How do you inspire “bench” players or work place team members?

I was recently talking to a leader of a sports team. I asked her this question “What do you do to both motivate and inspire your “bench players?” For clarification, the players who don’t see as much playing time, but who are also important members of the team. She told me that this is probably one of the most difficult things to do, or to do well and consistently.

After I heard this leader express that this is a challenging situation, and understandably something that most leaders face on a regular basis, I asked her “what if I had a solution to this challenge?” Naturally I piqued her curiosity, and she said “you have my full attention”. So, with this green light to proceed with my solution, I kicked off my solution explanation.

To set the stage for my solution to be shared, I asked this leader a few more questions. The next question I asked was “what happens when you are unable to inspire one of your players who regularly does not see much playing time?” I followed this question by asking “what’s your method to integrate your bench players into your team’s overall success strategy?” This last question seemed to really strike a nerve. I could also visually see that it was one she didn’t have a good answer to. However, she wasn’t the first leader I have worked with who responded this way.

Now let’s get back to discussing and responding to the first question I posed about how does someone inspire their bench or workplace team mates? As I proceeded to queue up the foundation for how I have been able to accomplish this, I also shared that this was something she could implement too. Of course, with some guidance, as I have been doing this for a while.

As part of explaining the “how” it is possible to inspire and motivate bench players, one of the factors I brought up to this leader was the number one reason people in the workplace feel good about the company they are aligned with. It’s a rather simple, but at the same time, can be extraordinary complex concept to get right. It’s that someone feels appreciated. Conversely, when people do not feel appreciated, it’s also the number one reason they leave the situation they are in.

So, if feeling appreciated is the perhaps one of the “secret” ingredients to inspiring or motivating others, is there an ideal way to accomplish this? Yes, there is, and it is one of the foundational way’s leaders can achieve the inspiration they are seeking to bring to their “bench players”.

Let’s now drill down into how I have worked with leaders to help them to achieve inspiring others.  The first thing I do is to determine what their top strength is. In full disclosure, I am a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, so I leverage the StrengthsFinder Survey Assessment to determine this. After I determine what a person’s number one strength is, I focus on helping them and their leader to understand how to properly leverage this strength. To leverage it in multiple scenarios, with the critical one being when they are not always fully engaged at the level they desire to be on their team.

When an individual can contribute their number one strength both on and off the “field” or in the workplace, this is when the “magic” of tapping into this concept begins to emerge. The person is able to both tap into a different source of their own motivation, and derive the benefits of their leader knowing how to accomplish this to. In fact, to know precisely how to both inspire and engage this individual, even if they are not playing an active role on the “field” or under the spotlight in their work place role.

Now, here is the brief version of the story I shared with the leader about one of the athletes I worked with who experienced the “pure magic” of being an inspired “bench player”. It’s important to understand that this particular player may not have initially understood that their role on the team was not going to be an active one. In fact, they may have thought due to their seniority on the team, that they would play an integral role on the field. This wasn’t the case. However, what did occur was that their “bench” position was actually far more important to contributing to their team’s success, than their limited time on the field.

How is it possible that a “bench player” could positively influence the outcome of their team’s performance? This is exactly the question that most leaders are challenged with, and I have repeatably proven that this is possible. It’s possible because when a person is able to engage in leveraging their own innate talents differently, and understand how to apply them constructively, yet outside of the way they may more traditionally do so, this is when they are both personally inspired and motivated. One more thing, they also feel appreciated too!

The biggest challenge leaders have with inspiring their “bench players” is that they may not or don’t appreciate the role they can play in this capacity. Instead of feeling like the “bench player” is going to be a challenge for them, they need to understand in fact how to tap into and leverage this person differently. Differently in the capacity of having them understand the integral role they do in fact play and contribute to the team as a bench player.

If you are a leader who is interested in learning more about how to both inspire and motivate your bench players, let’s talk. You know how to reach me, and I’ll look forward to having a conversation with you.

TAGS: #Motivation #Inspiration #Teams #Howtoinspireothers #Inspiringothers #Business #Leaders #Leveragingtalent #Leveragingstrengths #Talent #Talentdevelopment #Teamdevelopment #Sports #Coaches #Sportscoaches #Businessleaders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going back to easy…who’s in?

