Define Your Edges

Think of your life as a road. Your destination: a great life. How you get there is your choice. It’s led by your interests and abilities, which keep you moving along your road, and your values, which serve as your guardrails, the edges that keep you on your road. With a clear vision of your destination, along with clear values, you can keep yourself moving forward on your road in life.

Your guardrails also play an important role in helping you understand when you get triggered. When you have greater awareness of your values, you can better recognize when someone or something bumps the guardrails, challenging your values.

As an example, let’s say excellence is one of your values and a colleague turns in average or poor work. When you are aware of why this irritates or aggravates you (it triggers your value of excellence), you are in a position to intentionally and thoughtfully respond instead of react. You can share your expectations and why the performance challenges a value. You have the ability to solve, stay calm and keep moving.

If you don’t have a clear understanding of your values, you will find yourself all over the place. You won’t be able to stay focused on your goal(s) because you can become easily distracted by all that life can present to you, show you and challenge you with. These distractions require you to need more energy, focus and determination to get back on the road to continue your journey.

But, if you know your values, you’ll see them as providing the edges – the guidance in how to stay on your road and to better understand when you feel triggered. With this awareness, you can use your energy to stay on your road, making your moments count because you know where you are headed and what matters to you.

So how do you develop your guardrails? It’s all based on your values, which you have the responsibility to define. Most of us develop our values over time. Sometimes they come from our families and upbringing. Sometimes they come from us seeing what we don’t want to help us clearly define what we do.

Regardless of where you learned them, it is up to you to constantly review them to determine if they are still yours. It’s not uncommon to discover that a value that was part of your family may no longer be a value of yours, or a belief that came from your school may no longer be true for you.

Your life is your road. You define the edges. Create them, review them and live them so you can stay on your road and constantly move forward in your great life.

Take Action
Reflect on what values guide your decisions and your life. Articulate them. Then consider where you got these from and if they are still for you. Now you have your guardrails. Your road through life just became clearer and easier.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading That’s Life

Return to the Blog

“Not Bad” Doesn’t Mean Good

Is your personal performance standard to consistently do good or great work, or is it to do just enough not to get fired?

So many of us have dropped our personal performance standard. As a coach, I routinely work with people who are okay with doing average. When asked how their weekend was, the answer is “not bad.” When asked how they are doing on their goals and objectives in the workplace, the answer is “not bad.”

“Not bad” doesn’t mean good.

So, what causes us to settle?

I see it this way. We are each born with amazing potential that remains hidden in us until we do two things:

  1. Identify it.
  2. Choose to use it.

To discuss potential, we talk about strengths, interests and values. Knowing and using these is how to bring your A-game – not your C-game.

When you know and use your strengths, you lead with your greatest abilities. You tap into what is strongest and best in you. Imagine your impact and potential when you know and choose to use your strengths.

Consider this:

  • Interests: When you know and include your interests in your day, you feel energized. You respond differently to things you like than the things you don’t like. You give it more effort, greater thought and therefore greater results. Imagine your impact when you know and choose to incorporate your interests in your day.
  • Values: When you know and include your values in your day, you have greater clarity in how to move through your day. I like to consider values as our guardrails; they define our edges so we feel balanced and confident, letting us focus on our strengths and interests throughout our days. Check in on your values to determine if excellence is one of your values. What would it take to develop this value and what would be the impact if it guided your approach to everything you do?

Now, with this perspective, think about your workplace relationships. Which ones are “not bad” and which ones are good or great? What do you do differently in those that are better than average and what is the impact on you, your performance and your degree of impact and happiness in the workplace? Who do you have to be to bring your A-game to your workplace relationships?

Now, think about your workplace culture. Where is it “not bad” and where is it actually good or great? What could you do to share your thoughts with management to improve the employee experience? If you are a manager, how can you engage your employees to share their perspectives and opinions and raise the quality of the workplace culture, thereby increasing engagement to drive productivity, performance and retention?

Finally, think about your work. Where is it “not bad” and where is it actually good or great? Are you in a role that needs what you do and like best? Does your work inspire you to play full out or do you do just enough not to get fired? What can you do to better align yourself to a role that amplifies your focus on excellence, or how can you change your internal talk to do and be your best, regardless of what is going on around you?

