Out With the Old, In With the New… Tis the Season for Performance Reviews!

So it’s the end of 2015. Another year has passed, and if you’re like most managers (or employees for that matter) you might be putting off the dreaded year-end performance review. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With just a little preparation, both you as the leader and the employee can take a look back on the successful accomplishments of the past year while taking time to discuss how to put best efforts forward into the new year. Making the performance review an open-ended discussion, not a high pressure interrogation where flaws are the focus is what leads to a successful review conversation.

The yearly review benefits not only the employee but also the company. In essence, the performance review should be treated as an opportunity for both sides to get and give honest feedback and constructive criticism that will improve the work you do together.

When done right, a successful employee appraisal will do the following:

  1.  It helps the employee clearly define and understand their job responsibilities
  2. It provides criteria by which the employee’s performance is evaluated
  3. It can identify potential for advancement within and provide a fair basis for awarding compensation based on merit

So what can you do to set yourself and your team members up for the best possible performance review experience?

Prepare Talking Points – Giving your employee the full value of an evaluation requires preparation on your part as a manager. If you try to wing it, there’s less of a chance it will be taken as seriously, or that your conversation might help set them up for career progression in your company. Consider compiling a list of the following:

  • Feedback from colleagues who work closely with that employee to gather opinions on their performance
  • A list of the goals set from last year’s performance review and how they have been accomplished in the current year
  • Positive feedback to accompany the areas needing improvement, to motivate that individual toward achieving different outcomes for the upcoming year

Engage in a two-way Dialogue – Allow your employee to work with you to note areas needing improvement and setting goals for the future. Think of your interaction with them as more of a Q&A session, where you ask your employees how THEY believe they are performing and what they need to improve upon.

Set Goals – One of the most critical take aways from a performance review is working with them on a written plan for future career goals. They need to understand clear expectations of what success looks like in their job. If your employee is unclear in what goals they should be meeting, there is no way to measure progress.

If you really stop to think about it as a leader, performance appraisals have a huge impact on human happiness. In the employee’s mind, they use the performance appraisal as a yearly check in and primary determination of how much money they are going to make in their job or how far in the organization they are going to go. It’s important for organizations to take this seriously. Sometimes the hardest part is having the courage to be honest about exactly how well a person has done. With that being said, nothing discussed in a formal performance review should come as a surprise to the employee. Give teams performance feedback throughout the year and a summary of how they have added value to the company at year end.

Create an Environment that Includes an Attitude of Gratitude

It only seems appropriate in the month of November with the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, that we dedicate our topic to being thankful.   Creating a personal attitude of gratitude is fitting as 2015 comes to a close.   This time of year offers us the opportunity to look at what we have accomplished and those around us that have impacted where we are.  Business and how we handle the relationships from within can be a starting point of reflection.  Transforming our leadership viewpoint can also be a gateway to how we approach transforming our lives.

It is very easy to neglect the importance of celebrating the small successes in the workplace.   We are moving 200 miles an hour, fast and furiously dealing with current problems at hand that we might not take the time to acknowledge what has been working well already.   We are so focused on the future that it’s hard to appreciate the fullness of today.

When I facilitate ATW training sessions and ask about celebrating small successes, leaders often reluctantly admit they rarely celebrate, unless it’s for an employee birthday or a major holiday.   I think that is unfortunate and a lost opportunity.  Celebration offers a chance to acknowledge and honor this moment; where we are RIGHT NOW.

There will always be another goal, another target, another number to make; there is always an endless list of activities to which we are running to keep up to.   But what about acknowledging what we have right now?   Celebration doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive.   What matters most is the intention to celebrate.   Out of that intention, the means of how to celebrate will become clear.

Here is a starting point to invite celebration and an attitude of gratitude into your year-end process:

  1. Clear out the old – Make way for the new. I find that as I start to clean out files and projects from 2015 and make way for the new in 2016, I see all that I have accomplished.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember the details of the past year reviewing the files.   Clearing out the clutter brings back the sharper edges of my memory, showing exactly what was accomplished.  That often surprises and delights me.
  1. Make a list of “Big Wins.” What were those top 3 things that made 2015 remarkable for you?   At the end of the day, what truly matters is how significant a breakthrough it was for you to triumph; not the absolute size of the win.  Growth is often revealed in the most subtle acts.
  2. List the top 5 things you are most grateful for in 2015. Who were those people, events, or opportunities that were game-changers for you?  Look at them.  Are there any themes or patterns?  If you had a theme for the year, how did it play out?  Were you acting in such a way that what you declared mattered?

