Steve Jobs

Help one, help many

The theme on my blog page is: Change The World Through Leadership Now. I chose that to represent the impact I want to have through my passion for Leadership. Every article, Instagram picture, Tweet, LinkedIn post, or FaceBook post is designed to reach as many connections as possible. My desire is to Change The World, one person at a time, through the sharing of leadership insights.

In his bestselling book, The Go Giver, Bob Burg stated, “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interest first.” The impact of your helping one person is far reaching. The residual effects of helping one person can truly change the world.

Help them help themselves. As a leader, your help should not be in the form of micromanaging. Sure, you will set the vision and work to align the goals, but your employees need to experiment, build experience and learn to excel using their strengths to accomplish the goals and achieve the vision. Doing it for them is short lived and offers no value beyond the immediate.

“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves…and succeed beyond what they thought possible.”– Simon Sinek

Help them help you. There are two personal benefits to helping others. First, it’s rewarding to be part of someone’s success – it feels good to help. There’s a Chinese Proverb that says, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” Second, the people you help will want to help you in return; they want that happiness for themselves.

Help them help others. Changing the world is a big endeavor. And if we are being realistic it’s hard to think of a way to do that. Steve Jobs got really close with Apple and his personal goal of, “Making a dent in the universe.” One way we can all think changing the world is by helping one person at a time who will also help one more person at a time – eventually it will reach the world.

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”– Ronald Reagan

Who benefits from your clear personal mission?

personal-missionOne answer to this article’s title is of course you. But so does everyone you come in contact with. Your personal mission is why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s important to be clear about why you should try so hard to accomplish whatever you are working on. Steve Jobs said your personal mission statement lets you say, “I did what I was created to do. I contributed to this world in a significant manner.”

Your personal mission, therefore, can’t be short term thinking – it’s not about working hard to earn money. It’s not even about earning money to buy a car. There is nothing wrong with earning money and buying a car, that may be a great step but it’s bigger is than that. It’s the impact you want your life to have.

And when you figure out what you were created to do – as Jobs said, ask yourself, besides me, who benefits from my personal mission? You may still be doing great things, but to what end? Stop waiting for the impact to just happen and make it happen. Make your life a mission, not an intermission.

Why do we need a personal mission? Life is full of choices. How do you know which choice is the right one? One way that helps you decide is having a personal mission. What that as a focus, you can measure each choice to see which one gets, or keeps, you on track to reach it.

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” – Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock

What should be in a personal mission? The best part of being successful is helping others be successful. A Chinese proverb says, By accident of fortune one may be a leader for a time, but by helping others succeed one will be a leader forever.” Fill your personal mission with the benefits you will bring to each person you can.

“Mission is about people, not projects.” – Todd Engstrom, Verge 2013

What does a personal mission look like? If it takes too long to explain, then you don’t understand it. If you don’t understand it, then you can’t use it. Abraham Lincoln said, “If you give me six hours to chop down a tree, I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Invest the time up front so that your personal mission statement is as sharp as an axe and can fell a tree in one blow. Brevity is the key.

“Your mission should be a single sentence that states what you are here to do.” – Steve Jobs

 

Focus – What should you stop looking at?

focus - what not to look atWe just bought a new camera. My daughter was showing us how you can change the picture so the subject is in focus and the background is blurred or the background is in focus and the subject is blurred. It’s a really neat effect that makes the same scene look totally different in the two pictures.

I think this is the same way in life and in work. Some people look out and see too much to do and say there is no way to get this all done. Other people see only what they choose to do and blur out the rest. The same scene looks totally different to each viewer.

Don’t focus on everything. In a good way there is always enormous opportunity to improve, enhance, or create almost anything and everything – and someday, someone should do that – maybe you. For now, some of those opportunities are less important than others. If you try to accomplish all of them or even a lot of them, you are likely to make only marginal progress for a very long time.

“Sticking things out is overrated, particularly if you stick out the wrong things.” – Seth Godin, Whatca Gonna Do With That Duck?

Do focus on what’s essential. Figure out which of the everythings are the best things and stop looking at the rest. Stephen Covey says you can’t manage time, you can only manage yourself within the bounds of time.

