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!

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!!!

AAAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!

The title of this blog says it all!!  It is what each of us feels at some point in time during the course of our busy days!  However, why do we get to this point?  Here are a few thoughts I have…

  • We think we are on an island in a fast moving stream.  If we dare to upset the the current, we may lose everything that this island provides for us.
  • We believe that no one else wants to hear about what is frustrating us.  That is the furthest from the truth, unless you are an infinite complainer that does not have the capacity to see the positive in any situation and as a result those around you tune you out.  Take time to see the upside in every situation, no matter how challenging it may be.
  • Mediocrity breeds complacency.  If you buy in to the thought “it has always been done that way”, you are stifling creativity.  Again, don’t upset the apple cart, it is how we are fed.

I am certain that they are other reasons that we get to the point of AAAARRGGGHHHH!!!  It is important that we understand the triggers in ourselves and work to diffuse the situation prior to frustration setting in.  This is easier said than done, but I will tell you, if you provide yourself an outlet (non-habit forming hopefully), you will find that you are in more control of situations than you think you are.  You will find that you will be easier to step back from situations and see them at the 10,000 foot level rather than mired in the weeds, your frustration level will decrease.  This will result in better decisions being made and hopefully a reduction in stress.

I had a post a that discussed how your mountains are others molehills, and vice versa.  If you learn to control what you can control, and engage only when there is a need to engage a situation, you will find your productivity and sanity levels will improve.

It is easy to focus on negativity and continually complain about situations.  However, to be a true professional, leader, and in many cases a friend, it is important to be able to see the positive in every situation.

Turn that frown, upside down and have a great rest of the week! 

Passion

What is passion?

The word is used most frequently when one talks of love, or hate.  One definition would say that it is the object of an intense desire, ardent affection, or enthusiasm. 

Can you have passion in the workplace?  Most HR professionals would encourage love in the workplace to not occur, however, I would argue that in order for businesses to thrive and grow, you need to have passion.  You need to have a love of what you are doing, just not love those in the workplace as HR would frown upon that.

As a leader, it must be understood that passion for doing the job right got you to where you are today.  Does that same passion or love still exist for you in the job. 

Teachers are a great example of a profession where there are many passionate teachers when they land their first classroom position.  For some, distractions and political agendas replace a love and passion for educating young minds, with a passionate hate for coming to work.  Even the most passionate and energetic educator succumbs to the negativity at some point.  It is those teachers who are able to keep perspective about why they are in the profession that are able to make careers out of the classroom.

Office politics frequently will breed complacency and stifle the innovation and passion of individuals.  Perseverance and vision stimulates the love for the job and allows for positions to develop into careers.  It is important for individuals who lead others to always demonstrate PMA – Positive Mental Attitude.  By doing so as a leader you are rising above the politics and providing vision. 

I am passionate about the work I do.  I wake up each day excited about what the day holds.  I have a vision about how to accomplish what needs to be accomplished.  I understand that politics exist in the workplace, but I also understand that if I don’t have a better solution, it is not a hill worth dying on.  Battles must be selective, because once you have become war weary, your passion for the job, turns to a passion for survival.

Some questions to think about…

Is your current position a job or a career?
Why are you in your current position?
Where are you going?
Does your organizations values align with your values?
Would you do your current job if there was no monetary incentive?

If you can answer the last question, the money question, with a “YES”, I would argue that you have passion for your position.  I love what I do and understand that what I do adds value to others. 

I haven’t written a post in almost 2 months, and I realize that I love writing, but it hadn’t become a passion for me…yet. 

Take some time to look introspectively and create a positive direction for yourself, if you are feeling less than satisfied with where you are.

Have a great week!

Your Wonderful Life

Everyone has a bad day.  It is easy to get caught up with what isn’t going right, however, it takes some real effort to recognize what is right when things seem they are going in the opposite direction. 

Today was my birthday.  I usually don’t worry about my birthdays, because they really haven’t been that important to me.  I would rather celebrate others, than celebrate myself, that’s just the way I am.  I had an epiphinany today when I had over 100 of my friends post on my Facebook wall, text me, or call me directly to wish me a Happy Birthday.  I thought back to one of my favorite movies of all time, “It’s A Wonderful Life” and the main character, George Bailey. 