This morning I was inspired by a quote that perfectly captures the essence of what I believe is a philosophy which so many people are coming around to appreciate. The quote is from the founder of Le Pain Quotidien, Alain Coumont, and it was “I think the most sophisticated thing sometimes, can be going back to the simple things and that’s not always easy.”

Alain’s quote is almost non-sensical, as you would imagine that doing something simple should not be hard to accomplish. In fact, you would think this would be extremely easy to do. However, given the current environment we are living in is so precarious on numerous levels (e.g., economically, socially, health wise), it has thrown people into a tailspin as they attempt to make sense of our world being tipped upside down.

My home-based city is Boston, but this weekend I’m in New York City. This is the second time I have traveled since March of 2020, and the first time back to this city since a year ago. I was curious what condition I would find the state of the city to be in, and sadly, it’s worse than I expected it to be. Some things are the same, but the vibe and energy of the city has significantly changed. The fact so many businesses have been shuttered, and that the main places of entertainment have been too (e.g., Broadway, Museums, The Met), makes the city feel a lot like any other city. The graffiti and trash are back to a level I remember seeing a few decades ago, and the homeless population seems to be at an all-time high.

So, if a city like New York is not able to offer the traditional experience it did prior to Covid, what sets it apart from any other city? I posed this question to some of my friends who live here, and their responses were fascinating. Essentially, they shared with me that they are living in and treating the city as if it was always devoid of the elements and reasons people chose to live there. In other words, they have resorted to doing things which people living in the suburbs would typically do (e.g., going for walks, riding their bike, watching and listening to nature, and spending more time outside than inside).

You could easily say that people in New York, and probably in most parts of the country, are going back to living a simpler life. One without the trappings of always feeling like they need to be out and going someplace new, or doing something interesting. Their routines are being scaled down, and they are beginning to accept the living situation they are in. Perhaps even appreciating it more, especially if they are fortunate to be healthy, and have a paying job.

I’m certain if you had taken a survey and asked people a year ago if they could have imagined their life scaling back and describing to them how it is today, that they would never have believed it would be the way it is. However, in reality, I have a sense more people have come to terms with, and are more accepting of their reality a year into their lives being upended.

If you have not arrived at the place of being resigned to the fact your life might in fact be better now because of having to embrace the simple things in life being important, I challenge you to consider these suggestions to help you on this journey.

  • Since many people have not had to commute to their office, their “work attire” has likely shifted to a new level of “office casual”. In other words, they are finding that they are wearing less than half of the clothes they did before, and their dry-cleaning bills can prove this. Ultimately, this could mean you would have more room in your closet.
  • Understanding the concept that less is more maybe something you can finally wrap your minds around. Why? Because you might be more aware of the trappings of the “stuff” or clutter in your environment that is sucking up space and not adding any perceived value to your life. Purging unnecessary items from your life can be simultaneously cathartic, and charitable.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  
  • Space is relative, and there is definitely a middle ground in terms of having the right amount of it to live in. People who are living in small spaces might be wishing to have more space, and those with an abundance of space might be realizing they don’t need all the space they have. Spending so much time in your current space has provided you with a new appreciation for what the right amount of space might be for you.
  • Although not everyone will fare well from a relationship perspective, there will be people whose relationships will become stronger from spending so much “quality” time together. Providing they have the mentality that they are on the “same team”, and can add more value versus detract from being in one another’s lives.

The phrase “less is more” is one of my favorite expressions. If we could all embrace this as a concept, it will certainly help us to navigate as a society on our journey of going back to recognizing that there are some positive outcomes from living a simpler, less complicated life. Even in the midst of still being in the middle of living in a Pandemic as one of our main, but not our only challenge at this point in time.

TAGS: #Pandemic #Simplelife #Boston #NewYorkCity #Options #LessisMore #EmbracingChange #Perspective #Happiness #QualityofLife #LessComplicatedLife

Do you have simpatico?

This has been a tough week for me, as my closest male friend passed away unexpectedly. Truthfully the experience has taken me on a whirlwind of emotions. Many of them I didn’t expect to have, but each one of them had a purpose. Or, so I’ve been told by others who have had more experience with grieving.

