Reaching Down

My grandfather was an avid golfer.  He simply loved the game.  I remember thinking when I was a young kid just how great it would be if my grandpa invited me to play golf with him.  I actually visualized it often, but I knew that it would be a pain for him.  I would be sending the ball all over the place and it would be frustrating for him to watch and try to teach me the game.  My grandpa would visit with us often and we would watch golf together on television.  I waited for the day that he would invite me to play golf with him.

But the invitation never happened.

My grandfather passed away when I was twenty something.  I wonder now what our relationship could have been if we would have played golf together.  See, golf was his game.  I saw how he came alive watching golf on TV.  I wish I would have had the opportunity to watch him play the game that he really loved and enjoy spending time together on the golf course.

I thought about asking him to take me golfing.  But I didn’t want to be a bother to him.  I knew that he would rather golf with someone who knew what they were doing.  The problem was, I was not in the right position to initiate the golf game.  My grandpa was.  Even though his position was above me he could easily reach down and pull me up to a golf game with him.

I believe that this condition relates to many relationships.  I believe that the person in the power position has the more natural path to initiate the connection.

To bring others along and walk with them.

To spend time together.

To share problems and struggles.

To teach and mentor.

To share wisdom and experiences.

Do we seize this opportunity or do we let it go by?  If you are in the upper position it’s as easy as reaching out your hand.  If you are in the lower position it is much more difficult as you have to get past “the ask”.

I can tell you, in relationships of growth, even the smallest of things can have a significant impact.  I am reminded of this every time someone repeats some rather obscure instruction, story or lesson that I gave years ago that I have long since forgotten.  I promise you- they are listening and watching.  You have a greater impact than you believe.  If you want to experience more- reach down.  Pull them up with you.  They are waiting.

So what do you think?  Do you have a story to share where you pulled someone up?  Did this get you thinking about your position in relationships?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think! 

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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.

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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!