Friday, May 30, 2008
The pimping actions we take as leaders is simple because it is not our son or daughter that we are offering for others indulgence; we instead are offering someone who through their own naiveté is trying to make an impression. Their thinking is that this person who is in charge of my professional fate within this particular organization would not ask me to do something that wasn’t in the best interests of the organization and in essence agree to “take one for the team”.
In our abuse of power we forget the simple rule of best practice in life, which states that personal relationships are what it is all about. The minute a leader looks at someone they are leading as expandable is the exact moment that you lose all credibility as a leader. Your job in leadership is to get the most out of your personnel first so that you can get the best out of your bottom line. Unfortunately for many employees, the bottom line takes precedence over their well being and their leaders ask them to perform actions that their leaders are unwilling to do themselves.
If you want to see successful leadership in action look no further than employee longevity, adherence, and satisfaction statistics. The leaders that have people stay under their wing for long periods of time, are supportive and believe in their leaders, and have job satisfaction are the leaders who place personnel above personal. This is an important fact to remember because without personnel you are nothing more than a leader of one, a rogue nomad who has neither the ability nor intelligence to see the faults in their own personal philosophy.
The minute personal takes over personnel you make the shift from leader to pimp. If you are looking for longevity in leadership than you better understand that it is as much about the relationship as it is about the bottom line. You can achieve success with the support from those that are willing to trust and support you a lot more efficiently than you can by acting alone.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Sometimes, even the most loyal of supporters - tend to call a spade a spade but either way, we have a question pertaining to the war on Iraq. (after all if Enron taught us anything it was to ASK WHY)
Why are we still there?
1st you told us it was because they had weapons of mass destruction.
We didn't find any aka: not there
2nd you told us it was because Saddam was a ruthless dictator.
We captured and killed him aka: no longer dictating
3rd you told us it was because Ossama was leading militant groups Al Queda
"He fled to Afghanistan" aka: not there
4th you drew the deck of cards / axis of evil analogy (very with the Hold Em - Austin powers times - nice spinning)
"We've captured and killed them too".
5th you mentioned something about "helping the country re-establish themselves".
They are broke and they try to shoot & or bomb us daily.
6th The guys YOU hired to tell these stories - quit and say we were misleading the public.
So are you going to tell us or are we left to draw our own conclusion as to why the single biggest fuck up of the 20th century took place and cost us over 4200 young boys lives, trillions of dollars and makes even the yes-men coalitions cringe?
Because... this isn't era where things stay quiet for as long as they did when we killed Kennedy.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Throughout my sporting and academic career I have worked with a number of different people in a variety of settings/atmospheres/age groups/genders/cultures, etc, etc…. What continues to baffle and surprise me is how people will continuously repeat the same behaviour to get to their goal, yet they continue to get the same results, and then do it all over again while expecting a different outcome. This just leads to people becoming extremely unhappy, discouraged, and shocked with their previous results, yet, they continue to think that if they just keep doing what they’re doing, things may change. As the saying goes; “If you continue to do what you have always done, you will continue to get what you have always gotten”
What it comes down to:
If you don’t like the result YOU receive, YOU have to change your approach
How do you get to your goals and see the results you want:
• Be Specific – Define your goals and aspirations
• Be Realistic – understanding how much time you have and all of your responsibilities. What is your priority
• Be Motivated
• Consistent and Persistent action – It’s not going to come to you, you have to go out and get it.
• Be Organized/Prepared – clear the clutter that surrounds you. Be structured.
• Be Prepared - Write a Personal/Action Plan
• Breaking it down into daily, weekly, monthly, yearly
• Involving all spheres of life – Social, Spirtual, Emotional, Physical, Intellectual and Financial
Understand that we are not going to be able to achieve all of our goals and the results we want to see on our first try every time. We will experience failure that is inevitable. It’s what we do with this experience that dictates whether we have learned from it and made the necessary changes to improve our chances of achieving it our next try.
If at first you don’t succeed try and try again…just making sure that you’re learning from your previous attempt
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Pamplona is like most other cities in Spain; the locals speak Spanish. Not shocking to me but worth noting.
I happened across an incidence that I see very nearly daily in varying concepts. While waiting for a bus a young man, obviously not from the area, walked over to what appeared to be a local and in English asked for directions.
"Where is the museum?" I heard him ask in a nice polite voice.
A distant look was all that returned to him. He asked again and this time he got a shrug of the shoulders with that same blank look.
Taking matters into his own hands this traveler slowed down his speach and increased the volume a notch.
Now our voiceless local was looking perplexed and possibly even a little scared. Why was this man yelling at him? His eyes opened wider, he shrugged again and responded in Spanish quite meekly. I can only suggest he was saying "I don't know what you are saying" but it could have been "stop yelling at me" for all I know of the Spanish language.
Once more the return from the bus traveler came and this time his voice was bellowing and the tone was of complete frustration.
"WHERE...IS...THE...MUSEAM?!!!" "Bloody fool, I'm trying to talk to you. What's wrong with you?"
Of course, he never received directions. He never quite made a connection with this local and he probably added to the stereotype of all entitled travelers that had come through that city.
