Who gave you a chance?

I’m a big fan of thanking or acknowledging others who have supported me in some way. I have done this via conversations, written notes and being able to fortunately include them in the “shout out” sections of my book series. Learning to thank others was a trait or manner my mom taught me at a very early age, and as soon as I learned how to write. At first having to hand write thank you notes to people wasn’t something I fully appreciated the context and importance of, but overtime, I came to value and want to do this without prompting.

Was my adoption of handwriting thank you notes a habit? Yes, it certainly became one, and I’ve never broken this habit. In fact, what I find amazing is the impact my notes have on the people who receive them. An impact with the loveliest of consequences. What I mean by this is that the brief time I take to write my thank you notes, allows the recipients to know that I truly care about what they have helped me with. Of course, you can thank someone verbally, but putting in the extra effort to express your gratitude in writing is more impactful and can provide a last memory effect. An effect that in present day time, not many people are the benefactors of, as so few people take the time to thank people in writing.

My habit of thanking others via writing takes place both via an electronic method, but I am a firm believer that the handwritten method absolutely increases the impact and meaning behind your note. I also like how you can personalize your approach to thanking someone based on the type of note or card you are writing. Consider your note or card being part of your personal brand, and another way of expressing who you are, and want to project to others. You can have some fun with doing this, so don’t shy away from being creative with your actual physical note style approach.

When I was recently writing a handwritten note to thank someone last week, it got me thinking about how this isn’t a topic which regularly comes up on conversation. Although I think it should, hence why I’m putting a spotlight on it today. The impact from a handwritten note can far exceed the power you might think that it has, and I have seen this occur time and time again. In full transparency, I don’t write my handwritten notes to have them be other than a polite way of expressing my gratitude. I also don’t have expectations post writing my notes, but I have certainly been pleasantly surprised by how people have gone out of their way to thank me for sending them a thank you note.

There is a chance we might not always recognize another person who should be acknowledged for the help they bestowed upon us (e.g., a teacher, coach, relative, friend), perhaps because it was part of their job to do so. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t thank them for doing their job well, and it could simply be a verbal acknowledgement, but a written one is always better. When I have spoken to people about the power of thanking someone who has given them a chance personally or professionally, I often also hear excuses about why they haven’t done this, or that they are not strong at communicating their sentiments either verbally or in writing. Upon hearing these excuses, I point out that given the amount of technology we have access to help us with this, especially the written part (e.g., Chat GBT for one), I feel it’s a weak reason for not thanking someone. Alright, I’m going there…a bit lazy or perhaps selfish too.

Now to get back on a positive track, I would like to challenge you with considering whether there are people in your life who you should be either verbally or sending a handwritten thank you note who have helped you, or given you a chance? I’m certain there are, so let’s pause for a moment to reflect upon constructing a mental note of who is on this list. Now that you have this list, consider how someone giving you a chance may have changed the trajectory of where you are now. Does this person, or the people who have supported you to help you to navigate to where you are know you are grateful for their support? Independent of your response, below are some suggestions to consider your next steps forward in thanking others.

  • With the “mental list” you have come up with, consider taking this to the next level, writing down this information, and having it serve as a repository of who has given you a chance.
  • Having a list of who has helped you will be enormously supportive on days when you may not be feeling the “love”, or you feel as if no one is on your side. I assure you, there have been plenty of people who fall into this category.
  • Let’s think of logistics for a moment. Do you have a thank you card or cards you can send to someone? Do you know where to source them from? Do you have a stamp or stamps you can leverage to complete the process of mailing your thank you card if this is a requirement?
  • Your thank you note does not have to be a novel. In fact, keeping your note on the shorter side might be harder to do, but the important factor to focus on is being able to authentically express your gratitude for the support from the person who gave you a chance. Whatever your definition of this means.
  • Commit to a timeline for either speaking to or sending out your either written acknowledgement note of thanks. In the absence of this, you will find it too easy to procrastinate on doing this. A pro tip I have for doing this is to commit to spending 15-30 minutes a month with conveying your gratitude (e.g., in person, or perhaps via a micro video), sourcing your thank you materials, writing and sending your card out.
  • After crafting your list of who to thank, commit to coming up with a list of people you can give a chance. The length of the list is irrelevant, but it should be a “living” and on-going list that you keep.
  • Consider what your criteria is for what you can do to help give another person a chance. It doesn’t have to be a monumental opportunity or chance, as even minor chances that are given can have a seriously positive impact on another person.

Now that you have had an opportunity to reflect upon both being grateful and being proactive to thank someone who has given you a chance, remember that you will likely gain more joy and benefit from giving someone else a chance. So, don’t be shy with doing so, and be as overly generous as you can in this area too, as you never know what impact it will have on another person’s life or profession.

