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!
There is a very damaging phenomena that has overwhelmed our culture and threatens every type of relationship. I’m not sure what the roots are here but the results are clear. What is this phenomena? We have become a society obsessed with being right.
Somewhere along the way we have reached the conclusion that being right is THE most important thing. Social media and the internet have fueled a nasty discourse where you can trash someone and get supported and rewarded with more followers. A healthy dialogue, where you can argue your side, should be a positive thing. But we have digressed to nasty name calling and truly outrageous comments. Reminds me of the childish level of “Your momma wears army boots!”.
In addition to the onslaught on social media the “always right” crowd has invaded business and personal relationships also. Does being right give you the license for character assassination? Can someone make a mistake or do something less than perfect and still be respected for who they are? Is the goal of this life to make sure everyone knows how intelligent or righteous or pure you are? Jesus called these folks “white washed tombs”.
The other side of this is that the need to be right all the time is a pure people repellent. Nobody likes a “know-it-all” or someone that is constantly correcting them or pointing out there faults. Relationships and marriages are nuked every day by folks continually dwelling on faults, relational mistakes and personality quirks to the point of a breakup.
I’m sure in the cases of the internet and social media, the electronic separation provides the “courage” to make stupid and outrageous statements. But I think the basis for this obsession with being right has been around since the beginning of man. Yet the source of this new increased obsession with being right may be a flawed value system, our competitive nature, and on a deeper level- our own selfish pride. Let’s look at each of these.
Value System Often the “always right” crowd believe that they are either smarter than you or they are simply better than you. Again I think the internet and social media have a role here in providing nearly unlimited information about a subject. The problem is that you can easily find another argument to discredit your beliefs. Beyond the intellectual side, the always right crowd may feel that they are simply better than the other party. They may feel that they care more, give more, feel more, have less faults, think purely, and live an impeccable life. They may have developed a value system that is based on their superiority and their internally applied pursuit of perfection. Even if they are truly better, it does not give them the right to trash others or look down on others views, opinions, faults or shortcomings. Gossip fuels the value system of the always right. Talking someone down lifts up the person who is involved in gossip. The Bible says you need to remove the plank from your own eye before judging the splinter in others. Being right has become their value system and their identity.
Competitive Nature We are born with a competitive nature. At the earliest age kids will fight for toys and treats. We tend to celebrate competitiveness in our society and some folks personalities are prone to seek out competition and aggression. Having a strong competitive nature exhibits itself in many ways that may not be immediately recognized. The self-induced need to be the best and perform to excess can be a sign of this nature. By seeking to make yourself first you are naturally putting others down. To admit to being wrong goes against the need to put yourself first. I have personally witnessed competitive folks squirm when they are cornered and have to accept that they were wrong.
Pride Last but not least. Our pride pushes us to build a case that we are right in every circumstance. If someone says or does something that we believe is wrong, we will often respond or react due to our own pride and what others would think about the situation. We are worried more about what others will think about US than about the OTHER person or the situation that you are in. We will actually trash others in the pursuit of being right in order to support how others view us. We are worried that we will look weak or supportive of a bad situation. We are worried that we may lose respect from our family or our circle of friends. We worry more about OUR image than the OTHER person’s image who we have determined is wrong. Being right doesn’t give you a free pass to destroy others EVEN IF YOU ARE RIGHT.
This is a complicated issue but it appears that the need to be right is growing. This need to be right can blind your behavior and result in doing things that are stupid and cruel clouded in a crazy righteous haze. We have forgotten about trusting the Lord to take care of things. We have forgotten about grace. We have forgotten to consider the relationship on the other side. We have forgotten about respect. We have forgotten to love first. All in the insatiable need to protect our image, win an argument, or exert power over someone else.
What you should do is question yourself. Are your motives to be right to help the other person to see a different perspective or are you simply correcting them? Are your motives to help them, not exert your power over them? Do I have their best interest in mind? Is this issue worth the discussion or should I just let it go? Am I presenting this in a positive and loving way? Failing to check yourself may allow emotion to overtake the situation and lead to serious regrets. And ultimately, placing the ultimate value on being right may make you 100% right but 100% alone.
So what do you think? Have we become so self-righteous that we can’t control ourselves with our comments? Is this something you have viewed personally? Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me hear your story!
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!
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!
Manage for your winners- don’t resort to designing your management systems for your bottom tier!
If you were awake in sixth grade math you probably remember the concept of the lowest common denominator in order to work with fractions. The concept was to evaluate and manipulate the numbers to obtain the lowest common number in order to make the denominator the same in order to solve the problem.
This general concept is also used in management by instituting a series of rules to control issues that are occurring with employees. This set of rules are typically directed to only a few violator employees who are not performing or typically ride the edge of acceptability.
The root of the problem is that these employees are either disengaged, not managed properly, or are lacking feedback on a regular basis. Management by the lowest common denominator is a passive-aggressive style of management. Rather than attack the real problem, the manager will attempt to “hem in” the problem employee by developing a set of often silly rules in order to address issues in an attempt to keep employees productive.
