As we have discovered with all five of the eroding beliefs in this series of posts, completing this statement falls off the tongue: If you cannot measure it, it doesn’t matter.
I was a longtime aficionado of SMART goal setting when the “M” stood for “Measurable.” However, over time, I found that a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goal simply was not SMART enough.
I headed out today to get some fresh air and grab lunch at a local burger joint. The cool fall weather had me craving comfort food – a burger topped with pastrami, warm fries and fry sauce (it’s a Utah thing).
The chosen establishment was quite crowded with business suits, construction workers and everything in-between. After ordering my food I selected a table, sat and began brainstorming and jotting down some thoughts (I’m a big fan of the Evernote app). My noodling was interrupted by the sound of a gentleman seated nearby with a couple sitting across from him.
“I always like to get to know people first before I give them a bid” he boomed. The loud exclamation combined with the rehearsed manner with which he delivered it caught my attention. I don’t normally eavesdrop, but it was impossible to ignore him.
Over the next fifteen minutes he talked about all the jobs he’d done, the companies he worked for (many of which he complained about), the bosses he’d reported to (I think he liked at least one of them), and all the extremely happy customers who absolutely loved him and the work he did. Yes, for the couple listening to his rant it was like drinking from a fire hose.
He hadn’t touched his food, which had long since been delivered to their table. In fact, he’d barely stopped long enough to take a breath. Meanwhile the couple politely nodded their head while doing their best to consume the meal and end this all too awkward lunch. When the gentleman finally stopped speaking an uncomfortable silence loomed over their table. I looked up from my meal to see what would happen next.
The man’s eyes dart back and forth between the couple, then he said “So… tell me a little about you guys!” and promptly devoured a mouthful of burger. I almost laughed at loud and had to take a sip of my Coke to stifle it.
Today’s lesson learned: You can’t get to know people by talking at them. Stop talking – start listening.
- Listen to your customers
- Listen to your co-workers
- Listen to your kids
- Listen to your spouse
- Listen to your friends
By listening you’ll truly get to know people and they’ll appreciate you for it.
Sub-lesson: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. That poor couple paid dearly for their lunch.
Your feedback, thoughts, insights, criticisms and recommendations are welcomed.
Leadership workshops from coast to coast discuss high-performance teams and coach managers on methodologies used to develop such teams. Team chemistry and team dynamics play crucial roles. However, a team by definition is a group comprised of numerous individuals working or competing towards a common cause. Stellar teams begin with solid individual efforts.
This doesn’t signify each contributing members is required to be a Super-Star. (I already droned on about why you don’t need a team of All-Stars). Nonetheless, don’t discredit the value of individual contributors who exceed status quo, igniting and inspiring the rest of the team to greatness.
The “I” can focus on personal excellence while contributing to team greatness.
Making mistakes is part of any career. Benjamin Franklin said “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” Learning from mistakes and changing is the difference between good and great leaders. I’ve made more than my fair share of blunders; I’m sure my coworkers will attest to that. I’m not speaking of epic and utterly catastrophic failures. I’m talking about patterns of errors made over and over, that result in repeated negative consequences.
Here are 3 ways to screwed up and what I’ve learned from each:
Avoid Confrontation: I’m confrontation averse, always have been. A couple years ago a young woman in my division came into my office and fully called me out “You really hate confrontation don’t you?” I was taken aback by her brutal openness. It was true though. She’d been struggling in her job and we both knew it. My avoidance of the issue had made it worst. Once we had open dialog on the matter we were able to create solutions.
Learned: It’s always better to address issues openly and directly. Avoidance is worst.
Email Instead of Talking Face-to-Face: Email is a quick, efficient communication tool. Email has weaknesses though; primary, tone and emotion can easily be misread. On more than one occasion I’ve fired off a seemingly harmless email only to learn that the tone of the email was completely misinterpreted. It wasn’t the receivers fault. It was my fault for emailing when a simple conversation would have been more effective.
Learned: Pick up the phone or better, walk down the hall and talk. This allows for better communication and less likelihood for causing overreaction.
Hire When Your Gut Tells You Not To: Most companies use some sort of structured process for interviewing and hiring. Processes are in place to aid hiring managers in making the best possible hiring decision. Hiring is still a gamble though. Managers make their best assessment based on information gathered during interviews and reference checks, and then take the leap and go with their instincts. I’ve had interviews go well and reference checks too, but still had a nagging feeling saying “it’s not right.” Every time I went against that feeling I ended up regretting it.
Learned: Trust your instincts.
“Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.”
- Benjamin Franklin
To err is human, but that’s not an excuse for not learning and improving. If you haven’t made mistakes… pay a little more attention I’m sure you’ll find some.
What mistakes have you made? What have you learned from them?
Sometimes we just need a reminder and a swift kick in the pants. Great blog article to do just that:
The emotions of fear cover a wide spectrum from mild concerns to absolute paranoia. Everyone experiences fear to some degree at some point, ranging from childhood fears like being afraid of what lurks beneath the bed, to full blown adult phobias. Fear can be as real and tangible as physical pain.