TAGS: #Business #Impact #Positiveimpact #Leader #Leadership #Sportscoach #Coach #Motivation #Strategy #Gratitude #Helpingothers #Management #Professionaldevelopment #Personaldevelopment #Achievement #Success

What you could or should be doing.

Today is the one-year anniversary of my dad passing away. So naturally I am thinking about him. I’m also thinking about the memories we built, and about how knowing that towards the end of his life, we knew that he had only a certain amount of time to be with us. Yes, this significantly influenced my own and my families outlook on time. Time in terms of how we would invest it in spending quality time with our dad.

In many ways and looking at a very sad scenario from a positive perspective, I consider us fortunate to have to be cognizant about not taking time for granted. As we know it is easy to do so, and to not make the most of our time each day. This wasn’t the case with our family, as we rallied to make sure we spent as much quality time with my dad when we learned about his fate. I’m not suggesting we wouldn’t have done this if his fate had been different, but being more mindful of his reduced amount of time with us did impact our thinking about time and the choices we would make.

One of the outcomes from my dad passing that related to time was that our daughter accelerated her wedding plans by one year. She and her now husband, made this decision so that her other grandfather and grandmothers wouldn’t have to wait for two years for this event to occur. The wedding occurred on a day when we were experiencing hurricane conditions in the northeast section of the US, but the most amazing thing was that we only had to contend with wind. Not the rain we were dreading. As the wedding guests were finishing up their dinner, we were graced by a gorgeous sunset, and that was the first time that day we had seen the sun.

Both the lack of rain and seeing the sunset I felt were wedding gifts from my dad that day from above. I felt his presence during the wedding ceremony and reception, and I know that although he wasn’t able to be there, he made his presence known by the magical lack of hurricane rain, and the gorgeous sunset. He was a huge fan of the weather, so I know in my heart he contributed to giving our daughter both a memorable wedding weather day, and one that she and her husband and our wedding guests could acceptably handle.

Due to the fact we were not certain the wedding would occur on the day it did due to the event requiring electrical power, the high winds certainly had us remaining optimistically cautious about whether the power would be knocked out. Again, the fact it didn’t get knocked out I felt was another gift from my dad, and this was truly amazing, as we didn’t exactly have a back-up plan in place. However, I needed to begin making some contingency plans the day before the wedding, but fortunately we didn’t have to put them in place. The only contingency difference was having to switch up our photo locations, which was easy enough to do.

Albeit not the greatest or most welcome gift, knowing that you are faced with having to think about time differently does have its advantages. Certainly, one of them is that if you were taking time for granted, it quickly jolts you out of thinking this way, and which led me to think about today what I could or should be doing differently.

Being mindful of time and how we invest in it isn’t something I feel everyone has a strong grasp of having mastered. Although I do believe it is a skill we can and should become more aware of exceling at. Especially since when we spend and invest in our time more productively, or thoughtfully, I feel like there are many intrinsic benefits from this approach.

So, if you haven’t taken the opportunity to consider what you could or should be doing with either your time, or the direction of your life or career, below are some suggestions I can offer.

  • Can you honestly say that how you invest your time daily is contributing to where you want to be, or strive to be?
  • Do you feel like you are simply going along in either your life or career and surviving and not thriving? Could this be because you haven’t thought about what you could do differently to change your circumstances?
  • We hear people referencing having a bucket list of things they want to do before their time on this planet is up. I think it’s important to have a list of things you want to do, but more critical is factoring in the timing and reality of whether you can accomplish them? Having an unrealistic list might be more harmful for some, while conversely it could be motivational for others. Factor in which side of this equation you might be on, and whether you can or want to change to the other side.
  • There are things we know we should be doing, but have you stopped to think about what is truly preventing you from doing them (e.g., eating healthy, exercising, helping others you could be supporting better)?
  • When was the last time you prioritized your time from the perspective of how you want to invest in it from a longer-term perspective versus having a day at a time approach?
  • Do you know what your motivational factors are which would be driving and influencing your thoughts about how you invest your time?
  • If you don’t know what your motivational factors are, what could you do to figure this out to your benefit?
  • Is it possible you are taking what I’ll refer to as the “easy road” and not wisely investing your time because it takes effort to accomplish this? Refer to the previous two bullets for potential insight into what might be contributing to your approach. Especially if you are at all inclined to want to invest in how you apply your time differently or better.

Time management is absolutely an element which is woven into the topic of what you could or should be doing, and we can agree that not everyone has mastered this element. However, I’m a firm believer that we all can do so, and I hope you will make an investment in yourself to accomplish this. Why? Because I can assure you it will be worth it, and I say this based on my credibly of having experience with this to back up what I’m suggesting.