George has many of the same stressors that many of us face on a daily basis.  Financial issues, work issues, regrets, and so on.  George has the perfect storm brewing when all of these stressors hit at one time.  Through his “guardian angel”, Clarence he learns that even though things are really bad at that moment, he actually is a positive influence on others around him.  At the end of the movie, after Clarence takes him on a historical journey of his life and the impact that he has had on others, he realizes that his life is meaning. 

Clarence sends him a message at the end of the movie that says, “Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence.”  This is a very powerful quote, and one that I remember everyday. 

Whenever you are having a bad day, remember that you truly have A Wonderful Life.  Each of us have guardian angels that we will never see, never know, but have an influence over us.  They help us make good choices each day, if we allow them to.  Just as George Bailey had to allow Clarence to show him he did matter, each of us have to be open to input from others.

I am not a religious person by any means, but I am a believer that everything happens for a reason.  We face situations each day that challenge us in many ways.  Know that you have friends that you may not talk to every day, but friends that truly do care about you and reenter your life at critical moments for a reason.  This was my lesson of the day.  Take the time each day to recognize those who have a positive impact on you.

“Remember no man is a failure who has friends.”

By keeping this quote in mind, you can’t help but have A Wonderful Life!

Be the Difference!

What if?

In Garth Brooks song, “If Tomorrow Never Comes” he says, “Tell that someone that you love, just what your thinking of, if tomorrow never comes.”

This is something that I have been thinking about a lot recently, both personally and professionally.

What if your business plans had to take an unexpected turn?
What if people that you expected to see each day, were no longer there?
What if skills you took for granted today, did not exist tomorrow?

Is the future of those around you secure?  Have you made sure that those that need to have the answers, actually have them?

I know I have asked a lot of questions, however, are you setting your legacy up properly?

I had the privilege of having a phenomenal leader work with me several years ago who made sure her legacy was a positive one.  She worked hard for her team on a daily basis.  I asked her one time why she put so much effort into what she did.  She replied that at the end of the day, it did not matter what she personally accomplished, but rather that when someone uttered her name many years in the future, that there would be positive thoughts associated with her name.  I can say that all who came in contact with her had both personal and professional respect for her.

Recently there have been several people who I knew personally and professionally that have passed away.  I regret that I did not get to know them better than what I did, because they truly left a positive legacy associated with their name.

As a leader, how are you going to be remembered?  Are your employees going to remember you as someone you genuinely cared about them, or someone that was more focused on achieving a number?  Make sure you have proper lines of communication in place to so that your organization can continue in your absence, or the absence of others.

Take time tonight, tomorrow, this week, next week, and as often as you can and tell people around you that you truly care about them.  I guarantee that it will have as much an uplifting effect on you, as it will on others.

Teachable Moments

Everyday has its teachable moments, it is up to each person as an individual as to whether or not they choose to take advantage of those moments.

In education, it is expected that teachers and administrators are always providing those teachable moments for their students.  In the workplace it is expected that supervisors are always providing those teachable moments.  In sports, it is expected that coaches are providing those teachable moments.  Unfortunately, in all of these scenarios, those teachable moments do not always occur.

The question I pose is why are those teachable moments not acted upon.  There are a myriad of reasons as to why they don’t, in my opinion, but at the end of the day it comes down to WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).

I have had the privilege of being associated with individuals that thought less about the WIIFM, and more about the impact of not taking advantage of a teachable moment.  As a student, in retrospect, I learned the importance of creating a baseline for future learning.  As a youth sports coach, I learned the importance of setting a high bar, and to focus on fundamentals.  As a rising leader, I learned the importance of controlling what I could control, and not put as much effort into negativity in the workplace.  The important aspect of teachable moments is for leaders to be open to these moments, either as a learner or as a teacher.

If you expect excellence from those around you, you need to demonstrate what excellence looks like.  Take the moments, personally and professionally to not expect A+ efforts, but give people insight as to what A+ effort looks like.  What’s in it for you?  A stronger organization, a better way forward, buy in to the vision, commitment.

I saw a great teachable moment by a group of law enforcement officers having lunch together.  Two younger officers were giggling and making comments about a very overweight officer from another department.  The older officer that was with them told them to knock it off and presumably that their behavior was inappropriate.  You could tell that the older officer was very direct as the giggling ceased immediately.  This example is where an experienced professional took advantage of a teachable moment, and hopefully the younger officers will remember their experiences.

Take advantage of teachable moments every chance they arise.  You never know when one of these moments will be life changing for you.  I have had several of these and each one of these A-ha moments has been more valuable than the last

Have a great week!