Want to be generous? Get more to give more.

generous with your giftsA generous person must first be a successful person who is focused on what they have before they can think about how to use it. Understanding what you have and getting more of it is half of the equation – the other half is how you use what you have. Success only comes from finding a way to bring these two pieces together – the having, and the giving. Zig Ziglar put these two concepts together when he said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Understand what you have. When we talk about being generous, money is the obvious first place we go to. But money is only the beginning and in the long run the lessor of what we have to give. We are all endowed with gifts that we can be generous with – Time, Knowledge, Encouragement – to name a few.

We don’t really know what others are looking for so as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

Getting more of what you have. There are many books and conferences dedicated to getting more money, so let’s look at the how we can be dedicated to get more of the other gifts we can give.

Time – There is a finite amount of time so in reality we can’t get more, but if we want to give more of our time we can prioritize how we are using the time we have. Start by deciding what activities are the most important then align your time to accomplishing those.

Knowledge – We all know something, and most people know a lot. If you want to be generous with your knowledge, then the path to getting more is fairly simple – read more, study more, discuss more – strive to learn more each day, a little at a time.

Encouragement – Lifting others up requires much more passive skills than we think. The key activity of encouragement is listening. This requires that we strive to gain more patience to search for just the right moment to ask the right question, or perhaps point out a new direction for someone to consider.

Robin Sharma talks about creating Perfect Moments in our lives and in the lives of others. All of these perfect moments revolve around experiences with those that we are closest to. He says, “Living a gorgeous life doesn’t require a lot of money. Just a lot of dedication.”

Using what you have. In his book The Greatest Salesman in the World, Og Mandino writes about achieving a life of abundance. The main character in this book learns the full measure of success when he is told, “Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving.”

Understanding what we have and how to get more of it only leads to success when we are generous in sharing. Find ways to be in situations to use what you have for the benefit of others. Measure your opportunities against the yardstick of generosity and you will find success will be yours to receive and to give.

Don’t stop at good, go for great

good to great nelson mandelaI have been working in business for thirty years and have a successful career.

I started writing in addition to my career because I saw it as a way to reach and teach many more people than I could just one-on-one or speaking to groups. I still mentor, teach, and speak today and enjoy every opportunity but I also write a blog and have a following on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter where I share my thoughts on leadership. That was a big step for me to now reach over 10,000 people regularly.

Three years ago I published my first book, The Leadership GPS, and it became an Amazon Best Seller.

These have all been steps on my personal journey from good to great and I’m not done – I am in the process of writing my next book. You see, I call my goal from good to great, Change The World Through Leadership Now.

After each step towards my goal I could see the next step I needed to take. It is just like Nelson Mandela said, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

I want to share with you the three steps I consistently take on my journey from good to great:

Sharpen your focus. Life can be full of issues that need to be resolved. We can get really good at managing them. Many of these issues are important and need your investment – it’s ok if you take care of them, just don’t let this become your life’s work. Keep focused on your good to great goal and get back to it regularly – and if you can, perhaps you can use solving the issues as part of your good to great goal.

“Managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your opportunities is the only way to become great.” – Jim Collins, Good to Great

Accomplish small steps. Great things are rarely achieved with the first try. It’s a process that builds on itself. With each small step of success ask yourself “What’s next?” And use what you’ve built to reach the next step.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Finish with great. Great is a life-long dream. Believe you will reach it and keep climbing.   No matter how many times you may slip, pick yourself up, learn from what happened and get going again.

“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” – Napoleon Hill

 

So much to teach – so few opportunities

smal opportunities to helpWhatever you have accomplished…Whatever you have learned…Whatever you have experienced…adds to who you are. I believe that who we are is meant not just for ourselves, but to teach others.

The only way to pass on all we know is to use every opportunity as a teaching moment. Think of each interaction as a chance to add value to another person. I have found that in doing this I gain more personal and team success in the long run. Brian Tracy points out that, “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

When will the opportunities come? There is no time like the present. And if you think you have missed opportunities in the past, then the second best time to look is still right now.

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” – Napoleon Hill

How will I be able to spot the opportunities to teach? Here’s how I began looking for opportunities to teach early my leadership career: Each morning I picked one key item from a book I was reading and looked for a chance to teach someone what I had learned. I didn’t let a day go by without sharing at least once.

“Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.” – William Arthur Ward

How many opportunities should I expect to get? As many as you can find the time to take advantage of. You’ll be amazed when you start looking how many you will see.

“In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1.440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.” – Les Brown

Understand the real question before you answer.

answering the right questionSuccessful people don’t always have the answer to every question, but they know how to find it. The key to finding the answers is to understand the real question before you answer.

