Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Two boys left behind. Technologically speaking.

I have to chuckle when I hear people (parents in particular) tell me that not on boarding the technology bandwagon, will render our kids left behind. While I obviously agree there's a place for technology, my immediate (inside voice) response is left behind of what? The practice of being unsociable, the art of missing real world experiences for digital babble or missing beauty of this moment for the placation of a high score?

"But that's how they are connected these days". So....... we're back to 'everybody's doing it'?  

We have two boys, 12 & 14 who were 'left behind' the phone / device phase through public school. Our 14 year old still doesn't have a phone. He's got a touch and until such time he learns the responsibility of paying for his phone, he'll be touching away. Coincidentally, he's just made honors in 1st year high school so we'll continue to draw our own conclusions to the factors that did & did not contribute to this accomplishment. What we do know, is he uses his brain to learn & do things in his down time because we've removed the option of being instantly gratified.

Our youngest is as orange a personality profile gets and we identified that early. This means, given what he wanted (a device) we would have helped amplify his distraction when what he needed was/is support around being focused. They both get 2hrs max of screen time / day. This includes all recreational screen time; tv, computer & device for the eldest. Not only do we mandate two hours maximum, but we also follow through on it's implementation to the point where the boys now recognize (on their own) when they are finished.

What's amazing.... is not us. What's amazing is watching what they do (without prompting) when their screen time is over. They practice their sports, they play outside, they make up games, they focus on doing their homework and they use their brains to be creative. Amazing? Not really the right word. Duh, maybe.

I see & hear about similar personality type kids (with devices) doing poorly in school while their parents scratch their heads. I see & hear about sports teams where, the minute the coach leaves after the pre-game talk, the games come out. I've been on the bench during a game (rep tier) where kids are talking about the score of a video game they are playing over the score of the hockey game they are in. This is too bad because to a degree it's not their fault. Games are addictive, and by letting it go, we're inadvertently feeding the addiction.

We've recently implemented a house rule that visitors (their friends) must check their phones in with us when they come into the house. SUPER HARSH. "Dad, no one's going to want to come over and play anymore" to which I replied, "the people that are truly interested in YOU will still come over and PLAY". It's embarrassing to see how kids 'play' these days; huddle in front of a device, texting others while visiting. Connected? No, disconnected. 

So we'll ride out the tech bandwagon for as long as we can, take our lumps from not having our kids plugged in the hopes that one day, when the boys are knocking on the door for your daughters hand, applying for roles in your organization, or contributing in some way shape or form in your community, you'll have a pretty good idea of what you're getting while at the same time they have a pretty good idea of what you're expecting.

Parents. don't follow fads. Lead shit.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What is the purpose of coaching?

Researched this topic over the weekend, found this diagram and liked the relevance in defining the purpose of coaching. This subject matter's importance spans the gamut from kids, to students, athletes (by connection, parents), new, tenured & veteran part & full time employees to mentees & mentors. 

The purpose of coaching is to challenge the willing participant to move from their comfort zones into their learning zones.

Any coach, parent, manager, teacher, boss or mentor worth the designation they've received recognizes your current performance abilities but (unlike you, who may lack the knowledge, skill sets or experience at present)....... also recognizes your FULL POTENTIAL and challenges you to get there.

The process of challenging you to evolve from your performance zone into your learning zone is going to be uncomfortable but it is in this zone, where your willingness to expand your learning zone will ultimately determine your ability to achieve your true potential. Anyone being coached must understand this (in fact, it would be awesome if this was taught early and often in elementary school). As we've reiterated, personal & professional growth is 100% contingent on your willingness to embrace being challenged OUTSIDE of your comfort zone.

Understand the purpose of coaching. Be coachable!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

They are always watching & listening.

One of the more challenging things about being a parent is the uncertainty whether the example you're setting and the messages you're delivering are having a positive impact on the lives of your children. Most times you get passed off as being old, not with the times etc.
........sometimes, you get lucky.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Where is your magic happening?

Theoretically speaking, people get this quote. If you posted it on social media, it would have likes, re-tweets and +1's. Practically speaking, people don't understand a) this quote refers to themselves & b) isn't a once / life or year thing.

To get to the place where magic happens we need to put ourselves out of our comfort zones. This means we need to be vulnerable. However, our ego's are programmed to protect us from being vulnerable at all costs. We tell ourselves stories and then repeat & stick to those stories until they are engrained in our psychology. These stories normally containing adjectives & phrases explaining why not, can't, couldn't, won't and do very little to demonstrate magic.

