Archive for the ‘Self-Growth’ Category

Point of Clarification—Honest Courage in the Service of Clarity

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
© F4f |

© F4f |

I had a colleague years ago named Sandra.  Sandra had a very special skill.  It’s one part honesty and three parts courage—and it made her an indispensible part of any meeting.

I remember one meeting where a consultant kept using a word that no one in the room knew.  Not that anyone admitted this, of course.  We all sat there like lumps, all assuming that we were the only ones who didn’t know the word, and all afraid to show it.

“You have to realize that the customer may be coming to your brochure with an entirely different hermeneutic framework.”

“It’s essential to take the hermeneutics of your ad campaign into account.”

What worried me most was that this word “hermeneutic” kept coming up alongside words like “essential” and “crucial.”  But did I raise a hand?  Not on your life.

“Excuse me,” Sandra said at last. “You keep using that word—’hermeneutic.’  I don’t know what that means.”

The reason I know for certain that no one else in the room knew the word either was the sudden, visible relaxation of all shoulders around the table, accompanied with a dozen little sighs of relief.  We were going to learn the meaning after all, thanks to Sandra’s honest courage.

The next time you find yourself in the same situation—not understanding something, and certain that all those around you do—know that the likelihood that others are also sitting in silent incomprehension is somewhere around (hmm, let me do the math here…carry the six…) somewhere around 100 percent.  And if everyone else DOES happen to know what’s going on, know that it is 100 percent permissible to reveal that you don’t know everything because NO ONE DOES.

So do everyone a favor.  Be like Sandra.  Be the one who is honest and courageous enough to ask for clarification.  You’ll be an asset to workplace communication and a hero to your colleagues.

Oh, and hermeneutics?  The consultant said it means “interpretation.”  Why he couldn’t just say “interpretation” in the first place is a topic for another day.

The Terrible Trio—Vampires, Victims, and Whiners (oh my!)

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
© Khz |

© Khz |

Part 1:  The Energy Vampire™

“They are Vampires, and their modus operandi is not to steal your blood but rather, your precious energy. Your life-force. Your mojo.  To drain you emotionally and psychologically. To frustrate you with their repetitious, self-indulgent, attention-seeking diatribe.”—Craig Harper

She doesn’t wear all black.  You can see her reflection in mirrors. She likes garlic just fine.  Yet her coworkers know she is a vampire as soon as they open their mouths.  But it’s not blood she’s sucking—it’s positive energy.

“I’m up for a promotion,” you say. “Isn’t that great?”

“Hey, a higher cell in the prison. Congrats on that,” she replies with a smirk.

“Sales are going to be up, up, up this year,” you say.

“That’s only because they were in the toilet last year.”

“My glass is half full.”

“You call that a glass?”

You get the idea.  And you know this person, I’ll bet.  These vampires are as common in the workplace as their bloodsucking cousins are in Anne Rice novels.  Within seconds, they can take your great day and make it miserable.

The vampire’s arsenal is limitless, from rolling eyes and crossed arms to smirks, whining, name-calling…you name it. Whatever the form, know that you have the right to protect yourself and to call the vampire out.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we’ve ALL have had our moments like this—times when we can’t think of anything good to say and seem to want to guarantee the same fate for everyone around us.  But that doesn’t make it okay.

Next time you find yourself on the sharp end of the Energy Vampire’s smile, your job is to suck away their NEGATIVE energy just as hard.  They thrive on commiseration, so deny it!  Answer each pronouncement of darkness with something like, “Oh I don’t know about that—I like working here!”  Then watch how fast they shrivel up and blow away.

Now if the person is part of your responsibility, you’ll need to get serious about this.  It’s up to you to either convert the vampire to a productive human or join the mob with pitchforks and torches and get that person out of the company before their toxic behavior spreads—and you end up with a company full of the walking undead!

Unflippin’ Stoppable

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

He knew his whole life what he wanted to do. He wanted to act in movies. He saw movies as a vehicle not only to escape reality, but also as a way to inspire people to overcome their personal obstacles.

He constantly visited with movie agents. If he had 700 meetings with them, he was thrown out 700 times. He was told by some that he looked stupid. Others didn’t even bother to tell him anything.

