An Independence Day Reminder

Getting things done correctly and on time is a daily challenge in today’s fast paced working world. Lack of time and resources, more responsibility, higher performance demands, restructuring, and job changes have fundamentally changed the way work is completed. Based on real world experience, along with a variety of research, it is obvious the majority of workers today are depending more and more on others to help them complete their work. Or they should be! Often these are individuals with whom you do not share the same goals and might not have any authority over.
Can you think of someone who didn’t have to help you with your workload but did so anyway? Ever wonder why the heck they decided to help you? Is it because they already knew you? Or is it perhaps because you had helped them in some way in the past? Maybe they did so just because you had developed a personal connection with this person based on some things as simple as mutual respect, common interests, and shared values?
The bottom line is, better working relationships help us do our jobs more effectively, with less effort and less stress. Always a good thing! I have said it many times and it holds true today more than ever, people generally like to help other people. Especially those they have gotten to know better, genuinely like, trust and also know they can count on you. Those that don’t just make it all about them. People are willing to help others who they know, like, and connect with, especially if the relationship is one of give-and-take. Knowing how and with whom to build these “strategic” relationships is an important part of any job and requires special skills.
Strategic working relationships can help you in a variety of ways. It can help you get assistance when you need it, often without even asking. Important information is often needed to complete a task or project and these same relationships can help ensure you get what you need, in a timely fashion. That in turn can help avoid problems that might occur otherwise. These same relationships can help provide you with an invaluable support network, as well as a sounding board and second opinion, when needed. And last but not least, building these more effective, strategic relationships can help us all have more FUN while achieving our goals and advancing and enhancing our careers.
Building strategic working relationships is often mistakenly labeled as not being genuine. Or it can be seen as using others for your own gain. It is NOT! Perhaps it is the use of the term “strategic”. It doesn’t mean just being nice to others. And it’s not purely about using others to benefit you and your goals. The KEY objectives of building better, strategic relationships at work are to:
  • Focus on and develop solid, long-term working relationships with people you count on to help you get your job done.
  • Taking the time to proactively build these relationships
  • Collaborating so that BOTH parties achieve their work goals. A win-win outcome!
 
 QUICK TIPS FOR SUCCESS
  • *Send thank you notes (hand-written preferred!!) to those who have helped you.
  • *Make sure that the appropriate managers(unless that is you)know when one of their staff has helped you. Catch ’em doing something right today as I always say.
  • *Offer to help someone as least 1X per week.
  • *Be extremely aware and in tune with the need to pass along any and all needed information. Better too much than too little.
  •  *Here’s an important and often uncomfortable tip. Try it, it works over time when genuine and real. Identify the person you LEAST like working with and compliment them on something they have done. One Minute Manager praisings work well here!
  • *Be conscious of using casual work settings such as the elevator, break room, lunch area, etc. to introduce yourself to someone who could help you achieve your goals. Not always easy and comfortable, but it can pay big dividends for both of you, in many ways. If you struggle with small talk, chatting it up a bit, being proactive in this way I might suggest finding a book called “The Fine Art of Small Talk”, by Debra Fine. It has a lot of lists, tips and choices on how to break the ice and get to know people a bit better no matter your introversion or extroversion.
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Leaders and successful people, consciously or unconsciously, have learned you “can’t go it alone”. The power of working with others, building better relationships at work, making it not just about you but also about them makes life much easier. And it can certainly help your career and the level of success you achieve! Soooo…on this upcoming Independence Day, stop being TOO independent! It will make life at work and away much more enjoyable!
Have a happy and safe 4th of July Everyone!!!
Dave

