3 things happen when you “do it because you told you to”

Sometimes I wish I had done what I told myself to do.

One of the things that makes successful people different from less successful people is the small decision-making that goes on throughout the day. In fact, highly successful people do things they don’t want to do – sometimes just because they told themselves they would and should.

Certainly, I’m not the only one who ever heard one of my parents respond with “Because I’m the parent, and I told you to – that’s why!” whenever I objected to an assigned task with a whiny “Why do I have to do it?” And, even though it’s one of those “I’ll never do that to MY children” items, I’ve said the same thing to each of my children at least once.

At some point, of course, we have other voices that speak to us about things we should and shouldn’t do, and often those are the voices inside: The voice of reason, the voice of compassion, the voice of intuition, and the voice of the Spirit, that still small voice that is often drowned out by the noise of the world and the din of our own incessant mental dialog.

As I was riding my bicycle this morning along one of the paths here in Phoenix, I was talking to a friend on the phone about the value of exercise. “Even getting on the bicycle and riding it around the block each day is valuable,” I said, “if only because I am breaking habits by doing something I don’t want to do.”

I was pontificating, of course, and continued “Someone wise and dead said that the difference between highly successful people and less successful people is that highly successful ones do things they don’t want to do…I just can’t remember exactly who said that.” Of course, I was saying all that in the context of encouraging my friend to get on their bicycle that day, even if for a short while.

At just that moment, as I went up the short grade from the path to the adjacent street, I saw a cyclist by the side of the street. Their bike was on its side and they were scooping something off the pavement and putting it back into a bag. “Uh-oh, I said to my friend through the Bluetooth headset nestled beneath my helmet. “Looks like someone spilled their backpack onto the pavement.”

As I went past the cyclist on the other side of the street, my inner voice interrupted me: “You should stop and offer help.”

“Yeah, I don’t really want to,” was my instant mental reply.


As I turned the bike around I said to my friend. “Hang on a sec. The hypocrisy of what I just decided in light of what I just told you is quite obvious. I’m turning around to see if the person needs help.”

As I approached the cyclist, who by now was pretty much done picking things up, I said “Hey, everything ok? Can I help?” They looked up, thanked me for offering, but no, and went back to zipping their backpack and righting their bike.

3 things happen

That felt like a failure, but it really was the first step in an increasingly intentional effort to pay attention to “the voices.” The results so far and the results to come are worth it. Here are three:

1. I become better at listening to the inner voices

We all have experienced (and practiced) “selective hearing,” with which we tune out certain sounds and tune in others. That’s how we heard and understood the lyrics to songs our parents couldn’t figure out. That happened with lots of practice. The same is true when listening to inner voices: we simply get better at it the more we set out to do it and … do it, even if our doing is delayed, as mine was.

It’s important to listen to the inner voices because they are the heralds of inspiration, conscience and creativity. Not everything the inner voices say is worthy of action — but all of it is worthy of reflection. The question “Why did I think that?” leads to insight even when the question is not definitively answered.

2. I am more aware of the “other” around me.

Funny how that works — by going and listening inside I actually am better connected with those outside. Perhaps that is because the “inside” is where I find my greatest commonality with others. Differences are primarily external.

When I listen to the inner voices, I’m also increasing my active listening to those around me and THAT’s how I discover what they value. Only then can I begin to creatively step into the third benefit.

The inner voices are the mouthpieces for the creative energies that drive entrepreneurial, corporate and even philanthropic success. They are the birth-mothers of the 'next big thing,' the 'killer app' and the genius humanitarian solution.Click To Tweet

3. I am able to step into adding value to others

As part of The John Maxwell Team, I’ve absorbed the vocabulary of my mentor, John C. Maxwell, who has made “adding value” a cornerstone of his philosophy. But John is admittedly not unique in this. Public corporation executives have a fairly clear definition of their duty to “shareholder value” — because the shareholders have made it clear.

When I was directing the branding at what is now CDK Global, the CMO had all of marketing and product marketing focused on a cycle of value discovery, creation and delivery.

The inner voices are the mouthpieces for the creative energies that drive entrepreneurial, corporate and even philanthropic success. They are the birth-mothers of the “next big thing,” the “killer app” and the genius humanitarian solution.

They’re also the “holy nudge” that prompts me to contemplation and action.

As John often tells us, adding value to others in this way takes us way beyond success to significance…and that’s where I want to head.

So, yah. I’m hoping I’m going to hear voices more often. And…I’m going to start paying attention to what they say.

What are the voices in your head saying?

