Have you ever stopped to think what the milestones in your life are telling you? Or do you even keep track of those moments? We all have decisions, outcomes, and experiences that shape and mold the person we become. Some call these defining moments.
Taking a look at the list of the key moments can be very helpful when trying to make new decisions about who we are and where we’re going.
I confess, this week one of those milestone moments happens for me. It’s my birthday and it’s a big one. I won’t bore you with the details. And, no, this is not a weak plug for attention, but instead an opportunity to share some thoughts with you.
Birthdays can be examples of some classic milestone moments; turning 16 to get a drivers license or 21 to be “legal” for drinking can be big deals. But then we start counting birthdays in fives; 25, 30, 35, etc.
A friend once shuddered at his 35th birthday. In his mind, thirty-five was a serious pivot point in his life. Somehow everything was going to be downhill. Ironically, my father-in-law always said “no one pays attention to you until you turn 40”, but that’s another story.
There are many other examples of life-changing moments we experience that become milestones for us. Graduating from school, getting married, having children, getting a divorce, being transferred, making a big move, changing jobs, changing careers… all of these serve to set markers in our life from which we can see a picture start to form. There are many more.
Decisions are critical influencers of when, where and how some of these markers get created. Bad decisions send us down paths that either make us learn something, or keep us from learning. Better decisions build experience and wisdom. The older you get, the more you will see a picture unfolding. You see a shape and a pattern come to life.
If you are reading this and feeling stuck where you are, take a moment to recount the milestones in your own life. You might even take a notepad and draw the timeline of your life, placing markers at the various key moments. It doesn’t matter whether they are positive or negative, just draw the map.
From this drawing see what picture you find. Are there common themes that jump out? Is there a hobby or skill that keeps coming up? Is there a body of work that inspires you more than the others?
If you’ve never done an exercise like this, you might just find a new you in there somewhere.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
[reminder]What are your milestones telling you?[/reminder]
Any entrepreneur, business owner, or executive who wonders why the team is not operating as you expect should take a couple of critical steps. Get out from behind the desk and take the steps to walk to the mirror.
Take a long, hard look. Are YOU modeling the way for others to follow? Your actions and behaviors set the tone and pace for those around you. You cannot operate with a mantra of “Do as I say, not as I do.” Yet too many people in a position of power operate exactly that way.
What are some areas where modeling the right behaviors makes a difference? Here are three that are vital.
Be the Vision
Well respected leaders are known for their ability to communicate a vision. This is the ideal end-stage outcome. It’s the “begin with the end in mind” that Covey teaches.
Corporations are famous for setting Vision Statements and Mission Statements. However, the statements only work when they are shared throughout the workforce. Whether you run a 5 person team or an organization of 500, the way you as the leader share the vision is vital to the ultimate success.
You must understand and embrace the vision. You cannot be undermining it from your office. If you own the business, you darn well better construct and live the vision in a way that others can explain it just as thoroughly as you do.
I made the mistake in one of my first companies by not fully explaining the vision. We had several service offerings that made common sense but didn’t clearly connect to a greater purpose without some explaining. I was guilty of taking too much for granted across my work team.
Our website was carefully designed and written to pitch our vision to the market, but my own team couldn’t recite what we were doing very well. More importantly, the passion with which I believed we could change the market was not shared by my crew. It took several months for me to realize what was missing.
I called a meeting and shared the overall vision to set the tone for future effort. I even apologized for not letting them know this critical element of our being. Once I revealed the vision, several more seasoned professionals on the team got excited. They asked very good questions and the discussion opened up. It was a milestone event in the life of my little company.
Your actions on a day to day basis must enforce the vision.
Enable Others to Act
The people who report to you need the latitude to do their jobs. You can model confidence in their ability by letting them have free range in which to operate. Yes, you might have policies and procedures, but there is always room for initiative to work.
Early in my career, I decided to embrace a principle that I should work to hire capable people, then get out of their way. Micromanaging is stifling to most employees.
As the leader, you need to model the proper use of delegation of authority. Delegation is not all that hard to comprehend. Think of it this way. You give permission to act and protection when they fall. It’s very similar to raising children. You want them to grow by experiencing for themselves the actions, reactions, consequence, and success.
[shareable]Delegation – give permission to act and provide protection when they fall.[/shareable]
As you do this, you must be consistent in your administration of the effort. You cannot pick one person over another to get more latitude. Yes, I appreciate the argument for ‘not all employees are created equal’ in terms of skills and abilities. However, every employee should have a range with which they can operate based on the skills they demonstrate.
If the employee is a problem, then apply remedial training or deal with the case and replace the person. That is the hard side of being an effective leader. I’ll save more on this issue for another article.
Encourage the Heart
The human side of leadership is exactly what differentiates a leader from a mere manager. You manage process, but lead people. People respond more when all of their being is engaged.
