What are you waiting for?

I find myself frequently asking people the question “What do you want to do with your career?” When I ask this question, I am often surprised by their response, as many of them either don’t know, or have not considered thinking about their options in awhile. The next question I typically ask them is “What are you waiting for to determine what you want to do with your career going forward?”

The second question isn’t generally a question they have been asked, or at not least recently, so I often feel like I catch people off guard when I ask this question. However, for context, I ask these questions when I hear people making declarative statements about not being happy or fulfilled with the work they are doing, or the career they have chosen to pursue.

When someone shares with me their dissatisfaction with their current career, I will then ask them if they were the one who decided to pursue this career, or if they were advised to do so. More often than not, the response to this question is that someone suggested they should pursue the career they are in. Of course, the person or people who recommended a career path generally had good intentions with their advice, but not always. For example, I am amazed by how many times I have heard a sales professional tell me they feel stuck and unfulfilled in their role. When I ask them why they feel this way, the response is typically that someone told them they should go into sales to make lots of money.

Sure, making lots of money isn’t a terrible scenario to be in, but what if you are miserable in this role? Feel trapped in it? Or worse, that you don’t feel like you have any alternative options? The good news is that we always have alternative solutions, and that we might simply need to be a bit more creative with thinking about what they are.

A common thread I find in speaking with people who are in sales roles, is not that they are unhappy with their career, it is that they took the “easy route”. Or, essentially allowed someone else to influence what their career path would look like. Sometimes it feels easier to do this, but in the long run, not everyone is going to be highly satisfied in a sales role, or fill-in-the blank for whatever role you are in and feel this way too.

Thinking about what you like to do, are good at, and can make a reasonable living doing is quite the tri-fetor equation to get right. We also know many people who don’t get this right. Perhaps not the first time, but in the last few decades it has been more common for people to have multiple career types. So, if the first career you choose isn’t the right match for you, you can take solace in knowing you are in good company with many others who have already been in your situation, and likely have advice for you. However, if they don’t, I’ve got you covered and will share some options for you to consider.

Now, let’s get back to reconsidering what you are waiting for if you are not satisfied with the current occupation you are in. If someone hasn’t asked you this question, I will. “What are you waiting for to make the change to be focused on being in a career you would be more satisfied with?” If you are waiting for someone to give you permission; which you don’t need, but if it’s helpful, I’m giving you permission to begin exploring options to do something different than the career you are currently in.

What does exploring options involve? It could be as simple as thinking about what activities or hobbies do you have that bring you joy, or that you are naturally good at? When you think back to when you were less than 10 years old, what did you find held your attention? Considering these few questions can help to provide you with valuable insight into the core essence of things in your life you may not have considered, and that can have a positive influence on your path forward direction.

For me personally, I think back to when I was making my decision to choose a major in college. I chose my major based on the fact it was going to be something that would hold my interest, and also that it was a practical choice, as I could always find employment, and a variety of options in terms of how I would use my skills. My major was focused on communication, and my minor was focused on psychology, and I found that the combination makes a great deal of sense to me. Fast forward to today, and I am still actively leveraging both of these areas that I studied decades ago, and they continue to hold my attention as my career has changed over time.

Whether you are early on, or well into your current career, I want to re-emphasize that you always have options to change your career. Below are some suggestions to consider to help you to become more comfortable with making the shift towards this becoming a reality, if this is something you are committed to doing.

  • Do you know what your top abilities are? If not, there a many options out there to explore to help you to determine what they are. I have a few favorites, but I’m not going to bias your decision.
  • If you had a day to do exactly what you wanted to do every minute of that day, what would you be doing? There should be some clues provided to you by thinking about this, in terms of having a better understanding of what holds your attention. Perhaps this attention could be directed towards a different career?
  • Ask 5-10 people in your personal and professional network to tell you what they see and appreciate your talents and abilities are. Is there a pattern in the responses you are seeing?
  • When you were younger, was there a profession you always told people I want to be “x” when I grow up? Surprisingly, you may have been more aware of what you wanted to do when you were quite young. Sometimes we lose our ability to perceive ourselves well as we become older, as this information is either clouded or dismissed if your talents are not pursued or developed past an initial level of competence.
  • Have you always admired someone who seems to have an ideal career or professional expertise that is well aligned with their talents?
  • Could you see yourself having that kind of alignment with your talents either in that career or a different one?
  • The expression “the grass is always greener” may not always be true. There are people who are exceptionally happy in their career. If you know some people who fall into this group, consider asking them how they determined their career would make them so happy or satisfied?

If you have made it to this point in my article, I hope I have provided you with some inspiration to do something different about the career you are in, and perhaps unsatisfied with.  You don’t have to be in this situation, but only you can decide if you are going to do something about this. Or, if you are going to continue to wallow in your lack of contentment. Which decision will you make?

TAGS: #Business #Careerdevelopment #Personaldevelopment #Career #Leadership #Sales #Salesprofessionals #Salesprofessional #Strategy #Salespro #Salesleader #Teams #Careeradvice #Careeroptions #HRprofessional #Humanresources #HR

Why are you on that team?

Yesterday I was watching a live sporting event, and I was intrigued by what I was anticipating on seeing. The reason I was intrigued had to do with the fact I have an allegiance to both teams, and because one of the teams isn’t performing at a level they could be. Yes, I’m being polite, but as I was watching the underperforming team, I was looking for certain clues that would provide me with insight about why their performance results were disappointing.

The thing that I really like about watching and working with sports teams is that no one ever shows up on game day and announces that they can’t wait to lose today! This is probably the single element that is highly appealing to working with a sports team versus a corporate team, as you know exactly what the motivation of each team member is. Yes, corporate teams can tell you individually and collectively that they want to be successful, but there are many elements which can impede this and their ability to make this happen.

The corporate team leader is also included in the equation of doing their best to bring out top results in their team, but there is something they lack, and which sports teams’ leaders have an advantage over them. What is it? It is a singular focus during their performance on “game day” that everyone has an opportunity to rally to bring their “A” game. Sure, there are opportunities for corporate teams to rally to do this too, but not nearly as many, and realistically they are not motivated the same way sports teams are.

As I was watching the two teams compete yesterday, I took notes on what I was seeing both teams and their coaches exhibit as behaviors which contributed to what was happening on the field. Was there a difference between the two teams? There absolutely was. Was it obvious? Let’s just say there were glimpses of what was obvious, and if you were not paying attention, you might have missed what was contributing to each teams unmeasured performance.

However, there were moments during the game performance when you could clearly see which team had an advantage over the team. I’m stating this with the thinking that if you didn’t know the team’s seasonal win/loss performance, you could see via my lens which team was going to win.  The funny part, was that what I was observing had nothing to do with their sport ability. It had to do with what I was observing from a leadership and team dynamics perspective.

In observing the team that has struggled to win this season, I began to wonder about what it must feel like for the team members to be on that team. Or, what challenges the coaches must be having in trying to recruit players to a team whose performance over the last two to three years has been dismal at best. Would I want to be on that team? Apparently, there are some athletes that do, or they are locked into a contract that makes it difficult for them to consider other options. Although we know that we always have options, and sometimes we just need to look harder to uncover them.

So, in thinking about why someone would lead or remain on a sports or corporate team that has disappointing performance metrics, I started thinking about the reasons they would do this. Perhaps they are eternal optimists and think their situation will turn around soon? Possibly they are comfortable with their scenario, even though from the outside it looks dreadful to observers. Or, maybe they have given up hope, and are just trying to get through a commitment they have made to being on that team, and because they fundamentally really like being with their teammates. Worse case, is that they don’t think they deserve to lead or to be on a better team.

