My Thoughtful Place

In the words of Winnie the Pooh, I am in my thoughtful place.  Yes, I am at Starbucks writing this post.  Not only is the location my thoughtful place, but so is where I am mentally right now. 

So, my thoughts for the day revolve around change, and how to move yourself from where you perceive you are, to where you want to be.  This is easier said than done, however, it can be done. 

It is easy to be like the crowd, and live in Negativeville, but it takes effort to move yourself from there.  So, here are a couple of characteristics of Negativeville.

  • Do you find yourself finger pointing and focusing on what others are doing, rather than what you are doing?
  • Do your interactions with others generally focus about you, or your frustrations?
  • You are not able to extract any positives from your day.

So, how do you attach a U-Haul to your tuchus, and move out of Negativeville and land in Pleasant Valley, or Positiveland.  Hint: You don’t have to travel through Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  Here are some perspectives that have helped me in the past. You may recognize some of these perspectives from baseball or other sports movies.

  • Don’t think, it only hurts the team. Meaning, the more I over analyze the situation, the more negative energy I am wasting.  Negative energy is draining and unproductive.
  • I don’t have to be the center of attention.  I can be a positive influence by working behind the scenes.
  • When someone gives you a gift, thank them. In other words, be sincere and appreciative of the work of others. Whether or not this is reciprocated does not matter. Be true to yourself.
  • Feed the monster! Everyone likes their ego stroked. By taking the time to do so, you ensure your number gets called.
  • The greatest recognition that an athlete can receive is that they are recognized by their peers as great teammate, not that they hit the most home runs, or scored the most goals, etc. Be the great teammate.

In my thoughtful place, I am taking the time to listen and observe others. I keep my focus on what I am doing, not what others are doing. If someone has a perception that I may not agree with, I can’t change their perception with words, but I can with positive actions.

No one is perfect, however, if I strive to improve a consistently positive outlook, I may be able to perfect outcomes. If I focus on situational outcomes, results improve.  Once results improve, I am at that point able to unhook that U-Haul from my tuchus and enjoy where I am.

Remember, your positive actions and attitudes can have a far reaching impact on those who you may not even be aware are paying attention to you. No matter how impactful you may perceive you are, I guarantee you are leaving an impression on someone, why not make it a positive one.

Have a great week!

A Leadership Experience

This past week, I had the privilege of watching a group of leadership program candidates graduate from their experience.  As a Board Member for a local trade association, I was there as this program is a Board sponsored program. 

There were some important lessons that I took away from this dinner, aside from the fact the dinner, was AWESOME!  All of these lessons are more “duh” moments when you sit back and think about it, however, they definitely served as reminders that you have to take the time to get  back to the basics from time to time as leader.

1. Leadership is a journey, not a destination
2. Each person has their individual spin they put on leadership
3. Have a dream; develop a plan; execute on your strategy
4. No two leaders execute in the same manner, nor are their experiences the same
5. Just because leadership styles are different, doesn’t mean one is more right than another
6. If you are learning in a homogeneous environment, you lose diversity in thought and experiences
7. Successful leaders are always networking and exchanging ideas
8. Leaders must be open to differing perspectives and allow results to happen as a consequence of execution
9. Leadership is not about the leader
10. Leaders must take the time to “smell the roses” and celebrate the success of their teams and organizations
11. Leaders need to be facilitators for growth and development, not managers of activities
12. Leaders don’t need to be the smartest person in the room, but they need to have vision and effective communication skills

These 2013 graduates of The Austin Contact Center Association Service Leadership Academy did a great job in their journey.  Several of the graduates are already on their way to successful adventures inside their organizations, but also outside of their organization.  I don’t think that they realize how much they taught this member of the audience.  I hope they do now.

Have a great week!

A Sense of Purpose

Today’s topic is one that is discussed frequently as a leadership topic, providing a sense of purpose.  I take credit for this not in my workplace, but in the work that my two son’s began this weekend. 

Allow me to table set for a moment.  First of all, they are both A students in high school.  One has been accepted to his dream college on early admission, but is keeping his options open as before he fully commits as he has a desire to play baseball at the collegiate level.  My other son is a sophomore who is definitely coming into his own personality and is very focused in his own right.  They are both focused on being successful in school, but at times it seems they are satisfied with doing enough to stay ahead of their peers.

They began assisting a family friend this weekend on a new business venture that they are assisting him with market research on.  What a better source on how social media is influencing people than with a couple of teenagers.  A great idea for my friend, plus it provide some valuable work experience that allows them not to come home covered in hamburger grease.  A win-win in my book.