TAGS: #Business #Leader #Leadership #Motivation #Timemanagement #Teams #Sports #Sportscoach #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment #Perspective #Strategy #Management #Success

Ask hard questions.

I’m always amazed when someone has an opportunity to ask a question and they pass on doing so. In some respects, I look at doing so as being granted a gift, but I feel I am in the minority with this type of thinking. Which brought me to thinking about the reasons people don’t pursue something which I believe offers them so many advantages.

One of the most helpful things I learned when one of my professors was to ask what is referred to as the five W’s and one H. The W’s cover who, what, when, where and why and the H covers the how. If you were to apply asking any of these six topics in any given scenario, I would like to believe it would naturally lead you to want to pursue the other five topics. The first question would be like an appetizer to queue up the person you are speaking with to warm up to additional ones. This is independent of whether you start with the “who” and establishing the main character you will be conversing about.

When you are the person who is asking questions, consider an additional benefit you gain from being in this position. You get to practice your listening skills. A skill from my perspective which is highly under rated, yet an extremely valuable one to master. In some ways, I liken listening to being a bit of a lost art, and this was brought into sharp focus for me this past week. The focus of being a good listener was something I was repeatably hearing about. This is in the context of people noting to me that they found it difficult to be a good listener. This didn’t surprise me, but it did present me with a fabulous opportunity to ask them why they found listening to be difficult to do?

The responses I heard in terms of why listening was difficult to do had a wide range of reasons. A few of the reasons included finding it difficult to remain present and to intently listen. A second one was that they were easily distracted and a third one was that they wanted to interrupt when they knew they should continue to listen.

Another reason which came up to support why people don’t ask hard questions, is because they are afraid to do so. They are also fearful they will ask the wrong question, or make the person feel badly with the question they are asking. This reason was followed people expressing the possibility of not wanting to hear information they would rather not know. In probing to learn more about the prior reason, a number of people expressed that they believe they might not be able to handle either responding to, or knowing how to process knowing the information conveyed.

Instead of asking a hard question or a series of them, I have witnessed that some people will do whatever possible to avoid doing this. Most of the time this isn’t going to benefit them, although in their minds they think it’s their best option. However, avoidance is going to add to making any scenario unnecessarily more stressful. Why? Because of the choice or perceived strategy to avoid doing so isn’t going to make many circumstances better or different. I’m also certain you can think of one or two examples yourself when you chose to avoid asking a hard question or series of them.

One of the numerous responsibilities people who are in a leadership or sports coach positions have is to regularly ask others hard questions. Questions which often begin with “Help me to understand why…” Asking this type of open-ended question seems simple enough to ask, but as I mentioned earlier, sometimes people don’t want to know the “why” explanation. Consider this a situation of the concept of “ignorance can be bliss”, but I believe having more knowledge and an understanding and appreciation of a situation is far more valuable. This is independent of how difficult it might be to queue up the initial “hard” conversation to occur. For me personally, I have found that one hundred percent of the time having a “hard” conversation and asking difficult questions was entirely worth it.

If you are wondering how to pursue more comfortably asking hard or uncomfortable questions, here are some examples to help make your approach to doing so easier.

  • The saying “timing is everything” is a factor you will want to think about, as there will be far more ideal times and places to have a difficult conversation with someone. For example, if someone is emotionally charged, you will want them to become less so. Also consider having a conversation in a place that affords privacy and will not embarrass them.
  • Make sure you have a person’s full attention when you intend to have a serious conversation with them, and or a quiet place that will have fewer opportunities for distraction.
  • If possible, write down ahead of your conversation the questions you want to ask the person.
  • Providing someone with an opportunity to know ahead of time that you would like to have a serious conversation with them can help them to get into the mindset of being ready to respond to your questions. Although conversely, it can also be anxiety provoking, so ideally let the person know that the conversation you are going to have with them is intended to be beneficial for them. It usually is, but there are exceptions.
  • Practice asking the hard questions before you do so. This might seem like over engineering, but I can assure you that doing so will put both of you more at ease because you won’t be hearing the hard questions being stated audibly for the first time.
  • Preface your conversation by letting the person know you are asking the hard questions that your intentions are not to be punitive, but to help you to better understand how you might be able to support them as a leader or sports coach differently.
  • By asking hard questions, you can also gain the benefit of hearing a perspective from the other person you might not have considered. Having additional information from asking hard questions can serve both of you well.

