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Showing posts from 2018

I Don't Know How To Do That...Yet

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If I was only allowed to follow one person on Twitter, Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff) might be it. He is funny, honest, witty, insightful and challenging. You never know what you are going to get from him but it is probably really good.

He had a gem the other day that made me laugh out loud and also made me question myself. Short story is there was a squirrel that had a very long tooth, and a lady found a YouTube video on how to cut it to give the poor thing a chance at survival. I can't do it justice, you have to take a look and see the pictures for yourself.


What really got me though is Jon's comments:
The next time someone tells me “I don’t know how to do something,” I’m going to tell them, “If someone can find videos on YouTube for how to trim squirrel teeth, you can find what you’re looking for, too.” It made me think about all of the times that we limit ourselves. We either tell ourselves that we can't do something or we believe too much about what other people are saying abo…

What Do You Give To The Relationships That Are Important To You?

Today is my anniversary. I like the fact that my anniversary falls so close to Father's Day every year, I get to celebrate the four most important people in my life. It is also a good reminder for me every year about relationships. Relationships take work. Marriages only work if both people put effort into making it work. As a parent you need to work to understand your children and build a relationship with them. The more kids you have the more effort as well because each child is unique in their needs and personality. Good friendships require being there for the other person, supporting them when they need it.
Work can be the same as you have relationships with your coworkers and if you are a manager the people that report to you. Each of those people that you interact with have unique personalities, different hopes and dreams for their career and a complete range of situations they are going through in their personal life that impacts them at work. Each of those relationships ta…

Breaking Down The Walls That Exist In Organizations

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I'm guessing we've all been in situations where it feels like you are fighting between departments or groups that you ask, "Are we not on the same team?" If you've never felt like that, you are either in a great environment (which I would love to talk with you and understand how it happens) or you are a company of one. But if you do find yourself in that situation it can be very frustrating. If we are all on the same team why is it so hard to work between divisions, between departments and with another individuals sitting right beside us doing the same job? Even when you talk about the people that feel like you aren't on the same page with, they are nice and helpful, you would describe them as a good team player and yet the silos still exist. So what do we do about it?
It all comes down to getting buy in and agreement on the goal. If everyone agrees to what the goal is and what they are trying to accomplish you have far fewer issues. It is getting everyone to…

Good Customer Service Can Be Defined Many Ways

Customers are important, your business doesn't survive without them. Many companies pride themselves on how much they care about their customers. Leaders frequently trumpet how important the customer is, repeating stories about how someone went above and beyond to solve a customer issue. Yet I'm astonished at the number of companies that hold themselves in high regard on their customer service yet are often having to go above and beyond to fix problems that they have created. If your customer is your quality control, you have an issue. It is bad if they are noticing mistakes in your marketing materials or on your Web site. It is bad if they are finding inconsistencies in your information. It is bad if they are noticing a defect in your product.

There is a difference in having a tribe that supports you and wants to see you succeed and a customer that keeps finding your errors. If you are having to constantly thank your customer for helping you find an issue you want to go out o…

Leadership And Delegation

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As a leader, to be successful you need to learn how to delegate, it is impossible to do everything yourself. You need to have a good team that you have trained, that you trust to execute to the level needed. For many leaders one of the hardest things to learn is how to delegate. You need to give people responsibility, allowing them to make mistakes so they grow without the mistakes damaging your organization. Walking that line of trusting and seeing things get done without critical mistakes happening is really hard for some. For others, it comes far too easy. They can delegate all day long, they are good at assigning tasks and convincing someone else that they are the best person for the job. It is a slippery slope though because if you delegate everything away, ultimately people begin asking what it is you do. Delegation is letting others lead a task but being their to support them so they are successful, not dumping your work on them. If you are the CEO and everyone takes care of th…

Are You Okay Being Incompetent?