Here is the leadership lesson.  They came home fired up and motivated to do well (after a 9AM meeting on a Saturday morning), not just because there was money involved, but they were talking about all the potential they saw and wanted to become part of a greater purpose.  They understood the value of what they were doing and the impact it would have on our friends business.

In our own workplace, are including in our day to day activities a way to integrate a sense of purpose into our culture?  While there are may be a variety of roles and responsibilities in our environments, are we taking the time to make sure that our teams and organizations understand the value of each persons contribution to the “why” we are in business.

I am fortunate, I get to share a story of contribution and success with the rest of the organization I work for in the morning.  Daily my team shares encouragement and stories of success with each other.  As a result, the team has a shared sense of purpose and value.  They support and encourage each other and motivate our leadership to want to do more for them on a daily basis.  At the end of the day, having the shared purpose, creates a shared vision of what success looks like, and we work on it daily.

Take a few minutes this week to recognize those you work with.  Tell stories, because you want to, not because you have to.  They will be much more meaningful to the recipient than if you are going through the motions and simply checking a box.

Have a great week!

Keep Perspective

Each year Beloit College publishes its Class of XXXX mindset list.  This list is a compilation of the perspectives that each incoming freshman class has.  It is a very intriguing look at how the world we live in has changed over the preceding 18 years.

This morning I had an interesting conversation with my wife on the way to work.  She teaches 7th grade science and raised a very interesting perspective to me.  This years sixth and seventh graders have not known a world where global terrorism has not been a concern.  They don’t know about the events leading up to the attacks of 9/11.  The world we live in has changed so much over the past 12 years.

Think about your work.  Are you able to keep perspective of the events going on around you?  It is difficult to do.  Most times, even as professionals, we are so focused on making the decision, we forget about all of the events leading up to the current situation.  We think that every experience we have is one that no one else has been through before.  That simply isn’t the case.  We forget that experience is the catalyst for innovation.  Understanding that every situation is a result of a series of decisions and events that brought us to the here and now is very important. 

Keeping perspective on ones mindset allows teams to grow, products to be launched, and businesses to grow and expand.  Think about it for a moment.  Could Benjamin Franklin have developed a cellular telephone?  No chance!  Remember, experience is the catalyst for innovation.  Without Franklin’s discovery of electricity, experiences leading to the development of the cellular phone would not have been possible.  For Franklin and his contemporaries, it would have been inconceivable to imagine that some could be walking down the street in Boston, and speaking to someone in Philadelphia or London.  A series of discoveries, experiences, and innovation led to the world we know today.

My boys may not know or understand that when I grew up, there were essentially 3 networks on TV and everyone watched the 6:00 local news, and then the 7:00 national news.  Pong was a cool video game.  Red Dawn was a real concern.  The thought of my beloved Red Sox winning a World Series was a pipe dream, let alone two World Series in three years.  Automatic windows on a car were a luxury.  Going to an Apple store, meant work at the orchard.

Their perspective is that they have communication available at the speed of thought.  Apps are a way of life.  Terrorism is not limited to countries that we just read about. 

Keep perspective of how you got to where you are.  Take time to be self reflective and know that you can change your course if you so choose.  Every morning the sun rises and new beginnings are born.  Take calculated risks and blaze your trail.  Easier said than done, but we crawled before we walked, and walked before we were able to run, and ran before we were able to soar.  Take the first step today.

WTF???

WTF???  You can fill in the blanks for what those initials stand for.  However, they are initials for what all of us experience at some point in our day?

  • Another driver cuts your off in an effort to make a yellow light so they can arrive at their destination sooner….  WTF???
  • You are sitting in a meeting and you offer comments that are seemingly ignored.  Then what seems like just seconds later, another participant in the meeting offers the same comment that you had just made and seems to receive praise for their comment…  WTF???
  • You are having a conversation with a person face to face, and a third person approaches the person you are speaking with and interrupts with a question of their own…  WTF???
  • A project is completed in your office that has taken a very long time to complete and has been promised to be the saving grace that all have been waiting for.  When it’s rolled out, there are more problems post implementation than there were previously…  WTF???
  • As a parent, you are constantly approached by your child’s school for fundraisers, donations, etc., that just seems endless and non-budgeted.  As a parent, you want to participate because you know what non-participation could potentially do for your child socially…  WTF???

All of these situations just are frustrating and we face them on a daily basis.  You spend more time asking yourself WTF?  You expend more negative energy towards getting the answers rather than on just moving forward.  You allow yourself to dwell in a place longer than what it really needs to be.  Is that really solving the problem at hand, probably not. 

