Showing posts from 2018

What To Do In The Down Time

This is my favorite week of work for the year, between Christmas and New Years. I'm not a huge fan of the holidays with all of the traveling and family dynamics, things can get pretty crazy. But at work it is just the opposite, so many people take the week off that I'm free to set my own agenda. Very few meetings are scheduled, if any. Fewer people around mean fewer problems to find and solve. It means four days of getting caught up because not as much new stuff coming in. It means getting to organize and clean up task lists, hopefully crossing a few nagging ones off.

It also is a time where I do more reflecting on strategy. What are the things I'm going to focus on in the new year? What areas do I need to work with in my team this year? What didn't we accomplish that we still need to? What needs to happen to set things up for the greatest chance of success?

Taking time off to refresh and recharge is a good thing, but I want to take time off when I am actually in need o…

As Iron Sharpens Iron

There are many styles of management and leadership, just as no two people are alike, no two leaders do things the same. I've had managers that you would consider a micro-manager. They have to know every little detail of everything, basically making you feel like you are incompetent even though they say they value you. Worse than that are the managers that like to exert their power, frequently remind people that they are in charge and will lash out at anyone that challenges them even if it is a better idea.

On the other side you have the managers that trust you completely, who are so hands off they have no real idea what you do every day, they just know and trust that it is getting done. On the surface this seems like a great thing, but eventually you run into challenges that you need help navigating and someone you can go to for advice. When there isn't anyone else that understands things it can leave you feeling isolated.

What we really need is both. We need to have people tha…

Changes And Newness - An Opportunity For Better

It has been an interesting and crazy last couple of weeks for me at work, but it is probably the most energized I've been in at least a year. Aside from the normal every day craziness, we are in the process of rolling out some new tools and procedures on how to organize our work and requests. I didn't realize how much energy starting something new gives me. To start with a blank canvas, learning from the last paintings you did and seeing all of the possibilities it can become, there is no greater feeling in the world to me.

I've written about starting new things before (here and here). I've never been a person that minded going through change, which is unlike many people. But the thing that I realized is that it isn't about change, or the shiny new toy to play with that will be less interesting in a few days. It is about the opportunity to create something better.

Usually you are going through a change, trying something new, because things aren't going as well a…

Where To Start When Changes Need To Be Made

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

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

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

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

What Engineers Can Teach Us About Communication

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

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

Answer The Question Why

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

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

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

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

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

The Power In Our Words

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

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

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

The Casual Attitude That Slowly Kills

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

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

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

Where Are We Playing Not To Lose?

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

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

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

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

Maybe You've Heard This Before, But It Is Worth Repeating

As a manager, as a parent or as a leader, it is easy to feel like we have to repeat ourselves. Having that feeling that we've talked about this before and being a little disappointed that you are telling them the same thing again. It really shouldn't surprise us though, how many times do we ourselves have to hear something before it sinks in?

If you are working on changing a culture or building a skill in your team expect to repeat yourself. Different people learn differently so some might get it during the team meeting you share with the group, some might get it during a one-on-one conversation and some might need to read the handout for themselves. Individuals have other things going on in their life too, struggles with a sick child, an ailing parent or some other dynamic that takes focus off of their work. Maybe everything doesn't click for them until the outside distractions subside and they hear it from you again two months from now.

It is interesting how we talk abou…

Knowledge Is Power: What Do We Do With The Power We Have?

The saying, "Knowledge Is Power" is well known and frequently misapplied in the world. Power means strength and just like physical strength it can be used for good or bad purposes. Being physically stronger helps you to be fit and healthy, it prevents injuries and illness. But if you use your physical strength to bully someone weaker than you everyone sees that as a bad thing.

Knowledge is no different. We think that we have to have all of the information and if we know more than others that makes us more powerful, safe in our jobs or more important than our co-workers. But if we use our knowledge to control others, control conversations and use the knowledge we have against others we are just a different kind of bully.