In any of these potential scenarios, it’s entirely possible all of these could be different. However, the difference will have to be a collective difference that the majority of the team, or that the leader will need to rally the team to consider making changes to improve. Let’s face it, situations can only seriously change if people want them to, and are proactive about doing so. Especially since a team is made up of more than one person.

If you are leading or on a team whose performance isn’t what you want or expect it to be, there are some actions you can take to turn your situation around, and I have included some suggestions for you below to consider applying.

  • Some people are inspired by measuring their performance against others, for those individuals, mutually develop metrics they can realistically reach, so that they have some “small wins” to build off of.
  • For those individuals on your team who are not motivated by others performance, you will need to be more creative to determine what inspires them. Don’t be surprised by what they tell you that motivates them, and be sure to apply what you hear and tie it into performance metrics they can relate to.
  • Does your team truly know and appreciate each other? What have you done to develop your team in these areas?
  • As a leader, does your team know that you sincerely care about them succeeding? Do you tell or demonstrate this appropriately and on a consistent basis?
  • How is your attitude? If you are on an underperforming team, it’s likely not the best. What is something you could do every day to improve your attitude? A positive attitude can be contagious, and this is something you should be spreading.
  • Are you doing anything fun with your team that is unrelated to the sport or work you are doing? We are all kids at heart, and the majority of us still delight in doing fun activities from time to time. They don’t have to be expensive activities, you just need to leverage your creativity to accomplish this.
  • As a leader or individual team member, have you had any conversations with others on your team about how you would like the team to be better? Not just conversations that are complaint oriented, but ones that are infused with potential solutions.

With over several decades of experience, I have seen teams that others have given up on, or that were underperforming turn their team around when others didn’t think it would be possible to do so. Yes, there are plenty of other factors that will need to be integrated into your teams “turn-around” plan, but you need to ask yourself if you can do this, if you want to do this, or if you need someone from the outside to help you? Every team deserves to be a winning team, what’s holding you back from having your team claim this title?

TAGS: #Leadership #Teams #Success #Work #Sports #Sportsteam #Management #Teamdevelopment #Personaldevelopment #Humanresources #Hrprofessional #CEO #Teamdynamics #Motivation #Winning #Winningteams #Productiveteams #Interdependentteams #Aspirationalteam #Underperformingteam

Happiness is contagious. Now what?

With so much attention being placed on the Pandemic, and the negative aspects of it, I felt compelled to provide you with something to think about which spins the word contagious in a favorable light. So, let’s think about the possibility of happiness being something that was contagious. Perhaps it can be?

I guarantee you have noticed how being around others who are upbeat and generally positive in nature can impact how you think and feel. Both at that moment, and perhaps for a period of time afterwards. Of course, there isn’t a time limit on the length of how long the feeling of being happy can be sustained, but if you treated it like a battery, potentially it could be?

Using a battery as a metaphor, and if you were to wrap your mind around happiness being a battery that needs to be fueled, do you have some methods you could apply right now to increase your battery life? Don’t worry if you can’t think of something immediately, as I’ve got you covered, and will provide you with some suggestions.

The point I am trying to emphasize is that just like the feeling of being unhappy, or negative in any manner, you have complete control over how you feel. At least the majority of the time, and of course there will be some exceptions. However, the majority of the time, and for most people, they do have the power to infuse more happiness into their life than they may be currently doing.

Being intentional about anything you do in life is critical. I say this because I have seen too many people “glide” through their days and life, as if someone else is the “captain” of their life. Perhaps they do this because they think it is easier to let someone else control their personal and professional circumstances. Maybe, but I personally think this is a cop out, and I’m going to call them out on this.

Yes, taking control of your own circumstances and owning them can be hard to do. Especially if you are not practiced at doing this, and there may be numerous reasons or potentially excuses you have for this being the case. The point is to take full responsibility for how you feel and show up each day, and to stop assigning any blame to others for your circumstances. Again, I emphasize that I realize some people’s circumstances are extreme, but for the majority of people they are not.

As you might imagine, I’m not a big fan of excuses, and I learned early on in my life that when you make them, it becomes too easy to continue this negative pattern of behavior. So, one of the first things you need to do is to recognize this is a pattern, and then sincerely want to break it. Both as a habit, and to allow yourself permission to point your personal and professional circumstances in a more favorable direction. I also don’t want to hear you tell me that you may not deserve to be happy. I don’t buy into this type of thinking, and I’m telling you that everyone deserves to be happy.

Let’s think about a moment in time when you were feeling happy. Can you pinpoint either the reason or circumstances behind why you felt that way? Did you take any time to relish and embrace feeling this way? Or, was it a fleeting feeling? If your feeling was fleeting, think about what contributed to dampening your feeling.

One of the statements which I have noted before, but that is worth repeating is one I have routinely heard from my Mom. When I was struggling with extreme back pain both prior to and post-surgery, she told me that “I could choose to be happy”. She was right, and when I tried to think positively and leverage the concept of being grateful for what I had going well in my life, it was as if I could flip a switch in my brain and turn on the happy feeling. Yes, it was almost this easy, but it did take some practice to get it right.

Now, let’s tackle providing you with some suggestions on how you can benefit from happiness being a contagious element in your personal or professional life.

  • Commit to the fact you want to be happier. Especially if this isn’t something you regularly are.
  • Are there people in your daily life that are toxic? What can you do to minimize your contact with them, or ideally not have to deal with them at all?
  • Create a list of things that you know make you feel better. Refer to this list on a regular basis to fuel your “happiness battery”.
  • Turn off the news or other forms of media that deliver a steady stream of negative content. I made it a point in my life about 4 years ago to stop watching, reading or listening to the mainstream news, as it typically only reports on negative life circumstances.
  • Be intentional about what information you consume from a social media perspective.
  • Seek out, and surround yourself with more people who are optimistic. If you are not this way, you will need to be or work on being this way, as they won’t enjoy being around you if you are not. Yes, this could be hard to do, but it will be worth it, and people can change. They simply have to want to do so.
  • The power from the joy you will feel when you can fully embrace being happy for someone else.
  • Is someone else piloting your life personally or professionally? Ask yourself why this is occurring, and then put a plan together to take back control to pilot your own life.

The point of this story is that I am a firm believer in the fact that everyone has the right and ability to be happier in their lives, and to feel this way on a regular basis. I hope that if you don’t feel happy on a routine basis, that some of my suggestions will help support your intentions to feel this way. If none of the options work for you, then it might be time for you to consider talking to someone professionally, as our mental health and being happy isn’t something that only “other” people should enjoy.

TAGS: #Happiness #Howtobehappy #Seekinghappiness #Suggestionsonbeinghappy #Solutionstobehappy #Business #Success #Leadership #Motivation #Mentalhealth #Selfawareness #Contagioushappiness #Awareness #Perception #Business #Teams #Personaldevelopment

Reputation. What’s yours worth?

Our reputations are a curious topic to dissect. Namely because they are often in a variety of different states of how you might describe them. One of the states to describe someone’s reputation is steady. Of course, you want to be on the side of having your reputation be factoring as a positive one, but the reality is that reputations can also be fluid and delicate.

Yes, reputations can be strong too, but we know that one circumstance can be detrimental to a carefully crafted reputation built over decades. Fortunately, most people’s reputations are generally in a steady state, but I would suggest it is always wise to be strengthening it. I’m certain you would agree with this, so let’s chalk this up as a category most people can agree upon.

Reputations are earned, but sometimes a person’s reputation might be based on perception. A perception that may or may not be positive, and generally by others who you would not consider to be in your inner circle. Does it matter what others outside of your inner circle think about your reputation? It depends. You will need to take a moment to consider what value you place on your current reputation.