I like to teach about harnessing the power of your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection. At work, we often think in terms of the mental side of this equation. You hire talent and experience, right? But have you ever tried to hire passion?
There is a recruiter friend of mine who uses this tagline:
Hire for Passion. Skills are cheap. Passion is hard to come by.
How do you measure the passion a person may bring to the work you need them to do? Ask better questions. Decide for yourself why this work is meaningful. Find ways to engage the hearts of those around you.
This notion of encouraging and engaging the heart of your people has been used for centuries in military conquests across the globe. Armies moving across foreign lands try to engage and endear the population so that the effort is not met with resistance. But when resistance comes as the French and Polish people did during WWII, the advancing effort of the German army was much more difficult to achieve.
Thankfully our places of work should never become war zones. But the principles apply. Win the hearts of your people and you will have far greater success achieving your goals.
The leader who can model a true and genuine appreciation for the hearts of their people will accomplish much more.
[reminder]Let us know some ways you model the right behaviors to lead your teams.[/reminder]
Yes, PROCRASTINATION. We all deal with it at some time or another. Have you noticed that the degree of procrastination often is directly proportional to the size of the task? Well, it is for me.
So there I was, inside of 12 hours before press deadline. Normally, I am well ahead of these articles by now. (You see, I really do feel an obligation to deliver something of value in return for your time reading my posts.)
On the way home from church, I mentioned to my wife that I was behind the deadline. She said, “I have an idea for a topic.”
To this, I responded, “Great, let me hear it.”
“Procrastination!” was her reply.
Ouch, really? “Is that what you think I have done here?” was my manly retort (said in a tender, loving way of course).
She smartly said, “No, but it’s a good topic you don’t write enough about.”
OK, deal! I agree. Inspiration!
Here’s the Truth
Psychology Today reports:
“Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions—which, unfortunately, are increasingly available. Procrastination in large part reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we’ll feel tomorrow, or the next day.
Procrastinators may say they perform better under pressure, but more often than not that’s their way of justifying putting things off. The bright side? It’s possible to overcome procrastination—with effort.”
In an article written by Hara Estroff Marano [first published in August 23003, later reviewed November 20, 2015] she writes:
“There are many ways to avoid success in life, but the most sure-fire just might be procrastination. Procrastinators sabotage themselves. They put obstacles in their own path. They actually choose paths that hurt their performance.
Why would people do that? I talked to two of the world’s leading experts on procrastination: Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Neither one is a procrastinator, and both answered my many questions immediately. [Here are the answers]”
Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one. And it cuts across all domains of their life. They don’t pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts. They don’t cash gift certificates or checks. They file income tax returns late. They leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas eve.
It’s not trivial, although as a culture we don’t take it seriously as a problem. It represents a profound problem of self-regulation. And there may be more of it in the U.S. than in other countries because we are so nice; we don’t call people on their excuses (“my grandmother died last week”) even when we don’t believe them.
Procrastination is not a problem of time management or of planning. Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate time, although they are more optimistic than others. “Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up,” insists Dr. Ferrari.
Procrastinators are made not born. Procrastination is learned in the family milieu, but not directly. It is one response to an authoritarian parenting style. Having a harsh, controlling father keeps children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them. Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms available under such circumstances. What’s more, under those household conditions, procrastinators turn more to friends than to parents for support, and their friends may reinforce procrastination because they tend to be tolerant of their excuses.
Procrastination predicts higher levels of consumption of alcohol among those people who drink. Procrastinators drink more than they intend to—a manifestation of generalized problems in self-regulation. That is over and above the effect of avoidant coping styles that underlie procrastination and lead to disengagement via substance abuse.
Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow.” Or “I work best under pressure.” But in fact, they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying “this isn’t important.” Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately, they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources.
Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don’t take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail is almost perfect for this purpose. They distract themselves as a way of regulating their emotions such as fear of failure.
There’s more than one flavor of procrastination. People procrastinate for different reasons. Dr. Ferrari identifies three basic types of procrastinators:
arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait until the last minute for the euphoric rush.
avoiders, who may be avoiding the fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.
decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.
There are big costs to procrastination. Health is one. Just over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students had such evidence of compromised immune systems as more colds and flu, more gastrointestinal problems. And they had insomnia. In addition, procrastination has a high cost to others as well as oneself; it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful. Procrastination destroys teamwork in the workplace and private relationships.
Procrastinators can change their behavior—but doing so consumes a lot of psychic energy. And it doesn’t necessarily mean one feels transformed internally. It can be done with highly structured cognitive behavioral therapy.
