Living and Dying

I read Steve Job’s speech to Stanford’s commencement ceremony yesterday.  It’s ironic how fitting his subject matter was.  It seemed like he was speaking directly to me.  Life is strange sometimes.

I received news today that an old friend is being transferred to hospice.  What can I say…my heart is filled with sadness.  I hope she knows that life is just beginning.  I am trying to live my life as an echo. 

The Science of Culture

Much has been written about culture and organizations.  We’ve been told that culture reflects beliefs and “norms.”  It’s also a living breathing organism (or beast) infecting those inside the machine.  Obviously, this can be good or bad.  The problem is that we pay attention to culture after we’re under its spell. 

Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame says culture must be addressed at the very start.  I tend to agree with him.  If you’re in an organization with a bad culture, you better be prepared to bring out the nuclear option.  Anything less will leave you negotiating with the beast.  I call this a fearful state of living.  Think about it, most bad cultures are full of the following:

1.      Entrenched dysfunctional behaviors.

2.      Old ideas championed by old thinking leaders.

3.      Little or no innovation.

4.      Market dependent (as the market goes, so does the organization).

5.      Leaders that live in denial (reality is not a factor in decision making).

I’ve seen way too many leaders who believed they could kill the beast with a sword (usually wielded by a white knight for hire), only to realize that a sword is not enough.  If the organization is unwilling (or unable) to take the necessary steps, you may need to leave or use the enterprise as a laboratory for growth.  Whichever way you choose, don’t pretend that the culture is amoral.

The Opportunity Behind Disappointment

We all have faced the disappointment of losing a job, or being passed over for a promotion.  When (not if) these events happen we are left exposed and fearful.  If you know what I know, then you’ll know that these circumstances can refine you…just like gold.  Remember, refining means there will be fire, and fire is painful. 

The trick is, do we have a vision apart from the organization and circumstance.  If you don’t, you’re in for a wild ride of emotions.  If you do, then you should be able to see the event as directional in nature.  Like a field guide telling you to go around the ridge.  Understanding the directional aspect brings clarity and focus.  Get a vision!

Consider the following (if you’re encountering job related disappointment):

1.      Pray

2.      Don’t make any agreements based on what you feel (emotions will tell you to take the event personally).  Let go of the wheel and check your vision.

3.      Recognize that you’ve been designed, so trust the Designer to reveal the next steps.

4.      Seek input from trusted advisors.

5.      Great things are ahead, let them happen.

Good Enough

When we evaluate our growth level, we should never be satisfied.  Satisfaction is the enemy of remarkable.  Far too many leaders are satisfied.  It almost seems like there really is a “matrix” that traps people.  A matrix, if you should agree, creates a false sense of well being. 

Quality leaders are called to a higher understanding of the future and the people they lead.  They inherently distrust the tried and true.  One of the reasons for this comes from a desire to shape the future.  The majority of these leaders see the future as a better reality ahead.  The people they lead are integral to the outcome.  They KNOW that better realities only occur with others beside them.  Damn us for thinking that profit is most important.  Profit is a by-product.

When I look around the corporate landscape today, there are so many people hungering for encouragement and innovation.  Sadly, these folks have been left within a vacuum.  My mission is to reach out to you, and communicate that you’ve been designed for a remarkable story.  Don’t expect these changes to originate from the corporate halls.  It will originate from somewhere else…

Where’s the Serve in Service

My son has issues with food allergies.  Consequently, my family sometimes needs assistance from the medical community.  The day my son was having issues must have been a bad day for empathy.  The doctor’s office seemed “put out” by our concerns.  Our son’s physician is great, but his staff could use a crash course in understanding what customer (or patient) service is.  I won’t even start on the racket that is healthcare.  The doctor’s office is an object lesson in the no serve in service idea.  You’ve been there before.  Maybe it was your doctor, or maybe it was your cable company.  Either way, you’ve felt the frustration.  Some organizations don’t understand that that is no service without the serving.  It’s the eight hundred pound gorilla in the corner of the room. 

A Few Things

Do you realize that there are only a few things that we should be focusing on in this life?  I think five or less…When I talked to people these days, they seem overwhelmed and overextended.  Isn’t it ironic that life passes so quickly, and we allow those important five things to get drowned by the noise of the unimportant.  If you’re like many, you probably think you “have time.”  Reality says you don’t have a much as you think.  What would the world look like if we lived like we didn’t have time?  We’d experience more love, more sanity, more success, and more brilliant light.

Brand You

It’s pretty amazing how much an organization puts into its brand.  Think about the dollars and mental capital used to further a corporate brand.  What’s more amazing is how little we put into our own personal brand.  I’m conducting a seminar on Friday around developing a personal brand.  Here are some points we’ll be discussing:

·        Everyone has a personal brand.  No one get’s a pass on this truth

·        If anyone desires to succeed, regardless of the level, they’d better know what their brand communicates.

·        If you don’t leverage your brand, then the corporation will…at your cost.

·        The biggest mistake you can make is letting anyone else define the value of your brand.

·        The best organizations are those that embrace personal branding.

If you’re working for an organization that encourages personal branding, you’re rare and blessed.  Personal branding scares mediocre enterprises.  They find it difficult to get their mental arms around the marriage of corporate and personal brands.  Start working today on the most important brand…You.

Looking for Margin

I spent a good portion of this weekend coordinating a “ministry fair” at my place of worship.  I discovered what it feels like to work with people who know the art of encouragement.  I wasn’t the best person to lead this event, but I was “guy” anyway.  Quite frankly, details suck the life out of me.  I tend to be vision oriented…it’s the rhythm I dance to.  That said, the event went well.  Interestingly, one of my mentors (who happens to lead this group of people) seemed concerned about the amount of margin in the people.  He was speaking a common problem in our culture; over commitment.  We can all relate to that.  I believe that it was Peter Drucker who said we need to focus on a few things and stop doing the rest.  Here’s a list to give you a hand in creating more “margin:’

1.      If the event/task is not in your “strength zone,” then say no.

2.      Set aside time each week to reflect.  This should give you time to slow down and listen.

3.      There are only about five things that really matter in life.

4.      Learn the art of saying “no.”

5.      Give, (time, money, encouragement, love, hope and anything else that will help others) this will give vast amounts of energy.

Keeping The Growth Boat Afloat

Had a good conversation with an associate today.  We talked about sustaining growth in people.  That’s a subject I love to talk about.  I’ve been getting so many clues lately about my role in “helping” people.  As I’ve been living in my strength zone, people seem to be drawn to me.  Maybe they crave what, or who, lives in me.  Of course, I love to share that reality too.  I am fully alive!  I want this to be true for everyone I meet.  My mission is centered on helping you discover it as well.  Sadly, so many organizations leave the development of dreams in the dust.  They are under the spell of profits first.  Now here this; “you’ll make more profit if you develop people first.  A confounding reality for many, but true anyway.