Getting Results

Ignore This Big Lie About Working a Job You Love

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gty_popular_work_nt_130516_wmainI’ve tested the theory “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” And it’s not true.

It’s actually quite terrible and the reason is that it encourages people to quit their pursuits much sooner than they should have. What happens is that you buy into the lie that chasing a dream will be one long parade of rainbows and bunnies.

The only way you’ll know when you made the right decision is that you’ll encounter a never ending assembly line of joyful tasks in your day.

When this doesn’t happen, when some part of your pursuit faces a setback (and it will) you start to feel like you failed. When faced with the inevitable work, struggle and hardship that accompanies anything you do in life, you will question yourself.

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is not true, but something even better is.  That statement should be edited. It should read:

“Do what you love and you’ll love the work you do.”

You’ll work harder than you ever have before in your life.

You’ll scale mountains that are in the way of your dreams and goals.

You’ll make hard phone calls that make you want to throw up a little bit.

You’ll put your pride aside and ask for help in ways that make you feel uncomfortable.

You’ll work and it will be difficult, but it will be meaningful.

You will see that each step has value. Even the busywork, even the stuff that is just flat out miserable matters in the light of the bigger story.

Don’t believe the motivational hype the Internet tries to serve you.

Big dreams and hard work are not enemies. They’re actually best friends and you don’t get one without the other.


Try This When Team-Building Doesn’t Work

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imagesI don’t have a magic wand. Nor can I do a”Jedi” Mind Trick.

That’s what I wanted to say last week when another leader asked me to provide some “team-building”. Why?

Because fostering collaboration and developing community cannot fix a problem if the leader is unwilling to address it first.

Instead, it’s easier to hire an outside professional to hopefully wave a “magic” wand through a training/workshop.  Or individual executive coaching.  Or creating a personal development plan (you get the idea).

But, training cannot compensate for a poor hire.

A leadership development workshop cannot replace a leaders’ unwillingness to develop their team.   

So either me or one of my staff is requested to fix a problem. But I am not the Jedi Master. You Are.

You know your team best.  You know who needs to be developed, who needs to be promoted.  And who needs accountability. An outside consultant’s role is to equip you to equip your team.  That’s true TEAM BUILDING.

Yes, we can provide a structure and partner with a leader to build a team, through focusing on Community, Best Selection Practices and Skill Development. But what your team really needs is You to fix the problem person.

Train them or hold them accountable.  If that doesn’t work, share them with the competition.

Don’t shrink back from being a leader.

Make the tough call.

Provide the tough love.

Develop tough servant-leaders.

Then, you’ll see your team turn from Pathetic to Performing.

They need YOU more than they need me.

Why The Best People Are Quitting

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imagesMore than ever before, organizations are playing close attention to retaining their best staff. Why? Because when you lose good people, your team has to work harder and their engagement suffers.

You have to now spend a great amount of time finding their replacement – which could take months depending on the role.

When your best people leave, you also suffer the psychological setback of low morale.

Finally, you suffer financially.  The latest studies suggest 6 months of wages equals the cost of that particular role turning over due to the gap in training someone else to get up to performance level of the previous person.

Ragan Publications listed 10 ways to guarantee that your best people will quit:

  1. Treat everyone equally. This may sound good, but your employees are not equal. Some are worth more, because they produce more results. The key is not to treat them equally; it is to treat them all fairly.
  1. Tolerate mediocrity. A-players don’t have to or want to play with a bunch of C-players.
  1. Have dumb rules. I did not say have no rules; I specified dumb rules. Great employees want to have guidelines and direction, but they don’t want to have rules that get in the way of doing their jobs or that conflict with the values the company says are important.
  1. Don’t recognize outstanding performance and contributions. Remember Psychology 101: Behavior you want repeated should be rewarded immediately.
  1. Don’t have any fun at work. Where’s the written rule that says work has to be serious? If you find it, rip it to shreds and stomp on it, because the notion that work cannot be fun is actually counterproductive. The workplace should be fun. Find ways to make work and/or the work environment more relaxed and fun, and you will have happy employees who look forward to coming to work each day.
  1. Don’t keep your people informed. You’ve got to communicate not only the good, but also the bad and the ugly. If you don’t tell them, the rumor mill will.
  1. Micromanage. Tell them what you want done and how you want it done. Don’t tell them why it needs to be done and why their job is important. Don’t ask for their input on how it could be done better.
  1. Don’t Think About How to Retain Them. This deserves your attention every day. Make a list of the people and write down what you are doing or will do to ensure that person stays engaged and on board.
  1. Don’t do employee retention interviews. Wait until a great employee is walking out the door instead and conduct an exit interview to see what you could have done differently so they would not have gone out looking for another job.
  1. Make your onboarding program an exercise in tedium. Employees are most impressionable during the first 60 days on the job. Every bit of information gathered during this time will either reinforce your new hire’s “buying decision” (to take the job) or lead to “Hire’s Remorse.”   The biggest cause of “Hire’s Remorse” is the dreaded employee orientation/training program. Most are poorly organized, inefficient, and boring. How can you expect excellence from your new hires if your orientation program is a sloppy amalgamation of tedious paperwork, boring policies and procedures, and hours of regulations and red tape?

