Why YOU Need a Burled Arch—It’s Not What You Think

Pro tools for decreasing burnout and finishing strong 

All Iditarod mushers know the words “Burled Arch.” What sounds like a strange landmark to anyone else is excitement—and relief—to their ears. 

The Burled Arch means victory. It’s the term mushers use for the long-awaited finish line. 

The destination each team hopes to see at the end of their strenuous trek. 

The term “Destiny” comes from the same word as Destination. Destiny is not “Fate” (“Well, whatever happens to me, that’s my Destiny.”) No, Destiny is a pre-decided Destination that I am determined to reach!

With “Burled Arch Destiny” all we need is the map, the skill, and the will to get there! Maps are createable. Skill is teachable. There’s only one question left—do you have the WILL?

Finding and honing the will is easier than you think. What I would tell people is this: “Dream big and then learn the steps to get you there.”

It starts with these questions: 

  • Where are you now along this trail?
  • Why do you want this Destiny?
  • What will you need to Learn?
  • What skills will you need to develop?
  • What role will others play in helping you reach this Burled Arch?
  • What are measurable steps along the way?
  • What is the NEXT step? (And then take it!) 

If you continue to ask these questions and then take the next step, nothing can stop you from reaching your “Burled Arch Destiny.”

As you prepare for your destination, here are some “pro tips from the trail” that every leader needs if they really want to make it to the finish line. 

These mental checks help guard against frustration, burn-out, confusion—and when you’ve wandered, they put you back on the path to success. 

It Might Get Messy

No one gets it right the first time. No one reaches their potential in one day, week, or year. 

It’s not going to be perfect, but that’s okay. Because anything worth doing is worth doing UGLY! 

Ugly is real—and it leads us to continuous improvement!

Remember how bad we all were when we first started learning to play sports as little kids?  Eventually, if the will persists, the skill improves—and you make JV and then on to varsity! 

It takes talent, but as my mentor John Maxwell says, “Talent is NEVER enough!”

Every Checkpoint is a Victory. 

After each Next Step, celebrate small victories like crazy!

Celebrate any progress—yes, any—toward your Burled Arch Destiny. If you learn a new skill, take a new class, spend 30 minutes in dreaming and mapping, whatever it is, mark it down and celebrate the wins!  

This is the fuel needed to keep it up! Why keep running if you think you’re not going anywhere?  

Mark your progress, even the small steps, and celebrate!

Find the Right Belief 

What the roots drink, the fruits think! Our beliefs as leaders, as team members, and as people have a lot of power over what we actually accomplish. 

Before 1957, some athletes believed that a sub-4 minute mile was impossible. They kept trying, but after so many failures, it was easier to chalk the record up to fantasy—a goal potentially just too strenuous for the human body. 

Then came Roger Bannister. He started his running career at 17 with an already impressive 4:24 mile/minute pace. Eight years into his career, still no one else had broken the 4-minute mile. 

But on May 6, 1954, during an Oxford meet and winds of up to twenty-five mph—that just happened to die down right before his race—Roger Bannister completed the mile in a crowd-rousing 3 minutes and 59.6 seconds.  

What’s more astounding?

He held the record for only three weeks. 

And within three years of Roger’s ground-breaking physical feat, 16 other runners also cracked it. 

Once they could visualize the path to victory, it seemed like anyone could achieve the “impossible.” 

Check yourself: where could beliefs be limiting you and where are they advancing you?

Partner up with Inspiring Individuals

Lastly, make sure to find an encouraging friend, accountability partner, or coach. When you start to doubt (which we all do!), when you want to quit, you’ll need them to cheer you on!

Fight the self-defeating voices with everything you have! Saturate yourself in can-do positivity!  Find a voice, someone that lifts you up, and listen to their positive beliefs. 

I listen (almost daily) to speakers that are highly positive and motivational. Why? Because I need it too!

Read, listen, watch anything you can to make sure your tank stays full of the belief in possibilities!

Keep dreaming. Keep moving. Keep growing. Keep doing! 

The Burled Arch is ahead. 

Do These 4 Things to Establish a Winner’s Mindset

You may have heard that no one can affect your thoughts on a situation or event…unless you let them. 

