“You always will have what you give today. The more you give, the more you will have.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
What did you give yesterday?
Effort-Did you pour yourself into your undertaking? Did you inspire your teammates by setting a standard for hard work?
Attention-Was your attention to detail distinctive? Was your focus on matters at hand undivided? Did you spend time listening, really listening, to those around you needing to be heard?
Ideas and opinions-Did you contribute with your mind as well as your presence? Did you make suggestions that improved things? Did you offer rather than withhold constructive feedback? Did you teach those who could benefit from what you know?
Time-Were you gracious with your time? Did you put aside convenience to bless another?
Money-Did you part with any treasure? Did you make a sacrificial offering to someone in need?
Heart-Did you put yourself on the line? Confront a fear? Act with courage? Make yourself vulnerable for the sake of others?
President Eisenhower saw incredible acts of courage and sacrifice in his life’s endeavors. He gave as well. Seems to me, his ideas on giving are a path to wealth.
Quincy Jones is one of the greatest music producers of all time.
He helped musical talent ranging from Michael Jackson to Frank Sinatra reach their potential as singers. The more success he achieved by helping others, the more he was sought out to work with fresh talent.
I heard him being interviewed lately. He was asked to state some of the beliefs he had. Here’s one he offered:
“I’d rather say I’m sorry than I wish I had.”
He didn’t elaborate much, but it sounded like an encouragement to take risks.
A guy like Quincy Jones could have been labeled as one kind of producer.
Because he took risks, his skills as a leader, coach, mentor were honed and tested. He was able to take a variety of paths, have a variety of experiences. The more he stepped out of his comfort zone, the more he got to experience things many would have thought impossible.
Trying on new things, going places you haven’t been, reading stuff you haven’t sampled before, trying on new responsibilities-there are many things which we can try if we are more bold.
One of the places I find good examples of leadership is the Bible.
Today, I was leading a lesson about a community that was struggling to be effective. The author Paul offered advice to the leaders. Here’s what he said to the leaders:
- Respect your teammates.
- Encourage your teammates.
- Help your teammates
- Admonish your teammates.
I get respect. If you want to be respected, you start with being respectful.
I get encouragement. Being one on the team who notices effort, acknowledges progress and voices affirmation causes one to be a positive force.
Certainly, we get helping. Being one who lends a hand rather than stands off at a distance fosters team building.
But, what about admonishing? What does that mean.
Candidly, I associate the verb with judges, preachers and school principals who correct with a wagging finger as they peer over the top of their glasses. I was puzzled at how that verb fit in with the others.
I looked it up. Admonishment isn’t stern. It isn’t forceful. What is admonishment?
It’s correction with a “light touch”. It’s accepting responsibility to teach again. It’s withholding judgment about ability, character and effort. It’s assuming everyone is trying and wants to learn.
As a leader, when you believe those things, you can admonish. You can offer advice. You can thoughtfully address performance that’s falling short. You can teach and advise with your arm around a shoulder. That’s admonishment.
You can’t admonish without choosing patience. You can admonish when you have confidence in your ability to lead and to teach.
Correct with a soft touch.
“Great shooters don’t spend extra time in the gym, they sacrifice time. Everyone has the same 24 hours. Nothing extra about it.” Greg White.
You know I love sports analogies and this caught my attention: Everyone has the same 24 hours.
White reminds us that to become an expert at something, you make a choice to dedicate yourself to the task. Your commitment to excellence means something gets done while other things remain undone or unattended.
That’s the nature of the sacrifice. I pursue one avenue of excellence which costs me to sacrifice other avenues I could pursue. It’s a pure and certain tradeoff. Give resources to who or what I want to be.
I listen to Charlie Rose on PBS. He interviews the best in their fields about many areas of expertise: architecture, theatre, athletics, politics, business, cinema and arts. You name it.
One of the reasons I love his interviews is that he probes these folks for their secrets and methods. He remarked recently that no matter how many folks he interviewed, no one has ever said it came easy. Every person who has achieved extraordinary things did it by putting in the hours, refining the craft and working on it with passion.
Whatever you want to become will come with your choices. Both where you choose to put your time and also where you don’t.
The late Stephen Covey said there were three constants in life:
Change, Choice and Principles.
Change is always upon us. Back when I was in high school, there was a popular book called Future Shock. The author was attempting to describe how fast change would come our way. I don’t remember much about the book, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t foresee the kind of change we are taking on today.
I was reflecting upon my first experience with a computer. I was in college at the University of Florida. There was a single computer on campus. It filled up a room as big a gymnasium. To use it, you had to be in the facility. What you could accomplish was a simple program that might be able to write your name.
Today, the “smart phone” I carry around has more computer power than my whole university had in 1977. It fits in my pocket. I can listen to music, research a book and write about it without leaving my seat. That is what you call change.
We discuss choice a great deal in our company. When I say PalletOne leaders “happen to the world”, I’m describing a team of people who make active choices all day, every day. We choose our attitude. We choose our effort. We choose how much we care. We choose how long we try. We choose when we quit. We choose when and to whom we will listen to for guidance and education. We choose our habits and routines. We even choose whether we will choose, since not choosing is a choice in itself.
Principles are the third constant. Principles are a great stabilizer. Principles are ideas, thoughts, and commitments we embrace us to help guide us through a world of change and point us to consistent choices. Our principles reveal our character. Our principles show what we value in life. Our principles can be our rock where we stand and our shield to ward off harm.
Life demands we embrace change and make choices. Our principles can guide us ahead in productive ways.