I like to think about knowledge as flame. When we take the fire on our candle to light another candle we don't extinguish our flame, it burns just as bright as it did before. If every person has a candle in a room one person starting it can light up the e…

The Importance Of Investing

In IT there is a concept called Technical Debt. The premise is pretty simple, every application you buy, every system you create incurs a certain amount of dept. Your debt level goes up as you add complexity, add additional systems or don't actively work on paying down your technical debt. It works kind of like your credit card bill. If you only pay the minimum it will take you years to pay it off, even if you don't buy another thing.

Financially for a business, there is often a certain level of debt that is necessary if not valuable. Few businesses can get started without a loan or venture capital investment. If a business wants to expand it could take an investment.

Whether it is technology, financially, educationally or just about any other area we need to keep investing in the future. I've seen it all to often with technology where a company invests sometimes millions of dollars installing a system and building it to suit their needs. Once it is done they want to scale…

How Do You React To A Fumble?

It is football season, so you probably get a greater amount of football analogies than you would expect from me right now. One of my favorites is the idea of the fumble. If you've watched any football and seen the ball pop out it, you know how it becomes a mad scramble to recover it. Any player remotely in the vicinity dives head first into the scrum, scrapping and clawing their way to recover the ball.

Never have you seen a fumble where the other 10 members of a team stand around complaining about the running back that lost it. Talking about how much the whole group of running backs needs to stop dropping the ball. Getting mad that they haven't recovered their fumble after they lost it. The running back has responsibility to get better and stop fumbling. But if they want to win every other member of the team needs to be sold out on helping recover any and every fumble that happens.

Yet in business, we point the finger at other departments and complain at the water cooler abou…

When Life Knocks You Down

You know those times when you feel like things are going your way, you tell yourself you are in your "zone", thinking you can take on the world? What usually happens...
Monday morning and I'm ready to take on the week and then ... — Jason Romano (@JasonRomano) October 29, 2018 How many times is that how we feel? Feeling like you are ready to take on life only to have life knock you on your butt? You don't get to see what happens after that, but I'm willing to bet that cornerback got back up again and got right back in there against his opponent. I'm sure he learned something and was better prepared the next time, but he didn't quit.

Cut the scenes a different way, and that is how we need to attack life. So you got knocked down, so what? Stand up, get back in there and say, "Bring it on! Lets go!"

Don't Stop Just Because You Aren't The Greatest

We are all ignorant, it is just that we are ignorant about different things. There are times where topics like math, music, programming, construction, engine repair, or flying a plane come very easily to some people where others feel like a baby learning to walk. Just because something comes harder for you than someone else doesn't mean you can't be successful at it. 
We can easily recognize the success of LeBron James and Michael Jordan as NBA players. But what about someone like David Wingate that played 15 years in the NBA? I'm guessing very few people know the name but does that matter? Not many people can say they've played in the NBA at all, let alone 15 years. Just because they aren't LeBron James does that mean they aren't successful?
There is always someone smarter, stronger, faster, more talented or just plain better than you. That does not mean you are dumb, weak, slow, inept or just plain worthless. You are capable of great things. You can learn any…

Finding Time To Do Things Better

We are busy. Life can get hectic and there always seems to be more to do than there are hours in the day. When you feel like you are overwhelmed and there is nothing that you can do to get out of the hole you are in, know that you have complete control over the situation.

Whenever it feels like we don't have enough time to do something, to do the things we know are necessary to get the job done, we are wrong. There is always more time in the day than we think, we just need to decide what we are spending our time on. Before I had kids I thought I was busy, 15 years and 3 girls later I laugh at my younger self. Kids schedules, running them here and there takes time, yet I still can find time for the things I want to do, just maybe not as often.

Work is no different. There are things that have to be done but if we continue to look at them the same way nothing ever changes. There are a limited number of hours at work to get things done. How much time do you spend talking about things …

What A Successful Day Looks Like

I was recently asked what some recent or great accomplishments are in my career and I had a hard time with it. I think I partly play down any accomplishment as it doesn't really seem that great and I know that there is very little that I accomplish on my own so it is hard to think of it as just my accomplishment. As I reflected on that answer I thought about one of my life mantras of being Better Than Yesterday. I felt like one of my greatest accomplishment at work is in simply showing up every day and wanting to be better than the day before.