But that’s only empowering so far as you know how to secure a positive mindset, one that sees clearly, evaluate honestly, and can problem solve for success. 

If a proper mindset helps separate the tenacious competitors from the casual competitors, how do we plot the right path to victory?

Here are 4 mental disciplines to practice every day that will keep you focused and moving forward with a Winner’s Mindset. 

1. Check Your Pack

If a dog on the Iditarod trail is getting sick, tired, or injured, the musher has to catch the problem early or risk losing the dog—as well as the race. 

It might look tough to push through. 

It might look tenacious to pass the rest-stop. 

But they risk losing more than time if they don’t check their pack when problems arise. 

Your thoughts are like your dog pack. They pull the sled. (They can also derail it.)

 Check them early; check them consistently! 

When you are in the middle of an obstacle, pause and ask yourself “What am I thinking about this situation?” 

It may seem silly—to think about what you’re thinking about. But the purpose of the exercise is to give you momentary pause to “check your pack.” 

It will interrupt your anxieties or opinions about the situation and allow you to evaluate more clearly: Are they the right thoughts? Are they true thoughts? 

You’ll be surprised at how many misconceptions slip in to throw off your whole day. 

light-dogsled

2. Keep a Light Sled 

Keeping the sled light means I don’t over-pile it with negative self-talk—otherwise that weighty sled will start slipping down the slope. 

I have the most trouble with my mental game whenever I find myself connecting unrelated events of the past to my present mom. Faced with an obstacle or failure, I immediately start to fight thoughts tying every other failure in my life to this situation. 

If the thoughts are spiraling you into rehearsing all previous failures and short-comings—STOP THE RUN-AWAY SLED.

IF (and it’s a big if) you discover some bad patterns or choices that do connect some repetitive obstacles—then work to identify the pattern. Lighten the load by choosing an opportunity to grow instead of dooming yourself to repetition.  

Identify the pattern and work to correct that pattern. 

Your “lot in life” is not to ALWAYS be the losing sled. 

Start owning the mindset that you can win—even if you’ve never won before—there is always a first!

dogsled-trail-image

3. Evolve the Trail

If you remember, the Evolve stage is where we look at the lessons learned, understand the needed course corrections, and immediately work to implement the changes into our daily running. 

John C. Maxwell has an incredible book called Failing Forward and it one that I recommend to all leaders. 

One of the take-aways from this book is that when people fail they usually hold onto the emotional pain of the failure instead of the lesson that they could have learned.  

He goes on to counsel that we should forget the emotional hit from the failure and work to remember what the failure will teach us. 

This has led to an internal mantra for me that echoes “Learn the lesson; forget the pain.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done. And this doesn’t mean that we don’t remember the hit—we just don’t allow it to become emotional baggage that weighs us down. 

(Remember point # 2–keep the sled light!)

I am a firm believer in pain being one of the chief teachers in life. We want to avoid the pain, so we don’t do whatever action caused us the pain last time. 

It doesn’t mean we choose not to race again. 

It means we improve—we get better and we try not to make the same mistake twice.

4. The Winner’s Mindset

In order to change the outcome we have to change our actions. In order to change our actions – we have to change our thoughts and beliefs.

Identify the best and brightest and don’t be afraid to copy some of their awesome! 

Ask: What would the top competitors be thinking in this same situation? 

Consistently identifying the best practices of proven success stories can lead you to elevated thinking, action, and outcomes. 

But the first step is to take ownership of this area (your thoughts are your thoughts). Remember: a thought cannot be removed—it can only be replaced with another thought. 

Whether that thought is good or whether that thought is self-defeating is up to you.

Choose with me to “Own” the winning mindset today!

The Secret to Enjoying a Missional Team Mindset

Unlocking Your Why to Engage with Passion

Here’s a vital question for organizational leaders to ask: Are you still on track together, or at some point did everyone get distracted from the core mission, vision, values, and purpose?

Family businesses can be beautiful instances of hard work creating something out of nothing.

They also can be prime examples of what happens when your why gets lost over time.