This is not an isolated case of miscommunication. In fact it is all too familiar even when two parties are speaking the same language.
Yelling louder is not always the answer. Sometimes finding the right words to say have more of a dramatic affect on the result both parties want.
When someone doesn't understand what you are saying it is your responsibility to change how you deliver the message. Saying it louder never works.
Monday, May 26, 2008
By now you may have heard the "hot element" analogy...
it applies to leadership, coaching, parenting, basically- communicating. The basic premise is that no matter how well and no matter how many times you express not to touch a burning hot stove element (for example), basic human nature predicts that people will still go and touch the element.
Understanding this fundamental "I must try it myself before I know it to be true" credo of human nature is key for all leaders, especially if they don't want their great message to fall upon deaf ears (over and over again).
A manager who is not capable of real leadership will warn an employee about the hot element once, and then when they see the advice ignored, rush to get the ice and perform first aid...
In other words, they are busy putting out fires and rarely take time (they think they don't have any) to ask "how are the fires starting?" instead of putting them out all the time.
A great leader is someone who will talk about the hot element repeatedly and in different ways before you even get into the kitchen. They will explain that 90% of all people need to touch it to see what hot feels like, but don't be one of them- be exceptional and a fast learner! They will also explain that they will not enable such sheepish behaviour. They will then (in front of the employee) dump the ice cubes down the drain, and show the employee how to turn the hot element off; so that if employee A is foolhardy enough, they will learn to become a solutions provider so that employees B through Z don't all come back to the over-worked manager asking where the ice is kept.
The trick is simply understanding the trickle down effect each line of thinking (or reacting) has on your entire organization.
One method leads to lost productivity and learning one lesson at a time instead of connecting the dots; while the other leads to momentum, business speed and learning from multiple sources instead of the slow way always from the same manager always using the same medium.
Should you find yourself in a difficult people management situation (coaching, teaching, managing, parenting, or any other role), ask yourself...
Am I reaching for the ice? or pre-emptively showing how to turn off the element?
Friday, May 23, 2008
When learning to juggle the first thing you learn is to not throw the ball too high in the air. By throwing the ball at a manageable height, you have better control over the path of the ball, make an easier catch, and create a comfortable pace at which you are juggling.
Secondly you learn that when the first ball is at its peak, you begin to throw the second ball. This is done so that you have ample time to control the first ball securely in your hand before the second ball reaches its peak. In doing this you can comfortably initiate new action while the primary action is already on its path.
The next step is to control your surroundings. When learning to juggle, many people throw the ball too far forward, therefore having to cover a lot of ground without looking where you are going. If you are constantly moving while juggling, cut off your surroundings by getting close to a wall. This will allow you to control your throw so that it is straight up in the air, and you can do your work without wandering aimlessly.
The final step in juggling is to know that you will fail, the balls will hit the floor, and you will have to figure out a better way to accomplish your task. Failure is essential in succeeding when it comes to juggling. Through failure comes mastery which will set you up for new challenges. After dropping two balls several hundred times you will eventually get it and be able to move on to three, four, or to whatever your goal is.
In relation to life, we first need to understand that we cannot throw our goals too far in the air and bite off more than we can chew. If we can throw our goals out to a manageable height, we can better control its path, and create a better pace for success. If we are to juggle multiple ideas or projects, we first must be able to control one of them in order to take on others.
Our next step in juggling life is to allow one project to get to its peak before we launch another. By allowing one project to peak first, we have the ability to create new ideas with which we can invest the focus that is necessary to get it off the ground. The new action we are initiating has a better chance to succeed when we have a firm grasp on our primary project.
All of this needs to be done in a controlled environment. If we allow our surroundings or focus to have too large of a perimeter we are forced to chase from one idea to another without having the ability to cover that much ground. Controlling your environment means that you have to be able to see where you are moving because if you can’t see the ground you are walking on you are likely to stumble on the unknown.
Our final step in learning to juggle life is to know that we will fail many more times than we will succeed. More is learned through failure than success because you have to eventually think things through. When we allow ourselves to think about our actions we are far more likely to see opportunity, which leads to mastery and success. When success comes easily we tend to think that it will always be that way so we become careless and tend to expect what we don’t necessarily deserve.
When pursuing success you can expect more juggling in your life because you will be presented with more viable opportunities. If you try to juggle three things before you learn to juggle two, you will have missed essential steps in mastery. Without mastery there is no success, and without the hope of success we cut off any chance for opportunity. Juggling is an art, and whether you are juggling for leisure or life, the necessary steps are already in place for us to master.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
NO ROOM FOR EXCUSES
by Ron White
'The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.' You have heard it a million times. However, my guess is that you have never heard it from the mouth of the 'rich'. Instead, this echo has most likely bounced to your ear with its origins being an excuse. That is right...an excuse. Excuses are what many use to pacify their guilt of not accomplishing what they are capable of.
I am not suggesting that wealth is success. My inference is that success is the progressive realization of predetermined worthwhile goals. It may be something as simple as raising a family.
What do these names have in common?
They were all President of The United States, right? They were all the most powerful man in the world at one point. However, I am looking for something else...
