Leadership and being happy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to actually get along with others.

Given the enormous division we have been seeing in our countries ability to get along with others recently, I felt compelled to write about this. Getting along with others is not a light subject to address, yet it is one that truly resonates with me.

There are a number of things I am passionate about. One of them is the importance of granting a minimum level of respect to everyone I encounter. In other words, starting from a neutral place with everyone I meet, without judging them prior to interacting with them.

Based on my profession, I meet and have worked with thousands of people. Each time I meet someone I look at it as an opportunity. An opportunity to get to know an interesting person. To learn something from them, and to better understand how they view the world. From my perspective, meeting and getting to know others is similar to opening or being given a gift.

How is it that people become so jaded and reluctant to embrace being able to get along with others? Unfortunately, they are negatively influenced by others in their life to shape how they think from an early age. As someone matures, the circle of people they interact with will further shape and influence how they think. Yes, we all have the ability to be independent thinkers, but it takes more effort to do this. Yet, it is completely worth putting in the work to think this way.

Of course, our life circumstances can also impact the way we perceive and get along with others in our lives. Sprinkle in the concept of one’s mindset, and this too can play a negative or positive role in which way people think about and how they get along with others.

Now factor in the concept of effort, as this too also needs to be considered. For instance whether it is a minimum or maximum amount of effort applied, in terms of attempting to interact well, and get along with half the people we encounter. If the amount of effort is low, chances are that people will struggle with getting along with others. I’m applying the term effort, as an umbrella term for numerous other words. Unfortunately, prejudice is the first one that comes to my mind. However, my opinion about prejudice is that it is based on being highly misinformed, and stubbornly reluctant to accept and honor and equally value other people.

For the sake of being on the same page with our thinking, indulge me in winding back our lives to when we were able to get along with just about everyone. Everyone will likely wind back to a different age, but most will generally be sub five years old. At that time in our lives we were not burdened with investing negative energy into thinking about other people. Imagine if you could roll back to that point in time?

Starting from a place of treating everyone equally, and as if they are one of your friends, is a noble thought. Is it realistic? Perhaps not, but consider what our world would be like if as adults we put more effort and modeled for younger generations how to get along with others?

Personally, I am on a daily quest to model this type of behavior. In fact, I am honored when I am able to meet a new person. Especially when they initially appear to represent an outward perspective, and may appear quite different from me (e.g., they grew up in a different country, speak a different language, are older, younger, etc.).

One of the greatest compliments related to this topic, and that I have received from another person, was that they completely misjudged me based on my appearance. In other words, they were applying their own prejudice to me prior to interacting with me. They also told me that they learned something from this experience. What they shared with me was that they were going to from that point on, do their part to be more open and less judgmental. In other words, they were going to attempt to not thrust their prejudiced thinking on others going forward.

In case you were wondering if there are concepts you can apply to get along better with others, there are. Here are some suggestions to do this.

  • Consider reading, listening to a podcast or watching a video about mindset. More specifically look up the word “open mindedness”.
  • Factor in how you feel when you meet and or interact with someone new. What are some of the first thoughts that cross your mind about this person? Are they negative or positive thoughts?
  • What if you trusted everyone new that you met. Or, perhaps were neutral in your thinking about them when you first met them. How would your interaction with this person change?
  • What value do you place on having more people in your life that are different than you?
  • Think about the characteristics of the people you consider to be your friends. Are you proud of their characteristics? Or, are there aspects of their characteristics which you simply accept, but are not happy about?
  • How would you currently rate your ability to get along well with others? Are you able to objectively rate yourself?
  • Have you ever avoided meeting someone for reasons you would not be comfortable with sharing with others why you feel this way? Think about why you feel this way. Is it reasonable or logical to think this way? 
  • What level of effort do you put into getting along with others? Perhaps you don’t put enough effort in to make it work out to get along well.
  • Are you always pointing the blame on someone else for why you can’t get along? Have you considered maybe you and the way you interact with others is the reason you are challenged with getting along with others.

To do my part, I’ll be focused on being a role model to demonstrate how to get along well with others. I hope many of you will do the same, as we all know our world will be a much better place if we could all simply just get along well with one another.

Tags: #Howtogetalongwithothers #Gettingalong #Leadership #Relationships #Business #Management #Prejudice #teambuilding #leadershipmindset #engagement #success #Teams

What’s your one thing you are known for?