Here’s the Fix
For many of us dealing with the occasional bout of procrastination, we just need to turn up the self-discipline. For me, I need to do these things:
1. Eliminate distractions; refocus. I need to remind myself of the significance of the task at hand.
2. Reduce the rationalization that happens when I make excuses for letting something slip. The better answer is ‘NO, there is no excuse. Get busy!’ As for this article, my rationalization sounded something like ‘Gee, it’s the holidays, there are bowl games and family…’. Nope, all bad excuses.
3. Ask for accountability. I did this today by sharing with my wife that I was off schedule. Getting her input got me jump started toward the goal.
For anyone who has committed to a new plan for 2016, procrastination may be the very first obstacle you face. Take these ideas to heart. Be ready to battle this enemy right from the start.
Think about these quotes:
[shareable cite=”Victor Kiam”]Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. [/shareable]
[shareable cite=”Denzel Washington”]I’d be frightened by not using whatever abilities I’d been given. I’d be more frightened by procrastination and laziness. [/shareable]
[shareable cite=”Don Marquis”]Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday. [/shareable]
[reminder]What do you do to fight procrastination?[/reminder]
Have you ever been driving and decided to change lanes? You take a quick look around and all seems clear, then you make the move to the new lane and HONK! You’re about to cut into an oncoming car. A blind spot covered your view of the other car.
Leaders can have blind spots too. You can be moving along, feeling like things are going very well. Then HONK! You get surprised by a colleague or co-worker who drops a big bomb on your happy place. You had a blind spot.
What are Blind Spots? In her book, Fearless Leadership, Loretta Malandro, PhD., identified 10 behavioral blind spots that can derail leaders.
These 10 blind spots are:
Going it alone
Being insensitive to how your behavior impacts others
Having an “I know” attitude
Avoiding the difficult conversations
Blaming others or circumstances
Treating commitments casually
Conspiring against others
Withholding emotional commitment
Not taking a stand
Tolerating “good enough”
We each have these blind spots, with some being larger for us than others. Just like in a car, knowing your blind spots is important as you can make some extra effort to ensure that you see what you are doing. And just like in cars, if you don’t know your blind spots, you can get into big trouble.
The first step in avoiding these blind spots is to understand them and what they look like. It is easy to identify these in people we work with, but it is difficult to identify them ourselves (thus they are called blind spots). Here are some behaviors that describe each blind spot:
Going it alone: when you do things without asking others for their input. Examples of this behavior include:
not asking for help
not accepting help
not talking about the stress you are under
not including others in decisions
feeling like you need to get things done on your own
Going it alone is especially problematic for start-up entrepreneurs. When you begin a business, you think you know your idea the best. You’re not ready to let go and let others help build the dream. First-time business owners also may suffer from getting too deep into this syndrome. You’re just not ready or willing to open up to others.
Being insensitive to how your behavior impacts others: when you allow yourself to say or do most anything without sensitivity to the consequences or impact on others.
not noticing how body language impacts others
choosing words that can be mean or misunderstood provoking a negative response
not realizing how you’re devaluing others input or ideas
You rationalize these behaviors by thinking that people hurt by your words will “get over it.”
Having an “I know attitude“: when you think that you are always right and those who disagree with you are wrong.
not listening to others
always coming up with reasons others ideas won’t work
devaluing others ideas
arguing with anyone who disagrees with you
refusing to explore other options
making assumptions about others’ intent or their ideas
Avoiding difficult conversations: you avoid conflict and stressful situations – so you avoid those conversations where that happens.
not raising concerns or issues about others behavior
avoiding talking about negative information (bad sales, company layoffs, etc.)
softening tough messages and not talking about real concerns.
You only like to talk about surface issues.
Blaming others or circumstances: avoiding the need to take accountability or try to negate by shifting blame.
always having a reason
excuse or explanation for why something went wrong
complaining about how it could have gone “if only”
leaving a project when you see it is not going to succeed.
Treating commitments casually: when you make casual commitments that you don’t keep.
showing up late for meetings
not getting projects done on time
never making hard commitments in the first place
always having an escape hatch
using the “I’ll try” instead of “I will”
A leader’s ability to influence others is dependent on being able to make and keep commitments, regardless of how big or how small.
Conspiring against others: you engage in rumor mills and gossip or talk negatively behind peoples backs.
talking one-on-one with others about how you think a project won’t succeed
not talking in open project meetings
discrediting others ideas or accomplishments
displaying negative non-verbal cues such as rolling eyes or engaging in conspiracy theories
Withholding emotional commitments: you can agree intellectually, but withhold putting our heart and soul into a project.
just complying with a decision meeting the bare minimum requirements
resisting change, withholding support, going through the motions
Leadership requires genuine commitment. People around you can sense the false pretense of making the motion but not being committed.