Richard Nixon... Nixon was born in the home his father built. He won an award from Harvard his senior year of high school. However, his family was unable to afford his leaving home for college. He instead attended Whittier College.
Gerald Ford... Ford was born as Leslie Lynch King, Jr. In 1913 his mother left her abusive husband and took her son to live with her parents. She met Gerald R. Ford, whom she married and gave her child his name Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. He was the only President to be adopted. Ford worked in his stepfather's paint and varnish store growing up. He coached boxing during college to afford his tuition.
Jimmy Carter... He was the first member of his family ever to go to college and his father was a peanut farmer.
Ronald Reagan... Son of an alcoholic traveling shoe salesman. He worked his way into show business by broadcasting baseball games. At forty, he was divorced and his career was at a dead end.
Bill Clinton... Born William Jefferson Blythe IV, his father (a traveling salesmen) died in an automobile accident three months before he was born. His mother married Roger Clinton and Bill took that name. Clinton grew up in a turbulent family. His stepfather was a gambler and alcoholic who regularly abused his wife, and sometimes Clinton's half brother Roger.
None of these men were born into wealth and prosperity, yet they each achieved the rank of most powerful person in the world by working hard and not making excuses. That is 5 out of the last 7 Presidents or 71% of Presidents in the last generation born into normal families who struggled. Yet, they refused to use that as an excuse.
It is true that these men were healthy and had no physical handicaps. However, I encourage you to visit www.johnfoppe.com and watch his video. This speaker proves that there is no room for excuses, regardless of your lot in life.
Life is too short to make excuses. Set your goals and pursue them. If you have been dealt a 'worse' hand than another, it may indeed be a gift that teaches you the value of hard work. Your story will be richer and your success sweeter when you achieve your dreams. Maybe one day I will cast a vote for you as President of The United States!
Go for More!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Yesterday, I receive a phone call from a customer that was urgently looking for someone to go into their organization and do a presentation on living a healthy lifestyle and how to make the changes to do so. The corporation was in urgent need to find a presenter because someone from another organization (in the health and fitness industry) had bailed on them last minute.
Looking at the situation one could contemplate to take it on based on the fact that we had two hours to find someone (that could whip a presentation together, supply hand outs, and do a professional job at presenting the material) and have limited time to get to and from the offices in time for other appointments. However, one could also see the opportunity that lies in this situation and FIND a way to make it happen and take advantage of it.
AND that we did.
One of our teammates already knew he had a couple appointments cancel on him and therefore had 2 free hours (during a time that worked for this organization) and so he agreed to take advantage of this GREAT opportunity. He went on to delegate teammates to collect some previous printed and written materials on a similar topic & presentation, reviewed it quickly before he left, and showed up to the organization ready to rock - and he did just that!
Everyone won. Our company was introduced, well represented, and instantly gained additional credibility for coming up big last moment and at the end of the day the organization that was in need got what they were after...plus more.
When opportunity knocks (which happens more than people sometimes think...they just don't see the opportunity)...take advantage of it...that is the least you could do for all but most importantly for yourself!
And this is example is not to demonstrate that stepping in to help during crunch time is benefiting only the company. The benefits are a three-way street.
In this example, the person delivering the message learns and becomes a better public speaker, the company receiving the message is further educated and the company delivering the message is building it's credibility because of the education that is being provided and of course the last minute help.
So, whatever situation you are in & where ever you want to go, take advantage of the opportunities. If you don't see them, find them - they are there. Tackle an opportunity like it's your only one because when you maximize them, they will only get you further ahead. And at the end of the day, you just never know when the next time the sound of opportunity knocking will be at your door.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Make a huge promise: overdeliver.
The vast majority of us think that all we should do is show up [at our jobs, a function or even home], do a task, make some conversation and then everything in our lives will fall into place. the dream will unfold so to speak. We expect others to want to be in our presence. In a general sense, we want more than we are willing to put in.
"A huge promise" is the starting point of belief that you care. It is showing respect, doing what you say you will do every time, being on time, being different, being surprising, showing joy and real love, being consistent and all of that ties into others then believing and knowing how much you care about them. That is why people want to spend time with you. This is exactly what you want others to believe about you. In fact, the delusional already believe it without working towards it. We call those people egotistical.
The delusional believe they are great and spend more time telling people about themselves, more time talking and less listening, and for the most part they tell stories that are hard to believe. They create a story that is hard to connect with and even harder to deliver on. This marketer is not confident and will even occasionally try to create a boring story so nobody will want to pay attention to them. With them it is feast or famine. Watch me, watch me, unless of course there is something real on the line.
"Overdeliver" means to give more than you say you will, which becomes the secret to a great reputation and people wanting to talk about you and with you. It is the secret of word of mouth.
And if you think that this is a straight discussion about businesses then now is a good time to look in the mirror. We are all marketing ourselves with every move we make and every action we take.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Watched a great documentary last night on the Enron scandal. I shamefully admit, I didn’t fully understand the magnitude of this debacle until I made the time to sit down and learn.
After the show I turned to my friends with 4 revelations
1. how far things can go in the USA based on hype . (Best entertained & least informed – ten miles wide & one inch deep – and you keep making the same mistake)
2. how disgustingly greedy some of the pillars of corporate America have become.