Most people with his dream would have quit.

Once, though, after one more rejection, he stayed overnight at the site and, because of his insistence (he tried again in the morning), he eventually received his first offer.

He was cast as a thug. His job was to get beat up. He was only on camera for 20 seconds. Not exactly a breakthrough. But at least it was something.

He imagined it might be the beginning of a wonderful acting career. But it wasn’t. His rejections continued.

He couldn’t pay for heat in his apartment. His wife screamed at him to get a job. He didn’t listen.

One day he went to the public library because it was warm. There, in the reading room, he read the work of Edgar Allen Poe.

He said, “Poe got me out of myself. I learned how I could touch other people and help others.”

He decided to write a script.

He sold a script called Paradise Alley for $100. For him, it was a ton of money for him. But that, too, didn’t lead to anything.

By then, he was so broke he hocked his wife’s jewelry. After that, she really hated him. But his dog still loved him.  He loved his dog, but he couldn’t feed him.

He stood outside a liquor store trying to sell his dog for $50. He ended up selling it for $25. He cried as he took the money.

Two weeks later he was watching a fight and got an idea. He wrote for 20 straight hours. He was shaking at the end because he was so excited.

He tried to sell his new script. He received rejections. People said, it’s predictable. It’s sappy. It’s a cliché, man.

He wrote down all the things they said and decided he would read them the night of the Academy Awards when he won an Oscar. 

Still nobody would buy his script.

Finally, he met some people who actually liked his script. They offered him $125,000. A jackpot for a guy with no money at all. He agreed to the deal – but with one provision. He said, “Just one thing, I have to star in it.”

They said, “You’re a writer.” But he knew he wanted to play a staring role in his own money.

The producers didn’t like the idea. They wanted Ryan O’Neal.

The scriptwriter left with no money and no deal.

The producers came back with a counteroff. They offered the man $250,000 if he agreed not to star in his own money. Again, he answered, “No.”

Then they offered $325,000 as long as he would stay out of camera range.


They compromised. They were afraid to take the risk. They didn’t think it would work with him in the starring role, but they loved the script. So they paid him only $35,000, but at least he was allowed to play the lead role.

For two days, he went back to the liquor store hoping to find the guy who bought his dog.

On the third day, a guy walked by with his dog. He offered to buy him back because he missed his dog so much. The guy told him there was no way he would sell the dog.

The man offered more money. After some negotiations, they had a deal. Sylvester Stallone bought his dog back for $15,000.

True story. The movie Rocky cost $1 million to make. After it opened in 1976, Rocky made more than $100 million

The movie earned 10 Academy Award nominations and won three.

P.S. The dog in the movie is actually Sly’s real dog.

Difficulties seldom defeat people; lack of faith in themself usually does it for them.

Most people are taken out of life’s game by the little things. What ever is inconvenient or uncomfortable is accepted as a reason to give up.

Are you willing to be unstoppable in your attempts to get what you want? Do you stand by your principles so much so that you are willing to take huge risks for what you know is right?

Try this:

• Write down something that you want to commit yourself to accomplish.

• Make an oath to yourself that nothing and nobody can get in the way of achieving what you want. (Even if you never get it, you will live with such power that the other blessings that come as a result will be powerful, too.)

• Make a list of the things that, in the past, haven taken you “out of the game.” Each one of us has patterns that we repeat about why we give up. Whether it’s not enough time, questioning whether you really want it, or it’s just too hard, chances are that your life has consisted of a repeated pattern of the same trigger switch that takes you out of the game. Decide to conquer that pattern. That and only that is the way you are gonna fly now.

Getting it Done—Winning the Execution Game

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Dusanzidar |

Dusanzidar |

Execution is everything.  Plan all you want, dream all you can, then turn that key or you’ve accomplished nothing.  Execution is what separates those who merely have lofty ideas from those who end up winning the game. It’s about taking strategies and making sure they are implemented with power.

Creating a culture of execution is a leadership issue. It combines creating a “no-excuses, get-it-done” culture with the systems, processes, and accountabilities that ensure things are done consistently and done well.