Not taking a stand: sometimes when you know you should do something but you don’t because of how it could impact you.
not speaking up in a meeting when you disagree with the majority
failing to speak up when senior executives are around
getting people to work around a problem instead of addressing it head-on
Tolerating “good enough”: when you settle for getting things done just ok, but don’t push you or your teams for excellence.
not holding others accountable for their work
accepting incremental improvements
not willing to explore radical options
staying inside one’s comfort zone
not looking at what the future will require
Understanding the concept of having blind spots is the first step. Identifying our own blind spot is the harder part. To really get to the bottom of your own blind spot, you have to ask a few trusted confidants to work closely with you. They can better point out where they see your blind spots.
This is a hard exercise but one that is very beneficial. A review process called a 360 is also a useful tool. Many larger companies are using 360s on a regular basis as part of their leadership development programs.
None of us like to hear about our faults. Others don’t like to point them out. If you are open to growing and learning, then by identifying your own weaknesses, you can start the process of improvement and become a better leader and even a better person.
[reminder]When was the last time you identified and worked on curing a blind spot?[/reminder]
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Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Often there is a false assumption that a good product or service idea will be a guaranteed success. The “If you build it they will come” mindset is a great cliché for a movie but seldom plays out as a winner in real business.
No, success and long-term sustainability require a whole host of ever-changing variables. The truly successful entrepreneur figures out how to navigate these choppy waters, making changes as frequently as they might be required. Plus, when the demand is for them to change, they will accept the proverbial writing on the wall and go with the change.
Nimbly and gracefully making the right changes is what differentiates the highly successful business owner/founder from the rest of the wannabes (as in I want-to-be successful). Wanting and doing are wildly different positions to be in.
Key Management Factors
Several factors, which change in importance as the business grows and develops, are prominent in determining ultimate success or failure.
A study done by the good folks at Harvard Business Review identified eight such factors in a research project(1). Four factors relate to the enterprise and four to the owner. The four that relate to the company are as follows:
1. Financial resources, including cash and borrowing power.
2. Personnel resources, relating to numbers, depth, and quality of people, particularly at the management and staff levels.
3. Systems resources, in terms of the degree of sophistication of both information and planning and control systems.
4. Business resources, including customer relations, market share, supplier relations, manufacturing and distribution processes, technology and reputation, all of which give the company a position in its industry and market.
The four factors that relate to the owner are:
1. Owner’s goals for himself or herself and for the business.
2. Owner’s operational abilities in doing important jobs such as marketing, inventing, producing, and managing distribution.
3. Owner’s managerial ability and willingness to delegate responsibility and to manage the activities of others.
4. Owner’s strategic abilities for looking beyond the present and matching the strengths and weaknesses of the company with his or her goals.
Small businesses are built on the owner’s talents: the ability to sell, produce, invent, or whatever. This factor, in the early stages, is of the highest importance. The owner’s ability to delegate, however, is on the bottom of the scale since there are few if any employees to delegate to.
As the company grows, other people enter sales, production, or engineering and they first support, and then even supplant, the owner’s skills—thus reducing the importance of the owner’s personal skill set. At the same time, the owner must spend less time doing and more time managing or even leading the enterprise.
He or she must increase the amount of work done by other people, which means delegating. The inability of many founders to let go of doing and to begin managing and delegating explains the demise of many businesses during the latter stages.
As a business moves from one stage to another, the importance of the factors changes. We might view the factors as alternating among three levels of importance:
First, key variables that are absolutely essential for success and must receive high priority;
Second, factors that are clearly necessary for the enterprise’s success and must receive some attention; and
Third, factors of little immediate concern to top management.
If we categorize each of the eight factors listed previously, based on its importance at each stage of the company’s development, we get a clear picture of changing management demands.
The changing role of all of these factors clearly illustrates the need for owner flexibility. An overwhelming preoccupation with certain factors is quite important at some stages and less important at others. “Doing” versus “delegating” also requires a flexible management mindset.
Holding onto old strategies and old ways will not serve a company that is entering the growth stages. Failure to find the nimbleness to make these changes can even be fatal.
If you run your own business but are feeling the pressure to make some changes, perhaps you need a Master Coach to come alongside and guide you through the thought process. That is what I do. I’ve been doing it with successful entrepreneurs for decades. I’ve seen businesses of many types. You are not alone. Leave a comment or write an email
However, ask any businessman who has made one of these mistakes along the way. They will affirm the need to be this kind of nimble in order to make the best possible changes for the true good of the business. The principles are timeless.
[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”] [et_pb_row admin_label=”row”] [et_pb_column type=”4_4″] [et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”] You know when you’ve been trying to help someone? I mean really help them, but they refuse to hear what you say? We’ve all faced the moment when we realize that someone is being a stubborn mule. I don’t mean to be cruel or harsh, but face it, you know what I am talking about.
