For decades millions of Americans have lamented the Republican and Democratic candidates in our presidential election forced us to choose between the lesser of two bad options. This is a classic Fool’s Choice.
A Fool’s Choice is when we mistakenly think there are only two options, when in reality there are more.
Leaders ask great questions, but are also careful listeners.
This is a skill we need to teach our employees. Our Leadership Essentials Academy has Dave's Charm School (and other team members) training to develop questioning and listening skills. However not all of you are members.
From 1978 into the early 1980’s Lee Iacocca led an effort that saved Chrysler Corporation from bankruptcy. One of the leadership disciplines he credited for helping achieve that success was every Sunday evening he would separate himself from the family to spend two hours in his study.
Who gets there faster, the person who has some of the information and starts the journey earlier; or the person who collects all the information and waits to start the journey until everything is just right?
Neither of them are faster. In a moment, let me explain why
Based on my coaching with hundreds of leaders, let me give you 1 QUICK TIP on how a hare or a tortoise can be more productive and improve relationships with others by being a better listener.
This person has a high sense of urgency. They may have a psychological motivation to overcome an internal belief that they are not good enough. They move too fast as part of an ongoing effort to prove others wrong and be "good enough."
The objective to prove yourself "good enough" is as impossible as finding the nickel in the corner of a round room. The reason is, the target always moves. When you reach one level of being good enough, then you have to go to another level. It is an evil, torturous game.
ADVICE FOR THE HARE: Who you are is not defined by your worst moments.
Your current approach is to get just enough information and then jump to conclusions. You have a passion to solve the problem and a fear of damage if the issue is not resolved quickly. This is good, when actions are taken in balance with complete information on the situation.
Unfortunately the hare can jump too fast... What can you do?
Change your strategy. Here is one option:
Recognize the trigger that ignites your fear and desire to prove yourself.
Redirect your fear of the cost of doing nothing, to the fear of the cost of the damage you cause when you make a wrong decision or deliver an incomplete solution that will not last.
Slow down. Stop doing all the talking. Stop driving. Start investigating.
Engage with others. Do not fly solo. There is wisdom in many counselors.
You have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth. Observe with your eyes. Listen with your ears. Wait to communicate solutions. Speak less, and at this stage, only to ask questions.
Develop your plan of action. Get feedback from others.
Now you have complete information, full assessment of the risks involved, and a step-by-step strategy to success. Play to your strengths: Apply your passion and sense of urgency to drive the process forward to fully complete one step and move to the next. Repeat this cycle until the process is complete, solution in place, and testing of the solution can begin.
I have been the hare and battle its re-emergence on a daily basis. Why? Because bad habits never go away. You have to overpower them with new, better habits. The battle between the old and new never ends.
As the proverb suggests, the tortoise is the opposite of the hare. This person would rather make no decision than a wrong decision. Even if the status quo is flawed, it is more comfortable to them because the risks and pain are understood.
The objective of this person is often to avoid pain because they have not fully dealt with the pain of their past. Therefore details, analysis, and thought delay action as "Rome burns."
ADVICE FOR THE TORTOISE: Who you are is not defined by what you know, but by what you do.
Your current approach is to research all possible information, consider and reconsider possible solutions, discuss issues and options, develop a thorough plan, and then implement the plan methodically... and often behind schedule.
Unfortunately the tortoise can move too slow... What can you do?
Change your strategy. Here is one option:
Recognize the trigger that ignites your lack of trust in others and new solutions.
Redirect your fear to trust in something that might fail, to focus more of your fear on the cost of doing nothing.
Set a deadline to draft a solution that is sooner than you would typically define. Play to your strengths: Begin research and conversations to fully understand the issues and options for resolution.
Engage with others. Do not fly solo. There is wisdom in many counselors.
People may disagree with you. Hear them out and hold them / their ideas to the same standards you demand of yourself. Avoid asking the same question multiple times in only slightly different ways to try to get a different answer. This irritates people.
Develop your plan of action with feedback from others. Divide the responsibilities fairly. Define the schedule for deliverables and accountability.
Initiate action. Meet deadlines. Have meetings to communicate with others who are involved as often as necessary. Start and end the meetings on time. Be a role model for quality, quantity, and timeliness of work. Have accountability as a group.
The tortoise does a great job of getting to the right destination, but needs to better balance initiating action and speed with quality of work and communicating with others in ways they prefer.
In contrast, the hare does an excellent job of initiating action, but lacks information and thus solutions are incomplete or incorrect.
