It’s not personal!

“A great leader doesn’t avoid conflict and a great leader doesn’t doesn’t leave a body of emotionally destroyed people behind. A great leader solves problems.”

Andy Stanley

The great leaders I have worked with always made it about the problem to be solved, not the person.  They are exceptional at addressing both poor results and poor behaviors swiftly and directly.  They didn’t leave a wake of destruction in their path because they didn’t make it personal.  They focused on the desired outcome and addressing whatever is that happens to be taking a person off course.  

Does it take courage to do this?  Yes, of course it does.  Not many people thrive on and enjoy high conflict situations.  It takes an ability to keep the focus on the business at hand and not let the fear of conflict dissuade you from having the direct conversations that are needed.  

I’ve work with leaders who were anything but exceptional at this as well.  They either would ignore the situation entirely, talk about it behind another persons back and undermine their credibility, or they would be like a volcano and erupt.  All of these behaviors (and many more) are the types of things that emotionally destroy people and undermine the influence of leadership.

The key for success here is to ensure that when dealing with situations where conflict is needed be swift, seek to understand, and live by the principle ‘It’s not personal!’

Good decisions start with good questions…


“Leadership isn’t making all the decisions. It is making sure the right decisions are made.”

Andy Stanley

Sometimes the best decision a leader makes is to ask the right questions.  When this is done effectively it puts the leadership focus on making the right decision, not on the decision maker themself.

I will fully admit that this is much easier said than done.  Knowing when to ask the right questions and when to be the decision maker is a delicate balance that comes through experience and trial and error.  But when it is done correctly it creates leadership growth both in the decision makers and those that they lead.   

Invest your effort into asking the questions that drive towards making the right decisions.  It creates a double win.  The right decisions are made, and so are more leaders…

Ownership = Action

“The chief condition on which, life, health and vigor depend on, is action. It is by action that an organism develops its faculties, increases its energy, and attains the fulfillment of its destiny.”

Colin Powell

When do you know it is the right time to take action?  I would argue that if you are thinking about whether it is the right time, that the right time has already passed.  

A bias towards action is a bias towards ownership.  If you have that ownership trait then you will have a bias towards action.  If you don’t, then you can grow one.  Just start taking action on the things that need to be done.

Right vs. Acceptable…

“Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.”

Franz Kafka

The definition of “acceptable” in the dictionary is: “meeting only minimum requirements; barely adequate.” 

I can’t think of too many times in my life where “acceptable” is actually acceptable.  When it comes to the things that are important, the places where I choose to invest my time, effort and energy, meeting a minimum requirement just doesn’t cut it.  It reminds me of the old adage that my Dad, and I am sure many other parents over the years, instilled in my brother and I from a young age.  “Any job worth doing, is worth doing right.”  

I remember that being a mantra that would haunt me as a kid if I was doing some chore I didn’t want to do.  When Dad would check on my progress  if my work didn’t meet the standard he had set for me he would make me do it again.  I learned quickly that if I didn’t want to have to do it over, I’d better do it right the first time.

As I reflect back on it now the key I learned was this.  You must have a clear definition of what great looks like for anything that you are doing and choosing to invest your precious time in.  If you don’t know what great looks like, how can you possibly measure your progress and hold yourself accountable for doing it right?  Otherwise, you run the risk of simply being acceptable.  No one celebrates a merely acceptable effort.

 

Own it…

 

“Good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get things done.”

Jocko Willink

A very wise person once told me, “there is only one way to point a finger.  You extend your hand, point your finger out, and then you turn your hand around and point it at yourself.  If you are going to point a finger at someone that is the only acceptable way to do it.”  

Successful leaders must have this trait of personal ownership and discipline.  If they don’t, they will not achieve the level of impact that God created within them.  The gifts that you have been given will be unrealized.  The opportunity to serve and give to others through the influence of your leadership will be diminished.  

We all have hundreds of opportunities to demonstrate this type of leadership every single day.  It starts with personal accountability and discipline.  If you expect something.  Do it.  Don’t whine about it.  Don’t complain.  Don’t say, “that’s not my job.”  No one cares to hear that.  No one wants to be around that person.  You don’t want to be around that person.

Will you fail at this?  Yes.  I fail daily.  But failure is an opportunity to learn, to get better, to pick yourself up and do it harder, faster, with more vigor the next time.   Over,  Under.  Around or through.  Whatever it takes to get the job done.  That is the attitude that a person with extreme ownership embodies.  There are no excuses.   