Maybe the person is an employee or a boss. Or worst case, they are a family member, maybe even your spouse. Ouch! Regardless of the situation, there is an emerging reality that all of your valuable insight or suggestions are going unheard. The precious pearls of wisdom you try to share are falling on deaf ears. Here’s the solution.
[shareable cite=”Courtesy of Dan Rockwell @Leadershipfreak”]’The moment you realize that your suggestions are never good enough, stop offering suggestions.’ [/shareable]
While it is very easy to spot stubbornness in others, sometimes we are guilty of acting that way too. As a leader in any situation, you must at times deal with personalities that act stubborn. But what do others have to do when you are the stubborn one?
If you, the leader, are the one being the mule, the team will stop wanting to be open with you. They will pull back from the interaction. It’s human nature to avoid confrontation of this kind. In other words, it is easy for those around you to start asking themselves “why bother?”
What is Stubbornness?
Stubbornness is the tendency to resist any form of change.The person with stubbornness is driven by a fundamental resistance to being forced to do anything or experience anything against his will. The basic stance is, “No, I won’t, and you can’t make me.”
The personality with stubbornness is over-sensitive to the possibility of having sudden or unwanted change imposed upon itself and sees the threat of it everywhere. Anything new or different or involving change is perceived (subconsciously at least) as a direct threat—even if the change in question is positive and in the person’s best interests.
Like all character flaws, stubbornness involves the following components:
Early negative experiences
Misconceptions about the nature of self, life or others
A constant fear and sense of insecurity
A maladaptive strategy to protect the self
A persona to hide all of the above in adulthood
Stubbornness is the most prevalent character flaw there is. We all have some degree of stubbornness within us, but more people have stubbornness as their chief feature than any other.
As with every chief personality feature (or flaw), the key is becoming conscious of how stubbornness operates in oneself. If you have stubbornness, you can begin by observing your outward persona in action:
Do I have a tendency to justify the status quo?
Do I generally argue against change or newness on seemingly logical grounds?
Do I often deride new ideas or suggestions?
The Deeper Dive
To fully eliminate stubbornness, you have to do more. You must agree to dig deeper.
Why do I resist change, newness? What am I afraid of?
What do I fear would happen to me if I allowed uncontrollable changes to happen?
Approaching the deepest level you may need outside help in the form of a counselor, therapist, coach, or at least a close friend:
Where does this fear of new situations come from?
How was I hurt in the past?
Can I let it go?
By genuinely exploring the source of your concern, you can calm the fears and doubts that cause the need to be stubborn. Yes, rigid rejection of change can look like stubbornness, yet it is usually tied to a deeper concern for facing change. If you agree to explore your inner resistance to change, you can begin to unwind the tangled views and actions that come out of being stubborn.
As you reduce the need to resist change, you can inspire others to be more open to bringing you ideas.
[reminder]What have you done lately to avoid being the stubborn one?[/reminder]
As the calendar turns to a new year, there’s always a lot of hype about resolutions, planning, and goal setting. I promise this is NOT your average article about goal setting.
Depending on where your past year ended, you may or may not be ready to do a goal-setting exercise. I see a couple of options for where you might be standing right now.
Things have been going well, you need to do more of the same
You feel stuck or disappointed with prior results, so you want to make a change
You’re not sure about which direction to go
Two out of three of these conditions are not good. I’m convinced this is why goal setting seldom works. If you are already living in scenarios two or three, you aren’t ready to plot out new and different directions.
You Need a Change
Ask a room full of people to close their eyes and point North. When everyone opens their eyes, fingers are pointing all over the place. (Try this some time; it’s a great icebreaker).
The message is that “north” while being geographically available for specific identification and location using the right equipment, can conjure various meanings depending on one’s perception.
During life-changing moments our perception of our own true north can be equally confusing. For people who find themselves in career transition, I coach and teach the concept of resetting your true north. Perhaps re-set is not the perfect term, but what I mean is that you should get back in touch with that center of your being. Revisit the core values, goals, and beliefs you once held dear. Allow time to rekindle a fire that might have burned low or even worse, burned out.
When you find that true north again, any decisions you make about the next chapter of your life will have far more meaning and purpose.
Finding your true north applies to all major decisions. Nothing should be decided without checking it against whatever standard you believe is your true north.
There is Risk
There is a risk in what I am saying. All around me I see a slow shift in values and beliefs from what I grew up with. Here’s an example.
I live in a large planned community with a golf course and other very nice amenities. The golf course has a beautiful lake right in front of the clubhouse. It’s not a big lake, but definitely bigger than your average pond. The lake is posted for no swimming and no fishing. It’s posted mainly as a safety thing for young children who might venture that way. Simple enough to follow, wouldn’t you think?