    I have a personal ritual at the end of every year.  When things slowdown and we’re in the gap between this year and the next, I take some time for reflection, clean-out, and gratitude work.  I celebrate where I am and all that I have right now. I express gratitude for all of it, knowing it could have turned out quite differently.

    As you celebrate Thanksgiving and the end of another year, I hope your 2015 had some amazing moments for you.  I hope you realize now just how remarkable they were.   I hope you take the time to celebrate them, are grateful for them, and that you are open to receiving and sharing those moments of gratitude with others around you.

By:  Denise Forney, ATW Training Solutions

A Secret to Leadership and Team Success – Vulnerable Trust

“I messed up.” “It was my fault.” “I don’t know.” Are these words that you would expect to come from a leader? What if I were to tell you the answer to this question is, “Yes!”

Regardless of the industry we work in, most of us strive to be the best we can be. Whether it is having all the answers, meeting the tough deadlines, or solving complex problems, we view each challenge as an opportunity to showcase what we are made of. And when our weaknesses are exposed, we tend to come down too hard on ourselves—which often times is exactly the opposite of what we should do.

In Patrick Lencioni’s best-selling book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” he discusses common ways that teams get “derailed” and ways to overcome each. According to Lencioni, at the very foundation of a successful team is trust. Not the type of trust where people can predict others’ behaviors, but rather he is referring to vulnerable trust—the kind of trust where individuals are able to expose their weaknesses and mistakes in order to create a culture in which it is understood that “no one is perfect, but together we can compensate for imperfections and accomplish results nonetheless.”

So how do you establish vulnerable trust on a team? The same way you can establish most any behavior on a team—by modeling it at the top. Leaders who want to establish vulnerable trust on their team can do so by:

  • Recognizing that vulnerability is different than weakness. Weakness is the inability to admit imperfections. But vulnerability is the first step towards overcoming them.
  • Declaring what they know…and what they don’t. And therefore making it clear that they are relying on the expertise of others to fill in the gaps.
  • Being forthright about mistakes—and how they are going to learn from them.
  • Not expecting perfection from others—but instead looking at imperfections as opportunities for continuous improvement.
  • Embracing opportunities when “their idea may not be the best idea.” Not only does this leave opportunity for new and better business practices, but team members will have more respect for the times that leader does insist on their own ideas.

By modeling each of the above behaviors in conjunction with putting your best foot forward and always striving to be your best, you are taking the steps toward creating an environment where true teamwork can take place. So ask yourself, what could you start, stop or continue doing to establish a sense of vulnerable trust on your team?

By:  Rachel Spyksma, ATW Training Solutions

Leadership Lessons from the World of Football

 It’s that time of year.   The fall season is upon us, and football consumes us.

Weekends are filled with “Friday Night Lights” at every high school stadium across the country.

Saturdays follow with the excitement of collegiate football where the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat is experienced, sometimes within the final minutes of the game, as evidenced by the outcome of our own intrastate rivalry between Iowa State and Iowa this weekend.

Sunday afternoons are typically reserved in my own family for flag football, as my young 9-year old son plays with just as much purpose and passion as an energetic boy can muster, with a true love for the game.

Even now, as we approach the end of our weekend, our family is finishing the day with more football, gathered around the television screen and a serious NFL match-up between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens.

Football is LIFE this time of year, right?   Even I admit, while I am not the resident expert on football, the game still intrigues me, particularly when I look at it from a leadership perspective.   What exactly sets a good team apart from a great team?

I have come to believe it has to be the coach.   Some of the greatest leaders you will ever meet in life are football coaches.  A coach has the ability to inspire and to motivate a large group of individuals to work together toward the same goal.  A coach is the one that often times has to make the tough calls during do or die moments.  It is the coach that team members listen to, learn from, and strive to give their very best.  Often times the lessons learned from these coaches stay with them for life.   I have decided to compile examples of leadership lessons provided from some of the greats:


lombardiVince Lombardi – Character

Vince Lombardi is considered by most to be the greatest NFL coach ever. His leadership and motivational skills drove the Green Bay Packers to four NFL titles in seven years, an amazing record that has yet to be equaled.