There are days where work is hard, as well as days where parenting is hard or life is hard. It can be exhausting as you feel like Sisyphus pushing a rock up hill every day. We want things to get better but we want it to happen fast. We want the big home run win. The revolutionary idea that changes things overnight.

The problem is, almost all overnight successes have years of grinding and dedication leading up to the overnight success. It is in…

Can I Ask You Some Questions About Questions?

Have you ever been frustrated by people asking you questions? When you feel like you've answered that same question a hundred times before?
Have you ever gotten annoyed by your kids asking you the same questions over and over again? It gets to the point you just want to yell, "Because I said so!"
Questions are something that get a bad wrap. We think we aren't supposed to ask a question because we may look foolish. We believe that we shouldn't question authority. We get annoyed by the classmate or co-worker that asks too many questions, trying not to roll our eyes from our unbelief that they still don't get it.
Questions are powerful. If you are looking for answers it starts with the question. If you want a simple answer, ask a simple question. If you want really great answers you have to be able to ask really great questions.
I've been thinking about questions quite a bit lately. Partly because I've been bombarded with different nuggets that have cros…

Accepting And Learning From Our Mistakes

There are many days that I will reflect on and see only the mistakes that I've made or the opportunities I didn't grab hold of. It is that feeling when you look back on a conversation and the perfect words now fill your head, all the words that you didn't say. Some might say that is a negative view point, spending too much time looking at my mistakes and failures. I think about the things that I do well but that is usually easier because it is already a strength or something I have a talent for. There has to be a balance to look out our lives accurately. Know your strengths while not bragging about them. Looking at your weaknesses without dwelling on them.

I believe greatness comes by looking at both our strengths and weaknesses. Often some of our biggest failures are what we learn the most from. You have to be okay with looking at your mistakes, failings and shortcomings because we all have them. It doesn't make you any less special, any less awesome. It just makes yo…

Problem Solving 101

Sometimes problems appear as something that is broken that you need to fix. Other times problems present as needing to learn something new. Or the problem may be an interaction with another person that is challenging. I don't claim to be an expert in solving problems, but I work in IT so I've faced my fair share of problems that need to be solved. When I have a difficult problem I'm faced with I usually run the gambit of emotions most people go through at one point or another: frustration, anger, apathy, sadness, passion, focus and determination. I often have to remind myself that I need to step back, put my emotions aside and put a plan in place to solve the problem. Rarely do problems just go away, (though sometimes they do because God does give us miracles we can't explain) and rarely does someone else just solve my problems for me (though sometimes you have people to help you find a solution). Once I accept I'm stuck with my problems, what do I do next? I was f…

Having Passion And Not Forgetting Why

When you look up the word passion in the dictionary there are a few definitions, but the one I'm thinking about is, "an intense desire or enthusiasm for something." It seems that few people feel passionate about their job or about school if you are a kid. You know these people, the ones that seem to go to work to do as little as possible to get by, to not get fired, to show up to class just enough to pass so they can ultimately graduate and be done. There probably aren't as many of them as you think, the problem is that they are the loudest, the vocal minority. They are passionate about telling others how they have no passion for their job.

One of the things I'm trying to teach my daughters is to find something to do in life that they love and truly understand why they love it. No matter what job or career they choose there will always be difficult people to work with. There will always be those coworkers that have no passion. There will always be challenging day…

Watching Others Fail

Man do we love watching others fail. Usually it isn't a good day for your team to win, you also need the team you don't like to lose. You are happy, excited even, when someone who wasn't nice to you gets what they deserve. We watch hours of videos where people fall down or crash into something.

When we relish in the failures of others all we are doing is trying to feel better about ourselves and the fact we fail too. We seem to think that there is a limited amount of success that is available in the world. Every time someone succeeds we think that lowers the chance of our success.