The issue here is that this management theory requires that these rules apply to all employees. Your best performer and your worst performers. Your best performers will resent being held to stupid rules. So you are actually catering to the lowest common denominator instead of attacking the real problem.
Don’t default to this style of management. Concentrate on the relatively few violators and address the issues at the root. Using a rules based system to lead your team is never the best way to lead. If your team members are not engaged and need constant attention then replace them. Resorting to the lowest common denominator style of management will cause unneccessary damage.
Lead your team. Provide continuous feedback. Let them know where they stand at all times. Give them specific tasks and deadlines. Be a leader. Don’t punish your best performers by forcing them to comply with stupid rules.
Rules are for math problems, not leadership.
So what do you think? Have you experienced this management style before? Click on “Leave and Comment” and tell me about your experience.
The clinical control freak is someone who is abusive and will alter your life patterns at extreme costs. They will play with your mind, schedule and goals and do whatever it takes to fool themselves into the reality that they can keep everything under their control in order to manage their personal anxiety and other personality disorders.
But what if you are just a bit controlling? Just a closet control freak?
Oh I get it. The world is a dangerous place, right? There is danger and failures around every corner. The closet control freak can reason that they are just protecting their friends and loved ones from hurt and danger. But is it YOUR job to step up and protect everyone from life? Do they WANT your advice or your help? Do you think that is YOUR duty or is it just a mechanism to prop up your self-worth?
The control freak is like a repellant. Lets face it- nobody likes to deal with someone who has the need to control things around them. Even if they are right. We all have the desire to find out for ourselves.
This is not about judging whether they are right or wrong. The control freak would argue that they are just trying to protect others with their behavior. Trying to guide things so the outcome is good. Sounds good but not always truly sincere.
The root of the closet control freak is to avoid personal worry, anxiety and keep up their self image. See, the problem is insecurity or a lack of self-esteem. And the antidote is power.
By controlling things you can blank out the insecurity with power. You are in control. You are calling the shots.
What are some signs of the closet control freak? Here are a few:
Advice: You must give advice- cause you are the expert on everything! Giving advice seems like a good thing right? Unless its not wanted. Look back at repellant. Keep your trap shut. Unless there is imminent danger or something criminal.
Stall tactics: When something comes up that you don’t want to do -you stall. Wait it out until the other person see your “better idea”. Or just hope things change to your viewpoint. Stall anyways. Just in case, Forever. Super frustrating!
Better options: You feel like you need to give other options that suit you better. And you wait. Until. They. Choose something. That you. Like. Childish.
Dismiss: You can justify dismissing things that are not important to you, yet, may be important to others. You truly believe that you have the ultimate objective view. If you don’t value it, then its not valuable? Really?
Mechanical Control: You don’t like others to drive, fly, or steer anything. You have serious bouts of fear. You are not in control. You have trouble relaxing when someone else is at the wheel. Are we all bad drivers except for you? Is this really our problem?
Reject- Not Compromise: You will feel that you cannot sacrifice what you know must happen. Save everyone from disaster. Anything less leads to worry, anxiety or fear. Winner take all. Seriously?
Perfectionism: Things must be perfect. If someone see something that is bad or out of place- then it is a personal failure. I can’t have a dirty house or a bad golf game. Really? Nothing is perfect under the sun. This is textbook insecurity. Right?
I get the control thing. We can get accustomed to being in control. And we don’t want bad thing to happen. But what do we sacrifice? Is it worth it? Remember the repellant. Can you keep your mouth shut? Can you stop the manipulative behavior? Can you let others figure it out without your “help”? Can you just relax and let it happen?
Reality check. The world will keep spinning without you! Find your value somewhere else and realize that you matter without the efforts to control. Your hard work to change or manipulate people or the outcomes will rarely have any influence on them or the outcomes. So why do you do it? Why do you think that you have to control anything? Realize that its your “go to” response. You have likely been doing it for so long that it has become second nature. But you need to fix it because nobody else can. It’s your anchor. Face the issue and the world will change around you. Really! I promise.
So what do you think? Do you agree with my comments or am I out of bounds on this? Click “Like” if you agree or click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!
I have a friend who says this. He doesn’t have have the greatest command of our language but I completely get what he is trying to say. I no like.
The saying goes surround yourself with the best and the brightest. There is a reason for this. If you want to have a great organization, you have to surrender things. Give it up. You have to admit that you are not the greatest at everything.
If you have done well you are obviously talented. You are probably exceptionally good at some things. But you are not good at everything. You have to leave room for others. Admit the fact that you can’t be best at everything.
Surround yourself with the best and brightest.
The rub comes here. You may not even like them.They are likely different than you. They may even intimidate you. They may make you uncomfortable.
It’s OK. You don’t have to like them.
Leaders will often surround themselves with people that they like. People that are like them. It’s natural. People that make then feel good. What is the result?
