Friday, April 28, 2017

Marathoner Or Sprinter?

Recently my wife shared a “thought for the day” that she read on her daily calendar.  The question stated was, “Are you a marathoner or a sprinter?” At first glance, I dismissed the idea as I have often reminded leaders that they are indeed in a marathon…not a sprint and the importance of pacing, regrouping, and pushing forward when feeling exhausted. However, this particular thought for the day took a different twist on the familiar theme.

It suggests that we identify the “marathoners” and the “sprinters” on our team. Marathoners are those who like to work slowly and methodically with plenty of lead-time. These are the folks who do consistent work over long periods of time, which boosts their efficiency and creativity.

Sprinters, by contrast are those who welcome pressure and time restraints.  They not only work close to the deadline, but right up next to it.  It’s the sprint that ignites their creative and efficient flow, as if they start too early, they become inefficient.

So…when you look at YOUR team, what do you see?  How do maintain balance? Do you treat all your “runners” the same?  Is there a right/wrong way? When your team looks at you…what do they see…a sprinter…marathoner…coach…cheerleader? What role SHOULD you play? Ah….so many questions…perhaps points to ponder…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, April 21, 2017

You Got GRIT???

Not completely sure how the conversation began, but recently I found myself engaged in a deep discussion revolving around the absence of “GRIT”…no, not the stuff on the bottom of a bird cage…but GRIT…TRUE GRIT…John Wayne style…

The dictionary defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” By some observations it appears that we have become a society of wanting/getting everything NOW…that long time goals met with passion and perseverance are things that were met for those days long gone by…. Personally, I couldn’t disagree more!

As leaders, we must model what it is we expect from those we serve.  Consider these 5 characteristics of grit as outlined by Margaret M. Perlis in an article in Forbes magazine.

1.     Courage - The courage to take risks, the courage to fail and learn from it, the courage to do the right thing versus the easiest.
2.     Conscientiousness – Being achievement oriented, meticulous; a commitment to going for the gold, versus just showing up.
3.     Long-Term Goals – Endurance – Follow Through -  According to Perlis, “One of the distinctions between someone who succeeds and someone who is just spending a lot of time doing something is this: practice must have purpose. That’s where long-term goals come in. They provide the context and framework in which to find the meaning and value of your long-term efforts, which helps cultivate drive, sustainability, passion, courage, stamina…grit.”
4.     Resilience – One must exhibit a combination of optimism, creativity, and confidence, which, when combined, empower us to “recalculate” our course, and keep emotions in check…”everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, it is not the end…”
5.     Excellence vs. Perfection – In general, those with grit don’t seek perfection, but rather drive for excellence.  Perfection is described as an absolute, a perception of an ideal, and pursuing it is somewhat like chasing an illusion. Anxiety, low self-esteem, OCD, and clinical depression are only a few of the conditions ascribed to a “perfectionist”.  Excellence is far more forgiving, it allows for disappointment and prioritizes progress over perfection…it embraces life-long learning.

Simply put…grit is an attitude about seeking, striving, finding, and never yielding…it’s what leaders must exhibit…or as “The Duke” would say…”True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done. No moral man can have peace of mind if he leaves undone what he knows should have been done.”

Develop your GRIT…to be GREAT!

Be good to yourself…

Friday, April 14, 2017


This time of year is a reflective time for me. It’s a time that things, which once seemed dead, spring back to life. Where the gray days give way to brighter ones.  There’s freshness in the air and hope that things not only will get better but things are indeed better. HOPE is a powerful word…a powerful emotion, which helps us move forward to brighter days. Hope is that little voice we hear whisper “maybe” when the entire world is shouting "NO"!

As leaders we must always inspire hope, be the source of hope, keeping hope alive and well within the organization…Let us all be mindful, especially this weekend, of the power hope instills in us all…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, April 7, 2017

Tip Of The Iceberg

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Recently I came across such a picture…pretty much says it all…

So my friends…if you’re tired…if you’re wondering if it’s all worth it…just remember what each of parents told us somewhere along the way…”success comes before work only in the dictionary.”

Be good to yourself…

Friday, March 31, 2017

Play Ball!!!!

With baseball’s opening day right around the corner, there have been several articles and blogs reminding us all of the “Great American Pastime” and the joys that some peanuts and cracker jacks can bring. I find it curious to find parallelisms between the sport and leadership. Consider…

It’s all about TEAM…successful leaders recognize that the whole team is greater than the sum of its parts.  There may be other organizations with better this or that, but it all boils down to TEAM.

Be prepared for ANYTHING…you can anticipate a fastball, but you have to be prepared for that eventual sinker. Great leaders are adaptable.

Strong, fluid swings result in HOMERS -  BIG thinking needs BIG action.

It’s an embarrassment to “go down SWINGIN”  - Great leaders never leave their bat on their shoulder when action is necessary. Your followers will understand swinging and missing over just standing there waiting for something to happen.