Memorial Day Lessons

Every Memorial Day weekend, since the movie Saving Private Ryan first came out, I have made it a habit to watch it again. Since the first time I viewed it, I became more aware of the price men and women past and present, have paid to help ensure our freedom we enjoy today. From the opening scenes on Omaha Beach to the closing scene with Private Ryan visiting the cemetery with his family to pay his respects to his leader, the late Captain John Miller, I was more aware and moved than anything I had scene before. But I also could not help but notice some recurring themes of what makes great leaders from some of the most ordinary, normal and humble men.
Seven Things to Remember and Emulate from Saving Private Ryan
  1. Lead By Example – The absolute best leaders are those that never ask someone on their team to do something they themselves would not be willing to do. Capt. Miller exemplified that by charging ahead into the artillery fire and bombardment of the beach, just like he needed and expected his men to do. And follow his lead they did indeed, no matter the fear they were feeling.
  2. Honesty is THE Best Policy – The classic example of that would be when Capt. Miller diffused a highly combustible situation among his own men over whether or not to release the German soldier just captured. How? He revealed his true self. He was genuine, authentic and open. A real person just like them. It worked.
  3. Sometimes We Just Have to Follow The Mission – There were several instances where, despite a potential lack of confidence or belief in their mission, the Captain never showed that to his team. The wrong words and actions as a leader can destroy a mission in no time. Remember, when the leader, all eyes are on you. Always.
  4. Establish Authority and Create Purpose – One key lesson shown over and over again is that every member on the team has a role and a purpose, no matter how many stripes they have on their shoulder. All are equal partners and cogs in the wheel. Without this, they have no chance of successfully completing their mission.
  5. Learn From Your Mistakes- An old saying goes that if you are not making mistakes, you’re not really trying hard enough. The whole key, as exemplified in the movie, is to analyze and learn from your mistakes so as not to repeat them and to have more success in the same scenario down the road.
  6. Leaders Exist at ALL Levels – Every member of that team exhibited leadership through their own actions and/or words. Each with their own style, but all with a common goal of completing the task at hand, as a team.
  7. Leaders are GREAT Listeners – Many people that fancy themselves as leaders think THEY have to have all the answers. Great leaders, especially Capt. John Miller, were not afraid to seek counsel, ask for feedback, suggestions, or ideas. Great leaders not only ask, they then listen, process and take action from that.
Personally, despite the violence, blood and guts shown in the movie I wish every school kid in the USA, at a certain age, was made to watch this movie as a part of their curriculum. It certainly drives home many lessons I think get forgotten all too often today. And it COULD help to also spark some great leaders of tomorrow. I know every time I watch it I am moved to tears at the end. It makes me contemplate and appreciate even more all the things that I have today and all too often take for granted. Thanks to some great leaders in our past.

Keeping THE Most Important Customers Happy

The role of recognition and recognizing employees has been significantly under-appreciated as an important driver of business success, profitability, and performance in most organizations.
According to most of the research, 99.4 percent of today’s employees expect to be recognized when they do good work, while other research has found that only 12 percent of employees strongly agree that they are consistently recognized in ways that are important to them and nearly three times as many (34 percent) disagree or strongly disagree that they are recognized in ways that are meaningful to them.

Additional findings on employees that DO receive employee recognition in their workplace:
–          5 times more likely to feel valued
–          6 times more likely to invest in the company
–          7 times more likely to stay with the company
–          11 times more likely to feel completely committed
Towers Perrin conducted some research that showed committed employees deliver 57 percent more effort than uncommitted ones.  It has also become clear in recent years that there is a definite link between employee recognition and employee engagement, satisfaction and loyalty. Employee Recognition is a hugely significant driver in the employee engagement, customer satisfaction, profitability equation. The end result is enhanced bottom-line success for the organization.
In a study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board , it was clear that recognition was one of the top methods for increasing employee retention. And in a study by Towers Perrin, in 2008, “…companies with high employee engagement had a 19% increase in operating income and a 28% increase in earnings per share. In contrast, companies with poor employee engagement scores had declining operating incomes and an 11% drop in earnings per share.”
Based on all these research findings, it is obvious that internal employee engagement directly impacts the external customer experience and their relationships.  Without true employee engagement, satisfaction and loyalty, much of what is invested in the customer experience is wasted.
The numbers cited in these studies have only become bigger and more important today!
The most common recognition areas are:
  • Years of service – 58 percent
  • Going above and beyond with an unexpected work project – 48 percent
  • Successful performance relating to the organizational financial bottom-line -43 percent
  • Exemplary behavior that represents organizational values – 37 percent
  • Completion of regular work projects with high-quality results – 9 percent
  • Completion of regular work projects at a pace faster than usual – 2 percent
HOW to recognize these events, accomplishments and positive results???? Go to the internet! Check it out! There are tons of ways to do this. Or call, write, text me with questions and interest in this area. I can guarantee you that some keys to success are 1) make the recognition time sensitive whenever possible 2) words and handshake come first, followed by e-mails as a backup plan not the lead action 3) old-fashioned, hand written thank you’s, “attaboys/girls”…in other words one minute praisings in writing that are real, genuine, specific and earned. There’s waaay more. Go find all the ideas available to you!
Here is Exhibit A of what I am talking about, just received by me, the new external customer for a dentist office here in CO. Who does this anymore?? Not many! And, why can’t you do this for your employees and co-workers? Just think what would happen if there was a little of this injected into the workplace!
I hope you enjoyed this issue and found something you can put to use to boost your employee engagement and organizational success. The best employee recognition programs cost your company nothing to practically nothing in real dollars. But if done consistently, you’ll be reaping MUCH in increased productivity, employee retention, customer satisfaction and better bottom line results!