Most of us are more of a hare or a tortoise. Acknowledging this we can work to improve our habits so we can leverage our strengths better and avoid the pains of our weaknesses.
Neither the tortoise nor the hare is better.
They are just different.
One of our key responsibilities as leaders is to help them work and communicate more effectively together.
Do you move too fast, or too slow? Could you be a better leader?
Why not work with me and a small group of your peers to improve? Our next Certified LEADER class starts on July 15.
Sign-up to work on specific weaknesses you have in your leadership, and to further build upon your strengths.
Leaders must change to stay ahead of the game and grow. I help leaders like you become better. We work on leadership skills and systems to hire, manage, develop, and retain top performers, and your systems to grow a thriving company culture. Contact us if you, other leaders you know, and/or your company wants to be better.
This begs the question, "Well then, what is an example of a leader who is fully engaged in developing themselves and their company culture?"
I do not believe leadership models are set in concrete. Everyone is different. Nevertheless the following can be a guideline for you to consider how to better apply yourself in a leadership role:
#1 - Sanctuary
Schedule a recurring event in Outlook or your other calendar program to spend at least 30 minutes weekly in self-accountability.
Consider this baseball metaphor when planning to set aside this time. You are competing to win. The team fighting against you are your bad habits, broken systems, and people.
The name of the opposing team is the Interruptions. You need to stop their offensive threat (get three "outs" to retire their side so you can return to offense).
Schedule Out: Enter your Sanctuary time in your calendar. Make certain others know this is a time when you are not to be interrupted.
Shut Out: Close your office door. Put a sign on the door that you are in Sanctuary time, or some of our clients like to call it Stealth Mode: You may be in the office, and continue to be highly dangerous, but for a period of time you need to be invisible.
Tech Out: Turn-off email, instant messenger, do not answer your desk phone or mobile phone, and respond only to emergency texts.
It typically takes over 23 minutes to get back on task
18% percent of your interrupted tasks are not revisited that day
Here is a simple Sanctuary agenda:
How did I do on last week's W.I.N.? What's Important Now - My 1-3 most important objectives for the prior week.
Where am I on my goals this year? Am I on track? What action is needed?
What is my W.I.N. for this upcoming week? Schedule time during Monday-Wednesday to complete these activities in your calendar. Why early in the week? So when you have to fight fires you have time to catch-up on Thursday-Friday and still advance your objectives.
Who am I responsible for, and how are they doing? Follow a similar 3-step process for your direct reports that you did for yourself above.
#2 - Leadership
Schedule a 1-2 hour investment of your time weekly to develop your leadership skills, knowledge and/or habits. Develop your soft skills. Carefully plan your calendar. Confirm you are maintaining a balance within your work responsibilities. Confirm you are balancing your career and personal life. Consider major decisions.
This time is a priority. Schedule this work during Monday-Wednesday.
The best leaders invest in developing themselves weekly. It is an ongoing process. The excuses of being too busy, no options, or whatever, are bogus. The excuses are all lies we tell ourselves so we can stay in our comfort zone. Get out of your comfort zone!
Training and professional development have one of the highest ROI's of any business expenditure. You have to set the example by first investing in yourself.
#3 - Culture
If you do not invest in your culture, then who will? If you do not make culture a priority, then why should anyone else?
Leaders are role models. You have to set the standard through your behavior, not just talk a good game of leadership and company culture. Demonstrate good character by first being the leader and company culture example you want others to be.
Schedule a 1-2 hour investment of your time weekly to develop your company's culture. Here are two quick ideas:
Ask everyone in a weekly or monthly team meeting to explain how they lived out one of your company culture cornerstones (mission, values, vision). Focusing on this is good for the individual, and hearing how others have lived them out is also inspirational.
Work on a project that strengthens an aspect of your 3strands LEADERSHIP. For instance, improve the efficiency of 1:1 or team meeting schedules; spend time individually with employees to confirm they are doing meaningful work in your organization; and/or improve or implement your recognition program.
This time is a priority. Schedule this work during Monday-Wednesday.
Sanctuary + Leadership + Culture = Growth
It takes 90 days or longer to develop new habits, but first you have to define what you want to change. Then schedule the activities to bring about the improvement in your leadership and company culture.
Do this on your own. Do it together with a peer or a mentor. Do it with a coach like me.
This will be one of the best decisions you ever make in your career. If you want my help 1:1, or you want to reward a manager with training on becoming a better leader, then consider our next Certified LEADER class that starts the week of July 11.
