Einstein said “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
Exceptional things can happen with minimal talent.
In culture, we idolize talent, titles and temporary fame….confusing what’s exceptional with ego.
However, I’ve seen exceptional people shine when others’ have dismissed or discounted their potential.
Here are ten that have huge impact on our potential and performance:
- Be on time
- Work Ethic
- Body Language
- Being Teachable
- Doing Extra
- Being Prepared
Real influencers are leaders before others recognize them as a “leader.“
You don’t have to have a higher degree or a large “title” to impact those around you.
The most commented and “liked” tweet I ever sent happened several weeks ago.
Actually, October 8th to be exact.
I was surprised, honestly, of the response on social media including my personal Facebook page.
Here’s what I said: “I’ve decided to never burn bridges. Ever. Even if the other person attempts to pull away, seek to repair it if it’s within your power.”
Now I understand. We’ve all blown up relationships, either personally or professionally.
And, we’ve had others do something (or say something) towards us that completely destroyed the trust required to continue the relationship.
Could be a spouse, a friend, a coworker or a leader in our life.
But Bridges can be rebuilt.
How do you rebuild a bridge you’ve blown up?
And, how do you know when you can trust the other person enough to “rebuild” the bridge?
Here are four questions to ask:
1. Do they keep their word? (and am I willing to keep mine?)
This is where it starts. We have to count on them (and people have to learn that they can count on us) to deliver on promises. If you commit to following up on something, do it. No excuses.
If you can’t do it, proactively let the other person know.
For example, “Terri, last week I told you that I would get back to you with a proposal. However, I am waiting for a bid to come through from an outside vendor. It looks like that might add a week to my schedule.”
People are usually very forgiving if you take the initiative to communicate. However, if they have to chase you down, you lose points. Your reputation will take a hit.
2. Do they tell the truth? (And, am I willing to be honest with them moving forward?)
This is harder than it sounds. Most of us like to think of ourselves as truth-tellers. But it’s easy to round the numbers up, spin the facts, or conveniently leave out the evidence that doesn’t support our position.
But if we are going to build trust, then we have to commit ourselves to telling the truth—even when it is difficult or embarrassing.
People are more forgiving than you think. (Witness all the celebrities who have publicly blown it, apologized, and received a pass.) They don’t expect you to be perfect. However, they do expect you to acknowledge your mistakes and to come clean when you screw up.
3. Are they transparent and authentic? (Am I willing to be real with them first?)
People will not trust you unless you learn to share yourself, warts and all. You have to take a risk and be vulnerable. This creates rapport and rapport builds trust.
However—and be warned!—you can’t use this as a gimic or a technique. If you do, people will see it as manipulation. Instead, you have to be authentic. The reason this builds trust is because you are demonstrating trust. You are taking the initiative to go first.
In essence, you are saying, “Look, I trust you. I am taking off my mask and showing you my true self. Some of it isn’t very pretty. But I am willing to take that risk, believing you will still accept me.”
4. Do they Give without any strings attached? (Am I willing to give first?)
Nothing builds trust like love. What does love have to do with the workplace?
As Tim Sanders points out in Love Is the Killer App, everything. You have to be willing to share your knowledge, your contacts, and your compassion—without expecting anything in return. The more you take the initiative to give, the more it builds trust. Giving lets others know that you know it’s not “all about you.” From this, people learn that they can trust you, because you have their best interests at heart.
Bridges can always be rebuilt.
Granted, in some situations, it can take years.
It takes doing the right things over a long period of time.
But in most cases, it won’t take that long. Relationships can be turned around quickly if both will take the steps needed to rebuild trust.
Some of our Worst Behaviors are fueled By Fear and Insecurity.
However, confidence fueled By Values births Positive Energy and Engagement from others.
- Grudge-holding. Forgiveness requires courage.
- Self-blaming. Insecurity may cause leaders to blame themselves for the delinquency of others. The difference between self-blame and responsibility is corrective action.
- Excuse-making. Insecurity prevents them from holding others accountable to their commitments.
- Attacking and defending. Insecure leaders attack back. Rather than defending their team, they defend themselves.
