August 25, 2009

Flashy Lights

Last week I was in Vegas with my wife celebrating our anniversary. Once we got settled, I suggested we walk the entire strip. 4 hours and 7 miles later, I realized the hotels are so massive that even though they look close, they are actually quite far apart. A thought ran through my head...

"That's just like BIG GOALS!"

We should all DREAM BIG. Don't sell yourself short by setting goals that can be easily obtained. Where's the FUN in that?

Along the way, there were times I wanted to quit, but my will wouldn't let me. I kept my eyes on the prize. Sure, it took longer than I thought, but we PERSEVERED and eventually reached our destination.

I remember looking at our map at different hotels to get a sense of how much PROGRESS we were making. This helped us realize we were moving forward towards our goal.

After we got back to our hotel, we were tired. Was it smart to walk? No. Was the journey worth it? Yes. How else would we have known how long it was?

This journey is similar to our lives:
1) We all have BIG DREAMS

2) It takes TIME and PERSEVERANCE to accomplish them

3) It helps to chart our PROGRESS along the way

4) The FUN is in the journey

Just so you know we drove to every location after that, because we LEARNED from our mistakes!

August 19, 2009

REAL Leadership

We read about great leaders, but rarely do we get the chance to work alongside of them. Recently, I've had the pleasure of being able to experience two leaders up close whom I admire and respect.

Today I'd like to spotlight: John Dunn & Teresa Roberson.

John Dunn is the owner of Coast Produce.

Teresa Roberson is the Head of School at Calvary Christian School.

Here are just 3 traits that make them "great" at what they do:

Character: John and Teresa let their core values shine through them. They are more interested in developing their character, before their leadership abilities. They live what they say. When they speak, people believe them.

Relational: I watch the way John and Teresa treat and interact with others. They put people before tasks. They care about their workers and value each person's well-being before their performance. They treat everyone with respect.

Humble: John and Teresa see the bigger picture. They do not think of themselves bigger than the organizations that they lead. They have their ego's in check. They are grateful for the positions they are in and serve others accordingly.

Witnessing great leaders in person is rare. I am blessed to have worked under these two. Don't try to emulate other leaders, instead learn from their example. Great examples of leadership inspire us to get better. Leadership is a process and we can gain much from observing those who are more experienced than we are. Who are you watching?

August 11, 2009

Culture Clash

Is it possible to produce change in a strong company culture?
The answer is "Yes", but you have to be strategic and patient about your approach. Remember most organizations are still "vertical", so here is a plan of attack that proactively influences from the bottom to the top:

1) Research & Learn
Start by identifying the root of the problem you are trying to solve. You can't attack the problem until you know exactly what it is. Research case studies on your topic (every problem has existed before). Observe the company culture through the behaviors of veteran workers. Once you have brainstormed some possible solutions proceed to step two.

2) Ask for Feedback
Next, approach co-workers and share your ideas. See what their responses are. Use their praise and criticism to sharpen your formula. Think of this as a refining stage. Different perspectives provide new angles to construct a solution. When your concept is improved and ready to execute, move to the buy-in stage.

3) Build Alliances
Now that you've solidified a strategy, you've got to recruit people to share your perspective. For example, if you are going to a meeting and know the participants beforehand, meet with each person individually prior to gauge their interest level. This way you can predict how people will respond during the meeting and adjust your proposition accordingly. Once you have built a strong backing, it's time for the final frontier.

4) Pitch Solutions
I always tell my clients, anyone can walk into their boss' office and complain, but what leaders want to hear is solutions. Most likely they're aware the problem exists, they just prefer to ignore it. They have enough on their plate, they want to hear what YOU will do about it. If you approach leadership with solutions and are willing to take initiative to implement your plans, leaders listen.

Change is hard. We are creatures of habit. Traditional culture is tough to break. Know this before you go into battle. Prepare your mind. Even with all your rehearsal, you cannot control the outcome. If you want to move up the corporate ladder, be warned there is much work ahead. Do your homework, learn from your community and solve people's problems! That is being a catalyst for change.

August 5, 2009

Grow Forward, not Backwards

Do you believe the media reports that the economy is improving? Regardless what you think, let's talk about what YOU can do about it. Picture yourself as a sprinter at the starting blocks...

What is your personal vision? How innovative is it?
You can't be successful if you have no destination in mind. Start brainstorming a 1-year vision for yourself NOW and be specific! Think ambitious. Go for what you want. Remember, "without a vision, people perish."

In order to reach your vision you must set goals.
Not just any goals, but measurable ones. That means your goals must be quantifiable and attached to a timeframe. Think of your vision as the second floor of a house. In order to make it to the next level, you have to climb the steps. Those steps are the goals you set. Goals help break your vision into achievable steps (it also helps you chart progress made).

Most plans fail at the implementation stage
, not the vision stage. That means you can have lofty dreams, but if you don't put in the hard work - you go nowhere. At this stage, accountability is a must. We accomplish greater feats when more people are involved. Stop complaining and start doing!

Ready, Set, Go is about being proactive. We cannot control the economy, but we can do something about it. Winners have a tenacious will to succeed and a plan to achieve. Your biggest obstacle to success is YOU. Stop observing on the sidelines and start playing the game!