If you haven’t read Extreme Ownership  by Jocko Willink then you owe it to yourself to find a way to add it to the top of your reading queue.  As the title suggests it is all about ownership and accountability.  You are responsible and accountable.  No one else is.  Period.  End of story.  

What are you going to learn today?

“The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity. Usually, growth comes at the expense of previous comfort or safety.”

Josh Waitzkin

“Static, safe mediocrity.” Just those words alone make my skin crawl.  Learning, and being willing to change because of what you have learned, is key to breaking free from the trap of “static, safe mediocrity.’

So what are you going to go learn today?  Not just a check the box thing where you can say you learned something new.  But what are you going to go learn that has the power to challenge the status quo or how you think?  

If you don’t seek to learn something new daily, something that challenges you, you are well on the path to “static, safe mediocrity.”

 

 

 

What you do matters…

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”

Sheryl Sandberg

Yesterday someone came up to me and told me how much they enjoy receiving the daily quote and that they share them with a friend every day.  She said that a few weeks ago her friend messaged her late in the day on a Sunday afternoon to find out why she hadn’t sent her the quote yet.  She was laughing when she told me this and said, “so I logged in to my work email so I could forward the quote to her even though I was off of work.”

When I was listening to this I was struck by the fact that I really have no idea who gets the daily quotes, who reads this blog (if anyone), and if those things make any impact on the lives of others.  Hearing that it mattered to just one person is such powerful affirmation that the effort we put forth really matters.  I have long held the belief that if by doing these things only one person is ever impacted that it is worth the effort.  

I have been blessed to work with some incredible leaders over the years.  Those whom have inspired and impacted me simply through their presence and the leadership example they created through their actions and behaviors.  A certain few of them I haven’t seen in almost 20 years, but their influence on my life and leadership carries through to this day.  When I think about great leadership impact I think of these individuals and how they, simply through their presence and actions, cast such a such a powerful influence on myself and I am sure many many others over the years.  

My point to all this rambling is this.  Show up.  Be authentic.  Genuinely care.  When you do these things it will matter to someone.  You might never know the impact but your presence will be felt.  And one day, someone will share with you how it matters and they in turn will inspire you to reach further and do more.  Your effort matters…

Create a daily discipline around what matters most!

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Peter Drucker

I’ve been guilty of this one more than a few times.  Doing a great job on something, spending time getting it right, but it not being the most important use of my time or energy.  Why does this happen?  

Focusing on the things that matter means you have to be highly intentional at taking the time to understand the problem and thinking through what the most important or impactful solution will be.  Where should the effort be focused?  Sometimes you identify the right thing, but the situation and environment changes and the initiative or effort should be dropped.  That can be hard to do, but it is critical if you want to make real progress.  

Create a daily discipline of asking yourself “what is the most important thing for me to be spending my time on today?” Ideally this should link back to your most important goals, or the “big rocks” as Dr. Stephen Covey calls them.  Otherwise, it is so easy to get off track because we are doing something that is fun or that we particularly enjoy…  

 

Solving for simplicity…

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”

Charles Mingus

There is such beauty in simplification.  However the natural order of things seems to be focused on making things more complicated.  In business it seems to be how folks justify their efforts and contributions.  I know I’m guilty far too often of this.  

It is fun to solve complicated problems, those are the things that stir the heart and engage the mind.  Though in recent years I will fully admit that true joy has come from finding ways to make the complex simple.  Maybe it comes from being a father and needing to find ways to explain things to my kids.  Perhaps it is wisdom that comes through experience and hard knocks.  Regardless, bringing clarity and focus through simple and uncluttered thinking adds so much value to life. 

Here are some sample questions to reflect when thinking through how to make the complicated simple:

  • What is the single most important thing to focus on?
  • What is the easiest way to solve this problem?  Fastest?  Best?
  • Can I explain the solution is on a single page?
  • What are the questions that WILL be asked?  How can I answer them as directly as possible?  

 

Pause… And think…

“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you, that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.”

Warren Buffett

Take a deep breath…  Pause…  Will how I react now to whatever this situation is carry more impact a year from now than the actual situation itself?

I want that tattooed on the inside of my eyelids.  (no, not really) But having a “pause & think” button would a great skill to further develop.  When I think of the times when I have reacted more emotionally, or when I see others do it, it seems to happen when people “need to be right” as opposed to being focused on “doing what is right.”