I was listening to a podcast with Seth Godin recently, it was a fascinating view of change and how people naturally view it. In it he talked about how we are all trained as workers to be competent at our job, that is how we are hired, reviewed and retained. If we aren't competent then we usually will find ourselves out of a job. But every time someone asks us to change in our job, when we are asked to step away from what we know to something unknown, we feel incompetent and we fight it. We have to move towards incompetency, then figure out what we don't know, learn it and become competent again. 
There is also a natural part of us that instinctively doesn't like change. In the wild animals have their habits and instincts, they don't change. In the wild if you change you die. There is a part of us that feels the same way. If we don't keep doing our jobs the exact same way we've always done it, somewhere deep in our mind we fear we are going to fail and lose our …

Smashing Expectations

One of the coolest things to watch is someone achieve something more than what they were expected to. To break through a plateau that they have reached. There are countless stories of someone getting counted out, put into a box or having everyone around them deciding who they were and what they were capable of. But I love the perseverance and determination in people to shatter expectations. Where their only limits are those that they put on themselves.

Each of us have dreams and goals that we want to achieve. We have aspirations of the team we want to make or the job we want to get. To attain what you desire I promise you that you will struggle. Everyone will go through The Dip as Seth Godin calls it. But if you push through and overcome those obstacles, you will be amazed at what is possible. So often in life the one that holds us back the most is the person in the mirror. We believe what others say and we set the bar lower for ourselves so we feel good about reaching average rather …

Running A 5K To Change The World

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This past weekend my oldest daughter talked me into running a 5K with her. For people that run you are probably scoffing at that distance. I don't run though, just not my thing. It was for a good cause (more on that in a minute) so I felt I had to say yes. Looking back I realize I was focused on the wrong thing leading up to it, myself. I focused on how much I didn't want to run, how it would be painful as I was doing it as a weekend warrior. It was only 5K though, and saying no to it made me feel old if I couldn't even run/walk 3.1 miles.

Listening to the message though before the run made me realize where my focus needed to be. This run had nothing to do with me having to run 5K. This had everything to do with shinning a light on the slavery epidemic that still exists today. I knew about the subject prior to this weekend but something shifted in me. Some people there that morning ran 30 miles, a symbol of the fact that every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim of …

Spinning Plates And Finishing The Dishes

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I have no doubt that I have some level of ADD. I can easily find myself distracted with the latest shiniest problem at work. It gets to the point of having so many plates spinning that they start wobbling or I forget about one and it comes crashing down. For any particular project there is value, and a number of people really like the idea, they are excited about the prospect of getting the changes I brought up implemented. But when there are too many things to keep track of and nothing gets completed what is the point? All of the great ideas in the world don't mean anything if they don't get implemented.

At some point we need to move beyond seeing how many plates we can spin and figure out how we can get more of those plates cleaned and put away. We are always going to have multiple projects going on. We are also always going to have the next project that is going to get dropped on us tomorrow and the next idea we come up with to make things better. If we don't put away …

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…

Read A Book - Share A Book

At work the other day I was talking to a contact with one of our customers, she was talking about going through a transition to their new software platform and the challenges they are facing with it. I said that it is understandable, any change of that magnitude is going to be a challenge in an organization their size. I then recommended William Bridges Managing Transitions, which is the best book I've ever read about effectively managing change. Any time I have to be involved in a change I will get that book out and do a refresher.

After that conversation I felt happy that I was able to recommend a book that hopefully helps her out in some small way. It was a reminder to me of part of why I enjoy reading, sharing what I learn with others. If you've ever read a book that you really enjoyed you can't help but talk about it with your friends, I'm the same way. It is a great feeling to be able to recommend a book to someone and for them to thank you for the recommendation…

You Are The Antidote To Social Loafing

I was reminded of an idea I found in The Captain Classby Sam Walker, social loafing. The basics of it is for some strange reason when people get together and try to tackle a task they don't put in as much individual effort as they would if they were doing the same task alone. Of course the overall effort is greater because you have more people, but as an individual your effort is lower. Most teams operate this way, "I do my job but I'm not going to give extra effort, why should I when nobody else does?" Suddenly the individuals are in a race to the bottom to see who can give the least amount of effort and still achieve the team goals. It is hard to recognize because as a team you are accomplishing your goals, but could you actually achieve more?

In the book the antidote to this situation was the presence of one person that leaves no doubt that they are giving everything they have to the team. It is usually the person that other complain about in the hallway conversat…

Your Life Is A Story - Tell A Good One

I will admit, I'm very selective when it comes to picking out what books I want to read. I have a list that I add to as I learn about authors or titles I think I would enjoy. I go off of recommendations from authors I've enjoyed in the past, when someone I like to read says something is one of the best books they've read I tend to pay attention. The downside of that is sometimes a book goes on my list, I acquire it, and I don't always remember where I learned about it. I don't remember anything about how I learned about Donald Miller's book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story but when I started reading, it pulled me in more than anything I was expecting.