3. how ignorant (remember, stupid is a naïve mistake twice and naïve is a mistake once – ignorant is making a stupid mistake) the general population chooses to be.
4. how we did this in Gr. 11 but called it a pyramid scheme. Eg: I gave $25 with the intention of getting $2000?
We noted all of the banks, accounting firms, legal firms, power plants, magazines, Wall Street (and the list goes on) who knew but didn’t say anything (because they profited) and one friend says - “well, I guess we won’t see anything like that again any time soon”.
Because if you didn’t understand the Enron “energy crisis”, you can learn it through the new version of the old scandal called the “housing crisis”… or perhaps you’ll clue into the “oil crisis” that has again gripped our nation pre summer (when we travel the most). Hype – hype – hype – with zero substance and fat cats laughing at us all the way to the bank. Think Kings & Peasants while you read about the disparity of our nation growing each year.
Are you ready to pony up to his majesty with your bag of coins?
Let’s check into the “housing crisis” Coles notes are as follows; banks happily loaned whatever amount borrowers wanted as long as the banks could then sell the loan, pushing the default risk onto (taxpayers) or onto buyers of mortgage-backed bonds.
Now that it has become clear that a trillion dollars (yes, that’s a large amount of money) in mortgage loans will not be repaid, taxpayers are under pressure not to buy risky loans and investors do not want mortgage-backed bonds. This means that the money available for mortgages is falling, and house prices will keep falling, probably for 5 years or more.
Does anyone think – hey a handful of ‘banks’ have been indicted in the two largest fraudulent scandals to hit our country in over a decade….. in the same decade? Does anyone notice we are about to merge into ‘one world’?
Anyways… solutions for all of the above are the following.
1. don’t spend what you don’t have. That’s straight off of Grandpa’s knee 101. There are 5 ways to make money win it, inherit it, marry it, steal it or work for it and only one of those is guaranteed to bring you any sort of self worth – WORK FOR IT.
2. if you buy what you can’t afford… and lose (stock / house etc) don’t throw your hands in the air – claim bankruptcy and think we’re feeling sorry for you because “someone said you could make a 5k mortgage payment on a 2k income” or “everyone in your office was going to be a millionaire”. Be embarrassed that you’re fucking stupid…. and lazy.
3. turn off that goddamn media outlet (tv / magazine / tvo etc) that keeps feeding you the bullshit about you deserving a better lifestyle without worrying. “Pay later – take a break – you inc. etc etc. In less democratic & sophisticated countries that ‘marketing’ has another name for it; PROPEGANDA.
4. gather all your friends and decide you are going to 1 gas station only (one that isn’t owned by the same company). what this will do is force a gas war where x station will have to drop their prices because y station did. Amazingly you will see this ‘fuel crisis’ was no more than a house crisis disguised as an energy crisis presenting like a Gr. 11 pyramid scheme who’s rule is as follows.
As long as there is an ample supply of idiots – there will be a demand for get-rich-quick schemes that leave them broke & whining about it.
Take responsibility for your personal due diligence!
Friday, May 16, 2008
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to see something to believe it. In fact seeing and believing go hand in hand when it comes to succeeding. Without sight we have no vision and without belief we have no goals. When we have one without the other we create self doubt, so you have to see and believe to succeed.
I know you have heard it before, but we are all perfectly designed to be exactly where we are in life. We have made the choices, created the motivation, and followed the ambition that has allowed us to get to where we are. If you are in an unfavorable position in life, it is your responsibility to change your choices, motivation, and ambition so that your design changes as well.
It is easy to see everything we want in life right in front of our faces and do nothing about it, to blame someone or something for holding us down, but the harsh reality of upward mobility in this society is that when we don’t move forward it is because of us, because of our lack of vision and belief.
Somewhere within our vision is an opportunity that will only come to fruition through our belief that it is possible. Accordingly, somewhere within our belief is the clarity to see things that will enhance our current circumstance. When vision and belief are muddied by our fears and doubts then we do not have the ability to move forward with the certainty it will take to overcome the challenges that we are sure to face.
If we can realistically evaluate our reality, trust in the potential we have to improve not only our surrounding, but ourselves as well, then will we create the vision and belief necessary to successfully create the design we believe we should possess. Success is not simple, but the traits and actions of those who are successful are time tested and true.
If you are to create a path for successful inner-personal design, look to believing in your visions and seeing what you believe, so that you can design the life you desire.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I would wager a very hefty sum that if you asked any kid how they'd like to be remembered, very few would answer "I wouldn't." Sometimes as adults we think kids say ridiculous things about their futures or the state of the world and what is possible.
But then again, some adults say some pretty ridiculous things too...
"I'd like to fly under the radar and not be noticed"
"I'm happy being comfortable and secure with less rather than taking risks"
"I'll just keep quiet- I don't want to offend anyone or stir the pot with my ideas"
...and then there are those less specific comments- the attitudes that...
a) life is hard and then you die
b) the go to school/get a job/get married/white picket fence approach works, even though you followed it and are miserable (ie you tried it & hated it but you pass this model onto others)
c) that dream/goal set/plan/execute/achieve/repeat is a pipe dream that only works for others
Let's remember something folks... no one remembers the armchair quarterback. Steve Young threw 5 interceptions in his first game as a starter at BYU University, then lived under the shadow of Joe Montana (arguably the best quarterback of all time). Somehow, through his leadership, making mistakes,learning from them, and moving on- he found a way to win his own Superbowls and is now in the Hall of Fame.