MVP’s usually have the dirtiest uniforms – The best in any organization isn’t afraid to get the job DONE!

And perhaps my favorite…Great talent win games….but TEAMS win Championships…

Play Ball…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, March 24, 2017

Awe...Embrace It!

Recently I was reading a review of a book which claimed the contents would aid the reader in: 

• Managing energy levels • Keeping the soul alive • Taking new paths • Reducing stress • Developing the "Human Touch" • Attacking fears • Living in awe • Savoring small successes • Burning brightly without burning out • Hanging on when the storms blow through  
It was “living in awe” which caught my attention. Awe is a word not often used and a word defined as: A mixed emotion of reverence, respect, dread, and wonder inspired by authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might.” 

In our hurried life, do we take the time to be “awed?” Where do we find our inspiration? Do we lead inspired? Has there been a time where we have been “awed” by others as a result of our actions or accomplishments? Should being awed even be a goal? When’s the last time you found yourself in awe? Did it motivate you? Make you think? Make you question?  Did it open your mind to possibilities? So many questions…for a word so small…yet so powerful… 

Perhaps we need to open our eyes, our hearts, and our minds, and appreciate the value of being awed…and living in awe… 

Be good to yourself…

Image result for AWE

Friday, March 17, 2017

Where Is Your Focus?

Photography has been a hobby of mine for a number of years. It has proven to be a curse and a blessing. I have found, at times, I completely miss the beautiful views the vistas have to offer as I’m so concentrated on a small, delicate, flower nestled in an obscure, dimly lit cavern.

I recently saw a quote that gave me pause to ponder…”The world we see is created by what it is we focus on. It’s never too late to adjust our lens.”

So my friends…where is YOUR focus? Is it so laser sharp that you can’t see the forest for the trees? As leaders, we sometimes lose sight of the “whole picture” as we’re too concentrated on only a very small, delicate, obscure, part of the entire landscape…which is OK, as long as you adjust your lens often…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Lesson From Our Feathered Friends...

This past week my wife and I had the good fortune of spending a few days in sunny California visiting family and simply dusting off the chill of a Midwest winter. The days on the beach, the gorgeous sunsets and the hikes in the various valleys gave us a chance to breathe, relax and reflect.

On one such hike we couldn’t help but to notice the various hawks soaring in the air, hovering, gliding effortlessly against the blue skies with the mountains as a backdrop. With the slightest of movement, the bird could change course, dive in an instant to its prey, or simply circle again with the slightest of effort.

As leaders, how often do we fear change as involving too much effort, or that drastic measures must be initiated to create the change desired? How many opportunities missed as we feared the energy needed wouldn’t be worth the results achieved?

Sometimes we simply miss the fact that the slightest minor adjustments can indeed produce drastic results. Don’t believe my fine feathered friends? Just talk to a golfer about moving their left hand just an inch….minor adjustments...

Be good to yourself...

Friday, March 3, 2017

Better To Sleep On It...

It’s currently 3 AM and I’m experiencing one of those nights we all have, where, for whatever reason I simply cannot sleep. There’s a million things swirling about in my head, so I thought if I could just focus on ONE subject…one idea, I might be able to calm my thoughts and find a restful moment to fall into that wonderful subconscious state we refer to as sleep…

Over the years I’ve heard about Einstein who thought sleep was a waste of time only logging in about 4 hours a night, while Bill Gates is said to get 7 hours. In a recent article in The Harvard Business News found that 43% of business leaders they polled indicated that they were sleep deprived at least 4 times a week. 

Research shows that getting less that 7 hours of sleep can impair an individual’s performance level to that of a blood alcohol level of .05% , the legal drinking limit in many countries. Four hours of sleep renders that same person’s performance with that of someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.1% which is the legal definition of being drunk in the US. 

There is an abundance of research that suggests that sleep has an impact on all stages of learning, on making decisions, and tasks that require integrating multiple emotional responses. The less sleep you get, the more difficult the task.  One study showed that a good night’s sleep can lead to new insights, to the degree that participants who enjoyed a good night’s sleep were twice as likely to discover a hidden short-cut or a creative solution as those who didn’t.

Perhaps it’s a waste of time NOT to get enough sleep as the hours awake are more difficult to maneuver when sleep deprived…perhaps my mom was right after all when she would advise to “sleep on it” before making that tough decision…sleep on it…ahhhhhh…sounds like a great idea…g’nite all

Be good to yourself…

Friday, February 24, 2017

Where's The Pony????

For the most part, I see myself as  pretty positive, seeing the good in everyone and everything. My sister would tell you that I’m the type of guy that would fall into a pile of manure only to get up and ask where the pony was.  But like many of you, there are times disappoint sets in…you know the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by our hopes, desires, or expectations falling short, or not being fulfilled at all.   