Take Action
You choose how to show up to work and life. Sometimes the workplace can make this easier for you. However, it is always your choice to accept “not bad” or good / great as an outcome. Stop and Notice where you play small and where you bring your best. Make one change in something you deliver as “not bad” and raise it to good or great. Notice how work and life improve when you raise your standard.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Be on the Disengagement Hunt

Return to the Blog

Find Your Passion – And why that’s good advice

By Jay Forte

I recently learned of a study by researchers from Yale and Stanford in which they state “find your passion” is bad advice.

That’s a sweeping statement. But I don’t agree. It is up to each of us to discover who we are – our talents, abilities, passions and interests. The mere discovery of them starts the process. We can’t develop and live who we really are if we first don’t discover it.

Let me challenge some of the researchers’ thinking.

1. “Find your passion” vs. “develop your passion.” These are two completely different statements. “Finding” is different from “developing.” Finding or discovering your passions are required to identify what must be developed. The statement I use with my clients is that no one was born with an owner’s manual. You learn about who you are by showing up present, aware and mindful to life. You like some things and not others. Do you notice this? Can you learn from this? Life is a menu of amazing things that you don’t know are available until you find and experience them. Until you do the work, they are unknown and when unknown, they cannot be developed and used to guide you to live a happy and successful life.

All of us have particular interests and passions – they activate us. I call them life’s fuel. It is up each of us to sort through our world to identify and develop those things that energize, activate and inspire us. Once known – and we know them by how they get our attention – we can choose to spend the time to develop and use them to create our lives in a way that matters to us.

2. Growth mindset vs. “you’re born with it.” The researchers state it’s more beneficial to encourage a growth mindset vs. saying you’re born with fixed, inherent traits. Right. Growth is important, but only after you become aware of what original equipment you are indeed born with. DNA does in fact influence your abilities. Your predisposition and intrinsic excellence with some abilities and not others tells you that you are not great at everything, but you can be exceptional at the things that need what you do and like best. Bottom line: unless you have both an ability and a passion for something, you are not likely to pursue and grow in it.

Consider a pro athlete with an intrinsic talent and passion for the sport who succeeds by working diligently to develop it. Abilities and passion. Consider also the talented athlete who only plays the sport when time allows. Abilities without passion. I may be talented in my connection with people, but have no passion for selling. I may be talented with music, but have no passion to learn and play an instrument. Both are important and it is awareness of both the ability and the passion that creates the opportunity for both to be developed.

In my book The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself-Find Your Fit, Transform the World, we find our fit – our “greatness zone” – at the intersection of what we are good at, passionate about and what matters to us. Each of these three areas play a role in our ability to show up fully, make our impact and deliver on our sense of purpose. Together, they guide us to the places in work and life that bring us the greatest joy and impact.

3. Be informed about your passion. The researchers state you can encourage someone to pursue a passion, but ensure that it’s “informed and complemented by the world of knowledge that exists…” I agree, and that’s why the coaching approach we take at The Forte Factor is so different from the way the rest of the world works.

We guide our clients through a self-discovery and self-awareness process – to identify their unique abilities, passions and values, and to develop the clarity of who they are so they can assess how to show up successfully in today’s world, workplace, relationships and life. They define what they want, assess who they really are and build plans to close that gap through the development of their abilities, passions and values.

My belief is that we each must discover, develop and live who we are. We have unique abilities, passions, and values – they become our ingredients for a most amazing life. It first starts with knowing the ingredients. They can then be developed and used to make something great. Strengths create the abilities. Passions create the fuel. Values create the inner guidance.

It isn’t bad advice to “say find your passion.” Rather, finish the thought and say, once you find your passion, develop it so it fuels your performance and energy so you can work and live in a way that brings your greatest happiness and success.

What do you think? Is it bad advice to say “find your passion”?

Staying Calm and Wise in a Wild World: Your Reality Check

By Jay Forte

More than 7 billion people live in our world, each with their own unique behaviors, strengths, talents, values and perspectives. With so many differences going head-to-head on a regular basis, it’s little wonder it can seem like all hell is breaking loose. At every turn, there is some negative or disheartening news about politics, taxes, healthcare or terrorist activity. There are days I think the world is spinning out of control.  