What happens when someone else tries to help us reconfigure our story from a different lens? I've come across this numerous times managing people who suggest they welcome unfiltered feedback for the purpose of personal & professional development. This process is normally followed by;
  • denying, fighting & arguing the feedback  
  • blaming someone / something else
Conclusion: Comfort zone. No magic. 

I've also come across this through challenging people to explore outside of their physical & mental comfort zones. That process is normally followed by;
  • resisting, fighting & fearing the unknown
  • reluctantly go along with minimal investment (so if it doesn't work - we have a reason)
  • experience low & medium levels of success (based on the investment)  
  • reluctantly acknowledging, appreciating & reflecting on the journey / process (not owning it)
  • sprinting back to the proverbial comfort zone as fast as possible.
Conclusion: Comfort zone. No magic. 

The great part about getting outside our comfort zones is it is where the magic happens. That feeling of "I did it" and being on top of the world creates the opportunity for new, much more interesting stories. These should be the stories we aspire to recreate. These should be the stories that are told and retold.

Don't give excuses. Give reasons. Reasons to be where the magic happens.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Most success isn't based on luck.

“The Luck of the Irish” is an American phrase that comes from the days of the gold rush in the 1800s. Intolerant Americans figured the Irish people weren’t smart enough to find gold, and blamed their success on being lucky rather than skilled. In reality, America’s early immigrants have time and again proven themselves to be hardworking and smart enough to generate their own good fortune consistently.
So often I have witnessed people excuse their own inadequacies by crediting the success of others to luck. Salespeople I know disparage their more successful competitors as lucky. If those salespeople would make as many calls or work as many hours as their competitors, they would realize that their probability of closing is fairly equal. The competitors are simply swinging the bat more often.
The truth is that seemingly lucky people are opportunists. They do the things that allow them to take advantage of the world around them. For them, it’s not about being in the way of good luck or bad. It’s the actions they take to get what Jim Collins refers to as a high return on luck whichever way the pendulum swings. Follow these five tips and you can be as lucky as anyone, no four-leaf clover or rabbit’s foot required.

1. Play to your strengths. So much time and energy is wasted trying to do things you probably don’t do very well. Author and Inc. columnist Lewis Schiff learned from his survey of incredibly wealthy people that they got that way by focusing only on what they do best. Everything else you can delegate, or you could find a partner to compensate for your weaknesses. That way, you will shine where you excel and attract opportunity. Good things come to those who emanate success.

2. Prepare in advance. Unlucky people often get that way because they’re reactive and unprepared for whatever comes. People who have stored food and water in their basements aren’t lucky to find themselves prepared when disaster strikes, they used forethought to make sure they had what they might need just in case. I personally scoff at this horrible recent trend of disparaging business plans because things change constantly. The point of a business plan isn’t to follow it no matter what, it’s to establish a structure for smart decision making that allows you to succeed no matter what the future might bring.

3. Start early. Some people seem to have more hours in the day. I myself don’t need more than six hours of sleep and am constantly finding ways to be more efficient. I use that extra time to start my projects well in advance. My rewards aren’t dependent upon the time of day that I take action. (This column is being written at 3 a.m.) But it does matter that I’m beginning to explore projects I expect to complete months or years from now. So many people only want to put their energy into things that provide immediate gratification. The most fortunate people I know are the ones who planted seeds early and now reap that harvest of happiness.

4. Connect with as many people as possible. The key to success is access to opportunity. Access comes from influence. If you’re influential, people will come and bring opportunities to you. The bigger your following, the more powerful your influence. The only way to build a big following is to provide value to many people. You have to provide the sort of value that will cause people to spread your thoughts far and wide, attributing credit to you when they do. Are you creating that kind of value? If not, figure how you can.

5. Follow up. Opportunities often come and go because people don’t respond in a timely manner. I’m always amazed when people ask me for something and I respond only to never hear from them again. Three months ago, a young woman asked me if I hire interns or assistants. I replied immediately saying I’m always willing to consider hiring people who bring value to my work. I asked her how she thought she could enhance what I could do. I never heard from her again. Perhaps she now considers herself unlucky that opportunity doesn’t come her way. I believe that following up is often more powerful and impressive than the act of initiating. May you be so lucky to have people in your life that follow up.

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