Month: October 2011

Leadership Thought #237 – How You Approach Halloween May Be Indicative Of How You Approach Life

In life you can decide to be an active participant or not. You can appreciate being part of the community and enjoying a shared experience or instead decide to isolate yourself from others. You can go about thinking everyone has an agenda or be more open minded. You can act like a crank or try and make other people (especially kids) happy. You can spend your time, checking boxes and doing what you think you should be doing or fully embracing the moments and making them special. You can grow up and act like and adult or hold onto the threads of childhood through childlike behavior. You can make everything about your or take into consideration the feelings and needs of others. You can enjoy the passage of time and milestones that occur throughout the year or not.

Happy Halloween!

Leadership Thought #236 – Drop The Mask And Be Real

Too often in life we respond to situations the way we think we should rather than expressing our true feelings. We build up walls around our emotions to prevent others from seeing our personal vulnerabilities. It’s sad but most of us have grown up believing that our emotional reaction to something is either good or bad rather than part of being human.

Leadership Thought #235 – Sometimes As A Business You Need To Fish In Another Pond…

One of a leader’s primary jobs is to constantly pay attention to the marketplace and make changes as needed. Markets are dynamic not static and as a result are constantly reinventing themselves. What worked yesterday won’t necessarily work tomorrow. Especially in the current economic environment you need to keep your options open and be flexible and opportunistic as needed. Sometimes you need to be willing to fish in another pond, try another rod and/or use different bait.

Leadership Thought #234 – Are You Spread Too Thin?

I’ve often heard the saying, “if you want something done give it to a busy person.” While I am an advocate of applying the 80/20 principle in most circumstances, I believe the ratio get even greater in organizations and communities when it comes to overall effort and impact – it is more like 90/10 or higher. Some people just seem to be hardwired to take on more responsibility. They just can’t help themselves and have a difficult time saying “no.” When they find a need they feel compelled to address it. Poor performance isn’t an option for them and they work hard even no one else is watching. While it’s great these people exist, I also worry that we expect too much from these individuals and in the end many of them end up suffering from burnout and/or too much stress.

Leadership Thought #233 – Life Does Require Perspective, Personal Sacrifice, and Hard Work

I come across a lot of books, magazines, TV shows these days that are selling simplicity and the quick fix to life. The main contention is that all of our lives are too busy and complicated and if we would just scale back and reprioritize what’s most important to us then everything would be better. The focus is squarely on the individual and what he /she feels they want or need. All we have to do put ourselves first and everything will go our way. Moreover, we shouldn’t settle for anything less than regular happiness and self-fulfillment which in my opinion is an unrealistic and often damaging perspective.

Leadership Thought #232 – Talent Without Focused Effort Leads To Unrealized Potential

Talent will only ever get you so far in life. You have to regularly exercise that talent and push yourself to do better. The moment you start getting too comfortable in your role is the moment you become vulnerable to someone else who wants it more. As all high performing athletes instinctively know the difference between success and failure can literally be measured in inches or seconds. This doesn’t mean that you have to become a workaholic but it does mean you should take nothing for granted. The landscape of leadership history is littered with countless numbers of talented people who never fully realized their potential and/or settled for being “good enough.”

Song Of The Weekend: John Gorka – “Ignorance and Privilege”

I have been a huge fan of the holiday song “Christmas Bells” by John Gorka for quite some time now. It was only recently that I took the time to explore his wider catalogue. All I can say is “wow.” He is a very talented singer-songwriter who should be heard by a much wider audience. I’m sad I took so long to realize this because I have missed many great albums and songs. Maybe it is the folk music classification that I often see associated with his name that limits his exposure, but my feeling is that music like his should transcend genre. It takes a very talented artist to hold an audience with just his voice and guitar.

Leadership Thought #231 – 7 Tips To Prevent and Minimize The Impact Of Adversity

No one is ever completely protected from the bad things that can happen in life. Each of us will have to deal with disappointment, loss, grief and despair at some point. All we can do is protect ourselves as best as we can through a reasonable approach to risk management and an ongoing commitment to personal growth and development. There are obviously many things we can’t control in our external environments including the actions of others. However, we can increase our internal capacity to manage whatever comes our way.

Leadership Thought #230 – Aspire To Reach Higher

It’s sad and frustrating how many people talk themselves out of success. I see it all the time. If comparable energy was given to figuring out how to overcome obstacles as is given to identifying them, many more people would live happier lives. It’s important to always remember that what we focus on expands and what we ignore contracts. You should only listen to that little voice in your head when the self-talk is positive and constructive not negative.

