Self-Nomination is a Winning Strategy

Do you have skills we don’t use but could use?

Do you get to do what you’re best at doing at work?

Uncovering the talents and skills of every person is a huge challenge for every enterprise. I’m sure we could be better at it.

But, something I count on to help accomplish learning about the depth of our team is a practice called “self-nomination.”

If you are “happening to the world,” you will have the courage to communicate your desires about opportunities to those who are in a position to help you.

When we hire, we focus on filling a spot. You may bring in special skills acquired other places but our interest is in filling the job at hand.

Thus, it’s possible to get stuck.

As you learn and observe what we do in our plants, you may notice something that interests you. If that is the case, take that initiative. Tell your boss, “I think I would be good at that job. How can we find out?”

I hope that you will be rewarded by asking. That your question will cause us to explore your abilities more. That our effort to explore will open up an opportunity to discover if there is ability we didn’t know about.

I see such exploration as a “win-win.” Self-nomination is a winning strategy.


Are Your Meetings Good?

Are the meetings you are required to attend effective? Do you enjoy them?

I heard a great list of what’s included in a great meeting:

Meet to evaluate. Every meeting should include time to evaluate how the team is performing. Not only should results and outcomes be reported, but the team should spend time reflecting upon the performance. Satisfied with results? Where are we falling short?

If there is good evaluation, it will lead to problem solving and action planning to improve. This step aids purpose. It can be the largest determining factor in whether people think the meeting is worth attending.

Every meeting has a “what’s next” element. Some folks plan well but don’t make it clear on who is doing what and when. A great meeting ends with every person knowing what is expected.

Finally, you learn at a good meeting. When there’s nothing new or learned at a meeting, leaders have failed in the planning. Leaders must consider in advance what’s going to happen where new learning can take place.

Are your meetings good? Use this list to consider why you answer the way you do.


Give, Grow, Love and Win

Ran across this quote today:

“Give, grow, love and win.”

Comes from girls’ basketball coach Chad Hibdon from Murfreesboro, TN, who was selected by USA Today as high school coach of the year.

Coaches work to establish a culture. They want their team to operate in a certain way. If they can find a short phrase to describe the culture for the players, it goes a long way toward helping that culture become a reality.

Hibdon’s phrase could serve almost any team well.

“Give” puts a premium on selflessness. It creates alertness for others. It places a focus on the team. If you are concentrating on “giving” you aren’t worried about “getting.” To give is to promote generosity of spirit and action that causes teams to thrive.

“Grow” places a premium on improving. You grow by intention at practice. You grow by striving to learn more. You grow by acquiring and refining your skill. You grow by having a curious mind. You grow by extending yourself to new limits. You grow by learning from mistakes and setbacks.

“Love” is an action verb that deepens relationships in strong cultures. In the Bible, it says love is patient, kind, humble, persistent, enduring, thick skinned, faithful, hopeful. It says love never fails. A team that loves, endures.

“Win” places value on competitive nature. It acknowledges the truth that there are winners and those that don’t win. It highlights the idea that there are standards to strive to attain. It underscores that in life’s activities, there is a goal or a target and striving to win is better than not striving at all.

“Give, grow, love and win.” I think it’s a pretty good way to roll.


Live Life With Purpose

I was reading in the paper today about a woman who is a runner. Her story is that she had run for exercise for years. One of her sons asked her if she was running just to run or running with a goal in mind.

She said the question was a “wake up” for her. She realized that she went through the motions. And, since it was exercise and recreation for her, it was OK to approach running in that fashion. She wondered what would happen if she tried it with goals in mind.

For the first time, she began to time herself. She learned that she averaged over nine minutes a mile. When she began to run with a clock and pay attention to her progress, she found it gave new life to her workout. It invigorated her. Made it more interesting than in years past.

She began to try on new techniques. She began to give herself challenges. She found herself picking up the pace. The satisfaction she experienced at the end of the run was magnified.

Her story reminds me of a scripture in the Bible. Written by Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:24-26: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Therefore, I run in such a way as not without aim; I box in such a way as not beating the air.”

You can live life with purpose. You can live without it. As for me, I find one with intention and purpose to be better. I think you will too!


Confidence, Optimism and Courage

Many of you have heard of financial guru Dave Ramsey. He has become famous teaching people how to change the direction of their financial lives.

I heard a talk he gave about those who do well financially versus those who do poorly.

He made an observation I would like to share. He said that people who are doing poorly are:

  • Seldom excited about anything
  • Seldom optimistic
  • Frequently scared

I was reflecting upon those characteristics as it relates to my goal of having PalletOne people “happen to the world.”

To happen to the world, you must be frequently excited. The excitement comes because you know what you do matters. You can be excited because you know you have the ability to make a difference. You can be excited because you find yourself immersed in projects which are creating positive change.

To happen to the world, you must be optimistic. You can be optimistic because you have a record of achievement. You know that when you focus on something, it gets better. So, the question is focus. You focus, things get better. Having the confidence to know your persistent effort causes positive change creates a bias for action.

Finally, to happen to the world, you must be brave. Brave enough to try new things. Brave enough to confront shortcomings. Brave enough to put aside thoughts about risk and to focus on hard work and effort that yields results.

The outcome of “happening to the world” is confidence, optimism and courage. That’s the way to improve.


Make Question Asking a Habit

I heard about a woman who had several children in elementary school. She asked them daily, “How was school today?” and was frustrated with the lack of response which school kids mutter.

She got better results with a different approach. She began to ask them, “What questions did you ask today?”