And finally- how many critics does Martin Luther King Junior have today? Today people say his death was tragic and that he was a visionary or even a saint. The fact is that his ideas were controversial enough that he was killed by a person of color; a person who he was trying to help but who feared reprimand in their daily lives because of the controversy of King's ideas at the time.
So many people look at Martin Luther King Junior and admire his courage and wish they could emulate it... but they forget that what may now be considered popularity or even legend status... was at one time different, awkward, and against the grain.
We all have our own ideas that can help a certain situation or even the world- so it is not a question of your ideas or your abilities. The question is...
Do YOU have the backbone to be remembered?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Last year there was a special on ESPN about the great Jim Brown (Cleveland Browns 1957-1956), who is widely considered the best running back, if not athlete of all time.
What impressed myself about the show was not so much his stats and highlights but more so the story of his preparation for each and every practice and game. What I took most from this special was his professionalism, his approach, his leadership, how he understood the mental aspect as well as understanding how those around him were effected by his actions.
Here is someone who was playing in the NFL when there was a minority of African-American players. So it's pretty fair to say that he dealt with racism far greater than we have ever seen, heard or experienced in our lives. Also, players back then were not set up on multi-million dollar contracts with insurance policy's to fall back on. Most players worked second jobs. Basically, if you got injured, tough luck!...and unlike today where you have Replay footage and heavy officating, player's dealt with being cleated, eyes gouged out, being speared after the play was finished, etc, etc....
Jim Brown understood that he was a gifted individual not only physically but mentally as well. The epsiode on Brown highlighted how he got up after each and every tackle the exact same way (taking 10-15 seconds to get up). Regardless if he slipped up or got nailed in the numbers, he would get up if it were the exact same as the previous play.
Brown did this so that no one around him, both his opponents and his own team mates would never know if he was hurt by the hit because he never changed his approach/reaction....therefore leading those to believe he was unbreakable.
Also, Brown never received treatment from the medical/training staff while any of his team mates or media were around. He would come 2 hours before every player arrived for practice to get treatments so that they would not know he was hurt or required any form of aid.
What I'm trying to get at is that we all have the ability to leave our baggage (because we all have things going on in our lives in some form or another) at the door to prevent attention being drawn to ourself in whatever work setting that we are in. This just leads to affecting your workplace, your customers experience, the energy and atmosphere all in a negative manner. There is a time and place for everything to be sorted and trying to do so when you're at work is detrimental to both your team and yourself.
Being a leader at any level, it starts with yourself and it trickles down to all of those around you whether it be a lack of energy one displays, a change in mood, crying, complaining, lack of work ethic, mediocre performance, etc, etc...
Making use of management in place to find solutions to your own personal situations during 1-0n-1 meetings, coffee's/lunch/dinners outside of your work place with friends or staff are all great avenues for people to handle one's situation properly.
Jim Brown could have been the star player who acted all dramatic when he was hit hard or could have informed everyone know the abuse he took both mentally and physically week in and week out during his illustrious career. However, he chose to go the other path of dealing with it in the proper manner where he still produced at an extraordinary level, leading all of those around him, winning championships and also still finding the right time to take care of the things that needed to be addressed.
We all have the same ability.
When we step into our work place and start off our day, it's time to leave our personal baggage at the door and take care of business.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Hard work is the old guard and yet we still haven't figured out it is still a factor. The new guard is both hard work and smart work, yet our culture thrives on blame and waiting for someone else to do the hard pulling.
If you want to achieve anything you must first decide what it is you want to do. If you want to achieve anything you must direct your thoughts and actions, in earnest, towards the goals you have created.
Looking out the window at a bright sunny day dreaming of a camping trip isn't going to make it happen. Putting it on the calendar will.
If the pretty poster with the sweet words gets you dreaming and nothing gets done, isn't the motivational concept working backwards.
Lives are meant to be lived not thought of.
Get busy living or get busy dying.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Have your ever wondered exaclty why people are the way they are? As leaders, we are often looking for ways to effectively manage our people and are often forced to ask ourselves:
- Why they don't trust?
- Why they fight feedback?
- Why they create drama?
- Why they have to seek others attention or approval?
- Why they keep to themselves?
- Why they aren't driven?
- Why they lack urgency?
- Why they lack confidence?
Well, the point here is that everyone has a story and the importance of that story is that it tells us the answers to all of the above. This is why it is so important that people take the time to open up and share it with others. By sharing your life experiences, you enable yourself to open up, be vulnerable, build trust and grow to new heights. Its funny actually, when people tell their story and aren't judged or looked at differently, they wonder what they were waiting for or were so scared about in the first place. It is usually a major sense of release when it is let out.