If someone else were to name the one thing you are known for being good at doing, or perhaps want to be known for, would they be able to do so? How critical is it that you would want them to be able to get this right? 

Humans are complex, and it can be difficult to truly understand and appreciate one another on multiple levels. When it comes to the topic of talent, and being good at a particular thing, it is always interesting to consider how someone evolved to the talent level they have attained. Research supports that to master something, an individual needs to spend around ten thousand hours to reach the level of being exceptional, or considered to be an expert at something.

When you think about how many people actually get to the level of putting in the ten thousand hours to achieve mastery of whatever it is they are known for being good at, what does it take for this person to have this level of focus? Or, the command of discipline required to sustain those many hours of pursuing what they are doing? Does being passionate about something play a role in fueling the person to achieve the highest level of mastery?

Upon considering the people I have come across in my life who have reached the pinnacle of either their career, or the mastery of something they are known for that is not associated with their profession, I have found they all have one thing in common. What is this one thing they have in common? Surprisingly it’s a relatively simple concept.

All of these people will tell you that they love what they are doing. Matter of factly, they will also tell you that the time they are putting into, or have put into pursuing what they are doing or have achieved may in fact have seemed effortless to them. Not always, but many people who have reached a mastery level will also tell you that there were times when it was difficult doing what they were doing. Perhaps even times when they wanted to end their pursuit of mastery. However, all of them would agree that it was worth whatever they had to go through, sacrifice and endure.

This week I had the honor of speaking to a Gold Medal winning Olympian. I asked her what her journey was like to get to the level she attained. Her response was interesting. It was interesting because she only slightly references her own personal involvement in attaining her mastery. In other words, she talked about all of the people in her life, including her parents, coaches, friends and teammates that allowed her to achieve what she did.

This Olympian also mentioned that it was her sense of appreciation for being able to strive to be the best at what she was doing that was one of the contributing elements to her success. It was also the comraderie and support from her teammates along her journey that also contributed to making the difference in remaining focused on her talent contribution towards helping the team with the goal of winning an Olympic gold medal.  I asked her what impact winning an Olympic Gold medal had on her life?  She told me that it provided her with lifelong friends that she literally after many years, is still in daily contact with. Beyond this, they have supported one another via both numerous highs and lows in each other’s lives. However, she also told me that the best part of this type of friendship, is how they would literally consider one another to be family members, and support each other no matter what the circumstances were.

If you are on your way to mastering something you want to be known for either personally or professionally, below are some suggestions to consider to help you to continue on your path. Especially on days that might be slightly more difficult to do so.

  • Pause for a moment. During this pause, consider and make sure you are in fact focusing on something that you either are naturally gifted at doing, or have enough passion for to pursue achieving, regardless of how difficult it will be to do so.
  • Not everyone is intended to achieve a mastery level of something, but if you are inclined to be one of these people, make sure you have people in your life that will be able to emotionally support you on this journey.
  • Socially prune out the people in your life who are not supportive of your quest.
  • Always keep your end goal in mind, or written down and in a place you can reference.
  • Visualize both how it will feel, and what you expect your situation will be like once you master your “thing” you are striving to become an expert in.
  • Focus on the impact your mastery achievement will potentially and positively impact not only you, but others (e.g., you could be a role model for someone).
  • There may be days, even weeks when you might not be able to pursue taking your talent to the next level. Yes, this might feel like a set-back, but keep time in perspective, and understand you are metaphorically running a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Look for inspiration from others, nature, music, or whatever it takes to keep your motivation level where it needs to be in pursuit of your mastery.

Eventually, if someone wants to achieve something, and they have an innate and burning desire to do so, they will get to the place of being known for what they are doing and good at. Going on this journey will be a long one, but if you have the right mindset, and desire to get there, nothing can really prevent you from getting there. Even if the definition of your mastery level is altered at some point along the way, ultimately you are the one who is defining what success of your talent means, and what you are great at either personally or professionally. Perhaps both.

TAGS: #Success #Achievement #Mastery #Olympics #OlympicGoldMedal #Positivity #Mindset #Business #Teams #Teammates #Business #Teamwork #Friendship #PursuitOfSuccess #Goals #AchievingAGoal #Leadership #Mindset #Motivation

Thrive! What’s your plan?

