Change is easier when we don’t miss the “burning bush” moments.


I wouldn’t mind a “burning bush” moment, but who am I? And who talks like that? I mean, besides Moses.
The other day, a Jedi friend (Vid) invited/dared a group of us to notice our way of paying attention — challenging us to really focus on the quality of our attention so that we don’t miss the reveal/the messages about our mission for next year, our calling for the next 10 years, or our purpose for the rest of our lives.
It is very easy to miss…we’re all so busy.
He went on to explain how it was actually the quality of Moses’ attention that allowed him (Moses) to notice the uniqueness of the burning bush, which then caused him to take interest and dared him to draw near. With a little more care, curiosity and concern, he became “exquisitely present” and therefore ready to learn about the new master plan that was in store for him.
I wonder how many burning bushes I continuously walk right past when the quality of my attention is compromised or because I’m not really even looking for it. We certainly can’t find what we’re not looking for. If the quality of my attention is not deliberately, exquisitely, evermore present, I’m likely to just keep missing it. Am I missing it on purpose? Maybe I’m not really open to a new master plan after all. Maybe I’m unconsciously just fine settling for the old reliable “Plan A” (keeping the status quo in place), delivering my current level performance. Maybe my strategy is to change very little and just keep hoping for the best. Maybe I’m not ready for the Red Sea moments that follow the burning bush moments.
“I sure hope 2019 is better than 2018,” a friend blurted out to me in passing.
“So what are you going to do differently in 2019 to make sure that it is better?” I responded to her question with a question, knowing all along that it was really directed inward, at myself. Then I kind of got in her face (my own face) and said, “Let’s get specific. Let’s build your 2019 plan.” I think this kind of annual year-end recap/reflection and next year/next level planning exercise (see questions below) is the closest I’m going to get to a burning bush experience. I’m no Moses. For a clear, actionable plan to be revealed, I have to slow down, take my shoes off, pay attention and draw near.
Only a very small percent of the population have clear goals/priorities let alone write them down. Yet when we do write them down, we are exponentially more successful at achieving our next level goals/priorities.
This post is an invitation to myself and others to slow down, take interest and dare to draw near. Let’s spark our own pseudo-burning bush moment. Use this list of reflection-provoking, planning questions below. Modify them, make them your own, or use a different list of questions to capture your thinking for an increased likelihood of success in 2019.
We don’t want to miss the burning bush moments. We want to draw near in order to be sent out more effectively — maybe even to become a burning bush ourselves.

2018 Current Year/Current Level Reflection and 2019 Next Year/Next Level Planning

2018 Current Year/Current Level Reflection

  • What did I love most about 2018? When was I happiest?
  • What am I most grateful for from 2018?
  • Which three moments were most meaningful?


  • Where did I really use my strengths?
  • How did I live out my values/purpose?


  • What were my biggest disappointments? …frustrations? …failures?
  • What were my biggest inconsistencies with my values/purpose/priorities?
  • What still makes me feel angry? …sad? …anxious? …scared?
  • What is the most honest thing I can say about my disappointments?
  • What is the most compassionate thing I could say to myself about my disappointments? (reframing)


  • What momentum did I start to build in 2018 that I want to take forward?

2019 Next Year/Next Level Planning
(A more complex spreadsheet template is available upon request for those interested.)

  • What do I love to do that I want to do more of in 2019?
  • What core values are most inspiring to me?
  • What priorities do I want to focus on in 2019?
  • What would be most inspiring for me to accomplish in 2019?
  • What would be my heart’s desire or biggest dream?

The hard reality is that good people do bad things and honest leaders let it happen. While out-and-out fraud certainly occurs, the daily parade of headline-grabbing scandals that impact our leading corporations are being instigated by leaders we would otherwise think of as normal, hard-driving executives.
As we learn from behavioral economists such as Dan Ariely, it is normal human nature for all of us to cheat a little bit. Human nature as it is presents a constant choice between satisfying our self-interest and doing what we feel is right. We balance our desire to get more for ourselves with our desire to perceive ourselves as honest. So long as our self-aggrandizing actions don’t make us feel like we are cheaters, we will continue to act only in our self-interest.
We start with little things: white lies becoming bigger, taking office supplies and small fudging of details on expense reports. We see whether such actions are the kind of things we can share with peers around the coffee machine. Once we get feedback that these actions did not cause us harm or social ostracism, we find ourselves pushing the envelope further. We are now well on our way down the slippery slope. We are all vulnerable to varying degrees of rationalization and self-deception. We will tell ourselves stories to justify our actions and remove the dilemmas from our decision-making.
So how do we change behavior and make ourselves more virtuous? The first step is self-awareness of what we are, in fact, doing. Just being mindful that we are human and subject to these pulling demands is a critical place to start. We don’t need guilt for not being “perfect.” Being human is being in the game of daily choices and not pretending that we can stand on a pedestal of propriety and be immune to the dilemmas we all face. We need to be mindful of the blind spots and unconscious biases we all embody. Our upbringing and social environment embed our unique set of biases: what is right or wrong, what is safe or dangerous. In organizations, this is the vital first step for leaders — to recognize that an ethical culture is not created by just setting high standards but by understanding how we are all vulnerable.
The critical second step is then to create an environment that reduces the temptation that plagues all of us. Leaders have an obligation to understand what will reduce the risk of misconduct.
Where do we start? We each need to understand where we may be our own worst enemy. Ethical people are not always ethical leaders. They may be giving mixed signals to employees about expectations. They may be unknowingly creating a workplace environment that is so stressful that it leads individuals to take actions they are not proud of.
What steps can we take? Several tools used in conscious business provide a powerful platform for the self-awareness needed to reduce the risk of unethical conduct.
I/WE/IT — The I/WE/IT model is a powerful tool to see a broader picture of how to find a sustainable and successful balance in one’s actions. In the narrow focus of achieving goals (IT), individuals can allow themselves to put on blinders that focus only on this goal. However, remembering the “I” is an important stopgap that gives pause to one’s blind focus actions. Taking steps to remember why I am engaged in this action and asking if it truly serves me can be a valuable wake-up call. Similarly, having a healthy set of relationships (WE) in your world can also be a powerful wake-up call. Having individuals whom you trust enough to call you out on your actions can help break the auto-response blinders of self-deception.
Managing polarities — One of the more common reasons why good people engage in bad behavior is they push themselves into a binary decision: “I have no choice but to take this wrong action”; “the ends justify the means.” But what if we could acknowledge the tensions between what the organization says it needs and what is the right thing to do? Polarity mapping is a powerful tool to understand that organizational goals and maintaining high levels of integrity are not opposites, even if they are in tension. The exercise of understanding what the positive and negative drivers of meeting business goals at all costs are, as well as the effective and ineffective way of imposing standards, will create a powerful dialog that can help individuals and organizations find an effective balance.
We all want to do the right thing. But we are also human. Understanding how our human nature influences our decision-making gives us the power to prevent good people from doing bad things.