Perhaps working to always separate yourself from the need to be right and only focusing on doing what is right can be the “pause and think button” we need in life and leadership.

 

How much do you care?

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo Buscaglia

We never know the impact we have on another persons life.  The littlest things can matter the most.  When I read the quote above it jumped out that all of those things demonstrate care and concern for another human being.  Showing that we care can change somebodies world.  We don’t know what anyone else is truly going through and how we can impact their lives by demonstrating care.  We might never know, and that is okay because to live an intentional life of caring is our greatest calling.  

Reasons vs. Excuses…

“It is easier to move from failure to success than from excuses to success.”

John C. Maxwell

Excuses are devoid of action.  They reflect a lack of accountability for results which becomes a fertile ground for failure to take root.  The only way to break free from failure is to understand the reason that something failed and then create an action plan that you own and are accountable for.  The plan still might not work, but there can’t be any excuses, you have to own the outcomes.

When it comes to delivering results the difference between simply understanding a reason something happened, and making an excuse, is accountability and action.  

Winning is a habit…

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”

Vince Lombardi

Winning is contagious, it spreads like a wildfire on a dry and windy summer day.  But losing is contagious too.  I am sure that you have been on both winning teams, and losing teams.  The difference in behavior and attitude is remarkable.  As a leader the key to building a winning team is to find wins and build on those wins.  Find the little things that are wins on a moment by moment or daily basis.  Create the momentum that allows a team to lean in and seek new and greater ways to grow.

You can apply this strategy in your self-leadership as well.  Reflect on your day and ask yourself “what were my wins today?”  Far too often, for me at least, it is easy to spend the time and energy thinking about all that you have to do, or all that you didn’t get done.  Instead, spend some time focusing on the wins that you did have.  You might find yourself building and reinforcing a habit of winning.

 

Never waste a mistake…

“When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.”

Paul Bear Bryant

When was the last time you made a really big mistake?  I mean the kind where you knew you had a real mess to clean up?  Was it fun?  Of course not.  If it was a mistake that really mattered there can’t be anything fun about cleaning it up.  But the flip side is that without making some big mistakes you can’t really engage in big learnings.  The kind that shake you to your core and make you really dig into yourself and who you are. 

To learn from these types of mistakes you first have to admit that you have made one.  For some reason that always seems to be the hardest part.  Maybe it is pride, or ego that clouds your judgment.  Maybe a long history of success has created an aura of self-righteousness.  Whatever it is, if you can’t admit a mistake, then you can’t learn.  If you can’t learn you are going to repeat that same mistake.  

While screwing something up and making a mistake is never fun, learning from it and acting to resolve can be.  The joy comes with the doing and growing.  Never let a good mistake go to waste.  There is so much than can be learned…

 

Growth requires humility…

“No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better – because your job is to try to help everybody else get better.”

Jim Yong Kim

Discounting and ignoring feedback from others because you don’t agree with it or don’t see it the same way they do is incredibly flawed.  ‘In the mind of the perceiver the perception is a fact.’  

Feedback is a gift.  Because somewhere in there is a kernel of truth you might not want to recognize or address.  There is a root cause for a perception and if you want to grow, if you want to serve others, you MUST look inside yourself and at YOUR behaviors to figure out how to improve.  You have to learn and grow and have humility to understand that you don’t know everything.

Keep seeking feedback!  And if you don’t get it from one person, ask someone else.  When you receive it don’t defend yourself, seek first to understand and then get to work with humility and grace and find a way to change so you can improve in your ability to serve others.  

 

A battle won vs. a battle worth winning…

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

Margaret Thatcher

This quote is a great reminder for me of the importance of discipline and perseverance.  It speaks to the importance of staying diligent and not resting on your laurels.  Just because you have done well and won a battle doesn’t mean it will stay won.  You must be disciplined and focused or you might find yourself fighting the same battle over again.  

However, if you have found yourself fighting the same battle more than once was it because the battle needed to be fought or because you wanted to fight it?  The watch out  is to make sure that we are focused on winning for the right reasons.  Is it about winning the battle or is it just about winning?   Has ego come into play and clouded our judgement?  

Discipline and perseverance are outstanding traits, as long as they don’t become a mask for stubbornness and ego-centric efforts.  Make sure you know why you are fighting.  

 

 

 

Effort versus Effect…

“Efficiency, which is doing things right, is irrelevant until you work on the right things.”

