What ignites you? 10 Tips on why you must know this.

I just finished watching one of my sports teams come out at the beginning of their game looking like the win was a sure thing. Then the second quarter started, and the team’s performance continued to plummet. Unfortunately, all the way to the end of the game. What happened? From my vantage point, the most obvious challenge was that they began playing together as a team, then resorted to playing as individual participants. Unfortunately, this is never a winning recipe when that happens.

Since I wasn’t physically at the game, I didn’t have the advantage of being able to fully appreciate all of the team dynamics which were occurring. However, I could take an educated guess, but it wouldn’t change the outcome after the fact of what was happening real time. So, was there something which could have been done to have changed the trajectory of the game outcome? Absolutely, and I have some more work to do with this team based on this reality.

You might surmise that I would be upset with the team’s performance outcome. I’m not, as the final score is not reflective of the actual attempts to have made this a competitive game. It was for the first period, and then the challenges of not being able to re-ignite the team set in. The momentum shifted and remained in favor of the opponent, and my team wasn’t able to overcome the powerful momentum their opponent had built up. Could they have changed the momentum? Yes, and that’s where the real story begins.

As I continued to watch the game, it felt as if I was watching a different sport. One where the objective wasn’t to set up their team members up for success, but to individually attempt to change their team dynamics. News flash. When this occurs, this rarely results in the outcome a team is looking for. In fact, it’s as if they go into “panic mode”, and disengage from the reality that they are playing a team sport. Yes, this is frustrating to watch, and it isn’t fun for anyone on the team to experience either.

When the trajectory of a team’s dynamics is shifting away from its favor during a game, or in any competitive situation (e.g., on a sales team), there is something which can be done to course correct this. It involves knowing and understanding each of the team members very well, and in fact, what personally and collectively ignites and motivates them. When this information isn’t understood, or applied, this is when opportunities to win or seek the performance level metrics you are trying to attain begins to evaporate.

However, when you can tap into and apply and appeal to both the individuals and the collective team, this is where you can turn a situation around to be in your favor. Yes, you can also keep this going, even when the odds appear to be stacked against you. I can credibly say this, as I’ve seen this happen more times in my career than I would have imagined was actually possible.

What is the second element which needs to be tapped into to ignite and change up a team’s performance? It’s a six-letter word, and an extremely powerful one. It’s “belief” in themselves, their team members, and the fact they can do what many others would deem to be impossible.

When a united team believes something is possible, this is where the “magic” can be the spark which ignites their minds and bodies to perform at an entirely different level. You know when you see this occur, and as an analogy, it’s similar to when the weather pattern suddenly shifts without warning. Remaining on the weather analogy, the team which is in need of being turned around experiences a tremendous burst of energy. One which is sustainable, and almost impossible for the opponents to get back control of. Similar to a momentum shift which is difficult to change.

If you are looking for ways to understand what ignites you, the team you lead or are on, I have some suggestions for you to consider applying.

  • Does your team have an agreed upon motivational accelerator?
  • Can you articulate what your true motivational accelerators are?
  • If you or your team does not know what your motivational factors are, take some time to figure out what they are, and write them down.
  • If you or your team need help with determining your motivational factors, ask someone who knows you or the team well. Have them share what they think they might be, or have an open-minded conversation with them and brainstorm on coming up with what they are.
  • The majority of people who are competitively oriented are typically fueled by wanting to win. However, what if you are on a team, and this isn’t a motivating factor for you? Will your lack of competitive spirit impact your or your team members performance? Not necessarily, it’s just that you will be motivated differently to either win, or attain the performance metrics you are focused on. Hint, determine what they are, and let others know this too.
  • For those of you who are achievement oriented, and the good news is that this is the number one trait for most team members. Now, factor in what aspects about achievement can serve to fuel you to either a successful outcome, or to help change your or your team’s performance momentum and trajectory.
  • Are you motivated by internal or external factors? You will need to know this, and so will your coach/leader and team members. Identify what those factors are, and make sure they can be applied in your favor.
  • How easily do you give up? Be honest with yourself. If you are on a team and they need you to commit to 100% believing in achieving sometimes what would seem impossible, what is it going to take to get you to attain this mindset? Perhaps you start with yourself. Then ask yourself if you truly trust that you will do everything you can humanly do to be the best team member you can be. Both from a performance and support perspective.
  • How would you rate your attitude? Especially in times of distress. Does your attitude become one which you are not proud of? What can you do to maintain your positive attitude, or who can help you to do this if you struggle to accomplish this?
  • If you are not fully able to appreciate what your own innate talents are, then how can you fully leverage them for your own benefit, let alone your teams? This is a rhetorical question, so begin with finding out what they are, and then begin applying them for a solid starting point.
  • Let’s assume you know what your talents are, that you are applying them, but others are not appreciating them. Ask to have a conversation with the person or people who fall into this category, and look to resolve this by having the goal of fully understanding and appreciating the talents you each bring to the team.