There Are NO EXCUSES

job performance coaching
In my travels, especially this new year of 2018, I continue to have the pleasure of meeting people who exhibit what I consider a critical quality to life and work/career. There are tons of attributes, key characteristics, behaviors that help people succeed and overcome challenges. But the one that seems common in both the “regular folks” and those who seem to overachieve is PERSISTENCE. They may or may not see the challenge facing them, but between attitude, focus and an ability to not give up and drive towards their goal….they get there.
This month, I am revisiting one of my all time favorite stories exemplifying all of that and more, much more. And this time we will bring you up to speed on where that inspirational person is today. First written about a little over two years ago, this story is even more amazing today!
So, without further delay, let’s learn all about the “NO EXCUSES” approach to life from one of the best, Isaiah Bird.
No Excuses
Isaiah’s life is far from the norm for most if not all of us for a variety of reasons. He was born with a birth defect that resulted in his being born with no legs. In addition to that, he was being raised in far from ideal circumstances. His father has been in prison a large amount of the time and his parents have actually been involved in domestic violence against each other. He lives the majority of the time now in a church homeless shelter in Glen Cove, NY with his mother and younger brother. Based on that, his age and his physical challenges one might think Isaiah is doomed to a very difficult life. Keep reading!
Luckily for Isaiah a guardian angel came into his life at school. Miguel Rodgriguez, a classroom aid who also functions as a wrestling coach, took Isaiah under his wing. During the wrestling season, Isaiah stays 5-6 days a week with Rodriguez, his girlfriend, Miguel’s own son (Elijah) and his mother. Miguel himself came from Venezuela to the US back in 1997, with practically nothing and very few prospects for success. According to Miguel, wrestling saved his life. He now is doing his part to provide a platform for Isaiah and his mother to achieve their own level of success.
Rodriguez has been the coach of the Long Beach NY Gladiators for a number of years. They are a competitive youth wrestling club with a long history of success in New York State wrestling. Just as a trial to see how he would do, Miguel took Isaiah to practice with him one day. Flash forward just two short years later. Isaiah Bird, the boy with no legs, a rocky home life, no real father and limited prospects has become one of the best wrestlers in his age group for the entire state of New York. According to his coach and others, when he first started wrestling “He was cute. Now he IS the competition. He is the guy to beat.” Wow. Does he always win? No. But most of the time he does. And his attitude is exemplified in this quote from Isaiah. “I always try my best. It’s okay if you don’t win, because we go out there, shake hands, say ‘good job’ and that’s it.” But the biggest thing that jumped out from both Isaiah and his coach/mentor/father figure Miguel was the constant phrase “No excuses”.
Bird is now 9 years old and still is a competitive wrestler two+ years later. In fact, his record last year(2017) was 27-12. That alone amazes me. And Rodriguez is still Isaiah’s coach and teacher’s assistant, as he has been since the young competitor born with no legs was 5 years old.
When asked about his success, Bird says that he just keeps pushing on to be the best he can.
“[I say:] ‘I can do this. There’s no excuses. I can do this.’ And I just do it,” Bird told ABC News “And I keep practicing and practicing. If I, one day I get pinned … I go back to practicing and practicing and I get better and better and better.”
And Isaiah doesn’t limit himself to wrestling, either. He has many other activities he enjoys despite his seeming disadvantage of having no legs. Here’s a snippet from one of his many interviews, this one from the BBC. Check it out!
For such a very young man from a very troubling environment, Isaiah seems to have somehow figured some things out that many adults struggle with. In the telling of his story to numerous media outlets over the past 4+ years, Isaiah has clearly and consistently stated he wants to go to college, teach, have children of his own and spend his life teaching & coaching kids less fortunate.
Obviously, people do and have looked at him and felt bad, but clearly Isaiah feels much the opposite. I don’t know about you but I found it very inspirational. In closing, here is my favorite quote from our star and role model this month.  I just love this little guy and his message.
“My name is Isaiah Bird.   I have no legs, but that’s okay, because God made me that way. I’m a Gladiator, and there are no excuses.”