First I will share some exciting news. Next, I will give you a couple of freebies if you want to try it out.
Ask yourself these questions:
Have you ever wanted to clone a great employee? (I regularly work with clients to do this successfully.)
Have you ever wished you could get new insights about how to improve the productivity of one or more employees? (We do this every week with our Clients.)
Have you ever wanted to help to employees stop being in conflict so often? (There is a way to better understand each individual so this objective is achieved.)
ANNOUNCEMENT: We now can provide our Clients with side-by-side comparisons of people whom have had taken our MANAGEtoWIN Talent Assessments. (We cannot compare people based on reports you have done with other providers.)
For the month of April 2016, we will give you up to five comparisons per Client absolutely free. Click here to email us the names of employees whom you would like to compare. Send us up to five combinations of two people for free. Order additional comparisons here.
Click here to see a sample Comparison Report. It's really cool.
Here are a few sample screens of what the report looks like:
Consider how this helps two employees consider the differences in their communication styles, and then adapt to each other's style to improve their working relationship.
Consider how this helps two employees better comprehend the differences in their behavioral styles so they can focus on work that best aligns with their strengths.
Consider how this comparison helps each individual better understand what motivates the other person, and then relate to this as they work together to achieve results.
Here are two free offers that are irresistible:
#1: If you have used MANAGEtoWIN Talent Assessments, then you can compare up to five pairs of two employees, or employees and job candidates, at no charge through April 30. Email us to place your request, listing up to five pairs of names. After that, the cost for each comparison is $29 (order here).
#2: We offer our MANAGEtoWIN Talent assessments in two versions:
NOTE: Our regular Clients do receive a discount, and you will too starting with your second order. Just ask!
(1) Our standard Talent Assessment includes behaviors (DISC) and motivators/driving forces (PIAV). We believe the combination of these two aspects of a person's capabilities on the job are crucial. DISC alone is misleading.
The retail price for our standard Talent Assessment reports, including a written or verbal discussion of the results and hiring recommendation is $219 each. You can order a General or Sales version. You can add a Summary (see example) for an additional $50 (order here).
(2) The second report we offer is the MANAGEtoWIN TriMetrix DNA (General or a version for Sales people) Talent Assessments, which does an amazing job of blending a person's behaviors (DISC), motivators/driving forces (PIAV), and competencies or skills. I go into greater
The retail price for our TriMetrix DNA reports, including a written or verbal discussion of the results and hiring recommendation is $299 each. You can order a General or Sales version. You can add a Summary (see example) for an additional $50 (order here).
Here are some ways to use these comparison reports:
Promotion: Compare a junior employee with a senior employee to consider whether the junior person can be developed into a more senior position.
Cloning: Compare a job candidate with a top performing employee in that role to consider where they are alike, how they differ, and whether the results indicate the job candidate can be successful in the position.
Conflict: You have two employees who are not working productively together, or are in conflict. Compare the two to help them understand how to work more effectively and/or get along better.
Mentoring: Mentors are not bosses. They are other seasoned people inside or outside your company. Have the mentor and mentee discuss their comparison report as part of their orientation meeting and apply it as they move forward on their journey of growth.
Adaptation: To help any employee better understand how to adapt their behaviors so they work more effectively with another employee; they understand what motivates the other person; and they do their best to focus the other person on work aligned with their greatest skills.
Performance: Between a leader and an under-performing employee so the individual's performance improvement plan has the greatest possible opportunity for success.
Teams: As part of a team-building session to give each individual greater depth of understanding of how to work effectively with the other members of their unit.
The MANAGEtoWIN TriMetrix DNA assessment reinforces the power of our proprietary 3strands LEADERSHIP principles because all three work together to achieve more than any individual aspect of leadership can on its own.
The MANAGEtoWIN TriMetrix DNA report provides you crucial insights in the following areas:
Behavioral research suggests that the most effective people are those who understand themselves, both their strengths and weaknesses, so they can develop strategies to meet the demands of their environment. This report measures the four dimensions of normal behavior: dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance.
Our TriMetrix DNA report tells you how this individual will perform.
Motivators / Driving Forces
Knowledge of an individual's motivators help to tell us why they do things. The Personal Motivation & Engagement report measures the relative prominence of six basic interests or motivators (a way of valuing life): Theoretical, Utilitarian, Aesthetic, Social, Individualistic and Traditional.
