Taking more risks. Why don’t you?

A limited amount of people enjoy taking risks. Although some thrive on doing so. What prevents more people and leaders from experiencing the opportunity upside of risk taking?

There are a variety of risk tolerant levels people have, but most will lean towards being conservative. This isn’t such a bad thing, but I like to think about taking risks from both a strategic and possibilities perspective, versus only considering the downside of the equation.

Another way to think about how to go about taking risks is to factor in being more calculated with what the outcome can serve up, and this is where leaders will enact thinking which will help to mitigate their risk levels. They typically will have to do this because most of them are having to report their actions to others. Or have them approved prior to taking them. There is also the reality that the leaders have a level of responsibility to protecting those they lead from being intentionally put into harm’s way.

This weekend I was talking to my youngest son about safety, and how conservative his industry has become in terms of taking risk. Of course, much of this is driven by the fact our society has become so litigious. The other half of the equation has to do with people wanting to play it safer than they had even a decade ago. Why? Because they are not willing to put themselves in an outcome that could have such severe consequences. I don’t blame them, as they are choosing not to compromise their well-being over putting the company or leaders demands first.

When people choose to be more conservative in their thinking, the impact it can have on our society is interesting. It is interesting because it is the risk takers who are the ones contributing to the new inventions and discoveries which we can benefit from. In the absence of having more risk takers, and people who are willing to push the limits on what is possible, we are at risk in a different way. A way that decreases the opportunity for accelerating the timelines that the risk takers are willing to accept the outcome of.  

In terms of also thinking about why many people are risk adverse or collectively conservative is something I think about often. I even challenge myself on whether I am taking enough risks, or more calculated risks to allow me a wider path or opportunity to experience more success. Success that in my mind might be measured entirely different from others, but that is the beauty in also thinking about risk taking. It can and should be customized to your risk tolerance level. Yet, I also believe that our risk tolerance level is fluid and will be different from a timeline perspective based on the circumstances in our life or professional journey.

If I think back to when I was in my early twenties, I remember being afraid to take risks, but I did certainly take them. Some of them paid off, and others were a complete disaster. I learned from both, but more so from the ones I failed at. However, I also recall thinking at that period in my life that I understood how to thoroughly think through mitigating my risks, but the reality is that I was too young and inexperienced to do so. In crystal clear hindsight, I should have asked others for advice on some of my decisions, but I didn’t, and I accept that. I also would have greatly benefitted from having a professional mentor, but I didn’t even know that was a concept at that time. At least not from a formal perspective other than relying upon my parents.

Something which occurred to me in the last decade is how fortunate collectively we are as a society now from the perspective of having the opportunity to have others provide us with guidance. What is odd about stating this is that the reality is that we are more connected now digitally than we have been in a few decades, yet so many people are experiencing loneliness. Being in this state is certainly not conducive to taking risks, or perhaps not as many constructive ones. When someone is lonely, their thinking becomes more compromised to think and dwell upon more negative emotions and outcomes, but not entirely. I’m making a generalization, to emphasize the point that given our heightened ability to be connected digitally, people are lonelier than ever.

In my opinion, people’s experience with loneliness has more to do with the fact their connections are digital versus in person. Most of us since Covid have spent much more time digitally interacting with one another, and this is factoring being on video meetings with people. Although there is greater convenience to meeting digitally, I don’t think it serves the same level of increasing our ability to connect as in person meetings and interactions do. This is partially why leaders and employers have more recently mandated their employees to return to a hybrid office model. Why? Because yes, there are numerous other reasons for bringing people back into working together in person, but in my opinion, more meaningful connections and risk tolerance levels will go up when people connect in person.

Independent of how you would classify yourself on a risk scale, or whether you have considered why you don’t take more risks, below are some ideas and intentionally thought providing one’s for you or others you lead to consider.

  • Let’s first have you rate yourself presently on an in general risk tolerance level on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest).
  • Now, think about your rating. Is this a rating you would have given yourself 5-10 years ago?
  • If your rating is different from the past, what are the contributing factors that have made you more or less risk tolerant?
  • When you think about taking any type of risk, what is the first emotion you experience?
  • If the emotion you are experiencing is contributing to having you be either risk adverse or at a lower risk tolerance level than you would like to be at, are there tangible and realistic ways you can adjust personally or professionally to increase your risk tolerance level?
  • Assuming you want to increase your risk tolerance level, will doing so impact others you lead or who depend on you? If so, begin thinking about what are the risks you want to take that will impact others, and can you collectively come up with a solution to mitigate the risks you want to take? This will entail having to communicate your risk thinking to others.
  • Risk taking doesn’t have to be associated with negative thinking, but the way we individually think about it will contribute to whether we are willing to become more risk tolerant. This is presuming you will be practical and clearly accepting the fact you will need to think more broadly than you have about taking risks before.