It was such an engaging story about how Donald Miller learned more about his own life by studying the art form of telling a story. He touched on some basic principles that are required to make a story, and the elements of what differentiates a good story from a bad story. …

Be The Person You Want Everyone To See

One of the greatest adventures we go on in this life is to discover who we are. Understanding what we are good at, what we are passionate about, what makes us happy, what makes us mad and what we have talents for. When you begin to understand yourself you have more confidence. The dangerous side of confidence is believing more in yourself than others do. At that point you begin justifying or defending yourself. If you have to tell people what you are good at, constantly reminding them of how valuable you are or how important you are, it never comes across as confidence, it just seems desperate.
Lots of people are in a position where they feel underappreciated, criticized, under valued or basically unloved. If you find that you are often defending yourself to others, it may be hard to face but there is probably truth in what you are defensive about. If you are told you aren't a good team player but you think you are, you won't get anywhere by arguing. You need to seek out why t…

Why Should I Care?

The phrase that has infuriated all of us at some point in our lives. There is nothing worse than being invested in something and trying to get others to recognize the value only to get an apathetic response. Everyone has areas of their life that they don't care about that much. For many people it is their jobs, they do what they need to in order to maintain their income. Those that want to see the business succeed it is a hard thing to wrestle with. You can't force someone to care. You can't yell at them till they care. You can't even give big raises and bribe them to care, it doesn't last as long as you think. The key is to surround yourself with as many people that are aligned in what they care about. Great teams have a singular focus and goal that everyone is committed to, that everyone cares about.

A great disservice is when the leader doesn't care, or what is probably more appropriate, doesn't appear to care. Appearances are everything. I know that if …

What A Difference A Year Makes

My first ever blog post was in 2006 (I just reread that, can't believe it has been that long), I spent a year back then exploring this online writing forum craze that took off and trying to have a voice as I attempted to sell technology solutions. I think that helped show me that I didn't really like trying to market myself and wasn't really a salesman at heart. After a career change I realized that I still had a desire to write within me. For the next 10 years I was trying to figure out what I wanted to say, who my audience was, what my "voice" was. But I failed more times than I care to remember, never knowing how I was unique, or if what I wanted to say was any different than any number of writers who were far more talented. I told myself that it was pointless because nobody would want to read what I had to say.

I don't know if I needed to struggle for 11 years to figure this out but one year ago a switch flipped. I became determined to set an interval of …

When Things Seem Darkest

We are just coming out of celebrating Easter and every year I reflect on how the followers and disciples of Jesus must have felt between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Here they thought there beloved leader, the one that was destined to lead them to a new kingdom and a better tomorrow, was gone, leaving them with no hope. That Saturday had to be one of the worst days any of them had gone through in their life. There was no hope for them, the feeling of complete darkness and despair had to overwhelm them. But then Sunday came, ushering in something greater than what they had even hoped for. 
None of us will go through the trials that Jesus did, nor have a fraction of the impact on this world that He did. But we all go through events in our life that leave us feeling lost, hopeless, broken and defeated. I once was fired from my job, it led me to doing what I was better suited for. That time between losing my job and finding my next one was one of the worst feelings I've had i…

Looking At A Robot And A Toy Train

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I saw this gif once where someone was making a joke about how they feel at their job, barely able to keep one step ahead of the train.
Many people feel like the robotic arm, frantically trying to keep up with the train. You feel like the slightest slip up will cause everything to come crashing down around you.
Some feel like the train, just steadily going through the motions every day and not really getting anywhere.
Instead, think of the problem solvers, the people that you don't even see that are coming up with cool solutions. It may not be the coolest invention ever, because really what is the point of the whole setup? Sometimes you need to make a problem fun. Sometimes you can create something without having a problem to apply it to, but there will be future opportunities. Try to find something where you have an opportunity to use some creativity, get both sides of your brain working.
You can find out more about this project by clicking here.