But here’s your reality check. It’s not. It’s just the world doing what it does. The challenge is to learn how to stay calm and wise when presented with the events happening in our world.

Here are some of the popular myths of today’s wild world and your reality check on each.

Myth: Conflicts are inevitable.
Reality: Conflicts come when we are unable or unwilling to see value in another’s perspective while holding tightly to what we think is right. By learning to see the value in others, and where we are similar instead of different, is the starting point to learning to live without continual conflict. Differences of opinions are inevitable, but conflicts don’t have to be.

Myth: For you to win, someone has to lose.
Reality: There is no need for a zero-sum game approach to life. Everyone is equipped with their own strengths and talents, which may help fill a void that you can’t tackle with your own strengths and talents. Learning to see each person’s intrinsic value enables us to be wiser in the way we share what we have to help others succeed in life.

Myth: There is only one right way to move forward.
Reality: There is no one way to do life. The road to a happy and successful life is as varied as the people living them. You may find that after tuning in to yourself and reflecting on what you discover, you may have some beliefs that need realigning because they make you dogmatic, judgmental or critical. Each person has their own way of moving forward in order to be their best self while also respecting, supporting and empowering others to do the same.

Myth: Life is hard, mean and unforgiving.
Reality: Your ability to live a happy, meaningful and successful life is not based on what life gives you. Instead, it is based on what you do with, and how you respond to, what life gives you. Life isn’t always happy when you are rich or miserable when you’re poor. You aren’t better or worse because you align with many of the ideals of either the Republicans or the Democrats. You aren’t better if you are a Christian, a Jew, Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist. You simply have a different set of beliefs that help you learn how to be present in life.

These are just four of the many myths our wild world inspires. What can you do today to stop living your life based on myth?

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. What values or beliefs keep you small, judgmental and critical, and what can you replace them with?
  2. What can you do today to better understand and respect others?
  3. How can you make the world a better place?


Consider reading Small Actions Lead to Sustainable Change

Return to the Blog

Choose Your Future

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

As part of a large family, I remember getting into skirmishes with my siblings. With all of the bodies and attitudes in a large family, conflicts seemed inevitable. I remember the guidance from my parents as a conflict started to brew – “Choose wisely about what you do next, or it could earn you a trip to your room for a month…”

Though that statement generally got my attention at the moment, I have also appreciated its great wisdom about how to approach life. Choose wisely about what you do next. Choose your future.

Frequently, we get pulled and pushed into places that don’t need or align to our greatest passions and abilities. So, we show up disengaged, bored or disinterested. We show up average in a life that is designed to be amazing. We show up small when things could be great, and the effect of these poor choices can be felt at both work and in personal relationships.

So how do you choose more wisely about your future?

Here are my three tips.

  1. Commit the time and effort to know yourself. Discover and develop your strengths, passions, values and abilities. Know what you do best. Know what you like best. Know what activates your greatest energy. Know what you truly believe. Know who you are.
  2. Expand what you know of your world and its opportunities. To find the ones that fit you the best, you have to continue to discover what the world, workplace and life have to offer. There is a place where all of these intersect; that is your thing, your place, your fit.
  3. Focus on Fit. By expanding what you know of yourself and what you see in your world, you have enough of the right information to better assess where you fit. What aligns with your abilities and interests? What opportunities will allow you to showcase what is best in you? What roles will help you create your greatest impact? Choose what moves you, excites you and activates you – fit matters.

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. What are your three greatest strengths?
  2. When you wish time would stand still, what are you doing?
  3. What are three things that are important to you and your life right now?

To choose wisely, know yourself and know your world. See the options. Consider the options. Choose those that fit you best.


Need help making wiser choices? Consider the Life Possibilities and Career Possibilities coaching programs. Or, talk to a coach about what coaching can do to help you wisely choose your future.


Consider reading The Power of Passions.

Return to the Blog


RSS feed
Connect with us on Facebook
Follow Me
Connect with us on LinkedIn