The unfortunate thing is that so many people live their entire lives without sharing their story, without dealing with their past, without really getting to the bottom of who they really are. Why is that? Is is because of insecurities and being worried about what others would think? Is it because the thought of letting it out is too scary? Is it because they have never been asked or encouraged to share it?
Do you know how many successful people have written a book about their lives and most memorable experiences? Tons, and a lot of them have had major adversity that they had to overcome to get to the level they are now at. It is inspiring to see the positive changes and reinforces the power of writing and sharing your story.
As leaders we need to know this information so we can learn how to effectively manage people. We need to know how to approach situations and effectively communicate to either get the response or reaction we are looking for and to ensure that person is continuously growing personally and professionally.
Here are some areas to look for when listening to or reading people's stories that may help to figure out "why":
- What was their relationship like with their parents?
- What were their most influential moments (good or bad)?
- What types of opportunities did they have growing up?
- Where did they grow up (small town, city)?
- What were their relationships like with their significant others, siblings, etc?
- What culture did they grow up in?
My challenge (after writing and sharing yours) is to ask your family, friends, co-workers, staff, etc to write their story. Challenge them to share it with others and take the time to sit down and talk about it with them. You will be amazed at how much you will learn and how much your trust-based relationship will grow with that person.
Friday, May 09, 2008
The purpose of goal setting is to help us maintain achievement motivation, to keep us on the path to large success by experiencing small successes. When done correctly we realistically know exactly where we are at, where we want to be, and how we plan to get there. What this creates is a gap between where we are and where we eventually will be; essentially we are creating an achievement gap. This achievement gap is filled over time through our ability to create successes that keep us on the right path and with an awareness that brings us back to our path when we get sidetracked or experience failure.
Ultimately our ability to fill the space between where our reality dictates we are and what we are trying to achieve is directly related to the size of our achievement gap. If we are able to keep the achievement gap within striking distance we will eventually see that the hard work we are putting into our goals is paying off, associate positively with our effort, and narrow the gap until we experience our ultimate success. When this is accomplished we look to new challenges and set our sights to new standards.
Within our achievement gap is potential for disaster and we unconsciously turn our achievement gap into a disappointment gap. Crossing the fine line in gaps between achievement and disappointment is done in two ways; 1) by setting our sights beyond our skill set, and 2) by continually pushing the gap further away and never letting ourselves experience ultimate success.
When we set our goals beyond our skill set we continually keep our nose out of the water but don’t gain distance between our current situation and where we are trying to get to. Instead of experiencing small successes and seeing that our journey is coming to a close, we lose the ability to work smart and instead just push harder trying to force something that is unavailable. Over time our achievement gap is filled with disappointment and frustration, ultimately leading to our unwillingness to continue on.
More common but less obvious is when we begin to successfully move through our achievement gap, but readjust and create new end goals. In doing this we never complete our goals, we never feel the satisfaction of ultimate achievement, and we never have time to appreciate our journey because we never come in contact with an end point. Because our chase is eternal, we at some point are faced with the real fact that our goals are not getting any closer, in fact they keep getting pushed further away from us. We fail to recognize what we are doing because we are constantly trying to achieve, therefore we feel like we are making forward progress. The fact is that we are making progress, but we are also pushing our gap from achievement into disappointment.
When we create a disappointment gap we lose the ability to feel success and lose motivation because the need to achieve is replaced with the disappointment of not achieving. Success is dependant on feeling successful, on experiencing the ego rush of accomplishment, and when we create an environment that makes this impossible, we have no choice but to feel disappointed in our efforts.
As we move forward in our lives and look to create a better self, it is imperative that we keep the gap between reality and hope an achievement gap. Once we create a disappointment gap we will struggle to not only find out what is happening, but we will not find a favorable journey once we meet our reality.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
How To Deal With Adversity
1. Purpose. If you are fighting the battle of one vs many, and have no good reason why- it's just a bad idea. The purpose should define the fight and may even define your life (ie making sacrifices and taking on more suffering to be a great role model and parent and protect your kids from harm)
2. Perspective. As you will read below (in Plan), often we don't know where or when adversity will strike. We also often have trouble in real time understanding the potential benefit from situations that cause us so much pain. The trick is to never victimize, asking "why me?" You must be able to take the...
3. Positive. There has to be some good inherent to the struggle. If you are fighting the good fight and doing so for the right reasons (see below), there HAS TO be some good to come of it. If not, bad idea and you are chasing the wrong purpose or following the wrong...
4. Principles. Positivity and perspective can take you to your purpose, but that purpose may be shaky, or the choices you make along the way may divert you from the path unless you have a set of fundamentals upon which to base your decisions. Whether these are religious, legal, family value, or personally based, you need to come back to laws that help you make decisions that you believe to be universal.
5. Plan. If you fail to plan you plan to fail. All the purpose and fight and relentlessness in the world may not take you where you want to go if you don't reverse-engineer your journey. What does your purpose look like? What does it involve? What do you have to do to get from where you are right now to where you feel you need to be? Your answer is a series of steps and processes that each need a date, strategy, and accountability built in to ensure you are always making...
6. Progress. Review where you are in relation to where you need on a regular (ie monthly or quarterly) basis to make sure you are taking those steps you planned.