Peter Drucker

How much time do we spend in life working hard versus stepping back to ensure we are working right?  The impact of our effort is really what matters, not just the fact that we worked extremely hard.  Sometimes it can feel way more rewarding to be “busy” than it can to be effective.

For example, is it more important to check something off your list of to do’s than it is to take the time to think through whether the task should be on your list in the first place?  Have you ever completed a task and THEN written it down just so you could check it off?  Sure, you get this nice little dopamine boost than comes from accomplishing a task but did you actually sit back and make sure that the task needed to be done in the first place?  Why do we do this?  (yes, I have been guilty of this too…) 

I have found that because activity gets measured daily it can be easy to become a slave to being busy and lose sight of the desired results. In today’s multi-tasking as a measure of success world we can often justify our worth by being busy and having lots of activities going on at the same time.  However the real measure of effectiveness is whether or not the desired results are being delivered.

If you were to add one thing to your list to improve your effectiveness I would suggest this:  Schedule time weekly to think through what needs to be done in order to achieve your desired results.  Without this, you might have lots of effort but little to show for the work.

One last question.  Does your measure of success at the end of the day come from how many things were checked off your list or whether or not you were checking the right things off your list?

How do you tend your wish garden?

“Wishing is a form of inspiration for the lazy mind but taking action, persisting and finding alternative routes to your destination against all odds is the definition of a SUCCESSFUL venture.”

Oscar Bimpong

A wish is simply a seed that is sown that can grow into a great tree or a beautiful flower.  But for the seed to survive and become what is is capable of it must overcome all sorts of challenges and obstacles.  In the same manner for a wish to grow it must be nurtured, it won’t happen by accident or through simple desire.  

This quote reminds me of the parable of the sower from Matthew 13: 1-23.  For our wish to become reality it must fall on good soil and be tended and protected.  That is our responsibility and obligation as leaders.  To achieve great things we can’t be content with wishing, we must instead ensure that our dreams, and the dreams of those whom we serve, are nurtured, encouraged, and sustained against all odds.  If wishes are seeds then we are gardeners charged with ensuring they grow to their full potential.

What seeds are worth taking from dream to reality?  What seeds are worth planting and protecting no matter what happens?  

Speed + Simplicity + Self-confidence = Success

“The 3S’s of winning in business are speed, simplicity and self-confidence.”

Jack Welch

I love this!  When you think about it these are mutually dependent variables.  You just can’t have one without a good dose of the other.  

In today’s world speed is more critical than ever and you just can’t be fast if you allow complication to creep in to your processes or thinking.  Do some problems require complicated solutions?  Of course.  But the essence of creating speed is simplicity, and you simply can’t be fast to market, fast to grow, fast to learn, if complexity rules the day.  If you want to be fast, you have to find ways to keep things simple.  Period.  Simplicity is the great enabler of speed.  

Self-confidence (never to be mistaken for arrogance or high ego) enables speed and simplicity through decisive action and the ability to learn and adjust.  All too often we measure our own self-worth not on the results, but on the complexity of whatever solution we have created for a given problem.  Self-confidence is knowing that simple is good and that just because we are keeping things simple it is NOT an indication of low-value or low worth.

The road to mediocrity and irrelevance is paved with slow and complicated projects/programs/products.  I can’t imagine that much self-confidence was created through these failures…  

 

 

Change is an investment opportunity…

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Dan Millman

Change can be tough.  There will be uncertainty and the unknown lurking just over the horizon. Staying the same is always the easier choice, though it is only very rarely more beneficial.  Every great discovery and adventure story starts with, as it’s basic premise, uncertainty, the unknown, great risk and only the potential for reward.  Frodo Baggins certainly defied all Hobbit traits by setting out on his great adventure.  It would have been much easier for him to stay home, bury his head in the sand like an ostrich and ignore the burning world around him.  But that isn’t the choice that he made, and if you are as much of a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic as I am you know how that turned out…  

Building something new takes energy, but it is an investment in new experiences that creates the person you were born to become.  We all have a FINITE amount of energy to spend.  Do you invest it in the future or spend it trying to hang on to the past?  For example, think of how much money has been spent by people trying to look younger than they are.  Money well spent fighting the perception of the aged or would it be money better spent embracing new life experiences or helping others? That’s a very personal choice, but it represents the choices we make when we are fighting to stay the same instead of investing in becoming a new and better self.  

