Thankful Thursday

If retailers can have “Black Friday” anytime they want, then I can have Thanksgiving anytime I want. Right?

Well, I’m not here for the turkey. Being thankful is something that we should all practice continually. Like, every single day. Aside from the personal benefits that being grateful can have, there are some pretty amazing leadership implications.

In one of my previous posts, I talked about the Principle of Progress and the Principle of Morale, both of which talk about the importance of celebrating success. Did you know, that one of the simplest ways to celebrate someone is to say, “Thank you”? That expression of gratitude can carry with it acknowledgement of value added, affirmation of a job well done, and a relational deposit that is real. This is what great leaders do. They build people up, affirm them, and connect in very real ways.

Gratitude does not only need to be expressed to or about people. Being thankful for circumstances in your life can alter your perception of them in a very powerful way. I heard Aubrey Marcus say something on the Tim Ferriss Show the other day. It was something along the lines of ~”Once you can see how the hardships of your life can add value to others, you can be grateful for them rather than resentful.” This is not a direct quote, I am paraphrasing from memory. The reality is that everything that you have done, encountered, accomplished, failed at, won, lost, experienced, or passed up has led you to where you are right now. If you add value to others in any way, you can be thankful for your journey because it shaped you to help in the way you do. If you feel like you don’t add any value to anyone, or maybe you feel “unqualified” to help others, then you just need to look a little harder and become thankful for who you are. Everyone has something to offer humanity, even if it is just an example of what not to do. I know that sounds harsh, but take the following example:

Catch me

Frank Abagnale Jr, the subject of the movie “Catch Me If You Can”, was a criminal that committed innumerable counts of fraud and spent several years of his life in prisons. He could have had a hard time working legitimately if he had tried to push his past under the rug and hide his failure. Instead, he decided to share his methods with banks in order to help them protect themselves from the very kinds of fraud that he once committed. He turned his negative past around and started using it to add value to others and now has a successful security consulting firm.

I am growing to become more grateful of my past and current circumstances and it is helping me to see how I can use my experience to make a difference in the lives of others.

How about you?

Success or Value?

Albert Einstein said,

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

I love this quote because it forces me to put being successful and being of value on opposite ends of the spectrum. Then I evaluate why it is right to do so.

The way I see it, striving to be a success is focused on self. Do others view me as a success? This is the kind of thinking that will drive someone to become a people pleasing sycophant. It is a trap that captures people in a behavioral cycle that anchors all of their self-worth on the opinion of others. That is a very unpleasant roller coaster.

On the other end, striving to be of value is something that focuses one’s energy on serving others. When people can focus on adding value to others, it causes them to look for needs that need to be met. This thinking acknowledges the inherent value of everyone as worthy to be served. Self-worth is a byproduct serving others.

The interesting thing is that when someone strives to be of value, success will follow. Success is one of those things that the more you go after it, the harder it is to achieve. Real success is a byproduct of adding value to others.

As I think through this idea, I stop seeing the two things as opposites, but rather one is a prerequisite to the other.

What do you think?

The Two ‘M’s of Improving Attitude and Culture

Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets improved.” I agree with Mr. Drucker and I think there’s more. I have studied a school of thought called Organization Ontologics (O2) in which I learned the Principle of Progress. It goes like this:


“What you monitor, people do. What you measure, people improve. What you celebrate, people become. You can’t celebrate what you haven’t measured and you can’t measure what you haven’t monitored so be careful what you monitor because that’s what people will become.”

 


What does this have to do with attitudes or culture? The first “M” of improving attitude and culture is ‘Monitor’. The best way to monitor behavior is to model it. From a culture perspective, if you monitor that which you do not model, you build a culture of hypocrisy and resentment. There does not need to be perfection in modeling a desired behavior or attitude. Perhaps you would like to grow your culture and add something new. As long as leaders model the process of learning the new thing, they can maintain that positive growth. Just like parenting, if we had to be perfect at everything we expect our kids to do, not a single person would be qualified to be a parent. But, modeling a learning attitude and a growth mindset gives the leader the opportunity to build a camaraderie with those they lead because they are sharing the journey.

Now, I’ve kind of beaten around the bush a little so that I didn’t get to Morale too soon. The second “M” is ‘Morale’. The inconsistency in what is monitored vs what is modeled will damage morale. There is another principle from O2 that I have learned called the Principle of Morale. It goes like this:


“There are 3 reasons to evaluate someone’s performance. The first is to celebrate their success. The second is to improve the system in which they operate. And the third is to hold them accountable for their commitments. If you break this order, you damage morale.”


If you haven’t asked someone to commit, the first way to improve the system in which they operate is to ask for the appropriate commitments.

Morale is the confidence, enthusiasm, or discipline of a group at a given time. It is the attitude of your organization. Attitude determines behavior.

I have put all of this in the context of an organization. Let’s make it personal. From a personal perspective, you improve attitude with the same tools; Modeling and Morale. When improving your own attitude, you need to find a model and follow the principle of morale. When teaching someone else to improve their attitude, you become the model and follow the principle of morale.

