I officially retired my gym sneakers today. The soles are coming off the bottom so they are done. They have been in my gym bag for at least ten years. They have been reliable and comfortable which is about all you can ask for from a pair of shoes. I have beat them up pretty good through the years. They survived countless abuse on the treadmill, the elliptical machine, stepper and other exercise duties.
Kathy has tried to throw them away numerous times. I have resisted because the shoes are like old friends. They don’t have the best support or cushioning, yet they are soft, pull on easy and dependable.
I have to admit that I have a bunch of clothes that are like this. They don’t look great, but they are worn in, soft to the touch, and always there when I need them. Kathy has actually ripped shirts off of me when she is over my friendship with a particular shirt that I am fond of.
Do you have friends like this? Not clothes, but folks who have these characteristics?
Friends that you have known for a very long time.
Friends that are easy.
Friends where you pick right up where you left off.
Friends that are soft and comfortable.
Friends that don’t care what you look like.
Friends that are always dependable.
Maybe you should let them know how much you appreciate them? We lose track of time and sooner of later they may come apart like my shoes.
My shoes provided me with a very long relationship, and it may be crazy, but I will miss them. I bought a new pair and they have far better cushioning but they are stiff and not nearly as comfortable Over time I will break them in and I am sure they will be fine. But I will miss my old friends. I am grateful for the many years we had together!
When my daughter was in elementary school she learned a painful lesson. She had a friend who forgot their permission slip to go on a class trip to an amusement park. This was the last day that the teacher would accept them. To help her friend, my daughter signed her mom’s name to the permission slip and the teacher saw her do it. Obviously the teacher was upset by this and punished my daughter by not allowing her to attend the class trip.
When she got home and told us the story, we were very upset with our daughter, but she was absolutely crushed. This was her end of the year class trip and now she was not allowed to go. We realized that we could ask the teacher to let her go and tell her that we would punish her for her actions. Or we could have blamed the school, the teacher, the rules or anything else other than our daughter. We could have told them that she was under a lot of stress. That she was only trying to help. That the school should have allowed more time. We could have come up with a million excuses for her action. But we didn’t do that.
We held her responsible for her actions and she was not allowed to go on the class trip.
Oh, how times have changed. We live in a new age where no one is responsible for anything. It’s not my fault. I have problems. I am disadvantaged. I’m not responsible. I forget things. I’m distracted. It’s not important to me. I don’t care. You should take care of it for me. Your taking advantage of me. Your being mean to me. I need more time. I’ll do it later. I’m not smart enough. I can’t remember very well. I just can’t do it…
We have created more reasons for not doing the right thing than to actually do the right thing. We coddle both young and old into thinking that there is always a way out. You can talk and excuse your way out of everything. We have raised a generation that believes that everything is not their fault and encouraged them to use excuses and negativity as a safety valve when they get caught up in a bad decision.
While I believe we should be sympathetic and understanding to social barriers and personal situations, I believe its time to return to responsibility. If you make a poor decision, then you should be held accountable for the decision and the ramifications. We are raising our children and creating a society that believes that their is no defined right or wrong. How messed up is that? My daughter grew up in the inventive spelling and participation trophy generation. We don’t want to hurt their imagination or their feelings. Suppressing responsibility and delaying the truth. This results in a rude awakening when the real world kicks in.
We can all make reasonable excuses when bad things happen. We all have a past, personality characteristics and flaws that we have to overcome. Some situations are complex with many characters and lots of moving parts. Certainly there are countless opportunities to place blame on others. Yet the true leaders of the world understand that taking responsibility is an essential characteristic of leadership. Making excuses does not make you strong- it makes you a weak leader. Your team will not respect you if all you do is deflect and blame others. Accept your past, your flaws, and your situation and overcome them!
Stay positive and believe in yourself and you can fight through any situation. Take the time to think before you act. Seems simple- but we can be so impulsive and ruled by emotion. Ask for advice if you are unsure. Sleep on really tough decisions. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Your integrity is a priceless jewel- don’t risk it. And in the end, If you mess up or things go badly, take responsibility for the outcome. This is not always easy but you will be better for it!