Author, Shannon L. Adler believes that, “Most misunderstandings could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask what else could this mean.” I agree. In this busy world we often want to quickly answer what we think we hear so we can get onto the next question. As the witty Charles Schultz says, “In the book of life’s questions, the answers are not in the back.”

The reality is that we should invest the time needed to get the right answer the first time. Albert Einstein, arguably one of the brightest scientific minds, said, “It’s not that I’m so smart. But I stay with questions much longer.”

If you dig a little deeper you may find that once you discover the real question, the answer is easier than you originally thought. Dr. Seuss wrote many children’s books that were filled with wisdom shared as witty stories. His advice on understanding the real question before you answer is, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

If you want to truly succeed, asking the right questions is the key. As novelist Thomas Berger once said, “The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.”

How long should you work on culture?

culture pictureYou’re always working on culture, but you have choices to make if you want to ensure your work leads to the right culture for your company.

Culture is what you stand for. Culture is what you want to accomplish. Culture is also how you want to get there. Culture starts at the top but is only successful when it is lived throughout the organization

“If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff will just take care of itself.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos.

How to start your culture – Define it clearly.

Start with the mission – why are you doing what you do, what does your company or team look like with it is working at full success. Use action words in the present tense as if you are doing them already. Southwest Airline’s mission is to, “Connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel.”

Next comes the outcome of the mission – the vision. For Southwest that is, “To become the World’s Most Loved, Most Flown, and Most Profitable Airline.”

Then is the small number of steps you will consistently execute that will bring the mission and vision – the values. Here are some of Southwest’s values, Work Hard, Follow The Golden Rule, Have FUN, Safety and Reliability.”

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” – Jack Welch

How to spread it through the organization – Measure it consistently.

Achieving a successful culture is like any other endeavor. What gets measured gets done. Only through regular reminders and follow up will your culture become something that is spread throughout your organization.

“Culture lives on when it’s taught and practiced. Teach your employees your culture and let them share what they’ve learned.” – HerdWisdom.com

How to keep it alive – Reward it frequently.

If you want your team to know that the culture is important, you have to celebrate it when you see it. Be specific in your praise. Not just thank you, but thank you for living our culture by doing a certain act in a certain way.

“When you lavish praise on people, they flourish.” – Richard Branson

How to get aligned

getting alignedYou’re driving your car and you notice the steering wheel is vibrating, you have to hold it off-center to go straight, if you let go the car veers to the right or the left. When you bought the car the wheels were aligned and the car drove straight. Over time, general use, bumps over curbs, and potholes caused the wheels to be misaligned. If you want to have an easier time driving to your destination and save the wear and tear on your tires, you need to get your wheels aligned.

You are leading a project at work and it’s not meeting the deadlines that were set. When you started the project, everyone on the team understood and bought into the vision. Over time, other priorities came into focus, missteps, and mistakes, caused the project activities to be misaligned. If you want to have an easier time reaching the project milestones and save the wear and tear on the team members, you need to get your activities aligned.

How to get aligned. Getting out of alignment with car wheels happens all the time. We expect it, look for it, and deal with it by adjusting the suspension so the wheels sit on the road the correct way and move in the direction that the driver is steering. What about projects? It happens here all the time also. It’s actually just as easy to diagnose, but will take a bit longer to align than when you take your car to the mechanic. Here’s what you should do:

Go back to where you first got aligned – the vision of the end state. The reason that projects get out of alignment is that over time a team of people can forget why they are doing what they are doing. When we forget where we are going, any road seems like the right road.

Someone who knows quite a bit about cars, teamwork, and success is Mario Andretti. He is the only person to be named Unites States Driver of the year in three decades, the first driver to win IndyCar races in four decades, and the first to win auto races of any kind in five decades. On the importance of always knowing where you are going he said, “Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays, but never lose sight of your goal.”

Revalidate that each team member knows how what they do fits into the end state. Day to day activity can become unfulfilling if we don’t understand how what we do makes a difference. Everyone needs to feel connected to something bigger.

Vince Lombardi, one of the most successful NFL coaches and namesake of the Super Bowl trophy said this about teamwork, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Get everyone back on the track to success – delegate with a plan. The project won’t work unless everyone is out working on their individual part. Don’t keep the control too close to home, you can’t keep directing everything.

Eli Broad founded two Fortune 500 companies in different industries (KB Homes and SunAmerica). His view on successful delegation is simple, “The trick to delegating is to make sure your employees share your priorities.”

A second chance.

second chance

Sometimes good people make bad choices, that doesn’t mean their bad, it means their human. A bad choice isn’t the end, but it makes the next choice that much more important. Legendary NBA coach Pat Riley said, “You have no choices about how you lose, but you do have a choice about how you come back and prepare to win again.”

