Monday, May 27, 2019

Strengtheners

What makes us stronger?

  • Work - showing up, doing our part (no matter how menial the task or assignment)
  • Resistance - facing and resolving pushback (whether free weights or political opposition)
  • Effort - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual
  • Commitment - following through on what we've promised (even when it doesn't feel good)
  • Competition - wrestling with worthy opponents, playing by the rules, accepting the outcomes
  • Failure - because it forces us to carefully reflect on the WHY
What doesn't?
  • Wishing
  • Whining
  • Quitting
  • Complaining
All about choices....

* On the topic of choices, so very thankful for our fallen on this Memorial Day (including Nelson Coulter, 1945, RIP).

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Graditude

High schools, colleges, trade schools, even nursery schools are smack in the middle of graduating their completers (or survivors) and launching them into their next chapter of life.

Of the many graduation speeches I've heard (and, as a former high school principal, pre-read) over the years, the ones that moved me the most were the ones filled with heartfelt and genuine GRATITUDE.

The speakers who acknowledge, reinforce, and express thanks to the countless others who helped them reach their goals - parents, friends, life-partners, teachers, pastors, aunts, uncles, siblings, coaches, counselors, professors, bosses, ................... that list goes on and on.  The titles held by those supporters span a huge spectrum, yet there are some common characteristics that metaphorically describe their impact on us:

  • Caregivers - they all care for us deeply and are not afraid to show it (somehow despite our many faults).
  • Cheerleaders - they truly want us to succeed and publicly display it.
  • Critics - they let us know when we've screwed up.
  • Counselors - they guide us toward better decisions, and subsequent outcomes.
  • Coaches - they push us, train us, hold us accountable, exhaust us, praise us, sweat-bleed-laugh-cry with us, push us some more.
 "Thanks" seems like such a small word, but oh the power it holds when delivered from the heart.

"Onward and upward!" (as famously espoused by Reepicheep in The Chronicles of Narnia.)

Monday, May 20, 2019

FISHognition

One of the coolest teams I ever worked on was at a high school in Austin, Texas.  Our special education department began incorporating the FISH Philosophy into their daily business. 

The process became contagious and eventually worked it's way throughout the school (about 240 employees in total).  We ultimately began having FISH Pep Rallies from time to time, just to celebrate the effort and accomplishments of the folks and the teams on our campus. 

One of the most enriching and empowering components of that process was the energy-inducing power of recognition and gratitude - recognition from ones colleagues and customers (not the bosses).  When meetings of all kinds begin with recognition, acknowledgment, and expressed gratitude from those one is serving and serving with, it just sort of makes us glow all over.

The same fueling effect takes place for the organization as a whole (and cost virtually nothing).  

Why wouldn't we?

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Invitations

Almost all of us get invitations:
> to investment opportunities
> to attend conferences
> to retirement parties
> to baby showers
> to graduations
> to weddings
> to ???

Usually implied, but sometimes overtly expressed, is the request to come bearing gifts or money.

Another kind of invitation is an one that stays continually open to each of us:  You are cordially invited to LEARN!

Learn what?  Learn about yourself.  Learn to love.  Learn to serve.  Learn to speak.  Learn to engage.  Learn to weld/garden/sing/?/?/?.

No gifts requested or needed.  It cost almost nothing (except interest and attention).

The LEARNING can begin now.  It need not end.  

(Note:  When we choose to stop learning, one foot is already in the grave.)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

GitterDoners

The best leaders I know are excellent Gitter Doners.  They understand well that ACTIONs, not just meetings, are required to accomplish goals.

So, what are the nature of the meetings chaired by these Gitter Doners?  They use use meetings to...

  • Articulate clearly the Vision and Mission of the organization.
  • Collectively determine the goals that move us toward that Vision and Mission.
  • Define the problems/barriers/challenges in accomplishing those goals.
  • Leverage the knowledge/expertise/skill of the team in crafting solutions to those problems.
  • Divvy up the clearly and fairly the work - who is to do what and by when, in pursuing those goals.
  • Acknowledge always team members who are making progress toward those goals.
What do those Gitter Doners NOT allow in meetings?
  • Endless talk with no action.
  • The attendance of unproductive or unnecessary team members.
  • Meeting time that extends beyond that that was calendared.
  • Conflict or inertia founded in personal rather than goal-related issues.
  • Dialogue around items that were NOT on the agenda (rabbit chasing).
Working with and for some Gitter Doner leaders has provided some of the most productive and satisfying experiences of my life, both personally and professionally.  

Working with and for a few non-Gitter Doner leaders has been.............................
FRUSTRATING (at best).

Monday, May 13, 2019

Disciplined

The root word of Discipline is disciple, from the Latin word discipulus, which means pupil.

Most of the folks I admire most are extremely disciplined in the way they go about living their lives.  Though with considerable variations across that group, here are some of the commonalities I see in them:

  • They relentlessly FOCUS on what is important, purposefully refusing to waste their time and energy on those things that are not.
  • They intensely OBSERVE the world and the people around them, seeking for the processes and practices that lead to betterness.
  • They REFLECT continually on their own performance and perspective, evaluating themselves before judging others.
  • They STUDY (yep, there's that "pupil" thing) constantly, pressing their knowledge and skill levels ever upward.
  • They GROUND themselves persistently - to their faith, to their foundational tenets, to the God of their understanding.
And then there are those who are constantly adrift.............

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Patience

Patience is an acquired skill, though some seem to have been born with a fair amount of it (I was NOT one of those).

The best leaders I know have learned to be extremely patient, almost to a fault.  Why?  They understand clearly the negative impact of impatience.  

Here are some of the downstream effects of impatience:

  • Important decisions get made without critical data.
  • Actions are taken based in fear rather than thoughtfulness.
  • Relationships suffer (tangibly and intangibly).
  • The "authority" card gets played way too often, resulting in disempowerment.
None of those are good things for healthy organizations.  Given all those downsides, the best leaders I know move with extreme deliberateness.  

The costs of impatience are (in the words of my grandson) GINORMOUS, sometimes even unrecoverable.