So what do you think? Are we living in an age of no responsibility? Do you think we need to own up to our failures and mistakes? Please let me know by pressing “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!
I have been deeply involved in recruiting in helping to build a construction renovation company. Anyone that is looking for help knows how difficult the current market is for finding talented help. There is simply not enough qualified and experienced candidates for the positions that are open.
In past years, finding new help was rather easy. There always seemed to be sufficient candidates in the labor market seeking employment opportunities. Often these positions would be filled by word of mouth referrals or employment ads and we would interview, select the best candidate and then simply get them plugged in. Today, the labor market is stretched extremely thin. Rather than finding a great candidate, we are often stuck with settling for what is available.
The bad news is that,looking forward, I believe this tight labor market will not change.
So what is the best solution to this problem? Companies need talented folks, often with specialized skills. If you are able to find experienced candidates, they will likely bust your compensation structure. Or they may come with serious baggage. Or they may be someone elses problem that they jettisoned. What do you do?
I believe that we are moving into an era where training and mentoring will be the most important focus of a successful company. We must have the programs and a company culture in place to train, prepare and raise up talent from within our organizations. We cannot rely on simply seeking new help from the traditional labor market. Most companies have some training protocol for new hires and existing employees. I believe most of these programs will fall far short in this new normal. Most organizations will need to shift the entire company culture to place valuable time and resources on training and mentoring to grow, or just even sustain, their businesses. Here are a few areas of focus:
Written Policies and Procedures
In order to teach you need a textbook or a place to store information. Additionally, all team members need to be conducting themselves in a organized and cohesive manner to ensure best results. I used to coach basketball and the players would often get out of the offense and start to freelance. When this happened, I would call time out and get them to huddle up and tell them this: If you continue to get out of the offense I cannot help you win the game. You will be on your own. You may win or you may not. If you don’t follow the plays I have no way of really analyzing what we need to do to win. I can’t help you. It will be a free for all and I will become nothing but a spectator. Same is true without written policies and procedures. In order to train and mentor you need the approved and best practices documented. Verbal teaching is great but they will only remember part of the instruction. They will forget. Documenting all policies and procedures is a beast. At a previous employer, I coordinated, wrote and edited a 600 page policies and procedures manual that included all processes of the company. In order to complete the task, we divided it up by each departments and I edited the content for clarity and continuity and we used the same format for each procedural element. This is a big job, yet it is absolutely necessary to provide structure for training.
A Complete Shift Of Culture To Training
Training must be constant and be present up and down in the chain of command. The excuse that you don’t have time to train needs to be abolished completely. Everyone is a trainer. All team members must stop and take the time to teach, explain, model and mentor. This can only be accomplished by reinforcing and believing in the true value and importance of training starting at the top of the organization and then emanating down through all levels of the organization. Every person must teach and help to lift others up. Abolish the typical HR training responsibility and spread the responsibility across the entire company.
Model Successful Behaviors
Bring your assistants and new recruits to higher level and sensitive meetings and strategy sessions so they can see how you handle different situations. I didn’t realize the power of this until later in my career. My team members would let me know later that they learned a particular technique by watching the way I handled some tough situations. It may not be the most efficient way by having extra bodies and it may change the dynamics of the room a bit but these situational opportunities are infinitely valuable. A quick debrief after will also assist in cementing these learned strategies in their memories.
Formal Training Programs
Many companies have training programs that are generic and really lack the proper amount of focus to their particular operations and issues that need to be addressed. Training should focus on real company issues that are real, reoccurring and causing damage to the company. Focus on the areas that will bring the greatest results. Training should not be developed by the training department or HR. They can help coordinate, but the best training is designed by each department to handle specific issues. This will provide actual, positive and scalable results. Developing training is not easy. Just putting on a video and having a little multiple choice test is not enough. Training must be precisely targeted. Training should stretch you. It should be difficult. It should make you a little uncomfortable. Role playing exercises are extremely effective. Develop scenarios of problems with characters and have them act out ways to respond to the problems. Leadership training is also extremely valuable. The most successful businesses are led by accomplished leaders and most folks leadership skills need serious help.