There was one word which my friend and I discovered and agreed upon that embodied the definition of our friendship. A friendship that lasted over forty years. Some of those decades we were not as close, but the last decade made up for this. We learned to trust one another, and rely upon one another for advice and as a shoulder for support. More importantly, to celebrate the various achievements in each of our lives. The word is simpatico.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word simpatico hails from the Greek language and noun sympatheia, and which means sympathy. Three other languages (e.g., English, Italian and Spanish) adopted this word. The definition of the word simpatico is predominantly used as a descriptive word to characterize people who are well-liked or easy to get along with. The second half of the definition is what resonated with us.

Have you had the opportunity either personally or professionally to meet one or more people you have had simpatico with? If you had, I’m sure thinking about this makes your heart feel special. Consider yourself fortunate if you have had more than one person in your life that you had this type of relationship with. It’s a true gift.

Often in the work I do with people and teams, I discuss how challenging it can be for some people to get along with others. For them to figure out how to insert themselves into a conversation, into a group or perhaps what signs to look for that would signal entry points to do so.

If you have simpatico with someone, the flow of information exchange you have with them is fluid and never awkward. In fact, most conversations are exhilarating, and you can’t wait to talk to that person again. Naturally you might have variations of this experience with other people, but when you truly are able to get along with someone at the simpatico level, I treat this as a special experience worth preserving.

You have heard about the theory that animals are adept at determining when they encounter humans, how they know which ones are genuine and would be fond of them. It’s similar to having a sixth sense. Some humans have this same capacity, and sometimes the ones who have it, do not exercise it. Or, perhaps may not be attuned to knowing they do. However, most that are fortunate to have it, understand they do.

I think about having the ability to get along with others as a multi-faceted technique. Part of this has to do with picking up on others body language and knowing how to read it appropriately. Sometimes reading body language can be tricky, as people will do their best to mask emotions they might not want you to see. For example, if they are disappointed or angry with you, or someone else, they might not want to broadcast this to others. However, most of the time people do not mask their physical body emotions well.

Why don’t people mask their emotions well? One of the reasons is because your body is trying to protect you to return to a more balanced state of emotions. When our emotions are trending in a negative direction, our physical body will sometimes override the way our neuro systems want us to portray ourselves. In other words, being calm and alert. Part of this is based on a survival instinct to keep us safe.

Returning to other contributing ways people who are skilled at getting along with others is based on pure instinct, as well as some of the following contributing factors:

  • Practicing how to get along with others is a real thing. Those who have mastered it may have had an early advantage of being able to know how to do so instinctively, but they have also put an effort into becoming good at it.
  • Honing one’s communication skills is critical to being able to get along with others. What do you do on a regular basis to increase your skills in this area?
  • Not everyone is as empathetic as you might want them to be. However, you can also practice trying to be more empathetic. In fact, there are companies who have developed software to teach nurses how to become more sympathetic. This is done using artificial intelligence avatars which allow them to practice this skill, and be rated on how well they are achieving being sympathetic, or empathetic.
  • Consider the last time you did something nice for someone. Committing to doing one nice thing for someone else on a daily basis will contribute to increasing both your karma bank account, but genuinely make the recipient feel special.
  • People who have an ability to bring joy into others lives also score points in the area of skill which factors into how they are able to get along well with others. Bringing joy to others could be in the form of making them laugh, simply being polite and showing them respect, and sharing skills you have with them and teaching them about the skill you have (e.g., how to sing, draw, perform complex data analysis).

I have been told that as time passes by, the sting of my heart being broken will subside. However, I understand I can take comfort in knowing I was fortunate to have known someone that I was able to experience simpatico with. In fact, this will be a sustainable tribute to this person. This is the greatest legacy from our friendship which will help me to get through my moments of sadness. May you someday have a friend in your life that you have simpatico with too.

#Life #Grief #Grieving #Simpatico #Friendship

Ageless. What are the rules?

My birthday is this month, and I find that I become more reflective when this day approaches. When I was in my thirties, I remember listening to a conversation about someone in their fifties talking about how they didn’t feel any different than they did when they were two decades below this. I found this to be fascinating. Namely because I expected to hear a much different version of this conversation.