There are numerous and amazing stories about leaders and sports coaches who have been willing to take a risk, or many of them. These stories can be both informative and inspiring, and not all of the stories have the ending that was desired. However, if the risks were not taken, they never would have known what was possible, and in my opinion, this would be more tragically regretful than not taking the risk.

TAGS: #Business #Teams #Teamdynamics #Leader #Leadership #Sports #Sportscoach #Coach #Risktaking #Takingrisks #Strategy #Communication #Possibilities #Culture #Risk

How is your follow-up? Most get an F.

I have always prided myself in my tenaciousness and ability to follow-up and through with what I committed to saying I would accomplish. Is this hard to do? Not for me, as I consider it both an aspect of both pride, and a representation of how I build and maintain trust with others. There is also the aspect of having the nagging feeling or thought in my mind that I need to finish what I started, or committed to doing what I said I would do.

Committing and following through on doing something is a motivating factor for me, but I realize it isn’t for everyone. I also appreciate the fact that for some people, following through on doing just about anything can seem daunting to them. Although I would add that they likely put more energy into worrying about not doing something, and could easily transfer this energy into an accomplishment. Yes, part of this is certainly a mindset challenge, but I have always found it is worth the effort to complete what you committed to doing.

There is also the aspect of how disappointing another person or a team when you do not complete what you said you would do. Perhaps some people either have good intentions and simply forget to do something, or what I would consider worse, is that they simply don’t care about whether they honor their follow-up commitment. For me personally, this strikes me as an enormous, missed opportunity for both personal and leadership growth. However, I do realize that not everyone is focused on becoming a leader, but there will be times in their life when the ability and skill to follow-up will serve them and others well.

Something which fascinates me about other people is how unaware they can be about the repercussions of them not following-up on something they committed to. Particularly when the stakes related to what they were going to follow-up on were high (e.g., sending a thank you note after meeting with a prospective employer or sports coach whose team you want to be on.). Another dimension to my thinking about non-follow-up people is whether they at one point were good at this and decided either consciously or unconsciously not to apply this ability at some point. If this was the case, they are fortunate, in that they can more easily than others who never were practiced at following up, get back on the proverbial horse to do so.

If people realized that the stakes of not following up were going to be detrimental to their ability to progress professionally, or that it would be harmful to their personal or professional relationships, I’m curious about whether this would alter their thinking or behavior? Perhaps if someone had expectations of an outcome playing well in their favor and they didn’t follow-up to bolster and ensure this outcome, do you think they realize they set themselves up for a self-fulfilling prophecy? Again, there are likely unconscious factors contributing to why many people are sabotaging their own future outcomes by not following through. More importantly to consider, is whether there is something which would nudge them towards understanding how their lack of follow-up behavior is negatively contributing to their personal and, or professional life?

I firmly believe that having the ability to excel at following up is a skill and mindset that everyone can and should master. With this thinking in mind, I am offering some suggestions to either you, or someone you know who needs to stop receiving the grade of “F” in this category.

  • People who tend to procrastinate are at a higher risk for being poor at following-up. So, the first thing you will need to do is to understand why you procrastinate before you can become better at following-up.
  • Your attitude towards how you want others to perceive you may or may not have an influence on whether you will become better at completing what you committed to saying and then doing. If you don’t care enough about how others perceive you, this will be an area you will need to increase your desire to care that this does matter.
  • Have you ever had a time when you were proud of accomplishing something you committed to doing for either yourself or someone else? When you are rebuilding your skills in this area, think back to the positive feeling you had and leverage this to help you to finish what you committed to following up on.
  • The opportunities people are given when they do follow-up can be incredibly rewarding on a variety of levels. Is there an opportunity you either want to pursue or have been given the opportunity to pursue, but you dropped the ball on? If so, is it possible for you to ask for another chance to follow-through?
  • Can you seek out people who will be willing to give you a chance to follow through on doing something for them, with the intent of building up your ability to have a string of success in following up and through on your verbal or written commitments?
  • Visualize yourself as being someone who is well regarded for their ability to do what they say they are going to do. Now, think about the benefits that will come from being regarded as this type of person who others can depend on.

Since one of my pet peeves is engaging with anyone who doesn’t follow-up, I’m hopeful that if you are one of these types of people, that you will have a new appreciation for why and how to be able to do so.