One Thing – What Successful People Have in Common

Welcome to the end of March and the approaching Easter weekend! And thank you to all who took the time to respond and reply with some great feedback on last month’s newsletter. Glad you enjoyed it! This month, let’s build on the fundamentals outlined in February’s newsletter on lessons from Olympians.
I have always found it motivational, inspirational and educational to hear the stories of others, some famous and some not so famous. So many times we think there is some “magic” to their success, but most times what we discover is what we actually have in common with them.
The number one thing that repeatedly comes up is the ability to overcome obstacles. Through whatever factors come into play for each of us, determination, resilience, toughness, focus on the end goal, the ability to adapt and the drive to never give up are attributes MANY people famous AND not so famous exhibit. I’m sure we all have examples of people who fit into this. So can you!
Here are a few names of the more well known you may be aware of that exemplify this.
Bill Gates – Yes, Bill Gates, perhaps the richest person in the whole world, experienced failure right out of the gate. His very first company, Traf-O-Data (a device which could read traffic tapes and process the data), was a complete failure. So the story goes, when Gates and his partner, Paul Allen, went out to try and sell it, the product wouldn’t even work. Did they let that stop them?? NO. Gates and Allen did not let that deter them from continuing to try, again and again. Gates partner, Paul Allen, has often said: “Even though Traf-O-Data wasn’t a roaring success, it was seminal in preparing us to make Microsoft’s first product a couple of years later.” In other words, through determination and overcoming obstacles, this failure helped them to become hugely successful!
Jim Carrey – While certainly not everyone’s “cup of tea”, there is no denying that Jim Carrey has become one of the more recognizable names in comedy and comedic acting. And he is hugely successful as a result of overcoming his own obstacles. When Carrey was 15 his family was so poor, he had to drop out of high school to help support them. To quote Carrey, “We went from middle class to poor”, eventually living, as a family, in a van. He did not let this stop him from achieving his dream of becoming a comedian.
Bethany Hamilton – WHO is Bethany Hamilton you might be asking yourself?? Once I begin to describe her you’ll most likely remember immediately. Bethany Hamilton had her arm bitten off by a shark, at age 13, on the North shore of Kauai. Not just a little shark, it was a 14-15 foot tiger shark and it could have taken her life. I was just in those very waters, at that very spot, in September 2015. 20 feet of water, big waves and let me tell you I definitely was on the lookout as the local guide told the story of that day! So how did she respond?? After losing her left arm at age 13, doing something she had been doing since she was a small child, she was back on her surfboard one month later. Two years after that she took first place at the Explorer NSSA National Championships. Wow! Talk about showing the ultimate in determination and overcoming obstacles!
Steven Spielberg – Yes, we have all heard of him. He has become one of the most well known and prolific film makers of our time. The maker of “Jaws”, “Jurassic Park”, “E.T.” and “Schindler’s List”, along with many other films and TV projects, could not get into USC film school. This was his big dream and yet it was denied. Hmmmm, seems to have all worked out rather well for Mr. Spielberg. And ironically, he received an honorary degree from USC in 1994. Two years after that, in 1996, he became a trustee of the university. Quite a turnaround wouldn’t you say! He kept plugging, did not give up and overcame what at the time seemed like a crushing obstacle to his dream of making films.
Look, the bottom line is we all have it in us to persevere, overcome obstacles and keep moving forward towards whatever goals we might have personally and professionally. We sometimes just have to be reminded of how much we are truly capable of handling and achieving. If this newsletter helped in some small way to in that quest, great!
Thanks so much for reading. I hope everyone has a wonderful, peaceful and fun Easter Weekend. Take care and talk to you next month.