Although the perception of your reputation can be influenced by your own actions, sometimes outside influences will either strengthen or weaken it. For example, the people you associate with personally may have an impact on your reputation. Depending on your level of self-awareness, you may or may not be aware of whether those you associate yourself with are adding value or detracting from how others perceive you. If you don’t care about this, well my caution flag is to let me know you should at a minimum acknowledge this.

When you acknowledge factors contributing to the health and well-being of your reputation, or the opposite of this, you will be in a better place to evaluate whether decisions you have made are impacting your personal or professional paths forward. In other words, only you are the “captain” of your reputation ship, and at the end of the day, you will have to own up to how or why you are in the situation you are in.

The media is famous for showcasing the demise of people’s lives, and of course most of us will not have our misjudgments splashed in front of others. However, in smaller circles that most people operate in, it will be harder to measure the effects of something you may have overtly or inadvertently done to tarnish your personal or professional brand. I think of brand and reputation as being close cousins, and all of us would prefer to have both of these in good standing.

Let’s give some thought to what your reputation can do for you. If you have a strong and positive reputation, it can open up opportunities for you, by way of people granting you upfront trust. Trust that is given based on the perception that your strong reputation is worthy of investing in. Giving others hope also factors into someone who has built up their brand, as they will perceive that you will be able to do something favorable based on your historical track record of demonstrating this before.

So, opportunity and hope are a great starting place in terms of what having a strong reputation can do for you, but what else can it do, and how can you maintain this status? Another area that a solid reputation provides you with is having a more positive future outlook. An outlook that allows you to have a lens of seeing how to strategically capitalize on all of the experience you have gained, and which has resulted in the personal brand you have crafted. Although this might seem like a minor factor, and one which is easy to master, it’s in fact one of the most difficult things to do, short of maintaining a rock-solid reputation.

As I established that we can all agree upon the fact it is ideal to have a strong reputation both personally and professionally, it is possible to have a split reputation. One that in your personal life might be quite different from your professional life. This isn’t always the case, but I have seen people with stellar professional reputations, but have seen shades of their personal lives falling far from being described this way, and vice versa. Having a split reputation isn’t ideal, as it takes a tremendous of precious energy to hold up the good side, while balancing out the perils and impact the negative side has.

Since ideally having a more robust reputation is ideal for everyone, I have some suggestions for you to consider how to continue to enhance your reputation.

  • If you had to rate whether you are internally or externally focused in terms of helping others, on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the top rating, what rating would you give yourself? Hint, helping others is one way to enhance your all-around reputation.
  • Via a research project I am working on, one of the Sports Coaches I was interviewing told me they do not recruit “jerks”. I’ll let you be the judge of what constitutes being a jerk.
  • As I’ve written about before, “nice” isn’t a four-letter word. Yes, being nice will always enhance your reputation.
  • Make sure you are aware of how you are treating others at all times. Ask yourself, would I want to be treated this way? Sometimes you have to pause before your actions speak louder than your words.
  • Acknowledging and giving credit to others when credit is due is a powerful way of building both trust and loyalty, which in turn positively contributes to your reputation.
  • Taking the time to thank others goes along with acknowledging others who have helped or supported you. Ideally the written format of a thank you note is more powerful and longer lasting than words which can be fleeting. Perhaps consider sending a micro video thank you message.

The list of what you can do to further develop your reputation is endless, and as I like to do, I’m going to challenge you with sharing with me and others additional ways to go about accomplishing this. Especially if you are in a leadership role, as this will give you another opportunity to lead by example.

TAGS: #Leadership #Reputation #Buildingyourreputation #Howtostrengthenyourrepuration #Motivation #Business #Sportscoach #Leader

Leadership and being happy.

Yes, I feel lucky. Why? Because the state of being happy is generally something I always feel. Of course, there are exceptions, but my natural tendency to perceive the world is that the “glass is half full.” I realize that not everyone has the same outlook that I do, and I also appreciate that there are tremendous advantages because of my innate nature.

Sure, there are days when I may not be at the top of the happiness meter rating, but when I’m not, it also makes me appreciate and have perspective on the state other people feel on a regular basis.

When I was giving thought to this topic, I was surprised that I had not written about it before. Especially given that last eighteen months of everyone’s world being tipped upside down due to Covid and other non-pleasant realities. Some that we have control over, and others we do not. Fortunately, despite what some people might think, we do have more control over our respective world than they might give themselves credit for.

What I mean by this, is that everyone has choices. Perhaps not in every situation, but the majority of the time they do. Sometimes our decisions will negatively impact our future choices, but it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. In fact, having hope is one of the basic foundational aspects which can contribute to a person’s happiness level. Consider this from thinking back to a time when you made a decision which may not have been the best one. It likely caused you either to have a set-back, or was a contributor to lowering your happiness meter.

As I think back to the impact of people, and particularly leaders I have worked for, I started to notice a pattern in the leader’s demeanor. The leaders who came across as intimidating, were far less easy to approach and open up to. Conversely, the leaders who exhibited what I’ll refer to as “more human” and down to earth qualities, were the ones that I enjoyed working for, and who’s track record for business success was higher than the other type of leaders.

The other noticeable characteristic of the more successful leaders was that they outwardly appeared to be happy. This one factor alone made them easier to get along with, open up to, and trust sooner than those who didn’t have this quality. What impact did this have on the success of the business? A tremendous amount, and one of them was how they were able to establish the type of work culture you wanted to be a part of. It also made you want to help the leader to be successful, and everyone else at the company too. A true team effort, not a siloed team one that exists at many companies.

So, if you are not a naturally happy person or leader (e.g., business, sports coach), are there things you can do to change the trajectory of your outlook or alter your less than sunny disposition? Of course, there are! You simply have to be willing to want to change, and this can apply to numerous concepts. I’ll provide some suggestions on how you can go about altering your outlook, but before I do, I want to share a quick story with you.

The story is a true one, and is about a business leader I worked with. I’ll never forget the conversation we had, as I never imagined having it with him. However, what he told me at first was shocking, as I was in complete disbelief as I first heard him tell me what he said. What he told me was that he was scared to truly be who he was in his leadership role. He also expressed that he thought he needed to take on an entirely different persona in this role, and he wasn’t sure how much longer he could put on the charade of being someone who he was not.

When I asked this leader why he thought he couldn’t be himself, he said that his natural personality of being an upbeat and happy person was something he had repeatably been told wasn’t an asset. In fact, he had been told it would be a liability, and that the people he led would not take him seriously if he allowed his actual “positive” personality to shine through.  Upon hearing this, I immediately felt sad that he had been essentially negatively influenced to alter his personality based on some “so called advice” about how to be a leader.

Fast forward this conversation, and I asked this leader why he chose to accept this advice, and I asked him how it had been working for him. He told me that it wasn’t working well, and it was impacting his health and well-being. His business metrics were also being negatively impacted too. However, after having our initial conversation about him essentially exhibiting classic signs of “imposter syndrome”, mixed in with subpar advice on how to act as a leader, we continued to have conversations about how he could become more comfortable simply being himself.

If you are wondering how the story unfolded, spoiler alert, I can tell you that this leader went on to be wildly successful. People also flocked to work at his company and for him, and he is one of the happiest people I know. All because he finally embraced being the happy person he truly was.

So, as promised, below are some suggestions you can consider if you are looking to either embrace being a happier person, leader or sports coach. Why sports coaches? Because I view them as prime examples of how their leadership ability can have such a strong influence and correlation on the interactions they have with the people they lead.