Create A Cohesive Team Environment
The best training companies have strong company cultures where everyone is working together with clear goals and expectations. A previous employer called me a cheerleader for the company as I understood the importance of this characteristic. If you have a cohesive unit, they will naturally help and teach each other. If the goals and expectations are clear, there is no question what the next step in required skills for your career path or any hesitancy in exercising these new skills. Leaders need to build strong bonds and reward behaviors that help to strengthen the group. There is no force greater than a team that cares for each other and works together for a common goal.
These are a few of the major items that will help to foster an environment of continual training. As a life long learner, I have experienced the power in mastering new skills. I have personally witnessed the power of learning new skills and the associated resulting career advancement. Additionally, I have been rewarded with gratitude from former team mates who learned specific and valuable skills as I took the time to teach throughout my career. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste. You have a captive audience in employing your team. Take every opportunity to teach and stretch your team so they will grow and mature into tomorrows leaders. You really have no choice. Training is no longer an option. The plug and play days are gone. Move on to the new normal of raising up your leaders from within your organization. Train or die!
So what do you think? Have you also experienced this tight labor market? Do you have a success story or solution you would like to share? Please click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!
Unfortunately, it has become quite fashionable to correct others and point to “science” as the basis for your argument and beliefs. While using the word “science” is a broad characterization, I believe that the true message that is being conveyed is that you are stupid and I am more intelligent because I implicently trust the science.
There are very few labels in life that are worse than calling someone stupid.
While the scientific method has resulted in great discoveries and has increased our knowledge of the way things work in nature, it is not foolproof and is subject to changing theories and discoveries. The basis of the scientific method is really observation. Changing different inputs and then watching and documenting the results to get an understanding of how things work. And there are other factors to consider that tend to skew things and pollute the sauce and actually make the “science” stupid.
We are human.
One problem with science is that we tend to interject bias into our studies. We want results to be a certain way to prove or disprove our theories and hypothesis. I believe that it is really impossible to completely remove all bias due to the human condition. We have opinions, feelings, emotions, aspirations, ego, shame, empathy and all of these characteristics are part of being a living and breathing human.
There is art.
The portion of discovery that gets lost is the side opposite of the science. This is the side that could be termed as art. Often there is an element of intuition that goes against the math, the chemistry, the facts. This intuition is difficult to describe and measure yet it is involved in nearly every great discovery.
There is faith (or luck).
When a doctor finishes a medical procedure he will often end with a comment like, “Now we wait to see if this is successful.” Even with all the modern medical innovations there is still the knowledge that, in the end, things may work or they may not. I call this faith. Others may call it luck. Regardless of your viewpoint, there is a realization that even with the best data and knowledge, things don’t always end as planned.
So before you sell out to science and call others stupid for their questioning or apprehension to get on board, consider that your “science” might be flat out wrong. And by making your comments about their failure to believe the science, you are doing harm to both of you. You are likely degrading them for their apprehension to go “all in” and you may actually be the “stupid” party to discount these common failures in science in your self-righteous haste!
Seems like we ALL are ready for this year to end! This has been a VERY tough year for many folks. Some have lost loved ones to the virus. Some have lost their jobs or their life savings. I’ve continued to hear stories of severe pain and misery this year. I think we all had big plans for this year and have been left watching the virus hijack our plans.
For many, the most immediate pain of this year resulted from the isolation and separation that was brought on by social distancing and the shutdowns. I have experienced this myself. I miss getting together with family, friends and especially spending time with the ones that we have that are most vulnerable. What a despicable disease to target those that may have the least amount of time remaining to see family and friends! I ache for these folks as they continue to sit in isolation waiting for this virus to finally go away.
This disruption and pain has a way of making us reflect on where we are. What is important. What we take for granted. This feeling of uncertainty typically results in fear. Fear is a very powerful emotion. It strikes deep in our being. Are you afraid of getting sick from the virus? Are you afraid of what the future looks like for you after this is over?
Yet, I can assure you that even with all the fear and uncertainty, there is still hope. Hope in the future. Hope that things will be made right. For me, my hope is the little baby in the manger. That baby! See, I have felt His love. I have seen that He is faithful. I have enjoyed the countless blessings that He has lavished on me and my family. I know that he has plans for me and they are good. And most of all, I know the end of the story and it is also good!