I had a class once where the teacher emphasized the importance of questions. It was a class about leadership and business success. He described several strategies of the successful. He said that successful listeners focus on asking questions rather than giving answers.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Early in school we are trained to give answers. The more you answer, the more praise you receive. Answers get you an “A” and an “atta girl.” That’s how you get ahead.

But, if you are giving answers, you’re talking. If you’re talking, you’re not listening. If you’re not listening, you can’t be learning.

The teacher made this point: “We all know what we know. Many times the breakthroughs in business and problem solving don’t come from what is known, but what is unknown. People who ask good questions bring the unknown to life.”

When I interview people or give them a tour, I pay attention to the questions the candidate asks. The deeper the question, the more she reveals what she knows. The more frequent the questions, the more they demonstrate their zest for learning. The better each question that follows, the more they prove they assimilate new information and listen well.

Conventional wisdom says give answers. Extraordinary wisdom says make question asking a habit.

So you didn’t go to school today, but you did enter the “learning lab” we call work. What questions did you ask today?


This is Not a “Practice Life”

A friend of mine, Brett Trapp, tweeted this thought: “This is not your practice life.”

Does the statement cause you to reflect?

Certainly, the idea of a “practice life” when it comes to learning from experience is sound. Trying different strategies and experimenting with new behavior can result in mistakes and errors. Failure isn’t fatal. Learning from experience is a key way to a richer life.

I think this statement attacks procrastination and “going through the motions.” It has as a primary value the concept that time is the same resource for everyone and it flees.

There are things that we know we should do but fail to do. You can make a list. Experts call it the “knowing-doing gap.”

What’s important about the “knowing-doing gap” is that the theory says that most of us know what we need to do to have a better life. We just put off doing it.

It’s a simple thought but it is complex to do. We have many distractions. We have many temptations. We have many excuses.

But my friend’s statement brings it to a point. The theory of the “knowing-doing gap” says that all of us have a readymade agenda to improve life inside of us. Stuff we know we should do. Stuff that, if we did them, would cause things to become better around us.

The idea that this is not “a practice life” says that there isn’t time to waste. What are you waiting for? Get to work on the “gap.”


Intend Instead of Drifting

No one drifts into excellence.

I was listening to a sermon by Bill Hybels. The actual quote was, “No one drifts into holiness.” Holiness is a state that faithful religious followers seek. For God seekers, to be holy is better than being unholy. Hybels is stating that you won’t drift into the desired condition. Our nature is to drift away. You want to be holy, you have to intend it.

It caused me to think about how drifting works against everything good and meaningful.

You don’t drift into a good marriage.

You don’t drift into being an effective parent.

You don’t drift into good physical condition.

You don’t drift into safety.

You don’t drift into quality relationships.

Automatic pilot is the enemy to excellence. At home, at work and at play.

Go to automatic pilot in how you pursue life, you assure your results will get worse. Mediocrity or worse is on its way.

Don’t trust drift. Trust intention.


Processing a Loss

Basketball is a cruel sport to this extent: Unless you are the champion, your season ends with a loss.

If you have watched the NCAA tourney, you have seen the tear-filled, heart-felt disappointment at losing the last game. When you care, whether you win or lose matters. But, basketball tourneys remind us that no one wins all the time. In fact, we frequently fall short.

So, how do you process that last loss?

  1. You can accept it better if you’ve given a full effort. Losses that result from broken concentration or subpar preparation are harder to take.
  2. You can accept it better if you learn from the process. Sometimes my setbacks occur because my competition is better. That’s when you have to tip your cap to a job well done, take note of the edge that was apparent and go to work to close the gap.
  3. You can accept it better when you consider the alternative, which is not playing at all. To be committed to achieving has an advantage that beats watching. It makes your senses acute. It makes your heart sing. It builds your confidence. It makes you hungry for more.

Most of us don’t like losing. But the pain of losing a high-stakes game is nothing compared to the dissatisfaction that comes from not trying.


Acting with “Indifference”

I’ve been introduced to the concept of “indifference.” The religious sect of Jesuit priests have it as an aim to practice it.

On the surface, “indifferent” can mean that one lacks passion or concern. The Jesuits don’t mean it that way.

They believe that every moment is filled with opportunity and potential. While circumstances can be adverse and conditions suboptimal, there always exists an opportunity to contribute to the moment in such a way as to reap benefit from that moment. There is always an opportunity to experience something positive from what’s going on at the time and what’s happening next.

Therefore, Jesuits shift their focus from the circumstances to the opportunities. Thus, their mindset is to be “indifferent” to where they work and what they do. They are “indifferent” to what once was or might have been. They are focused on searching for better and finding ways to improve things where they are. That focus makes them passionate. The “indifference” allows them freedom to engage the coming frontier.

Because of “indifference,” Jesuits move with urgency. They are inventive. They take on the problems at hand and work to resolve them. They travel light. They aren’t attached to places, possessions or methods. They try new things. They relish innovation. They rarely get stuck.

Most of us could be a bit more “indifferent.” But it’s hard.

To be “indifferent,” you have to loosen your grip on possessions.

To be “indifferent,” you have to be willing to put away a trusted method and try a new one.

To be “indifferent,” you have to have faith that the process of searching for potential and improvement in every moment can win out over the process of security found in existing methods.

I can’t claim that “indifference” is the way I roll. But, I see the virtue of it.

May we all be brave enough to become a bit more “indifferent” as we encounter the opportunities that come our way.


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