  • Mindset and having a positive and open one is key. Sorry, but there are not any exceptions or shortcuts on this one.
  • Give others the benefit of the doubt, or give them a chance to succeed by helping to set them up for success. This is a quality all exceptional leaders/sports coaches possess.
  • Find ways to help other people. Especially on days you might need to pump up your happiness meter. There are numerous small things you can do on a daily basis to have this suggestion support you well.
  • Turn off the news. It generally is only providing you with negative information. This is never helpful.
  • Surround yourself with more positive people. I wrote an article about how you sometimes need to “prune” your social and business circle from time to time, as some people will creep in like weeds.
  • Seek out doing things and experiencing activities that make you happy, that are not detrimental to you (e.g., exercise, meditation, eating healthy, being outside, listen to music or an upbeat, inspirational or educational podcast).
  • How’s your attitude? Make sure you take a pulse on it from time to time, as we sometimes will need to adjust our attitude is disposition from time to time.
  • You own your happiness dial, and need to take complete ownership and not cast blame on others for the level your happiness meter is at.

The list of things you can do to contribute to increasing your happiness level is infinite, so my challenge to you is to seek out other ways you can tap into with the purpose of leveling up your happiness level. Here’s to having a new outlook on how you can be happier each day going forward.

TAGS: #Happiness #Beinghappy #Happy #Howtobehappy #Leadership #Sportscoach #Leader #Business #Success #Leadingbyexample #Impostersyndrome #Teams #Sportsteams #Influence #Positiveinfluence #Management #Strategy

Purpose driven. Are you?

It sure sounds noble when you are authentically able to tell someone that the type of work you are doing is either allowing you to satisfy your quest to be working on or towards a purpose. Or, seeking out what your actual purpose is. To me, this almost sounds mystical, or perhaps a bit surreal. Possibly too good to be true?

Whether someone is actually working on their purpose driven career or volunteering their time to apply it towards a cause they believe in, I think they are fortunate to feel this way. More importantly, to actively be doing something which allows them to tangibly achieve this.

Perhaps they are helping others in a variety of different methods of doing so, or they are lending their precious time to teach another person how to become better at something. It could really be a number of different scenarios which someone could associate with having a purpose driven situation.

Is there a specific time period on a person’s life when they feel they are more purpose driven?  Possibly, but they might also feel this way throughout their entire career or life, or during blocks of time over numerous decades. The point is that being a purpose-oriented person does not mean you have to dedicate your entire life or career to being this way. However, there are certainly people we can name who choose to be purpose driven throughout their career and life. Someone such as the Dali Lama comes to mind. Companies such as Patagonia and Riverford Organic Farmers are outwardly focused on who they serve, and what good they can apply to society via the services or products they have to offer.

When I was starting out in my career, I worked for Staples the Office Superstore. What I liked about their business model was that they were attempting to re-engineer the office supply industry. Staples did this because they realized that consumers were being taken advantage of, and had been paying ridiculous pricing for all of their standard office supplies. Prices in fact that were embarrassingly high, and in some cases absurd.

At the time when Staples founders Tom Stemberg and Leo Kahn set-out to retool this industry, they did so based on finding a market segment that had been exploiting consumers for decades. Both sadly and ironically, many of these stores were locally owned stores that were servicing the small to medium sized business markets. Occasionally larger companies, but those were mainly being serviced by companies such as WB Mason.

My point is that when I first started working at Staples in their headquarters office in Newton, MA, I felt that the company had a mission and purpose I could feel good about. I felt that they were like the modern-day version of your favorite childhood story correcting a situation of the “little business owner” being taken advantage of. Better yet, giving them an actual fighting chance to compete, based on the fact they were not having to allocate such high dollar amounts to purchasing their office supplies and equipment.

I can’t honestly tell you that I intentionally went to work for Staples due to the noble and purpose driven approach they embodied, but I was fortunate to learn about this concept early on in my career. In fact, it significantly altered the course of my career from that point on, but more so in the past decade when I became more reflective on the importance of being purpose driven. Yes, on a daily and regular basis.

If you are curious about how you can orient yourself to being more purpose driven either personally or professionally, I have some suggestions for you to consider to accomplish heading in this direction.

  • What is truly important to you? Is it your health, family, the environment? Start with recognizing what this is. It should be obvious, but perhaps not, if you have not taken the time to contemplate this before.
  • Once you identify what is important to you, do you have the skills, or a particular skill that will lend itself well to help you to work towards either finding a company, career or volunteer opportunity to align with?
  • Have you considered how you will feel differently when you are focusing your time and attention on being purpose driven?
  • Are there perhaps clues from your past of activities you have been involved with, or people who you know who inspired and brought out the purpose driven mentality in you?
  • If you have to list 2-5 things you are truly passionate about, what would they be? Are they things or activities, or people you regularly are involved with, or on a periodic basis?
  • When was the last time you felt that you were in 100% alignment with any kind of purpose? Is it possible you have not figured out what your purpose is yet?
  • Let’s assume you know what your best talents are. Are you using them in diversified ways, or only for a singular type of career or in your personal life some way?
  • If you were to architect your perfect day, what would it look like? Have you ever stopped to consider what this day might include you doing or who or where you would be on this day? Some of your answers might also provide insight into what would be drivers in seeking your purpose.

Everyone has a purpose. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to figure out what their purpose is early on in life. I challenge you to do this. Don’t worry about how long it might take to do this, or how difficult it might be to do so. When you figure out what your purpose is, it will be worth every ounce of energy your expended to do so. I guarantee this, and welcome you to reach out to me to discuss how I can help you to find your purpose.

TAGS: #Purpose #Purposefulthinking #Inspiration #Mentoring #Leadership #Coaching #Business #Success #Purposedriven #Findyourpurpose #Findingmypurpose #Howtofindmypurpose

Reflection – the advantage of it in business, sports & managing others

For those of you who are also Brene Brown fans, you will appreciate what I will be sharing with you, as the context of what I will be revealing to you is based on over countless hours of research I have been doing during the last year. Most people are not aware of the fact I was working on this project, but it is one of the most gratifying projects I have worked on.

So, who and what was I researching? I have been interviewing sports coaches around the country, and added a coach from South Africa to the mix a few weeks ago. The coaches cover over a dozen different sports, are a mix of women and men, and they are coaching at the Professional (e.g., NFL, NBA, MLL, USTA), Olympic, College and High School levels. On average, the coaches have been in their role for a decade, and they represent a significant enough amount of States.

I am still conducting my research, but I recently analyzed the results from the coaches I have already spoken to. If I were to summarize what I am attempting to determine via this research is the coaches “why”. In other words, “why do they coach?”

If you happen to be a coach or perhaps a leader in the business world who is reading this, I guarantee you would agree that coaches and leaders share numerous characteristics. One of them is the reason why they enjoy leading others. Yes, you might be surprised by the majority of their responses, but the title of this article also provides you with a large clue about the direction the research outcome is heading.

As you are aware, the process of reflection is something that takes time. Time to devote to going through the process of being reflective, and also having a reason to do so.

Most surprisingly was the fact that the majority of the coaches had not taken the time to reflect upon or verbally convey their “why” they coach others. However, after sharing their “why” with me, all of them said they were pleasantly surprised they had not gone through this experience before, as they found it to be both therapeutic and paid tribute to all of the years they have devoted to coaching.

One of the words I repeatably heard from coaches was that coaching is similar to a “calling”. It was something they felt compelled they needed to do. Others articulated that they became a coach because of the experience and incredible life lessons they gained from their coaches, and they wanted to give this “gift” back to others.