Better Than Yesterday

Over my life there are different quotes, sayings, mantras, whatever you want to call them, the things that stick with me and I can recite over and over again to myself. The one that I tell myself and find myself sharing the most with people I come into contact with is to simply try to be better today than you were yesterday. To get better at anything, to improve, it usually isn't about big monumental changes, it is about the small incremental daily work and minor improvements. If each day you are the tiniest bit better than yesterday you are improving. Some days might be bigger steps forward than others, but if you are moving forward when you look back after a week, month, or year you can tell that you are in a better spot than you were.
If you are trying to get better as an individual, a team, a department, a family, an organization or a community - start small. The larger the group the more progress you make collectively as each person does what they can to make a small improvem…

Move Over Motivation, We Need To Be Disciplined

When I learned about the One Word concept I usually never had a problem finding a word that spoke to me, it was usually a somewhat easy process at the beginning of the year. This year was different, I went through literally hundreds of words but it never felt like I had the right one. If you've never done a One Word before, I highly recommend it. Goals and resolutions are too complex, we never remember them and they fade from memory too quickly leaving us feeling guilty when we remember them. But One Word, that is something you can tape by your monitor or on your mirror, look at it countless times of day to remind yourself what this year is all about. I'm late to the game but for me my word for 2018 is Discipline.

When I look back at words I thought about discipline was there, but I'm guessing I didn't really want that to be my word. Discipline doesn't sound fun, it sounds punitive. But discipline is not about punishment, it is controlling your own behaviors to ach…

No Fear Of Failure

I don't care if you are a sports fan, you need to listen to what Scott Frost said in a recent press conference. He talks about wanting an environment where players have "no fear of failure". The reason behind that comment is where the real lesson is at, "Once you take away the fear of making a bad play it frees you up to go make good plays". Think beyond sports and I'm sure you can remember a time where you were focused on not making a mistake. What was the outcome? I guarantee you it wasn't your best effort, it has a negative effect on you. I had a boss in the past that I was always afraid of, it still affects me to this day as I will at times find myself more worried about establishing my defense rather than simply learning from my mistake and moving on.

Great managers and leaders establish a culture of learning. When you are learning something new you will make mistakes. When you are first learning to play the piano you aren't going to sound like…

Give Me All The Feedback!

It shouldn't surprise me like it does, but I'm still in awe of how many leaders don't use every avenue to gather feedback.

If you are a higher level manager that has mid-level managers that report to you, consider it a requirement to get feedback from those that are a layer removed from you. Build relationships and ask them for their feedback on how things are going or what can be improved. People have a funny way of trying to protect themselves, even if it is subconsciously. If you only seek feedback from your direct reports (you know, those people whom you write reviews and control their raise) you aren't getting the full picture.

If you are a coach how are you going to build a relationship with parents as well as the kids on the team? I know, many parents are terrible and are trying to re-live their glory days through their child and are insufferable, but you have to deal with them anyway so how do you overcome it and make it as productive of a relationship as possi…

What Are You Going To Choose?

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Many people go through life feeling like everything has been decided for them. They don't have a lot of control of what happens to them each day. They have a boss that tells them what they are going to do each day. They have a teacher tell them what they are going to learn next. They have a coach tell them where they are going to play. But we are not slaves to our situation. We have a choice to make every day.

I was reminded of this by a great tweet I read by @CoachHinesCHS Toughness is a choice
Hard work is a choice
Character is a choice
Humility is a choice
Loyalty is a choice
Just about 99% of life, is a choice! You might not love your job, but maybe God has you there for a reason, to build the qualities in you that you will need to get he job you want. Choose to be great in the job you have.

You might not like the subject you are studying in school, but remember that you are there to learn how to learn. Life is going to give you challenges where you have to learn about a subject y…

Just Be Honest - The Truth Will Set You Free

If I could give only one piece of advice to my kids and anyone that would actually listen, it is this: Just Be Honest. I'm not saying we have to go around confessing all of the thoughts and feelings that go through our head; just make sure that if you are going to say something, make it be true. We've all at some point in our life have had a moment where we try to backtrack or embellish the truth to make ourselves look better. Or maybe you tried to hide some facts that don't make you look as good as you thought. Sometimes things get out of control, the situation where one lie leads to bigger lies. For others the person that they most lie to is themselves, they only seek their own counsel and they completely buy into everything they tell themselves. I see it so often at work and it just wrecks working relationships that makes achieving goals that much harder as you spend more time fact checking to confirm the validity of what you are told. Dishonesty wrecks trust, if you ha…

How Do You Select A Captain For The Team?

