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Life Lessons From The Greatest Showman

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Right now, The Greatest Showman is dominating our house. If you haven't heard about it, it is a musical rendition of the life of P.T. Barnum. I've watched the movie twice, but I've listened to the songs probably 100 times each, I'm not exaggerating. Driving my 5 year old to and from preschool every day it is what she requests to listen to. I thought the movie was entertaining, the music was phenomenal but overall I was disappointed. It was a disjointed story with pieces that were just thrown together quickly in my opinion. I think what made it even more disappointing was how the story took away from how great the songs were.

When you really listen to the lyrics of the songs there are some great messages about being who you are, breaking free of the barriers that hold us back and ignoring the criticism of others. Read through the snippets below and what the words indicate then go and listen to the songs. What Benj Pasek and Justin Paul created was amazing. I'll let…

Beating The Competition Isn't Enough

No matter your business, your sport, your activity; you have competition. Even students are evaluated against each other, what percentile they are in after taking their standardized tests. When you have competition a simple desire everyone has is to beat them. How do you beat them head-to-head? How do you get into first place? How do you ensure customers pick you over the competition?

Once you've won, it is easy to feel triumphant. It feels good to be the best, to be the champion. But everyone knows that you can't get complacent in victory, you have to continue working hard to stay on top. Unfortunately where I see most people/teams/companies fall down is when they only compare themselves to their competition. If you are winning by a wide margin, it is easy to claim your title. Even when a customer complains or when your team didn't perform as well as they could have, a dangerous place is when you say, "Yes, but we are still better than the competition." Better t…

Recognizing And Embracing The Amount Of Influence You Have

In being a manager, I've always said I have a lot less control than people think I do. Many people think that being in charge you get to just tell everyone what to do and you control everything that happens. That couldn't be further from the truth. Everyone that reports directly too me has many choices in what they do, even choosing to be employed by me. While I don't have control, what I do have is influence. Some managers use their influence to try to exert control, but people eventually will choose to not be influenced by a bad manager. They can differentiate between someone that uses their influence rightly and those that don't. You can imagine which type of person is more motivating to work for and do your best every day.

This is why it is so important to understand what it means to be a leader. We need to ensure that our minds are focused every day, understanding the level of influence we do posses and to wield it properly when we walk in the door. Whether it is …

You Need More Than One Teacher To Be Great

Diversification is the key to any kind of success in my opinion. When you look at anyone that you find to be successful there is more than one teacher involved. I think that is known in how our education system is primarily setup, the way high school and college is structured you will have multiple teachers providing lessons at the end of which you have a degree. I look at a coach like Scott Frost, an up and coming college football coach that has been influenced by multiple Super Bowl winning coaches. He took ideas from everyone he crossed paths with and formed them into his own style.

To be great you should want to hear from lots of different voices. As a leader the best thing that you can do is to encourage others to get feedback and insight from other people not just yourself. Too often leaders feel the need to be the smartest person in the room, but the greatest leaders know to surround themselves with the smartest people they can. They are humble enough to recognize that no matte…

Leadership That Is Demanding Without Being Demeaning

Some people believe that at the basic level all types of leadership can be summarized by two concepts, the carrot and the stick. Do you operate under the notion that people respond best to being rewarded when they do things right or that they need to be punished when they do things wrong? You see this manifested so often in the world, those leaders that think nothing motivates more than a good old fashioned butt chewing. I think that it is rarely effective, certainly in the long run. At the same time you can't be happy about everything, accepting when mistakes are made.
Jon Gordon tweeted recently and he worded beautifully how to find the right balance, "Positive leaders are demanding without being demeaning." You can be demanding, expecting better things and higher levels of performance without yelling at someone where they feel humiliated, embarrassed or ashamed. Life is hard enough to be doing that to each other. Most people already know they made a mistake and have pr…

What Happens After You Fall Down?

Two of my girls had a dance competition this weekend, it went well overall but during one of the dances of my middle daughter, she fell. There is a part where all of the girls do an aerial. No, not the Little Mermaid, it is cartwheel without putting your hands down. She has done it hundreds of times, and many times already on stage in this dance. When she did it this time unfortunately she fell down. It happens. After the dance there were tears and hugs from her teammates, everyone trying to find the right words to make her feel better. She was upset because she thought that she had let her team down. That wasn't letting her team down. Letting your team down is not showing up on time, giving it your best. Falling down just happens sometimes.

We all are going to fall down in our lives, multiple times. Not just physical falling down, but emotionally, spiritually or psychologically. Sometimes when we fall down it is in public. We’ve probably all had at least one moment where we’ve fe…

Just Give Me A Minute To Think

It is funny how some topics keep coming up in multiple situations with different people, obviously God is trying to send us a message. For me lately it has been the idea of taking some time to think, I've been hit with multiple times in the last week. We live such crazy hectic lives and everyone's jobs are constantly trying to squeeze every last ounce of productivity from them. Everyone is always tasked with finding ways to be more efficient. The downside of this is that when you are so pressed for time you tend to always do what you've always done. Is it any wonder that in so many of our workplaces so many individuals are frustrated because nothing ever changes?

In highly innovative companies like 3M they build in time for thinking and ideation, but for most that is frowned upon as wasted time. Everyone wants to get to the action items, what are we doing, what are the specific questions that need answers. Are we spending time trying to figure out what questions we didn…