Olympic Lessons for Life and Work

Welcome to the end of February and the end of another Winter Olympics. As always, I start saying I won’t watch that much and by the end I have been doing so for hours. And one of the things that consistently comes up for me during this time is some of the amazing stories and lessons gleaned from so many of the competitors.
A former professional athlete, psychological performance coach and author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class, Steve Siebold is someone I occasionally check out. Steve outlined 10 very important lessons we all could pay attention to, think about and apply in our own worlds. They are as follows:
  1. They never stop learning. Olympic athletes are at the top of their games because they spend so much time practicing, watching replays of their performance and strategizing with their coaches. If you want to be the best at something, you must commit yourself to being a student for life.
  2. They overcome obstacles. When most people run into an obstacle, they seek escape. Olympic athletes have a plan to push forward when this happens and learn all they can from the challenge. They know facing adversity is part of being successful.
  3. They think big.  Ask most people what they’re thinking at any given time, and you might be surprised to learn how many think about just getting by. That’s called selling yourself short. If you ask every athlete in the Olympics if they think they are going to win the gold, they would all tell you ‘yes.’ They fully believe in themselves and their abilities, and nothing you could say will talk them out of it. They think big and therefore get big results.
  4. They know consciousness is contagious. Olympic athletes live together and spend so much time together because consciousness is contagious. Your level of success in any area of your life is most likely the same as the people you spend the most time with. If you want to be better at something, get around people who push you to greatness.
  5. They are consistently great.  The reason Olympians are so consistent is because their actions are congruent with their thought processes. They have a very clear mental picture of what they want, why they want it and how to move closer to their target objective.
  6. They compartmentalize their emotions.  In other words, Olympic athletes have the ability to put aside anything else going on at that very moment, and focus only on the task in front of them: winning the gold.
  7. They know very good is bad.  For the average person, to be classified as very good is something to be proud of. For the great ones like Olympians, it’s an insult. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Why just be happy with the bronze or silver when you can go for the gold?
  8. They are held accountable:  Olympic athletes are held accountable on so many levels. One of the biggest problems is that most people have no means of accountability or a support system in place when it comes to what they’re trying to accomplish. Whether it’s losing weight, making more money or anything else you are trying to achieve, being held accountable changes everything.
  9. They know it’s their desire that counts.  Olympic athletes know winning isn’t everything. It’s wanting to win that counts. Olympians have a “whatever it takes” attitude. They’ve made the decision to pay any price and bear any burden in the name of victory.
  10. They are comeback artists. While most people are demoralized by setbacks and defeat, Olympians know that large scale success is based on a series of comebacks. Emotionally speaking, they don’t understand the concept of giving up. On the physical plane, they have perseverance. On the mental plane, toughness. On the spiritual plane, we call it “artistry”.
There is SO much we can learn, absorb and put into practice in our own worlds, both personally and professionally, from these items outlined by Steve. And the stories themselves of some famous and not so famous athletes can fire you up to learn and achieve more than you thought possible. Go on line and check some out. It got me so interested I am creating a new workshop based on these very principles!

Bill Belichick Reveals His 5 Rules of Exceptional Leadership

1. Leadership means building a team that’s exhaustively prepared, but able to adjust in an instant

“The only sign we have in the locker room is from ‘The Art of War.’ ‘Every battle is won before it is fought,'” says Belichick, who started breaking down films of opposing teams when he was 7 years old and hanging out with his dad, Steve, an assistant coach at Annapolis.
“You [have to] know what the opponents can do, what their strengths and weaknesses are … [and] what to do in every situation,” he says.
That ability – to adapt on a dime – is why Belichick says he spends so much time building teamwork, from having the team train with Navy SEALs, to organizing trivia nights, where, incidentally, all social media is banned.
“Nobody is against [social media] more than I am. I can’t stand it,” Belichick says. “I think it’s important for us, as a team, to know each other. Know our teammates and our coaches. To interact with them is more important than to be ‘liked’ by whoever on Chatrun.” (In the same conversation, he also derided “InstaFace” in all seriousness.)
2. Leadership means having the discipline to deploy your “dependables”
You know your star performers? The ones who can dazzle and amaze, except when they don’t? They’re definitely appealing, Belichick admits.
But over the years, he’s learned they’re not his type. He’d rather stick with his tried-and-true people – call them his “dependables.”
“There have been times when I’ve put too much responsibility on people. … They might have been the most talented, or the people you hoped would do the right or best thing, and they didn’t come through,” Belichick says.
Big mistake.
When it comes to getting things done, especially critical things, forget the high flyers: “You have to go with the person who you have the most confidence in, the most consistent,” Belichick says. “And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but I’m going down with that person.”