My latest book is The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates The World's Greatest Teams by Sam Walker. It is an interesting read, one of those books that starts with a lot of research to discover something. It crosses multiple sports to find out what was the unique thing that made the greatest teams of all time so different. As you can guess by the title, there is something special about the captain of the those one for the ages teams. You would think they were talking about a superstar player, but it was often a person that many people never heard of or often overlooked, even if they were a fan of the team.

Great teams have someone that leads from the trenches like few can. Someone who sees the vision of what the team is trying to create and is willing to do the dirty work that is sometimes necessary to get them there. They set an example that drives everyone else on the team to give even more of themselves. There is a reason they are a captain.

There is a lesson there for …

How Are You Doing Today?

I get asked this question more times in a day than any other. It is the easiest greeting when passing someone in the hall, "Good morning, how are you?" The cliche goes that most people don't actually want you to answer in any way other than fine. They either don't want to hear how someone is doing great or they don't want someone to bring them down who isn't doing so well.

The fact of the matter is we all have days that aren't so good. The days where it feels like you have no friends. The days when it feels like nobody at work likes or respects you. The days when it feels like anything you say or do is wrong. The days when you feel isolated and all alone. The enemy tries to get us to think that we are all alone, but we never truly are. There are people beside you in life that will be there for you. There are people in your life that you need to be there for them. Sometimes you give and sometimes you receive.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, "...encourage o…

Having A Growth Mindset

No matter what your job you need to be thinking about how you can grow. You can become more proficient in the skills you have or you can learn a new skill. The one thing you can't ever do is become satisfied with where you are at. If you choose not to grow you are putting yourself into a very small box, where you are is where you will be.

You also need to surround yourself with people that push you to grow, or have the same growth mindset. Challenging each other to not be complacent with where you are at. Look for teams that have a shared value of growth. No negativity, no drama, no competition. Just a group of people that set higher goals around a desire to be better than they are today. It is hard to keep that up if you are the only one on the team trying to achieve something more.

Stuck In A Rut

Read a quote recently from Albert Einstein, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

It reminded me of a well known saying about the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

How often do we get stuck in our routines and not even realize it? How often do we not see the breakthroughs we want? Persistence is a good thing, but sometimes you have to recognize when you stay in a rut it will take you to the same place it always has. If you want to go someplace different, achieve breakthrough, see a change happen, we have to change our approach.

What haven't you tried before? It doesn't matter if it doesn't make sense or you don't think it will work. Everything else you've tried hasn't worked so if the next idea doesn't work you will be right where you are now. Sometimes you have to try all the ways that fail to find the one way that will work.

Prioritize Your Priorities

If I had a dollar for every time I heard people ask for clarification around priorities I would have enough money to retire and not have to hear about priorities. It is so important, no matter what your job, what company you work for or how long you've been with a company, everyone has to deal with prioritizing their work. It always sounds so easy, whatever is most important do that first. The problem is deciding what is most important is usually a strategic decision, you have to say A is more important than B. That gets really hard when B has value, and you really want it too. Wouldn't it be nice to have our cake and eat it too? You have to decide. Companies that are great are simply better at prioritizing. Finding the things that seem so important and coming to terms with the fact that they simply aren't as important as we make them out to be and making them a lower priority.

Take it a step further, what happens when two different people/teams/departments/divisions have …

Stop Bashing And Start Promoting

Dave Adamson (@aussiedave) had a tweet recently that really resonated with me:
Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. (Link) When I first read it I immediately thought about social media and how so many people speak so harshly and critically of the things they don't agree with. I think there isn't good healthy debate in today's society, I think this is part of the root of this issue because we think debate is destroy your opponent, not about winning people to your side. I look at our political system and it feels like each side spends far more time saying why the opposition is wrong rather than outlining a solution to actually fix things.

Think about your workplace also. How often do you hear people complain about a new policy, explaining all the ways that something isn't going to work or playing the "I told you so" game? How often do you hear people bring ideas to the table? Unfortunately I'm guessing it is far more often than you would …

It Is Always The Little Things That Get You

I've been around software development for 20 years now (man that just made me feel old) and there has always been an ongoing joke about the first thing that gets thrown out when you are pressed for time is the testing. Well, the testing is probably the most important thing. You are either going to spend your time in testing or you will spend your time troubleshooting after go live and trying to fix what you didn't realize was broken. Most developers prefer writing code over testing their code. It seems like it is a secondary task, or a little thing, compared to the main focus of development.

