Showing posts from 2018

When Is The Right Time To Quit?

This weekend an interesting event happened, a professional football player, Vontae Davis, decided to quit at halftime of the game he was playing in. This has brought all kind of speculation and ranting from individuals that I'm sure have no idea the actual circumstances or the whole truth. But the opinions have already formed. Some believe he is one of the lowest forms of life, you simply never quit on your team. Others give him their respect and understanding, believing it is only a game and if he felt it was the right time for him to quit that is his choice.

The odd way I start looking at events like this leads me to start asking myself the question, "When is the right time to quit?" Countless projects, relationships, activities and agreements in your life fall on either side of that question. There are times that it is the right thing to quit, to stick with something would be an exercise in futility. Many times we can look back and wish we would have quit earlier. Oth…

Embrace The Challenges In Your Life

If you have a pulse I'm willing to bet you wish that things were easier in your life. You wish your class wasn't as hard, the kid you sit next to in school isn't so mean, your employees weren't so challenging, your business was flourishing and your family sat around singing Kum Ba Yah while they told each person why they were the greatest mother/father/brother/sister/son/daughter/husband/wife there ever was. There might be moments like this but there are also moments where things are the exact opposite. No matter who you are you will make mistakes, you will have challenges, you will deal with difficult people and you will have your fair share of failures.

We want things to be perfect and easy. They never will be, and worse, we spend a lot of our precious time complaining about how bad things are rather than embracing the opportunity before us. We will be thrown things that challenge us, frustrate us and make us angry or sad. What matters isn't about what happens, be…

How Hungry Are You?

As I've been thinking about culture, teamwork and high performing teams recently everything I think of comes back to three key concepts found in Patrick Lencioni's The Ideal Team Player.

Humble - Check your ego at the door and put the needs of the organization above your own.Hungry - Always wanting more, proactive and never settling for the way things are.Smart - While book smarts are important, it is more important to develop an aptitude on understanding and working well with other people. I believe that you can learn humility and people skills, but hunger is something that you either have or you don't. The drive to work hard. The desire to achieve greatness. The passion to be successful. The need to never accept complacency. 
If you are just going through the motions, doing something because you have to, because it is your job, you have already limited yourself in what you can achieve. If you aren't hungry, don't be surprised if someone passes you by.

Are Your Actions Louder Than Your Words?

Actions speak louder than words. A famous quote that everyone has probably heard. Yes, it means don't talk about what you are going to do, actually do it. It also means, in another cliched saying, if you are going to talk the talk you better be ready to walk the walk.

If you are going to have policies, values, mission statements, handbooks and core beliefs, you better be ready to actually hold them to be true. If you don't, the people you lead will quickly see through you and begin taking the things you say as empty promises. It will be hard for them to believe anything you say. What is the truth and what is just another story you tell them? You can't use your policies as a reason to fire the employee that doesn't contribute, yet ignore them and make an exception for your superstar. There is no quicker way to lose the respect of those around you. Once you've lost their respect it is hard to get the best effort from them and sooner or later you start losing team memb…

The Magic Of New Beginnings

It is an exciting time in our house. That time of year my wife and I get super pumped up. Yes, football season is upon us, but that isn't what I'm talking about here. It is the start of school. That magical time when routines return. When the phrase, "I'm bored" is rarely heard. When we as parents start to get some level of sanity back.

This year is an especially momentous year in our house. Never before have we had so many new beginnings at the same time. Our three daughters are facing their first year of high school, their first year of middle school and starting kindergarten respectfully. To add on to that, my freshman will be old enough to take her driving permit test in two days. Lots of new beginnings.

To go with those new beginnings there are a lot of nerves, lots of excitement and a fair amount of worry. It comes with the unknowns. As adults we are the same, starting a new job or moving to a new city we also can be nervous, excited and anxious. But new beg…

Are You Happy, Frustrated Or Just Don't Care?

This is an over-simplification, but people fall into three general buckets. Whether we are talking about customers, employees, students or any team members you lead.

Happy - They are satisfied with your leadership and they like their position or status within the tribe. Things aren't perfect but they feel like they are listened to and you will try to make things better for them. Obviously you want to have everyone in this area, but know that it will never actually happen.Frustrated - There are levels of frustration ranging from the person that is calmly talking about why they aren't happy to the person that is so frustrated that they anyone that will listen. If they feel heard something productive can come from this.Don't Care - They have given up on you. The employee that just shows up and does the bare minimum. The player on the team that never gives their best effort. The customer that really wants to leave but can't find a better alternative but they've given up…

Trust Is The Cornerstone Of Successful Teams

My most recommended and most read business book is Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I was reminded of it once again as I was reading a tweet from @simonsinek:
A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other. This is exactly what Lencioni talked about as the cornerstone issue in dysfunctional teams often stems from a lack of trust between people. When you don't trust each other you don't openly talk about issues and work together to find a resolution. If you spend all of your time covering yourself so you are protected when things go south you aren't working on pushing things forward.