I was recently having a conversation with someone close to me about how they were living each day and really struggling to get through it. Yes, they were admittedly depressed. They also felt as if they were stuck in a vicious cycle they could not get out of. The cycle consisted of working, going to sleep, repeat.

During the course of each day, they referenced that it took every ounce of energy they had to just do the bare minimum of what they had to do in their job. They didn’t feel as if they had time to do anything during the course of the day that they even slightly enjoyed doing. This made matters worse. Could this possibly be a time management challenge? Absolutely, and they would admit to this, but they still felt unable to break their vicious cycle, no matter how desperately they wanted to do so.

One of the things which came up during our conversation was the need to figure out what they could do during the day to refuel their energy battery. In other words, to do something which would provide them with additional energy to help them to break out of their situation of feeling like they were only existing day to day.

Hearing and seeing this person struggling was gut wrenching for me, yet as an optimist, I felt I still could do something to help them out of their situation. I just needed to be creative and have them be willing to try to do something different. Perhaps a bit radical to them. The next thing I needed to do was to get them to agree to doing something different. Then I asked them to commit to giving it everything they had in them to go from existing to thriving. Even if they were starting from a disadvantaged place of doing so.

If you are not familiar with having depression or anxiety, one of the things about it is that it consumes most of your energy, and makes you feel exhausted. Exhausted to the point of potentially not being able to accomplish anything but sleep. Fortunately, this person was not at this level, but I felt they were close to it.

When you are interacting with someone who isn’t thriving, they are typically frustrated and overwhelmed by what is happening in their life and at work. Of course, no one wants to feel this way. However, the challenge most people have is that they are often not equipped with methods to help them when they find themselves in this situation. Being able to recognize when someone is in this situation is critical, and it doesn’t take a professional to evaluate this. Having empathy and common sense will be enough skills to recognize someone is in a difficult situation.

I am not a trained mental health care professional, but my life and professional expertise in working with people over the last 25 years to bring the best out of them is both an honor and privilege.  I’ve written about how coaching is not therapy , and in fact, would suggest that people who are struggling with feeling like they are not thriving, and are simply existing could benefit from having both a therapist and a coach. In fact, I believe firmly that everyone should have a coach. I have three to four people in my life at any point in time who play the role of my coach. Some might refer to them as mentors, and in some instances the role definitions become blurred.

Let’s circle back to how I’m in the process of helping the person close to me with going from feeling like they are existing to thriving. One of the things I suggested was to in fact find a therapist. They are now working with one. Below are some of the other and more radical things they are doing, and that others can do too.

  • Outline on paper what you want your life to be like going forward. Think of this in terms of either a mind map, or perhaps a picture storyboard. Some refer to this as an inspiration board. This can also be created digitally too. The point is to begin thinking ahead.
  • When we begin to think about what is in front of us, and how to get to the place we want to be, it shifts our mentality from being “stuck” to considering that there are possibilities for doing something different.
  • Craft a list of all of the things you can think of that you would like to do or accomplish. Make the list as if everything on it is possible. In other words, think well beyond what you might even be able to imagine doing in reality.
  • Aspirational thinking is really powerful. Even more powerful is being able to plot out the tiny, and potentially large number of steps to get there. Although having many steps might appear to be overwhelming, if you can commit to doing one per day, it will allow you to accomplish this.
  • Having the perception of possessing good time management skills is often a challenge for people who feel they are simply existing. So, I highly recommend putting this on someone’s list to help them to learn how to improve this skill.
  • Committing to taking care of yourself is also highly important, as this is often overlooked when someone is not feeling great. Even doing something as small as drinking enough water and remaining hydrated each day can be helpful.
  • The radical thing I am having the person I referenced consider doing, is to think of their next career move as a paid internship. To have the experience be focused on building a new foundation which will support them to thrive. We are working on setting this up, but I know this will work, as I have had numerous other people apply this technique. No, it’s not easy, but the results are always remarkable.

So, if you or someone you know isn’t thriving, but wants to, I hope you will share this story with them. Everyone deserves to be thriving in their life, and sometimes they need additional support to get there.

TAGS: #Mentalhealth #Howtothrive #Howtosucceed #Management #Business #Life #Coaching #Therapist #Therapy #Leadership #Beingstuck #Feelingstuck #Thriving #Advice #Mentor #Virtualmentor #Perception #Timemanagement #Timemanagementskills

Who’s your champion?