To reinforce their “buying” decision, get your best leaders involved on the first day and make sure your orientation delivers and reinforces these three messages repeatedly:

  • You were carefully chosen and we’re glad you’re here;
  • You’re now part of a great organization;
  • This is why your job is so important.

These Four Prove Someone Has “Potential”

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fish-bowl-backgrounds-wallpapersI’ve always loved the phrase “a diamond in the rough” referring to the young hero in Disney’s “Aladdin”.

He had talent – it just needed refining by experience.

We all know high-potentials who are “diamonds in the rough” who are currently proving a positive example.

But they have the capacity to handle greater responsibility in the future.

They are all around us.


The following four key identifiers reveal who they are:

They Demonstrate Integrity.   This is the absolute bottom-line requirement of any influence. It means a consistent display in thoughts and actions of a strong ethical code of conduct that is “focused on the welfare of everyone.” Their consistent adherence to their beliefs makes them predictable and therefore dependable. They have the courage to do the right thing even when it is difficult.

They Lead Through Relationships. Leading through relationships is the basis of leadership. They get along with others and value others. They “lead and inspire because of who they are and how they interact with others.” They don’t depend on their position or lack of it to influence the actions of others.

They Focus on Results.   This is someone who maintains a wide perspective and acts with independent initiative. They use the end to define the means, which can mean working outside of strict processes to achieve the end result.   They aim for the end they are supposed to produce so they feel responsible and accountable, not just for the demands of their jobs but also for successful outcomes for stakeholders involved.

They Remain Service Focused. This is different than customer service; it is an “awareness of how an action in a specific job affects someone else.” It is a big-picture focus and a value all at the same time.

For some ‘high-potentials’, one characteristic may dominate and others may need to be developed more fully.

If you know someone like that, then get to work helping them grow and develop.

Because they are about to make a HUGE difference in others’ lives.




10 Rock Star Behaviors of a Servant Leader

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imagesWhen I reflect on the high-capacity team I serve with in my organization (and others I have served with on previous teams), specific dynamic behaviors are evident.

These behaviors reflect tireless servant-leadership, and drive me to say “thank you.”  If you were on my team, here are 10 things I would say to you which reflect our values:

Way To Go!

  • You Do Not Whine Or Complain – You refuse to be a victim. Life is too short. When you encounter a problem, you help figure out how to solve it.
  • You Are A Continuous Learner – Every time we talk, you tell me about an experience that taught you a new lesson. You are an avid reader, sharing what you learn with others. When you make a mistake or the business results aren’t what they should be, you are only interested in figuring out why so that you will learn what to do the next time.
  • You Don’t Ask For More Money You ask for more responsibility. You understand that money comes with responsibility and you’re willing to do more.
  • Excellence Is Important To You –  You are not perfect, but you want to do great work. You ask for defined expectations so that you can meet them. You ask for feedback so that you know where you stand. You ask how you can improve the next time.
  • You Are Never Bored – Long before boredom sets in, you are looking for the next project or to learn. You are alert to the possibilities. You volunteer for the next assignment.
  • You Build Strong Relationships With People – You genuinely care about others. You take time to get to know them. You are there for them when they need help.
  • You Have Amazing Positive Energy– Your first response is can do. You are willing to help until the work is done. Your energy is contagious and people want to work on your team and your project.
  • You Listen Well – You do not need to do all the talking. You know others have skills and experiences you don’t yet have, and you want to access them. You do not need to always have the answer. You know that others on the team have much to offer.
  • You Bring Values To Your Work – They are not just words that you talk about; they are alive and active in the way you work. People know you by your actions of integrity, honesty, and accountability.
  • You Know Your Work Matters – It is not just a way to fill the hours in the day or get a paycheck. It is a place where you can touch lives and make a difference.



