Posts filed under ‘improvement’

The Spirit of the Camino – the Spirit of Leadership

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I recently completed the “Camino” with my wife Correen and youngest son. “What’s the Camino?” The briefest explanation, from Wikipedia:

The Camino de Santiago…is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes, known as “pilgrim ways”, to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great, in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts…”

For our Camino we chose to hike the Camino Primitivo route (the original way) across 200 miles of Spain’s most beautiful, lush, and mountainous territory. For two weeks we treked through remote wilderness, rugged countryside, verdant farmland, and medieval towns. We struck up friendships with fellow peregrinos (pilgrims) from literally every corner of the globe. We pushed to and through our physical “limits” of challenge and discomfort, but reveled in the hours of opportunity for quiet contemplation, reflection, and conversation.

In the end, our Camino was truly one of the greatest experiences of our lives. So much so, I’m sure I will share more in the coming months, but there’s just one aspect in particular I’ll share today…

In order to be considered a perergrino, to be able to stay in designated “albergues” (hostels) along the way, and to earn one’s “compostela” (certificate of completion) at the end of the journey, one carries an official Camino passport (pictured) that must be stamped at certain places along the journey. The back of the passport contains the following message, entitled “The Spirit of the Camino”:

LIVE IN THE MOMENT

WELCOME EACH DAY – ITS PLEASURES AND

ITS CHALLENGES 

MAKE OTHERS FEEL WELCOME

SHARE

FEEL THE SPIRIT OF THOSE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE YOU

IMAGINE THOSE WHO WILL FOLLOW YOU

APPRECIATE THOSE WHO WALK WITH YOU TODAY

I cannot for the life of me think of a better message for managers and leaders…or for a Managers Minute than this! If each of us who are responsible for managing, leading, teaching, guiding and mentoring others could simply remember and do these seven things, imagine the impact; imagine the outcome!

Lead on!

Cliff

 

 

July 7, 2017 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment

ENCOURAGEMENT – The Difference Between Night and Day

As a leader, a coach, a manager, or a parent, the most valuable tool you have for lifting and motivating others is also the lowest cost and easiest to use. Encouragement costs you nothing, but its value is priceless! It could be the only thing standing between the success and failure of someone under your charge. Like flipping a switch it can, for the recipient, be the difference between day and night…between engagement and disengagement…between loving and hating their job or challenge.

Encouragement is “the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.”   Show me an underperforming worker, student, or athlete, and I’ll show you one lacking encouragement (substantive support, expressions of confidence in their abilities and potential, vision driven hope) from a respected source.

Everyone responds in a positive way to sincere encouragement. And while none of us would intentionally discourage another from doing their best, we actually do it all the time, simply by not offering encouragement! You see, the lack of encouragement IS discouraging! It is, at least by default, withdrawing support, expressing a lack of confidence in, or worse, insulting another thus dashing any hope they might have of succeeding.

So, how do you do it? How can you offer meaningful and sincere encouragement more often and to more people? Here are twelve suggestions:

  1. Just do it…every day…and to everyone! Remember, it costs NOTHING and has a tremendous impact!
  2. Give praise and compliments. We’re talking simple stuff here. While it must be genuine, it doesn’t need to be about winning an Oscar or gold medal. A simple compliment about the smallest thing goes a long way!
  3. Be specific! Being a “good guy” is a nice compliment, but carries far less weight than the real reasons behind a general compliment.
  4. Express your belief and confidence in the potential of others! If they’re not quite there yet don’t feel that it’s your job to point that out. Instead remind them of what can be…what they can do and what they can become!
  5. Challenge them (to reach higher) in a supportive and affirmative way, offering your personal support along the way.
  6. Express gratitude whenever and wherever you can as you observe progress and as you are personally aided by their efforts.
  7. When introducing them to another person your words of praise and positive reinforcement can work miracles in boosting confidence and encouragement.
  8. Pleasantries and greetings. Yes, even a pleasant “good morning”, “how was your weekend”, or “see you in the morning” can be encouraging – not necessarily for its substance – but certainly, the lack thereof can be very discouraging to those who look to their boss or coworker for validation and acceptance.
  9. Take the cue! When you KNOW someone is hurting or discouraged, that’s your cue. As a fellow human being it’s the human thing to do. Even if there’s nothing you can do, your expression of concern and support is…encouraging.
  10. Write a note! If you struggle eyeball to eyeball…put it on paper!
  11. Get personal. Tell them how they’ve helped or inspired you to higher heights, and how you are better for their example or efforts.
  12. Be there! To continue to cheer, praise, support, and celebrate!

Lead on…

Cliff

June 8, 2016 at 1:53 pm Leave a comment

Focus on the G.O.O.D.