Do you feel hopeless? Having trouble seeing a way out? Does the virus or your situation leave you in fear of the future? Maybe the problem is that you don’t know the end of the story. You are holding on to this world as if the world is all there is. You see death as the end of the story. Yet, I can tell you that there is so much more. If you are feeling uneasy that is because you were made for eternity. You were made without an end. Death is NOT your final act.
That baby! That’s the difference. God’s gift to us. This is the hope that we all need. Listen- your story is bigger. MUCH bigger. He made a way so that you would have joy and peace. So you could enjoy yourself and your time here on the earth and live WITHOUT fear. That baby. The Christ. Emmanuel. God IS with us!
Thank you for your continued support! Blessings to you and yours this holiday season!
This is a quick series of short Monday posts reviewing some of the regrets that folks commonly have when they reach the twilights of their lives. Enjoy!
“I wish I would have followed my dreams instead of doing what was responsible and expected of me.”
When I was in about middle school, I took a standardized test that was supposed to help me determine what my career choice should be based on my current likes and dislikes. I think it was called the Army Test. This was your typical fill in the bubble type test and it went through a bunch of questions where I would chose the item that suited me and what I enjoyed doing. At the end of the test, the results came back with two career choices- Home Builder and Forest Ranger.
So these may seem pretty normal except my father owned a construction business. I was already doing the “Home Builder” thing. I remember being a bit disappointed about this choice. I felt like- duh? What good was that answer? Yet, in retrospect, it may have reinforced my choice to pursue construction as a career.
Even as a boy, I had always loved the outdoors. I loved to fish and spend time in the woods so the other choice also seemed to fit. I also remember pondering that the Forest Ranger path would result in a much lower wage. Seemed like the only responsible choice was the Home Builder.
I don’t dislike construction, but I still feel that pull of the outdoors and the wilderness. In fact, getting out into the woods is my “go to” way to recharge. My way to cope with the stress and the monotony is to disappear into the woods into its breathtaking beauty:
Where it is quiet.
Where I can think.
Where things are in perfect order.
Where I can breathe.
Where I can recharge.
Construction has been good to me but I sometimes wonder about what may have happened if I had taken the Forest Ranger route. Maybe I would be more relaxed. Maybe I would have smiled more. Maybe I would have been more excited getting to work each day. Maybe my relationships would have been better. Maybe the forest is where I really belong.
The real risk in life is sometimes doing what your heart is telling you- not your head. Yet we often equate risk only to money or expectations. But life is more than just money and what other folks expect of you.
There is a reason we dream. There is a reason to the connection. I can’t go back, however, what I know now is this. Do everything you can and in our power to follow your dreams!
When I was young and cocky, I would brag to others that when I was pulled over by the police, I would always get out of the car. I didn’t like them standing next to the car talking down to me. I felt like it was insulting. Then there was a time when I was pulled over and I got out of the car and the policeman, with his hand on his weapon, ordered me to get back in my car.
Sure, I had options- I could ignore what he told me. I could argue with him. I could bargain with him. But then I saw his hand was on his weapon. I knew things would not go well if I didn’t listen to him. So, I got back in my car as he instructed me to do.
I am sure that he was thankful that I complied. I am sure he didn’t want problems. He wants to go home after his shift to his family. Being a policeman shouldn’t be a standoff. There should not be the thought that you can just push back and disobey. They are doing a very difficult and dangerous job and we should respect them for their service to the community.
If others in the news would have listened and complied with the police instructions, I suspect that we wouldn’t be where we are now. When you argue, slow walk or blatantly disobey direct orders from a policeman things just don’t go well. This decision provides an opportunity for things to escalate and get stupid. When you are told not to do something and you still do it, this disobedience trips a trigger in all of us. Think of how you feel when your children directly disobey you. It makes you angry, doesn’t it? Things just go better when you do what you are told to do.