7. Push! When you have a plan, a positive attitude, perspective, purpose, and all the rest- remember- we are taking about dealing with adversity and not licking a postage stamp. Sometimes you just have to suck it up in the short term for long term gain.
8. Percentage: When you want to better your lot in life, the surest measure of where you'll end up is in consistency of effort rather than the amount of a single push. Hit a high percentage of what you planned on doing as a habit and you'll push through crummy situations a lot faster than if you try really hard once then quit.
9. Prepare. When you make it through one tough situation, don't breathe too deep a sigh of relief- another adverse situation is on the way- that's life. Even more importantly, when you know a busy time of year or a really tough time lies ahead, the planning and mental fortitude you can bring to the table AHEAD OF TIME saves a lot of grunt work and exhaustion after the fact.
10. Pass it on. Think these principles were invented by the swim upstream team? That's the whole premise of the book/ DVD "The Secret"- it's not supposed to be a secret. Pass on your lessons and offer up any advice for others who are going through a situation you've faced. Pass it on, but don't preach.
Perhaps the Public has Plenty more Power P's to get us through Painful situations, but in the meantime, there's 10 tips to help you remove YOU from the obstacles you'll face in your life.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
if we took a peek around our planet we’d find that amongst the good things… some not so good things. things like a food production crisis(s), water shortage(s), fuel shortage(s), raw material shortage(s) sprinkled amongst war(s), genocide(s), oppression(s), and natural disaster(s). like an unstoppable virus, the earth’s most intelligent species seems very well educated on what’s happening and why it’s happening but falls mysteriously (yet consistently short) on doing something to reverse the tides.
“but what can I do” we ask… thinking this is a call to quit our jobs and take up politics & protesting. it’s not and here are examples of some of the things we’ve done that you can do too.
1. recycle. there’s no reason to throw paper, cans or bottles in the garbage. our friend brought this to our attention awhile back and since then our garbage has been less volume than our recycling. feels good – but more importantly it makes sense.
2. turn off things when we don’t need them. over time, we’ve done a better at making sure lights are off in rooms we aren’t in as well as times of the day where we can use natural light. over 90 days, our electricity and heating bills have gone down approx $100. we have many things we can do with that $100 – but more importantly it makes sense.
3. 4 shopping bags instead of 24. finally, we got used to the habit of bringing our grocery bags to the store instead of getting plastic product that doesn’t decompose and decorates our landfill with that 3rd world look. it’s not super “convenient” – but more importantly it makes sense.
4. walk and bike the odd time we would have driven. our kids love it. it makes getting a treat well earned for everyone. it may not be as fast – but more importantly it makes sense.
5. share your thoughts. awhile back we decided we would share our opinions and solutions with others. we were now doing something with our perspectives instead of internalizing them or keeping our strategies to us. we’re not going to change the world in one day – but more importantly some of the suggestions make sense.
6. create a community. it doesn’t have to start with 100 people. doesn’t have to be 50 or 20. it doesn’t even need to be 5 but you can begin creating a community with one person. we did. 1996 Innovative Fitness British Columbia with 1 person and a vision; global health & fitness community. you don’t have to create the corporate behemoth – just something positive that makes sense.
7. give back to your community. different from creating yours. find a way to DO in your own back yard whether it’s a donation to those less fortunate, coaching a team or cleaning up your park.. the long term effects of taking care of things we all need, use and depend on make taking action make a lot of sense.
now these are but 7 ideas we’ve come up with and there are probably hundreds more. at the end of the day, these ideas [alone] will not bring about the radical change we desperately need to alter the course of our very tough future but they are an example, a start and they make sense.
so tell us barb, meyrick, cheryl, kari, glen, kim, jan, tracey and all you other brilliant like minded thinkers – what’s your part? leave a comment on what you do that makes sense and we’ll share your ideas (because twice the beauty is seen…. when shared!)
Monday, May 05, 2008
"Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do."
- - Don Galer
What we do:
- It is how you show yourself. Your body language and how you operate.
- It is how and why you say things. It is a measure of exactly what it is you stand for and what exactly comes from your mouth.
- Do the actions stand up to the words? Is there tangible evidence of acting how you sound like you want others to act. Do we really walk the walk?
Do you have the integrity to stand behind your faults? Change happens when you can find the answer to that question.
As leaders in our industry, we have all heard about the importance and have experienced the benefits of a "to do" list. These lists are great for enabling us to focus on taking action and the getting our desired results day in and day out. However, the problem is that great leadership is more than just getting results. Great leadership requires us to act and lead others first by showing them who we really are to develop a trust-based relationship. The more people we intend to lead, the more time we need to develop a foundation of integrity along with sharing our character to inspire and motivate others to trust us which in turn will help them have the confidence to motivate others.
Yes, it is important to have a weekly "to do" list but have you ever thought of putting together a weekly "to be" list as well? Just like the action in producing results, the "to be" list allows us to focus and reflect on how we intend (ed) to be each week. Here are a few examples that can be used for each day / week / month: "I am going to encourage others to be better than I am", "I am going to be accountable to holding others accountable" or "I am going to tell it like it is and give the straight goods".