Life can be hard, and when it is, it’s easy to get down, lose perspective, feel overwhelmed, even depressed. It may be the poor choices and bad behavior of others, or perhaps our own. Financial, medical, or emotional, strain can also send one for a loop. Life is full of challenges, presenting ample opportunity to shrivel and shrink, lash out, or simply give up, but the results of any of these are sure to bring nothing but more despair.

For BEST results (sounds like medicine?), consider a better choice with an outcome guaranteed to bring greater peace, satisfaction, and success: Focus on the G.O.O.D.! Just looking for the good that surrounds us is by itself good advice in good times and bad, but what I’m suggesting here is to simply focus on the G.O.O.D.: Gratitude, Others, Opportunities, and Doing.

Gratitude – The happiest people I know are the most grateful! Even in the darkest times, there is so much to be grateful for. When your head hurts, be grateful you have one! When the house is messy, be grateful for being surrounded by others. An empty fridge means you have a fridge! A challenging job means you have income. There is ALWAYS something or someone to be grateful for, and just the act of focusing outward (instead of inward on yourself) at all the good that surrounds you, puts things in perspective and changes your attitude from one of scarcity and woe to abundance and wonder.

Others – As Albert Schweitzer put it, ”The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” The very act of focusing [outward] on others and their needs shifts the focus from oneself (inward) and one’s problems. You cannot focus on two things at a time. By centering your efforts on those in need your life takes on greater meaning, purpose, and satisfaction.

Opportunities – No matter where you are, there are opportunities to improve your situation…especially when times are tough. Life is all about learning, growing, and improving, and there is no finish line for any of these. Some of the most inspiring examples of living a full life come from those who appear to have had “nothing” to work with, yet have accomplished amazing things! Opportunities are everywhere!

Doing – “Action is the antidote to despair.” These words wisely penned by Joan Baez are among the truest when it comes to turning things around. Sitting and staring at your problems only makes them bigger…if not worse. Attacking them, or anything for that matter, gets the mind working and the blood flowing, shifting your focus away from the problem to something, more worthy of your efforts.

It is best always to focus on the G.O.O.D., but especially when things aren’t going so well. The most effective people understand and practice this; and the most effective leaders guide their teams to do the same!

Lead on!

Cliff

June 3, 2016 at 9:01 am Leave a comment

I Have To!

When coordinating plans with others I’ve been known to say things like “I have to run 15 miles tomorrow”, “I have to get to bed early tonight”, or “I have to finish this project this weekend”. When I do, I’m often challenged by a friend who likes to say “You don’t HAVE to……you CHOOSE to!” and technically speaking, he’s right. But I keep saying it anyway… You see, I learned a long time ago that you can either decide how to respond to challenges or opportunities over and over again, depending on present circumstances, or you can make the decision just once, allowing that decision to become your personal standard – your “have to“!

If you take the flexible approach (“we’ll see how things are going” or “it depends”) there are too many variables and too many opportunities to derail you from doing the thing you once committed to doing. It takes discipline to make the hard but right choice, especially when the decision is to ALWAYS make the same choice. But when you do and the issue comes up again, there’s no hesitation or debate. You’re resolute – You “have to”!

Once you’ve decided, then your “have to‘s” take over, relieving you of the recurring decision cycle. And here’s the interesting thing – it’s not restrictive…it’s freeing! Once you’ve decided once and for all, when the alarm clock rings, you’re up – no debate. When someone offers you something you’ve sworn off, you decline – no debate. When being dishonest is tempting or seemingly profitable, you tell the truth – no debate! And when you do, you enjoy a feeling of freedom and empowerment.

Our choices determine our habits and our habits form our character. And as author and lecturer Hyrum Smith put it, “Character is the ability to carry out a worthy decision once the emotion of making that decision has passed.” It’s character-forming habits that help us overcome adversity, accomplish goals, and ultimately approach our individual potential.

When our choices reflect our deeply held values and they are made with sincere resolution, from that point on we simply “have to“. And as we do, we grow in character.
Lead on…

Cliff

July 6, 2015 at 11:52 am 6 comments

New Life Through New Eyes

Have you hit the wall? Do you feel like you’re “done”? Is the joy gone…in your work, a relationship, or your life in general? There comes a time in most lives where the joy and satisfaction that once filled and fueled them diminishes even to the point of crisis. When this happens the natural reaction is to run, to flee, to get away from whatever it is that’s moved from beautiful to drab or from exciting to boring. In extreme cases this can lead to divorce, unemployment, or worse. At a minimum it results in dissatisfaction, disharmony, and disengagement.

The interesting thing is that most people who resort to “flight” versus hanging in to “fight”, don’t ever really solve the problem. They may find temporary relief in “different”, but the tendencies that pushed them to the tipping point in the first place will take them there again and again. The reason is that as they see it, the problems…AND the solutions are “out there”…when in reality they lie squarely within themselves! It’s easier to blame a companion or a job or our environment for one’s misery…when the real problem and solution lies within themselves and they choose to see things.