Our TriMetrix DNA report illuminates why this individual acts the way he or she does.
An individual's hierarchy of competencies is key to their success, and knowing what they are is essential to reaching their goals. This report is designed to assist managing and developing a career. For many jobs, personal skills are as important as technical skills in producing superior performance.
Our TriMetrix DNA report describes what this individual "has done" in 23 research-based capacities related to the business environment.
Comparing yourself to another person to feel superior to them is unproductive. However, comparing two people to sincerely help them be their best and improve working relationships is wonderful.
We offer you an opportunity to compare people for free. I hope you give it a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Let me know if you have any questions.
The woman was speaking of her life experiences to a packed house. Her energy and F-bombs fully engaged the audience in laughter and thoughtful consideration of how she was growing.
Then she mentioned a man she met who did something remarkable, and then died unexpectantly two weeks later. He wrote a list of things he would never change about himself.
I was jolted by the thought and had to hold back tears. I've never been asked to do that. Have you?
This is not a typical list of your strengths, but something deeper. Amidst a holiday message barrage that you are not good enough unless you buy something... as you close out the year striving to achieve goals that if not achieved imply you are good enough... as you rush around shopping and preparing your home and/or other activities to prove you care enough...
It will be incredibly powerful for you to write a list of the things you would never change about yourself, and I suggest, the reasons why.
Yes, we all are told to make lists of things to change, improve, fix, GET BETTER... As a matter of fact, people hire me to improve as leaders (and people). Our first meeting is to define lists of behaviors and processes that need to be improved. This is important, but we are missing the balance of recognizing our deepest strengths.
STRENGTH. Dr. Karyn Marshall, DC, is an American Olympic weightlifter of Norwegian descent who is notable for being world champion in 1987.
What if I started each engagement with a new Client by requiring them to write a list of things they would never change about themselves, and why? Unfortunately too many of us have life experiences where a boss, coworker, "friend," or family member believe they have the spiritual or intellectual gift of correction. And we are their target.
During this season of love, I encourage you to do what might be the most important homework you have to complete before year end: Write a list of the things you would never change about yourself, and why.
There is a lot of good there. And it is very healthy to remind yourself of it not just now, but often.
I would love to read your list if you want to send it to me. If you cannot think of anything to write, then contact us and let's work together to remind you of what a special blessing you are. Our conversation can be totally confidential.
Last week I talked about how forgiveness leads to gratitude.
This week, please accept my sincere encouragement to forgive yourself because no one is perfect, and be grateful for what you do best. Appreciate your deepest strengths. You are unique, just as you were designed to be, and that's a wonderful fact.
P.S. This is also a very powerful exercise to do about someone else. The list of things you would never change about them may be short, but it will help you better focus on areas you can appreciate in them. Think of a Christmas gathering where everyone shared one thing they would not change in each of the other people? It would be incredibly powerful.
Would you like to have more time in your day? It is relatively simple. Consider these challenges from Anthony Iannarino:
There is an old Buddhist saying that goes like this: "If you don't have time to meditate for one hour, meditate for two hours." Here are a few other ideas along this same line.
If you think that someone else is the problem, thinking that is your problem. If you think the problem is external, your problem is not recognizing that it's internal.
If you believe that something or someone is preventing you from being or having what you want, you don't yet recognize that you are the only person that can prevent you from being or doing what you want.
If you think that you don't have time to do the things that you want, your problem has nothing to do with time. It has everything to do with your priorities. (Dave's boldface...)
Anthony reminded me of our LEADERSHIP Essentials approach to creating more time in your day by:
#1 - Take time in Sanctuary (no distractions) weekly for 1-2 hours to review your TARGET goals and key objectives, and then set your priorities.
#2 - Remove emotion. Set aside "wants" and focus on needs - what will really build your career / company / wealth to have more freedom to positively impact others. Remove less important activities from your calendar so you have time to do what you do best.
#3 - Plan weekly in Sanctuary. Hold yourself accountable daily in a shorter Sanctuary each evening or early morning.
Now here is the rest of Anthony's advice from yesterday:
If you think you can't have more money unless or until someone gives you more money, then you don't understand that the only way to earn more is to create more value for others.
If you think you will be happy when something happens, or when you move to some new location in the future, then you misunderstand happiness. Happiness is a decision you make in the present moment. The present moment is the only one you have. The past is only pictures and movies, and so is the future.
If you think that your clients or prospects are your problems, that belief is your problem. Until you change your approach to them, they cannot change their approach to you.