Lesson Learned:   Ask yourself tough questions.

The Lombardi code is founded on the belief that you can only become a leader after developing your character.  Doing so requires self-knowledge.  So, get to know yourself.  You can’t improve upon something you don’t understand. As a leader, you need to examine your career, your habits, your strengths and your weaknesses. What is your purpose in life?


holtzLou Holtz – Relationships

Lou Holtz made his way into football history as a coach by collecting 249 career wins in college football as well as winning the national title at Notre Dame in 1988.   Holtz coached his teams by sharing the mantra of “Your talent determines what you can do.  Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do.  Your attitude determines how well you do it.”


Lesson Learned:   To be the best, you need to have the best people.

Holtz’s leadership style has a lot to do with his upbringing.  He came from a close knit family with few resources.  Because of his upbringing, Holtz did not take anything for granted and worked hard for everything he earned.  Additionally he learned how to respect people and work with them, recognizing that your relationships are the biggest asset you have.   The commonality between Holtz’s leadership philosophy as a coach and in our business world today is that in order to perform the best, you need to have the best people.


vermeilDick Vermeil – Positive Atmosphere

Dick Vermeil served as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1976 through 1982.  Vermeil was known for his awesome lessons on coaching in the locker room.  After a game, Coach Vermeil would take film from the team’s 10 best offensive plays and the team’s 10 best defensive plays. Then he would show those plays to the team over and over and ask them, “How long will it take us to be this kind of team for the entire game?”


Lesson Learned:  Don’t dwell on the negative.  Take your losses and find the good in them.  What I love about Vermeil’s approach is that it does two things for players on the field, that also apply to how we lead others at work.  First, by pointing out successful execution, you prove that the players have the skills to perform.  It isn’t a question of whether or not they can do it.  Rather, it’s a question of how we can successfully execute more often.

Second, this coaching tactic also motivates players because it shows them that they do have the talent and they can perform.  So if you lead a team, pull out their successes.  Point out when they execute with excellence.  Then ask Vermeil’s question:  “How long will it take us to be this kind of team for the entire game?”


thomasEd Thomas – Leave a Legacy of Leadership

A large poster near the main entrance of Aplington-Parkersburg High School displays a montage of photographs of Ed Thomas, accompanied by three titles attributed to him: The Father, The Teacher and The Leader.  Thomas still ranks 13th all-time among Iowa’s winningest coaches, with 292 victories.   But more so than the victories he accumulated, was the man he simply was and the legacy he left behind.

Aaron Thomas followed his father’s path.  He grew up enamored by his father’s love of his career, witnessed by the son when Ed Thomas drove to school or came home from a hot August football practice.  “I can honestly say about third grade I wanted to go into education and being a coach and an AD, like my dad,” Thomas said. “I felt like my dad never had a job, because he had a passion for what he was doing.”   Brothers Aaron and Todd Thomas both played football for their father. Both became coaches.


Lesson Learned:  It’s About Making a Difference in the Lives of Others.   Aaron has added to his father’s legacy through the Ed Thomas Family Foundation. The group shares a message of faith, family and football, donating money and messages to audiences in Iowa and beyond.  Football was important to Ed Thomas, but a deeper message is engraved on a plaque at the stadium. The quote attributed to him reads: “If all I have taught you is how to block and tackle, then I have failed as a coach.”

For Ed Thomas, it wasn’t about winning or state appearances. It was about making a difference in kids’ lives.

These football coaches were the best of the best.  They coached amateur players in high school, college, as well as professional players in the NFL, but the one thing they all have in common is they always got the best out of their team.

What leadership lessons have inspired you in your life?  Continue to connect with www.atwtraining.com for upcoming classes, webinars and e-learning opportunities to unleash your potential and help make you a better leader.

By:  Denise Forney, ATW Training Solutions

Becoming an Employer of Choice

As I write this message, the unemployment rate in the state of Iowa is 3.7%.  Basically, anyone who wants and is able to perform a job is employed.  The 3.7% that aren’t (which is the lowest in some time), have chosen not to work or are unable to perform critical job functions.