“We cannot start over, but we can begin now, and make a new ending.” – Zig Ziglar

Give yourself a second chance. We are often hardest on ourselves when things don’t go as planned. You think you let the team down. As long as you stay focused on your goals, sometimes second chances work out better than the first because you can learn from your mistakes and improve on your success.

“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” – Benjamin Franklin

Give others a second chance. Allow other people to try again. Encourage them to get back up and do it again. Tell them what they did well and ensure they understand why the first chance didn’t work and what they are going to do to make the second chance work. Keep your belief that everyone genuinely wants to succeed.

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert Kennedy

Make the second chance count. A second chance should bring us closer to succees. Don’t just jump back in and try harder, try smarter. Second chances are not given to make things right, but to prove that we can be better even after we fall.

“If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters.”– Claire Cook

Don’t focus on your weakness.

strengths and weaknessNever compare your weakness with someone else’s strength. What may be easy for others can be difficult for you. I am going to let you in on a secret – you have strengths that others call their weakness.

Here are three tips for not focusing on your weakness:

Don’t give up. Don’t say I can’t because, say I can if…You may have tried ten, twenty, or even more times already. But if you didn’t succeed yet, then you just haven’t tried the way that works for you. Think of what you have done that has worked before and try it again. Research what others have done in your situation and adapt it to your strengths.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

Work together. I recently heard a very successful person say that he could easily count the mistakes that he made on his own, but they are far outweighed by the successes he had while working with others. Don’t just do what you can do alone, partner with people who share your dream and support each other on your journey.

“An arch consists of two weaknesses, which, leaning on each other become a strength.” – Leonardo Di Vinci

Build your strengths. If you want to achieve the best from life, then you have to give your best to life. In whatever you are naturally good at doing, become great. In whatever you like to do, love it.  Be the best you!

“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.” – Marilyn vos Savant

 

Lessons on how to lead from being childlike

childlike leadershipWhen we think of what it takes to lead a project, or lead a team, or how about lead a company, what is the first thing that comes mind? I going to guess that we don’t think of being childlike. As we grow into adulthood, being childlike is usually not our goal. The experience and wisdom that is obtained through our lives is important, but there are some lessons on how to lead from being childlike that bear remembering:

Have fun, be excited.  Children have a knack for making everything fun. Leadership can be hard work but it doesn’t have to be boring. Enjoy talking with your team. Celebrate successes. Encourage and empower new ideas.

“You can be childlike without being childish. A child always wants to have fun. Ask yourself, ‘Am I having fun?’” – Christopher Meloni

Be curious, ask why. Children aren’t afraid to admit they don’t know something, and are willing to dig to find out. Leaders don’t and can’t know everything. Learning should be a life-long pursuit for the leader and for the team.

“Don’t pretend to know all the answers – quite the opposite, in fact. Ask loads of questions of everyone.” – Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why

Say wow, be in awe. Children are impressed with things that seem larger than life. Leadership is a big responsibility. Never take it for granted that you can have a huge impact on the people you lead.

“To be more childlike, you don’t have to give up being an adult. The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously….and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe.” – Wayne Dyer

Whose vision are you following anyway?

lead-followYou have a vision for where you are leading your team and your team is following you.

If you are doing this right, you’re leading your team where you are following – your boss’ vision. Everyone in every company is both leading and following someone at different times. Whether you are a one person show, a middle level manager, or the CEO of a large corporation you are ultimately following your boss’ vision.

Walmart founder, Sam Walton, said, “There is only one boss. The customer. And they can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending their money somewhere else.”

It all starts with the customer’s vision of what they want. Then it leads to the head of the company’s vision on how to organize to deliver the customer’s vision. Next it comes to the manager’s vision on how to fulfill the company’s vision. Lastly it is the individual employee’s vision on how to complete the job that provides the output needed for the manager’s vision.

You will be at different places on the chain of leading and following throughout your career. Be involved, give all you can and learn all you can to take with you on your next role.

“Followership, like leadership, is a role and not a destination.” – Michael McKinney

Just because you are following someone’s vision, it doesn’t mean you ignore your knowledge and wisdom. You have something unique to add to every plan and person. Be willing to speak up when needed.

“If I had to reduce the responsibilities of a good follower to a single rule, it would be to speak truth to power.” – Warren Bennis

Your ultimate goal in all situations is to achieve the positive outcomes set out by the vision. You don’t need to be the one given credit for creating the vision, but you do want to be part of that which accomplished the vision.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” – Edith Wharton

 

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