When you get to a place of having mastered being able to ask hard questions, it will help to support your growth and leadership journey, and it will allow you to be a more effective and impactful leader. Perhaps even a touch more empathetic too, when you hear the “why” and other supporting facts following the questions you are posing.

TAGS: #Leadership #Communication #Sportscoach #Motivation #Business #Professionaldevelopment #Sales #Management

Driven by pain?

I have personally been battling with back pain for a while, and in 2016 I had back surgery to help remedy my ruptured disc challenges. My surgeon told me the surgery might not be a long-term solution, but he did say it would help to relieve the pain I had from also having a chipped disc piece in one of my back nerves. Yes, this was extraordinarily painful, and I wasn’t certain I could make it via the waiting process to have the surgery, let alone the recovery phase of it. Although the silver lining from this experience is knowing I can tolerate more pain than I ever imagined was possible, but this was never one of my goals in life.

Post my surgical experience I was treated with incredibly addicting pain medication and physical therapy to help me recover. Having been an athlete, I knew I could tolerate the physical therapy, but the pain medication proved to be harder to battle. The good news is that I was able to successfully wean off the pain medications, although I certainly would have been in less pain agony during the tail end of the healing process. However, I learned a great deal from having gone through this experience. Especially since my professional role at that time made it difficult to take the full amount of recovery time off, but that I was given and needed.

Going back to work post my surgery far earlier than I should have been isn’t something I would recommend doing. I wasn’t trying to be a hero doing this, or to set an example for anyone, as I was reluctant to doing so. Despite my reluctance for returning to my role early, there are positive take aways I learned from this experience. One of them is that no on can ever appreciate what level of pain you are experiencing. Namely because everyone has a different level of pain tolerance. Since I am not a medical person, my comment is solely based on my own knowledge, and I’m not aware of whether there is an actual measurement available to determine a comparative analysis of people’s pain tolerance level.

A second thing I learned about living and working with extreme pain is that it is exhausting. This is because much of my energy was directed at simply trying to get through the day with the unrelenting pain I was experiencing. Also, while trying to mask the reality of my pain by having others think, I was tolerating it well. I wasn’t, and being inauthentic about how I was feeling was something I wasn’t accustomed to experiencing. However, I didn’t want to make other people feel badly for me. I was also aware that plenty of other people had far more difficult challenges than what I was experiencing (e.g., loss of limbs, being burned, becoming unable to speak, walk or hear), so this was also another reason I was able to proceed forward each day because I knew I would eventually become better.

As I’m writing this story today, another thing I learned when I was experiencing great pain; and unfortunately, like I am today, is that doing something for others can be a wonderful distraction. This includes work, and if you are an athlete, continuing to train in your sport at the level you can do so is a good distraction. Even if it means you are only capable of serving as a spectator of your team. Likely with the goal of coming back to experiencing a full recovery so that you can participate at the level you are accustomed to either in sports, or your work profession.

Being an entrepreneur means I must work via my pain. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, and in fact, I feel fortunate to know I can manage through this period, as I’m hopeful it is simply a temporary setback. At least that’s the plan I intend to proceed with. What I’m doing today may or may not be inspirational to you, but I do have some suggestions below for those of you who might be able to relate to my current pain scenario, and how to turn a negative scenario into a positive one.

  • Have a longer-term outlook in any given situation to help you to look past and work through the pain or setback you might be experiencing currently.
  • The power of our minds is tremendous in terms of helping us to deal with and get to a place where we are not experiencing excruciating pain. Today I am channeling the power of my own mind to help me not be as focused on the pain I am experiencing, so I can accomplish more than I expected to without this approach.
  • Proceeding through the pain, if you are not doing more damage to yourself, isn’t always recommended, but sometimes it is required. You’ll know when this is, and when you should back off from this approach.
  • Seek expert advice on suggested times for actual rest or complete abandonment from what you normally are doing if your condition requires you to do so. Don’t set your healing process back unnecessarily. I’ve done this, and it’s not worth it, and suggestion number one supports this.
  • Appreciate that you will have limits to what you can do when you are attempting to work via your pain as both an athlete or businessperson or leader. Your limits might be greater than you think, but sustaining the limits and tolerance to your pain shouldn’t be driven by trying to impress anyone.
  • Pain is something almost everyone will experience in their lifetime. We can look at it from the perspective of setting us back, or we can take on a new perspective of better understanding what we can learn from it. Perhaps we need to be more patient, slow down or care for ourselves differently than we have before?

Although I’m realistically in a great deal of pain right now, I have an interesting sense of peace knowing that writing can be cathartic. Even better, hoping that at least one person will benefit from me taking the time to write this story today, and working through my own pain to accomplish doing so.

