Showing posts from 2018

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?

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…