Well, one of my neighbors spied a man and a boy out there one afternoon after work. From all indications, they were a father/son team. They were fishing! Yes, in broad daylight, casting away. The neighbor made a comment on the area Facebook page. We have a very active neighborhood engagement via that page.
The thread blew up in less than 2 hours. Here’s what people were saying. Some agreed with the first poster who argued the Dad was violating the posted sign, so what value was that teaching the young boy?
Son “Hey Dad, what does that sign say?”
Dad “It says no fishing or swimming.”
Son “But we’re fishing. Should we stop?”
Dad “Nope. It’s OK, let them try to stop me.”
Others got outright angry at the thought of anyone having an argument with a Dad spending time with his son, even though it involved breaking the law together.
The way that people spun the meaning of the moment and the variation of core values expressed in this matter made my head spin. Yes, it was radically different from my own upbringing. I had a hard time seeing the merit in letting the people fish despite the posted signs against such activity.
There are questions of respect, honor, following the law, making your own law, and so on. Where is the true north here? Who is the judge?
Clearly, it is a personal decision to honor a higher standard.
[shareable]Anyone can steer the ship. A Leader sets the course.[/shareable]
Make the Right Choices
Spending your time at the first of the year to set goals and make resolutions is valuable, but only after you have checked back in to center your self on your core values; your true north. Don’t waste time with the planning and goal setting until you re-establish your purpose and value.
[reminder]What have you done to reset your true north BEFORE you begin planning for the New Year?[/reminder]
PS – OK I don’t literally mean “NO Goals”. You have to set your base before you start setting goals. I see too many professionals who make major mistakes in their planning because they let their true north shift too much. They want to stay centered on the real north, but if things have slipped or wiggled out of alignment, you have to get those core values reset before you plot another set of goals, plans, or resolutions.
Soon will be Christmas, December 25. I’m not really ashamed to admit that I still celebrate Christmas. It has been in my family tradition for many decades. I respect the needs of saying ‘happy holidays’ to those who may not be of Christian descent and choose not to celebrate in the tradition of Christmas, but for me and my family, today still has special meaning on several levels.
I would like to ask you a somewhat personal question.
Since the Christmas season often is associated with the giving of gifts, what have you done to be the gift for someone?
Yes, I mean you, personally, unashamedly, and individually, being the gift for someone in your life. They could be family, work, or community members.
It seems we don’t think about that personal, really personal touch anymore. There are so many great technological gadgets to buy for one another. We share things that have material value, maybe a special meaning, or other reasons for identifying a material gift. Yet I find it interesting that it is difficult to think of ourselves as being a gift for someone we care about.
Last year the virtual mentor, Michael Hyatt, wrote a new book called “[easyazon_link keywords=”Living Forward” locale=”US” tag=”thredoth-20″]Living Forward[/easyazon_link]”. In that book, he and his co-author, Daniel Harkovy, introduce a continuum of human existence that goes like this. In their model, Michael and Daniel talk about three distinct phases of life. The first phase is drift.
If you have found yourself in a period of your life that feels uncertain, without direction, and maybe even without purpose, you, my friend, are drifting. You wake up each day and you allow the day to pass just living through the circumstances and situations that arise on their own. There’s really not a plan. And there’s certainly not a goal. Drifting is a state of our existence that happens to all of us. It’s not uncommon to experience a little bit of drift at some point in your life.
Clearly, it would not be a good thing to live your whole life in a state of drifting. You want to be able to identify a goal or an outcome that has positive meaning for the purpose in your life. So we have to get out of drifting. You need to be able to stop the drift and begin making some more intentional forward progress.
That leads us to the second phase which is the shift. Once you’ve recognized you might be drifting and you agree that you want to stop, you have to make a shift. You have to find a focus, a new goal, and a plan to get you onto a path for forward momentum.
Making a shift can be as simple as changing your mindset. Instead of waking up each day with the thought of repeating yesterday, you start the new day with an intentional statement of purpose. You say I’m going to do something different today. You set the course and you choose to do things differently.
Albert Einstein is attributed with the famous quote that says doing the same thing and expecting different results is the perfect definition of insanity.
Making a shift allows us to break the cycle of monotony and repetition that causes drift. By agreeing to shift, we find a new focus, a new strategy, and a new direction.
Once the shift has begun, you find yourself beginning to experience lift. You experience new accomplishments. You have a sense of progress. Goals are starting to be achieved. You find a new direction and you find levels of success.
The lift in our lives is what gives us the energy to begin to be able to influence those around us. As you experience lift, you have an energy that can be shared with others. Lift is a very interesting physical force. Lift is the principle by which birds fly and airplanes are able to rise into the sky.
Many years ago I decided to tackle a bucket list item that I had carried for some time. I wanted to get a private pilot’s license. I enrolled in a local flight school where I began taking the courses and learning the principles of aerodynamics. There is a very interesting undeniable force that happens with flight.
