Monthly Archives: December 2013

Leaders: Troubling times require you to be present

presence of one we trustWhen there is trouble leaders need to be present.  Your team doesn’t want to receive an email or a phone call.  They want to know you really understand the situation and care enough to help – in person.

A team in crisis doesn’t want the one way communication of email instructions.  Even with emoticons and well placed capitalization there is no real EMOTION in an email 😉

A team wondering what to do next doesn’t need your cell phone call from the airport while you are catching a flight in the other direction.  They know you are busy, but imagine how busy you will be if this situation doesn’t get handled the right way.

Your team needs help.  You need to be there.  Here’s why:

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Why? Understanding leads to success.


There are always rules to be followed in life. Most rules were put in place by well-meaning people who felt that the rules were needed to right a wrong, protect from injury, or create agreement between two or more parties.

Over time, we can forget the wise words of Franklin D. Roosevelt who said, “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.”

I call the principles the “Why’s” behind the rules.

Without the wisdom of why the rules were made – understanding of the intent of the rules, and knowledge of when to apply the rules – we rely on the strict wording of the rules instead of the spirit of the rules.

Now, I am all for rules in the right circumstances. I like being confident that the car coming down the road isn’t going to keep driving right through the red light and hit my car broadside just as much as the next guy. But, many rules are not that simple.

No one can possibly think of every nuance when writing rules and we can be fooled into letting the rules rule our lives and stop using good judgment to make good decisions.

Without understanding the “Why’s” behind the rules, the individual settles on “Because I…”
Because I always follow the rules
Because I was taught to do it this way
Because I was told to do it this way
Because I don’t want to change the way I have always done it
Because I am not responsible for the outcome, just for following the rules
Because I am not the expert, someone else is

What can we do when we understand the “Why’s” behind the rules?
We can see the vision – It’s easier to be motivated to accomplish a grand vision then a task
We can support the vision – It’s easier to encourage others toward a common vision
We can successfully achieve the vision – It’s easier to get back on track when you see the big picture

Maybe a more apropos title for this article would have been – Do you follow the principles? The answer to that question would be: Not unless I know what they are.

Getting there is not the same as staying there.

staying there

Everyone has accomplished something in their lives. We can all remember a specific time where we persevered, pushed forward, gave it the extra effort and reached a goal. Maybe for some it was only once, while for others it has been a series of accomplishments, one after another. What is the secret to consistent success? Why do some continue to reach the peaks while others struggle after their first success?

Here are some truths that have to be faced to achieve consistent success:

Getting there is more fun than staying there.

Getting there is a new experience, staying there is more of the same.

Getting there has an end, staying there is endless.

When you face these truths, and realize the impact they have on your success, you can find the secret to consistent success in your life:

The secret to consistent success is to turn all of your staying there opportunities into getting there opportunities.

Dream a new dream every day. Set a new goal every day. Achieve a new success every day.

Remember what C.S. Lewis said, “You are never to old to set another goal, or dream a new dream.”

What and How – Words that limit or boost your confidence


What stops you’re chances for success? More to the point what keeps you from even starting to take advantage of the chances that do come? The answer is confidence, or rather a lack of confidence. A lack of confidence in your ability to succeed will surely keep you from succeeding to your fullest potential.

Why do some people lack confidence in their abilities where others seem to be overflowing with it no matter what situation they are in? The answer is very simple:

Successful people focus on confidence boosting behaviors while others focus on confidence limiting behaviors, and the difference between the two behaviors are the words “What” and “How.”

Confidence limiting behaviors
Focusing on “What” to think
Focusing on “What” to do

For specific situations, with specific conditions many people have learned exactly “What” to think and “What” to do. However, if either the situation or conditions change, they no longer know “What” to think or do. This causes a real lack of confidence in one’s individual abilities to succeed.

Confidence boosting behaviors
Focusing on How to think
Focusing on How to do

If instead you invest time learning “How” to think, and “How” to do, then no matter the situation or circumstance, your confidence will remain high. People who consistently succeed know that they know “How” to succeed.

Success follows action; action follows words


Leaders who seek success must first seek the right words. It’s been said that the beginning of any journey is the first step. Consider though, that before the first step is taken come the words that commit the traveler to the journey.

The impact of words on success:

Words can commit you to an action. Choose your words carefully or you may find yourself doing what you said just because you said it, not because it was right.

“The first step binds one to the second.” ~French Proverb

Words can convince others to follow your actions. Choose your words carefully as they will set the expectation for others’ actions.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napoleon Hill

Words can continue past their intended use. Choose your words carefully as they will outlive the moment and may outlive you.

Remember the words of Mark Twain who said, “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”

Transformation through Imagination

imagine your futureI am a big fan of HGTV.  My family and I especially like two shows right now: Love it or List it, and Property Brothers.  While each of these shows has a unique premise, they share the common theme of transformation through imagination.