Dean Smith, the Hall of Fame retired basketball coach of the University of North Carolina, is among the coaches I admire most. We go way back. I started studying him 50 years ago.
I ran across his approach to dealing with a mistake.
Recognize It- winners avoid repeating mistakes. They are experts at analyzing their actions and identifying those which contribute to poor performance
Admit It-winners are humble enough to call a shortcoming what it is. One with an attitude of admitting mistakes readily creates an opening for better results next time. Stubborn players don’t admit their mistakes. They are easy to beat.
Learn From It- mistakes are obstacles to peak performance. Removing obstacles is much easier that compensating for shortcomings. Winners starkly evaluate mistakes, develop plans to eliminate them and are disciplined in implementing those plans.
Forget It-winners move on to the next play, the next game and the next season. Winners know mistakes happen. Winners know that mistakes sometimes cause loss. Winners know that there’s nothing gained by remaining tied to the mistake while the rest of the world continues on.
Deal with mistakes. Don’t carry them around with you. You’ll be more effective if you do.
It seems that the necessary thing to do is not to fear mistakes, to plunge in, to do the best that one can, hoping to learn enough from blunder to correct them eventually.
Maslow was an American psychologist who studied human development and satisfaction. He developed a theory called “The Hierarchy of Needs” which described the process through which one achieves a good life.
Thus, if you want to “happen to the world”, it makes sense to consider a quote like this.
As little kids, we don’t fear mistakes. In our efforts to learn how to walk, talk, interact, we stand up and fall down. We mangle words. We stop up toilets as we learn our toy truck won’t flush.
Slowly and surely, the world drums the creativity out of us.
We get grades based on how often we can spout out answers.
We get told that “we should know better.”
We get booed for errors in the field in Little League parks.
As we become adverse to mistakes, we become slow to act. We resist new stuff that could make us look silly.
It becomes a tension to manage. If you don’t take action that can cause mistakes, you don’t get better.
So, you get to fight through the reluctance. As an individual, we make learning and trying part of how we explore life. We know there’s no gain without pain. We put mistakes in the right place.
We must do it as an organization as well. Pointed fingers must be holstered. Personal attacks must be nipped at the tongue.
We turn mistakes into learning events. We are accountable for minimizing their impact by the actions we take going forward.
That’s when you “happen to the world.”
Yesterday, I suggested everyone should have an engagement strategy. As I ask people to have one, it’s fair for you to wonder what mine is. Here goes:
- I trust first. You can make people prove themselves first. Or you can assume that everyone wants to be trusted. I find it easier to build relationships if I trust first.
- I huddle. Teams do better when they huddle more. I believe in huddles.
Communication is better. Decision making more developed in huddles.
- I listen.
- I define before deciding. Talking about issues. Considering angles.Focusing on defining the problem. All those lead to better decisions. When definition happens, decisions become evident.
- I assume others are smarter. I remain mindful of my limitations. All of us are smarter than each of us.
- I teach where I can. If there is something I can share or teach, I want to do it. If you get the reputation of being an effective teacher, you’re welcome to most settings.
- I read and learn from others so I can be more effective at leading and teaching. I always have a book going. I read from many sources. I have podcasts I listen to. All with the intent of becoming better at engagement.
- I’m interested in others. I try to make it a point to learn about others.The more I know about them, the higher the quality of our engagement.
Do I do these things flawlessly? Nope. I fail at times.
Are my teams better when I follow those steps? Absolutely. Those methods work.
Do you have to be extroverted or outgoing to do these? Most of them take practice.
Don’t use mine. Come up with your own. Then practice it. Make it a habit.
What is your engagement strategy?
Some of you will dismiss that question. Your thought is engagement is for the extroverted, outgoing types. But, I encourage everyone on our team to consider how they engage others.
To fail to engage means the world loses the impact of your gifts and skills. Failing to engage means you will suffer in silence.
The world and the people you encounter have much to teach you. And, you have much to teach. Frankly, if you don’t have an engagement strategy, you are probably shirking your responsibilities on many fronts.
We fulfill our potential when we strive to know and to be known.
Engagement is a means to that end.
So, with all this discussion about habits, I hope it is apparent that as you consider what habits you might add to your life that you might consider which habits would help you in the work place.
I have a few to suggest:
- You could focus on listening well. Most of us don’t listen as often or as well as we could. Our communication as a company would improve if we all listened better. The key to listening well is recognizing when the opportunity to listen intently arrives (cue) and developing a routine. A list might include:
- Getting in the right kind of posture.
- Maintain great eye contact
- Resist verbal response until the communication is fully understood.
- Put away distractions while communication is taking place.
- Focus on summarization of a message before adding thoughts, ideas or questions.
- You could have a “lock-out, tag-out” habit. We have a detailed “lock-out, tag-out” process for every job location in our plant. But, it’s something that we don’t always emphasize as well as we should. Again, thinking about the cues which trigger the beginning of the lock-out, tag-out routine is critical to this becoming a habit.
- The habit of a “quick start” at the beginning of a shift or as we return from a break. The horn blowing is the cue. What has to be done to assure that you have a great first hour every day at your production post? Drifting into a start is the wrong habit. Working to develop a routine that brings focus, pace and urgency to every beginning of a shift is the habit of winners.
- Have the habit of “engagement”. PalletOne people “happen to the world”. They enter every situation hoping to make it better, because they showed up. Again, that doesn’t happen without our intention to make it so. What’s your strategy for “engagement”? I’ll share mine tomorrow.
Building habits that make a constructive difference is the way of those who report joy in life. Many of these cross over to everything you do. I hope to hear in the years to come that things improved for you as you embraced the idea of forming better habits.