Since being reflective does require you take time to capitalize on the advantages of doing so, why don’t more people do this? Especially leaders, people managing others and of course coaches too? It seems simple enough to do. However, it also requires being able to ask the right questions to be able to get to the deepest level possible of response reflection. It’s when you reach the true depths of being highly reflective, that you gain the positive attributes from doing so.

If you are curious about who you could be more reflective, or perhaps help someone else to be this way, I have included some suggestions below about how to accomplish doing this.

  • Simon Sinek is the person attributed to having people think about what their “why” is. Someone’s why can be associated with any number of different questions, but for the sake of this article, let’s have it focus on the aspect of “why” you lead, manage, mentor, or coach (e.g., sports) others? Take a few moments to write down, or think about why you do this.
  • After you have thought about or crafted your “why” relating to the point above, consider whether you want to share this information with someone else? Perhaps your team?
  • Factor in the benefits of others knowing and appreciating what your “why” is from having reflected upon thinking about this. Can you name what they are?
  • Consider the reasons you might not have taken the time to be reflective. Were you concerned that if you did this, that it would be a negative or positive experience?
  • Can you help someone else to take advantage of the powers of being reflective in their leadership, management or sports coach role?

I’m still looking for Sports Coaches to interview, so if you fall into one of the categories I noted that meet the criteria for me to be interviewed, I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

What will you get out of this? I’ll be sharing the results of my Sports Coach Research Project with all of the Sports Coaches who participated. The coaches will gain new insights from other coaches, and can potentially apply them to their team to benefit from too. Keep in mind, many of these coaches are well known for their winning records, but more importantly, for being the type of coach that every athlete desires to be coached by.

TAGS: #Leadership #Teams #SportsCoaches #Management #Success #Reflection #Theadvantagesofbeingreflective #Business #Sports #SportsCoachResearchProject #Athlete #Athletes #BreneBrown

Influence. How’s yours?

There are some skills we possess which can take years to master. Having influence can be one of them, but there are people who are more naturally inclined to excel with having it than others. The people who are comfortable with possessing influence as one of their skills don’t always maximize their use of it. However, the ones that do, and leverage it for the greater good of our society really stand out.  

The list of people in our global society that I admire and who have appealing influence are ones who apply their skill to help others on a regular basis. Often unselfishly, and most of these people are not household brand names. They are the people we have in our lives who regularly apply their influence in both creative and beneficial means with the intent for others to benefit from.

Examples of the type of influence I am considering include people who are amazing at organizing others to rally for positive causes. Both locally and beyond their region when it makes sense to do so. Think of community gardens so food is truly local, beekeeping to help veterans with PTSD and causes which awaken us to becoming more socially and environmentally conscious. All of this occurring while we are individually considering how we can leverage our natural resources better. Even better, while also assisting others in need on a more regular basis.

Another example which comes to mind are the influencers who called out the inequities of education, and who looked for solutions to address this as another challenge the Pandemic exacerbated. They were able to clearly showcase how not everyone had a “level-playing-field” when it came time to home school their children. Yes, we knew this prior to Covid, but because of having to home school for a long period of time, young people without the right home-schooling infrastructure were put at a greater risk of falling behind educationally. Based on research, we know what occurs when this happens, unless the situation is addressed.

During the early days of the Pandemic in 2020, there were people I saw in the news who were rallying and coordinating others in their community to help people who were also “food insecure”. Unfortunately, we also know that food insecurity isn’t a Pandemic only challenge. However, the Pandemic certainly put a brighter spotlight on this situation to be addressed both locally and in every state in the country. One of the outcomes influencers had in this area was to attempt to change the mindset of people in their community. To actually seriously take the position of considering everyone as our neighbor and to help those in need. No exceptions.

Having worked in the technology industry for decades, I saw the type of influence leaders could have on both those they lead, and the customers who were the early adopters of the technology solutions we were promoting. As a former marketing professional, I also saw early in my career the way that public relations could shape the thinking of those we were targeting our communications to. Depending on how influential our messaging was, and whether we were able to impact influential press members about our solution as the one they would write about, played a significant role in the initial success of a product or service.

It was eye opening for me to see how powerful the right influence can shape the outcome and trajectory of your success. Granted we know strong first impressions are critical with your ability to influence others, but sometimes you might have an opportunity to circle back and make a second attempt of getting your influence pointed in the right direction. Not always, so it’s critical to be strategic with your thinking and influence execution.

If you are wondering what you can do to either enhance your influence, or begin heading in a direction to positively influence others, below are some suggestions about how to do this.

  • Authentically consider something you are passionate about. If you are not truly passionate about something, your ability to truly be influential will be reduced.
  • Are you comfortable with having your opinion be known? When you set out to influence others, you are going to need to be ready to potentially confront both verbal and written criticism. In other words, having a “thick skin” can be beneficial, but it is not a requirement.
  • It takes energy to influence others. Ask yourself if you truly have the energy it will take to follow through with your plans to be influential.
  • Being consistent with your messaging and actions are going to be critical components to your influence having the impact you want it to have. Can you commit to being consistent and ensure your messaging is going to work for you and others?
  • Is there someone you admire and can approach about how they became an influential person?
  • After identifying at least one person who is influencing people or causes in the manner you are comfortable with, ask them if you can have them help to instruct you on the area you are interested in being known for or influencing.
  • Not everyone feels comfortable taking on the role of influencing others or causes. However, influencing others doesn’t always mean you have to do this for long stretches of time. There may be situations that are more like influential sprints versus marathons.
  • Always factor in how you envision the outcome of your influence. This will make it easier to rally others when you are describing what you are accomplishing to do, and for them to determine if they can also get behind and support what you are attempting to influence.

Like a coin, influence has two sides. Make sure the influence you are choosing to have is on the side you are proud of representing. Otherwise, living with knowing your influence either doesn’t have the best intentions, or can be harmful to others is something you will have to wrap your conscious around. If your influence can have a positive impact on others, I see this as one of the best gifts we can give to one another.  Cheers to making this happen.

TAGS: #Influence #PositiveInfluence #Leadership #Management #Howtopositivelyinfluenceothers #RoleModel #PositiveSociety

Need a crystal ball?

Many people right now are more focused on the future than they have been. For some, the future always seemed to present a clear path forward. However, right now, we are living at a time when at best, our current future is in a state of limbo, or perhaps as clear as mud.

Uncertainty can evoke a heightened sense of anxiety, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, the present time with our future outlook in the state it is presents us with an opportunity. An opportunity to reframe, reconsider and reimagine how we would like our future to be shaped. The fact most people in the US are in some form quarantine right now, allows us to have contemplative time we do not ordinarily have.

I have always been fascinated with people who are classified as futurists, as they mesmerize me with the way they describe the “what if” or “what could be” happening in the future.  I’m not a futurist, but have been often classified as a “creative” or “muse”. Coming from a lineage of inventors and creatives in my family, I am using the downtime I have now to retool a number of things in my life. I consider this time a great gift, and one that I encourage others to perceive as well.

Yes, many people right now are clearly suffering. Statistically around twenty-five percent of our country has lost their job. Neither of these are experiences people normally want to have. However, having a different perspective on what is happening to all of us collectively right now, as a society is one of the gifts this time period is bestowing upon us.

It’s easy to be negative during times of despair. However, this is precisely the time when we all need to dig a little deeper, with the intent of finding the “silver lining” we can all benefit from seeing.

If you are struggling to imagine how your life could be better right now, given the fact you might be in a situation you never imagined being in, here are some suggestions on how to take back some control in your life.

