Back to Better: A Movement Has Begun

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During the Pandemic we all need a Spotter

The other day I was doing some chores around the house and decided to clean out the gutters. Typically, this is a task I can accomplish with little or no help. But this time, I knew I’d need to ascend to the top of the ladder and step off onto the roof in order to reach the area of repair.

Before I tried to climb the ladder clutching a variety of tools in one hand and the leaky garden hose in the other, I asked my teen aged son to brace the the ladder and keep from shifting on the uneven soil as I scampered on to the roof.

(Video) I asked him to brace the base; essentially I asked him to spot me for safety.

Life often requires us to step off of the ladder and walk on step inclines, why would we assume we don’t need a life spotter?

Watch the full video blog


Dr. Mark Kolkman uses the soul of story to reveal the heart of what matters.

Mark is an influencer whose reputation for integrity, empathy and consistent reliability spans the Chicago metropolitan market for almost 30 years. A personal brand ambassador with a dynamic flare for public speaking, he has taught in the classroom, coached on the field and coached or consulted in the marketplace and in life. Mark has delivered commencement addresses before audiences of more than 5000, preached sermons to congregations of 50, 150 and 500 and has led professional development seminars for groups of all sizes. His engagements range from keynote speeches for small businesses, institutions in private sector, schools, colleges and universities to local civic organizations. Mark also leads daylong workshops for businesses and retreats for church leaders tailored to outcomes based on the select needs of his clients. 

In any setting, Mark inspires his audience with a vivid call to action and authentically weaves the leadership lessons of his lifetime with the practical tenets of faith, people-centered ethics and values based on conscious leadership.

You can learn more or follow Mark anywhere you connect socially @DrMarkKolkman or email him directly at mark@FlexSolutions.llc.

At or That: The profound difference a single word can make

For the select few of you that have read my work or those who know me personally, you won’t be surprised in the least by the claim that I think, speak and write in slogans and phrases that rhyme or make a play on words. I am wired to be wordy and I think out loud as I write or speak. Often times if I am conflicted or confused about something I merely need to talk it out and use words to assign meaning to my own lived experience or that of the person(s) I am debating, coaching, battling against or those for whom I am advocating.

With the selective and purposeful use of words as a backdrop, please allow me compare and contrast two separate perspectives; “that you” and “at you”.

Consider the most recent instance when you were less than pleased with the performance of a coworker,  a decision made by your spouse or the behavior of one of your children.  Go there with your whole person; mind, body and spirit. Reflect on what you felt in your head, heart and gut. Whether you were mad or angry, hurt or wounded, let down or completely under served by the other person, you quite actually, in that moment, had sole determining control to affix or depict meaning to the situation and place perspective on how you would personally handle the outcome of the other person’s actions, behaviors or attitudes.

Said differently, you own you.

The thing that the other person did or didn’t do merely created a set of circumstances to which you were forced to respond. The meaning of that situation could range from something that happened to you, around you or through you. You decide on that part, you own you.

Consider this, with that very situation in mind ask yourself, was I mad that the person let me down or because she or he underserved me, or was I mad at that person. From a personal and psychological perspective, the difference between “I am mad that you did x, y and z” is profoundly different than “I am mad at you”. The former is about the situation while the later is about the person. To be clear, I am not suggesting that as conscious leaders we look the other way, lower our standards or enable poor performance or bad behavior. What I am suggesting, and boldly challenging each of us to do, is limit the instances when we allow ourselves to “be mad at” a person for their behavior. Instead, let’s wrestle our emotional response into submission and mindfully “be upset that” the person behaved the way they did.

The difference between I’m mad “that you” and I’m mad “at you”  may just be the most crucial battle you wage in 2020, and may be the most central factor to your success.

Whether in your relationships at home with your spouse and children, in your communities and peer relationships or in the workplace with peers, direct reports or colleagues, imagine the personal growth you will experience when you find more ways to be disappointed that someone let down, hurt you or behaved in a manner you disagree with.  Anger focused at someone else is debilitating and most certainly will lead to you operating out of a blindspot or a deficit mindset. Push in to more “that you” moments in 2020 and see the difference a single word can make.


Dr. Mark Kolkman uses the soul of story to reveal the heart of what matters.

Mark is an influencer whose reputation for integrity, empathy and consistent reliability spans the Chicago metropolitan market for almost 30 years. A personal brand ambassador with a dynamic flare for public speaking, he has taught in the classroom, coached on the field and coached or consulted in the marketplace and in life. Mark has delivered commencement addresses before audiences of more than 5000, preached sermons to congregations of 50, 150 and 500 and has led professional development seminars for groups of all sizes. His engagements range from keynote speeches for small businesses, institutions in private sector, schools, colleges and universities to local civic organizations. Mark also leads daylong workshops for businesses and retreats for church leaders tailored to outcomes based on the select needs of his clients. In any setting, Mark inspires his audience with a vivid call to action and authentically weaves the leadership lessons of his lifetime with the practical tenets of faith, people-centered ethics and values based on conscious leadership. 

You can learn more or follow Mark anywhere you connect socially @DrMarkKolkman or email him directly at mark@FlexSolutions.llc.


Seek wise counsel and sound advice.