3. Leadership means being the boss

Belichick says this principle came to him when he was just 23, addressing the Colts as a special teams coach. Two players, one of them a talented starter, spent the beginning of the meeting giggling and chatting. Inside, Belichick recalls, he was seething: “I’m not afraid of these guys. It’s either [them] or me. We can’t run a team like this.”  Finally, he let loose. “Look, either you shut up or you get out of here. That’s it.”
It worked.  And it was an aha moment that has guided him since. “I don’t care if they’re a star player,” he says. “I don’t care who they are. You have to set the tone.”

4. Leadership means caring about everything going on in the lives of your people

Maybe the previous rule would make you think otherwise, but Belichick strongly believes you must see your team not just as players, per se, but as people who have full, three-dimensional, and often messy lives.
“There are a lot of things that affect what happens on the field that occur off the field,” he says. Players “have wives and girlfriends. And they have babies. And they have personal situations. They have parents that are sick. All of it runs in together.”
Work and life, in other words, are inseparable and it’s incumbent on leaders to help their people sort through it. “The more you and the organization can help take care of personal situations,” he says, “the smoother the ship runs on the football end.”

5. Leadership means never resting on your laurels

Ask Belichick if he’s still celebrating the stunning come-from-behind Super Bowl victory in February and you get another “You’re killing me here” look.
“We’re onto 2017. No one cares about 2016 anymore,” he says. “You can’t look back. We don’t talk about last year. We don’t talk about next week. We talk about today, and we talk about the next game. That’s all we can really control.”
In other words, it’s OK to celebrate a big win – but get it over with fast.
Oh, come on, not even a little parading the championship rings around the house? Belichick pauses – and smiles. (Yes, he smiles.)
“I’m not a jewelry guy,” he says.
Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator, and public speaker.

For a look at the video, see below

A Thanksgiving Reminder for Us All

My dentist happens to be in Washington, IL. I was out of town on business when this occurred and just got back on Friday night with NO clue how truly catastrophic the damage to that community was from the twister. Pictures and news stories don’t do it justice.   But now I understand why I was receiving e-mails and phone calls advising all patients that the office was closed last week. And why we were asked to please call and advise if we would not be able to keep our appointment. And why my phone was blowing up with texts, pictures, calls as I drove through Indiana and Kentucky on Sunday. Thanks, everyone, for checking on me!
As I drove down the road to their offices, other than lots of traffic at Menard’s and plenty of police cars around, all seemed somewhat “ok”. And then….the world changed in front of my eyes. To the right side of the street the destroyed Georgetown Apartments complex. No access allowed to any residents at this point.  It’s just too unstable. Any belongings inside are lost for good and not retrievable.  Next to that, a golf course with a clubhouse/shop and trees missing. Gone. And beyond that, there was a long stretch of nothing but rubble. As I turned into the entry way on the left side of the street, shared with the Tractor Supply store, there sat a white SUV sitting on top of a mountain of twisted metal, where nothing existed before the storm. And in the parking lot behind the dentist’s office that sits up on the street……what was left of a motor home that clearly had literally flown over the roof of the building and ended up there. Boarded windows. A tarp over the roof. Metal signs gone. Trees sawed off at the base. Beyond the parking lot and skirting the edge of downtown Washington a diagonal line of nothing but piles of debris stretching to the far side of town, approximately 1/8th of a mile wide according to all the news and photos. WOW!
As I sat in the lobby waiting for my appointment a young lady on crutches caught my eye as she struggled just to get to the door. Without really thinking about it, I jumped up before she got to the two sets of doors into the place and held them for her. Thank you, thank you…like clockwork, came out of her mouth. When she checked in rather than sit, she stood. Obviously a regular, the office manager at the front desk asked her if she would like to sit. “No thank you. But thanks for asking.” As she talked to me, she shared she had been buried in rubble and had a compound fracture of her leg. It was easier to stand than to sit right now, clearly in extreme pain and trying not to moan but a whimper was unmistakable and understandable. But rather than talk about her experience, she asked “Are you okay? Do you live here? Is everyone in your family allright?”. Unbelievable. Clearly not thinking about the extreme challenges she had ahead of her.
And then the office staff. My dental hygienist and the dentist, were the ONLY people in the office who did not live in Washington. And they were the only ones whose homes were not impacted severely by the storm. Not a hint. Everyone was into the business at hand. And asking others how they were doing and if everyone was okay. Not ONE single mention of their plights. Only a consistent and regular outpouring of courtesy, care, recognition of others first.
And my last stop, the bank back in Peoria. A planned lunch with a friend and client, Jeff, was another reminder. The person in charge of the office and tellers, Carrie, was missing. You know when Carrie is in the building! She was out for an undetermined amount of time. Yep, Carrie had “lost everything” in the tornado.
Okay, so in what seems to be the most tragic and close to home event in my lifetime, there was a pattern here. Maybe one we ALL could learn from in normal times. Not just in the midst of a tragedy, at the beginning of our major holiday time of year. Reminders we could apply to work and our personal lives outside of work.
  • You are not in this alone.
  • Someone might have it worse than you, no matter how bad things seem right now.
  • Sincere “thank you’s” for specific actions go a LONG way and carry more weight. And they breed an environment that is contagious and welcome anytime.
  • It’s okay once and awhile to let people know you care.
  • It’s not always “unacceptable” to share how you’re REALLY doing, otherwise how would people really know! Maybe we can help.
  • If people can be so outwardly focused and thinking of others first in the midst of tragedy…..that is leadership and behavior we can use more of in “normal” times.
  • And the most powerful message of all, we will survive and recover from this.
Now tell me, wouldn’t it be great to see this happening more every day? Under the best of times? In business and in our everyday lives? It couldn’t hurt.  And many of you have been through disasters and extreme challenges of your own.  But the lessons reinforced by this one for me rings true for all of us.  You CAN do it.  You can make it through.  And you don’t have to go it alone even when it feels like you are doing so.  Don’t give up! The people of Washington, IL and the surrounding area didn’t. And today Washington is mostly recovered, but they will never forget what happened.  And the folks I know that live there and went through this experience will truly be giving thanks for the blessings they do have this Thanksgiving.  I hope you are able to do so as well.