In reality, success and failure are both something that there is an infinite supply of. We are stronger when we build off of each others success, even the success of people we don't like that much. How we react to someone else's failure tells us far more about our own character than the other person.

Stop Being Afraid Of Your Failures

We hate to fail, don't we? Things go poorly and we beat ourselves up and assume everyone around us is laughing at our stumbles. Failure isn't the problem, the problem is when we assume our setbacks are who we are and we want to give up. We quit.

Here are the facts:

Everyone makes mistakes.We learn more from our failures than from our successes.The judgement you feel for your mistakes is more about you and hardly anything to do with others.Judgment of our failures speaks more about someone's insecurities than it does about our actual failures. When a child is first learning to walk, they fall down more times than the number of steps they take. If they stop trying after the first fall they would never be able to walk or run. Next time you fail, think of it as a learning opportunity that just gets you closer to figuring it out.

Each Win Is A Step

There is a debate that rages, probably inside most companies as they look to move forward in their industry. Balancing the celebration of past successes with the need to focus on preparing to face tomorrow's challenges. It often seems like it is management versus employees. Managers are never satisfied, nothing is ever enough for them. Employees just want to feel appreciated for past efforts and to see the light at the end of the tunnel that some day there will be a reprieve.

The fact is things never slow down. They never get easier. The competition never lets up so neither can you. You need to have a desire and focus on how you get better. If you are an athlete, dancer, artist, employee, teacher, student or coach you have a similar pressure to always be improving. Everyone wants to take a day off now and then, but that is what vacation days and the off season are for. When it is time to work, time to train, time to practice - give it everything you've got. The thing that sepa…

Examine The Labels We Use

Have you ever gotten labeled something that you aren't? Has someone said you are lazy? Selfish? Rude? A jerk? Whatever the label is you just can't understand why it was applied to you. Have you ever given up and just accepted a label, that maybe you aren't as good as you think you are?

Why do we let labels define us? Things get mislabeled all of the time, it doesn't change what it actually is. If you go to the hardware store and the label said it was a hammer but the item was actually a screwdriver it doesn't make the screwdriver wrong, the label is wrong. We treat inanimate objects better than we treat others and ourselves. Too often we apply a label and let that define a person.

We label generations and try to define millions of people by a basic set of qualities. I hate the label millennial and the way it is used to define a concept of a generation of people that are lazy and selfish. I know plenty of people at any age that work hard and energize me and I know p…

First Step To Winning Is Believing That You Can

My latest read is Tribal Leadership and two words jumped out at me reading it, entrenched mediocrity. It was worth reading the book for those two words alone. Two words that speak volumes about many issues in our teams, organizations and ourselves. It is so easy to start believing something about yourself because it has always been the case. This is the same concept when a team in any sport starts to lose and they continue to lose. Just like good teams find ways to win, bad teams find a way to lose. More often than not it isn't about talent, coaching or scheme, it is about the mindset of the team.

Do you believe you are great and can accomplish great things? Or do you think that this is just the way things are? Do you believe that there are forces at work against you that will never allow you to rise above where you are at?

If you think you can't win because of whatever reason, you won't. Instead think about how you can win in spite of it. People have overcome a lot harder…

Culture Is Dynamic - What Are You Creating?

I always find it funny how a lesson in life starts forming and God finds a way to bombard me with messages to make sure I got it. Today's lesson continues to be culture, but how much I impact culture by what I say and what I do. How do I respond to someone doing something that goes against the culture my organization wants to build? Do I say something or let it slide just because I don't want to be that guy or don't feel like it is my place to say it?

Every time I let it slide I'm accepting a culture that goes against the goal of what we want to create. Jon Gordon reminded me today that I have to be ever diligent if I claim to be leader in this short video here.

What I do on a daily basis creates the culture I'm a part of. It doesn't matter what happened in the past, what am I doing right now to make our culture great?

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…