Do you trust your manager, your employees, your teacher, your coach, your kids or your parents? If not you are never going to function effectively.

I've been having a lot of conversations lately about culture and how the environment established by the leader impacts the team. If you want to fix the culture, if you w…

Where Learning Something New Leads You

I look at my kids as they continue to learn new things and I am inspired. Reluctantly they dig into new subjects each year in school and willingly they learn new skills in dance. My 5 year old started taking gymnastics this summer and it has been fun watching her learn new skills and get better upon each visit to the gym. We get older and we often forget how to start something new, not knowing anything and learning for the first time. The thought of starting from square one, no knowledge or experience, can be frightening. But few of us are naturals that can pick up something brand new and take to it like a prodigy. It is okay to start out awful, you should be terrible because you've never done it before.

I remember when I joined choir in high school, I can't remember what we were singing but I remember trying to match pitch and my classmate next to me was kind enough to point up or down to help me when I was off key. While I still have the memory I forget how far I came. Impro…

Do Not Let What You Cannot Do Interfere With What You Can Do

It has been a tough week or so in our house talking about things that limit us. We've had to have some hard conversations with our kids about things that they just can't ever do. Sometimes in life we have health, time or money constraints that just don't allow us to do certain things that we would really like to. It is easy to have a feeling of life being unfair when you have limitations that others don't.

We all have limitations on us in our life. There are things that I'll probably never be able to do in my years on this earth. Yes, some of them I don't care about missing out on, but there are some that deep down I still wish for. We are all capable of more than we think we are. Don't let the limitations on your life hold you back because there are lots of other things that are completely within our grasp. They are yours for the taking if you put the effort into it. There are lots of people that don't believe in you or will tell you what you can't…

The Direction Doesn't Matter As Much As Team Unity

It is easy to see a successful company and have the urge to be like them. You want to implement similar processes, adopt their culture, and share their vision. That rarely works. Your organization is different and needs to come up with its own values, vision and structure. Interestingly enough, what you pick for your culture has less to do with how good your culture is and is more about if everyone in the organization believes in it. For anything to succeed, it doesn't really matter what you pick, it matters that everyone is in agreement and does everything in their individual power to help support it. The people that don't care about or don't agree with your organizations culture, vision or values won't do a lot to make it work.

If you are stuck in a row boat in the middle of a lake, how quickly you get to the shore has little to do with which direction you choose to row in. It has everything to do with everyone in the boat rowing together.

You Can't Serve And Be Served

It's funny how some people get into leadership positions, management or coaching and they miss the fact that it is no longer about you, it is about the people you lead. I strongly believe that an employee should hope to perform well and do everything they can to make their boss look better. That is about having a persons back though and supporting your team above all else. But too many leaders take advantage of this, or worse, force the people they lead to provide a certain amount of acclaim. They expect the people they manage to do things for them, that their employees should feel privileged to work for them. They not only drop hints that national bosses day or their birthday is coming up they are just shy of demanding that they celebrate it and bring them gifts. You can't begin to serve the people you lead well if you are focused on how others serve you. Leadership isn't about getting all of the attention, it is about helping others reach a higher level of performance th…

What Is Your Attitude About The Problems You Face?

Why is problem such a bad word? Your boss comes to you and says there is a problem and we get worried, fast. Nobody wants a problem, but rather than look at it with dread, look at it as an opportunity to make something better. I recently had an awful day at work. One of those where a problem spiraled into this complex web of scenarios and variables that made your head hurt because you couldn't tell which path you had wandered down. It was a day when I got nothing done that I was planning. A day where I was just talking to different people one after another to identify the current state. I left at the end of the day exhausted and not feeling like I did much of anything.

But I look at it as a great opportunity to figure out how things actually work. The more questions that were asked and the more information we gathered we started to uncover a number of opportunities to improve our business. There were things that were probably happening for years and would have continued on had the …

Building From A Strong Foundation

My current side project is building a shed. It is a simple 10x12 structure that will help clear out some clutter from the basement and garage. I've never built one before so I'm excited to get started, but of course, I have to start with the foundation. Any good construction project begins with a good foundation. It is necessary but tedious and time consuming. There is a desire to get it close enough so I can start on the fun part of building the structure, but the foundation isn't the part of the project to cut corners on. Get the foundation right and the rest of the construction is that much easier, not to mention that it will last longer without any sort of damage. Block by block I level, tamp, place the block, measure, remove the block, adjust, and repeat and repeat and repeat.