- Nit-picking. Nit-pickers are unhappy insecure people who never truly celebrate.
- Image-protecting. It’s all about what others think when you’re insecure.
- Fear mongering. The use of fear to motivate is an insecure leader’s method of motivation.
Boldness and Courage:
Bold action springs from either confidence or fear. Strength drives confident leaders. Dread drives the insecure.
8 Ways You Can Demonstrate Courage:
- Invite alternatives when you think you know. Insecurity needs predictability. Contrary to some opinions, confidence isn’t about having all the answers.
- Believe in your ability to learn when you don’t know.
- Exercise emotional steadiness. Stay calm.
- Listen and make decisions.
- Trust people to figure things out. Stay available but make space for others to solve problems. Too much help propagates insecurity.
- Spend time thinking and planning for the future.
- Prepare for contingencies.
- Honor your own mistakes by sharing what you’re learning.
Confident people go further than fearful.
Successful leaders inspire boldness by instilling confidence.
Nothing can replace Connection.
Connecting with friends.
Connecting with family
Connecting with God.
When we stop feeling connection, we slowly shrivel up on the inside.
When we don’t experience authentic connection, people quit. Quit marriages. Quit Friendships.
Quit their leaders and their jobs.
Building connection with others is our lifeline. It’s their lifeline as well.
In my humble opinion, “dis-connection” has become an epidemic: driving people to desperately find incomplete substitutes. Resulting in broken hearts, broken bodies and broken futures.
Yet, re-connecting restores the human heart. And nothing else can do that.
Studies are now showing that addictions and self-destructive choices are often driven by our unmet need of Connection.
No one strategically chooses a life goal to eventually live in depression or addiction (food, sex or drugs) or a deep distrust of others. This is all an attempt to heal the pain caused from dis-connection.
I watched the video below and it floored me. It explains so much about why people slip into addictive patterns to deal with personal pain.
And it presents a whole new perspective on the real cure for the human heart.
All of us fail.
In a difficult season several years ago, I learned that failure doesn’t have to be permanent. We can learn to fail forward.
Here’s the difference between permanent failure and temporary failure: Successful people fail often and learn more from that failure.
However, these two habits keep us in a never-ending failure cycle:
- Getting good at avoiding responsibility (and therefore blaming others).
- Acting on the urgent things in life at the expense of the important.
While it may seem like these two choices increase your chances for survival, in fact they merely insulate you from worthwhile failures.
Here are six random ideas that will help you FAIL Better, more often and with an inevitably positive upside:
- Grow yourself by doing hard things. The results? You grow both your competence and your character. You become a master at your craft.
- Find your “Why”. Most people get so focused on “what” they’re doing in life, they rarely focus on “why” (which is walking in purpose). You’ll eventually become excellent at your “what” because it’s empowered and inspired by your “why”.
- Engage with others. Bring people along with you. If you fail, they provide support and direction when you need them most.
- Be really clear about what the true risks are. Ignore the non-fatal risks that take so much of our focus away.
- Concentrate your energy on initiatives that you can influence, but prepare for external circumstances that could derail your plans.
- When you fail (and you will) be clear about it. Call it by name and outline specifically what you learned so you won’t make the same mistake twice. People who blame others for failure will never be good at failing, because they’ve never done it.
If that list frightened you, you might be getting to the heart of the matter.
If that list feels like the sort of thing you, your team, and colleagues could adopt as part of your culture, then perhaps you’re onto something……
I’ve had the privilege of serving as a leadership coach for others for several years now, but recently I began receiving coaching again for the three reasons below.
Before we get to those, in a New Yorker article titled, Personal Best—Top athletes and singers have coaches. Should you?, surgeon Atul Gawande writes, “No matter how well trained people are, few can sustain their best performance on their own. That’s where a coach comes in.”
Atul continues to share how, at age 45 and at the top of his profession, he leveraged a coach to build his “expert competence” and move him into undiscovered areas of surgical development.
Like Atul, you are a “genius, at the top of your game, and highly respected by your colleagues,” so why on earth would you need to a coach to improve?