Oranges, Tangerines, Grapefruit and…Sardines: Pick Your “Coach” Smartly

A coach is not a coach? Coaching definitions are as different as oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and...sardines

You do it. I do it. We all do it. And just the other day, I did it again. I shopped the competition.

I went browsing around at various websites, Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles of people who – like me – refer to themselves as coaches. As I did so I felt sorry for me, and for you.

I felt sorry for me, because I realized just how much front-end education and confusion-clearing effort is ahead of me as I market my services. Sorry for you, because I realized that you – if you’re like most of my network of friends and business contacts – aren’t prepared to know how to choose a coach if you ever get to the point of thinking you might benefit from one (you will, by the way…).

I started with a simple Bing search: Coach in Arizona.

I got various college, high school, and athletic coaches. I got a tour bus company. And I got a directory site that listed:

Life Coach
Career Coach
Resume Coach
Business Coach
Retirement Coach
Health Coach
Christian Coach
Vibrational Healing Coach
Performance Coach
Weight-loss Coach
Relationship Coach
Divorce Coach
Divorce Recovery Coach
Energy Transformation Coach
and on

And on.

Then I read some of the descriptions of what these various coaches do, and there are some oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, limes, lemons… and some sardines. Let me explain my citrus analogy by temporarily leaving it behind.

When is a Coach not a Coach?

I know why there are so many “kinds” of coaching labels. It’s market segmentation, mostly. These labels are probably intended to help potential clients pick a coach that relates to a felt need. Unfortunately, that just plays into a less-than-best idea of what coaching is.

The ICF (International Coaching Federation) describes coaching in this way: “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Now, the ICF has firmly established themselves as the de facto standard for coaching and all things coach related, and they’ve been accepted as the standard-setter. Their definition (which I embrace and use, too) is founded on some pre-suppositions:

  1. Every individual has infinite potential and the creative faculties to grow toward their potential.
  2. Individual may or may not have skill deficits they need to address to achieve their goals, but…
  3. Every individual has a way of thinking that has brought them to their current state in life – and if that individual wants to achieve a different state in life, their thinking must change – regardless of “skills”.
  4. The coach’s role (and this idea is rooted in Timothy Gallwey’s famous book, The Inner Game of Tennis) is to help the individual achieve that new, desired state by helping them change their thinking.

So (back to citrus), to the extent that a person calling themselves Life Coach, a Performance Coach, etc. is focused on doing that – they are oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemon, lime – all citrus. The moment they start telling you what to do or get involved in skill-building…or showing you how THEY did it, well that’s a whole other can of … sardines.

But What If I Need Skills or Instructions?

I see that hand! Great question.

If there is a skill gap or knowledge gap, then get TRAINING or MENTORING. And it is certainly legitimate, and somewhat common, for coaches to be involved in delivering training of some sort, as well. John Maxwell Team coaches certainly do … but we don’t call it coaching. Coaching has nothing to do with your skill – or the coach’s expertise in doing marketing, business development, sales, relationship building, weight loss, or whatever destination you’re trying to get to.

Training tells you what to do. Indeed, at some point, you need to KNOW. Knowledge is a good thing, but it’s not the primary thing. Just look at the highly successful people, like Bill Gates and other m/billionaire dropouts, who have arguably achieved far more by doing than they would have by simply seeking knowledge.

Mentoring shows you how the mentor has done that something before. That’s useful, but you’re not your mentor, and your circumstances are not your mentor’s. It’s highly valuable to learn from the experience of others, and there’s often no reason for you to reinvent a wheel — but it’s not the primary guarantor of your success.

Coaching helps you do that something successfully by removing the barriers that have kept you from doing it successfully thus far.Click To Tweet

Chances are, You Know What to Do

Hey I hate to bring “religion” into this, but here’s a relevant bit of trivia. Do you know what the Bible says is “sin’ (a word that literally means ‘missing the mark’)? It says, basically (in James 4), that if you know what to do and you don’t do it – you’re going to miss the mark (sin). If you know are HERE and want to be THERE in any area of your life, you need to change your thinking, for sure. And, yah, maybe you also need some skills. But the key to closing the performance gap is your thinking, and only a coach – a person who has the skills, training and mindset to listen actively, to ask curiosity based questions – only that kind of coaching can help bridge the gap.

I am going to mix my metaphors here. I have championship posters from each of the reigning years of the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. Those championships weren’t attained because the team were skilled professionals basketball players. There were DOZENS of equally skilled players on other teams. Those championships came because of mindset. Coach Jackson helped Jordan and his teammates change their thinking. He didn’t help them dribble and shoot better by teaching technique or by showing them how he pointed his fingers just so.

Want to get from HERE to THERE in business, in life, in relationships, in health. You know WHAT to do?