What will your "to be" list be for this week?
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Often in business, we see the “cheerleaders” separate themselves from the “administrators”, the “visionaries” from the “worker bees” and everyone has a commentary on why they would never want to be like him / her or them. What they are missing is the fact each one of these types are integral and necessary to field the optimal team.
1. Visionaries – those who see what’s not visible. their role is to anticipate & prepare for things that have not even come to fruition yet.
2. Administrators – are those who have the dubious task of quantifying what’s often a very qualified set of criterion (from the visionary) through systems, procedures and practices that make financial sense. they organize.
3. Implementers – are those who have the specific roles of carrying out the vision & the administration in a manner which meets the desired outcome for all parties. they execute.
Interesting point of the aforementioned is that no one position is more or less important than they other. In fact, they are very dependent & intertwined.
Within the context of these primary roles we have the specific traits and there are many classifications eg. the driver, the analyzer, the planner, the cheerleader, the critic who lead through what’s been defined as being open or controlled, assertive or passive, green, blue, orange, yellow approaches. Fact is, social science as the classifications down to an art in the vein of trying to show people who they are, so they stop trying to be who they aren’t.
The important take away is this.
1. you don’t win baseball games by fielding teams with pitchers playing every position.
2. you don’t maximize your potential for business success by surrounding yourself with a group of cheerleaders who have great intentions – but no vision or administration. and
3. you don’t challenge, learn or get he most from your life by surrounding yourself with ‘yes’ people who think and act exactly like you.
Although it’s comforting, easy and at times very rewarding, it is not progressive and there are infinitely more examples of failure through this model than success.
Understand the required roles. understand your role. support all roles while giving 100%. that’s how teams win championships & businesses achieve success.
Friday, May 02, 2008
In our lives we are constantly surrounded by naysayer’s who tell us what we cannot do, who tell us what is impossible, and who put limits on our ability. More times than not we also begin to believe that we have limitations and begin to process what others are telling us as our personal truth.
When surrounded by people telling us what our impossible is, we are faced with three choices, 1) believe what our external environment is saying and give up on our dreams, 2) push on with our goal in order to prove others wrong and emotionally push harder to spite the naysayer’s, or 3) internally motivate ourselves to be extraordinary and methodically plan out how we will excel and break through our barriers.
If we are to break down barriers we need to understand that using methods 1 and 2 will not lead to empowerment. By giving in and backing off of our dreams we become victims to our environment and we can always say that I didn’t achieve because everyone said I couldn’t. When we push forward in spite of others and succeed, it was done for reasons outside of ourselves, robbing us of the empowerment you gain by doing something for you because of you.
If we are able to break through our personal barriers on our terms, according to our timeline, then we are faced with an accomplishment that we can solely credit to our hard work and overcoming adversity. What this provides us that the other two decisions do not, is the belief in ourselves that we are better than any situation that we face, therefore we can overcome any obstacle not only with assistance, but more importantly, without it. If we are able to do this then we have the ability to create a pathway for future success, both personal as well as for others who wish to follow us. Essentially when we break down barriers through internal progress, we become leaders.
What once was thought of as impossible for decades was repeated only 46 days after Roger Bannister did the unthinkable. John Landy broke Bannister’s mile record. A couple of months later there was a race where 5 runners ran sub four-minute miles. Today, sub four-minute miles are common in elite milers. Roger Bannister, in his own personal quest to break down the greatest sports barrier of his time, paved the way for every runner who followed him by allowing them to understand that even the impossible is possible, a message we should all adhere to when faced with a barrier.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
After a furnace breakdown on a Sunday of all days, this swim-upstreamer had to call a furnace repair service that made house calls on Sundays to fix the problem. The service was relatively timely, and the repair technician was knowledgeable and (luckily enough) had exactly the part he needed to fix the furnace in his truck.
Not a great story so far. Where this story gets interesting is in the 'after the service' service. The repairman charged $90 for labour and was at the house a total of 15 to 20 minutes... possibly steep but possibly fair. The kicker is that the replacement part cost $319. After some research, this exact part could be purchased for $56.
So the swim upstreamer (as swim upstreamers do) took it upon themselves to call the repair person back and inquire as to the large mark up. They were met with "can't I turn a profit?" "How much profit do you think is fair for a company to make?" and the real winner...
"You know, for every 3 people like you who call and complain about the service- I have 97 in line to take their place".
How is THAT for customer service?
Well the entertaining end to this frustrating tale is that instead of stressing or passing on negativity to others who don't deserve it, this insightful human being took the following action;
- through research determined that this company had no website
- purchased their URL for less than the furnace part cost (less than $56)
- wrote the story and quoted the company owner ver betum on the site
- installed a site tracker to show the owner how many people are seeing this message
- and is willing to sell the URL to the company owner for... you guessed it- $319!
Let this be a reassurance to us all- we have a choice as consumers as to where we will shop and from whom; and we have rights as consumers that we do not have to forgo simply because there is a shortage of certain services in this labor market.
Let it also remind us all that for both the right reasons and the wrong reasons, one person really can make a BIG difference: hopefully you are inspiring people to do so through positivity and not through revenge.