Will Rogers said, “When you are through changing you are through.”
Below are three reasons even the best high-achievers need a coach (and the benefits I received recently from several sessions with a leadership coach):
- Leverage a pair of outside eyes and ears. What we perceive is often quite different from how others see or hear us. The best performers look to coaches for a neutral perspective so they can view problems more objectively with less emotional attachment.
- Lift the “fog” and gain more clarity. Coaches help others see more clearly the path to action. They can ask just the right question or share a perfectly timed insight so that blinders come off and the coachee is able to create their own energy to execution…clarity is powerful!
- Make better, faster decisions. Life and work boil down to solving and acting on problems. Many of us make “emotional” or hasty decisions. Even the best lack a systematic approach for thinking through challenges. Coaches bring more rigor to the mind game while streamlining the decision-making process.
In the words of Dr. Gawande, “Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance.”
If you select the wrong team member, all bets are off.
In a previous organization, I had team members concerned that an open position was still vacant after several weeks. So I felt the pressure to hire quickly without fully examining an individual’s Character, Competency and potential Chemistry.
The results were what you would suspect: it was evident after several weeks that they were not the right person for the role or organization. And I needed to own it because it was my decision.
We’ve all been there: you’re trying to fill a key vacancy while the work piles up. Results are being comprised. And you just want to “fix” the problem and select someone who generally is “good enough”. Instead of being careful, we speed up the process.
The worst thing you could do is hire quick. It’s the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot – but on purpose. Because as a leaders you have to own selecting the wrong person for the role. Likely, it was your own stress that got you into this mess.
Do yourself a favor and follow these guidelines: (and trust me, I wish I had)
- Look for both Competence and Character. Think “And” because you need both. Yes, you can train the right person, but if you think “either/or” you’ll compromise.
- If you hire and Eagle, they won’t want to work with a bunch of turkeys. Make sure your existing team is healthy. Eagles want to fly with other eagles, or they’ll fly away after awhile.
- Don’t Blame Them – Train Them. Every Eagle wants to grow, develop and become a better leader. So provide it! Don’t just direct – but DEVELOP. Yes, really good leaders will develop themselves. But don’t let that be an excuse not to care about someone else’s development. We all need others to challenge and stretch us.
There’s no fix for hiring the wrong person. I’ve rarely seen a team recover or have a “come to Jesus” moment and decide to fix all their own problems right after their hired.
Select the best people can. Correction: Select the best LEADERS you can. Leaders will produce other leaders. That’s how a high-performing team is built.
You are energized by the energy of others.
The people we surround ourselves with greatly influence our growth and success.
Although unavoidable, negative interactions can derail you – even stunt your progress – if you don’t know how to handle it.
And, there’s a HUGE difference in receiving feedback from a generally positive person who makes meaningful contributions to the culture and people around him or her, and receiving feedback from a truly negative person.
Negative comments from a positive person can almost always be helpful. Negative comments from a negative person is designed to tear you down.
The key is to differentiate between the two. Here are 5 Questions to determine someone’s impact on you:
- Is optimism or negativity part of a pattern?
The criticism you’re dealing with is either ‘in character’ for them or ‘out of character.’
If it’s in character, then they are negative about many things in life. You just happen to be one part of the whole.
If it’s truly out of character (and they are generally a positive person), its time to listen.
- Do they Pass the Caller ID test?
As subjective as this sounds, the call display test is a pretty good indicator of whether a person drains you or energizes you. When you see anyone’s name come up on your caller ID, you get an immediate emotional reaction to it.
Sometimes you’re thrilled to see the name and can’t wait to take the call. Other times you’re neutral. But sometimes you wince. Whether it’s a phone call, a text or an email, you respond negatively and quietly think “oh no.”
That’s a sign that the person’s overall influence in your life has been negative, not positive.
- Are they “for” something, or just “against” something?
Sadly, negative people rarely know what they stand for; they only know what they stand against.
If the person you’re dealing with isn’t “for” anything positive, they likely have a negative worldview
- Are Compliments sincere, or are they followed by the word “but”?