Get a coach who can unleash you to do it.

If you’d like more information about the Maxwell Method of coaching, or the proven team development and personal development curriculum used by John C. Maxwell to train millions of leaders, entrepreneurs, business owners and individual performers (a fancy word for commission-only or commission-mostly careers like Realtors, Mortgage Brokers, automobile sales people, etc.) leave a comment or send me a message.


This Isn’t Me: Tripping Points in Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership

Have you ever found yourself in this situation?  You’ve signed up for something and then it turned out to be different than you imagined? Have you ever looked around at everything happening, everything expected of you, and said, “This isn’t me.  I’m outta here!”? Life and work can become unbearable if we can’t be authentic.

That happened to me on one of my very first jobs (and several times since!)  I was 16, needed money badly, and took a job with a cleaning company. We cleaned a couple of restaurants in the evenings after they closed, and during my short tenure, we were doing a deep clean of a Catholic church — including dusting the wooden planking on the ceiling!  After a few nights of cleaning grease traps, climbing scaffolding, and getting home at 2 am, I said exactly that: “This isn’t me!” I then got a job in retail — which gave me the opportunity to interact with and help people…much more aligned with who I am. I was happier and according to the series of raises I received, I did a better job for my employer.

We Lead Best When We Show Up

What’s happening when we get that “this isn’t me” feeling is that we’ve allowed ourselves to get entangled in a task, a mission, a company, or a cause that isn’t congruent with our personality, passions or values. When we’re living that way, we know — and really, everyone knows — it’s not the “real me” that’s showing up for work.

This kind of “showing up” isn’t limited to what Woody Allen meant when he famously said “80% of success is showing up.” He was referring to starting and getting to work. Authentic leadership requires a different kind of showing up: being present (self-awareness).

We Trip Over Cluelessness

When was the last time you channeled your self-awareness into tangible action? When you become cognizant of where you stand in the eyes of your employees, you unlock a whole new world of potential opportunity to develop the leadership skills of those around you.

That’s because authentic leaders use awareness of their own strengths, weaknesses and emotional tendencies to identify the same characteristics in others. This allows you to mentor employees on what they need to improve in order to reach their full potential. Not the potential that you think they have, but the potential they believe in.

We Trip Over Position

John C. Maxwell’s best-selling book, The Five Levels of Leadership, serves as the foundation from which we build and deliver our custom leadership development solutions. In Level 2, you make the jump from Position to Permission, your first real step into the realm of leadership.

When a leader learns to function on the Permission level, people actually start to follow them. Not because they have the title of manager or executive, but because the leader begins to influence people by building relationships with them.

Doing so develops a foundation for effective leadership and de-silos an organization’s infrastructure. Relationships deepen and people feel valued. These are hallmark achievements of a leader dedicated to reaching ‘Permission’ status.

We Trip Over Ownership

As an executive leader, there are projects and plans that you must control. There are others that call for close collaboration with your team. Use these moments to show that you are open to their suggestions. Find common ground on important initiatives, even if it means transferring some of your ownership into the hands of your people.

A truly authentic leader trusts his or her followers to perform, and gives them the leeway to make mistakes. Without this flexibility and open-mindedness, employee retention issues find their way into the conversation. People want to work for those they trust – and those who show trust in them.

More than a strategic keyword that you weave into your resume, ‘authenticity’ should live at the intersection of corporate leadership development and business outcomes. Executives and employees alike must be allowed – and encouraged – to work how they are wired. Your organization will reap the benefits.

Five Ways to Fan Passion’s Flame at Work

Call it Drive, call it Motivation, call it Cultural Alignment – whatever you call it, fundamentally, it’s passion at work.

What is Passion?

In relationships, passion is that unstoppable rush that propels everything toward a highly desired goal. It’s frenetic, energized emotion and action. For sports fans, passion is that enthusiasm that drives affinity (buying anything with the team logo on it), builds community (that’s why sports bars are popular) and patience (Just think about those passionate Cubs fans! Speaking of Cubs fans, consider this: the root meaning of passion is “suffer” … !)

In business, passion is no different. Passion stimulates high-energy effort, patient endurance, and an unstoppable belief that the vision — and the next step to getting there – is achievable. It builds community at the office in the form of formal and ad hoc teams.

That’s why every hire matters. If you’re not asking yourself and your next employees if they are excited and committed to make the corporate vision reality, you’re sinking your own boat. Your candidates don’t necessarily need to come from a specific background, have a specific degree, or ascribe to a certain social status.  But, they DO need to have passion about what the company does, and what they can individually contribute to wild success.

