Sharing. Are you doing this enough?

I grew up with two siblings, and being the oldest, I learned early on that I was expected to share things with them. Sharing wasn’t something I ever thought much about, and it was something I just did. Fast forward to being an adult, and at some point, I realized that not everyone was on board with the same concept of sharing that I was used to.

My first awareness of the fact that not everyone was in the spirit of sharing, occurred when I really needed the person to share some information with me. I asked without considering that the answer could be no, and when I heard the word no, I was surprised. Actually, a bit shocked. I asked the person why they were not willing to share the information with me, and their answer wasn’t what I expected to hear. Their response was that they didn’t feel like sharing the information.

Of course, this person could have shared the information I was asking about, but they deliberately withheld it from me. After this happened, I thought about what would make someone do this? Was it out of spite, jealously or was it a control thing? It turns out it was a control thing, and I did eventually get the person to share the information with me, but this was a good lesson for me.

The best lesson I learned from this experience was that there wasn’t a good reason for the person to withhold the information from me, other than that they could do so. I also realized they may not have had the same experience I had growing up, and which when I shared with others, I felt really great doing so. I can’t tell you that this person felt great or any different when they finally did share the information with me, but I’ll never really know the answer.  However, a small part of me is hopeful that the experience of the person releasing the information to me made them feel better.

I can’t speak for others, but for me personally, I always feel a sense of pride and joy when I can share information with others. The expression that it is better to give than to receive resonates with me, and perhaps you have had this same experience?

As business executive, I came up with a system for determining which people within the organization would be willing to share and help me and others. It was a relatively simple system, and it was always uncanny how accurate it was. My system involved asking a person to share something with me, whether it was advice, experience or perhaps a physical item. If they were willing to share with me, I knew that they would be open to doing so again. If there was any reluctance or hesitation in doing so, I knew the person fell into one of two categories.

The first category was that if someone was willing to share, they were a confident person, and didn’t feel that they would be negatively impacted by the experience. The second category consisted of people who were reluctant or who didn’t share, and I categorized them as someone who thought that their “power” or influence would be diminished if they shared something. Typically, information in this case. The people who didn’t share came across as being less confident, and over time I noticed a pattern with both of the two categories.

The pattern was that the people who were comfortable with sharing progressed much faster and to higher levels in any measurable scenario. Meanwhile, the people who were not categorized as “sharers”, were typically stalling out in their careers, and were also less satisfied in the role they were in. Of course, there were exceptions to the pattern I was seeing, but there was a very strong correlation of this one factor of being a “sharing” person which positively influenced their career and the opportunities they encountered.

Worth noting is that when you begin to study leaders, you will often find that the common thread between them is their willingness to help others. This typically means they are willing to share their experience, network, time and information. They also often do this without hesitation. Have you encountered this type of leader or sports coach?

If you are not someone who currently falls into the category of being a “sharing” type of person, here are some suggestions for you to consider “test driving” to help you lean towards being in this category if you aspire to do so.

  • Without being asked, offer to share something you value with a person that wouldn’t expect you to do so. It could be a physical item or something intangible, but that would be perceived as being valuable to the person you are going to share it with.
  • If you are not accustomed to sharing, you will need to begin slowly, as it will feel very awkward and potentially intimidating for you to do so. Beginning slowly might involve donating your time to a charity to help them with something they are working on.
  • Set a goal for yourself of sharing one thing every day for two weeks, and keep track of what you are sharing. At the end of the two weeks, look back on what you have shared, and think about how it feels to have shared what you have with others.
  • The concept of sharing can take practice, and it does get much easier to share with others, and you will be happy to know that it doesn’t have to take a long time to reach a comfort level you can’t imagine being at currently.  
  • Many of us have too much “stuff”. Instead of sharing it with someone, take it to the next level and give it to someone who could benefit from having it more than you can.
  • Every one of us encountered a teacher, and I’m sure that you could name your favorite one. What was it about your favorite teach that you could mimic and teach someone else by borrowing the attribute about them that you admired?

As the year ends, I am thinking about how amazing our world would be if everyone was able to share with others, or at a different level than they are presently at. Please accept my challenge today of sharing something with another person today, and I’ll look forward to hearing about what you shared, and the outcome of the sharing experience.

TAGS: #Business #Leadership #Rolemodel #Sharing #Howtoshare #Whysharingisimportant #Careerdevelopment #Sportscoach #Coach #Aspirations #Inspiration #Motivation #Leader #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment #Teams #HRleader #Talentdevelopment #CEO #Manager #Management #Salesmanagement

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Age-nostic. Looking at your age differently, and why you should.

I have always subscribed to the saying “age is just a number”. In fact, I have thought about this more recently, as I reminded myself about two things. Don’t let my age define or limit me, and fully leverage the fact I have life experience to share with others.