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Business #Sports #Sportscoach #Teams #Teamdynamics #Motivation #Followingup #Tipsonhowtofollowup #Awareness #Selfawareness #Success #Mindset #Communication #Management

Am I a good person?

If you have been following my writing for any length of time, you know I’m not a fan of the news. This is ironic, as my degree is in Journalism, but my focus was on advertising, not reporting or being associated with the news. Since I consume news in a different way, I tend not to be influenced much by the sensationalized or tragic news which we can be bombarded by. However, this past week, with my personal association with the State of Maine, the news coming from this state is partially why I am writing about this topic.  

The second reason I’m taking on this topic is because my muse suggested I write about it, and indirectly hinted it would be cathartic to do so. Processing the tragic news coming out of Lewiston, Maine really took its toll on me this week, and I can’t begin to imagine the toll it has taken on the families and friends of the victims. I’d rather not think about this, but it has got me thinking about whether anyone would ever consider someone who commits such violent and tragic crimes would have any sense of that person having a shred of decency? Yes, I realize there were mental health issues associated with this crime, but does that ultimately give someone a pass for their heinous actions?  

The third reason I am writing about this subject is to also help people to refocus on all the amazing people who are either directly or indirectly in their lives. For example, all the people who have professions which deal with helping others daily. These people in my opinion are the real hero’s and what I would easily classify as being good people. Their level of unselfishness and dedication to others is admirable, and something which clearly sets them apart. I can’t imagine these types of people not thinking they are good people, but I’m also not sure whether they are recognized or praised enough for the work they do.  

Of course, there are people who work in professions and hold roles as leaders who could be classified as good people, but they also are often subject to more negative scrutiny. Why? In my opinion, because as humans, we are more apt to focus on negative scenarios, often ones that leaders can be both directly and indirectly associated with. This leads us to then spending more of our brain resources on the negative leadership aspects. While we can agree and know that the positive scenarios tend to offer more fleeting and provide good feelings and memories, the negative ones tend to lodge more deeply into our unconscious minds. Becoming more problematic in the response coming of terms with them. I know this from plenty of first-hand experience speaking with people who have struggled with negative humans and experiences which often leave them in a state of being stuck.  

If you were to ask someone whether they consider themselves to be a good person, most will tell you that they are. Although, they may have had some exceptions of not being that way. This is why when people are coming to terms with their life or are in a scenario where they believe their life is winding down soon, they will often begin to start apologizing to others for the occurrences when they didn’t feel like they were a good person.  

Does this type and timing of an apology help both parties? It depends, as the person hearing the apology may need some time to process what they are hearing. This could be due to the fact they never expected to receive an apology. Or, the negative experience was so significant, it might be hard for them to forgive the person apologizing. This is another topic which I might take on at some point, but not today.  

Although it might appear to be obvious to you about knowing whether you are a good person or not, if you have any doubts about this, I have some thoughts for you to consider.  

* Being a good person should be a point of pride. This is independent of your life circumstances, yet with some exceptions, I believe most people will want to be identified this way.

* Focusing more on helping others is something which can be factored in to help you with improving both your own, and others perception of whether you are a good person.

* Lead by example and apply the concept of “taking the high road” when you are faced with a difficult decision. Especially when you know the fact that the decision you make will benefit you more and be less beneficial to others. Consider whether there is a potential middle ground option.

* If you find yourself being pre-occupied with contemplating how others perceive you, think about why you are spending so much energy and attention on this. Do you really think others are investing as many thinking cycles as possible on whether they are a fan of you or not?

* There is always time for you to carve out being able to help someone else. This comes down to being a function of how you prioritize your time and others into your life.

* Strong and competent leaders will always place; within reason, others needs before their own. It may be calculated, and take more time, but putting more thought into something before deciding generally to act, is always a sage thing to do.  

Is it harder to be a good person versus someone who isn’t one? I don’t think it is, and we all have choices to make. So, in the spirt of being kinder to others, consider what you can do going forward to increase the percentage of both you and others placing you into the category of being a good person.  

TAGS: #Leader #Leadership #Business #Motivation #Beingunselfish #Sportscoach #Sports #Positiveinfluence #Rolemodel #Teamdynamics #Mentor #Goodpeople #Goodperson    

Are there delegation secrets?

I have a vivid memory of the first time I was told I needed to delegate a project to someone on my team. Of course, I understood the concept of delegation, but at the time, I was in a new leadership position. So, the reality was I didn’t have much experience with applying what I knew from a textbook explanation. There also wasn’t much value I derived from seeing delegation applied from a bystander’s vantage point, but I needed to begin testing out this concept working with the tools I had.  