A vast array of fears and phobias exist. Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders appears to be fairly common while Scopophobia, the fear of being stared at, seems rare and obscure. Regardless of what you’re afraid of, fear is a powerful motivator. You probably don’t think of fear as a motivator. It is though. Not a motivator that inspires or sparks achievement, but one that creates hesitation, wavering and even paralysis. As William Arruda and Deb Dib so poignantly stated in their book Ditch, Dare, Do “The more you fear, the worst fear becomes”.
We loving hearing people tell us “Yes”. Yes is uplifting, it’s exhilarating. Author Jeffrey Gitomer wrote an entire book on having a “Yes, Attitude!” because yes is so powerful. Dig through the archives in your memory and experiences where you were told yes are sure to surface. The greatest yes I ever received came on a tropical beach in Brazil, as I got down on one knee, with my knee in the sand and a diamond ring in hand. The memory of that “yes” still ignites a wave of emotion and excitement even 17 years later.
On the contrary, “No” is frightening. No represents more than merely the absence of yes. No incites sentiments of rejection. No feels personal. That’s why no scares us. In much the same way as yes, hearing no can leave a lasting impression, albeit a devastatingly negative impression.
- “No, you didn’t make the team”
- “No, you didn’t get the job”
- “No, you’re not getting a raise”
No feels awful, it’s heart-wrenching. Consequently, people frequently avoid asking in order to steer clear of being told no.
A negotiation and persuasion class I took in grad school gave out an assignment to overcoming the fear of no. The assignment was simple, students were required to ask for things at home, at work, wherever… until they got 10 “No’s”. Each request was to be documented along with the answer received, either a yes or no. The assignment continued until the student received 10 no’s. For most students, getting 10 no’s proved far more difficult than initially anticipated. The class quickly learned that when you have the courage to ask, you’re told yes more often than no.
Try it. Start asking for things until you get 10 No’s.
You might be surprised how many Yes’ you’ll receive. Then, share your experience.
One key to overcoming the fear of no is not taking it personal. It might take a few no’s to get to yes, in which case each no signifies one step closer to the next yes. The reward of receiving yes far outweighs the disappointing of a few no’s. It’s said that Director Peter Jackson was told no by several studios before New Line Cinema said yes to the Lord of The Rings movie project.
Although no feels risky, the greatest risk lies in not acting, doing or asking at all. Author and thought leader Seth Godin said “playing safe is very risky”. Maybe we should be afraid of not speaking up or not asking at all.
What is the fear of “no” holding you back from achieving?
In our home we’ve gone nearly a year without cable or satellite television. Admittedly, I still go through TV withdrawals. I miss The Amazing Race and The Apprentice more than any other shows. Both are fascinating to watch as people compete to win grand prizes, both teach valuable real-world lessons too.
In The Apprentice two teams compete in projects – one team wins. The winning team receives a reward. The losing team has someone fired from the show; a fairly simple concept. After all the firings take place a single contestant emerges and is hired as the apprentice.
So what can be taken away after sifting through the emotions, drama and hair pieces?
- Reward Immediately: As soon as the winning team is announced they immediately receive their prize. In the show the reward is often being whisked off to some amazing event or experience. This allows the winning team to enjoy their reward while the excitement of the win is fresh. The feeling of winning is great, reinforcing the win by rewarding right away helps increase its value. Reward now, don’t delay.
- Delaying the reward may result in less excitement or willingness the next time a contest arises.
- Discipline Later: In contrast, the losing time returns to their apartment and is called into the boardroom only later in the day. Yes, this helps build the show’s drama as participants begin placing blame and coming up with strategies for saving their own hide. In the real world a delay creates time. Time for cooler heads to prevail. Time for more rational and less emotional thinking. Time to understand the cause of the mistake or failure. Disciplinary actions taken in the heat of the moment are often regretted later.
- Disciplining immediately could result in poor decisions or lamentable actions that weren’t well thought out.
Hopefully you are rewarding far more than disciplining. It’s a lot more fun (for everyone) to hear “You won!” or “You’re Hired” than to hear “You’re Fired!”
Wow! It’s already July – the year is half over.
Good time for a gut check on how the year’s gone so far; time to realign objectives or goals to achieve in the next six months.
At the start of 2013 I published a personal Bucket List for this year. Nothing outrageous, just things I’d like to do personally or experiences I’d like to have with family and friends. The plan wasn’t necessarily to complete half by end of June, but it’s still good to review progress.
So, how have I done?
- 7 Achieved
- 4 in Progress
- 12 Untouched
Still room for improvement.
It’s amazing how fast the year is flying by. A Bucket List isn’t a checklist to be marked off. It’s about maximizing the present. I’ve got plenty to do this year still and am looking forward to it.
How about you? How are you doing on your Bucket list or goals for 2013?