Here’s an approach for you….  Bank It.  Remember Karma is a bitch!

While you may not be able to change the situation immediately, especially in the workplace, remember that every situation has a result, either positive or negative.  It is easy to become frustrated, all of us have done this, but this could actually be a learning opportunity for ourselves if we look hard enough.

Look at the current situation in its totality and what decisions have occurred to arrive at the present place.  How could better decision making in the future avoid negative consequences in the future.  By taking a step back and becoming an observer, rather than a participant in a situation, can you become a better decision maker?  Just a thought.

This week when you are just thinking to yourself, WTF?  Just document and deposit the situation, and bring it back when the time is more appropriate, not in an “I told you so” moment, but rather in a how do we avoid the same situation from occurring again.

It has been a while since I have posted a blog, so please have a great week and don’t dwell in WTF!!!

I’m GREAT, Doesn’t EVERYONE else know it?

A healthy ego is essential for success in the workplace.  You need to be confident in your own skills, abilities, and experiences as you progress through your career.  That’s a no-brainer.  But, what happens when your employer decides that your skills, abilities, and experiences should be shared elsewhere.  What you are left with is your past, and it becomes vitally important that you impart your SAE to a potentially new employer.  You know you are GREAT!  Everyone else should know it and come knocking down your door, right?

Uh…  Not so much. 

In the workforce these days, there are many, many bright and talented individuals that have skills, abilities, and experiences that are not readily seen.  Thus preparing for your next chapter as a job hunter becomes mission critical.

A couple of ideas that I would like to share, most of which are considered “DUH” ideas, but nonetheless, are share worthy.

  • Keep your eyes wide open while currently employed.  New employers/hiring managers have ego’s too.  They love the idea of “stealing” talent from another organization, however, are not as boastful if they find a “stray”.
  • Research – Social media offers insights into organizations and leaders that 30 years ago were not as easily attained.  Know who you are interviewing with and what that person focuses on.  Understand and use jargon that are hot in your industry now.
  • Plan your behavioral responses, based upon how you utilized your skills and abilities in situations you have been faced with.  How did these contribute as successes and failures to your overall experience for the position.
  • Share openly during the interview, but not too openly.  You don’t want to be perceived as condescending, individualistic, or hard to get a long with during the interview.  Be able to share what you learned as a result of the situation you provided as an example.  Negative situations are the best sharing opportunities as they demonstrate your ability to grow personally and professionally.

Remember, you need to be able to sell yourself forward, not reside in your past.  The person interviewing you may not be able to connect the dots with your diverse experiences, and it is up to you to connect those dots for them.  People that don’t know me, for instance, are quite surprised when I say that I was a History major in college.  Dot connecting has become common place for me.

You are GREAT!  Plan for where you want to be, not for where you are.  Network, network, network!  Doors will open, and you will be able to walk through them!  Good Luck!!

Have a great week!

Ever Feel Like a Pigeon Sometimes?

Whether you are in the workplace or in your personal life, do you ever feel like a pigeon sometimes?  What exactly does this mean, you might ask?

If you are an information and knowledge junkie, you probably have an insatiable thirst to know and learn more.  You don’t just want to know when decisions are made, but why they are made.  Yes, you probably have your hands in alot of different places, and juggling multiple projects at any one time, but you are never satisfied.

Feeling like a pigeon occurs when you rely on others for the scraps of information that are being thrown down to you, hoping that each morsel will fill you up.  Pigeons will hang out around beings (usually humans) that can satisfy the pigeons need for food, and ultimately satisfaction.  Pigeons, when they can not obtain satisfaction in one location, they move to another location, hoping to have the desires satisfied.

As humans, our morsels of food are the nuggets of “why” things occur.  If you are in an organization where decisions are made by those disconnected from the processes and drivers, you are probably shaking your head thinking, “what were they thinking”?  Sooner or later you either become complacent and settle for mediocrity, or you decide to take action and move locations where hopefully your desires can be satisfied.  The thing about pigeons though, they never stop trying.  They will continue to come around, until a piece of bread is thrown their way.  The human thinks that the pigeon is satisfied, however, the satisfaction is only temporary, the pigeon will undoubtedly return for more.

As leaders, we need to expect that our teams have this desire to know why decisions are made, and it is up to us to keep feeding that need.  Teams and individuals understand confidentiality, they don’t understand secrecy. 

Feed the need, and productivity will take seed.  Don’t give teams and individuals a reason to look elsewhere for their morsels, because the outcome will usually not be what you ultimately want. 

How about you?  Do you ever feel like a pigeon?