Having someone take the time to explain the elements associated with what they were delegating to me, served as a good foundation for how I would approach being in the role of a delegator. I consider myself fortunate to have had some strong and thoughtful leaders who operated on the principle of always setting up others for success. Borrowing from this principle, I thought I could expand upon it. This took the form of making sure that when I was delegating to others, I would always intimate that I would never ask them to do something I wouldn’t do myself. Although I have a strong sense this isn’t universally applied.  

There are a series of factors that will contribute to whether whatever is being delegated is going to have the desired outcome. The first one is that the delegator needs to abide by the principle that there is commonly more than one way to accomplish something. This translates to not criticizing someone for taking a different approach to what has been delegated to them, and which has an effective result. Another factor which will take some time to adjust to, is being able to fully trust the person or team you are delegating something to. Most humans will inherently want to maintain control and not delegate based on this single reason alone.  

If trust isn’t something you have in the person or team you are delegating to, there are some steps you will want to take prior to the delegation process occurring. The first step is to appreciate the reason or reasons why you have not reached the level of trust yet? It’s possible you may not have worked with or lead the person or team you are delegating to for a short period of time (e.g., less than a week or month), and which would lead you to be reluctant to fully trust them…yet.  Another contributing factor which may hinder your ability to delegate may be your fear of the people or team failing at what you delegated for them to complete.  

Independent of time, trust and fear, there is another reason people have challenges with being able to delegate to others. The reason has to do with the fact they are not fully comfortable with their ability to communicate in an effective manner. Because of this, there is a high potential for them self-sabotaging the successful outcome of what they are delegating. For context, I have found that being able to communicate well with others is something many people feel they are not strong at doing. Why? Mainly because they have not put enough practice into having effective conversations with others. Not even doing so in situations where the stakes are much lower, and delegation is not part of the process. This communication practice applies to everyone independently of what decade of life and professional experience they have. Another negative and detracting contributor to this situation is because many people are reluctant to put themselves in scenarios where they may not know how to handle their conversations well. So, instead, they avoid having more conversations, and their communication ability either remains stagnant or doesn’t allow them to progress.  

For the sake of consideration, let’s agree that the ability to converse well is an “art”. Possibly, an art which is not being looked at, but should be factored into serving as the basis for effectively being able to delegate to others. With this premise, I am offering some possible ideas for increasing your ability to delegate effectively.  

* It’s perfectly fine to be nervous about delegating to others. In fact, during the first few times you are doing so, let the person or team you are delegating to know that you have some concerns about delegating to them. However, do let them know that the concerns are based on the fact you are new at doing so, and not because of them or their abilities. They will appreciate your honesty and will likely work harder to not disappoint you or the rest of the team.

* I mentioned practicing your communication skills, and I truly am supportive of you doing this. Not just saying you will practice becoming better at communicating with others, but intentionally putting effort into improving your skills in this area.

* Staying on the concept of practice, being able to practice delegating small tasks, and doing this comfortably is something I always find to be highly supportive. Consider the concept that there are different levels of delegation and work your way gradually up to more complex tasks or assignments/projects which you will need to delegate.

* Ask someone you know who is a strong delegator for some tips they can suggest to help you to ease into becoming more comfortable with delegating to others.

* After the delegated item has been completed, be sure to both follow-up, and let the person or team you have delegated the work to that you appreciate them successfully accomplishing what they achieved.

* If something you delegated didn’t go well, apply what is referred to as a post-mortem. A post-mortem entails going over the details about understanding why and where the project may not have succeeded. The main point of doing this isn’t to cast blame, but to understand how to course correct to eventually reach your desired outcome.

* Prior to any type of delegation, I always recommend putting the desired outcome of your delegation in writing, and making sure any required details about the work that must be accomplished is clearly understood before the delegated work begins.  

Although the ideas I have shared above may not be considered “delegation secrets”, they may be new to people who haven’t had much or any delegation experience. Although, I’m also optimistic even seasoned delegators may find one or two new methods they can apply to increase their own delegation level.

#Leadership #Leader #Leaders #Business #Delegation #Success #Teams #Sports #Strategy #Communication #Delegationtips

Who gave you a chance?

I’m a big fan of thanking or acknowledging others who have supported me in some way. I have done this via conversations, written notes and being able to fortunately include them in the “shout out” sections of my book series. Learning to thank others was a trait or manner my mom taught me at a very early age, and as soon as I learned how to write. At first having to hand write thank you notes to people wasn’t something I fully appreciated the context and importance of, but overtime, I came to value and want to do this without prompting.