Discover and Value the Passions of Your Team

Can you see passion? You bet! It’s very tangible. You can feel it in a room. Customers can feel it in your products and services. Everyone knows when it’s lacking, and when it IS lacking, it is usually lacking in a leader. As you lead your company, department or team, you can choose the attitudes that will grow your own passion and spark the passion of others:

  • Decide to COMMIT to the company’s mission. When the company succeeds will you celebrate (beyond throwing a beach party for your family with your bonus check!)? Does your commitment create in you a patient determination to “suffer” in order to see the vision become reality? If you’re thinking “no”, then increase your team’s passion by moving yourself to another company!
  • Decide to CELEBRATE rather than be threatened by the skills and talents of your team members. It really is true that you should be the dumbest person in the room. Does someone on your team do certain things better than you? Set them free! Let them do those things in the sweet spot of their skill, personality and desire. Brag about them to others in and outside of your team. Promote their successes.
  • Decide to CLARIFY the passions of your team members. Find out what makes them want to get up in the morning, what makes them celebrate. What glowing stories have they told their friends and family after work? How does working in this company help them achieve their dreams? If it turns out that they aren’t passionate and won’t be, help them find their way to a job that’s a better fit…it will be a gift to them and to your team.

Model Your Passion

To instill passion in your team, you must first model the passion you wish to see in others. Passion ignites at the top — if a team doesn’t see enthusiasm, commitment, and patient passion in their leader, their own passion will lose energy and focus. They’ll direct their energies toward tasks, activities and people that may not be strategic to the team’s or the company’s path. They may even divert those energies to projects outside the workplace – leaving your team and your company simply a means to put food on the table. When work becomes utilitarian, people burn out quickly.  Exhibit your own desire through:

  • Transparent Emotion: When you are physically, verbally and non-verbally expressing your positive emotional energy about the work, the vision and the goal attainment, you’re not only infusing your team with that energy, you’re also giving them tacit permission to express their own emotional energy as they journey on the path of iteratively thinking executing, failing, and succeeding.
  • Strategic Goals: When you can explicitly tie the “why” of what your team is doing every day back to the vision, everyone gains a sense of purposeful contribution. “What I do TODAY matters. I FIT into the big picture.”
  • Extravagant Action: Your energy and your strategy have to translate to action, but not just ordinary, behind-the-scenes action. Take action with extravagance. Accomplish each task with the “But, wait… there’s more!” vibe of TV’s best pitchmen. Work in front of others, not shrouding what you do and how you’re doing it until it’s all polished and perfect. The Journey of Flaws always wins the applause – and the get-on-the-bandwagon team participation that you need and want.

Make Passion Viral

A team that sees passion in their leader may “catch” the vibe, but as Seth Godin taught us in his book The Idea Virus, these things don’t just happen without some sneezing. Sneezers are those that pass along an idea enthusiastically, and Godin tells us we should spend some time and thought to stimulate sneezes. The same principlel holds within your team and your company. Stimulate and reward the sneezers, those with social influence. Remember, passion not only implies commitment, but an aura of importance — and people want to feel as if they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. Remind everyone of that with frequent recognition that isn’t just tied to the task, but to the vision. Although we tend to think this is uniquely true for Millennials, everyone values meaning and purpose over paychecks and stock options.

[shareable cite=”― John C. Maxwell” text=”Hold fast to dreams for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow’ @johncmaxwell”]Hold fast to dreams…for when dreams go, Life is a barren field frozen with snow. [/shareable]

Learn to Lead the Team to the Dream

John Maxwell has said that we should “Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.” Building and growing an effective team is hard, diligent work. It takes a high degree of Emotional Intelligence and more than a fair amount of personal inventory-taking. That kind of work is always faster with the help of a coach who can help you unlock your unconscious desires, traps and obstacles. Good coaching guides you to think, rather than becoming a source of advice. Other tools you and your team can employ to increase passion and performance include mastermind groups focused on teams. Assessment tools such as the John Maxwell’s Leadership Game will help you and your team identify gaps between what you think should be happening in your team and what really is happening. You can tap into these solutions and more here.

[reminder]Are you passionate about your work? You can leave a comment on our Facebook page .)[/reminder]

You’re Kidding – No Coach? Three Power Benefits

Remember any of the coaches you had as a kid in Little League or Soccer or Softball? Or maybe for a school sports team? The best coaches I remember are the ones my children had.

