Life and Business

"Life is to Live, Love, Learn, and Leave a Legacy" ~ Steven Covey

Have you ever entered a discussion where the person you are talking to holds a position so diametrically opposed to your values or core beliefs that you become emotional? If you are a reasonably sentient being you recognize that counter arguments should always be examined in order for any of us to not become dogmatic. But sometimes the baseline premise of those that challenge us is difficult to accept. A number of years ago I entered a discussion with a manager who held such a position, not dissimilar to what many hold today and his premise was this "My business life, beliefs, behaviors, communications and actions are not the same as those I have with my family and close friends. I act and believe one way for business and another in my personal life" he said. Now this was an intelligent man. A Stanford grad who could hold his own in any debate, on any subject, and he honestly believed that what he did in his business life was separate from what he did and believed in his personal life. Do you believe this? Doesn't it become difficult to lead two separate lives? It seems to me that life is a journey that begins and ends and what we do in between, whether in business or personal relationships is all one. It seems to me that we are like a leaf that falls from a tree into a river. A leaf that winds it's course around rocks and over obstacles and eventually leads to an open sea. I don't quite see how a leaf that comes to a fork in the stream can go in two directions.

Business or personal - One Life - One Leaf.

No - It's Not Alright!

"Acceptance of prevailing standards often means we have no standards of our own." ~ Jean Toomer

Every leader, every manager, every parent, every teacher and every coach has experienced it. The time when a protege, student, child or employee has asked permission to do less and be less. Whether in words, actions or behavior they've said "I want to just call this one in". "I'm just going through the motions". A wise coach once told me that when the teacher wants more from the student than the student wants from themselves - you've got a problem. Ok - but what should you do? How do you respond? When your passion, your enthusiasm and your view of what's possible is more than theirs - what do you say? Do you just call this one in? Do you give them a pass? If you do you are making a big mistake. If you say that's OK you are reinforcing the very thing you wish to change. Even if you have to scream it from the rooftops the message is and needs to be "No it's not alright". NO - doing less than you can - being less than you can be - and just going through the motions Is Not Alright. I expect more of you. I expect more of myself than to say it's ok - If you truly want to influence others - Be a leader damn it. Expect more and be more. Don't accept going through the motions for yourself and don't accept it from others.

No It's Not Alright - "Be the change you want to see in the world".

Doubters, Haters & Realists

"The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.
" ~ Frank Lloyd Wright
Those of you who have kids will understand. Those who have dreams will understand. Those of you who have hopes, aspirations, ideals and something that resonates deep in your very soul will understand. There are people out there that are dead. They're the walking dead. Their dreams have died, their spirit has been broken and the twinkling stars of possibilities have been extinguished from their lives. They will tell you why things can't be done. They believe they are doing you a favor by playing devils advocate. They share their wisdom and experience about difficulties, challenges and the "knowledge" they have of the huge likelihood of failure. They are the realists. They're smart, opinionated and forceful in what they advocate. They tell you why it won't work and why it's better not to try. They advise against things. Listen up people - Those of you who have dreams, aspirations, ideals, hopes and something deep within your soul - Listen Up and Listen Good. Get away from those people. Run - Don't Walk. People who tell you what can't be done, why things won't work, why you shouldn't go for it are not helping you - they are hurting you, harming you, and they are killing you. Find people that help you with solutions to realize your dreams. Find people that tell you it's difficult but you can do it with belief, action and discipline. They are the ones you want to talk to. People that say - "If you want it bad enough anything is possible" They are the ones you need to surround yourself with. The can't crowd can only hurt you. The doubters, the haters & the realists may fuel your drive to prove them wrong but they can't help you in any other way.

Find and surround yourself with believers.

