Thoughts on Take the Stairs by Rory Vaden

Had a chance to dig into a new book recently titled Take the Stairs by Rory Vaden. The book takes a path I like, namely, it doesn't pull any punches. Rory makes it clear that if you want success you better be prepared to do the hard work, but in the end it's worth it and most truly successful people get this.

He also takes on our cultural norms (at least in America) and plays the true contrarian. Fortunately he doesn't leave you with long-winded diatribes. Solutions are found through-out the book. In the end, the resounding theme goes the direction of no easy path to true success. The following are some of the things I liked about Rory's insights:

  • He makes a suggestion to check email 3 times a day. I like that idea.
  • We shouldn't be so fixated with "should I." A better plan is to move forward and focus on how you can make something work.
  • Commitment is lacking in our age and its essential to making our success happen.
  • Get through the upfront pain of change and you'll be alright.
  • Procrastination is the enemy.

All-in-all the book is worth the read.

Formed Opinion

Formed opinions happen all the time. We all walk around everyday setting things, and people, in place. You'd think we're setting the table for dinner. There is a certain level of comfort for humans when they can line things up.

The only problem is formed opinions are often flawed. Sometimes they can be fatally flawed.

When it comes to humans, we need to factor in the dynamic nature of how we're made. People are shaped by a lot more than you can know. And don't make the mistake of thinking a Facebook post is a true representation of the person's heart. Many people are fixated on being "ok." Not many are willing to be truly vulnerable. Living in an age of judgement makes vulnerability a risky proposition.

Organizations are a bit different. Their behaviors are driven almost solely by culture. For example, if the culture is dedicated to serving customers, then that behavior will reign and the formed opinion will follow. I've known more than a few leaders who found this difficult to accept. But in the end, it doesn't matter what your marketing outlets say. It's always about what you do. One last caution, as you form your opinions about organizations (people too):

One event does not make a trend.

As you pay more attention to your formed opinions, remember that humility is a key component in making sure your formed opinions are solid. It's important because when you're wrong you can admit it and when you're right you won't feel the need to prosecute. I throw this your way because we're all limited.

7 Things Your Manager Wants You To Know

Corporate maze 

I spoke with a friend yesterday about the role of her manager in her job.  He's an advocate for her and a buffer.  The buffer part was what struck me.  He's a buffer between my friend and senior management.  Sadly, senior management in this organization is living in an alternative reality, so they need someone who is deft at translating this reality into real world application.  This happens a lot in the corporate world.

This post is not a defense of the middle-manager, nor is it a rant about how bad they sometimes can be.  In the spirit of balance I want you to consider 7 things your manager wants you to know:

  1. Your manager is afraid.  In many ways this makes them like everybody else, with one huge exception.  Your manager has power and influence over the work of human beings.
  2. Your manager thought they wanted the job when it was offered.  Many managers are conflicted.  The organization dressed everything up well, put on the nicest face, but decided to let themselves go after the honeymoon.  Now your manager sees themselves as stuck.
  3. Your manager wants to do the right thing.  She realizes she can't please everyone.  She knows that making a decsion swiftly and resolutely is sometimes needed, even if you don't see it or understand it.
  4. Your manager wants ongoing learning and growth.  But it's very difficult when profit tries to push an unseen opportunity out the door.  Or worse, the organization doesn't care about learning and growth.
  5. Your manager has been a bully all their life and has no intention of stopping.  Unless, of course, someone decides to push back.  He believes the organization is weak for not putting a halt to his behavior.
  6. Your manager is intimidated by people who are smarter and wiser.  They see vulnerability (being ok with not being the crown jewel in the room) as something to be avoided.
  7. Your manager feels like their life is ebbing away.  The other parts of life are demanding much from her, just like the organization.  In many ways she wonders where is the life she dreamed of.

Your People Are Smarter Than You Think

If there is any statement I would want a manager/leader to understand, it would be the following:

    "Your people are smarter than you think."

I feel sorry for those organizations that promote, deify, and plain flatter the pants off of management candidates and new hires (including senior management).  I feel even sorrier for those individuals because most of the time they are not prepared to lead.  It's often a case of letting words on a resume or some performance metric around revenue generation that leads to this ride to hell.

On face of it, you might say congratulations are in order for the recently hired or promoted.  I wouldn't want to stop the celebration and I certainly applaud those who desire to lead people.  The problem rests in not taking time to explain some key and essential truths.  And one of those is:

    "Your People Are Smarter Than You Think."

So You may be wondering why the emphasis on that statement?  Here are the reasons why:

  1. People are tired of corporatese (a language that many organizations use to unknowingly frustrate) and false pretense.
  2. People are tired of managers who feel compelled to remind the world that they are the smartest guy or gal in the room.
  3. People often want to do their jobs with excellence, but they now know that Wall Street is often the prettiest girl in the room. And leaves them feeling the need to watch their back while the CEO gushes over the past quarters numbers. I think you get my point here.
  4. People know the world has changed, but often their leaders are vague on the subject and how it impacts them as an employee.
  5. People know that a title and position do not equal leadership. Thus, they won't really follow if they since an embrace of those two.

The Implications of Trust

Saw this post yesterday in Forbes and it got me thinking about the implications of trust.

What strikes me is how our business culture has forgotten or needs to be taught about how trust is built and kept. We definitely are living in a curious time, when it comes to trust. Seems like many have left trust in dust, even though we say its so important.

The vast advances in learning has led to arrogance on the part of business leaders. This is the type of arrogance that threatens the very enterprises deemed to be so valuable to multiple groups.

Can those (family, friends, company, etc.) conting on you trust you? Are you building and strengthening trust everyday?

How to Make the Most of Your Physical Health

I had a great breakthrough this week in the area of making the most of physical health. My endocrinologist for some time has wanted to put me on a statin to address my LDL cholesterol. My LDL was in a reasonable range for a normal (whatever that means) male my age. But I have Type 1 diabetes, so they treat all things heart-wise more aggressively. I don't need to write about the issues relating to heart disease and diabetes. Just the same, I did not want to do a statin for multiple reasons. The most important one was my desire to address the issue naturally. I have a great medical team that allows me to manage my health and they act as advisors. That helps a lot.

My LDL before last week's blood work was around 126, with a total number of 198. My current number is 102 and 186 respectively. Huge!

I will breakdown what I'm doing that has helped my cholesterol numbers and then some general stuff that is good to do overall.

Cholesterol

  1. Eating good fats from walnuts and almonds (serving size of a 1/4 cup each).
  2. 1-2 glasses of red wine (I pay attention to how the wine is crafted here. The longer the time for grape skins to be in contact with the juice, the better) per day. This book helped me a lot.
  3. I changed my workout routine about 5 months ago to high intensity interval training. I apply this in my running and strength training. This article explains the concept I use.

General

  1. Reduce the amount of refined sugar in my diet.
  2. Exercise every day.
  3. Find tools for stress relief
  4. Practice total life management. I've found this to be the key in finding balance and integration in life.
  5. Know God.

In the end, my body and mind is not your body and mind. I've only written about what has worked for me. Here's to your health.

Living Life Well

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One of the greatest hindrances of living your life well is the tendency to listen to crowd noise. The critics, the fearful, the rigid, and it goes on and on. Learning can certainly come from crowd noise, but it's best not to linger there for very long.

I see a disturbing trend where I live. The world is shaping up to need artists and many are acting as if it is calling for redundant task work. Prepping to understand what your art is can be difficult because its supposed to be. The riddle is summed up in not only finding your art, it's also the input that goes into making it.

The connection between the life well lived and our unique art is inseparable.