A positive person (and even a neutral person for that matter) can give a compliment. Negative people can’t.
What starts out positively (“I really enjoyed the event today”) is inevitably followed by a “but” (“but had they turned the volume down and shortened the message it would have been better.”)
People who can’t give a compliment are rarely the kind of people you build the future on.
- Do they Add value or Extract value in relationships?
Negative people rarely give themselves to something that benefit others.
Because they are against so much, few people want to work with them. Stalled out careers, a history of frequent job changes, financial trouble and other similar markers often characterize negative people.
Honor the humanity in everyone. But you don’t have to hang around everyone.
People who make a real difference lead out of Influence, not Title.
And that person can be you.
Ever wish to really add value to others? Have more friends than you know what to do with?
It’s part of our make up to want acceptance and approval from our piers.
However, few ever fully understand the real things that make us attractive to others. This is absolutely vital as we seek to be gain influence in the lives of those around us.
Artie Davis defined the term “Craveable Leader” and shares several habits that actually make people “crave” to be around you:
- Listen to others’ ideas.
Nobody likes a “know it all.” So get over your own ideas, and actually become interested in someone else’s ideas. We all like to talk about ourselves and what we think. So, when we find a person who cares what we think, Bam! We love to be with them!
- Speak only good things about others.
Let me tell you a little secret. If you think talking about others, just the things, “you heard” is going to win you juicy friends, you are in for a world of hurt!
If you talk negatively about someone else around someone, they are going to ask themselves, “what are they saying about me?” Gossip will ruin your reputation and sabotage trust in a friendship, don’t go there!
- Give generously when you can.
Nobody likes a “mooch!” Don’t develop a reputation as the “cheap-o” of the group. There is a Proverb that says “everyone is a friend to him who gives gifts.”
Generosity makes people feel valued, and not used! So always pick-up one or two more checks, bring something to dinner. Be the one everyone knows will be generous. Not an issue of amount, but rather attitude!
- Initiate with others.
If you are sitting by the phone, waiting for the invitation.. you are in for a long wait! Get over yourself and make the contact. I know it is hard, always feeling you have to make the first move, but that’s just the way it is.
People feel appreciated and valued when we make the first move, but don’t keep score! Just always make the move. Done!
- Authenticity is irreplaceable!
Don’t put on a mask. Don’t try and be several different people around different groups. You will always be found out! Be yourself. Trust who God made you to be.
If they don’t like you, you don’t need them. Find, initiate and love those who love you for you! They are the only ones that will be there when you need a true friend!
These are some things I have noticed that make me attracted to others, even makes them “craveable.” As I reflect on areas where I am growing as a leader, I keep coming back to a few seemingly basic –yet foundational habits.
These are things I am still very much learning, so I don’t pretend mastery. Any others you have noticed?
I love the word “Grit.”
Sure, there are other words we can use: perseverance, determination, passion, etc.
But Grit seems to embody all of these….and more.
I am reading a new book by Angela Duckworth (a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania) titled — you got it — Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
Here’s the Bid Idea: Talent is one thing; what you do with it is another.
We admire “naturals” – people we think have succeeded because of their innate ability. But as much as talent counts, effort counts twice.
Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals—and it is what turns talent into skill, and skill into achievement.
Angela studied GRIT in all sorts of settings, from West Point to the National Spelling Bee, in urban high school students, sales representatives, and professional athletes — and we know that it’s not so much of environment as it is values.
She goes to say “Every one of us is ambitious. We want to be our best selves. We want to be proud of what we’ve accomplished. We want to solve problems and help people. Too often, we don’t realize those ambitions because we don’t finish what we start. I believe that by emulating the beliefs and habits of exemplars of grit—I call them grit paragons—we can cultivate our own passion and perseverance.”
So true for all of us leaders and achievers.
And, a nugget for parents and influencers of young leaders: Instilling Grit in the next generation is about being both supportive and demanding. (Because being supportive without high standards is too permissive. Being demanding without offering support is too authoritarian).
Stay Focused. Determine to Get Up if you’re knocked down. Success is always a marathon, not a sprint.