Stretch, Change and GROW

Change can seem scary and if we think about it long enough and rationalize it to the ultimate degree….unnecessary. Thinks are fine the way they are now. My response to that would be, “Things are and will be fine for how long?”. Without change there can be very little growth either personally or professionally. Can it happen? Yes. But at a very small, measured pace and purely by circumstances thrown your way. Let’s examine further.
Top 10 Reasons NOT to Change
  1. It’s safe.
  2. It’s familiar just where I am NOW.
  3. It doesn’t stress me out.
  4. I know how to “do it”.
  5. I am good at it.
  6. No extra effort is needed; just put it on auto-pilot.
  7. It doesn’t require a lot of thought on my part.
  8. I haven’t had any complaints!
  9. We’ve been doing good just the way we are now.
  10. AND….If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!!
Be honest and ask yourself if any of this ever rings true for you. It certainly has for me throughout my working career and throughout my life as well. Some of us are more open to change than others. That’s just the way we are hard-wired. And some of us like TOO much change. Change just for the sake of change or simply from shear boredom can be even more destructive than no change at all.
It’s a well-known and obvious fact that the speed of change today is at an all-time high for pace and frequency of change. Accept it. It is NOT going away or going to slow down. And while it can be stressful to be caught up in that, much good can come from shifting our viewpoint and trying to become a more active participant in change, both at work and personally. After all, if we don’t we are simply going to be left behind. And when in the business world, if we don’t frequently review, plan and alter our businesses one of our competitors will or has already done so.
I am constantly reminded when I venture out into new territory how much change can be a good thing for us. Exhausting at times. Daunting? No doubt. Scary….you bet! But once we make it through to the other side and look back at where we were and where we are now after having gone through that change process, it feels GREAT! And that process has undoubtedly made us stretch outside our comfort zone, tested our self-imposed limits and helped us grow.
Bear with me as I share a small, short story that prompted me to write this article. It came to light while on a trip this past month in the mountains of Colorado. On my second day in Breckenridge I decided to check out a new area for a “little day hike”. On the web site, it appeared to be a reasonable 7-mile hike round trip with great scenery, a well-defined path and probably very few people to encounter. Perfect for me! While I had checked it out on a web site for that area in Summit County, I had NOT printed out the maps or directions. It seemed simple enough. Sooooo…off I went on a supposed recreational hike and then back for a late lunch in the town of Frisco. Wellllllll….not exactly.
At the 3 to 3.5 mile mark after some steeper and rockier than expected terrain along a gorgeous river valley I came to the infamous fork in the road. To my recollection, it was just about 1.5 miles more and I would reach the end of the hike I had planned. Just turn right, follow the Gore Range Trail and in about another hour, voila. Then head back down a happy guy. Almost immediately the trail became MUCH steeper, narrower and as time went by a little treacherous in spots. Up and up I went, reading the instructions I had handwritten before heading out. Finally, after one more meadow with more and more altitude gain and a trail that never ends, I stubbornly had to admit it was time to give up. I must be lost. I was!! So, back down I went hoping to be at the bottom in an hour or so. Of course, I ran out of water and food and didn’t have my watch, was in No Service on my smart phone, etc. etc. Exhausted, I made my way back finally encountering one local on his way up. When chatting briefly and asking for the time I realized he was the first human being I had seen in over four hours. Yikes! Five and a half hours from the time I started, I made it back to the parking lot. And right there was a U.S Forestry map and trail write up in black and white on the sign board heading through the gate. I had just gone approximately 12-14 miles round trip, with a supposed altitude gain of probably 2100-2300′ and was heading for the base of a 13,300′ peak out in a wilderness area for 3 to 4-day backpack trips. No wonder I was wiped out! BUT…I learned a lot in the process.