But it’s also more than a leadership issue.  People at every level in an organization can get bogged down in planning and strategizing without ever getting off the pot.

It’s easy to guess which things in a company are measured and audited:  It’s the things that people actually DO and do well.  If you want something done with fairly strong consistency, set measurable benchmarks.

But don’t forget to put systems in place to see if the benchmarks are being met.  If a standard is measured in the forest, and no on is there to audit it—does it make a difference?  Not bloody likely.  Why should it?

You can’t monitor and audit every facet of your business, or you won’t have time to run the business.  So where does execution matter most?  It matters most in the critical moments I call Moments of Truth—the moments where execution can mean the difference between success and failure.

Moments of Truth are those critical times when a customer forms an impression of you, deciding whether your offerings and their standards see eye-to-eye.  Though they vary from industry to industry and business to business, every business has them.  Define them, create measurable goals and a way to assess progress, and GO.

Use weekly planning meetings in which each attendee declares focused results following a clean process and you will create magic. These meetings create the engine to keep people focused on doing the right things and getting results in the areas that matter. It also reveals the “stealth slackers”—those who are otherwise masterful at hiding and looking busy.  Got some of those?

Top performers don’t just stay busy—they know how to get the RIGHT things accomplished. Top performing leaders also know how to get their people focused on doing the right things, especially those things intimately tied to the Moments of Truth that can make or break a company.  They know that accepting no excuses from their team members means permitting no excuses from themselves as well.

For an organization to thrive in these highly competitive times, it is more critical than ever for leaders to build an environment where their word is law. Only by conveying that attitude can they expect others to be held to the same standard.

Miracles are supposed to happen, but they require a steadfast, ironclad system of execution and a leader who is committed to making the miracle happen.  So be the miracle!

Getting Back that First-Day Feeling

Friday, January 15th, 2010
© Sodimages |

© Sodimages |

Remember your very first day on the job?  Your shoes had a shine like the tiles on the Space Shuttle and the crease in your slacks could have diced celery.  The air was somehow fresher, the birds chirpier.  You had been hired.  You’d been given a chance to excel, a chance to make a difference.

Now contrast that with this morning.

Most people who signed up for the Big Game end up making one compromise after another until they’ve resigned themselves to mediocrity.  It’s darned hard to keep that first-day buzz going. 

BUT…there’s no reason you can’t choose to recover a good measure of that first-day feeling, that striving for excellence, and put it to good use in the service of everyone whose lives you touch on a daily basis.

It’s all about making the choice to do it.

Have you ever met a two-year-old who wasn’t enthusiastic?  We come prepackaged with it.  And then…

What happens to us?

What happens is that we make a choice.  Some of us choose to make the effort to stay in touch with our inner enthusiasm.  Others find reasons to lose touch with it—boredom, responsibilities, challenges, fatigue.

But here’s the problem:  Enthusiasm is the lifeblood of all success.  Without it, nothing great happens.  If you choose to lose touch with your inner enthusiasm, you are choosing mediocrity.  It’s really that simple.

Sure, there are plenty of reasons to curb your enthusiasm.  But there are just as many reasons to find it again—to celebrate your incredible good fortune, and in the process, to make that fortune even better.

Start with the fact that you’re not dead yet, that you were born at all, that you have a job, and that compared to a lot of folks, you have a pretty darn good job.

Now take a close look at the circumstances of this good job you have.  Write down your five biggest complaints and spin them into positives.  For example, “My boss micromanages me” can be reframed as “My boss cares enough about me to step into my work when I need help.”
If you’ve truly committed to finding your first-day buzz again, you should be an awful lot closer to it now than you were ten minutes ago. 

All this rethinking and reframing has removed a HUGE energy drain from your life—one you were probably unaware of.  It takes massive amounts of energy to continually reinforce your own sense of victimhood.  Excellence is MUCH less expensive.  Now that you feel lucky instead, what on Earth are you going to do with all that energy?

How about playing the Big Game you signed up for?

What you’ve just filled yourself up with is a lion’s share of this precious thing called the human spirit, and the human spirit will not invest in mediocrity.  So play the meaningful, bighearted game you always dreamed of playing, and leave the mediocrity to others.