Where To Start When Changes Need To Be Made

It is easy to find things that need to change. People that need to do things better at work. People that need to drive better on the road. People that need to learn to count their items before they get in the express checkout lane. So many people need to change things that would definitely make our lives easier.

If we do any self correction, we make ourselves out to be a minor part in the play. Necessary but not the most important part.I realized that I was doing some of that myself but then I realized that maybe my part was bigger than I was making it out to be. As I was thinking about this the Michael Jackson song Man In The Mirror came to mind and I looked up the lyrics.

One of my core philosophies in my life is, "The only person I can control is myself."

Sometimes we need to realize that when things aren't working we need to start with the man in the mirror. We can't control everything but we can control ourselves. What I can control is my attitude, my words, my …

What Engineers Can Teach Us About Communication

We've been doing some research lately looking at Agile Software Development to improve how we manage our workload. I've written before about communication and its importance so in reading through some things words like individuals, interactions, communication, collaboration and teamwork really stuck out to me. Agile emphasizes the importance of face-to-face interaction. Even in this day with distributed work forces across the world they suggest web-cams, it isn't as great as actually face-to-face, but it is better than an email.

We are so reliant on technology today, not that technology is a bad thing, we just need to understand its role. Studies are starting to show that the open office concept is actually shutting down face-to-face conversations. (Article) I would be willing to bet the amount of innovation and strategy is higher when you are gathered around a white board rather than reading through a never ending email chain. Someone should do a study on that. I look at t…

Answer The Question Why

Do you remember that game you played as a kid, where you tried to be annoying to your friends or parents by continuing to ask the question why?

Parent - We're going to see your grandparents.
Child - Why?
P - We haven't seen them in a while.
C - Why?
P - Because we've had something every weekend the last month.
C - Why?
P - Because that is when things are scheduled.
C - Why?
P - Just go get your shoes on and get in the car.

I'm not advocating being annoying, but we don't ask and answer the why question enough. Who, what, where, when and how are also important but there is something interesting about the question why.

Go through your day, do you actually know why you do some of the things you do? You have your job to make money, pay the bills. But why do you work where you do and do what you do for a living? Do you know why some tasks are done, or do you just do them because you've always done them?

As leaders, we need to not be afraid to ask why. We also need to …

The Power In Our Words

Last week was a bad week for me. Nothing really major, just little problems at work and feeling like I'm not getting the job done. You know that feeling when you start debating in your head about what you believe people think about you. That maybe you aren't good at your job or whatever area of your life is weighing you down. That was me, trying to justify to myself why things were the way they were and knowing they are moving forward in the right direction, just never near as fast as I would like them to be.

But an encouraging word came, when it didn't need to be sent it arrived right when I needed to hear it. It allowed me to refocus and stop stressing about the things I couldn't control.

Our words have such power and too often we only use them to tear each other down. We withhold saying what we're thinking for the fear of sounding cheesy or insincere. Each of us contain so much ability to lift up, strengthen and motivate each other. We have the ability to restor…

The Casual Attitude That Slowly Kills

Read a great quote recently by @jonacuff, "A casual system fails from the beginning!"

It really struck a nerve with me as I realized how casual we are, especially living in Minnesota where we are teaming with Minnesota Nice. We are friendly, cordial, submissive and passive. I see casual every day when we talk about something that is broken, something that needs improving or even a complete overhaul. We get casual and talk about how much better it is than before. In sports 2 wins is better than 1, but if that is all you accomplish in a season your team isn't very good. I don't want better, I want great. Better means you are going in the right direction, but being on the right road doesn't mean you've reached your destination already.

The first thing that takes us away from greatness is how unified we are as a team. If personal agendas rule and people have a different picture of what the vision of your organization is you will not achieve greatness. You need to…

Where Are We Playing Not To Lose?

In sports there is a clear objective, to win the game. At times you see it where a good team will lose a game they shouldn't because they are off, they aren't playing the way they normally do. They aren't playing to win the game, they are playing not to lose. Their style changes to a prevent defense, slow down the game, control things and hope that time runs out on their opponent making a comeback. A team might get some wins that way, but you are never going to win a championship playing not to lose, you need to play to win.
Many of us play not to lose every day. In school we look at what we need to do to pass, not what it takes to get an A. At work we try to not lose our jobs. We do what is required or asked of us but don't go out of our way to find the things that can deliver above and beyond. Our companies look to maintain market share, playing it safe rather than looking at ways to take risks to gain ground on our competition. We guard ourselves in our relationship…

Can We Be Thankful For The Things We Don't Like?

Today is Thanksgiving, have you thought about what you are thankful for? Every other day of the year we probably spend too much time thinking about the things that make us mad and frustrate us, but today should be different. How we approach today sets a foundation for every other day of the year. We have the power to change most of the things that we don't like by changing our own language we speak to ourselves. It would be easy to complain about the fact that a part broke on my car and had to be replaced. It took time to get it repaired, deal with a loaner and of course it cost money. However I am thankful that it didn't break down on the side of the road, I could deal with it on a Saturday when I had some free time, I had money saved up just in case of such an auto repair need and we haven't had a car payment in over five years because they have been very reliable cars that don't need expensive repairs.

Today as you spend time with family and friends reflecting on wh…