One of the things that provided a lasting impression from this conversation, was that it opened my mind to considering age as only a data classification. Although in our society we tend to place both visible and invisible fences around age. What I mean is that there are distinct markers of when you can and cannot do certain things legally in the US (e.g., obtaining your driver’s license, being able to vote, being able to consume alcohol) to name a few.

Fast forward or rewind to the decade of living in your twenties. This is a wonderful decade where we are encouraged to explore our career options and where to live, who to partner with, make mistakes and figure out who we are, and what makes us happy. Of course, not everyone figures this out during this decade, but for the sake of conversation, let’s make this assumption.

In your thirty’s decade, you might find yourself feeling more settled. Or, becoming more confident about some of the choices you made in your twenties which are impacting this decade. Perhaps you are caring for someone other than yourself, or not. Either way, your perspective on the world is evolving, and you are becoming more aware of how you can and might be impacting the environment you are in.

As you ease into your forties, you might realize that you have achieved a level of accomplishment you have been striving to attain for years. Although you have been working at your achievements for a while, it might feel as if you woke up one day and finally feel a sense of relief. Relief that the hard work you have put in to your career or life is beginning to pay off. Or, perhaps not yet?

Arriving at the doorstep of your fifties is an interesting place to be. For me personally, I became far more accepting of both my limitations and achievements. I’m not suggesting I was settling and not attempting to pursue other goals, but I arrived at a place where I was finally more comfortable in my own skin. This partially had to do with the fact I changed careers after decades, and entered into one which I felt embraced me authentically. For the first time in my life. Yes, this felt amazing, but truthfully, I was also frustrated that it took so long to arrive here.

This leads me back to how as I look forward in time, that I will not be referring to my age. I feel it is restrictive, and not representative of who I am, what I have to offer, or the possibilities and opportunities which might not be there for me if have a self-imposed age restriction on myself. So, my solution to being able to look at my life going forward is having a mindset of being ageless. Just writing this makes me feel different, and less restricted. It’s also something I was thinking about how I can share with others. In a way, this is my birthday gift to others.

I appreciate the fact not everyone may feel comfortable with defining themselves as ageless, but if it helps to open up your mind to placing fewer restrictions on your life, and provides a new lens to opportunities, I’ll be satisfied with this.

Since I have a mentoring mindset and generally provide suggestions on how to navigate towards accomplishing something, below are some ideas for you to consider adopting an “ageless” mindset too.

  • I have always liked bright clothes and colors. Although I am also a big fan of the black and white combo. My point is that your choice of clothes and the colors you where should not be influenced by others. Consider your color choices as a reflection of who you truly are, and don’t let your age dictate what colors you think you can or can’t wear.
  • Do you have friends from different decades? I hope you do, or will consider finding people to include in your circle of friends who are not in your same decade. You will learn and be incredibly enriched by the thinking from people who are at different phases in their life. Factor in both the mentoring and reverse mentoring possibilities too.
  • If there is a hobby or something you have wanted to do, but you think you are too young or too old to pursue it, give it a try. You might be denying yourself from having immense satisfaction, or determine it’s not really as great as you thought it might be. You need to experiment to find this out, so what are you waiting for?
  • Have you always wanted to travel, but have not been able to do so for any number of reasons (e.g., budget, you are afraid to, you don’t know where to go)? All of these can be overcome with some planning, especially the budget factor. In fact, traveling on a restricted budget can actually be more fun, as it challenges you to be more creative with what you can do. Hint, in my opinion, traveling is one of the best ways to feel ageless.

So, the next time someone asks me what my age is, you know what I’ll be telling them…I’m ageless. I can’t wait to hear the responses from this statement, and what type of conversations I’ll be having when this happens. Perhaps you can adopt this ageless philosophy? Better yet, perhaps you can also re-write both the written and undocumented rules that can place unnecessary restrictions and unnecessary fear in our minds, and on how we lead and approach going forward in our lives. Enjoy the journey, and I hope to see you along the way.

TAGS: #Ageless #Aging #Birthday #Perception #Fear #Journey #Life #Leadership #Success #Mindset #Positivity #PositiveMindset #Fear #Redefiningage #Reimaginingaging  #Confidence #Motivation #Perception #Inspiration #Mentor #Mentoring B265