When my sons were in Little League, they had a pair of coaches that were super terrific. I remember the very first meeting of the season. Bob, the older one, pulled out a scrapbook and proceeded to show clippings he’d collected about baseball players at local schools, at universities, in minor leagues…all people he had coached. He made a promise…. “If you are serious about baseball, I will support you all the way…no matter where you play, I’ll be cheering you on.” Together he and Jim, the younger coach, created an individual profile of each player and their strengths and weaknesses. They charted a path of improvement for each player, and at the end of the season they celebrated the progress each had made.

As adults who aren’t in sports, many of us still have coaches in our lives. There are professionals and programs to help us reach all kinds of goals — to help us lose weight, get fit, get sober, improve our finances and strengthen our relationships. Olympic and professional athletes have coaches, of course! What’s incredible is how many times the athletes and the coaches both talk about how they “focus on the basics.”

If that’s what it is all about, then why do we need coaches? Perhaps it’s because while setting goals, we get distracted from the fundamentals by the lure of doing something “uniquely me”, something new, something fun.

Or perhaps it’s because finding motivation to persist and achieve our desires can be a challenge. How many times have you “restarted” a diet? Or an attempt to change a habit?

When it comes to our professional goals, desire is one attribute executives and entrepreneurs have in excess. We can make goals, and even write out plans to reach those goals, but will I force myself to keep those plans if no one is there to help me focus? Most of us, sadly, are not able to be accountable to ourselves.

Look Into The Powerful Mirror of Accountability

One of the most significant reasons successful people meet or exceed their goals —personally and professionally — is accountability. Accountability is a mirror, and it often is the difference that keeps us on track and making progress towards a goal. Numerous studies have shown that social accountability — such as posting a goal on Facebook or LinkedIn – improves our chances of sticking with the effort. One of my biggest challenges in working “solo” has been finding ways to keep focused on the long-term objective during the day-to-day activities. And people who are really good at making and crossing items off of daily task lists are sometimes just as guilty of not staying aligned with their dreams and long-term goals.

External accountability — having someone who “is watching” you do the thing you’ve told them you need to do – is the most powerful form of accountability.” Accountability is the number one reason people hire personal trainers, not expertise. It’s not so much that we don’t know WHAT to do… after all, as Jim Rohn has said [shareable cite=”Jim Rohn” text=”‘Success is neither magical nor mysterious…(it) is the natural consequence of consistently applying the fundamentals.”]’Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the fundamentals.'[/shareable]

Think about the last great motivational speaker you heard. What big idea do you remember? Chances are, it wasn’t something totally new. What resonated with you was most likely a different way of stating the fundamentals that you already know. And that is exactly why it resonated…. It was an echo of what you know to be true, brought back to your consciousness by a great story, a compelling twist of phrase. A leadership coach should have that same effect: they should bring to consciousness that which you already know unconsciously – and then keep you accountable to that.

Plug Into The Energy of Professional “Me Time”

I’ll bet (about $5k in Monopoly Money) that far more executives fill their “me time” with workouts at the gym or watching sports on TV as opposed to filling it with personal growth and development. Then there are those who get so caught up in the success of the business and employees that they allow their own professional development to take a back seat.

Just like physical exercise is more invigorating and refreshing than it is draining, personal development “exercise” heightens motivation and sustains us energetically through the drain of the day-to-day. It also plugs us into our often-subconscious big dream that could – and wants to – pull us toward itself, guiding our daily choices that determine our lifetime path.

Leadership and personal development is a process, not an end goal or status that can be achieved. This is where a business coach gives a huge advantage; long-term coaching relationships create history, through which a coach helps the executive see patterns, or bring to consciousness ideas and opportunities that may have been overlooked or forgotten. A good coach not only leads us in self-discovery, but also gives us the truth – even when we don’t want to hear it. When we slam into our own blind spots, a coach helps us leap into a new opportunity with renewed energy.

Unearth Your Own Motivation

We all have heard (at least once) the path to accomplishing goals: make them s.m.a.r.t., and track your progress, setting and meeting smaller, benchmark goals — all the essential steps to building momentum. More difficult is making sure that our professional and personal goals are in tune with our inner, often unconscious, desires and motivations.

Rather than specifying how-to steps or giving directions, a good coach will focus on helping you dig deep and unearth – and then articulate – the inner world that holds your aspirations as well as your most powerful roadblocks: fear. One of my mentors, Eric Worre, said something that slammed me in the face. My subconscious mind is making decisions all the time — I’d better make sure it I train it to be working FOR me and not against me. A coach not only helps bring subconscious motivations and roadblocks to the surface, but also helps us get our selves (inner and outer) on the same page.

