What’s Really Holding Your Business Back

Want to become more effective in the difficult conversations in your life? Sometimes our conversations don’t play out that well, run off the rails, and people leave feeling demoralized or belittled. We know what it’s like to walk away from a conversation that we are still carrying hours, days, or even years later. That is why we’ve created this FREE resource entitled 15 Ways to Turn Hard Conversations into Win-Win Dialogue  It will help you start to navigate even the most challenging discussions. Click here to download the guide now!

I remember EXACTLY how I was feeling…

Overwhelmed and ill-prepared.

No one is fully prepared for hip replacement surgery. It wasn’t exactly on my bucket list for the year.

The procedure had gone mostly well, but during surgery the bone socket partially crumbled. This made the operation and recovery more complicated than originally expected.

The doctor ordered me to rest for six full weeks. Consequently, when I was finally released for rehabilitation, my left leg muscles were virtually useless.

There’s nothing like knowing what you want to be able to do, but just CAN’T—no matter how hard you try. Common tasks that were effortless before, were now insurmountable mountains.

That’s how I felt the first day with my personal trainer, completely useless. Fortunately, my trainer was kind and understanding. He said something profound that I’ll never forget.

He told me that the issue wasn’t that my hip wouldn’t move to do the exercises, it was that my core was too weak to move it. By core, he was referring to my stomach and back muscles—the central resource of strength for other movements.

To tell you the truth, I hadn’t given much recent thought to those muscles. My overwhelming and immediate concern was my left leg. I pushed to start work there.

My trainer convinced me that the true solution to my problem would not be found by focusing primarily on my leg. In order to get back all my strength, including the strength in my left leg—I needed to begin with my core.


As a management consultant, I get frequent requests for help from businesses that already have a sense of what their problem is.

Everyone on the executive team has their answer to what ails the business. They list problems with the culture, the clientele, the business strategy, etc.

Although each of those things play a role, there is a “core” issue that I find time and again presents the biggest problem.

I’m referring to a very special, key competency integral to the effectiveness and central strength of any organization. I’m talking about the willingness to have difficult conversations.

When people avoid conflict, they also unknowingly avoid discovering the very puzzle pieces that will take them to the next level as a team and as a business.

When coworkers are unwilling to discuss roadblocks in their way, those roadblocks remain and productivity is stifled.

When executives are more interested in “status quo” than possibly rocking the boat—they prevent serious breakthroughs that could be just waiting on the other side of that difficult conversation.

Time and time again I find that effectively managing difficult conversations at work not only strengthens the core of the organization and company culture, it removes a massive ceiling off of potential growth.

Much like my rehabilitation, the problem and the fix may not seem closely connected at first.

When executives and their teams strengthen the core competency of being able to say what really needs to be said without destroying the ability to work together, it is amazing how much more effective both strategy and execution become.

Companies are made up of people who need candor to define their business models, to define their culture, to define roles and responsibilities, and to hold one another accountable.

Although my surgery and rehabilitation were quite challenging, they have led to a dramatic increase in my overall strength.

The resources we offer at Ember Learning can help strengthen your business “core” by giving you the tools you need to be courageous in tough talks.

I am no longer overwhelmed by my hip replacement. I feel strong enough to handle the physical challenges it at times presents. The same can be true for your organization.

The core competency of being effective in the art of difficult conversation is vital to any successful organization, and it can be developed. It just takes the willingness to learn.

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