What limits do you believe you have because someone or something is imposing those limits?
What would you do if you didn't believe you had those limits?
Time management and focus are key skills of effective leaders. Sign-up your leaders, including yourself, for our Certified LEADER program that starts the week of October 5 and runs through March 2016. Tell me what you want them to learn and will work with them to develop those habits.
This past weekend I did a "honey do" project of clearing dead vines off part of our fencing.
As leaders, are you clearing the dead vines from your organization throughout the year, as needed? They choke out profits like crazy...
This is a picture of the vines before I cleared them out. They were actually much worse than it looks.
Leadership "Dead Vine" Examples
If you are allowing other activities to crowd-out your ability to have a quiet time weekly (preferably daily), then you are less focused on your most important priorities each week. Clear out the "dead vines" crowding your schedule and your freedom will allow you to better achieve your growth objectives.
All of your employees have some value, or you would not have hired them in the first place. However, some might not be performing at an optimum level, or worse. You may even have one (or more) that are toxic. You will waste hundreds of thousands of dollars hoping for miracle behavioral change in a poor performing or toxic employee. I have never seen it happen in a toxic employee. This is particularly true after you have tried to work with them to improve and they have failed.
The #1 hated job of a manager is to fire anyone... even someone who is toxic. However if we do not remove toxins and growing viruses from our body (company) then we die, or exist in a severely weakened state. Respectfully, empathetically, quickly, and properly terminate employees when it is clear they are hurting your organization. These "dead vines" choke out productive workers, and in some cases, motivate some of your good team members to leave.
NOTE: Letting a poor performing employee go is often the best thing for them too!
When you know a process is weak or broken, work with your team to schedule its improvement. Do not procrastinate. Do not put it on the to-do list that lives forever. Schedule/delegate the work now, or put it in the "fridge" (better analogy than a "parking lot") with a specific date to schedule its repair. Set a reminder to check your fridge on time and bring it out to be "cooked" and fuel your growth. Missing or poor processes allow your people to get tangled up unnecessarily. Clear them out.
We all have habits that are unproductive. The challenge for most of us is not acknowledging them, but defining and committing to a step-by-step action plan with accountability to overpower a bad habit with a new one. If you are not working on overcoming a bad habit then you are allowing at least one to thrive. It is stealing time, money, health, relationships, everything from you. Bad habits are dead vines crowding out your ability to live your dreams. Focus. Clear them out one-by-one. Get help if you need it.
Most people do not have many, if any, deep, caring friendships. When we die, the ONLY true asset we have is our relationships. If this is a challenge for you there are options, but you have to comprehend your relational habits and overcome fears. There are church and secular adventure groups. Nonprofits involved in causes that are meaningful to you. Exercise clubs of all varieties. (One of our developers is a CrossFit fanatic BECAUSE it is a group activity.) Get rid of the dead vines (unhealthy relationships) and work on building deeper relationships before it is too late.
TIP: If you want to build a relationship with someone, then serve them. If they are the leader of a nonprofit, then serve the nonprofit. It may take some time, but your service creates the opportunity for a healthy relationship to sprout, grow, and mature.
Do what makes more profits. Profit more from what you do.
We help leaders like you succeed more profitably and joyfully. We provide coaching, consulting, tools to better understand the strengths and motivators of your team, plus inspiring keynotes / workshops for your conferences, customer events, and internal gatherings. Contact us if you would like to learn more.
Yeah, I know, you feel very capable. However, EVERYONE has fears. If you can be candid enough to understand your fears then you will be a better leader.
Our fears affect everything we do. Often subconsciously. Therefore taking time to better understand them can be incredibly valuable.
Let me just give you three examples to consider:
You do not trust someone. The problem is not trust. The main issue is fear. Without the fear you would trust them, so the fear comes first. You are afraid they will... whatever.
You have two options: (1) Remove your fear. For instance, if you believe God will protect you, then you do not have to be afraid. You just have to be humbly discerning. Or, you can choose to make the behavior of others that you fear an expectation rather than a fear. Then because you expect the behavior it is no longer a surprise and you can design systems to limit or eliminate any negative impact. (2) Remove the person from your business or personal life if their behaviors are unacceptable.
You want to win so bad that you fear failure, which paralyzes your ability to make timely decisions. Too often you suffer from "analysis paralysis" and it bottlenecks the growth of your team.