Get Better Faster

Yes, most of this learning, unearthing, and growing can and does happen without a coach. I’m learning that it happens a LOT faster with one than without. Success loves speed. The Try-Fail-Learn-Try approach (which now has the fancy moniker of “lean process” works best when it’s done quickly – and for almost all of us, that speed happens when we have the advantage of a third party who can hold us accountable, help us see and embrace what’s inside of us, and teach us to see when we’re not aligned with our inner, true self.

Coaches can come in many forms. Earlier in our history, it came through apprenticeship and deep, meaningful extended family relationships. Today, though we may have many mentors and thought leaders in our lives, few can devote the time to coach us. Hiring a coach, even for a 6-12 month timeframe, can yield high-impact, high ROI results.

John C. Maxwell, hailed by Inc. Magazine as the #1 Leadership guru in the world, has spent the last six years mentoring, training and developing a team of coaches who can provide one-on-one coaching for you and your executives, managers and emerging leaders in your business. John has also equipped them to provide group leadership development programs online and offline, on-site and off-site. If you’d like more information about our programs, services, and coaching from The John Maxwell Team, just contact me here using the contact form or call / text me at 505-510-0056.


How to Subtly Piss off Your Employees and Make’em Skedaddle

What does it take to get employee engagement down, turnover up, and your Glassdoor reputation score down in the pits? The answer is simple. Make your culture stink. Here’s how.

All Work and No Play? Jack and Jill Become Dull – no, make that EX – employees.

Step One: Don’t Let Anyone Have a Sense of Play in their jobs. I’m not suggesting that a lack of ping pong tables and Nerf guns is going to sink your company. Far from it. That’s not the kind of play I’m talking about. (Although group recreation can have a positive effect on employee morale and performance – and many convicted murderers have never played!).

I’m talking about the idea that if your team members really enjoy what they’re doing – it can be as fun as play. So, what does that take? At highly innovative companies (think Southwest Airlines, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon), employees are free to put their ideas and their personality into their jobs. If you’ve ever had SWA flight attendants sing the safety instructions to you, you’ve experienced one way in which play can be effective in business.

[youtube id=”Jy0Yf1CAsuQ” height=”250″]

Play is the way we learn: It’s tied to curiosity, experimentation, and exploring challenging problems. All of those are things that make businesses grow.

Leaders can maximize this motivation first by matching the right people with the right positions. Once matched, give team members the freedom to apply their passion, their ideas, and their curiosity to solving the challenges that lead to success for them and for the company.

Does it matter? If they don’t care, they’re not going to stick with it.

Step 2: Hire people that don’t value what the company does, or their role in it. One of the first jobs I had out of college was working for a book publisher, managing the back list…all those books that need to be reprinted. A huge part of why I loved that job was because we published books that helped people grow. Every time I reprinted another 5000 books – that was 5,000 people I was helping with their relationships, their parenting, their spiritual life or their finances. On the other hand, marketing software that helped the telephone company make more money? Meh. Not so fulfilling.

Not that helping companies make more money is bad. For me, it just wasn’t a match to what I valued most in life.

“Behind every winning organization is a unique identity,” writes Lee Williams of Success.com, “one that sets it apart from others and gives employees a strong sense of belonging, ownership, value, and meaning.”  Who wouldn’t prefer to work where he or she felt part of a greater purpose?

When leaders maximize the match between corporate mission and individual purpose during the hiring process, they maximize the likelihood that employees will stay and thrive in their jobs. Every day, keeping the intrinsic purpose of the company front and center brings satisfaction to employees. If you want them to leave, make it all about margins, accounts won, market share, and them being darn lucky to be employed.

All Take and No Give? If they don’t grow, they’ll go.

Step 3: Avoid giving your employees opportunities for personal growth. I worked at a small startup where the founder-owner cast a vision of the company as a place where each of us could work long-term, with a huge payoff for those who loyally did. A key part of his strategy for keeping employees was to invest in their personal growth. It was marvelous! I needed to create a marketing database that couldn’t be bought off the shelf. I was given permission to learn SQL and use that knowledge to develop customized reporting. I needed to learn how to be a better manager and team player. I was sent to the Dale Carnegie Course. Three to four times a year, we all took part in management training and consultant workshops that not only developed our workplace skills, but also our character and relational skills. Many, but not all those original two dozen employees stayed with the company for a decade and longer.

When the outcome of work benefits the individual’s identity, the work enhances his or her potential. By giving employees the opportunity to develop new skill sets, receive training, or try new things, leaders can harness their natural self-interest to create a win-win scenario.

So there you have it. The formula for sick culture: (Stifle Play.)+ (Obscure any connection between company purpose and individual Purpose.) x (Neglect developing an employee’s Potential.) = High Turnover & Poor Performance.