As leaders, we typically need to deal with out own personal disappointment along with that of our team that may be going through the exact identical emotions. If allowed to go unchecked, disappointment can lead one down a very dark hole. In order to avoid such an abyss I offer the following for your consideration: 

  1. Admit it! Things simply did not go your way…PERIOD. This is probably one of the harder things to do, as one would rather place the blame on someone or something else, which actually MAY be the reason, but it is, what it is, and the outcome did not meet your expectations. 
  1. Feel it! Of course it hurts…it feels as though you were “sucker punched” in the stomach, it makes you feel as though you failed, or brings into question your own abilities. Share those feelings with a trusted friend…let it GO…spew your venom, talk it through…it’s ok to be angry…as long as you’re controlling your anger and it doesn’t consume and control you. 
  1. Own it! As a leader, the buck stops here! As the leader, we assume the ultimate responsibility so when the gun of accountability for disappointing results points toward the team; great leaders step in front and “take the bullet” as they should. 
  1. LEARN FROM IT! This perhaps is the most important strategy. Ask yourself, “What did I LEARN from all this?” Failure to LEARN is an opportunity missed ensuring the possibility of simply repeating history down the road. 
  1. Move through it! I saw a magnet once that read, “When you’re going through hell, keep moving!”  Regroup, free your mind, look at various options, think differently, seek advice, there are a number of options available…the only option not recommended is to do nothing…keep moving…forward! 

Here’s some good news…we all learn from your disappointments and failures; the truth is: 

  • If you lead, you WILL fail! 
  • When you fail, you WILL face disappointment. 
  • Disappointment WILL test you. 
  • When you pass the test, you WILL be a stronger leader. 

Now…where’s that pony??? 

Be good to yourself 

Friday, February 17, 2017

First the heart...

During the past week many articles, blogs, and social media focused their posts on the heart as we neared Valentine’s Day.  I previewed a few, casting away others, but one article caught my eye as the relationship between “Happy Couples” and successful teams was strikingly similar as I compared the two.  The author, Jonathan Lockwood Huie, identified “7 secrets of happy couples”. As I read through them I couldn’t help but to see the connection between a good marriage and a good leader…consider the 7 “secrets”:

1.       Trust: Suspicion and jealousy are the death knell of any relationship. If the other is going to cheat or otherwise dishonor the relationship, suspicion and jealousy will not prevent it, and such a relationship is fatally flawed in any case. Unwarranted suspicion and jealousy create misery in a surprising number of relationships. If you want to live happily, trust your partner completely. If they dishonor your trust, deal with the situation then. In the meanwhile, you will have been happy.

Organizations without trust cannot move forward effectively. Leaders must be trusted, which is earned by “walking the talk”…mean what you say and say what you mean…

2. Open Communication: Tell the truth, tell the whole truth. If you didn't want to share your whole life with your partner, why are you together? If you make a mistake, admit it. If you have doubts, talk about them. Secrets and lies kill a relationship. With truth and openness anything is possible. Even if something is unforgivable, it is better to deal with it quickly.

The truth will set you free…be honest with yourself and the people you serve…it will help build trust.

3Honoring the other's point-of-view: People disagree, couples disagree. Understanding that the two partners in a couple remain individuals is crucial to a happy relationship. Why would you expect that you and your partner should agree on everything? Honor that one of you is a Republican and the other a Democrat. Honor that one of you is a vegetarian and the other loves a great steak.

This one hit home for me personally as my wife IS a vegetarian, and I DO enjoy a good steak…respecting various points of view helps us all grow beyond what it is we are.

4. Self-Confidence: Co-dependence is another frequent cause of failed relationships. Happy couples know that they don't need each other. Each partner is a completely whole and valid individual who has entered into a voluntary partnership. Neither "owns" the other, nor "can't live without" the other. Each has their own interests and friends, as well as having mutual interests and friends.

A synergistic view of our teams where the sum is greater than its parts sets the foundation for growth.

5Generosity: Greed and selfishness kill relationships. True love is generous in spirit. Mostly, generosity is not about material things, although that is also important. To have a happy relationship, be generous of your time, your love, and your attention.

Servant leadership demands that we are generous of our time, our empathetic ear, and our attention.

6. Forgiveness: Resentments and thoughts of revenge and vengeance have no place in a happy relationship. Happy couples forgive each other completely for everything the other has ever done or failed to do - no exceptions.

“Let he without sin cast the first stone.” We ALL screw up…forgive and LEARN from the mistake…together.

7Gratitude: Happy couples are continuously grateful for each other. Every day there are a myriad of reasons to be grateful for your partner. Find those reasons each day, and thank your partner every day.

Leaders who take an attitude of gratitude can lift themselves as well as others when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thoughts and cultivate counting our many blessings.

So my friends, I hope you took a moment to appreciate those who encourage you, who support you, who love you this past Valentine’s Day and that you’re able to lead your followers with an open heart…1st the heart…then the mind…

Be good to yourself…