The separation between those that are successful and those that are average is in the little things. The best software developers are really good at testing. Whatever the secondary tasks are for you, if you can be really good at those you can stand out.

If your main task is building a product, secondary tasks are marketing, on-time delivery and return policies.

If your main task is fixing …

Who Are Your Mirrors?

Mirrors are helpful in showing us what other people see. They can show us our flaws, our best features, when we look good or when we are a mess. There isn't a mirror though that reflects our qualities that you can't see. There isn't a mirror that shows us how others perceive our attitude, our tone or the words we use. We need people in our lives that hold up the mirror and are honest about what our reflection looks like. The best managers that build great teams are good at holding up the mirror. People that you trust that are brave enough to show us the good things and the flaws are priceless. When people give us feedback we need to hear what they are saying.

Nothing changes though if we don't take the feedback and do something with it. Sometimes we don't agree with the feedback, to which my response is that perception becomes reality. Even if you don't think something is true if others perceive it as true it may as well be. Sometimes we don't like the feed…

What Does A Life Well Lived Look Like?

The only thing that is guaranteed in life, is death. At the end of our days on Earth people that we know and love will gather together to say goodbye and share memories of us. Most of us will not be famous and remembered long after we are gone. What will be remembered is the impact and influence we had on the people around us.

Thinking of this I was reminded of a story I heard from David Nelson (@davidnelson86) who was a teammate of Tim Tebow and a two time college football national champion. In it he talked about how he came to Christ, his story was when he was in 8th grade students went to a conference but he didn’t have the money. The pastor called him up front, had him explain his situation and and asked the congregation who could give to help him go. At first nobody came up, he felt embarrassed and wanted to run and hide, but then this woman came up, pulled a Ziploc bag from her purse filled with coins and bills and said that she had been saving for years to treat herself to a sp…

Failing Does Not Make You A Failure

It is Super Bowl week so there is a lot of talk about the upcoming football game. Media people are running around trying to find any angle they can to find an interesting story. One of the most interesting stories in all of professional football is the ongoing success of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Whether you like the Patriots or not you can't help but be amazed at the run those two have had in their careers. Many would argue that Bill Belichick is the most successful NFL coach in history, and it is hard to argue with five championships. But what is even more interesting is that his first job as a head coach was with the Cleveland Browns where he only had one winning seasons in the five he was with the team. Bonus fact, his defensive coordinator was Nick Saban for the first four seasons. Many would argue Saban is one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.

The point is, that before two coaches became the best in the business they failed. They din't stop there …

Stop Whining - Get After It

If you like to feel inadequate in comparing yourself to others one person you definitely want to follow is Jocko Willink (@jockowillink). He is an ex-Navy Seal who wakes up at 4:30 every morning to work out and is unmoved by excuses, no matter how good you think they are. He entertains random ask me anything sessions when waiting in an airport and I find myself laughing at the blunt, short responses that are obvious yet profound. I guarantee a fair number of answers will involve steak (best meal/dessert/snack or compliment to steak) and burpees (favorite exercise, answer to boredom or about anything). My favorite though, was his response to the question, "What do you do if you get stuck in a rut?" "I get unstuck."

Following him is part entertainment and part daily reminder that most obstacles we think we face are really just that, a thought in our head and not a real obstacle. Usually the person that is holding us back is the person we see in the mirror. Tell your …

LEAD - Love, Effort, Attitude, Discipline.

I love social media. Well, I love a part of social media, the part that directs you to inspiring nuggets and words of wisdom, all the rest of the garbage I could care less about. Recently I came across Levi Nelson, or @RLeviNelson on Twitter. Many of his posts have #LEAD in them which stands for Love, Effort, Attitude and Discipline. I love what these four words represent. If you want to be a leader, a really great leader, you have to have these four things in your life. You need to love the people you lead, if you don't care about them you won't do whatever you need to for them to succeed. You need to put in the effort, nothing in life worth having ever came easy, no matter how easy it looks for others. You need to have a positive attitude. You need to have discipline because there are no off days.