This current attack on police authority will only embolden others to disobey police. This will likely have the exact opposite result in trying to prevent injuries and death during police interactions. A complete disregard for law and order will lead to MORE problems. If you disobey the police it’s likely that bad things will happen.
I have learned from decades of service that bad policies from emotional responses often result in very harmful unintended consequences. You hurt for those who are hurting. You want good things for them. You want progress. You want to see change. But emotional solutions rarely lead to effective results if you fail to consider the potential downstream consequences. This current attack on the police is destroying the lives of all law enforcement and potentially taking away security from the communities that need it most.
The statistics confirm a relatively small number of problems (15-25 unarmed deaths depending on the source of statistics in 2019) compared to millions of law enforcement interactions. About the same chance as getting hit by lightning. This is the “science” of the issue. Yes- there are bad actors in the police. Yes- we need to be better. We must make changes. But you don’t burn down your house to get rid of termites. Let’s seek out the bad actors and remove them from service. Let’s stop encouraging disobeying the police. Let’s stop the mob violence. Let’s support our police and let them do their job. They are our neighbors AND our family!
So what do you think? Are we helping thIS ISSUE or just causing more problems? Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!
Great companies have a common characteristic. They have strong leaders. But what is strong leadership? I think if you ask ten different persons you will get ten different answers! I think an obvious sign of a strong leader is they generally have a group of very dedicated followers who understand their role in the overall vision for the company. I don’t believe that strong leadership is characterized by the volume of their bark or purely the degree at which they drive their team forward. Being strong doesn’t mean being feared or intimidating.
But what happens when you have a weak leader? A leader that struggles at making decisions or providing vision or hitting deadlines? Is this a sign that they don’t have the tools to lead? Although these and other signs may be a function of overall weakness, it may not be their fault. You may be the problem. You may be the barrier to their leadership strength. Here are a few ways you may be weakening the leaders below you.
Changing Work Priorities
You have placed this person in a leadership role in order to use their judgement on managing the staff and prioritizing assignments. If you are directing their staff to complete items that you think have a higher priority without consulting them first you are undermining their authority. This is sending a message to the team that your leader is not capable of prioritizing correctly and that they are incapable and you need to get involved. The real reason may be that you have a control problem. If you must change priorities for the team, follow the organizational chart and stay in the chain of command. Don’t manage folks just because you can.
If you are having issues with a report and you are running your mouth to other folks in the organization, the gossip will obviously be damaging to that person’s credibility. And you may be just plain wrong. Don’t assume you have it all figured out. Keep your mouth shut and go to the person and discuss your issues. Give them an opportunity to explain and rebut your assumptions. Gossip is never the answer.
Different Management Styles
Don’t assume that another person‘s management style is weak just because it’s not the same as the way you manage or lead. The measurement is the results. Is this person doing their job as a leader? Are the folks that they are leading engaged and performing properly?
Fuzzy Or Changing Goals
Have you been completely clear about what the goals are and what items are most important? Do you change the priorities often? If the person is unsure or in a constant state of flux, how can you hold them responsible for anything? Provide clear objectives and be consistent.
Do you feel that this person is a threat to you? This may sound strange since they are actually below you in the organizational chart. Does this person intimidate you? Are they sometimes more knowledgeable in some areas. Do they just grind you? Do they have a great following in the workplace? This should be all positive, however some folks can be very insecure, have big egos or are narcissistic and will fight you or anyone else to “win”. Just remember that you are both on the same team! Showcase your talent and let your people grow in influence. Don’t hold them down. When they grow and prosper, you grow and prosper too!
Do you allow folks to come directly to you instead of their direct report? This can be a situation where “If dad says no, go ask mom!” Don’t provide direction or approve a decisions downstream. Always push them back into the chain of command. By directly managing people downstream you are undermining their authority. You are directly weakening their leadership.
I am sure there are more examples of this kind of behavior that destroys the strength of their leadership. If you want strong leaders, it is up to you to empower them! Support them by respecting the chain of command and the organizational chart. Give them all the tools they need to be successful. Do not direct their people even if you are the owner of the company. Support them in front of the rest of the company. If you have issues with them, discuss the issues privately. Respect them and their work and they will grow in strength and effectiveness. Quite often the true “weak leader” is the person you see in the mirror!
