FEBI Certified Coach, leadership coaching, energy patterns, leadership development, Visionary

Organizer: Giving Form to Those Brilliant Ideas

Posted by Anthony Attan

Jan 14, 2013 10:35:00 AM

Part 2 of the five-part blog series called The Patterns of FEBI steps into the Organizer.  In this series we explore each pattern measured by the FEBI.  The FEBI is a validated psychometric assessment and coaching tool that measures four fundamental patterns of personality and the various contexts in which they are expressed; cognition, physical movement, emotions, environment, etc.


Remember this comedic exchange from a scene in Tina Fey’s movie Baby Mama?

Kate:  What do you do, Carl?

Angie:  Carl is an inventor/entrepreneur.

Carl:  I'm still looking for that home run, you know.  I mean, when I saw the iPod the first time, I could've kicked myself.

Angie:  That was so hard on him.

                                                                                                                  Organizer logo            

I’m sure we all have a friend who has claimed to have invented the iPod, Facebook, Amazon or Silly Bandz (those squiggly rubber bands kids wear that sell around $200 million annually).  Maybe you are that friend who is always beating your head against the wall when you see someone else become widely successful from an idea you had years ago.  No matter how brilliant our ideas are, not all of them can become reality. But when we have an idea that could be realized, how is it that some people are able to do that, whereas others are not?  Get ready to brush the dust off those stacks of scribbled ideas on legal pads and napkins, and see how they could gain new life!


It is certainly true that some people are simply more creative, inventive and think more outside-the-box than others.  In psychology we explain this difference with discussions of personality.  Some people have a personality that predisposes them to making connections that are less obvious, being able to envision the future, play with possibilities when problem solving, and able to adapt to a range of situations and environments.  In the FEBI, these people are described as being high in a combination of Collaborator and Visionary.  The Collaborator pattern is great at playing with possibilities and seeing both sides of situations.  The Visionary pattern is great at making unconventional connections, future orientation, and thinking outside-the-box. 


The issue many creative people run into is that they favor these more creative aspects of their personality so much, that those ideas never see the light of day.  Before an idea has a chance to turn into anything tangible, they are often on to the next stroke of genius.  So how is it that some creative people succeed, while others fail?  The key lies in the conversion of idea to action.  From intangible to tangible.  From thinking to doing.  What is needed is a roadmap to do just that.  Enter the Organizer pattern of personality.


We often find those that are high in Collaborator and Visionary are also low in Organizer.  Organizer is a pattern of form, systematic thinking, planning, discipline and responsibility.  The Organizer pattern thrives at taking a big process and breaking it down into individual steps.  It’s great at thinking of the logistics and constructing a plan to make that brilliant idea a reality. 


Organizer computerHere is how to get started.  Take one of your brilliant ideas and write it down on a blank sheet of paper.  Now, envision what it will be like for this idea to turn into reality.  How is the world different?  How is your idea/product being used?  Really put yourself in that future of your idea.  Now, summon your inner Organizer.  Sit up straight, clean your workspace and put on some classical music.  On your paper, write down several key things that would have to happen to make your idea a reality.  Next, pick one of these things that you feel you can make headway on now, and write out a step-by-step list: how can you bring that about?  Now, transfer this list to a calendar and hold yourself accountable to following through on these steps.  It’s important to make these deadlines real for yourself, so if you are having a hard time following through, try telling a friend - sort of like an accountability buddyJ  The Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu famously said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  With a little help from the Organizer, take that step today!


Having trouble entering the Organizer, download this Organizer Pattern Energizer to help enter this pattern.  Stay tuned for the next installment of the Patterns of FEBI blog series in which we discuss how a little fun can go a long way.


Want to learn more about FEBI?  Join us on February 12th for the free webinar, Energize Yourself, Energize Your Business with FEBI.


Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, Coaching Tool, FEBI Certified Coach, energy patterns, managing energy, Organizer, personality, coaching, personal development

Welcome to the FEBI Learning Lounge

The official FEBI blog

The FEBI Learning Lounge is the official blog of FEBI Assessment.  In this blog we discuss all things related to the energy patterns of FEBI, digging more into each of the patterns of personality and discussing various applications that can benefit from a pattern perspective.

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