TAGS: #Business #Motivation #Communication #Leadership #Sports #Athlete #Pain #Management #Sportsteams #Tipstodealwithpain #Persistance #Leader

Have you done enough?

When was the last time you considered whether you were truly pushing yourself and striving to get to the next level? The next level in any capacity in terms of working harder towards reaching or achieving something you may not have thought you could? Or, perhaps doing something well beyond what you have ever done to help another person?

Recently a dear friend of mine was extremely medically unwell. To the point both of us were concerned for her long-term well-being. However, we also both felt that despite doing everything we could to support one another, nothing seemed to be helping. This scenario also included medical support, but even this didn’t seem to be enough. Watching my friend spiral downwards was incredibly difficult to experience, especially because I felt so helpless in terms of feeling that I could help to make any type of positive impact.

For me personally, the experience of feeling helpless is one of the most frustrating emotions. Particularly since I feel I am the type of person who is hardwired to always do whatever I can to support and help other individuals. Yes, even ones who seemingly resist for no valid reason for doing so. These types of people are difficult for me to fully appreciate why they won’t accept help, but I do understand at a core level why they are resistant. Although this doesn’t make it any easier for me to contend with. One of the contributing factors is stubbornness, or what some others might refer to as being too proud to accept support in any scenario.

The reference to my medically unwell friend does have a silver lining, yet it has taken close to half a year to get to this point. However, with extreme persistence and support from myself and multiple other people, my friend is now back to a place where her health isn’t compromised. Even better is that she told me that she feels fifteen years younger now based on the care and support she has received. Yes, small miracles do happen, and her situation is a genuine example.

As my friend was going through her medical turmoil, I kept asking both myself and her what else I could be doing? I was sure there was something else I could do or research with the goal of being able to offer making her feel better, but it never seemed to be enough. Now that I have perspective of what I was able to do during the “perfect storm” of my friend’s medical challenges, I unexpectantly received feedback from her directly several days ago. What she told me was that what I was helping her out with while she was critically unwell, did provide her with the support she needed at the time I was involved with her care. I’m honored to now know this, although I didn’t ever expect to know or hear this confirmation. However, hearing it did make me feel that I was able to do enough to support my friend when she really needed help.

In terms of applying my question to you about whether you have done either enough for yourself or others can certainly pertain to both your personal life, as well as your professional life. For those of you who are leaders or sports coaches, you are highly aware and accomplished as well as skilled at helping others. Your ability to do so is one of the reasons you have risen to the level you have risen to, and I want to personally thank you for all you do to support others. I also simultaneously want to have you consider whether you are investing enough support in your own self or professional development, as it is common for people in your role to always put others well-being ahead of yours. I’m certain you realize this, but acting on this is an entirely different situation, and I would like you to factor in making sure you turn the proverbial “helping others mirror” around to yourself from time to time.

Since many leaders and sports coaches especially struggle with helping themselves to do enough to continue their own journey of being the best at what they do, and in support of others, below are some tips for you to consider applying to yourself. In the next week or two, with zero excuses about why you can’t do this, please attempt 1-2 of the suggestions below. I know you can do this, and I’m fully confident you will be better off for doing so.

  • Please step off the “guilt train” of thinking you don’t have time to invest in taking yourself to the next level of whatever it is you want to accomplish.
  • Think about what if you don’t invest in yourself and the potentially negative impact this will have on those who depend on you and lead when you have maxed out on your ability to help them.
  • If helping and leading others is something you do naturally, think about how much additional energy and joy you will gain from being able to stretch and take your leadership abilities to the next level.
  • Start with the end goal of your quest to be able to do more for others, and yourself. What does this look like? Who else should or can be involved, and what is your timeframe for putting this into place and seeing the results of your self-investments of leveling up?
  • Although you may not think you can do more, I guarantee you can. This is supported in lots of clinical research which is focused on what our bodies and minds can accomplish when we think we have reached our maximum level of output. The net net of this is that as humans we typically still have approximately 20% more capacity and energy than we think we do.
  • Ted Lasso is one of my favorite and inspirational Netflix Shows, and I frequently remind myself to adopt his mantra in the show and to “believe” in being able to accomplish anything I set out to achieve. This also applies to helping others too.

This week’s post is slightly off the path from what I typically write about, so I would be honored with hearing your feedback and letting me know if and whether some of these suggestions helped to make a positive impact on you doing enough for yourself, others, or both.

TAGS: #Business #Sports #Motivation #Sportscoach #Coach #Leader #Leadership #Leaders #Sales #Tipsonhelpingothers #Impact #Inspiration #Teamdynamics #Management #Professionaldevelopment #Personaldevelopment