So what does this mean to us as leaders of organizations?  To start, it means that recruiting candidates to fill open positions is going to continue to be a challenge.  There just isn’t a strong pool of candidates from which to choose.  Secondly, it means that once we get them hired, we better do everything we can to retain them.

As leaders of organizations we want to become an “Employer of Choice”, but how do we do that?  Here are five things you may want to consider:

  1. Be a Values Based Organization.  This means that you not only identify your corporate values…but you communicate them and most importantly, live them.  Today’s workforce want to belong to organizations that operate and understand a set values that match who they are and how they want to live both personally and professionally.
  2. Know Your Finish Line:  Employees want to feel successful.  This starts with defining what success means, establishing milestones on the journey and celebrating the success of crossing the finish line.  Once accomplished, a new race is identified but think about how it would be to be told to start running and not know how far, how long it should take or anything else.  You can help people be more engaged and motivated by helping them succeed.
  3. Provide a Full Tool Box:  We all know that any job is easier when you have the right tools.  Some of the candidates we bring into our organizations may not have a full set of tools to be successful in their roles.  It’s our job to fill their tool box and guide them in how to use them most appropriately.
  4. Treat People Fairly:  Believe it or not, most people don’t want to be treated as someone special.  Of course, they enjoy it and won’t pass on it, but ultimately they just want to be treated fairly.  Audit your practices to determine if you are giving all parties a fair opportunity to succeed.
  5. Stand for Something:  Today’s workforce wants to be linked to organizations that stand for something bigger than themselves.  Consider what your organization is doing to contribute to your community, your profession and society overall.  If you can share the story of how you are impacting lives it will entice others to join your mission.

Are there other ways to be an employer of choice?  Absolutely.  But you’ve got to start somewhere and you’ve got to start sometime.  Today might just be that day and these ideas might be something you can do.

By Todd McDonald, ATW Training Solutions

Business Disruptions as Opportunities

As organizations and leaders we are being faced with a variety of disruptors in the way we do things.  Look around and you will see disruptors such as changes in technology, different communication vehicles, advanced manufacturing/services processes and customer expectations.  We call these disruptions because they disrupt the way we typically approach what we do.

But are they disruptors, or are they opportunities?  It depends on how you look at it.

Let’s look at just a couple disruptors and see how you can turn them into opportunities.


The fact is, people are busy.  It’s hard to get face time with them and even harder to get them to answer the telephone.  The opportunity to be embraced is by alternative communication methods such as email, text and through social channels like LinkedIn or even Facebook.  Used correctly, these options provide channels to enhanced communication.  I often find myself leaving a voicemail but following up with an email or message through LinkedIn.  The individual may not return my call but will usually respond to one of my electronic messages.  It’s an opportunity to promote ongoing communication.

Customer Expectations

Customer needs continue to change, whether you are dealing with internal or external customers.  Customers are better educated about their world and often expect very specific products or services.  They are better prepared when having a conversation with you.  The option you have is to rest on what you have done in the past or to use this disruption as leverage to take your game to the next level.  It’s an opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and improve whatever you are delivering.

One of my favorite sayings is “the choice is yours”.  It rings true here.  Are you dealing with disruptions or opportunities?  The CHOICE IS YOURS!

By Todd McDonald, ATW Training Solutions

Are You a Maximizer or a Tweak Freak?

sitThe Clifton StrengthsFinder measures the presence of 34 talent themes. One of their themes is “Maximizer” which they define as: “People who focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.” Leaders with this strength can be invaluable to an organization that is committed to continuous improvement and excellence. It is an effective and motivating strength when it is productively applied. When it is not productively applied, the leader can become known as a “tweak freak.”

The “tweak freak” is the one who consistently comes around after the job is done and says, “You should have…” This is not stimulating, it is demotivating! In this scenario you run the risk of the employee thinking, “Why bother doing my best, when my best is never good enough?” If you know the best way to do something, either do it yourself or explain how you want it done before the employee exerts their effort only to be told afterward, “You should have…”

The leader who wishes to productively apply their Maximizer strength will offer or discuss their “tweaks” before the employee executes his or her plan. If you know you have a tendency to want to “tweak” your employee’s efforts after the fact, invite them to solicit your suggestions before they begin executing their plan. Encourage them to come early and be prepared to:

  • Explain their goal(s)
  • Lay out their plan
  • Ask for your suggestions or insights.