When a wing is moved forward there is a dynamic of the wind passing over the wings. The variation in pressure that occurs with that forward momentum, we call that thrust. But as the intensity of the wind flowing over the airfoil increases, there is this notion of lift that occurs.
In essence, as a plane gains ground speed during takeoff, there is no denying the force of the wing wanting to lift the whole plane off the ground. If you apply enough power and begin the forward momentum, that wing can do nothing but lift you off the ground. So the essence of flight is the ability to control that natural lift that is occurring.
I see great similarities with having a lift in our own lives. If you begin experiencing lift, there will be an undeniable force that you create. You will have an attraction to you that others cannot deny. You will have the ability to influence people.
The next question is, could there be a fourth phase of human experience? I say yes. I call it the Gift.
As you move away from drifting and you start to shift your life and your presence, you achieve this lift in life. Ultimately you become a gift. With the momentum, you create by shifting and lifting you get to the point of being able to start gifting. This is the stage when you can help others. You can influence them with your thoughts, your ideas, and your compassion.
As you experience lift in your life, you become a gift to those around you. Your families can be enriched. Your workplace can be influenced. Your whole community can receive value and benefit from who and what you are. As you become a gift to the world around you, you become a thing of value; you become an inspiration.
Yes, this is Christmas. But while the rest of the world is thinking about gift giving with boxes and bows, I ask you again, have you been the gift to those around you?
It’s a great time to be that person, be that influence, and bless those around you with the power and the privilege of you being who you are. Now if you’re stuck in a drift, obviously your gifts not going to be that special. Maybe you won’t even feel like doing anything. But if you found a shift in life and you’ve begun to lift, you can become a precious and wonderful gift.
I wish each and every one of you a very blessed and Merry Christmas. Happy holidays. All my best to you, your family, and your business.
PS – Many of my clients consider me their closest confidant. We discuss things that they feel they cannot discuss with anyone else. It’s a tricky balance to build the kind of rapport and relationship that can have the level of trust you may want. If you are looking for just such a confidence, think about giving me a call. Let’s discuss where you are right now at work, with your family or in your community. Perhaps I can offer some encouragement.
What does the word legacy mean to you? For some, it means following in the footsteps of your forefathers as in being a “legacy” at a college. If your parent went there, and you decide to go, then you become a “legacy”.
For others, as the aging process sets in, it means “was this all worth it?” What am I leaving behind? More importantly, did my life matter to anyone?
I am not convinced people think legacy as much as they once did. It seems living in the fast-paced modern world has pushed us to do more, be more and somehow miss the journey. There is no denying I am part of the Boomer generation. By some accounts, that places me at odds with the anyone younger than 50. I respectfully disagree.
My wife and I are blessed to be the proud parents of 5; four boys and a girl. They are grown now and have families of their own, treating us to 7 grandchildren. When we gather as a family it is easy to see the legacy unfolding. I think about that a lot. What can I say and do today that will have an impact on those generations after me?
Throughout my life, I have chosen to be a perpetual learner. I love studying management and leadership theory. The more I read and learn about my chosen topics, the more convinced I am that there are timeless principles of leadership. To be timeless, something must not be subject to the changes in mindset with each new generation. Being a voice for a timeless subject helps create a legacy.
Leadership is just such a topic. Yes, we might change the terminologies we use, but the principles remain unchanged. I want to share with you my shortlist.
Key Principles – My Elite 8
Whether you are leading a team at work, at home with your family, or an organization in your community, I like these 8 leadership principles. I call them my “Elite 8”. They have proven time and again to be rock solid.
Always Be Honest – In a world plagued with situational morality and dog-eat-dog competition, it is rare to find the totally honest business person or neighbor. Honesty, or lack thereof, is soon found out. There is nothing so valuable as a leader who has a reputation for honesty.
Leaders who are honest earn far greater respect; they are sought out, and they create loyalty in their spheres of influence.
Forgive and Forget – People make mistakes, decide on poor choices, and sometimes just goof. As a leader, how do you handle those situations? Do you condemn and ridicule or can you forgive and forget? I’ve written about grace becoming one instrument in a leader’s toolbox. The ability to forgive and forget is the totality achieved with the ability to give grace.
Be Kind Hearted – When you are dealing with people one-on-one and face-to-face, do you exhibit a personal warmth? Is there a kind heart that sparks that warmth that is palpable? This is a trait you can neither mask nor fake. Do you have the heart to be a leader?
In his book “The Heart of Leadership”, Mark Miller tells a story of a young businessman named Blake. Blake is struggling at work with his duties as a team leader. He seeks some counsel from a close family friend. I won’t tell all of the stories, but the core value comes down to this simple acrostic.