Test and Trust

No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher." ~ Mr Miyagi

There is a lot of talk in business about motivation and how the 80 / 20 rule applies. ( 80% of results comes from 20% of the people). Consequently managers focus on the extremes. Rewarding and developing the top and cutting at the bottom. Ok but what about the middle? What should be done about those average players. Those who are not good enough and not bad enough at the same time? How do we move them? Like Mr Miyagi - You test and trust. What did Miyagi have his young student do? Wax on and Wax off. He gave a task - an innocuous, seemingly unimportant task to his young charge and let it serve as a test. Moving people is all about momentum. You can't stand still in business. Your people can't stand still. So move them with simple tasks. If they perform the task as expected they move up in trust. If they don't they move down. No questions. It's a trust thing - can people be trusted to do stuff. It's at the heart of business and indeed life. Want to move people? Ask them to wax on and wax off.

Test and Trust based on how they respond.

How Important Are You?

"It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter."
Marlene Dietrich

Social media has added a new dimension to our contact lists both in our personal lives and business. We've multiplied our opportunities to create relationships. It begs a question. How important are we to the people we communicate with? In the competitive arena of business this matters. Why? Because people make choices based on how much value you provide to them - How important you are to them. Want to find out how important you are to others? Do You Really? Can You Handle The Truth? Ok then do this. List all of your contacts and connections and get a phone number for each of them - Yep all of them. Call each one and leave a simple message - "Call me - I'd like to talk to you" and keep a list of who calls back and how long it took them to return your call. It's simple - It's honest and It will tell you how important you are to people. Perhaps they will call you back out of curiosity - great that's a start. Now comes the hard part - Can you get them to continue to call you back - next month, next year - every year? Can you maintain value to them? Do your contacts, your connections, your customers and your friends call you back quickly? There Are No Excuses. This is a real test of how important we are to people. If you truly are important to someone they will make it a priority to call you back - Whether it's convenient or not. It's a simple truth

If you're important to them - they call back.

The Last Frontier

"Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." ~ Voltaire

There's a place we can go. A place where we can unplug from the world and spend some quiet time. A place I like to call the last frontier. It's a real place that lies deep within the caverns of our mind. It's patched together with peaceful, happy and contented feelings plucked from our memory. Feelings we plant in a place that makes us smile. Choose your own location. Mine was taken from a trip to the wilderness of Alaska. In the silent majesty of mountain ranges and deep languid lakes I painted a masterpiece in my mind. A picture that overflowed with gratitude, appreciation and warmth. A picture of pride in my daughter. Of the joy in her smile. A picture of respect for those I admire and compassion for those I don't. A portrait that reflects the awe I experience with each sunrise. A portrait of perspective. It's a place that reminds us of what's important. An image that refreshes and fills our soul with warmth and peace. It's the last frontier. Pick a place. Choose your memories and paint a picture. Close Your Eyes and Remember. Reflect and Smile as it Refreshes Your Soul.

It's Your Last Frontier.

Social Media & C Suite

"In God we trust, all others bring data." ~ Deming

Why is the C Suite resisting social media so much? It's pretty simple really - The Fluff. We all recognize the power and enormous scope that social media has achieved - lot's of people are on the playing field. But what about the end result? Social media gurus will chastise us for thinking too linear, too old school and say that it's all about the enormous communication possibilities, awareness and reach. Ok - but you've still got to measure what you manage in business otherwise... (well you can fill in the blank). Here's the bottom line in three C's. Here's a way to categorize and measure social media in a good, old fashioned, linear way that completely disregards the fluff and the unmeasurables. Here's 3 social media metrics for the C Suite.

Contacts - You broadcast to them & read their stuff (one way).

- You've moved them to a two way communication.

Customers - You've monetized them.

There are a myriad of great reasons to participate in social media that can't be immediately measured. But if you want to keep it simple - Measure how you are doing with Three Simple C's.

Being The Best

"If You Ain't First, You're Last." ~ Ricky Bobby

How good do you want to be? It's a question that parents put to their children. Teachers to their students. Coaches to their athletes. And managers to their employees. There's only one answer that really makes any sense to me - "The Best That I Can Be". Everything else is an insult to ... Well to everybody. Everything else is a cop out.

There is a scene in one of my favorite movies "Chariots of Fire" when a runner is whining to his girlfriend about not winning a race and he says "If I can't win - I won't run". ~ The lady beautifully responds to him

"If you don't run - You can't win.