This will allow you to come across as the true Maximizer who stimulates them toward excellence. This way, they will be able to use your voice in their performance as they work on their project or assignment instead of dreading your “tweaks” after the fact.

When it comes to maximizing strengths, leaders might also be inclined to follow the Situational Leadership II approach, which is a leadership model we use in many of our classes that teaches leaders to diagnose the needs of an individual or team and then use the appropriate leadership style to respond to the needs of the person and the situation.

The goal of Situational Leadership and maximizing the strengths of leaders, employees, and even of organizations is to:

  • Develop leaders who excel at goal setting, coaching, performance evaluating, active listening, and proactive problem solving
  • Clarify individual goals and ensure alignment with the organization’s goals
  • Create systems to track performance and partnering
  • Reduce employee turnover and absenteeism
  • Increase “star” employee retention
  • Improve individual and organization development
  • Improve job satisfaction and morale at all levels
  • Create a shared language of leadership within an organization

By Roy Knicley and Denise Forney, ATW Training Solutions

Leadership Lessons from our Nation’s Founders

Written By: Denise Forney

constitution_2As we look back on the celebration of our 4th of July, I cannot help but get nostalgic when I reflect on the words of Lee Greenwood’s patriotic song: “Yes, I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me, and I’ll proudly stand up, next to her and defend her still today. Because there ain’t no doubt, I love this land. God Bless the USA.”

It’s a beautiful tribute to a nation we all live in and love. But as I stop to think about the leaders that actually stood up to defend her almost 240 years ago, I can’t help but wonder if the lessons they taught us in leadership are still applicable today?

Alright, let’s take a trip back in time to 1776. A handful of famous men are struggling to create a republic against insurmountable odds. The military might of Britain is keeping them from their goal. Things look impossible from the reports of George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army.

Meanwhile at this time, in Congress, a Pennsylvanian by the name of John Dickinson, a respected spokesman for the rights of British Americans, calls for delay. He argues that independence is a dangerous step in the absence of a national government and European allies. But ultimately, leadership triumphs. The collaboration between three historic leaders and their talents save the day. The passion of John Adams, the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin and the eloquence of Thomas Jefferson carry the cause of independence on July 4th, which has been maintained to this very day.

So, what are the lessons learned in leadership from our nation’s founders?

Set Clear Goals: Leaders who work together to set clear objectives and stay focused on them can achieve amazing results. John Adams, who was considered one of the most revolutionary political leaders of his time, knew that he had to help the existing colonies focus on one goal – independence.

Competence Matters: Whether it is front-line troops protecting our freedom or front-line workers impacting the bottom line, both need the knowledge, skills and abilities to do a great job. In addition, if they have smart, focused leadership backing them up, they can be motivated to go beyond the ordinary and accomplish extraordinary things. Our early revolutionaries proved when they are inspired and effectively led, they can outlast and defeat any army.

Motivational & Timely Leadership: According to Ron Chernow, who wrote a documentary on the history of “Washington,” the official copies of the Declaration weren’t finished and signed until Saturday, July 6th. On that day the President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock, who was in Philadelphia, also sent General Washington a signed copy. Washington, who was up in New York with his troops, received it on July 8th and had it read to the troops on July 9th. After it was read to them, the troops got really fired-up. Washington needed to engage and motivate his revolutionaries, and he did it in a very timely way. In essence, he used the Declaration to motivate his troops and give cause to fight the Revolutionary War.

We would not have the freedom that we easily take for granted today if it weren’t for the brave and courageous leadership choices made way back in 1776. Leaders of our country that set clear goals. Leaders that understood that competence matters and used the knowledge, skills and abilities of every revolutionary to put it all on the line. Leaders that motivated and inspired with clear communication and a declaration of the promise of our freedom.

The lessons of yesterday’s leadership from our founding fathers still ring true today. It’s their legacy. Let’s continue to celebrate this freedom we’ve been given to lead others. As Lee Greenwood stated, “let’s proudly stand up next to them and defend them.” Let’s lead our charges in our companies and beyond, proudly and courageously.

The A, B, C’s and D’s of Trust

We’ve all heard the saying that “People don’t leave companies–they leave people.” In fact, research even shows that the primary reason people leave a company is due to lack of trust in their relationship with a manager or supervisor. So, if solid relationships are an essential factor in the ability to retain the best and brightest talent we have, then it makes sense that leaders must have strong, effective skills to build trust in today’s workplace.