Now, on the chance that you might really want to build a great company culture, just flip those around. Focus on why people work, and connect that why with every prospective employee and teach every manager the leadership skills to guide your current employees. Behavioral screening such as that done by ZeroRisk HR and other companies is a great way to ensure that you’re interviewing people who will find personal growth and fulfillment at work. And leadership training and coaching from certified members of The John Maxwell Team will guide your leaders into the habits and mindset that nurture the culture you really want.

[reminder preface=”Think about this:”]What kind of culture do you really want? Do you promote or stifle play (curiosity, fun, innovation) at work? Is there a match or a disconnect between your purpose and the company mission? Do you grow at work? Do you help others grow? [/reminder]

3 Reasons We Have to “Put Down the Duckie”

Put down the duckie

One of my all-time favorite Sesame Street songs is “Put Down the Duckie.” Never heard of it?

Perhaps a little background is required to remind you (or bring you up to speed) of the history of the Rubber Duckie in Sesame Street. “Rubber Duckie” was, after all, Ernie’s signature song, debuting on the very first episode of Sesame Street. A few years later, in 1970, it actually hit #16 in the Billboard top 100. Fifteen years later, Ernie was still singing this tribute to his bath-time pal.

You’d think that after all that time, Ernie would have outgrown his self-indulgent obsession with Rubber Duckie. Obviously, someone on Sesame Street DID think so, and in 1986, Hoots the owl tries to help Ernie with the difficult and painful challenge of growing up – and growing beyond his Rubber Duckie. Ernie’s trouble is that he wants to do something new (play the saxophone), but finds that impossible to do with Rubber Duckie in his hand. The song explains it all. (Go ahead and take a few minutes to listen to it if you can’t remember it!)

[youtube id=”UiQsaEdJ1aI” marginbottom=”20″]

Amazingly, you and I have a whole plastic bucket load of Rubber Duckies – relationships, ideas, places, hurts, and hang-ups. Habits that gave us security in the past, but don’t serve us well now. As Hoots says, “you’ll never find the skill you seek till you pay your dues.” Putting down these duckies is essential to developing a meaningful and rewarding life.

Letting go lets us reframe our experience

Part of the security of things we know, of our habits, of our familiar hurts comes from the stories we tell ourselves and others. Have you ever noticed how just about every story you tell about yourself puts you in a good light? Even if I am relating a story about a tragedy, usually I am the innocent victim…the unwilling recipient of forces and actions being done TO me. I’ve often commented that I’ve never heard someone who got fired from a job tell how it was all their own fault. No, the reasons for the firing are usually about the character and actions of co-workers, a manager, or even the evil corporation in total.

We tell stories that way because we have a Rubber Duckie (or two or three) that shames us, embarrasses us, or in some way endangers our being accepted by others (if it were to be exposed). When we can let go of the fear of rejection, we can accept our shortcomings and take responsibility for our failures. Only then can we tell ourselves (and others) stories that frame our experience authentically.

You’ll never find the skill you seek until you pay your dues. Hoots the Owl, Sesame Street

Letting go helps us focus on the present

Even if we start to reframe our experience with more authentic stories, we can still have another lingering Rubber Duckie: we can be stuck in the past. The collective wisdom of sages, songwriters and psychologists is pretty unanimous on this: “Let bygones be bygones.” The past is useful in our stories, but we need to make sure we don’t continue to live in those stories. Letting go, and even forgetting, actually helps us meet the challenges of today more creatively.

Letting go gives us the capacity to receive

This is obvious, but for some reason I certainly need to be reminded. Nothing can get into a closed fist. I have only so much emotional bandwidth. If I’m consuming that nursing grudges, harboring hurts, or keeping the sting of rejection alive – I have no capacity to take in the next experience (whether it is pleasant or painful). I can’t start my dream job if I stay at the current “gets-the-bills-paid-but-I-hate-it-job.” I can’t build new, good habits without knocking down old, unproductive ones.

One notable sage put it this way: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, there won’t be any new wheat growing.” It’s a pattern of life in nature, and it’s a pattern in our lives too: Letting go – letting something die – is usually necessary for something new to come into our life.

So, go ahead. Put down the Duckie. Start by making an honest inventory of ideas, attitudes, fears and triggers that are rooted in the past. Then, begin to replace those with the best things from your present. Start to play something new.

[reminder preface=”What Duckie should you put down?”]