What investments are you going to make today?

 

What pushes you to grow?

“To succeed, you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you.”

Tony Dorsett

What gets you out of bed in the morning?  What is that big thing that drives you long after everyone else has given up?  That something that pushes you out of your comfort zone and into new levels of growth?  

It doesn’t have to be a big thing, or something that will impress others, but it has to be YOUR thing.  When you find that bigger than you something that will drive you to grow beyond your current self, you will have succeeded.  You will have the fuel necessary to make the changes needed to grow as a person and as a leader.  

One word of caution, make sure that the thing you hold on to, that motivates you, that inspires you doesn’t become an idol that OWNS you…

But not you…

“Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.”

Jim Rohn

How often do we ask ourselves these types of questions? Why do we dream small?  Live small?  Settle for less than we are capable of becoming? Why do we let others define us? Why do we focus on “can’t” instead of “I can” or “I will?” 

“But not you…”

It can be easy to fall into the trap of self-pity and excuses and become one of the “others” mentioned in the quote.  Easy, and incredibly dangerous because once you start down this path it is hard to climb back out.  It reminds me of one of my favorite, and incredibly funny, sayings.  “Beware the lollipop of mediocrity, lick it once and you will suck forever.”  Crass, yes, but oh so true.  

“But not you…”

The only way not to be small is to focus on your God given gifts and refuse to settle for being less than the person that God designed you to be.  If you haven’t figured that out yet, that is OKAY!  We are all learning and growing.  The key is is to understand that this isn’t supposed to be easy.  You can’t grow without going through the crucible and learning from the challenges.  

How do you choose to live a life that exemplifies these words?

“But not you…”  

 

The solution is what matters…

“Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.”

George Washington Carver

If you are making excuses it is a failure of leadership.  Period.  If you are looking to assign fault, you are making an excuse.  You have already failed.

I’ve heard folks say, “I’m not making excuses, I just want to make sure you understand the reasons why this happened.”  I firmly believe that the only difference between  ‘excuses’ and ‘reasons’ is the action plan needed to drive change.  Reasons without action are just another name for an excuse and excuses don’t come with actions. 

The problem with excuses and “reasons” is that the effort is spent focused on the problem and all the reasons why something didn’t work.  This doesn’t add value in any way.  Now I am not saying it isn’t important to understand root cause and effect, but understanding is only important if you are then focused on doing something about it!

I recently read something really profound that puts this in perfect perspective.

“Focus only on the solution to the problem – never on the problem itself.”  

If you are solution oriented, you can’t be making excuses.  If you are ‘problem oriented’ then excuse-making and failure will be your best friends.  If you are looking for a reason something happened to take action, great.  But make sure that ACTION is what you are focused on creating, never excuses…  

Excuses = Failure…

Accountability starts with self…

“Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.”

Courtney Lynch

On of my long-time favorite mantras is “fix the problem, not the blame.” Instead of investing your effort into finding out who who is at fault, and why they are accountable, focus on what happened and what is needed to fix it.  I love the way this quote frames out that accountability is a result of leading by example.  You can’t have accountability if the leader doesn’t walk the talk by accepting responsibility.  This seems so obvious, yet rare in practice.  
It is far easier to try and “hold others accountable” instead of first focusing on our responsibility as leaders for the outcomes and engendering an ownership mentality.   If you want to create a culture of accountability, take responsibility for the results.  
Accountability starts with self…

Perfect isn’t possible…

“Progressive improvement beats delayed perfection.”

Mark Twain

Perfect isn’t possible.  Once you come to terms with this then there is no need to wait hoping that you can get there.  How many great ideas, projects, initiatives, etc. never see the light of day because the “timing isn’t perfect,” or the idea, project, initiatve “isn’t perfect yet?”  

This doesn’t mean that there is an excuse for shoddy work or poor execution.  You can still be striving for great, but waiting for perfection means that you will be waiting forever.  Make change happen.  Make mistakes, learn, grow, get better.  Do something! Just get better.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Just don’t wait to create change because you are hoping for perfect because it will never happen.  

 

 

Close the gap…

“It is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be, by remaining what we are.”

Max De Pree

The gap analysis is a management tool used to determine the difference between where we desire to be and where we actually are today.  The key to effective use of this tool is a Gap Analysiscandid and honest critique of actual performance with no self-deception on what reality truly looks like.  Once you identify the gaps between the desired future state and true reality only then you can you create the action plan needed to create the change that needs to happen to bring the future vision to life.  The key here of course is the ability to create lasting growth and change.