Emotionally, a loss of any kind is difficult. The good news is that you can learn a great deal from a loss. So, the take away from this should be to objectively debrief together on where the opportunities are to leverage this information to help you, and or, the team you lead. Doing this will develop the foundation you need to change the momentum and trajectory in your favor the next time you need to apply this “play” or strategic move. Chin up team! I believe in you. Now you need to do and show the rest of us you believe in yourself.

TAGS:  #Teams #Coach #Sportscoach #Leader #Leadership #Inspiration #Motivation #Talent #Talentdevelopment #Winning #Howtowin #Howtochangemomentum

Why you should give someone a chance or an opportunity.

 The first time I had a chance to professionally give someone an opportunity was when I was in my twenties, and it involved hiring my first employee. I can vividly recall both the excitement and trepidation I felt about making the decision to hire this person. It wasn’t because I was concerned about them being able to do the job, it was because of the fact I did not have experience with knowing how to manage another person. It turns out thirty years later I did find out that I did know how to manage someone, and they sent me a hand-written letter expressing their gratitude to me for giving them a chance, and hiring them. 

At that point in time, I had been managed by other people, and fortunately I had some amazing bosses, and one not so amazing one. In some respects, I probably learned more from the not-so-great manager, and this was because I was cataloging in my mind things they did that I would never want to do as a manager. One of them was to be a micromanager, and unfortunately for me, they had this skill down perfectly. However, the best news about my least favorite manager was that they gave me a chance to enter a new career which I proceeded to be in for another twenty plus years. 

Upon looking back on the opportunity that manager gave me, I realized that they must have seen something in me which warranted bringing me onto their team. As I think more about why they did this, I would say it was because we were complete opposites in terms of our methods of how we interacted professionally. He was extremely introverted, and you guessed it, I was the opposite of this. My ability to interact and get along with others helped him to bridge the gap he had with interacting with all of the employees we had to work with. In some respects, I now realize that he did become better at working with people, and perhaps some of this had to do with me demonstrating how to do so. 

With few exceptions, everyone has at least one time in their life when they either can recall, or will have a situation personally or professionally to give another person a chance. Either to do something trivial, or perhaps extraordinary. 

Consider a recent scenario when you may have actually passed and did not give another person an opportunity. If you broke down the reasons why you didn’t give them a chance, was it because you were afraid they might make you look bad? Was it because you were concerned you would have to spend a great deal of time mentoring them? Or, was it because you didn’t think they would “fit in” with the team? 

If you didn’t hire someone because you didn’t think they would fit in, chances are high that this was based on a bias you may have had, but would never admit to. Or perhaps it was because you had a gut instinct that something wasn’t quite right on a number of different levels, but you may not have been able to articulate exactly what they were. It was purely a feeling you had. 

In the case of not giving someone a chance was oriented around a negative bias, I want you to seriously think about something. Did you feel intimidated by this individual? Were you concerned they might outperform you at some point? Perhaps their intelligence level was greater than yours, or possibly their EQ was obviously higher than yours? The point is, that you were afraid on some level, but may not have considered this as a factor. 