Winners have to run. Whatever race you decide to participate in. Win It. Whatever you determine to focus your attention on. Wherever your interests take you - Be the very best. There will come times of frustration, of failure and disappointment and those times will tempt you to settle for less. ~ To be content with merely "good enough".

There will be people that tell you that just being in the game is what counts - I say baloney. I say once you stop trying to be the best you're done. Once you settle you're dead.  ~ Ricky Bobby sure knows...

If You Ain't First - You're Last

Anger Can Motivate Us

"We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.
" Winston Churchill

Winston Spencer Churchill was an icon. His impact on this simple guy was without peer. Bereft of a father figure in my youth I chose to cast him in that role and read every word I could find on this heroic figure. The man had a drive and determination that spurred a nation and it certainly inspired me beyond measure. But Winston also had a demon - he called it his "Black Dog". A name he gave to the depression that would consume him and rile the red mist of aggressive anger. An anger that propelled him to take action. Most people get angry and they lash out. When Winston got angry he channeled it into a creative tour de force. His anger and resolve fueled a nation. It drove him to do and say what others could or would not. So what does this mean to you and I? What can we learn from this? Anger can serve as effective motivation. It is when we become so depressed, so dissatisfied and so angry with something that we determine action must be taken. It is when the "red mist" consumes us that we often have the greatest will to change our conditions and circumstance. What can we learn from this? Anger with our status quo is powerful once turned to action. What is your Black Dog? What angers you? What raises the red mist within you? We can't all be Winston Churchill. But we can channel dissatisfaction and depression into something good if get angry enough to take action.


How Well Do You Lead?

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." Lao Tzu

The number of tomes, teachers, tweets and testimonials on the topic of true leadership could reach from here to the moon and back countless times. Some of them entertain, some educate, and some engage. Each has a different perspective on what it takes to be a "True Leader". Can anyone really capture the unique character traits that influence us to follow someones lead? To take actions we would not otherwise take, or be inspired to make a difference? Twenty years ago a young man that I worked with gave me a compass, as a gift. He said it represented my steering him in the right direction. Helping him to discover his true north. I still have that compass today and it reminds me of my definition of what a true leader should be. A leader is not a reflection of his star students, his exemplary employees or his most coachable athlete. A leader is not a reflection of the success his exceptional charges achieve. He is not what people say about him in public and to the press. A leader is reflected by his worst student. His weakest employee. His most incorrigible charge. He is reflected by what people say about him in private conversations, behind his back. A leader is not reflected by the employee who is always on time and goes above and beyond the call of duty. He is reflected by the employee who is always late and misrepresents what is expected of him. Leadership is measured by the weakest members of the team. They reflect the real quality of leadership. True leaders understand that it's what they do about the problems, perspectives and people that prove the most difficult that defines how well they lead. They measure themselves by how well the weakest member of their team is doing. How well the weakest member is reading his own compass and moving north. Do you really want to know how well you lead? Take a look at the weakest member of your team - That's the true test.

True Leaders Are Rare.

We Should Salute Them

"Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place."
~ Tecumseh

I really love people who love what they do. People that love it so much that they exemplify what it is to be a consummate professional. Those that shine with the spirit of excellence from every pore. Teachers that make a lasting difference to our children. Parents that set a lifelong example. Soldiers that quietly defend, honorably and selflessly. And quiet professionals everywhere who inspire us with the standards they set. The Blue Angels flew over our office today, practicing for the Miramar air show. As they passed overhead I felt the urge to stand and salute them. I felt self conscious and the salute was simply delivered in my mind - but I saluted them nonetheless. Why? Because they remind me of what each of us needs to do a lot more of. We need to say thank you to those quiet professionals who represent the wonderful traits that we admire. We need to tell those dependable souls who reignite and reaffirm our faith in people what a difference they make. We need to salute the people who do really good stuff just because that is who they are. They don't do it for reward. They don't do it for acknowledgment. They don't do it for glory or promotion. They set a higher standard because that is who they are. We really should salute these remarkable souls with words, a handshake or a heartfelt gesture but even if you salute them simply in your thoughts - I sincerely believe

We should salute them more.