I love this quote because it applies every single time you read it, no matter where you are in your journey through life.  There is never a time when we can sit back and rest on our laurels and previous accomplishments and be content with where we are.  We are always on a journey towards becoming what we need to be, and must be ever viligant in our need to grow and change.

When we think about why we are on this earth, and the impact that we want and need to make on the world around us, how can we ever stop working on ourselves?

 

 

Complacency = Death

“A higher rate of urgency does not imply ever-present panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent.”

John P. Kotter

It always amazes me how many points can be scored in a football game during the last two minutes.  When the pressure is on, and time is of the essence, great teams step up and score points.  The 2-minute drill highlights what a team is capable of when acting with urgency and removing any and all complacency from their behaviors.  

I have long believed that a sense of complacency is the most dangerous thing that a person or a team can ever develop.  The dictionary definition of complacency is, “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.”

Complacency scares me to death…

Operating with a sense of urgency is a natural guard against complacency.  Living with a sense of urgency shows up in the little things in life.  Watch people and you can tell those that bring a sense of urgency to all aspects of their lives.  You can see it in how they walk, how they respond to questions, what decisions they make, etc.

Urgency isn’t fear.   Urgency is moving and acting with intense purpose and drive because that’s how you choose to live.  

Listening is power…

“Leaders who refuse to listen, will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing helpful to say”

Andy Stanley

I once heard someone say that if you want to be a more effective leader you have to be more interested, than interesting.  This was followed with with what I believe is some of the best advice I have ever received.  That as a leader, in order for you to really be effective, that the number of questions you ask must outweigh the number of statements that you make. This has always been incredibly convicting for me and is something that I continually work on improving.  

The dangers of talking more than listening seem obvious, but why do so few people actually practice the true art of listening?  Is it because they like the sound of their own voice?  That they believe what they have to say is the most important thing?  Or perhaps, they just don’t understand that the best way to impact and influence others comes through listening and seeking first to to understand BEFORE being understood.  

If you aren’t really listening, then as Andy says, you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by people who only tell you what you want to hear….  

Doubt can be fuel for the engine of accomplishment…

“If people are doubting how far you’ll go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore.”

Michele Ruiz

There are two powerful lessons for me in today’s quote.  First, I recognize that some of my greatest motivators in life have been when someone has said “you can’t.”  For me this fires an immediate “I can” mentality. Looking back on life I can see a number of really positive outcomes that were seeded by the doubts of others.

Second, the danger of being a person that casts their own fears and doubts onto others.  In hindsight I recognize that some of the “you can’t” people had limiting beliefs about their own abilities and for some reason they needed to project that onto others.  They weren’t happy unless their “I can’t” mentality was twisted into a “you can’t” and shared.  I never want to be this person.

How have the doubts of others fired your engine of accomplishment?

 

 

Strategy vs. Execution…

“Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.”

Morris Chang

I love how this quote frames the importance of both strategy and execution so succinctly.  How do you measure success?  Is it by having great intent, or by achieving great results?   It is the results in life that matter right?  But only if they are created through intentional focus and effort.  Time is going to pass either way, so we better make it count… 

Talking with versus about others…

“Never find fault with the absent.”

Alexander Pope

This is a great reminder and one than can be a a tough pill to swallow.  At times it seems much easier to talk about people than to talk with them.  It is something that we all do, but a practice that we must guard against if we want to increase our influence.  What are the dangers that this creates as a leader?

First, if you are finding fault with someone, and talking about it with others, then you are tearing down the walls of trust, not building them up.  The person that you are discussing someone else’s faults with can never be sure that you aren’t doing the exact same thing when they aren’t present.

Second, putting the focus on the person not the problem distracts from whatever the real issue at hand might be.  If you want to be effective in fixing something, then you have to address it head on.

Third, your example to others be creating this type of environment encourages politics and individual agendas.  It does not enhance teamwork or collaboration.  The most effective leaders set the example that others will emulate.  Do you want your team talking about others behind their backs, or addressing challenges with and for each other?

Ask yourself this one question.  “Would I have this conversation with the person in the room?”  If the answer is no, then why not?  Isn’t that the more pressing challenge to figure out?  Talking about people is easy, and cowardly.  Talking with people can be challenging, but courageous.  Which type of leader do you want to be?

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