It’s obvious why everyone needs to have a person who would be considered their “champion” or biggest supporter in their life. Perhaps a different one professionally and personally. The champion I am referring to, is the type of person who truly believes in you. Regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in. Someone you can always rely upon, particularly when you may not be at the top of your “game”.

When I think about who my “champion” is, they embody all of the qualities you would ideally want this person to have, starting with believing in the core essence of who you are. This person also has an unwavering integrity and a solution minded outlook. They also are what I’ll refer to as a “clear-thinker”. What some others might call rational, especially during highly charged emotional situations. Perhaps what some might also refer to as drama.

Speaking of drama, this is not something I ever seek out to have going on in my life. Although it does appear some people seek this out, or have a magnet which draws them in to more routinely being in this state. It’s possible people with lots of drama in their life like having it occur, but from my perspective it is an unnecessary distraction from what would be more important to be focused on. For instance, addressing challenges, rather than circling around them in a drama induced frenzy, absent of any solution.

People who have drama in their lives may not realize how much energy they are having consumed when they are in their “dramatic” situation, and that if this energy was redirected, how different their circumstances might be. My interpretation of people who either attract or live a life filled with drama have learned to embrace this way of living. It appears to be a cycle they can’t break, and perhaps don’t want to. However, if they better understood the option of not having drama occurring constantly in their life, they could in fact impact their life very positively. Even reduce or eliminate the drama in their lives.

It’s possible that people who have too much drama going on, do not have a champion in their life. Or, maybe they did at one point, and the champion gave up supporting them because the person they were attempting to help did not ever accept their advice. If this was the case, I’m sure the champion went well beyond what would be reasonable to hang-in and attempt to help the person they were championing. However, they also determined eventually that the person was not going to accept their support, and ultimately, they reluctantly walked away from the lack of making any progress.

Having a champion in one’s life is a gift, and not everyone is given this gift. A champion of another person does not always intentionally become one. Sometimes this person is surprised by the fact they took on this role. This may seem odd or counterintuitive to think about, but it does happen.

An example of this occurring, is when someone becomes the champion of another person due to their empathy for the person and the circumstances they are in. Potentially circumstances they could help to influence and help the person they are championing to improve. Not always with money, but often with attention, guidance and ultimately love, or a deep appreciation for making the circumstances better for the person they are the champion for.

If you are seeking to find a champion to have in your life either personally or professionally, perhaps both, here are some suggestions for seeking them out. However, you might not have to look that hard for them, as they are likely in your life right now, and you have not been focused on seeing them.

  • Most parents play a role in being our initial champion in our lives, but not always. If you have not embraced or felt that they have contributed to playing this role, it’s possible either you did not accept them attempting to do this for you, or they didn’t have the capacity to do this for a myriad of reasons.
  • Coaches, teachers and others who you have interacted with in your life who are in their roles to support having your best interest in mind, are naturally skilled at being one of your champions. Did you seek them out in the past to do this? If not, consider why you might not have.
  • Someone you think of as your mentor or advisor can also play the role of your champion. I personally have a number of people who are in each of these roles that I rely upon for helping to champion me when I need their support. My earliest memory of a mentor champion was my summer camp counselor who always encouraged me to do my best at everything I was attempting to do. Especially new things I was learning to do.
  • Consider aspects of your life either personally or professionally that you might need additional support. Is there someone you know who has experience in those areas that can help you? If so, are you comfortable enough with reaching out to them for their support?
  • Asking someone to be your champion typically happens more organically than being architected into your life. Your champion will more likely “adopt” you, and you may or may not be fully aware of when this happens.
  • Perhaps you are someone’s champion? Does the person know you are playing this role? It’s possible they do not, or at least not yet.
  • Being another person’s champion is an incredibly noble role to play. One that requires you to be unselfish, giving of your time, energy and experience, and always there for the person, particularly in some of the most difficult circumstances you will be helping them to navigate through.

My sincere hope is that you have a champion, are one, or will be one in someone else’s life one day. Thank you to all of the champions out there who are making a difference in other people’s lives. You are all unsung heroes, and may you continue to be one. Enjoy the experience of helping and supporting others, particularly during times they need you the most to be there for them.

Tags: #Mentoring #Champion #Leadership #Management #Business #Life #Helpingothers #Makingadifference #Coaches #Teachers #Cheerleader #Coach #SportsCoach #Parent #Parents #Boss #Teacher