Could you be more influential?

Influence is a skill that some people seem to naturally have more of. Perhaps at least perceptually, and not realistically. Influence can also be difficult to measure, as it is what I’ll call etherial. Despite the fact it is a skill that is harder to measure, if you were to ask a number of different people who know the same person to rate another individuals influence ability, you are likely to get a range of what level they are at. Part of this has to do with the fact that in this scenario, it is fairly subjective in terms of what the actual measurement criteria would be.

An interesting observation I have had about the concept of influence is that this term about a decade ago used to be reserved and applied differently in terms of who had it. Typically someone who had influence was an individual who had amassed a great deal of both experience and a wide network of people. A network they had taken perhaps decades to cultivate. Fast forward to the word “influencer” and how it it used more commonly today, someone who is classified with this designation can seemingly overnight obtain this designation. Surprisingly also with what I’ll refer to as limited expertise.

What I’m suggesting is that the word influential has taken on a new angle. The more modern day aspect of it is often applied to people who are referred to as “influencers”, and this can be in a wide ranging amount of categories. Categories that perhaps five to ten years ago may not have existed, or at least not in the now commonly understood ways.

Now a days much younger people are considering what they can do to gain influence. For context, I’m talking about people in their early teens via mid twenties. When I think back to what I was thinking about during those years as I was growing up, I can definitively tell you I was not thinking about being influential in any way. In fact, if I had thought about what it would take to be influential, I know I wouldn’t have had the confidence to pull off any type of influence. So, the fact we now have such young people who are influencing others in their respective decade of life, and perhaps well beyond this is something I find fascinating.

One of the things I find fascinating about a young persons ability to influence others is whether they understand the level of responsibility that comes along with influencing others? I’m going to suggest they either are not aware of this, or are not prepared emotionally and with enough life experience to handle the influence level they have. Or, without the proper guidance from more experienced and mature individuals.

Let’s think about a young leaders ability to influence others. When you break down the essential elements involved with navigating the process to lead others, many young leaders of both business and sports teams struggle with strategically applying the concept of influence. More importantly appreciating the impact it might unexpectantly have on others. In other words the darker side to influence, and the side that can be crossed both knowingly or unknowingly.

If you were to be able to steer the concept of influence, it would make it much easier for young leaders in particular to navigate. However, similar to first time drivers taking the wheel of a car, the risk of their first attempt of successfully ending up where they want to be without incident statistically might not be in their favor. Although there is the concept of beginners luck.

When I’m in conversations with inexperienced leaders or sports coaches, I find they have a few things in common. One of them is an unrealistic amount of confidence in their decision making abilities. A second challenge is that they haven’t had enough experience with conversationally being able to articulate succinctly what their “end goal” is for the team that will be carrying it out. In other words, there tends to be a great deal of ambiguity and grey areas in terms of the communication level the majority possess. The third characteristic in common is that their ability to successfully forecast the outcome of their actual influence is going to be on the lower side versus an experienced leader or sports coach. Not always, but the majority of time this is the reality which plays out.

Depending on whether having more influence is something you desire or would like to more informally increase your ability in this area, below are some suggestions I have which can apply to both business leaders and sports coaches.

  • Influence can have a wide range of outcomes. Some are extreme, while others are so minor they are barely perceptible. Factor in ahead of time which end of the spectrum you want your influence to be.
  • The reality is that influence can be on a case by case basis. You are likely going to have more natural and less effort that will need to be applied to some people on your team, but consider if there is a common denominator in terms of why you seem to have more influence on some people versus others.
  • Being a top level influential leader will require you to ride the line of being both subtle and at times overt. Finding the middle ground takes both patience and practice, and there will be times that you will be extremely frustrated, and other times when you wished you had applied your influence sooner.
  • Being influential doesn’t mean being deceptive. In fact, some of the most influential people are ones that are completely transparent, and can routinely apply their skills in this area with magnificent results.
  • If you feel that applying your influence doesn’t come naturally to you, the good news is that there are a myriad of types of how to go about applying your influence. The one I always recommend is to lean into being authentically you, and don’t try to mimic someone else’s influence style. It will feel both wrong, and others will notice your awkwardness, and you will be less likely to obtain the results you are seeking.
  • Independent of their status or title, take notice of others around you who seemingly have mastered the art of influence. Pay attention to their body language, tone of voice, the type of words they choose, the timing and location of where and who they are applying their influence too. Getting one of these factors wrong can have negative consequences to the level of influence you could have obtained. In other words, carefully think through how to apply your influence, until you get to the point of more naturally being able to do so.

Having the ability to influence others isn’t something which everyone desires to do. However, when a leader or sports coach carefully wields their influence, is typically when the magic and end results they are seeking for their teams all starts to reveal itself.

#Leadership #Leader #Business #Management #Teams #Influence #Beinginfluential #Influencers #Teamdynamics #Motivation #Sports #Sportsteams #Coach #Sportscoach #Communication #Success

Does everyone have ambition and perseverance?