Mindful Monday

Mindfulness. This topic could go in several different directions from kooky to practical. For me, mindful is a word that encompasses to key things; awareness and intentionality.

Awareness is how much you have perceived and to what degree you have perceived it. Intentionality is how you act as a result of the accumulated awareness that you have achieved. As you become more aware of things, you have the opportunity to increase how intentionally you interact with that which you have become more aware. I know this is a bit abstract, so let’s put it in an over-simplified context that makes sense.

You’re standing in a field of grass. Someone else is standing a small distance away. They throw a ball to you. It’s heading your way and you do nothing. The ball hits you in the face, your nose bleeds, you curl up in the fetal position and cry like a tiny baby. You have just increase your awareness about what happens when a ball is thrown at your face. You now have the opportunity to interact with that more intentionally. The next time a ball is thrown in your direction, you can either get out of the way or catch it.

This week, I achieved a new degree of awareness regarding ownership in the context of applying life force to accomplish work. I have a great capacity to do work with an owner mindset. I have done so in many of my previous jobs. Unfortunately, I suffered from a shortage of awareness of some key factors. When I personally worked with an owner mindset, I would have the whole business in mind and act accordingly. I was able to anticipate needs and work proactively. All great things. The disconnect came when I had expectations of my own. I expected that since I behaved as an owner, I should have a high degree of authority and influence to go with it. When I didn’t get that, I would become discouraged or embittered.

My new awareness about ownership came when I was able to articulate what ownership is and what it is not. Here’s the summary, I can take ownership; hold or be held responsible; give or be given authority. When you approach work with an owner mindset, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be held responsible at that level. It means that you are choosing to be aware of a larger context than the context in which your tasks exist. This allows you to anticipate needs and work proactively. It also doesn’t mean that you automatically have the level of authority to match the level at which you are taking ownership.

With this new awareness, I can intentionally approach all aspects of my life with an owner mindset (which allows me to add optimal value) and not become disillusioned with expectations that I am going to be wielding a bunch of authority or getting any extra recognition for the work that I’m expected to do. This has been very freeing and I’m experiencing a great deal more satisfaction in the work that I do and a great deal more confidence in deciding what I will and will not choose to commit to doing. I am also able to better manage everyone’s expectations.

 

Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday

Wisdom Wednesday is where I will share a piece of wisdom, usually in the form of a quote, and then talk about why I find it valuable.

This week’s quote is from Amelia Earhart and goes like this:


“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”

AmeliaEarhart


This might not be as deep and profound as you might expect for the launch of Wisdom Wednesday. I think that something is only as deep as you go into it. Some quotes might be so overtly deep that you can fall into it but others require digging. This one is the latter. So, get your shovel, your flashlight, and a sturdy pair of shoes and join me while I try to excavate the wisdom that I have experienced from this quote.

Currently, this quote rings loudly in my psyche because I recently started living it. You are reading one of the manifestations of this quote in my life right now. I have lived through analysis paralysis for many years. I can’t quite say exactly why this plagued me for so long but my initial conclusion is that I was just too focused on myself, too afraid of being rejected. So here I am today running Generational Leadership, seeking to add value to others. I am discovering that the very things that I thought disqualified me from having an opinion that matters are the things that brought me to the knowledge and understanding that make my value proposition possible.

I’m doing it and guess what? It’s far more effective than thinking about doing it. It’s far more effective than sitting there paralyzed, wishing I could do it. It’s also far more fulfilling.

For me, one of the most important things about this quote is the distinct absence of any qualifier words. For example, “The most effective way to do it, is to do it perfectly.” or well, or right, or better, or first, or bigger, etc. I think that people unconsciously add qualifier words to things and in so doing, set themselves up for disappointment. I know I have. How many of us have tried something new, didn’t execute flawlessly and then quit. A diet is the easiest example. The lack of the qualifier gives me the freedom to keep trying even when I don’t do it perfectly, well, right, better, etc. The important thing is that I’m doing it and that I keep doing it. The adjectives will come with time and practice. No world record holder in history came out of the womb with the ability to set and hold their record. Not one of them hit without practicing the skill for thousands of hours. Not a single one.

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” And keep doing it. Seriously. KEEP. DOING. IT.

I’ll leave you with the similarly wise words of a little blue fish that forgot her way right into the hearts of millions of people. “Just keep swimming.”

Welcome to Training Tuesday

Since this is my first post in the “Training Tuesday” series, I am going to share my thoughts on the concept of training and why I determined that it was important enough to dedicate a weekly post to the subject. So without further ado… WELCOME TO TRAINING TUESDAY!!

What is training and why is it important?

The definition of training is to teach a particular skill or behavior through practice and instruction over a period of time.

I think the most common understanding of training in our society today is the teaching of a particular skill. We rarely focus on the behavior  aspect of it. There is a subtle, yet important, difference that should be highlighted between the two facets of this definition. Skill reflects one’s capability. It is measurable through the evaluation of the quality of execution of the skill in question. There are many studies that exist which evaluate the usefulness and importance of this type of training. There are tens of billions of dollars spent on this aspect of training by businesses every year. Our entire school system from preschool to college is dedicated to this kind of training.

