The Circle Blueprint: Are You and Your Employees Surviving or Thriving?

Posted in: PSA Partnership

“Have you ever gotten pushed into something that you didn’t want to do?” asked Dr. Jack Skeen, founder of Skeen Leadership and our most recent speaker at the latest Partnership event in our Hunt Valley office.

For Skeen, that task was writing a book. In his career, Skeen has been a Presbyterian minister, a licensed psychologist, and a coach and mentor for CEOs and senior executives at Fortune 500 companies. Then, one day, Skeen talked with a friend about the lessons on leadership, business, and life he’s learned over the years. That friend urged him to write a book.

“I said, ‘I do not want to write a book; I’m too busy to write a book,’” Skeen joked. But his friend persisted and eventually Skeen, along with coauthors Greg Miller and Aaron Hill, wrote the book: “The Circle Blueprint: Decoding the Conscious and Unconscious Factors that Determine Your Success.”

Explaining the concept

Focused largely on the notion of thriving, “The Circle Blueprint” is a framework for determining the conscious and unconscious factors that impact the quality of a person’s life. Your circle, as Skeen explains in the book, “encompasses values, dreams, character traits, causes, and people — what truly matters to you.” Based around the principles of purpose, independence, power, and humility, your circle has to be in balance. Skeen notes that “an unbalanced circle becomes another shape altogether.”

By way of explaining his idea, Skeen reminds us that the way you grow your life expands your circle. In some phases of life this happens naturally: when you get married, your circle expands; if you have kids, it expands again. These things, “made you a bigger person,” Skeen notes. So, what else expands your circle?

Investing in employees

“The Circle Blueprint” is, in part, about how leaders can help their employees thrive. The average worker wastes two of every eight hours at work surfing the internet, socializing with coworkers, or conducting personal business.

“Why is this the case?” Skeen asked. “Why is it that people are wasting that much time? We could use the word engagement — people don’t really like what they’re doing that much. They’re not passionate about it, they don’t love it, they don’t have [the] energy for it, and so they kind of go to sleep. I’ve worked in companies where most of the workers seem to not like their boss — they’re cynical, they’re resentful, they’re resistant to being led. It’s so hard to work in an environment where people are not engaged.”

By helping your employees get more engaged, you can help them improve both their work and personal lives. “I kind of think life is meant to be amazing,” Skeen said. “Work is meant to be satisfying. It’s meant to be an extension of your creativity. Your life is meant to be a wonderful adventure. Every day should be lived like that. If it’s not, something’s wrong. So, almost everyone needs to wake up.”

Studies have shown that companies that invest in their employees are more profitable. “What we would advocate,” Skeen said, “is investing in things that bring people to be stronger, more vibrant, [and] more alive. We believe people have much more potential than they ever utilize.”

Leadership and humility

As a leader, you also have to work on yourself. You should be more self-aware, you have to be willing to grow, and you have to learn how to be humble. “Mastering humility,” Skeen explains, “is about taming your ego in order to be one with everyone. When we lack humility, we’re always comparing ourselves to everybody else, in order to see where we rank. All those comparisons make it so hard for us to collaborate.”

True humility is a tall order; a Buddhist monk may spend a lifetime attempting to tame his ego and let go of worldly attachments. But during his talk, Skeen hit on another aspect of humility that can be helpful for leaders to understand: When you are humble, people want to be around you, and they want to come to you for help and guidance.

In “The Circle Blueprint,” Skeen defines humility “as having an accurate opinion of your talents, accomplishments, and limitations while keeping them in perspective. Humility is eliminating your self-focus to the point of forgetting yourself. Humility is achieved by expanding your circle. The bigger your circle becomes, the more concerns beyond yourself become important. These bigger concerns become the context for defining how you view yourself. Instead of your interests and needs being the sole focus of your attention, your expanded circle populates your attention with a multitude of other concerns.”

The bigger your circle becomes, the more concerns beyond yourself become important.

PSA’s Managing Director Chip Lewis noted in his opening remarks that Dr. Skeen was the very first PSA Partnership speaker nine years ago. There were 24 people in that audience, Lewis recalled. But at our most recent event, and at the typically lively coffee-and-networking session before it, there were 240 attendees. The Partnership event series has allowed us to provide learning and networking opportunities to organizations in the community, which in turn, also helped expand PSA’s circle. We are grateful for our loyal clients, friends and partners.

Interested in attending the next PSA Partnership event and expanding your own circle? Stay tuned for more about our PSA Partnership lineup.

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