Again, you have two options: (1) Delegate more, but not all decisions. Focus on asking questions to confirm risk and how to shut out competition. This plays to your strengths, but then require a one-page summary of the opportunity. You make your decision based on that information. Decide overnight, no more. (2) Organize a four-person team to make decisions. You only get one vote and may not hold up key decisions that have reasonable risk.
This is another version where you fear failure. You have an internal voice telling you, "I'm not good enough." Therefore you are sensitive when competitors succeed while you struggle. You do not quit activities that fill your schedule and move on as long as the "patient is still breathing." If you stop something it feels like confirmation you are not good enough. Another failure.
Yet again, you have two options: (1) Set deadlines with accountability partners. These are people you trust. When you want to extend the deadline let them decide, not you. (2) Narrow your focus. Often one of your key problems is that you are over-extended. Win in one thing rather than try to stay in the game in multiple activities. Cut way back, and then expand slowly with accountability from others.
Fear affects everyone.
I hope you take a moment in your Sanctuary time, driving in the car, or working out, to consider your fears. Mastering them is important for fully living your dreams.
Let me know if I can help in any way. Do what you love. Love what you do. Lots of people have said this (it is a slogan of Life is Good apparel). But it takes action to achieve.
Do you wish your company was growing faster or more profitably?
Too often I talk with leaders whose companies are stuck. Their sales or profits grew, but fell back to prior levels. They are in a rut and... surprisingly they have accepted it.
Does that shock you? It shouldn't. A pity party accepting less than your dreams - and your TRUE CAPABILITIES is often comfortable. It is an almost evil temptation that is allowed to fester into a major mistake that steals years of your positive impact on the world around you.
You need to get mad about it. "Mad," as in enraged; greatly provoked or irritated; angry. (Dictionary.com) I am NOT recommending you lash out at others, but rather you are what I call "turning point mad" - you are unwilling to accept the status quo and will make the tough decisions necessary to create your new reality.
I often get hired by leaders who are frustrated. They are sick and tired of dealing with the same employee drama over and over again, and want to discover a better way to grow their business. I help with leadership systems, company culture, and business focus. Email me if you want to discuss your challenges.
Watch this clip from one of the weirdest movies ever made, Network. I do not recommend the movie, but the clip about a newscaster encouraging others to refuse to accept the lie that we must accept mediocrity and evil might remind you of your true potential. He wants people to say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to stand for it any more!"
How about you?
The reasons you are stuck vary, but only YOU can make a decision to get unstuck. Here are 7 questions that might help you embrace your next bold move :
#1 My Dreams - 5-10 Years ago, where did I dream my company would be today?
Very few people dream of just maintaining their sales at current levels indefinitely. Maybe you have been stuck for 25 years. I know people who are there today and will never grow. You do not have to be like them.
What was your dream? Where are you today in relation to that dream?
Do not think of all the excuses why you are not there. Just remember the dream and decide to dream again.
Now are you mad enough to not stand for "it" anymore?
#2 The Cost - How long have I been stuck at this level and what has it cost me?
Let's say your company grew to "X" and then grew beyond that, but returned to "X." Maybe your revenue or profits, or whatever you focus on, has gone up and down, but you are stuck in the range of "X."
How much additional profit would you have had each of the past 5-10 years if you had grown to 2X, 3X... or 10X?
What have you lost? You will lose that much and more if you continue to accept your current company's state of affairs.
Now are you mad enough to not stand for "it" anymore?
#3 New Dream - What should my dream be today?
You need to start anew today. The past is past and cannot be relived, BUT where do you want to grow now?
This takes work, but not necessarily a long time. I engage one or more outside experts to help me see "beyond the trees." Working on my own would only have me run fast and hard... but circle back again to where I am.
Get someone to help you define your next bold moves. Involve your team. Run ideas past your spouse, and appropriate close friends, and trusted advisors. But often you need an outside catalyst who has "been there, done that." Your opportunities are still HUGE. You just have to get the full picture of your paradise and then...
Now are you mad enough to not stand for "it" anymore?
#4 My Weaknesses - What are my 3 most significant weaknesses and how have they delayed my dreams?
Do not use this time to beat yourself up. The key is to discern reality. We all have weaknesses and make foolish decisions. You need to comprehend your mistakes and make a decision to NEVER GO BACK to them. (Read Henry Cloud's book, Never Go Back, if you want a broader perspective on this.)
List your 3 biggest weaknesses. Then list 1-3 major failures as a result of each weakness and realistically what each failure cost then, and if appropriate, on an ongoing basis.