I probably realize more today that too often we see great leadership as charismatic and inspirational. It would be nice to have those qualities and it certainly helps to get people…

Thoughts On The Annual Review

As a manager it is the time of year that I get to go through the process of writing and completing performance reviews on those that I get the privileged to lead. I see far too many managers go through this process with dread and annoyance. If your attitude towards doing performance reviews sounds like that I think it is a reflection of you as a manager and you might want to consider why you are in a management position in the first place. As a manager of people you are entrusted with the development and support of the people that report to you. It is your job to do everything you can to help make them successful and achieve their goals. Their annual performance review is the time to do that. Make sure you set aside time and treat it as the most important task you have done all year, because it probably is.

If you are an employee that feels you are subjected to the annual review process, you need to realize that you aren't helping the process. As a manager, it is so much easier an…

Can't Get That Song Out Of My Head

In my last post I talked about our responsibility in making sure our message is understood. To change our presentation to make sure everyone gets the message. But that is only when your message isn't understood. If the message is clear then it changes to make sure everyone has taken it into their hearts and minds. That they live it out every day.

Think of a company that tries to drive home their core values or a parent that tries to reinforce family rules. The best way to do that is to keep the words the same. To be a broken record. Get it to the point that they sing your message like the song you can't get out of your head.

Beating Your Head Against The Wall

One of the biggest complaints that I hear from people I work with is how they feel people don't listen to them. You wouldn't believe the number of times someone says, "I told them about that." They are frustrated because they continue to repeat it over and over again and they just don't get it. They continue to have the same problems and just don't understand why things don't improve.

One of the most valuable skills you can have, no matter what your job, is to be able to take a problem that people feel stuck with and get things moving. When a group feels frustrated because someone doesn't get it, figure out how to step back and do whatever it takes to get everyone on the same page as to what the problem is.

Most people think that it is important to be able to provide solutions. That is important, but before you can think about a solution you need to understand what the problem is. It isn't just about you understanding the problem though, the whole…

Challenges Of Teams And The Teammate You Choose To Be

Teams are funny because you don't have a lot of control over who your teammates are. Work teams, sports teams, family teams - you can choose to quit and find a different team, sometimes. Decide if that is a better fit for you out there. But there is no way to know if you like everyone on the team, let alone if you can be productive teammates. Any team you choose to be a part of there is a chance not everyone likes you. It is hard to tell some times with the different personality types and how they interact with you and the rest of the team.

Those that don't say hardly anything, they sit in a meeting but don't say a word. Do they agree or disagree? You never feel like you know where you stand.Those that act nice but you know don't like you. They smile, converse and seem fully engaged, but you know how they are and the way they talk about other teammates. What do they say behind others backs and how do they act to them? Those that want what is best for the team but really…

Leaders Need Leaders

There are many days as a manager I feel like I'm a good manager, but a terrible leader. Managing to me is making sure the work gets done. Does everyone know their tasks and accomplish them? Is the paperwork done, the reports written and the performance evaluated? If I'm being honest it isn't that hard to be a manager. But leadership is so much more difficult. Leadership is inspiring people to work together to achieve a common goal. It is easy to have a goal, but a common goal? Too many people have their own goals or they really just don't care, they just want to do their job and collect their paycheck. That is where leadership comes in. It is one thing to know what the goal is, but to support it, care about it and do what is needed to help achieve the goal? It is so much harder. It is why I think there are a lot of people in management positions that aren't very good leaders. All managers aren't leaders, but you don't have to be a manager to be a leader. A…

One Word For 2018

It is that time of year again, when people start making many goals and resolutions for what they want to get done in 2018. Most are lost or forgotten before January is over. We make it so complicated that it is impossible to remember them all and achieve them throughout the year. A couple of years ago I came across the idea of One Word to define a theme for an entire year for you to focus on. A single word that becomes a focal point. I've done it for the last couple of years and it is so easy to remember, so simple to focus on and definitely life changing. In 2016 my word was Move, in 2017 it was Fire. I'm still working on what that word will be for 2018 but it has me anticipating what a great year 2018 will be.

When you look to 2018, I would encourage you to find your One Word. A word to have Courage, Passion, Love or Joy. A word to help you Encourage, Listen, Focus or simply cause a Ruckus. Great things are ahead for you in the new year. There is much that you are meant to a…