It is a marvelous and amazing thing to witness when someone chooses to see the same [old] thing in a new or different light; to see through new eyes. The author Marcel Proust wrote: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. When we choose to see the same thing differently, to refocus on the positive, on its worth and potential, it (or they) changes right before our eyes. Seen from a different perspective or “attitude” what was drab or boring CAN become beautiful and exciting again.

Try this… Whatever it is (or who they are) that’s lost its luster in your [old] eyes, take out a blank sheet of paper and write at the top “Things I love about…” (whatever it is). Then below that make a list of all the good things, the good qualities, the value, the interesting things, the things about it that you’re grateful for, it’s irreplaceability…in short – the things you genuinely love about it or them. Then, before you go to bed at night stand in front of a mirror and read the list saying before each item on the list “I love….(that thing, aspect, feature, etc.)
Then the next morning repeat this reading, staring yourself in the eyes as you do. Do this every day for the next few days until you begin to see a transformation – until you see the thing (or person) as you once did…and you will!

A small investment in this process may well bring a huge improvement in your life and your relationships and may prevent unnecessary pain, loss, and disappointment down the road.
Too often people run from the very things that are the best things…when the right thing is just to see things with new eyes.

Lead on…

June 2, 2015 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

Build a Life with Goals

“I think I’ll build a house next year. I’ll do it when I have time…and can find some materials. No need to plan it or schedule it as that would take the creativity out of the process. But it’s going to be an awesome house! No…really!”

Silly? Yes…but isn’t that just what we do each year? We say we’re going to do any number of things – major things – in the new year…but in the end too often they just don’t happen! We don’t make them happen!

Building a house is a beautiful illustration of setting and accomplishing goals. Building a home requires a mental vision first, a paper version (blueprint) second, a list of materials and skilled labor, a detailed timeline, and the financial resources to pull it off…to name a few basic requirements.

Building a successful life requires the same. A vision, a written plan, and the resources – carefully accumulated and arranged, and ultimately the discipline to stick to the plan.

Think about the big things you REALLY want to accomplish next year. If you REALLY want to do them they’re most likely linked to your values or one of your roles (leader, spouse, parent, etc.) that you value. If not, stop right there. No need to proceed.

If the things you really do want to accomplish ARE things you really care about, then set a goal – a real goal – a written, detailed goal. Remember, a goal without a [detailed] plan is just a wish!

Take them one at a time. Ask yourself, with pen in hand, “what do I want to accomplish AND by when?” “What materials and resources will I need…and by when?” “What do I need to do NOW to begin and continue the process?” “What are [all] the milestones, approvals, research, and activities required…and by when?” Only with this kind of thinking and then doing, are we assured of accomplishing our most significant goals. But even the most challenging goals are no match for the power of an effectively planned and followed goal.

Last week during our annual business planning meetings I remember a few moments where presenters shared some REALLY big stretch goals. These were received by some in the audience with chuckles and I presume some skepticism. In some instances, where important pieces of their plans were shared I was quite confident that these individuals would pull it off, remembering an old quote, hope in the future gives power in the present! While hope alone won’t produce results, hope and faith in the possibilities and in our own potential, combined with well planned goals ARE powerful! Overwhelmingly powerful!

Whatever your goals, whatever you really want to and earnestly believe you can achieve, is within your grasp…IF you follow the goal-setting process and stick to the plan! It takes character (“the ability to carry out a worthy decision once the emotion of making the decision has passed”), but character is the stuff good lives are built of.

Make 2015 YOUR best year yet!
Lead on!
Cliff

December 17, 2014 at 2:38 pm Leave a comment

Simple as 1-2-3

A race is just the celebration lap at the end of training

Continue Reading August 4, 2014 at 9:33 am Leave a comment

Leading [others] to Greatness

William Shakespeare wrote “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”  While I don’t know about the “born great” or “thrust upon them” parts, we have all seen people who achieve greatness by sheer determination and effort.  But even for them, greatness didn’t have a chance without one fundamental ingredient even more important than the others.  Faith – a belief that it can be done, that it can be reached, that it can be achieved…is the FIRST ingredient of greatness.

Without faith, nothing happens. Without faith that the light will come on, no one would flip the switch. Without faith that there’s promise in the day, who’d get out of bed? Without faith that obstacles can be overcome, no one would make the effort. Without faith that one can achieve great things, who would even try?

Faith in oneself and confidence in one’s abilities are prerequisites for striving for greatness in anything. So where does that faith and confidence come from?  Some would argue that there are those who are born with the drive, but certainly they are the minority.  But for most, and behind every champion, there is a special spark – a friend, a parent, an example, an idea, a feeling that somewhere in the champion’s life helped them to see their potential and gather the faith necessary to carry them to success.