During a conversation I was having this week with a friend, they were noting that they were regretful about waiting so long to do a project they are currently working on. For context, it happens to be an artistic type of project. I asked them why they waited to do the project until now, and it turns out they simply were not ready to take the project on before. Although from their perspective, their timing on completing the project isn’t ideal for them, the fact they are working on and will complete it is actually what matters.

This person was hyper focused on their age as being the reason they were regretful of not having completed the project before. I asked them if this project brought energy and joy into their life? I also asked them if they were proud of what they were working on? They confirmed that this project did bring them energy, joy and pride, and most importantly to them, it would provide them with a tangible legacy.

As I was thinking about both my age, and the person I referenced, I realized that I have a different approach to how I see the world. Not one that is based on accomplishing certain milestones at a particular age or decade, but one that is based on doing things when you are ready to do them, and have the confidence to accomplish them. This thinking has given me great personal comfort, as the type of professional work I am pursuing is taking me into unchartered territories and waters. Both of which I’m extremely excited about pursuing.

Will going forward into the unchartered waters and without any role models to look towards be easy? Of course not, but I am confident and know I have what it takes to be the pioneer and role model for others. This isn’t a description I might have embraced a decade ago, but as I have shed self-imposed restrictions which would have limited my thinking to pursue what I am going to be doing, it’s an incredibly freeing feeling!

One of the things I also realized from the conversation I was having this week with my friend, was that by placing self-imposed, or societal restrictions on ourselves in terms of when it is the “right time” to do or accomplish something made zero sense. That’s when the concept of wrapping my brain around being ageless, or what I referred to as being agenostic came about. My definition of agenostic is that you do not subscribe to defining yourself by your chronological age, and that you act and do things that provide your mind with motivation based on not having imposed limitations on what and when you can accomplish them. 

My entire life people have always told me I had a certain positive energy and vibe that was refreshing, and my kids always joke with me that they never think of me as being a particular age.  I attribute this mainly to the fact my outlook on life is so positive and filled with enthusiasm. This is also despite many of the obstacles I have encountered. In fact, I do my best to look at obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow from, which I believe helps to contribute to my agenostic approach to life.

Is being agenostic for everyone? It can be, but, it’s really a mindset you decide to embrace. I fully embrace it, because of the benefits I find it offers me on a daily basis, and which fuels my desire to continue to think this way.

Since by nature I am highly motivated to help others, and have a heightened sense of empathy for those who need additional support in their life, I also need to take the time to remain focused on aspects which positively contribute to my agenostic thinking. So, I do have to be mindful of actions which I could take that would not contribute to supporting how I think. This includes pruning people from my personal and professional circles who are not supportive. It also includes making sure I have a strong balance in my life, and am focused on including doing things that support good health and well-being.

I have been privileged to work and be engaged with some of the most inspirational people in our society. All of these people have one thing in common, and it is that they do not allow others to put restrictions on what they are capable of accomplishing. In fact, when people place restrictions on them, they are more inclined to go well beyond and accomplish far greater things in these scenarios.

Some would say these people are highly achievement or competitively oriented, and they may be, but it’s actually more than this. It comes down to the fact they also live their life without self-imposed limiting accomplishment or experience restrictions.

If you are a leader, sports coach, trusted advisor or someone who simply wants to subscribe to benefitting from adopting an agenostic approach, here are some suggestions to help you to do so.

  • Make a list of all of the reasons or excuses you can come up with about why you can’t do or accomplish something.
  • For every item on your list, come up with at least one solution that could eliminate your reasons or excuses for not being able to accomplish something.
  • If there are reasons or excuses on your list that you cannot come up with a solution for, who could you share them with that could help you to find a solution?
  • Are you ready to free yourself from self-imposed age restrictions? What will it take for you to confidently say yes to this?
  • Besides excuses and reasons, come up with another list of how you imagine you will feel, and what your life will be like when age related restrictions are eliminated.
  • Create a list of the things you will be accomplishing, looking forward to doing and that will be bringing both energy, joy and greater satisfaction into your life when you begin experiencing doing things you restricted yourself from doing before.   
  • Visualize how you will feel, and where you will be mentally and physically when you consider adopting the concept of being agenostic.

If and when you decide to adopt the concept of embracing being age-nostic, let me know, as I’ll be looking forward to speaking with you, and hearing about all of the exciting things you have to look forward to, and that you are going to be doing in your life!

#Business #Leadership #Motivation #Inspiration #Satisfaction #Life #Balance #Lifebalance #Visualization #Eliminateagerestrictions #Noexcuses #Nolimits #Nolimitations #Success #Happiness #Notdefinedbyage #Notdefinedbyyourage #GenX #GenY #GenZ #Millennials #Boomers #SportsCoach #Leader #TrustedAdvisor

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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

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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

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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

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