But what about the behavior side of the equation? This area of training is a bit more tricky. If skill reflects capability, behavior reflects attitude. A person’s attitude is usually pretty deeply ingrained. This is great if the attitude is a desirable one. Not so much if it is otherwise. I can’t stress the importance of this area enough. Hiring and firing decisions are made all the time based on attitude and behavior. Movies are made that share inspiring stories on little more than the premise of the power of a positive attitude.

Let’s look at the movie “Rudy” for example. It is the story of Rudy Ruttiger, a small kid who grew up with dreams of playing football for Notre Dame. A good portion of the movie is about his seemingly tireless effort and determination to even get accepted to Notre Dame, let alone play football for them. Once he finally makes the team, he is relegated to playing defense during practice only to help condition the offensive line that would actually see play time. In one scene, it is the last practice of the year. The season is basically over, yet Rudy is running every play as though it truly mattered. The quarterback gets upset when Rudy sacks him. You can see the juxtaposition of a player with great skill and a poor attitude and an unremarkable player with a great attitude. The coach calls out the quarterback saying, “If you had a tenth of the heart of Ruttiger’s you’d have made All-American!” It takes a lot of skill to play at the All-American level. This line says a lot. Check out the scene below.

The most skilled worker offers little to no value if they have a poor attitude. The good news is that this can be addressed with a bit of time and intention. Training for desired behavior is very relational. It’s not like Pavlov where you can ring a bell, hand out a treat, and they improve their attitude. It will require leaders to spend time with each other and their teams identifying behaviors that they want to promote and coaching to grow those behaviors.

When you combine a group of people into a team or organization, the collective attitude of the group is the culture. So the importance of this kind of training is that it allows you to purposefully perpetuate the desired culture of your organization. Here are several articles that explain the importance and value of culture in your business.

The fact the business culture and personal attitude play such large roles in achieving success is why I have chosen to devote one day every week to exploring, sharing, and teaching about training.

Thanks for joining me in this first installment of “Training Tuesday”. In a future installment, I will talk about the 2 M’s of improving attitudes and culture; Modeling and Morale.

Top 3 Reasons Why You Need to be in a Leadership Mastermind Group

Mastermind group is a phrase originally coined by Napoleon Hill in his 1925 book, “The Law of Success.” Mastermind groups are designed to be a coming together of peers learn and solve problems.  I would argue that the a mastermind group is by its very nature a leadership endeavor because it engages leadership behaviors on purpose. There is immense value in taking a small chunk of time each week to deliberately learn about and discuss leadership principles and their practical application. So here are the 3 reasons why you need to be in a leadership mastermind group.

1. Supporting your peers

One of the best reasons to be in a mastermind group is to share the wealth of knowledge and experience that you have with your peers. Adding value to others is a great way to build lasting relationships, credibility, and a strong network. Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t have a wealth of knowledge and experience because even if you don’t, what you do have is your own unique perspective on the topics discussed as well as the real world problems that are brought into the discussion.

There is a story of a box truck that is relevant here. The driver of this truck was cruising down the highway one day when he approached an overpass. To his utter dismay, the truck was too tall by just a hair and instantly became wedged under the bridge. It was a rather large ordeal, closing down a lane of the highway. The troopers didn’t know what to do and when they called the tow truck, he couldn’t do anything either. People had started to gather to try to solve this problem and get traffic moving again, but no one could figure out how to dislodge the truck and get it on its way. At about the 1 hour mark of this fiasco, a young boy of about 8 years old spoke meekly into the crowd of would be problem solvers, “Why don’t you just let the air out of the tires?” In that one moment, all it took was the unique perspective of an inexperienced young boy to produce the most face-palmingly simple answer to the problem a la the Old El Paso commercials.

So, if you don’t have the wealth of knowledge and experience, be the young boy who was not afraid to speak into the crowd and share his humble take on the situation. You’d be surprised by how valuable that can be. They might even cheer.

2. Learning from your peers

The next best reason to be in a mastermind group is to learn from your peers. You haven’t experienced everything and neither has anyone else, but you have all experienced and learned different things and you can share that with each other. You can bring your unique challenges and problems to a group of smart, capable people and have them help you solve them. Like your own personal think tank…that you get to be in too. And don’t forget, any one of your peers in the group might turn out to be the “Old El Paso Kid” for your problem. Don’t miss out on an epiphany, join a group.

3. Promoting a leadership mindset

The third reason is probably the most valuable. Changing your mindset it the most critical part of changing your behavior and therefore your results. This is a widely accepted notion. Just check out this article from Success.com. If you’re a religious person, you’ll find this in the Bible in Romans 12:2. It says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. But where ever you learn it, it’s true. And truth is truth no matter the source.

So, do you want to be a better leader? This is a change you can’t afford to skip. Find out how to join a group today.

 

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