And THAT is where you as a leader come in. Leadership is about helping others discover their potential. As Bo Bennett put it, “A good leader is one who can tell another how to reach his or her potential; a great leader is one who can help another discover this potential for him or herself.” THAT is your opportunity…as a leader, a parent, a friend – to help others see…and believe in their potential! Here’s how…

FIRST, You must believe in their potential. The good news is that all human potential far exceeds our wildest imaginations. We were all designed to reach heights higher than we can envision. The human body, mind, and spirit are limitless when the blinders of life’s experiences and the opinions of critics are ignored. Those you lead are better than they know!  SECOND, help them catch the vision – to “see” their own success and potential in their mind’s eye. Paint the picture. All things are created twice – once in the mind and then in reality.  THIRD, encourage them, support them, and expect them to succeed.  FOURTH, while you can’t remove all obstacles from their path (and shouldn’t), you can make sure you aren’t one of them. Your pure desire for their success will be an unseen strength along their journey.  And FINALLY, always be the example you would hope they’d have. You may not be expert in the thing they are striving to become great at, but your example of being true to the things you do believe and strive for makes all the difference to those, seen and unseen, that are following you…and yes, they are watching!

Leading isn’t always easy, but few things are as rewarding as making a real difference in someone else’s success!  Doing the hard thing is what makes life great. Doing the hard thing is what makes you (and others) great!

Lead on…

Cliff

May 28, 2014 at 11:17 am Leave a comment

Who’s in Charge Here?

Who’s in Charge Here?

What’s the first thing you do each morning?  If you’re like most people you check your emails!  Why?  Because you need to find out what you’ve got to do that day!

Pause…..  Think about that!  If your first act is to look to see what the rest of the world wants you to do, to respond to, to try, read, or listen to…who’s in charge?  You’re automatically turning the reins of your life over to…everyone else!  You become a completely reactive animal and not the proactive pursuer of excellence that each of us is capable of!

There are two major parts of our brain:  The Prefrontal Cortex, which is the proactive part where you plan, pay attention, exercise self control, make choices, and create.  Then there’s the Primitive/Emotional Brain which is the oldest part of your brain…and the first to develop.  This is your reactive brain, where your reflexes, instincts, emotions, reactions, and impulses operate.  As humans mature they learn to use their reactive brain less and their proactive brain more…at least that is the plan.  Generally, “mature” adults operate more from their proactive brain, while the “immature” are driven mostly by their reactive brain.

We all know that the most effective way to lead our lives and our days is to plan them out and to set goals…and then discipline ourselves to the extent that we can to accomplish our plans and goals.  This work (planning and goal setting) is done with our proactive brain.  So is execution!  When we fail to execute however, it’s because we’ve given in to our reactive brain with all its impulses and emotions.  And the more we react, the more we give in to checking emails, texts, and tweets for guidance, the less developed becomes our proactive brain!

So, how can you get back on track and back in control?  Here’s a tip…. When you turn on your computer, smart phone, or tablet each day, what’s the first thing that comes up?  Most people would say “my email”, but that’s only because you’ve trained yourself to open your email!  Try this… Try going first to your calendar” and if you use it, to your To Do list” first…to plan or to review your plan FIRST…before you do anything else!  This will provide the direction for an effective day, a day of accomplishing what, in previous moments of thought and reflection, you determined was most important to accomplish.  This puts YOU in charge of your day and not all of the people and distractions sitting in your email in-box waiting to derail you and hijack your day!

You CAN do it!

Lead on!

Cliff

December 14, 2012 at 10:47 am Leave a comment

Eat Your Peas!

“Eat your peas!” 

“But I don’t like peas!” 

“Yes you do……at least you should!”

“Why?”

“Well…because they’re good for you……and they taste good!”

“They don’t taste good to me!”

“We’ll…..they should!  Eat your peas!”

Does this sound familiar?  If you’ve been a parent…or a child (who hasn’t) it probably does.  Removed from the situation, it also probably sounds a little ridiculous.  Sometimes we sound just as ridiculous to our employees, our coworkers, and unfortunately our customers when we tell them what they should do, try, or like.  Remember the old Alka Seltzer commercial… “Try it, you’ll like it!”?  Pretty presumptuous isn’t it?

Habit 5 of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is… “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  Before you can even hope to sell, convince, or recruit others to your proposal you have to understand their perspective – their way of seeing things.  My mom used to say “Never judge an Indian until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins”.  To presume what others should think, do, or like is in reality, projecting our views on others as if they were mindless drones waiting for someone to connect the remote control.

So how can you know…what others want or how they see things?  Simple – ASK!  Then…LISTEN…really listen…empathically…to understand.   Then, and only if it still makes sense, you can sell, convince, or recruit…to their needs…and not to YOUR presumptions!

Try it, you’ll like the results!  🙂

Lead on!

Cliff

November 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

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