“The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen Covey

Do what you focus on well. In his book on Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson said, “Jobs insisted that Apple focus on just two or three priorities at a time.” Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, iPad…Just some of the successes that come from focus.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet

Why so complicated? Simplify.

complicated simpleWhen Ford sold the Model T in 1908 it was the first mass-produced car for the middle class. Henry Ford had a simple vision, “I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best material, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise…” When demand for the Model T increased dramatically in 1913, Ford switched to using only black paint to increase the efficiency of the assembly line and to keep prices affordable. It is here that Henry Ford is often quoted as saying, “Any customer can have any color paint as long as it’s black.” It was a simple vision.

By 2006 Ford was selling cars under nine different brands in six continents. It had become a much more complicated business and Ford lost $12.6 billion that year, the year that Alan Mulally became the CEO and began what would become one of the greatest turnarounds in business history.

Mulally re-focused Ford to simplify the business and return to profit using the same process he used as the CEO of Boeing, the same process that other great leaders had used in the past: Simplify the Message, Simplify the Schedule, and Simplify the Measurements. If you find yourself in a business that has gotten to complicated, take a look at this three-step process.

Simplify the message

Steve Jobs was a master at simple messaging. From the Apple logo to every new product release, the message was clear and easy to understand. Jobs said, “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Alan Mulally started with harkening back to the simpler time of the Model T. Henry Ford envisioned, “Opening the highways for all mankind,” According to Mulally, you have to figure out a way to, “Get every employee to understand the vision of the company, buy in to the plan, and feel supported in their jobs.”

Mulally introduced a simple message called One Ford. “One Ford optimizes our collective strength by aligning our efforts toward a common definition of success, with a clear focus on the skills and behaviors we must develop to accomplish One Team, One Plan, One Goal,”  This would bring all the global businesses together to more efficiently and effectively achieve success.  This included simple behaviors that were fundamental to One Ford: Foster Functional and Technical Excellence, Own Working Together, Role Model Ford Values, Deliver Results.

Simplify the schedule

Jim Rohn is best known for being a bestselling author and motivational speaker. He began his career as an entrepreneur in the direct selling business where he learned his craft and developed methods for success. Rohn’s simple method for success is stated as follows, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day”

Alan Mulally joined as the CEO of Ford during “Meeting Week.” This was the time of the month when all of the corporate meetings happened across one entire week; finance, sales, products and others. Mulally sat through the week then cancelled all of the meetings and replaced them with one weekly “Business Plan Review,” meeting where the strategic focus of the company would be reviewed all in one day. If problems were identified in this meeting, follow-up meetings would be scheduled to dig deeper and identify solutions.

This new meeting structure brought the entire company into focus for every executive to see, offer opinions and solutions in line with the One Ford message of working as One Team, with One Plan, and One Goal.

Simplify the measurements

Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was the author of 51 books that sold over 600 million copies that were translated into 20 languages. His books covered deep, complicated subjects in simple ways that everyone from the youngest toddler to the oldest adult could understand. Seuss said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

When Mulally joined Ford in 2006, the automotive business was complicated, and it would remain complicated. But Mulally could handle complicated. When asked how he would handle auto manufacturing when a car has 10,000 moving parts, the former Boeing CEO responded, “An airplane has two million, and it has to stay up in the air.” The questions would remain complicated while the answers would be simple.

Gone were the long presentations during “Meeting Week” from every division and they were replaced with color coded charts in the “Business Plan Review” that showed the same data for each division so everyone knew if they were on track or not, where they were not, they would talk about how to get on track. Mulally is known to tell his team to, “Let the data set you free.” These simple measurements would foster greater unity across the whole team in line with the One Ford message of working as One Team, with One Plan, and One Goal.

 

You are not in this alone

wright brothers dreamsWhat do you want to do in school, work, or your life? What is your dream? I hope it is so big that you have no idea at this moment how you can ever accomplish it. The good news is you are not in this alone.

Orville and Wilbur Wright dreamed of human flight from the time they were boys. They didn’t know exactly how it could be achieved, but they were determined that they could do it – but not alone.

In 1899, Wilbur Wright wrote a letter to the Smithsonian Institute. He explained how he had studied the work of early aeronautical scientists and asked for all papers that the Smithsonian had published on human flight, and a list of all other works in print. Wilbur and Orville studied all the scientific books that they received, as well as one book titled Empire of the Air, by Louis Pierre Moullard which discussed the possibility of achieving human flight by studying the birds in flight.

Wilbur then began communicating with and questioning the most well-known aeronautical engineers of the time including Octave Chanute, who gave the brothers the idea to perform their experiments on the coasts of the Carolinas (where their famous Kitty Hawk flight took place).