Have you experienced this before? Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me your story!
Fear is a funny thing. It has a way of freezing us up. Our natural instincts kick in and the result is that we will stop our movement and progress.
We will overthink the situation. We will seek the comfortable route or outcome. We will avoid the fear and go around it.
I am not saying that fear is a bad thing. We have been conditioned to avoid fear for safety purposes. I am sure you remember some of the advice from your Mom.
Don’t play in he road… The burner is still hot… Make sure that I know where you are at all times… Don’t go with strangers…
All of these are good advice. We should not proceed recklessly. But one of her primary purposes as a parent was to simply keep you safe. While safety is important, I’m not sure that our primary focus on safety and what is secure and predictable is always healthy in the long run.
I have learned through the years that significant growth comes from pushing through the fear by doing it afraid. This is from a guy who is more cautious by nature so this “pushing through” is not easy for me. My tendencies are to visualize and analyze the things that could go wrong. I have learned that there is a point where you just need to go and conquer the “what ifs”.
Kathy and I have served all over the world and in the inner city and have become accustomed to serving in environments that are viewed by others as unsafe. We are cautious and careful when we are in these environments. We remain aware of our surroundings and do not proceed in areas alone. Yet we have learned to push down the feelings of fear that will strangle the ability to move forward and serve. Our faith certainly contributes to our boldness and we have reached a conclusion that we have to go past and conquer the fear.
Your fear area may be public speaking. It may be leading others. It may be preforming a task that you don’t think you can accomplish.
Next time you are fearful to move forward, take a deep breath and push through it. Once you have stepped out it will be easier the next time. Fear has a way of fencing us in. There is life beyond the barrier and your world will get bigger and more rewarding. Go ahead. Move forward. Do it afraid!
So have you experienced the thrill of overcoming a fear? Please click on “leave a comment” and let me hear your story!
So what is Easter? The start of spring? Easter eggs and the Easter bunny. Baskets filled with candy? What a strange group of things bloomed out of a holiday of faith. I guess Christmas is not much better. Santa Clause and Christmas trees? All of these have a history and although they are probably harmless, they tend to water down and distort the true basis for the holidays.
So what does Easter mean to me? A few facets of my faith and feelings about Easter without the churchy talk:
Easter gives me purpose
If it was not for my faith, I would live, gather and die like everyone else and that would be it. My goals would be focused on the relatively short period that we inhabit the Earth and would concentrate on accumulating, enjoyments and self-focus. However, I know there is more. The Bible says that we are wired for eternity. We know there has to be more. While this life can be great at times, there is also a lot of pain that goes along with it. We live in a world without real order. Without things being fair or honest. A jumbled up mess. I am looking forward to order and justice. A place where everything is right. Easter reminds me that there is a place that is right and this is but a stop along the way.
Easter helps me belong
I belong to the largest family that has ever existed. A family of people who think alike. A family with a vision of what true life is all about. That takes care of one another. That helps you when you are down. A family that puts others ahead of themselves.
Easter means all things are new
Easter is like the morning. A new day has begun. Yesterday was tough. I screwed up. I made some stupid mistakes. But then the sun comes up. And it is a new day. A new start. The old is gone and the new is here. Easter washes away the dirt of the past and makes all things new. Like a shiny penny. The way it should be.
Easter gives me focus
The opportunity to get my mind off of myself. To really see others and their needs first. To love others more than myself. Easter gives me an orientation where I am no longer the center of my universe. I can focus on others and I can stop thinking about my situation, wants and needs.
Easter is peace
I can relax in the realization that I do not need to worry. I do not need to try to do it all. I do not need all of the answers. I can trust. I can let things go. I do not have to guide and control. I can relax. It will be fine. I will be fine. This is the basis of faith.
I will admit that I am still a work in progress. I still struggle sometimes, but I know when I look back I see progress. When I look forward, I see a path. The Easter message is one of hope. It is a message of love. And purpose, belonging, renewal, vision and peace.
I hope you can see this and truly grasp the power of the Easter message.
And to you and yours- Happy Easter!
Don’t forget to hit “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!