Grandparents carve a business out of the dirt with blood, sweat, and tears. At some point, the business gets handed off to the kids. When the second generation takes over the business, they know the passion Mom and Dad put into it, so they pour themselves into it.

But, more often than not, the grandkids will put that business in the ditch. Why? Because they didn’t share the purpose and passion or see the price paid by that first generation. They don’t share the passion, but they enjoy the privilege that has been their birthright.

Unfortunately, birthright doesn’t give passion and purpose. That’s why so many organizations, not just family businesses, flounder and lose their way over time. They lose their why.

Find the Why to Find Your Purpose

If you’re a leader of an organization that has lost its way, you must discover where you got off track and how to get back to that place of purpose. Purpose and passion produce the energy required to build an InSPIRED culture.

That’s why TOMS Shoes has been so successful. Yes, they’re selling shoes, but, more importantly, they have a social impact that drives them.

Purpose and passion are also why Michael Dell raised the money to buy his own company back. He was passionate about what he had created but knew he couldn’t make the moves he needed to protect that purpose and passion if the company was publicly traded. So, he raised the money to buy back Dell stock and make it private again. That’s what passion does.

People lose their shared sense of passion when they’ve lost their purpose. How then does an organization find or rediscover its purpose? How does it get intentional about ensuring everyone shares that purpose and passion?

  • Everyone in the organization needs to know why the organization was created.
  • What was the founding story?
  • What needs is the company serving now?
  • Could you name the why behind the how and the what?
  • Can you name the team’s core values?

Passion tears down silos and positions organizational culture to be fully integrated. When an organization isn’t driven by passion that comes from a clear and honorable purpose, it’s easy to get into a mess.

So the question is this: is your organization mission-minded or messy-minded? Do you have a mission-critical mindset in your organization or a silo-centric mindset?

3 Signatures of a Mission-Minded Team

Teams working with a mission in mind can’t help but stand out from the rest. How many of these do you see every day with your organization?

  1. With a mission-critical mindset, people will elevate mission, purpose, and passion above the need for egocentric wins. When you’re driven by a good purpose and sense of mission, you don’t have time to get involved in all the messiness—petty arguments, power trips, turf wars, and silo building. It’s not about who gets the credit; it’s about getting things done to advance the mission. They don’t look to place blame; they try to affect change. It’s amazing how much can get done when no one cares who gets the credit.
  2. When you have a strong sense of mission and focus on other people, you position yourself and your organization to function in a highly integrated fashion—fingers interwoven, arms interlocked, tearing down silos and moving forward together in pursuit of your shared mission. The question is simple: what is your purpose?
  3. Slay the dragon or rescue the princess: I believe the best teams need a dragon to slay or a princess to rescue. They can be galvanized against a common enemy (the dragon) or united toward a common goal (the princess to rescue). The former is more of a negative purpose in response to a threat, while the latter is a positive purpose in pursuit of an aspirational aim. Both can be effective in giving clear purpose and keeping teams out of the distracting messiness—but a word of warning about the dragon:

A team functioning in constant threat mode, motivated by fear of the next fire-breathing monster, can be damaged over the long-term.

Occasionally, organizations do face a real crisis that demands the slaying of a dragon. However, for long-term success, it’s far better for an organization to cast a compelling purpose—freeing the princess—and then pursue it with a shared sense of passion.

You must be realistic, of course, but always tie motivation to a positive purpose whenever possible in your leadership to bring out the most inspired performance.

Embrace the Adventure

Life is an adventure to be lived, not a crisis to be survived. Running toward something is always more empowering than just running away from something else. And that’s the beautiful thing about mission-minded leading.

When you know your mission and realize at a core level how important it is, you don’t get caught up in all the distractions, you can’t afford to take your marbles and go home when things don’t go your way, but most importantly you have in view something bigger than short-term obstacles.

Messy-minded leadership might work in a pinch—at the cost of team trust and long-term stability.

Mission-minded leadership, fueled by purpose and passion, will take you all the way.

The Service Mindset that Turns Customers into Raving Fans

Real estate deal concept, happy couple customers handshaking realtor agent or designer at meeting, satisfied property owners and bank broker shake hands, mortgage loan investment, house purchase

Would Your Customers Give You an Emmy or a Razzie?