The interesting aspect of being afraid is that most of the time, our fear is based on something irrational. Although there are occasions when it is real. However, most of the time, the fear we have is in our minds, and if we took the time to potentially override this, imagine the outcome of many of our decisions. One time I heard a great acronym for fear, and I have always thought about this myself when I felt fearful. The acronym for F.E.A.R. is “false expectations appearing real”. This simple statement has course corrected many of my own decisions throughout the journey of my life, and I hope it might provide you with a new way of confronting your own fears. 

To help you increase your odds of giving another person a chance or opportunity, here are some suggestions to consider:

·      Think about how much giving the person a chance might change the trajectory of their personal or professional life. It might not be that dramatic of an impact, but then again, it might. 

·      What is the worst-case scenario of this person being given a chance, and having them fail? 

·      Look at what you can do to set the person up for success. If you are a leader, this is always something you should be doing. No exceptions. 

·      Be honest with the person about any reservations you have about giving them an opportunity, and let them mitigate any concerns you have. 

·      Nothing is permanent, and taking a chance on someone doesn’t have to be either, so err on giving one. 

·      Consider how this person might compliment, augment or even out strengths you or others on your team have. 

·      Mentoring someone can be a great on ramp, or interim option prior to fully committing to giving someone a chance if you are hesitant in doing so.

·      Do your best to override your fear of helping this person out. It might turn out to be the best decision you ever made, and hiring my first employee turned out that way. 

With few exceptions, everyone deserves to be given an opportunity. Whether it is to succeed, be included or be given more responsibility. The list is endless in terms of the benefits both that person and you will gain when you are in a position to give someone a chance. Keeping in mind, that someone likely gave you at one point or more in your life. 

TAGS: #Leadership #Personaldevelopment #Business #Teams #Mentor #Success #Opportunity #Givingsomeoneachance #Bias #Leader #Sales

The power of a handwritten note.

I had the good fortune of learning a long time ago about the influence a handwritten note can have, and I can credit my Mom for teaching me this. She wasn’t a business person, she was a nurse, so she clearly had an appreciation of the impact words can have on others.

Initially when it wasn’t my choice to be writing handwritten thank you cards to people who had done something nice for me, or given me a gift, it seemed like and arduous task. One I actually tried to avoid doing. Mainly because I am dyslexic, and when I was younger, writing was not a talent I had developed. However, my notes were all sincere, and it established a wonderful and lifelong habit of sending handwritten notes.

Recently I was going through some boxes in my attic, and I came across a box which was filled with letters that I had saved. All of them were written before the internet came about. The amazing thing about these letters, was that they captured a time in my life I had not thought much about. Most of the letters were from my friends from high school and college, and they were mainly letters reminiscing about experiences we had together, updated me on what they were currently doing, or telling me they missed me, and were looking forward to seeing me again.

When I received those letters, they appeared to have arrived at the perfect time, as I was either home sick, or missing the person that sent them. Hearing from them cheered me up.

Some people might think of writing a letter or a card, especially in the professional world as being old fashioned. Perhaps it is, but since fewer people are writing them, they have a greater impact when they are received. In fact, I have saved the handful of cards I have received over the past few decades from other professionals.

One of the cards I saved was from a CEO I was working for. I was in fact shocked to have received a handwritten note from him, but it was probably one of the most impactful ones I had ever received. Why? Because I was incredibly disappointed by the way he handled a project. He knew this, and he knew he had made a mistake with the approach he initially took.

The CEO’s letter to me was an apology and thank you letter. In the letter, he told me that he should not have pulled rank on me, or have overridden one of my decisions, and he regretted that he did that. He expressed both his regret, and sincere appreciation for how I handled myself professionally, and for how exceptionally well the project I was leading turned out. Receiving this letter was actually shocking, but it provided me with an entirely new lens on this leader. A much more positive one, as I could see that he had taken the time to be reflective, had learned from the mistake he had made, and was willing to own up and take responsibility for owning his decision and actions. When I think about this situation, I don’t think verbally hearing what he had written would have had the same positive impact.  In fact, I know it would not have.

