The F Word

When I was in high school I remember sitting frozen by the phone thinking about all the things that could go wrong.

Would I be rejected?  

Would she laugh at me?  

Would she make me feel foolish?  

Would everyone hear about it and think I was crazy?

Was I overstepping my boundaries?

ompaz-dn-9i-greg-rakozy

Sometimes I just couldn’t pick up the phone.  I tried to overpower the thoughts that I had, but sometimes they just won.  I wasn’t good enough.  What was I thinking?  She is way out of reach for me.

I was strangled by the F word.  FEAR.

Now as I look back at it- what is the worst thing that could happen?  She says no.  There may be some laughter and maybe I was overstepping.  Yet, I will never know because I didn’t try.  The F word.

Fear is powerful.  Yes, I am a man and I have been afraid and ducked out plenty of times in my life.

When I should have moved forward.

When I should have taken the chance.

When I could have stepped out and made a difference.

What does the F word do?  Let me give you a few of the finalities of fear.

You Freeze:  Fear stops you from making a decision.  You stop.  And while you are stopping, the rest of the world is moving.  You loose your advantage.  You are now looking from behind.

You Miss The Boat:  Opportunities are an instant.  A moment in time.  When you decide to wait or you decide it’s too risky, the opportunity is gone.  Things change.  You can’t go back to that spot.  It’s gone, quite possibly forever.

You Determine The Outcome:  If you fail to act you know what will happen.  Nothing.  You have decided it.  Maybe that’s what you want.  Maybe the risk is too high.  But one thing for sure,  It’s done.  If you choose to risk the outcome might be good.  Choosing not to risk decides the answer.

Often the root of a failure to act can be traced to pride.  I never loose.  I always come out on top.  What would everyone think if I actually failed?

Yet failure is actually healthy.  It doesn’t feel good when you are in it, but I have learned some of my greatest life lessons through failure. So what do you really learn in failure?

You learn that the sun will rise the next day.  You find out that the people that really love you are still there.   You find out that the F word is mostly in your head.  You find out that faith is the thing that allows you to risk.  Faith in yourself.  Faith in your family.  Faith in a Father who loves you no matter what!  Fear is a product of the enemy.  An old scheme he uses to take away your power.  A way to neutralize you in the spiritual battle that is going on around us.

So what are you going to do?  Are you going to crumble and let the F word decide for you and make your final decision OR will you fight through it and go for it!  Do something risky.  Do something big.  Shake off the F word, have faith and trust in yourself!

So what do you think?  Have you had times when you were overcome with fear?  Have you failed to act because of fear?  What do you do the beat the F word?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!

6 Ways to Build a Culture of Hard Work

I was picking up mulch that was on sale at Home Depot last weekend and a gray haired man approached my truck for my order.  I told him forty bags and I asked him, “So where are the youngsters?”  He was obviously older and generally they have a cadre of young men who load mulch during these sale events.  He responded, “They don’t know how to work.  They are around here somewhere.  You get me instead.”  I got out of my truck and helped him load my truck.

2014-10-Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-city-building-demolition-site-leeroy (1)

As I considered his comments, I thought about our current societal view of work.  Unfortunately, I truly believe we no longer honor hard work.

We celebrate the folks who game the system.

We most admire those who work less and get paid more.

We look at those who work hard as weak or stupid.

My work experience started on the construction site.  It was hard work- hot, dirty, and physically demanding.  I worked around other guys that were much older than me and had been in the trades for many years.  There were always personalities and characters on the crews.  Lots of laughter, stories and practical jokes.  These guys knew how to do a tough job and still have fun.  And the fun made the time go quickly.  They also cared about me.  They took me under their wing and taught me how to do the work with quality and efficiency.

As years went by I began to supervise the new generation of workers.  Much of the laughter went away.  They questioned everything.  They did not want to learn or share their experience.  They saw the work as temporary.  They were on their way to something more important, this was just for now.  Clock watchers were everywhere, counting down the time to go home.  Work was not really fun working with these guys.

So how do we bring the fun back?  How can we bring honor back for hard work?  Here are some ideas:

Teach your kids how to work!  The worst thing you can do for your kids is to do everything for them.  Teach them to work.  My father taught me about work at a very young age.  I am so grateful for this lesson.  I learned how to push my body and how to accomplish something that looks impossible.  The worst thing you can do for your kids is to put them on a pedestal.  Make them work.  Give them responsibilities.  Hold them accountable.  If you model laziness for them, whining, and complaining, well, you know what you will get!