How do you turn customers into raving fans for your business or brand?

Author and leadership expert Ken Blanchard tells a story about a particularly poor customer service experience. He and his wife had separated while shopping at the mall. At one point, Ken had found some clothes he wanted to try on, but he wanted his wife’s opinion before purchasing.

The only problem was that he had no phone to call her. Ken asked the clerk at the counter if he could use the store phone to call his wife before making the purchase. The salesperson replied, “They don’t even let us use the phone here. Why would I let you?”

Ken promptly placed the clothing back on the rack, thanked the gentleman for his time, and walked out of the store.

He never went back.

Excellence Requires Being Intentional

No doubt the store leadership had a good reason for not letting employees talk on the phone, likely so they would focus on customers right in front of them. But the way leadership enforced that policy translated into the way the clerk treated Ken the customer—the very opposite of the reason the policy was created in the first place.

Modeled behavior transfers and permeates throughout the organization. You can have the best and most intentional plans to achieve results, but if you aren’t intentional about excellent customer service, you’ll lose every time.

Everyone in business knows this, and you’re probably thinking, I would never treat a customer that way! But what about how you serve those you lead?

We serve others by enrolling, influencing, and connecting with them. How you serve the people you lead in your own team or organization is ultimately how they will serve—or not serve—your customers.

Service Is a Mindset

A service mindset is critical both inside and outside of your organization, to your internal customers as well as your external customers. For example, how you enforce rules internally can determine how you and your organization are perceived externally.

  • Are you service-oriented or transactional?
  • Do you enforce the letter of the law or the spirit of the law?
  • Is your brand known for serving others or serving the company?
  • Service or self-centeredness?

Those answers will go a long way toward creating a brand perception of you and your team or organization.

Who Would Nominate You?

In the entertainment industry, the Emmy Awards go to the best television performances and the Oscars for excellence in film. But there is another award given every year—the Razzies. While the Emmys and Oscars go to the best, the Razzies go to the worst.

As you reflect on your own customer service experiences, you can probably recall businesses worthy of a Razzie for poor service.

But what award would your customers give you? What about members of your team? What award would they give you for how well you lead them? It’s critical to put yourself in the shoes and the mind of your customer and evaluate what they experience.

It’s the only way to catch service drift and get back on track. Do you deserve an Emmy or a Razzie? If you don’t know, you’d better find out quickly. Here’s why.


It’s critical to put yourself in the shoes and the mind of your customer and evaluate what they experience. It’s the only way to catch service drift and get back on track

The Customer Is the Reason You Are in Business

At the end of the day, if you don’t serve your customers, both external and internal, you won’t be in business for long.

Kenneth B. Elliott, Vice President in Charge of Sales for the Studebaker Corporation, once defined the key place of service by defining what a customer is not:

  1. The customer is not dependent upon us—we are dependent upon him.
  2. The customer is not an interruption of our work—he is the purpose of it.
  3. The customer is not a rank outsider to our business—he is a part of it.
  4. The customer is not a statistic—he is a flesh-and-blood human being completely equipped with biases, prejudices, emotions, pulse, blood chemistry and possibly a deficiency of certain vitamins.
  5. The customer is not someone to argue with or match wits against—he is a person who brings us his wants. If we have sufficient imagination we will endeavor to handle them profitably to him and to ourselves.

The point is this: customers are not a nuisance to be managed but the very reason you lead.


Customers are not a nuisance to be managed, but the very reason you lead.

When you serve poorly, or not at all, you diminish your brand. Even worse, you put a bad taste in the mouth of the very people you rely on to succeed.

But conversely, when you serve with excellence, you reinforce or establish your brand and create momentum.

Take care of and serve your customers with respect, and they’ll reward you with loyalty, consistency, and profitability. Those who manage healthcare facilities may outsource ABA Medical Billing Services to ensure that their billing processes are done efficiently. This will help provide great customer service to their patients.

So what steps will you take this week to win your customers’ “nomination?

You’ll discover that when you make serving people a priority, people make it their priority to come back again and again—and to tell all their friends.