Don’t Let Your Title Deceive You

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2159258-_insert_title_Here’s a significant leadership fact: being part of an organization’s leadership team does not make us a leader.

What it does do is give you a rather brief period of time to earn the right to lead. While you can be promoted into a leadership position,  you cannot be promoted to “leader.”

Earning the right to lead begins with an understanding that people will not be managed, they expect to be led. In fact, they need to be lead. If you’ve been in a management role for a period of time and have struggled to get people to buy into you and your leadership it may well be that they feel “managed”, not led.

They may feel like “a cog in the wheel,” on equal footing with a copy machine or some fancy new software your organization just purchased. They just don’t believe that they truly matter.

The best you can hope for from people who feel managed is their compliance, they will do what they are told because they “have” to. Compliant people are not really following you, they are merely obeying you. Their compliance shows in the level of effort they offer to the organization, compliant people do what they are required to do and that’s about it.

When people feel as if they are being led they will commit. They don’t necessarily commit to the organization but they do commit to their leader. Committed people will follow their leader past the leader’s stated level of authority. They will do far more than their job description requires them to do. Not only is their effort generally better, their results are often far superior as well.

Don’t be a leader in name only.

Work each day to earn the trust and respect of the people you would lead. Authentic Servant Leaders know this fact without a doubt: if your people can’t trust you then they absolutely won’t follow you. It’s more than that, they actually can’t follow you; their brain won’t let them commit to someone that they can’t trust and if they can’t commit, then they are not truly following.

Once your people trust you, and by extension your motives, then you can begin the task of showing you care about them as people. They must know, without a doubt that they matter more than “stuff.” If anything in your organization takes precedence over your people then the people will notice, the morale will suffer and soon after, the trust is gone.

When you make a difference, then you are leading.


Why Comparing Yourself is Destructive (and Helpful)

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imagesLast night I met a fellow leader at a local coffee watering hole.   He’s an effective leader in his field, and his influence has grown over the years.  I respect him.

But thankfully I noticed something missing: the insecurity that sometimes accompanies meeting with a high-achiever.

Insecurity, self-doubt, discouragement – these all have the potential of invading your mind and heart when you compare yourself with others.  And comparison leads to some distinctly negative results.    So avoid it.

Here’s what happens when you compare yourselves with other leaders (other professionals, other dads, other moms, other _________ ) you fill in the blank.

If you’re ahead of them in some way, you’ll get too prideful and be tempted to coast.

If you’re behind them either in a particular area, you’ll get depressed and want to give up.

So just Keep Growing and Keep Leading.   Become the Best Version of yourself that you can be.

Comparing yourself to others leads to arrogance or shame, but never happiness.

However, what if comparison inspires you to step up your game? What if it makes you say, ‘If so-and-so can do it, so can I?’”

Dave Hare (@davidahare) inspires me. He’s one of the best leaders I’ve met (and that includes some well known authors). The way he leads and communicates has helped improve my facilitating and speaking skills.

Craig Parker motivates me to be a spiritual leader. He’s a local minister whose life exemplifies servant leadership and the perseverance needed to succeed.

Buck Nielsen stirs me to keep growing. He’s a 70-year-old retired educator who still “out reads” me 4 to 1 because of his desire for personal development. He motivates me to always have something to give to others.

These three people inspire me, but inspiration is not the same thing as comparison.

Let’s look at the differences:

Inspiration tells you anything is possible.

Comparison tells you everything is impossible.



Why Suger-coating is Bad For Your Team’s Health

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Your Life is made up of your daily decisions.  Sure-coating (minimizing the reality of a situation) reduces clarity and judgement.  It never helps you and others make better decisions.

Rather, it hinders good decisions because you never fully address the reality of a situation.

What’s the alternative?  CANDOR.

Candor is Honesty with Skill.  And true Candor requires both.

Honesty without Skill is rude and insensitive.

Skill without Honesty lacks clarity and truth.

It takes both to maintain trust in the relationship and make great decisions.


(New Post) You Don’t Have Time for Negative People

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Negative-PeopleRecently, I caught myself wasting time dealing with a negative person.

I’m not talking about someone on my team or organization. It was actually a business partner in another organization who was caught making negative comments behind others’ backs.