  • Although most of us are not allowed to go anywhere except for the grocery store and pharmacy, it doesn’t mean we can’t go anywhere. Or, perhaps not physically. However, it does mean if you have internet access, there are amazing websites that offer ways for you to experience virtually what they have to offer. As an example, here is a link to twelve virtual museum tours https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours
  • I don’t have any musical talent, but many people do. If you do, consider sharing your gift of being musical with others by inviting them to a virtual “concert”. Starring you! Don’t forget to invite me please.
  • A number of people have talents that lend themselves well to sharing with others (e.g., drawing, painting, DJing, cooking, sewing, code writing, wood working, sculpting, physical fitness instruction, repairing things). This list could be an enormous one, so I’m asking you to consider how you can share your talents with others. Although I don’t consider my writing to be a special talent, I do consider it something I can at least share with others.
  • Many people are living alone right now. Consider giving them a call, or perhaps Zooming with them for a virtual chat to engage with them socially. Both parties will gain enormous benefit from this. Make a list of people you can queue up with each week to do this, and consider doing this even when we are not quarantined.
  • If you are someone who has been called a “futurist”, consider sharing your outlook with the rest of us who would love to hear about how you are perceiving our future to be shaping up.
  • If you are not an organized person, this is the perfect time to take back some control in your life. I literally started with the top drawer in my bedroom dresser. I liked the results so much, that I continued to organize the rest of my drawers. Now I love opening up the drawers and seeing how organized everything looks!
  • Reach out to people on LinkedIn, or in any of your social networks that you have always wanted to reach out to. It could be for the purposes of learning more about the career they are in, or to plant the seed to connect again with them once our world gets back to our “new normal”, and we are all back at work.
  • Although you may have lost your job, there are still many people who are working. Ask them how you can help them and offer to do something for them with the extra time you have, especially people working on the “front lines” of our pandemic. It could be offering to go shopping for them, walk their dog or make something for them.
  • Think about your future differently. You have the time to do that right now. Write down, draw or talk to someone about how you would like to reshape or head the direction of your future in. You have nothing to lose doing this, and possibly everything to gain.
  • Take time to let others in your life know that you appreciate them. Write them a note, tell them, send them a video expressing how you feel positively about them. Yes, they will appreciate you doing this, and you could start a positive chain reaction and be the example for others to do this too.

We can all use a dose of positivity in our lives right now. Despite the fact many people’s circumstances may appear to be bleak, I can assure you this situation is only temporary, and we will at some point be back to a place where this time is a distant memory. Make the best use of the time you have right now. I know I’m trying to do so, so please join me in doing that too.  

 Tags: #pandemic #optimism #inspiration #business #hope #motivation #leadership #quarantined #imagination #future #crystalball

How are your people management skills?

Thinking back to the first time I was responsible for managing someone, I remember feeling a tremendous sense of being the best boss possible boss I could be. This of course was despite my limited experience in this area. However, when I factored in thinking about the myriad of opportunities to practice managing someone, while being the boss, it became less of an intimidating situation. Perhaps for both of us.

Fast forward in time close to thirty years since having first managed the person I was referring to. The fact I recently heard from this person after three decades was an incredible moment, and not one I expected to occur. What was even more surprising was the fact this person sent me a thank you note for being their boss! It goes to show you there is no time limit on thanking someone, and this is a topic I have previously written about.

In the note from the person I first managed, they shared with me that I was a highly supportive and nurturing boss, and that they were surprised I took a chance on hiring them. They also commented on how hiring them changed their life, and influenced the career direction they ended up pursuing. I never knew any of these facts until recently. My point is that even when I was a freshly minted boss, it was possible to have a positive impact on managing someone and their career.

Until I received the email via a LinkedIn message from this person, I had not considered how early in my career my people management skills would continue to be an asset to both me, and the people I have had the responsibility and honor of managing. Being completely honest, there were times when I recall managing this person that I was unsure of whether I was able to properly guide them. However, each time I felt that way, I had a conversation with myself to remind me that managing someone is actually a two-way process. This made me feel much better when I acknowledged that I was only half of the equation and the outcome results.

When I stopped to consider where I sourced my own people management skills from, I would have to say some of them were modeled by my parents. For the first five to six years of my career, I also learned through observing my bosses how to manage others. Of course, some of my bosses were far better at people management skills than others. Understanding both optimal and sub optimal ways of applying or learning these skills will serve you equally well.

Below are some of my acquired and own methods for how to improve your people management skills.

  • This can apply to both work and life situations, and is a foundational piece of advice to launch from. I know you have heard this before, but it’s not always practiced as well as it should be. Without exception, always treat the person you are managing the way you would want to be treated.
  • People are constantly surprising us with what they do and say. Sometimes this is a positive experience, but if it’s not, consider asking the person “Why did they do or say what they did?” When you ask someone to provide insight to better understand their behavior, it generally offers a teachable moment for you to help them see how they could have handled the situation differently.
  • How often do you praise someone? Often times managers neglect considering how a simple thank you, or positive acknowledgment of a small accomplishment can make someone’s day.
  • Have you considered what adjectives people would use to describe your human engagement skills? Sometimes our perceptions are quite different than the reality of how we are appearing to interact with others. Chances are if this is the case, you may not be aware that this is an area for course correction. If this is a problem area for you, it could also be why you have not, or might not advance into upper management roles.
  • Consider what you have done either in the past, or recently to improve your people management skills. Have you proactively worked on being self-aware of the importance of doing this?
  • Think about people who you would classify as having naturally gifted abilities in managing other people well. Is it possible for you to be mentored by them? Remember the importance of having a mentor, and this applies to all stages of your career. 
  • There are tremendous benefits granted to those who master being highly skilled people managers. They are often fast tracked in their careers, are more satisfied professionally with their roles, have a larger professional network to tap into when they need to do so, and are considered for roles over other people who might be more qualified technically, but are lacking in their human management skills.

This is a rich and ever evolving topic. It is also a subject that you will always benefit from any investment you make in yourself to improve how you interact with others, either personally or professionally.

Tags: #Success #Mentorship #PeopleManagementSkills #Business #Howtodevelopyourpeoplemanagementskills #Business #Sales #Management #Leadership #HumanResources #HumanCapital #Tipsonhowtoimprovepeoplemanagementskills #Strategy

Being friendly. Are you really?

I’m sure many of you have experienced the passing of one of your furry loved ones. Our furry loved one passed away this week. His name was Ollie, and he was a nine-year-old Goldendoodle. Ollie was by my side the majority of any day. Family, friends and clients all knew about Ollie and his many entertaining idiosyncrasies. My favorite one was his ability to walk upstairs backwards, and yes, we have this on video.  

Never did I imagine how gut wrenchingly sad I would feel after Ollie passed. Of course, the reality is I didn’t ever want to think about this day happening. Who would?

As I was reflecting on Ollie’s life, I thought about one of the aspects of his personality that was so endearing. It was the fact he was always happy, and happy to see you. Even if he just saw you five minutes ago and you left the room and came back. He also knew when you needed to be cheered up, and precisely how to do so. This is a remarkable quality that he had, and I realize many other dogs, and some others pets do too.

To say that I am going to miss Ollie would be a gross understatement, and yet, at the same time, I remind myself about how fortunate I was to have him in my life. Not everyone has had the opportunity to experience what it is like to have a pet in their lives that makes them feel the pure joy and love they bestow upon you. However, I wish everyone could have this experience.

Switching gears and refocusing our attention back on the question I posed about whether you are a friendly person, do you know if you truly are one? Perhaps you have been told by others that you are? Or, maybe you think you are, but this hasn’t been overtly confirmed by many others. At least not verbally.