Recognize hard work!  When you see someone who is working exceptionally hard and doing a great job, make sure that you thank them for their efforts.  Nothing is more deflating then to bust your butt and not feel appreciated.  Take the time to thank or recognition someone for doing a quality job. Send them note of appreciation.  Comment about their hard work in front of their friends, family or coworkers.

Reward the extra effort!  Give the person who works hard an extra reward.  This is crucial in creating an environment that promotes hard work.  Give them a bonus, special privileges, award, or extra status.  Unfortunately, we often fail to provide incentives, which, has the effect of lowering output to the minimum requirement.  What you are doing is racing downward to the lowest common denominator.  Don’t be afraid to single someone out as a superior worker.  We have become a society that is obsessed with fairness.  I welcome the opportunity to tell anyone why I singled out a particularly great worker.  Don’t fear the conflict.  Celebrate the extra effort!

Compensate based on production!  Base pay on output whenever it is possible.  Any time you can get away from basing payment on time you will benefit.  Clearly making time the measure for compensation, automatically, creates a clock watcher.  Add incentives for production.  Let top producers leave early or have added flexibility so they rewarded for extra effort.

Dump the dead wood!  If you have workers who are skating along, have a bad attitude and putting forth a poor effort, send them home.  They are a cancer to a hard working crew.  They will pull everyone down.  You may be fooling yourself thinking that they will get better.  You cannot risk damaging your entire group due to one person’s lack of work ethic.

Have fun!  Work does not have to be a bad thing.  Seek out creative ways to have fun at work or ways to bind your team closer together.  Small things can have a big impact.  I get reminded of fun, team building  things that we have done at work years later that I have long since forgotten.  Foster an environment of fun at work.  We get too serious sometimes.  Break up the monotony with fun activities.

We need to honor hard work and model it for those around us.  Hard work is what  built this country and will continue to elevate our standard of living.  Celebrate the hard workers and the craftsmen that make things made in this country the best in the world.

Coming home dirty and tired is not being stupid.  You are honoring your work.  You are a producer and contributor.  You are my hero!

So what do you think?  Are you fostering an environment of hard work or just struggling with minimum standards.  Are you honoring hard work?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!

Laughter Wreckage

They say that laughter is the best medicine.  However, this is not always the case…

I was sitting in a meeting last week and I made an observation regarding my personal experience on a topic.  What followed caught me completely off guard.   The person at whom I was directing my comments laughed at me.  Not a laugh like something funny.  This was a “you naïve boy” kind of laugh.  A real belly laugh!  I wanted to fire back with a statement like- “so wants so funny?”  I knew that it would be out of place (the conference room was full) and it would be provocative, so I left it alone.  I sat and wondered how long it had been that someone truly laughed at me.  Sure, I get laughed at when I do something funny or silly, but this was in response to an observation that I knew was factual on a subject in which I have thirty years experience.  There was no real purpose in the laughter.  If he disagreed with me he could have simply told me so.  Instead he chose to laugh in my face.

 English: LOL

I have to admit that it struck a nerve for a moment or two.  And this nerve runs deep.  It brought me back to schoolyard days of being laughed at by my friends.  It’s really amazing the damage that a little laughter can do when it is used as a weapon.  There is some really amazing irony here.  The thing that can give you such pleasure and fun can also be extremely painful.

It’s really character assassination…

We must treat a person’s feelings like a very fragile instrument.  Like an egg.  You should hold it gently and protect it from damage.  I have been on both sides of this, yet there is only one side that you can control.  I have been quick to speak or direct without considering the other side and have left the burning wreckage in the road.  As leaders, we must be extremely careful to consider how our responses will be received. 

Think of trading places…

The skilled leader has the ability to actually move out of their shoes and into the shoes of others.  This includes being able to visualize how the direction will be perceived including all of the personal characteristics that are at work in the situation.  Yes, there are some that need a strong voice.  They are accustomed to that style or that style is necessary given the circumstances.  However, some are very fragile.  A loud or harsh response will cause them to withdraw.  In trading places you have to consider the effort that they are making, not necessarily their results.  If you recklessly trash their work, you are sure to hurt their feelings.  You may have to authority to say what you want in any manner that you see fit.  However, I promise that you won’t be happy with the results.  If they disengage, you will struggle to win them back.  You may never win them back.  You may hit that nerve that brings them back to the schoolyard.  Remember that the goal is results- not just exercising your authority.

What do you think?  Press “Like” if you agree!  Have you experienced the “wreckage in the road”.  Press “Comment” and let me know what you think!