After being bothered about it for quite some time, I decided not to let the issue waste any more of the team’s time. As well, this individual would not be given the chance to disparage others again.

Do you have to deal with a negative person that takes up too much of your day?  You don’t have time for negative people in your life.

Negative People are a Negative Impact

I often come up with my best ideas on my run, when my mind gets “in the zone.”  This is my time to “get away” and just think.   However, on this particular day, all I could think about was the nasty conversation that occurred with the business partner who had been caught saying negative comments about others. It caused much team friction, and too much time was spent addressing the behavior.

To call it what is was: It was a complete waste of time, energy, and feelings by all involved.  And the worst part of the episode was the individual in question got what they wanted… a reaction.

Don’t Let the Critics Steal Your Time

Critical. Negative. Toxic.  Call them what you will, but negative people have a way of stealing the time of others.

They don’t have anything positive to contribute. They just want to complain. In fact, their greatest pleasure is not in their accomplishments, but in minimizing those of others.  Negative people don’t have anything positive to contribute. Don’t let them waste your time.

The best way to deal with negative people is not to deal with them.

It’s best to let them go on their way. (Both literally and figuratively.)  Don’t let them have your time, attention, or energy.

Here are just a few of the Negative People You Don’t Have Time For:

  • Naysayers – The naysayers are a dangerous lot because they want to destroy your dreams before they even begin. They will tell you what you can’t do and what can’t be done. The truth is that they can’t or won’t do, so they don’t want you to succeed either.
  • Complainers – The complainers spend complaining than actually doing.  They aren’t where they should be because of someone else. The rules aren’t fair. There is always an excuse.
  • Bullies – If you think bullying ends in school, you are mistaken. Some people in the workplace enjoy nothing more than abusing others. Of course, just as on the playground, bullies fold when someone finally stands up to them.
  • Critics – Critics just love to tear down others and their efforts. They sit on the sidelines pointing out all the flaws they can see… real or not. This is another group of non-doers who are jealous of those who are doing.
  • Caustic People – Some people are nasty just for the sake of being nasty. These are some of the most toxic people you will encounter. They never have anything nice to say, but always manage to say something negative.

No Time for Negative People

Don’t let negative people tell you what you can’t do. (Ignore them.)

Don’t let negative people bring down your mood. (Don’t listen to them.)

And definitely, don’t let them waste your time. (You don’t get more).


(New Post) 6 Real World Tips for High-Performers

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stock-photo-18789316-sports-fan-standing-with-his-arms-raisedMaybe you’re ready for the next step as a high-performer.   Think common sense has nothing to teach you about earning more influence? Think again.

Each new level of influence and leadership doesn’t have the rainbows, sunshine, and funfetti cupcakes you dream of.   Set-backs, Lay-offs, demotions, and pay-cuts are real. I sound pessimistic, right? But I’m not.

Seeing reality has made me more passionate about my work than I ever thought possible. Success is always attainable.

A few coaching thoughts to anyone who’s taking another leap forward:

Ask questions. I know it’s common sense, but I still see the consequences of botched communication almost every day. Even if you think you understand a task, repeat it back to the supervisor. If you don’t understand or know a process, or don’t know a term—ask. Your supervisors will be more confident in you and trust you with more responsibilities.

Discuss your long-term goals. Your biggest advocates at your organization are your supervisors. If they don’t know where you want your career to go, they can’t help it along.

You aren’t better than any project. Don’t scoff at it. Organizing cabinets and data entry are never fun, but they will show your leader your servant-heart, commitment and willingness to help out. If you don’t get this right, your career will only be about what you get out of it and not about adding value to others.

Get trained. If you have access to training, leadership development, online learning or ANYTHING— take advantage of those resources. Even if you have to train yourself, Google is an extraordinary thing. Never be the person who says, “I don’t know how to use that.”

Effectiveness is BETTER than Efficiency. Failure here happens all the time. Getting a project done fast is great, but only if it’s done right. Pay attention to the details.  If you must sacrifice speed for accuracy, do so. Don’t waste time. Plan the fastest. most accurate method before you start.

Do what you love. The career you have might not be the one you planned or the one you received a degree in. Don’t worry. It’s easier to receive mentoring and coaching NOW to help you discover areas of competence and passion than be stuck for the next 20 years.

Remember—this is your career. Only you can make it everything you dreamed about as a kid.