Let’s face it. We know that not everyone is in fact friendly, and I’m sure we could also agree upon the fact there are various levels of being this way. One of the things I often consider as it relates to whether people are friendly, is whether this is a trait that we are born with? Or, perhaps one that we develop as an attribute of our personality as it evolves?

Focusing on yourself, think back to when you were a pre-teen. Do you have memories of being a friendly person? Yes, I will acknowledge its possible people’s circumstances in life may in fact interfere with them being as friendly as they could, but let’s take this out of the measurement equation.

According to some research I did, there have been studies which set out to determine if you could measure a person’s level of friendliness. In fact, there was a study done in the early 1980’s by J.M. Reisman called SACRAL, and it was designed to interpret and measure people’s level of friendliness. It included a 40-item questionnaire that both college students and children participated in.

The net result of the SACRAL study was that the majority of people rated themselves as friendly. However, the scores suggested otherwise, and that not everyone is in fact friendly. This isn’t earth shattering news, but was interesting to know there is a methodology to rate and interpret people’s level of friendliness.

Although I did seek to find more recent studies about measuring friendliness, there didn’t appear to be much data. So, I looked further back in time, and found another study published in 1968. It was conducted by Karl B. Zucker and Daniel C. Jordan, and was called “The Paired Hands Test: A technique for measuring friendliness”. According to what I read, this test is still considered to be a quick, objective and easily administered technique to reliably and with validity be used as a friendliness measurement tool.

Now that we know there are in fact tools to measure friendliness, below are some other ways you can determine if you, or others you know, or encounter are friendly.

  • Are you naturally curious about others, and when you meet them, do you truly ask them questions that allow you to get to know them better? Hint. If you are friendly, you would do this on a regular basis.
  • Although not everyone may feel their sixth sense or intuition is fully operational at all times, the majority of people can sense whether another person is friendly by both their body and verbal language. In other words, we might refer to someone having a friendly vibe. This is a fairly easy one to determine.
  • Another aspect which can contribute to the level of someone’s friendliness, is how genuine they are. Yes, this can be a subjective measurement, and will again require you to rely upon your instincts to help you to determine this when you first meet someone. However, as you get to know a person, it will be obvious whether they are or are not a genuine person. Genuine people would be classified as friendly.
  • Yes, we can all have days when we are not ourselves, and perhaps be described as moody. However, friendly people typically are seldomly moody.
  • You will also notice that most friendly people are also often kind people, and will regularly do nice things for other people. Often the nice things friendly people do for others may not even be seen or known about by others. Why? Because friendly people are not driven by needing to be rewarded for being and acting this way.

If you don’t think you are a friendly person, or have wondered why others who are that way, and behave the way they do, I hope my insight above can help you to understand friendly people better. Perhaps you could get to know more of them, as I’m 100% confident we could all benefit from having more friendly people in our lives.

One more thing. I want to conclude by saying that I sincerely hope that you have an opportunity to have an “Ollie” in your life at some point too. I’m sure going to miss him, but I have a sense he will forever be with me in my heart and soul.

Tags: #Dogs #Pets #Friendly #Friendliness #Genuineness #Relationships #Inspiration #Deathofapet #Passingofapet #Grievingapetsloss

Are you misunderstood?

What if you woke up today and had the experience all day that everything you did, and everyone you encountered fully appreciated and understood and was in support of what you were doing and what you were saying? Wouldn’t this be a wonderful day? I’m certain some of you may have encountered this experience, but was it sustainable?

Most of us have routines we rely upon to get us through the day, week or month. Even if it isn’t a formal routine, the majority of humans are creatures of habit. For me personally, I know I have a morning routine I like to go through. It includes reading, a short meditation (e.g., under 11 minutes), having a cup of coffee and breakfast, creating my list of items to accomplish for the day, and walking my dog. This all happens prior to diving into my other routines and before I start my work day.

To accomplish my routine, I normally get up before other people in my family. I do this so I can appreciate the quiet time in the morning. I also believe this time especially prepares me well for the rest of what lies ahead on my schedule.

Some of my family members don’t know that I have this routine, and if they did, and now they will, they may or may not be surprised by it. Since my family knows me well, they know I am not fazed by what other people think. Or, that I would be concerned about other people’s opinions of their perception of me. I’ve always been this way, and I attribute it to having an innate level of confidence that allows me to be this way.

Not being constrained by what other people think is truly freeing. My Mom loves to tell the story of when I was in elementary school, how I would always put outfits together that in her opinion were highly questionable from a fashion sense. At that point in my life, I didn’t even know what the word “fashion” meant. All I was concerned about was whether I liked the colors, patterns and way the clothes I picked out made me feel happy.

As an adult, I still tend to dress this way with complete abandon of what others will think of my fashion choices. I eventually realized that fashion was an extension and expression of who you are, or could be, and learning this was a complete delight. Can you relate to this? Perhaps another analogy would be more suitable, but you get my point.

So, are there ways to be better understood? Of course, there are, and I’ll share with you some ways to help you to feel more this way.

  • How would you describe yourself in a few sentences or paragraphs?
  • What would be the key words you would use to express what makes you be you?
  • Have you considered what motivates you? Break this down into categories such as your life, work or with the team you are on. Can you see patterns in these category comparisons?
  • If you feel misunderstood, have you thought about whether you feel this way due to a situation you are in, or would you say you always feel this way? If you feel this way situationally, have you factored in whether you are misunderstood because others don’t really know you, or value the skills or experience you bring to the scenario?
  • Have you fairly given others an opportunity to get to know you? Is it possible you have not expressed or communicated enough with others about who you are? Perhaps they are judging you unfairly based on a lack of fully appreciating who you are?
  • In a team situation, do you have someone on the team who would always advocate for you? In other words, do you have an internal champion or someone who will always represent you favorably to others?
  • If you don’t have someone who would play the role of your “champion” or personal public relations representative, is there someone you know that could do so?
  • Finding someone to be your “champion” is easier than you might think, as it is likely someone who already holds you in high regard. Having a conversation with this “champion” about your need for them to help support you, even temporarily can turn around the perceptions of others who don’t understand you quickly. I’ve seen this happen repeatably.
  • Visualize what it will be like from all the aspects of your life that you feel misunderstood, and what it will be like when everyone finally understands who you are. Better yet, imagine how amazing you will feel when you get to the place of feeling understood. Even if at first it is simply in one situation.

One of my aspirations in life is to have everyone I encounter feel fully understood and appreciated by others. If you know me, I hope I have been able to help you with this challenge if it is one you were facing. If I don’t know you, I’m hoping the tips I shared with you above can start you on your way to feeling understood by others.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coachauthor of Wisdom Whisperer  and Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer (published in December 2019)and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances. She also is the creator and Host of a TV Show and Podcast called Murf & E Unfiltered – Zero BS Biz Talk.

Essentially every team is dysfunctional in some way. Our expertise is in uniting, motivating and bridging dysfunctional teams (sports & business), and turning them into epic ones.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Our coaching produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally. Need proof? Just talk to our clients, or read through our testimonials.

If you want better and different results, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.

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Who or what did you lead today?

I was recently speaking to a woman who told me she could never be a leader. I asked her why she thought this, and she told me that she is an introvert, and doesn’t enjoy interacting with people at the level she perceives leaders need to do so. Knowing what I did about this person, I followed on with another question about whether she thought she had some leadership qualities? This was a rhetorical question, as she did. Although she didn’t recognize them as such.