I can understand that some people might not feel confident about being able to craft a handwritten note, but let me assure you, you can write one with greater ease than you imagine. It just takes some practice, and the good news for you, is that it doesn’t have to be a long note. Consider the size of most traditional thank you cards. They are literally about four inches wide, and three inches long. That’s not a lot of writing real estate, so this can work in your favor. Even better? If you buy a traditional “thank you” greeting card, they often have something written inside, so you only have to add a sentence or two to personalize your note.

If you still are not convinced that you should be writing more handwritten notes to people, here are some other reasons to consider why you should be doing this.

  • Writing a handwritten note doesn’t take much effort, but the person receiving it will consider that you put genuine effort into doing this.
  • There isn’t any downside to saying thank you to someone, especially via a handwritten note.
  • If you are a leader, you should absolutely be regularly crafting handwritten notes. No exceptions or excuses for why you are not. As they saying goes, “lead by example.”
  • Yes, manners are still noticed. Especially when good ones are exhibited, and crafting a handwritten note ticks off the box of having good manners.
  • Being thoughtful isn’t overrated, and sending someone a handwritten note can speak volumes in your favor when you do this.
  • Sure, you can stand out on social media, but consider this. When do you think the person you are trying to influence the most received a handwritten note? Consider standing out from the crowd by finding your pen and a card to send to them.
  • Handwritten notes can cover a wide variety of topics. Consider all of the people you could write a card to, and what you could express to them from a positive perspective.
  • Keep the negative notes to yourself, as they tend to do more harm than good. However, writing them can be cathartic, but I don’t recommend sending them.
  • Consider the last time you received a handwritten note from someone. Perhaps you can return the favor and send one back to them?

So, having expressed my views about the power of handwritten notes, don’t be surprised if you get one from me one day. I’ll also be waiting to see who will take me up on my concept of leveraging the power of a handwritten note. Maybe I’ll receive one from you?

TAGS: #Leadership #Business #Success #Rolemodel #Leadbyexample #Impressions #Firstimpressions #Leader #Leaders #Positiveinfluence #CEO #Communication #Management #Marketing

Everyone is a specialist. Where are the generalists?

Overview:

When I began my business career, I started out in marketing. At that time, I was tasked with doing basic marketing activities, and I gradually began to take on more advanced marketing assignments and responsibilities. About a decade into my career, I took on a leadership role and was responsible for a team of marketers. At that time, I was still able to be both a marketing practitioner, while leading the team.

The thing that I liked the most about my career as a marketer in the first half of my profession, was that I would have classified myself as a generalist. What I mean by this, is that I was able to participate in all of the aspects of the marketing field. I loved the variety and challenges that each of the areas of this part of business presented to me, especially the creative and strategic aspects.

Fast forward to the mid 2000’s and I started to notice a trend occurring in my profession. What I began to see happen was the evolution of those who wore a marketing “hat” start to veer into becoming specialists in this profession. This occurred around the time when social media marketing began to become more complex, and required a dedicated and hyper focused attention on the aspects of digital marketing. When this shift in marketing began to emerge, I knew this was leaning towards the demise of marketing generalists. At least for most medium to large businesses.

Being a marketing generalist was probably the most fun and creatively expressive time in my career, as I was able to flex and leverage all of my acquired marketing skills on a daily basis. When it became clear that the skills required to excel and be defined as an expert in social media was inevitable, this was around the time I began to wonder what would happen to other marketers who would classify themselves as generalists?

Did the marketing generalists began to fade out into obscurity and slowly begin to “exit stage left” in the marketing profession? Perhaps, but as a comparison, I think what happened was that marketing generalists with 15 plus years of experience began to either shift to work for smaller companies where they could continue to leverage all of their skills, or could be compared to general practitioner doctors. What I mean by this is that you go in to consult with the marketing generalist or general practitioner, and they refer to you as a specialist.