Song Of The Weekend: Jimmy Buffett – “Twelve Volt Man”

It was always evident to me that Jimmy Buffet was a great storyteller. His later work as a successful author clearly illustrates this fact. His songs always manage to take you somewhere else and evoke some level of feeling. There is almost an instantaneous transition of the vibe in any room when his music comes on. Wistful smiles form on the listener’s faces and some people’s thoughts wander as they contemplate any number of things – most of which are positive. For a guy who purports the simple carefree life, he sure has managed to create a musical catalogue of substance while also pursuing many other varied passions.

Leadership Thought #229 – The Pursuit Of Knowledge Offers Big Advantages In Life

Knowledge is one of the biggest advantages you can have in life. If you know something and other people don’t then there is automatically a need for your informed opinion. It is the ultimate equalizer because it has nothing to do with age, gender or race. Some people may begin life with a genetic head start or environmental advantages, however, unless they keep learning it is very likely someone else will pass them buy.

Leadership Thought #228 – Five Reasons Why Things Don’t Get Done

I’ve been in many organizations in my professional career. In each instance, I’ve always come across a leader or management team who has a grand vision of the future and what’s possible. There are no shortage of ideas of what could be done and what should get fixed. I wholeheartedly believe that most people want to do a good job and make a positive contribution. It’s rare when you meet someone in a leadership position who shows up to work each day expecting to fail yet sadly it happens on a regular basis. There is often a disconnect between what people know should happen and what actually gets accomplished. We’ve grown far too accustomed to performance mediocrity and lowering our expectations.

Leadership Thought #227 – Connecting With Your Audience Is Not Optional

In my experience, the best leaders are comfortable in multiple and diverse work and social settings. They are able to adjust their style to meet the needs of their audience or conform to the group dynamics. They understand that a leader without a receptive audience is handcuffed in his/her ability to turn a vision into reality. People tend to connect with others that they feel they can relate to. All conversations are a search for some level of common ground. The quicker you get there the sooner you can focus on the purpose of the discussion.

Song Of The Weekend: Wilco – “Art Of Almost”

I knew very little about the band Wilco when I went to see them in concert last month. Honestly I was going to see their warm-up act Nick Lowe (who is a musical legend in my book). Over the course of a month or so beforehand I went on iTunes and downloaded several songs so I could become more familiar with them. I liked what I heard and found them to be both original and creative which is what always should be happening in any art form. I also appreciate that there is a bit of an edge to their music. Formulas get old and boring fast even if they sell albums.

Leadership Thought #226 – Sometimes You Need To Recalculate

I doubt many of us end up in the exact place we thought we’d land as clear eyed confident high school or college graduates many years ago. We were so sure of ourselves back then on who we would become and what we’d accomplish. The path ahead was pretty straightforward and many of the major steps were already identified, then LIFE HAPPENED. All paths are somewhat crooked and bumpy at times. Just like the sea, smooth sailing won’t last forever. Your character will inevitably build over time (or not) as you navigate the rough waters and unforeseen obstacles. You will also uncover beautiful passageways that you were unaware existed and have moments of spontaneous joy and self-assurance that will linger for a lifetime.

Leadership Thought #225 – Enjoy The Success of Others

It’s disheartening to see how petty, judgmental, jealous and critical we can be of other people. This is especially true when someone does well. We often jump to quick conclusions and second guess their motivations or worthiness. My belief is that we do this more because of how we feel about ourselves rather than anything that the other person has done. In our highly competitive and materialistic society we are constantly reminded of what we don’t have or where we fall short and this hits even closer to home when the point of comparison is a peer.

Leadership Thought #224 – Anything Is Possible

Anything is possible but not everything is probable. We all just need to figure out how much risk we are willing to take and how hard we are willing to work at something. You can choose to live an easy low stress existence or you can push yourself to the limits – it’s up to you. Most of us live somewhere in between these two polar opposites and usually end up with the outcomes we deserve.

Leadership Thought #223 – What Goes Up Must Come Down

It’s important never to get too full of yourself or expect good times and success to be never-ending. The laws of gravity apply in all aspects of life: what goes up must come down. No one lives at the peak for too long. I’ve always believed that it’s not just what happens when you are on top that matters, but also the grace with how you manage the inevitable changes and decline. Life is about cycles and reinvention. It is not a continuous upward sloping straight line.