One-sided decision. One-sided management. One-sided solutions. And a leader that is sitting there scratching their head. What went wrong? Why are we struggling?
The fact is that diversity is power. You can’t win without it. You need people that are not like you. You need to challenge yourself to understand them. We are wildly different- and it’s for a very good reason.
If you want to feel good, then surround yourself with people like you. People that agree with you. People that are wired like you. People that make you comfortable. People that you naturally understand. But realize this.
It’s really all about you– right? What makes you feel good. What make sense to you. What you are comfortable with.
Don’t do it! Stretch yourself. Listen and learn. Uncomfortable is the way you learn. We should never stop learning. Never stop. Never.
So what do you think? Do you agree with me? Or am I full of it! Let me know what you think!
We have reached to age where we will e-mail or text someone who is just a few feet away. We avoid the phone call because it takes longer than a quick text. Skip the pleasantries. Get to the point. Get your answer. Move on the next issue. Right?
This is certainly great for efficiency. You can get more done if you can quickly get the information that you need and move on.
Yes, I am guilty. My phone message suggests you e-mail me as I am often on the road or in meetings and can’t take calls. The phone conversation takes a commitment to set aside some time to chat. Some time to catch up. Some time to see how someone is doing.
We are so programmed for efficiency and our workloads have increased to a point that the conversation comes at a cost. You will loose some time connecting with others. You may not get as much accomplished if you take the personal route. You may have to work harder to accomplish things if you choose to be personal instead of impersonal. Communicating personally is a choice. You can choose to pick up the phone or walk to their office and get your answers along with an update of how they are doing or what’s going on in their lives.
Building Community Takes Work
In order to build community you have to communicate one-on-one. You have to engage others. You have to share and be vulnerable. You have to be real. This doesn’t just happen. It takes work. You have to be intentional. Here are some ways to help develop stronger community:
Be Available. In order to connect with someone you must be available. Leave your door open. Make it easy to find you. Answer your phone. Be available for meetings or questions. This seems simple yet our fast paced work can make this simple thing quite difficult.
Ask Questions. Show interest in others. Find out interests, hobbies, passions, and gifts. At the appropriate time, ask deep questions. Find out their story and the issues that they are struggling with. Share things that you have in common or your struggles. Forget what you need. Get to what they need.
Be authentic. Let them see who you really are. Don’t try to impress or be cool or be the know it all. Don’t spend your life as an actor. You can’t connect with a phony. You’ll be connecting with air.
Take the time. You won’t connect with the folks around you until you commit to putting down the work and make the effort to make the connection. Don’t make excuses. If you are introverted, it will take effort to do this. Yet, you must make the effort and spend your valuable time connecting with others. You have no excuse.
Building community takes effort and a commitment. If you are in a leadership role, you must model this for others to see. You must schedule opportunities to connect. You must make it mandatory to do things in a personal way. It won’t happen unless you make it happen. We are social beings. We need community. Make the effort. You will be glad you did!
So what do you think? Have we reached a tipping point in communication? Do you see the connection in personal communication and community? Click on “Leave and Comment” and tell me what you think!
Last weekend my son invited me to go off shore fishing with him and two of his friends. We left early in an effort to try to beat the heat. It’s been brutally hot this year in North Florida so getting out early really helps. While riding out as the sun was coming up and riding out past the point where you can no longer see the shore, I was struck with the size of the ocean and the relative small size of the boat. Really just a mere speck in the vastness of the ocean.
I think we sometimes give ourselves more credit that we deserve. We are all just a speck on the earth. You might think you are a bid deal, but the truth is the world’s a big place and your really not all that extraordinary. So how can we make an impact when we are just this speck on the ocean? I spent some time catching up with my son and his friends. I found out what’s going on in their lives. We laughed a lot. But sometimes it was just quiet and we enjoyed each others company without even saying a word.
The way you make the little speck big is by making your world smaller. Reach out to the ones that are closest to you. Connect on a deeper level. Offer yourself to them. You will make a bigger impact when you discover how to put others needs above yours. This is how you will actually become the big deal. In a small way and backwards to our thinking and reasoning. One connection at a time in a great big world. Just a speck in the middle of the ocean!
Photo Credit: Snapwire Amarpreet Knur- CC Public Domain
I’m traveling again on business. At the TSA check today, I pulled out my toiletries out of my bag and spotted a little note card that my wife put in my bag about five years ago. I was leaving for a men’s retreat and she snuck the note in my bag along with some other stuff. The note is now yellowed and showing the wear of thousands of air miles
I looked at the note and smiled. The smile came at the right time. I was tired, just out of gas and getting on another airplane. Heading out again. But there was that note…again. Reminding me that I have someone who is supporting me. Someone who is on my side. Someone who I can count on no matter what happens.
These little things are big. They have weight- at least to me. I also have come to realize that some folks go through life kinda clueless. They don’t have any idea what is going on around them. They are rushing through everything. They are missing so much of what is going on around them.
But I see the little things. And they brighten up my day. And that makes all the difference!