A foundation is a good metaphor for other areas of our life. If you are in sports, the foundation comes from the weight room and conditioning to prepare your body to perform at a higher level. F…

Seeing The World Through Rose Colored Glasses

People truly are amazing, there is never any shortage of surprises they can throw at you just when you think you have them all figured out. Unfortunately, we all have our opinions and expectations of people that we rarely allow them to surpass. I call this the rose colored glasses syndrome. When you wear a pair of glasses that are red or rose colored, everything has a rose colored hue to it. No matter what color things actually are, they become more red. When we start formulating opinions about co-workers or our kids, we put on our rose colored glasses. If we think a person is argumentative, everything they say starts to sound like they are trying to pick a fight.

The fact of the matter is people can change. Doesn't always happen, but if there is a recognition and desire to be different, a person can change. A person can study, practice, work hard and transform from who they were to what they are. Do we allow them that right by being open to change ourselves? Are we able to change…

The New Season Is Upon Us - Observations From A Dance Dad

A new dance season is fast approaching for my girls, they had auditions last week and they are anxiously awaiting the announcement of the new teams. It is always a nervous time as they wonder if they are good enough to make the team they want or if they will be on the same team as their friends. A while back I posted about what I hope my girls are learning from dance, but now I'm thinking about what I hope they remember as they learn about their teams and that they keep with them through the ups and downs in the upcoming season. Beyond dance, I believe that all great teams have these same qualities.

You are on the team that you are on for a reason - learn from it. God has something to teach you in every situation. If you made the team you wanted, learn how to be humble and gracious to those that didn't achieve what you did and work every day to justify why you are there. If you didn't make the team you wanted, stay positive and determined to do the best job you can for your…

Honestly, I Can Tell You The Difference Between Average, Good and Great

If you are able to wade through the mudslinging and unruly behavior on Twitter and find the good content you can find a jem like this recent tweet from @coachswhite:
AVERAGE players want to be 'Left Alone'...
GOOD players want to be 'Coached'...
GREAT players want to be 'Told the Truth'...I love the simplicity of this and how it can go beyond sports. You can substitute the any word you want for "players" - employees, managers, coaches, teachers, parents, kids, students.

Whatever role you play, do you want to be told the truth or do you want to be left alone? Do you want to be average or do you want to be great. Some people are happy being left alone and don't care if they are considered average. But you can't be left alone if you want to be great.

Often we say we want the truth, but when we hear it, we dismiss it. Or we defend ourselves and explain why everyone is wrong. Or we respond that people just don't understand us to really know the…

The Ultimate Team Sport

It is an exciting time of year to me, football season is just around the corner. Training camps are getting started in the NFL and college football is going through their media days. The hope of every fan is at its peak as they anticipate what the coming season could mean.

I never played the sport much growing up, but I become a bigger fan every year. I think what I find most interesting is how much of a team sport it is. In basketball the star can go 1-on-1 and take over a game. Baseball is a series of individual match-ups between a hitter and pitcher strung together. There is a team element to all sports, but not like there is in football. Each member of the team on the field needs to be doing their job, all 11 have to be on the same page for the right things to occur. You don't win championships in football unless you are a highly effective team. Having superstars will only get you so far if you can't work together as a team.

It is true in business too. The companies that a…

Questions To Shift Your Paradigm

One of my all time favorite quotes that makes me pause and reflect is from Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel. Intel is famous for making a pivot that changed the landscape of technology, when they switched from being a semiconductor company to building microprocessors. The exercise they went through to get there started from the following question:
If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do? Why shouldn't we walk out the door, come back in, and do it ourselves? Intel was a successful, profitable company building semiconductors, but they started to see sales slip. Rather than wait to be fired for declining sales only to be replaced by a new CEO who would look at what needed to change to turn things around, they did it themselves. The result was an even larger, more successful and highly profitable company.

There are so many ways we could apply that question in our own lives. Too often we get complacent when things are going well that we…

Creating A Learning Environment

I just went through a leadership training course from my work and it talked about developing team members, helping them grow and achieve higher levels of success. I believe it is important for all people to continue learning throughout their life. The act of learning something new, whether related to work or not, exercises a part of our brain that keeps us moving forward. It also helps us be ready for those times in our life when we are forced to learn something new, be it a job change, learning to parent a teenager or how to deal with a difficult boss. Things change but we also should never settle for where we are at as good enough. If you are a leader or a parent, you should help create an environment where learning is expected and regularly discussed.