Was my adoption of handwriting thank you notes a habit? Yes, it certainly became one, and I’ve never broken this habit. In fact, what I find amazing is the impact my notes have on the people who receive them. An impact with the loveliest of consequences. What I mean by this is that the brief time I take to write my thank you notes, allows the recipients to know that I truly care about what they have helped me with. Of course, you can thank someone verbally, but putting in the extra effort to express your gratitude in writing is more impactful and can provide a last memory effect. An effect that in present day time, not many people are the benefactors of, as so few people take the time to thank people in writing.

My habit of thanking others via writing takes place both via an electronic method, but I am a firm believer that the handwritten method absolutely increases the impact and meaning behind your note. I also like how you can personalize your approach to thanking someone based on the type of note or card you are writing. Consider your note or card being part of your personal brand, and another way of expressing who you are, and want to project to others. You can have some fun with doing this, so don’t shy away from being creative with your actual physical note style approach.

When I was recently writing a handwritten note to thank someone last week, it got me thinking about how this isn’t a topic which regularly comes up on conversation. Although I think it should, hence why I’m putting a spotlight on it today. The impact from a handwritten note can far exceed the power you might think that it has, and I have seen this occur time and time again. In full transparency, I don’t write my handwritten notes to have them be other than a polite way of expressing my gratitude. I also don’t have expectations post writing my notes, but I have certainly been pleasantly surprised by how people have gone out of their way to thank me for sending them a thank you note.

There is a chance we might not always recognize another person who should be acknowledged for the help they bestowed upon us (e.g., a teacher, coach, relative, friend), perhaps because it was part of their job to do so. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t thank them for doing their job well, and it could simply be a verbal acknowledgement, but a written one is always better. When I have spoken to people about the power of thanking someone who has given them a chance personally or professionally, I often also hear excuses about why they haven’t done this, or that they are not strong at communicating their sentiments either verbally or in writing. Upon hearing these excuses, I point out that given the amount of technology we have access to help us with this, especially the written part (e.g., Chat GBT for one), I feel it’s a weak reason for not thanking someone. Alright, I’m going there…a bit lazy or perhaps selfish too.

Now to get back on a positive track, I would like to challenge you with considering whether there are people in your life who you should be either verbally or sending a handwritten thank you note who have helped you, or given you a chance? I’m certain there are, so let’s pause for a moment to reflect upon constructing a mental note of who is on this list. Now that you have this list, consider how someone giving you a chance may have changed the trajectory of where you are now. Does this person, or the people who have supported you to help you to navigate to where you are know you are grateful for their support? Independent of your response, below are some suggestions to consider your next steps forward in thanking others.

  • With the “mental list” you have come up with, consider taking this to the next level, writing down this information, and having it serve as a repository of who has given you a chance.
  • Having a list of who has helped you will be enormously supportive on days when you may not be feeling the “love”, or you feel as if no one is on your side. I assure you, there have been plenty of people who fall into this category.
  • Let’s think of logistics for a moment. Do you have a thank you card or cards you can send to someone? Do you know where to source them from? Do you have a stamp or stamps you can leverage to complete the process of mailing your thank you card if this is a requirement?
  • Your thank you note does not have to be a novel. In fact, keeping your note on the shorter side might be harder to do, but the important factor to focus on is being able to authentically express your gratitude for the support from the person who gave you a chance. Whatever your definition of this means.
  • Commit to a timeline for either speaking to or sending out your either written acknowledgement note of thanks. In the absence of this, you will find it too easy to procrastinate on doing this. A pro tip I have for doing this is to commit to spending 15-30 minutes a month with conveying your gratitude (e.g., in person, or perhaps via a micro video), sourcing your thank you materials, writing and sending your card out.
  • After crafting your list of who to thank, commit to coming up with a list of people you can give a chance. The length of the list is irrelevant, but it should be a “living” and on-going list that you keep.
  • Consider what your criteria is for what you can do to help give another person a chance. It doesn’t have to be a monumental opportunity or chance, as even minor chances that are given can have a seriously positive impact on another person.

Now that you have had an opportunity to reflect upon both being grateful and being proactive to thank someone who has given you a chance, remember that you will likely gain more joy and benefit from giving someone else a chance. So, don’t be shy with doing so, and be as overly generous as you can in this area too, as you never know what impact it will have on another person’s life or profession.

TAGS: #Business #Impact #Positiveimpact #Leader #Leadership #Sportscoach #Coach #Motivation #Strategy #Gratitude #Helpingothers #Management #Professionaldevelopment #Personaldevelopment #Achievement #Success