The initials stand for:
Hunger for wisdom – keep learning new and different things to improve yourself
Expect the best – set a high standard and maintain your expectations for it
Accept responsibility – stop the blame game, take your ownership seriously
Respond with courage – be bold with your decisions
Think others first – be willing to be more of a servant rather than a boss
Keep Your Promises – Expectations can make or break relationships. The promises we fulfill serve to grow trust, respect, and reliability. However, broken promises do the most harm. When you promise someone something then fail to deliver, there is a damaging break in the relationship. The next time a situation arises and you must make a promise, the person with whom you broke the last promise will be very skeptical.
Work Hard – Every “overnight success” I have ever met or read about worked tirelessly to achieve their status. The equation is really that simple; work hard and achieve or don’t work and flounder.
Lessons from ants have been taught since time memorial. From the proverb instructing us:
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest”
Then again in Aesop’s fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper, ants have appeared throughout our life stories (and on our dining tables!). (1)
Be Thankful – Giving thanks can do so much to lighten anyone’s load. To your work team, give them thanks and praise for the efforts they show. Give recognition when it is in your power to do so. Also, being thankful helps sustain the kind heart in #3. After all, how can you have a kind heart if you never recognize the good things that might be going on around you?
Research has linked gratitude with an increase in self-esteem, resiliency and overall life satisfaction. It can also help you build new friendships and strengthen the relationships you already have. “There are two processes at play here,” Acacia Parks, Ph.D, chief scientist at Happify, a website and mobile app that provides games and activities geared towards improving mental wellbeing, told CBS News. “The person expressing the gratitude is thinking about their gratitude more, so they themselves feel better and their gratitude is stronger. And it’s also good for the person receiving the gratitude because they feel appreciated and it makes them want to express the gratitude back.” (2)
Never Give Up – Persistence usually wins the day. Similar to working hard, being willing and able to forge ahead when all things are not going your way signifies a leader. Turning back or giving up when the first sign of resistance occurs will never get you through. You must stay strong; persevere.
As Sir Winston Churchill said in 1941 (before he was “Sir”) – “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” (3)
Love One Another – I find this principle to be the hardest. In our daily routines, it is easy to cross paths with people we find we just don’t like very much.
As a leader, you must seek to find ways to build love with those closest to you; the team, your tribe, your family, or your community. The power of love can overcome the worst of conditions. Great achievements come from the love and passion for being together, working a cause, and knowing you are loved.
Remember, having principle-based leadership is like setting a deep and strong foundation. The principles you choose to guide you will shape the character and substance of what you decide to do. In addition, operating from a solid core set of guiding principles will create for you a reputation of integrity and trust.
CALL TO ACTION
If you are wondering about your current career situation, I am offering a free career satisfaction survey. This quick and easy tool can show you if it’s time to make a change.
Tomorrow in the U.S. we will celebrate our annual Thanksgiving. It will be a time for families to gather to share a lot of food. The special recipes that have been handed down will be prepared, stories will be told (often getting embellished along the way), children will tear through rooms playing all sorts of games, a little football may get watched or at least will be droning on the screen somewhere, and there will be all around good times.
The spirit of the season, at least the way I was taught, was to stop for a moment and reflect on the people, things, and blessings that have been richly bestowed upon us. A time for genuine thanksgiving. regardless of how good or how hard the past year had been. There is always something for which we can give thanks.
That’s a mindset you may not see very often. Yet, some of the most successful people I know have made it a discipline in their lives to never forget about being thankful.
There is something about keeping a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness that keeps you grounded; keeps you centered. Leaders, real leaders, who rise to the “top” of their given field always have people around them for whom they should be thankful. As soon as you stop being thankful for the ones who help you accomplish things, well, I argue you have started to lose the title “leader”.
When someone on your team makes a contribution, there should be recognition and gratitude. You don’t have to overdo it. There doesn’t have to be a certificate or a plaque inscribed. But a simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way.
The same is true at home with your family. Are you thankful for those around you at home? Have you found the enjoyment in loving them, knowing them, and recognizing their contributions to your life? Be thankful.
To my readers
Having said the above, I want to be clear and say THANK YOU to all of you who spend a valuable moment of your day to read this blog. I am keenly aware of the competition for your attention.
I don’t always try to stay edgy or controversial. My intent is to be helpful and to serve. If my articles can cause you to ponder a thought for just a moment, perhaps to inspire a small change in your leadership style or life, then I am blessed.
This blog is not for my glory or fame. It is for YOU, the reader. My hope is that you find something in here somewhere that can give you a lift for the day. Maybe it will give you a shift for looking at things a different way. And maybe the topics we share here can help grow as a leader so that you can make a difference right where you are.
Have a great Thanksgiving. Please know that I am thankful for you.
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