Is the specialist model a good one? Perhaps, and the jury may still be out on this, but I believe with both marketing and the medical worlds becoming increasingly more complex, there is likely a strong demand for the need to have people become specialists. The question is, do people presently even have the option to learn the aspects of becoming a generalist in any industry? What if you are the type of person who enjoys the challenge of having to know enough about each of the different areas of your profession, and are not interested or challenged enough by having to specialize in an area? Is there still a possibility for people entering the workforce to stay on what I will refer to as a “generalists track”?

In my opinion, when someone is either compelled, or perhaps not given a choice about whether they want to become a specialist, I have concerns about this model going forward. The reason for this is because as someone who has been both a generalist and specialist, I can appreciate the fact I have seen both sides of this model. However, I would also say that being a generalist can be a more difficult path for most people, as it requires you to be skilled in a number of different areas, and at a proficiency level which you wouldn’t be questioned about your abilities.

Achieving a “generalist” status in any profession is going to be quite challenging, but it is possible. Although I will offer that you will have to seek out more opportunities to gain the variety of experiences to acquire your generalist skills.

If you are looking for some suggestions on how to take the path of becoming a generalist, here are some ways you can consider doing this.

  • You will need to keep an open mind about where you will be starting this journey. It might be that you will need to consider living in a different part of the country where there are more opportunities for you to leverage.
  • I recommend you make it clear that you are not seeking to specialize in a particular role, but that you would like to gain as much broad experience as is possible in the role you will be doing.
  • It’s likely you will need to ask for additional opportunities to expand your options of the experience you will be gaining, and you may experience some resistance in being able to do activities you only have junior level skills to do.
  • Consider shadowing someone if they are not willing to give you hands on opportunities to try something new. Eventually they might give you a chance to “try” what you want to experience.
  • Smaller companies will typically offer you more of a variety of experiences, especially in marketing, so be sure to factor this into your experience planning. The larger companies will tend to hire mainly specialists at the entry to mid-level positions.
  • Although this might be more challenging to attempt, I would suggest you consider test driving a few different industries to gain your experience in. Doing this will allow you to see which industries might be more willing to provide you with opportunities to gain your generalist skills.
  • Channel your inner researcher skills and embark upon speaking to as many people as you can to help you to determine alternative methods to gain your generalist experience in other creative ways.
  • Don’t rule out volunteering at an organization where they would be thrilled to have you provide them with help, and perhaps allow you to stretch your existing skills, or learn new ones that you can benefit from gaining.

My intention for sharing information about this topic with you was to open your mind to the possibility of exploring what is now more of an alternative career track (e.g., generalist), when in the past, this was more of the norm. I believe there is still a need for people who have generalist skills, and that not everyone has to be a specialist going forward, and I applaud either direction you think is the right one for you.

TAGS: #Career #Experience #Marketing #Business #Teams #HumanResources #CareerDevelopment #Expertise #Specialist #HumanDevelopment #PersonalDevelopment #CareerOptions #SocialMedia #SocialMediaMarketing #Generalists #Specialists #CareerSpecialists #MarketingSpecialists #BusinessSpecialists #HumanResources #HRProfessional #CareerAdvice #MarketingCareerAdvice #BusinessCareerAdvice

Thinking bigger and bolder. Is this for everyone?

Perhaps I always wanted to believe I was the type of person who was continuously striving to get to another level of achievement or performance. The truth is I wasn’t. I’m not motivated by achievement. This may sound odd, but this is something I realized about ten years ago.

My awareness of the fact that I wasn’t motivated by achievements or more specifically contests or competing with others didn’t appeal to me. Not in the way that people who are intrinsically motivated by contests, or against others performance metrics. My ah-ha moment about this occurred when I was in the process of working with a marketing colleague to put together a contest for our team to participate in.