In Love it or List it the transformation begins when a family decides their home needs to be updated.  We watch as they are presented with two options: refurbish their home and stay there (Love it), or refurbish their home and sell it (List if) as they move into a new home.

In Property Brothers the transformation begins when a family decides they want a newer up to date home and are willing to buy a fixer-upper to get there.

Here’s how the transformation on these shows works: Each show starts with a discussion about what specifically the family wants as the experts help them imagine their future residence.

Then the experts show the family what it would take to obtain all they desire in a living space, like investment of money and time, choices between location and price. Next the experts show the home owners options that will fill their settled upon desires.  They use actual home visits and software that shows a vision of what a fixer-upper will transform into.

Once the decisions are made, the experts and the family design and execute the transformation of the family’s imagined living space.

I think I like these shows because they show what I have found to be the secret to a successful transformation – Imagination.

Napoleon Hill described the path to transformation like this, “First comes thought; then organization of that thought into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality.  The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.”

Here’s why imagination works:

If we only did what we knew how to do we wouldn’t get very far.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.  Knowledge is limited.  Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

It doesn’t matter what you have or haven’t done, your imagination is the window to future possibilities.

“Live out of your imagination, not your history.” – Stephen Covey

Everything that is now common place was once an idea in someone’s head.

“What is now proved, was once imagined.” – William Blake

You will get better at imagining your future the more you do it.

“Imagination grows by exercise…” – W. Somerest Maugham

If: Problems that can change the world

problems are not stop signsWhen I had the thought to write a series of blog posts about small words that can change the world, the first one that came to mind was “If” – here’s why. No sooner did I sit down to begin writing when I questioned if I could write such a series.  Sure there are lots of small words, but how many can I write something meaningful about? I wondered if any of the posts would be captivating, or even interesting.  I pictured readers receiving the email with a new post and asking if I had run out of ideas for posts.

I finished the first blog post in the series on small words that can change the world – it’s about the word “If.”  You can decide if I made the right decision.

If: The problems. We have all heard that nothing worth having in life comes easy.  That sounds good to say when you already have something, but it’s still a bitter pill when you are striving to achieve something new.  When you are facing challenges in your life, the word “if” is a magnifier of all the potential problems.  “If” is what might happen that will cause you to fail.  “If” is the roadblock that might keep you from finishing.  If you believe the problems and obstacles that come with “If” are inevitable, you won’t even start.

If: The possibilities.  The fact that problems may come is not new and not only a reality for you.  Retired General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell said, Leadership is solving problems…”  You will have problems and you should expect to succeed anyway.   Therefore, the “Ifs” in your path are good things.  They raise your awareness of what might happen and if you don’t deal with them they could derail your success.  As Robert Schuller said, “Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.”

So go ahead, let those “Ifs” flow.  Get it all out in the open and figure out how to succeed in spite of the potential problems.  Like Albert Einstein said, “Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.”


Leadership: If you want more – give more

you can have everything you wantHow can leadership be about giving more to get more.  Early in my career I had two questions about this when my mentors shared this philosophy with me. First, I questioned whether I would get more by giving more – would this actually work?  If I focused my efforts on giving more than I received how could that end up as my success?  From an accounting point of view, if more goes out than comes in that gets recorded as a loss.  Second,  “Let’s assume that it did work,” I said. “Isn’t my success the wrong reason to give more?  After all helping others it is just the right thing to do.”

Then I heard the great Zig Ziglar say, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want” 

I confirmed this concept does in fact work, and not just for you as the leader.  This concept works for everyone on your team, your company, the shareholders, and the community.  Giving more to everyone around you than they can give back is the path to success.

Here are the three areas of leadership where you can get more by giving more:

If you want to be successful, ensure the success of others. Your success is nothing but the cumulative success of every person on your team.  The sooner you realize this the closer you are to success.  Think of the football coach.  His success is absolutely defined by how well his assistant coaches coach, how well his players play, and with what level of expertise everyone on the team performs.  His job is to find and lead the best people in every position.  No matter where you lead, your success depends on the performance of everyone around you; your job as the leader is to do everything you can to ensure their success.

If you want to be recognized, recognize others.  Everyone likes to hear “Good Job!” And every leader should praise their staff – that is the minimum. You should also recognize the accomplishments of your team to others – after all they did the work.  This activity will bring more well deserved recognition to your team, and spread the word about their potential for future opportunities.  This will also highlight your accomplishment in building and leading a strong team.

If you want to be promoted, promote others. You cant do more until what you do is being done by someone else – it’s a simple as that.  Strong successful leaders strive for more responsibility, and opportunities to make a greater impact.  If that’s you, then working with your team to get them ready to take your job is a sure way to get yourself ready for the next opportunity.  It also gives the strong successful leaders on your team the same chance to take on more.

So Leaders, if you want more  – give more.  It’s just like Bob Burg said in his book, The Go-Giver, “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.”



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