When I’m talking to someone who I haven’t had the benefit of researching their background in advance, there are some initial questions I might ask them to determine more about them. Some of my questions are geared towards gauging what their level of ambition might be. For context, I find it interesting to learn about what the different elements are that contribute to someone’s ambition level.

We understand that ambition levels can ebb and flow, and this is fine. However, there are times during a person’s life or their career when having an innate drive towards being ambitious will serve them well. Although physiologically and as a generalization when we are sub-45, our energy levels tend to be fairly strong. This certainly can contribute to fueling a person’s ambition, but it’s not the only factor.

Another factor which I have seen contribute to a person’s ambition level is their desire to achieve, and often, they are only in competition with themselves. They will also have their own measurements for what they deem to be an attainment of success, and can be manically focused on their achievement goals.  Having the ability to focus and the discipline it can take to achieve difficult goals isn’t strictly reserved for “younger” people, as it’s actually a person-by-person observation.

The traits of being focused, disciplined and having a strong desire to achieve are also often accompanied by someone who enjoys the pursuit of competition. Not always, but this is another common characteristic which tends to be woven into the behavior of someone who is ambitious. Interestingly, another observation and pattern I have noticed about ambitious people is that they can inspire others with sheer determination they have towards being accomplished.

One of the things I find interesting about individuals who would be classified as ambitious, is that they don’t always have a role model. Sure, they do sometimes, but some of the most ambitious people I have had the opportunity to engage with didn’t have one. What they did have was their own internal blueprint for how they would strategically go about reaching their desired goals. Arguably this is where the aspect of nurture versus nature could come into the conversation.

Although people who are ambitious are well served by having a support system of others helping them in some capacity, many ambitious individuals will pursue their goals independently. This is a much more difficult approach, but it can and does work well for some. For example, I know someone who at a young age decided to pursue working towards accomplishing a goal most people wouldn’t consider taking on until their mid to late twenties. However, this person embarked upon accomplishing a very difficult to pursue goal, and achieved it before they were in their mid-twenties.

There was a great deal of sacrificing this person had to endure for 3-4 years, but they are now enjoying the results of the tremendously time consuming and focused approach they pursued and achieved. They did this on their own terms, and it was remarkable to see what it took to accomplish this. Especially because no aspect of what they were pursuing would be classified as being fun. Just the opposite. Yet, they had the internal drive and ambition it took to pull off and accomplish something that so few people at their age accomplish. Probably less than half of one percent, and they knew this odd at the beginning of their journey.

Picking back up on the nature versus nurture debate, I am of the opinion that everyone has some level of ambition in them. In my opinion, what separates highly ambitious people from those who are not, is a combination of factors. One of them being an innate desire to succeed, another one is they are not afraid of failing, and a third is that they can visualize what the end results of their accomplishment will be like, and they will leverage this heavily. Especially when they are experiencing times when they might not think they will be able to reach their goal. Even if this is a fleeting thought.

For the sake of conversation, let’s agree that everyone has the capacity to be ambitious, and have what it takes to persevere towards their goal or goals. Given this thinking, here are some suggestions to help inspire you, or someone you know or lead who would like to be classified as ambitious.

  • Having realistic timelines for achievements are not always possible, but the closer they are towards being attainable will be beneficial.
  • Make sure your ambitions are not based or biased on what you think you should be doing, or what you think someone else expects of you. If they are not your own ambitions, it will be much more difficult to stay on course to achieve them.
  • Your level of ambition will be different than others. It is unique to you, and it will not be productive to compare your level to others. Work on fostering your level upwards, as it has more capacity to increase than you might think it has.
  • Build in some minor celebrations as you hit milestones towards your pursuits.
  • Ask yourself “why” am I in pursuit of the goal(s) I have? If you can’t convince yourself they are worth it, it will be inevitably more difficult to accomplish them.
  • Do you have someone you can model even a portion of your pursuits after? You don’t have to know them, but the more you can understand their journey, this can be informative to help you know what obstacles you might encounter. Better yet, to avoid them.
  • If you are driven by pride, this can be a tremendously strong motivator.
  • Knowing that what you are pursuing and how it could positively impact both yourself and others, can assist in maintaining your ambition level to take you over some of the hurdles you will experience during your pursuits.
  • Don’t place self-imposed restrictions on yourself based on your age, education or where you are presently in your life or professional pursuit. Instead, remain diligently focused on where you want to be instead.

Yes, being ambitious will take a certain amount of energy and determination, but I promise you, it will be worth putting in the effort it will take to get you there. Even if you don’t believe that you can accomplish what you wildly desire to do. As Nike says, “Just do it”.

TAGS: #Success #Motivation #Ambition #Leader #Leadership #Successtips #Tiipsonbeingsuccessful #Personaldevelopment #Teams #Perseverance #Coach #Sportscoach #Teams

Taking more risks. Why don’t you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Am I a good person?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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