Take a few minutes and jot down some of the things that come to mind when you answer ‘What’s my Duckie?'[/reminder]

Four Ways Leading Virtual Teams Is Different

It wasn’t that long ago that the “workplace of the future” was a Jetsons image:  commuters going to work in flying cars. At the turn of the century, I worked with team members a few thousand miles away — most of the time via video conferencing, but still using once-a-month face to face meetings after 3 hour flights (in a plane, not in my flying car!). But, technology has taken us a different direction…enabling us to work together without physically being together with video conferencing from our phones, co-work and collaboration tools on our computers, and real-time work tracking.

For the past decade, I’ve worked with team members whom I see face to face perhaps only once or twice per year. Sure, virtual teams have advantages. The commute time can be turned into work time. But the effects of computer-mediated communication are not always great, and it’s certainly not true that virtual teams are always effective and productive.  A 2012 study from SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) found that brainstorming and generating ideas was the most successful task for virtual teams to accomplish, and that actually going through the processes of implementation was a bit harder.  The difference may be that team leads and executives haven’t adapted their leadership style to the unique challenges of virtual teams. Continue reading “Four Ways Leading Virtual Teams Is Different”

Three Reasons You Should Wander Around

To wander is defined, by Meriam-Webster and by most of us, as “characterised by  aimless, slow or pointless movement.”  We think of wandering as lonely poverty (think of “wandering minstrels” and itinerant preachers, or the activity of men in the mall who are waiting on others who shop.)  If we’re describing more purposeful movement, we use words like “migration” (because ducks and geese and human migrants have a purpose in their movement) or “exploring” (because Cousteau and Hillary and Lewis and Clark had destinations to conquer). Is it always pointless to wander?

How I Learned I Needed to Wander

I’m the kind of person who thinks a lot.  About everything. Constantly.

When friends tell me (as they often do) “Don’t think so much…”,  my reply is usually something like: “Don’t assume it took very much of my time to come up with that…”  (as if “a lot of thinking” really equals “a lot of time spent thinking”.  The truth is, a tremendous amount of brain activity goes on in just a few microseconds.

I doubt that time spent is the point of those making the comment.  Instead, I think they were referring to my “monkey mind” — incessant brain activity that jumps from branch to branch, constantly chattering away with internal (and sometimes external) commentary about how things are, how they should be, what they could be, what they aren’t.

It wasn’t until I was invited to participate in a “Day of Wandering” that I realized just how incessant my thinking activity is, and just how much that keeps me from actually experiencing people and situations around me. That day I spent about 6 hours by myself walking the Mogollon Rim.

During the first five hours, my mind was actively plotting, planning, evaluating, deciding — which way to go, what process to use to quiet my mind, how to measure my success…and on, and on, and on.  Finally, in the sixth hour, I sat and closed my eyes and just listened, and increasingly found myself not evaluating.

After that, I was able to walk in a way that I can confidently call wandering:  I did not choose a path or a destination; I simply walked.  The result?  I experienced the world around me with a new appreciation, a new depth and a new connection that felt vaguely familiar to me.

[callout]Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe. –Anatole France[/callout]

Continue reading “Three Reasons You Should Wander Around”

The Great Pumpkin – With Protein, Even

One of the things I love most about the holidays is the nostalgia of the foods that were on the table at my grandmother’s house, at my aunt’s house and on our own kitchen table.  Of course that had to include pumpkin pie! Over the years, I’ve added to my pumpkin-loving list: pumpkin cookies and, more recently, a pumpkin latte with a pumpkin spice bagel, or a wonderful pumpkin soup.  Of course, the primary problem with many of my “nostalgia foods” is that they aren’t necessarily all that healthy.

In my search for small things to do today that make tomorrow amazing, I came across this recipe for a Pumpkin Latte Shake (Tomatoe, Tomato – you say smoothie, I say shake!).

Here’s what you need:

Just mix

2 scoops of Vanilla Shaklee Energizing Life Shake (this is where the protein comes from)

8 ounces of Unsweetened Almond  or Cashew Milk

1 tsp instant coffee*

1 tbs pumpkin pie puree^

4-5 ice cubes

cinnamon & nutmeg to taste

Add dry ingredients to wet in blender, and blend all ingredients until smooth.

*Notes & Variations

Instead of Instant Coffee (who keeps that around if you drink coffee regularly??), try substituting a 1/2 cup of cold / room temperature coffee in place of the cashew milk.  Better yet, keep the cashew milk and use ice cubes created from your leftover, strongly-brewed coffee.

Pumpkin pie puree:  Sure, you can get a can of pumpkin pie filling and scoop it away a tablespoon at a time. But here’s a quick and easy way to have pumpkin puree around for just such occasions.  (If you use frozen puree, then use liquid coffee. )

That’s all there is to it!  I get the best of the old an new pumpkin classics — all in a healthy, protein-packed meal replacement!