The structure of the contest was intended to reward someone when they achieved specific metrics, and the prize rewards were very appealing. However, it was when we were discussing the roll-out and implementation of the program that I realized that if I was participating in this contest, it wouldn’t entice me to participate or put forth additional energy to achieve the metrics. Admittedly, the purpose and end result that the contest was designed to achieve, had zero appeal to me.

Upon realizing that contests or competing against others metrics didn’t impact me the way others are impacted by them, made me consider what the reason behind this was. When I thought back to when I was playing competitive sports, I never measured my performance metrics against anyone else’s. Not even my own. Yes, this might sound odd, and you might think that I wasn’t being competitive, but in fact, taking the approach of instead simply enjoying what I was doing, and helping my team to perform well based on my contributions was what truly motivated me to perform.    

Fast forward to about ten years into my marketing career when my performance was being measured and discussed annually. I dreaded these conversations. Not because I wasn’t doing well in my career, but I saw zero point in this conversation having any impact on my ability or future performance. This got me thinking, and I began to wonder if others also thought this way? It turns out some do, but not as many as you might imagine.

The point about figuring out that I am not the type of person who is motivated in the more traditional methods that individuals, sports or work teams motivate people are, was when I began thinking about what would entice my performance? Or others if they had a similar mindset?

I can’t speak for others, but what I determined and which allows me to be both motivated and to think bigger, isn’t going to be what you might think it would be. In fact, it’s only something I realized would work for me more recently. What is it? Actually, it’s quite simple, and involves a concept that everyone is familiar with, and can also do too. It’s what I’ll refer to as daydreaming, or visualizing where or what I see myself doing next.

In the case of my professional circumstances, for the last year I have been working on a research project that has evolved and taken shape quite differently than I expected it to be. The more I work on this project, the more I want to pursue taking it to the next level. To increase the scope and size of it. To think more boldly and bigger in terms of what I want the outcome of this research project to achieve.

When I started thinking about the new directions I could take this project into, this is where I found what others would potentially describe as my competitive motivation. The appeal of going way out of my comfort zone, and challenging myself to keep pursuing a project that others didn’t fully understand, but that I could see perfectly clearly what the end results would look like has pushed me to keep this project going. To take it to the next level, and to boldly and verbally share with others where and what this project will do for me, as well as the people involved with it.

Helping others would be another motivating factor that allows me to pursue allowing my mindset to be open and unrestrained from a thinking perspective. This is an incredibly freeing way to think, and has allowed me to reach and be on my way to attaining achievements I never would have imagined happening a year ago.

Thinking bigger, and more boldly may not be for everyone, as many people like to stay in their comfort zone, and they are fine with remaining there. However, if that doesn’t appeal to you, and you are not more traditionally motivated by contests or chasing the performance metrics of others, or even competing against your own metrics, below are some ideas for you to consider.

  • Traveling to new places is something that I both look forward to, and that motivates me. What is your version of this in your life?
  • Visualize and think about “what if” as a concept related to something you are interested in doing, or looking to achieve.
  • Consider what it will feel like when you are working towards something which is out of your comfort zone. For me, I personally derive increased energy when I am in my non-comfort zone.
  • Think about a time when you were in general really happy. What contributed to this feeling, and can you replicate this feeling with any projects or things going on personally or professionally in your life?
  • Fear can be a motivator, but it’s not one of my go to or favorite ones. However, consider what might be holding you back from a fear perspective in terms of stretching your thinking of accomplishing something bigger and bolder than you have ever done before.
  • It’s important to have at least one person in your life who plays the role of your “champion”. I recommend having a champion in your corner when you embark upon your journey to do something that will take you to the next level, or allow you to expand your accomplishment thinking.

Having finally figured out what motivates me has opened up entirely new possibilities in my life. I’m extremely excited about what the future looks like, what experiences I will be having and how I will be able to benefit and share them with others. Hopefully to inspire and motivate them.

TAGS: #Motivation #Inspire #InspiringOthers #MotivatingOthers #ThinkingBoldly #ThinkingBigger #Imagination #Success #Leadership #Teams #Achievement #PersonalDevelopment #ProfessionalDevelopment