I learned once again that my own limits and capabilities are much greater than I thought they were, both physically and mentally. I certainly had to tap into both to get through that experience with nothing more than a big blister on my foot. I was reminded that all of us are capable of more if a challenge is put in front of us, expected or not. It served as a great reminder that even the best laid plans sometimes go off track and we need to be flexible, sometimes steely in our determination, slow down and think a new plan or path through rationally and unemotionally to get on the correct path and reach our ultimate goal. And that we are capable of SO much more than we think we are actually. Once through it, I felt more empowered, like I had really accomplished something I really had no idea I could or would. And it made me immediately start to think of other ways to feel that same thing and that same flush of success in the process, both professionally and personally. I hope you decide to stretch your limits and grow, too. Color outside the lines. Take some chances. But have an outcome in mind.
It’s worth it!

15 Years of Lessons

  1. People are all unique in their own way. Find out the key elements of them, their style, their passions.
  2. Leaders come in many shapes, sizes and personal styles. There is not just one box they all fit into. Sometimes it’s hard to spot leadership at first. But they always show themselves if we pay attention.
  3. As many more well known experts have said, written about, made a living from….trust is everything, in life and in business. With it, we can accomplish great things and make it much easier and more enjoyable as we go through it together. Without it, there will always be roadblocks to keep us from achieving our ultimate success.
  4. To build trust COMMUNICATE. Communicate honestly, respectfully, openly and in your own genuine style. But remember your audience, who you are talking with. If you truly know this person as suggested here previously, you will have a much greater chance of a successful outcome.
  5. Change is hard. But it is a constant and the more we resist it, the more stress, discomfort and frustration we create for ourselves and for those around us. It is how we react to it that counts. While often not in our control and all too frequently a surprise, a real test of our abilities is what we do with it. You are stronger and more resilient than you think. You can do it.
  6. Don’t try to literally change people, focus on the real results you want to create. Change how you go about trying to navigate that. It’s almost always that we are not getting the outcome we want. Then situationally manage and tailor your approach to what you know is their natural style and approach. It will lend itself to more collaboration and less conflict.
  7. We are who we are to a large degree. If we are truly self-aware, in touch with ourselves, figure out how to make that work. Don’t try to be someone and something you are not. Keep doing what is working. Stop doing what is not. Adapt and adopt new approaches where needed for a better result!
  8. People are a complex puzzle, but the reward is worth the effort.
  9. Show people you care, in your own way, that rings true and gets through to them.
  10. The business world and our world in general is a challenging place. But time and time again I have seen businesses and the people in it “figure it out” and succeed. And they did it as a team, despite their differences and occasional disconnects. Why? Because you are not alone. You have a team of people, as different as some of you may be from each other. That’s the norm, folks. If we were all the same that wouldn’t work at all. Celebrate your unique styles, learn how to use them for the greater good and achieve success together!