We need to be supportive of people that we interact with. Even if it is learning something you don't necessarily see value in, the fact they are learning something new is important, so support it. You also need to encourage it. A…

Endless Ways To Learn Something New

I read a fair amount. Last year I finished 31 books, which seems like a lot but I know people that read lots more than I do. The number one comment that I have received from people when they find out I am a reader is that they just don't have time to read. There are times that I don't have a lot of time to read, or I just get out of the habit so recently I tried to find some new ways to continue to learn, consume more information and read more. I thought I would share some of the things I've learned, hopefully they are helpful for you to discover new ways to

I've always preferred physical books over electronic, and probably always will, but there are some
benefits to eBooks that I've learned. Now I am always reading at a minimum two books at the same time, one electronic and one physical. I don't always have the ability to carry a book with me, but I always have my phone. You don't need to buy a Kindle, just find the Kindle app and you can read on any devi…

Clear Communication And Today's Attention Span

Apparently I am wordy. That probably isn't enough details, so let me expound on it. 
I've received some feedback that I can write an email that is deemed to be "too long". I went back and looked at some of my longer emails, ones I heard comments about and measured them. The longer ones were all between 150 and 400 words. To give some context to how much that is, a typical page is around 500 words. A typical reader can reach 200 words per minute at a comprehension rate of 60%. (If you are interested in finding out your reading and comprehension scores this was a fun, and quick exercise at
So an email that takes 1-2 minutes to read and comprehend is too much. Unfortunately this is partially the nature of the world we now live in. Research showed that our attention span decreased from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just over 8 seconds in 2015. I need to accept that and find ways to get better at being concise. 
Now, does that mean that details don'…

Stop Thinking About Being The Greatest And Just Strive For Greatness

Yesterday was the 4th of July and if you are like me your social media feeds were probably blowing up with patriotic statements and love for our country. I love this country too, and all of the benefits that we are automatically granted by being one of the lucky 327 million people out of 7.6 billion to be born here. One thing I read a lot that made me stop and think today was "America is the greatest country in the world." But are we really the greatest? There is a lot of good things that happen in this country, and it is filled with great people. But so are a lot of other countries. I have no doubt we are a great country but the greatest? When you look at rankings on education, work-life balance, national debt or health care costs we aren't the greatest. Heck the US couldn't even qualify for the stinking World Cup. I think we live in a great country but I'm not going to ignore the fact that there are things that other countries are doing far better than we are.…

If It Helps The Organization Then Do It

On organization is made up of individuals, and those individual people, you and me, are what makes an organization successful. But only if our focus is in the right direction. When we get busy our natural fight or flight instincts take over and it becomes about survival, "I need to take care of my stuff, I don't have time to worry about anyone else." It isn't about butting in, it is about making sure you are focused on serving that of which you are a part of.

As an individual, your first priority is to figure out how you can best help your team be successful. Some days that means doing a task you don't like, or staying late because it will help the team get better. Next, as a team you need to figure out how to help make your department successful. Up through the layers of your organization you go, your organization might have 2 circles, or it might have 20. Each group or team you are a part of should be focused on how to help the next layer up be successful. If …

Being First Does Not Guarantee You Are The Winner

Steve Jobs didn't invent the smartphone. Bill Gates didn't invent the operating system with a GUI. Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile. Being first, or inventing the idea doesn't automatically guarantee that you are going to be the one remembered forever. Archie was the first Internet search engine that few people actually know about without Googling "first Internet search engine".

So often we want to be the inventor, coming up with something that hasn't been seen before. In our jobs we want to be the person that solves the problem nobody else has. To be remembered as coming up with the process that fixes our issues. Greatness is usually not found in the invention, instead it is found in the daily grind. It is about finding a better way to do something that already exists like what Henry Ford did with the Model T, making the process more efficient and far less expensive. Or it is about taking your creation and making sure every day you continue to mak…

You Are Probably Too Busy To Read This

We like to be busy. We all complain about being too busy, not having enough time to get something done. Wishing there were more hours in the day to be able to do the things that we want. We of course have time for Facebook, Netflix, Candy Crush and ESPN, but we are so busy.

At work we become so busy that we spend time responding to the latest email and we miss our chance to get the important projects done. We also miss our chance to make things better so we don't have to be so busy.

Our society has somehow decided that being busy was cool. The number of hours you work becomes a badge of honor, a competition to see who has a heart attack first I guess. We need to stop giving attention to being busy and instead focus on making sure we are working on the things that actually matter.

This isn't a cry to figure out how to slack off at work, this is about shifting the balance from unproductive to productive work. We've all been to the meeting or read the email chain that at the …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…