In a recent study conducted by Watson Wyatt WorkUSA, it was found that only 39% of employees at U.S. companies say they actually trust the senior leaders. While pay and benefits sometimes surface as motivation for leaving an organization, the primary factor affecting turnover is whether or not a manager developed a trusting relationship with the employee.

When we consider the economic impact of the issue, it becomes apparent that a lack of trust at work is costing companies dearly – as evidenced by reduced productivity, inefficient or excessive work procedures in teams, decisions being questioned or second guessed, and a reduction in creativity and commitment. We also need to consider the costs of attracting, hiring and onboarding replacement employees.

In our training sessions, we discuss the Trust Works model from The Ken Blanchard Companies as a vehicle for building and maintaining trust within your workplace. This model includes four essential elements. We call these the “A, B, C’s and D’s of Trust.”

First, it’s important to see if the leader has strong competency skills or is “Able” to be effective. This is measured by expertise – the skills, experience and knowledge to get the job done. Also, if leaders are able to get performance results and if they are achieving their goals consistently. Finally, do they have facilitation skills – or what we call problem-solving and decision-making abilities – to effectively make choices to move results forward?

Believability,” or acting with integrity – the essence of a person is another element that is essential in any trustworthy relationship. When someone is believable, they exhibit honesty — admitting when they are wrong, keeping confidences, and making ethical decisions. They also have an established value system by which they work and live. As leaders, do they treat people equitably and ethically? It’s often said that a person’s perception is their reality. Employees need to feel there is a fair process in their workplace environment.

If a leader is truly to be effective in their role, they need to be “Connected” with the individuals on their team. Do they have people focus – where they enjoy working with their employees, respecting individual differences, and building personal rapport? How are their communication skills? Are they receptive to feedback? Do they listen well and utilize input from others? Finally, how well do they recognize their employees? Are they intentional about praising the contributions of their team members and celebrating the successes of their employees?

The last element of a trusting relationship between a leader and their employee is the ability to be “Dependable” and maintain reliability. A leader can do this by consistently following through on their commitments, holding themselves and others accountable, and organizing effective systems in place to implement work processes.

The greatest gift that leaders can give to our employees is the gift of our time. By being intentional in our communication and working toward these four elements of trust: Able, Believable, Connected and Dependable, we will build a foundation that is strong and lasting.


April: A Time To Review More Than Your Taxes

The dreaded April 15th tax deadline has passed. This date is something that virtually everyone remembers because of the consequences that can result if it isn’t met. I’d like to offer another way of thinking about this date. Why not use it as your time to review and see how you are doing on the goals you have established for the year? Too often we set goals, write them down, or maybe even design a really nice visual of what the future will look like if they are accomplished. Unfortunately, these documents are often filed away in a drawer or on your computer, only to be pulled out at the end of the year to see if they have materialized.

Great leaders and organizations understand the importance of periodically touching base on goals to see if things are being accomplished. If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, who will?

Here are a few other analogies to tax time that we can consider in our professional lives:

  • Policies and processes are your friend. Like it or not, if you follow policies and procedures like having your withholding done correctly and paying estimated taxes, when your year is up, there shouldn’t be any surprises and you shouldn’t have to deal with consequences. The same goes with goals. If you set up a process to review, give and get feedback, and modify expectations to meet overall goals, you won’t be surprised when the year is complete.
  • It’s easier to keep track of things all year long instead of all at one time. Don’t wait until the last minute to start pulling everything together. Spending smaller periods of time, in a strategic manner throughout the year, will reap more benefits than a strong push at the end.
  • Getting a refund is great . . . or is it? Some individuals purposely overpay taxes because they like to get a big refund each year. However, consider the value of that money. Instead of you having access to what is yours throughout the year, it is in the hands of the government. Would you have saved more money by using it to pay down a credit card or a loan? In your professional life, are you spending your time doing the highest priority items, those items that will present not only short, but long-term benefits for you?

So, did you get your taxes in on time this year? Were you surprised or were you in a place where you knew what to expect? Can you say the same thing for your personal goals—are you on schedule and in control of the outcome? Today is as good as any day to take a step back and see how you are doing!