Possibly ask others to confirm your assessment. Be open to their opinion. You may not agree with their conclusions, but your actions made them feel that way. Take ownership for your actions so you can delegate out your weaknesses or overpower them with new systems / habits.
Now are you mad enough to not stand for "it" anymore?
#5 My Strengths - What are my most significant strengths?
This is not an ego trip, but an engine check. List your 3 most powerful strengths that can help you achieve your career dreams.
List 1-3 ways each strength can help you achieve your dreams. What specific results can you expect from each strength? Realistically how much additional profit is available to you today, tomorrow, and in the future when you effectively focus on your strengths?
If you asked others for input on your weaknesses, simultaneously discuss your strengths. They may be partially correct, but embellishing to compensate for some really negative feedback. Do not believe them if they compliment you for traits you do not have. Just politely ask questions, carefully consider their thoughts, and thank them for their candor.
Now are you mad enough to not stand for "it" anymore?
#6 New Plan - What is my new plan, my new dream, the prize that REALLY excites me?
Your new plan needs these attributes:
Simple - one page.
Applies lessons learned to make your next years your best years.
Focused on how your company will uniquely add value.
Systematically removes or overcomes your weaknesses.
Systematically builds on your strengths.
Has clear, simple metrics to achieve on a schedule.
Commits to accountability
Consider what you could have achieved up until now if you followed this type of plan...
Now are you mad enough to not stand for "it" anymore?
#7 New Accountability - How will I hold myself accountable to achieve my new dream?
You should be afraid of falling back into your old ways. Therefore have the wisdom to define and commit to accountability in your new plan. In brief:
Self accountability must be daily, with longer review weekly and quarterly in "Sanctuary."
Further define your dream and how to achieve it with your team, and throughout your organization. Build mutual accountability throughout your organization - NOT just at the management level. Build an ownership culture where a part-time employee can respectfully question the behavior of the CEO if it might not match your values and pursuit of your dream.
Get inspiration, focus, systems, and accountability from a consultant or coach who has been there, done that. Chet Holmes International says 75% of Fortune 500 CEO's (the top dogs) have an outside expert to guide them in their business. If those smart, incredibly wealthy people need an outside expert, then you should have one in your budget too.
If comfortable to your spouse, then define how you will submit to their accountability in a mutually respectful, encouraging way - and follow through on it!
In some ways this is so simple. We make our lives complicated and trap ourselves in no growth activities...
Now are you made enough to not stand for "it" anymore?
Don't wait. Take Sanctuary time this weekend to answer these 7 questions and act upon your answers. Why be stuck NOT pursuing your dreams when you have the freedom to live the life you want?
Everyone who contacts me needs more time in their day. Here are some tips that are helping me.
Prepare. Each week I define up to three key objectives and schedule time to complete them during Monday-Wednesday. I call these the 3strands of my "rope" to climb to the next crevice of my life's mountain. My 3Strands are derived from my clear, measurable, annual T.A.R.G.E.T. goals that I set at the beginning of this year. Each 3Strands list is defined every week sometime between late afternoon Friday and 6:00 a.m. Monday. During this time, I commit to no interruptions - it is my Sanctuary time. I focus on what is most important to achieve my goals.
I commit to completing my 3Strands Monday-Wednesday because if I wait until Thursday-Friday then they do not get done. If I have to shift my focus to other priorities early in the week then I can still complete my 3strands on Thursday-Friday.
Why do I set a maximum of three? Because 3 is realistic. It's not a long laundry list of things I would like to do. My 3Strands are tasks I intend to complete this week. I stop at 3 in order to focus my time on the activities that matter most.
Say "No." This is so simple to say, but challenging to do. The longer you are in business, even if you are not successful, the more requests there are for your time. You do not have to be rude. A simple "no" will suffice. Most of the time when you decline something right away you will save yourself the time and energy of having to say no later.
But, there are some great opportunities out there, right? Yes, there are. However, if you do not have time for an opportunity you must learn to decline, and engage at a later date. I write down ideas and organize them in lists on Word documents or iPhone notes. I also create folders on my laptop to save articles, websites, documents... anything that relates to the idea. I quickly save ideas for later, and save myself plenty of time in doing so.
If I come across a great idea or opportunity that cannot wait, I schedule it for later. "Later" could be tomorrow, or it could be in 1-2 weeks. Then I work diligently to complete my priorities so I am available to engage with the new opportunity.