Using the knowledge they received, their ingenuity and talents, along with the help of mechanics, carpenters and land owners, the Wright Brothers decided that human flight would come only from the combination of the right machinery (as observed from the scientists) and skill in operating the machinery (as observed from bird watching). The rest is history.

What do you want to do in school, work, or your life? I hope it is so big that you have no idea at this moment how you can ever accomplish it just like the Wright Brothers dreamed of human flight. Remember, you are not in this alone.

Recruit others into your dreams.

Wilbur Wright had Orville Wright as they built the first manned airplane. Steve Wozniak had Steve Jobs as they built the first Apple computer. Ben had Jerry as they founded the ice-cream empire. Each of these partners had the same dream but different strengths and roles in the ultimate success. Surround yourself with others who can help keep the passion for the dream alive.

“It takes teamwork to make the dream work.”

Research the existing facts of success and failure.

Learn from what others have done that is the same or similar to what you are trying to do. Their success or failure will help you determine what to do or not to do. Just like Wilbur Wright read all he could about human flight and saw the limitations of current airplane designs, Steve Wozniak read all the research he could find on the growing field of personal computers as he built the first Apple Computer. Remember your goal is to deliver on your dream, one that is bigger than you know how to deliver on your own.

“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” – Albert Einstein

Reach out to those that have been on the same path before.

Reading all the research that has been compiled and studying all the success and failures is very important and an integral step in the process of achieving your dreams. But nothing compares with talking with and working side by side those who have been on the same path that you are now on. The Wright Brothers, especially Wilbur, spent significant time with others who had and were pursuing the dream of human flight across several countries.

Find mentors who are willing to invest time to help you accomplish your dream just as they did. You will find that those who have a passion for their dreams, usually have the same passion to help others achieve their dreams.

“A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years of mere study of books.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Vision – Strategy – Implementation

vision strategy implementationGreat success is only accomplished when we first establish a picture of what success looks like when we are done. Vision is the “what” of success that is described to get buy in.

A great vision can only be fulfilled if you have a plan to reach it. Strategy is the “how” of success that is designed to be executed.

Describing success through a vision, and designing a plan to reach it through a strategy brings nothing unless you actually do what you designed, to achieve what you described. Implementation is the “who” and “when” of success.

In a recent speech, Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Boeing and Ford said, “The thing I’ve found over the years…is the absolute importance of three universal principles: a compelling vision, a comprehensive strategy, and a relentless implementation process to deliver that strategy and vision,”

Describe it – Vision

Success doesn’t happen overnight. As we move through the days, weeks, and months of activity we all need something to remind us why we are doing what we do. Vision is a motivator. When we hit the wall it gives us strength to keep going. Vision is a beacon. When the path we are on is blocked it provides direction to get back on track.

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed, the vision pulls you.”– Steve Jobs

Design it – Strategy

You know where you are and you described where you want to go. Now you need to decide how you are going to get there. Projects are complicated and require many steps in the right order to succeed. Strategy is an organizer. When we need to put the puzzle pieces together, it shows us how they all fit. Strategy is a balancer. When we have multiple priorities, it provides guidance on which to choose.

“Without strategy, execution is aimless.” – Morris Chang, the founding Chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, known as the father of Taiwan’s chip industry.

Do it – Implementation

The difference between what you are and what you want to be is what you do. No lumberjack ever talked a tree into falling down. Implementation is an energizer. The first step is always the hardest but once started the next steps come easier. Implementation is a celebrator. Once you have made some steps forward you can look back and see how far you have come.

“Organizations are successful because of good implementation, not good business plans.” – Guy Kawasaki, Silicon Valley marketing executive and bestselling author.

Leaders Lead First

EM Kelly lets goGreat leaders like to come in first – they want to win. Not just for their personal benefit, but for their company, team and each employee.

For great leaders to win, they do need to be first and most importantly they need to lead first.

Here are a few areas where great leaders always lead first:

Descend from the Ivory Tower

We frequently hear about famous people making personal visits with their fans. After those visits, someone invariably says, “They were so down to earth.” Why is that a compliment? Because the fans feel connected to their favorite singer, sports star, or actor when they see them acting like a regular person.

This is the same with leaders. People expect leaders to lead from the top of the mountain, but understand the impact at the bottom of the mountain. They want to feel connected to the person who plays a large part in their chances for success. People don’t want to hear “Go,” as E.M. Kelly said, people want to hear the leader say “Let’s Go!”

Leaders lead first by taking the initiative to invest time being with their teams.