The woman I was speaking with works with a leadership team. I saw first-hand how she interacts with the leaders she works with, and I can assure you, she could be a leader if she desired to be one. When I shared with her that I saw her exhibiting leadership qualities, it was as if I was telling her the funniest joke she had ever heard. Her response surprised me, but I also realized that her perception of herself was skewed from the reality of how others perceived her.

My perception of her was that she was highly confident, and was interacting with those she supported at an equal level. She commanded respect, and it was obvious that it was reciprocated.  However, her perception of herself bothered me. So, naturally, I took this as an opening to have a conversation with her about what I was seeing.

At first when I mentioned to her how impressed I was with how she interacted with the leadership team she supported, she seemed embarrassed that I made this comment. After another moment of having my words sink-in, she said she couldn’t imagine being one. It was at this point that I revealed to her that she had leadership characteristics that she was not acknowledging, but that were clearly there.

Over the last several decades, I have had the good fortune of being able to work with, and guide leaders, and those that they lead.  One of the most fascinating experiences I repeatably have, is how most of the leaders will reveal to me that they often feel like they question their decisions and actions. I will also share with you that they do not ever come across as being unsure of what they are saying or doing. Are they faking their confidence level, and accomplishing this by choosing certain words and how their body language outwardly conveys leadership characteristics? Yes, and no.

Yes, most seasoned leaders have mastered how to “act” like a leader, and the ones who are newer to leadership roles, are doing the best they can to mimic the qualities they perceive other leaders exhibit. The point is that although leaders may appear as if they have figured out exactly how to be a strong leader, most of them are still doing what the medical and legal fields commonly reference, and cite that they are “practicing” their profession.  

So, are there ways to learn how to become a better leader? Sure, there are, but the question you should be asking is, are the leaders making the investment in themselves to learn how to be a better leader? Or, if you were to ask a leader what they have done recently to become a better leader, most will find it challenging to respond in a way that you would rate as a satisfactory answer. Although there are exceptions to every circumstance, so not all leaders fall into this category.

The good news is that most leaders are at least aware they should be doing something to strengthen their leadership skills, but they may not prioritize this at the level you might expect them to. Why? Well for one thing, they are extremely time constrained, are responsible for many people they lead, and are continuously trying to strike a balance of meeting the requirements others demand they meet, while also helping those they lead to reach the K.P.I.’s (keep performing indicators), and financial goals they are ultimately responsible for.

If you think you have what would be considered leadership qualities, I want you to consider thinking about what are you doing to personally and professionally develop them? You do not need to be the CEO of a company to be a leader, but you do need to embrace the responsibilities that come with taking on this role. Even if it means you are leading a professional or personal project that others are counting on you to accomplish and do well.

Let’s circle back to thinking about what some of the qualities and characteristics are required to be a strong and effective leader. I’ll let you be the judge of whether as a leader you embody these qualities, have others that contribute to you being a leader, or if the leader you are being led by has any of these attributes.

  • You are an exceptionally strong listener, and have the ability to ask questions that will bring out information that will be beneficial to you and those that you lead during your conversations.
  • No one would question your integrity when it comes to making the right decisions, and to further quality this statement, the right decisions are often the most difficult ones to make.
  • Others will perceive you to be a strong role model, and yet, may not convey this to you, as they might be intimidated to do so, so be aware of this, and work on making yourself more approachable.
  • You are someone others can always count on.
  • Your ability to strategically consider all of the factors in any scenario, or defer to those who are more strategic than you are is critical to your long-term success.
  • You are openminded to hearing, and applying others input before making a final decision.
  • You are able to admit when you made a mistake.
  • You are comfortable with being yourself, and not trying to resemble another leader whose qualities and characteristics are not like your innate ones.

Being a leader is one of the most challenging roles a person can take on. It can also be one the most rewarding ones, given you are ready to take on all of the responsibilities this role comes with. No one is ever perfectly ready to assume a leadership role, but you will know when you are approaching the time when you should be one. Good luck to you on your leadership journey, and thank you for taking on this role.

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Leaders #Business #Teams #Success #Personaldevelopment #Humanresources #Leadershipqualities #Leadershipcharacteristics #Management

Is it really everyone else’s fault?

I would like to think everyone is taught the basic elements of being a responsible person, and that there will be times in their lives when they need to assume ownership of something they did wrong. Obviously, we know no one is perfect. So, given this reality, it is acceptable to assume we all make mistakes. However, why is it that some people we know don’t ever own up to an incident being something they are at fault with?

Yes, it can be enormously frustrating when you are dealing with a person in your life that is always assigning blame to others. It’s also remarkable they have zero self-awareness of the fact they are likely the reason for the negative incident occurring. Does this sound like someone you know? Or, perhaps this might be a revelation for you, and that for the first time in your life, realize perhaps it’s not always someone else’s fault.

One of the best memories I have professionally of a colleague owning up to making a mistake, was when they admitted this during a company version of a town hall meeting. In fact, they boldly stated in the middle of the company meeting that they had something they wanted to share with the rest of the company. As you can imagine, most people were caught off guard, in a good way, by this individual’s announcement.

What did the person admit making a mistake about? They told their colleagues they had made a calculation mistake in forecasting their sales number, and that it was going to have a negative impact on the rest of the sales team. Keep in mind this was an individual salesperson, and making this pronouncement was an extremely bold move. However, the outcome from making this information available to the rest of the company had an amazingly positive impact.

The impact the mistake being made, and assuming complete ownership of it at that moment in time changed the dynamics of the company culture. How? It did so because the bravery it took for this person to own up to making a mistake, and then having others support, instead of condemning them was remarkable. The others on the sales team rallied for the rest of the month to help offset the forecast mistake, and there was a renewed sense of trust that evolved. Not only for the sales team members, but for others in the company.

By this one individual owning up to making a mistake publicly, it gave permission to others to do the same thing. It also allowed their colleagues to know that if they were in the same circumstance, that they were going to be better off not assigning blame to others. Even better, was that it would acceptable to ask for support from them, especially if they made a mistake.

If you know someone, or are unsure about whether you are the type of person who constantly assigns blame to others, and never acknowledges you are at fault, here are some suggestions to help you or someone you know, reconsider owning up to their mistakes. For context, this is instead of always blaming someone else for them, or for why you were wronged.

  • Yes, this will be hard to do, but do your best to consider the other persons perspective. There is a distinct possibility theirs isn’t entirely wrong.
  • The next time you are in a situation when you would automatically blame someone else for doing something wrong, or not the way you want it to be done, think about whether in fact you might have contributed to the mistake. Realistically there is a 50% chance you may have.
  • If you are always casting blame on others, think about how is it possible for you to be right 100% of the time. The last time I checked, I have yet to come across anyone who is perfect.
  • Even if you don’t think you are to blame for being at fault for something, consider whether there is a middle ground that you and the other person involved in the situation could agree upon.
  • Now this will be going to an extreme for you if you are the type of person who always thinks they are correct, and never at fault. However, what if you considered apologizing and letting the other person or group know that you may have contributed to the situation not turning out well? I’m sure the people on the receiving end of hearing this will be pleasantly surprised, and so will you be with their reaction to your apology.
  • Just like anything we want to become excellent at doing, practicing owning up and assuming responsibility for our mistakes, acknowledging and apologizing for them is what you will have to begin doing to not be “that person” who is never wrong.

The best leaders I have worked with are humble, empathetic and very often admit they are wrong, or that they do not have all of the right solutions. They do however, embrace working collaboratively with others to find a way to agree to a solution that will work for the majority of people. Consider the next time you are about to cast blame on someone else, what this will actually accomplish.

Tags: #Business #Leadership #Leaders #Responsibility #Ownership #PeopleManagement #Teams #Management #Personaldevelopment