Daily Task Management. I review my calendar daily to optimize my time. With all my responsibilities it is crucial for me to monitor my daily activities and move things around to free-up time, or shift a responsibility to a following day. Does it have to be daily? Only if you want to achieve maximum productivity. Self-accountability is critical to success. At the end of every day I review my calendar to confirm my productivity. This is an example of the Systematic Leadership strand of my 3strands LEADERSHIP system.
What if I do not complete the scheduled tasks on my calendar for a certain day? Welcome to reality. Occasionally that will happen. Complete as much as you can each day with excellence. Then move those uncompleted items to new dates.
What if there are no openings in my calendar? Try to keep one day as a meeting-free day. Do not schedule anything except project work without interaction with others. Ideally 25-50% of the day should be unscheduled. You can shift important work that got delayed due to "firefighting" to Friday. I guarantee the time will be well spent.
Start doing these three things well and it will positively affect everything else you do as a leader.
The world lost a wonderful man, Robin Williams, this past week due to an apparent suicide. Anyone who has seen Robin perform has experienced the joy of deep, healthy laughter.
I had an added benefit: 46 Years ago Robin was my brother Phil's best friend. Robin was over at our house often for 3-4 years. Phil stayed in touch with Robin until Phil's death from cancer in February 2013. Above is a photo of them in 2011. Phil and Robin remained friends throughout the years because they just laughed together and enjoyed each other's company.
I cannot count the times that I laughed so hard that I cried. In retrospect Phil did a great job of keeping the banter going with Robin, but even he at times was laughing too hard to continue. However, Robin also had a quiet, very sincere side to him. He was not "on" all the time. He was a great guy.
Unfortunately Robin got sad this week and made a bad decision. It is really a bummer. Although I was not close to Robin, he was always nice to me whenever our paths crossed. He also came to my brother's funeral last year... and made us all laugh. He talked to me about how much he appreciated Phil's friendship.
I encourage you to celebrate Robin's life this week. Experience one of his movies or shows to laugh hard, or appreciate his brilliant dramatic acting, and be deeply thankful.
"Bad Bosses" and suicide have some things in common:
Both are selfish. Suicide is a selfish decision, although I believe most of the time the selfishness is unintentional. You just get so tired and depressed that you forget about everything you love, and you just want an easy way out. Bad Bosses are the same - taking the easy way out rather than working to develop new habits so they become the leaders they are designed to be.
Lifetime impact. Suicide hurts those you leave behind. That is not the intention of most people making this mistake, but it is the truth. Bad Bosses hurt people too, even if it is unintentional, and those hurts can negatively affect people for years or a lifetime.
It is a choice. When it comes down to it, suicide and our decision to just retain our Bad Boss habits are a choice. Too often we are deceived into believing it is just easier and thus is acceptable. It is not.
I have nothing but love and sorrow for Robin and his family, and others who have made the mistake of suicide. I am not judging them. They just made a mistake and need our grace.
The rest of us should not miss this opportunity to be challenged again: What is the cost of our Bad Boss habits? What can we start doing differently TODAY, even if it is just in one area, to be the leader we are designed to be?
On Sunday we start the final month of the second quarter. How are you doing on your 2014 goals? Consider this question in your Sanctuary time of self accountability and reflection this weekend:
What do they need most from me?
Take a step-by-step process to consider each "they." Work through this exercise in an order that makes the most sense to you based on the different definitions of "they." Identify the one most important thing each "they" wants from you and assess how well you are doing in that area with them. Take your time...
My spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend
My extended family
My closest friend(s)
My employees (first because without them you cannot serve others)
Just gauge how well you are doing in one area with each "they." Do that one thing exceptionally well and it will positively affect the other aspects of the relationship.
My suggestion: What they need most is you, just fully you.
Unfortunately to do this well we have to focus on personal development, engage with accountability, and develop a discipline of Sanctuary. This is easy to write, but challenging for most people to accomplish.
Email me if you want to learn leadership skills. (That is how we pay the bills.) Today is the last day of the special offer on our All-In LEADERSHIP program.
As you complete the week, why not reflect on this question, BUT do not let it fool you!
Are you the best at what matters most?
Look under the surface. Your company may be more profitable than ever, but your marriage is failing. You may be doing incredible work, but you are physically unhealthy, or your relationships with your children is not what you will wish it was 10-20 years from now.
To be the best at what matters most requires us to slow down and think before each communication, action, and time commitment.
Everyone struggles in this area. Only a few realize it. And even fewer are truly the best at what matters most.