Demonstrate what is right

Steve Jobs once said, “A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.”  Your team is watching and listening to everything you do – make it count.

If there is a fast approaching deadline and the team needs to work some extra hours to finish – great leaders will be there with them. If there is new process put in place that each employee needs to follow – great leaders follow it.

Don’t just tell people what you want them to do, show them. As Henry David Thoreau said,  “People will believe what they see. Let them see it.”

Leaders lead first by taking the initiative to lead by example.

Delegate implementation

A leader sets vision, goals, and timelines and lets employees decide how to achieve. No one wants to be told what to do every step of the way. Remember, if you always tell your employees how to do everything, you will have to always tell them how to do everything.

President Theodore Roosevelt said, “The best executives are the ones who have sense enough to pick good people to do what they want done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

Leaders lead first by taking the initiative to let their team take the initiative.

Lead like an individual contributor

lead like an individual contributorIn a recent Forbes article Jack Zenger said, “Individual contributors are forgotten leaders.”  Can individual contributors really lead? It depends on your definition of leading..

Here are some definitions on leading that we can look into as we talk about leading like an individual contributor:

Brian Tracy said, “Leaders think and talk about solutions.”

Colin Powell said, “Leading is solving problems.”

Donald McGannon said, “Leadership is action.”

Steve Jobs said, “Leaders are innovators.”

John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence.”

Here is what the collective definitions says leaders do: Think and talk about solutions, solve problems, take action, innovate, and influence.

There is nothing here that isn’t done by individual contributors every day.

Your position or title is not the ultimate measure of a successful career. It is what you do with your position or title that matters.

The key is to do your best where you are, when you are, with what you are.

 

Travel on the road to a clear vision

clarify your visionA clear vision is an interesting concept for leaders. The word vision makes you think that the end-state can be seen in the physical world. In reality the most powerful vision is one which describes not what is, but what can be. This is what Warren Bennis meant when he said, “Create a compelling vision, one that takes people to a new place.”

There are four steps that all successful leaders follow as they travel on the road to a clear vision:

See the vision. Leaders must visualize the end-state clearly in their mind. They can see the future and the plan to get there.

“Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there.” – John P. Kotter

Share the vision. A vision in the mind of the leader is only a dream until it is shared with their team. Talk it up – let everyone know your plans for success.

“Good leaders must communicate vision clearly, creatively, and continually.” – John C. Maxwell

Set the vision in motion.  Seeing the vision clearly, and hearing about the vision continually are important first steps, but you won’t get any closer to success until you begin moving forward. Leaders take the first step.

“The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.” – Vance Havner

Spread the vision.  The first three steps on the road to a clear vision are all about the leader – it is a vertical path. For vision to work it has to spread out horizontally across the team members. This only happens when the vision becomes personal – people who see change want to be changed. Encourage celebrations of individual success that leads to the vision.

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs

The four biggest mistakes that leaders make.

mistake-quote photography negativesYou’re the leader.  You are in charge.  Your team depends on your decisions.  Maybe the entire company depends on your decisions.  Can you afford to make mistakes?  Truth be told, leaders can’t afford to not make mistakes.

Read on to see what great leaders say are the four biggest mistakes that leaders make:

Not trying for fear of making a mistake. “Because that is the way we have always done it.” That has to be one of the most annoying answers to the question, “Why do we do…that way?” What the person is really saying is, “I am afraid to try something new because it might not work.”  Remember, if you are trying to improve you are trying something new, different, hopefully better.  Of course you will make some mistakes, that’s what happens when we try to do something we haven’t done before.  If you don’t try something new, you won’t have the opportunity to improve

One thing is certain in business: you will make mistakes.  When you are pushing the boundaries, mistakes are inevitable. Richard Branson

Giving up after making a mistake.  Ok, so you tried something new and it didn’t work as you had hoped – so what.  You are still farther ahead than before you tried because you now know what doesn’t work.

I am not discouraged because every wrong attempt discarded is a step forward. Thomas Edison

Not admitting when they make a mistake.  Make it part of your culture to try new things and openly review the outcomes together as a team.  Like football teams that review yesterday’s game film to look for opportunities to improve, make this a positive event that is used to make the next attempt better. 

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes.  It’s best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations.”­ – Steve Jobs

Not learning from their mistakes.  Mistakes are only useful if they are used as a means for improvement.  Making mistakes is fine, repeating the same mistake is not.

The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way. Dale Carnegie

 

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