Getting things done

 Master farmer (and brother-in- law) David with a small part of his herd of naturally grown beef cattle.
Photo Courtesy of ohnemusbeef.com 

 

Leading Like a Farmer

I have an abiding relationship with the land. I grew up in farm country. Both my parents came from active farming families.

We lived in a small rural town where life revolved around the seasons, the soil, the crops, and the herds.

My dad started out in farming, but successive years of  prairie drought forced our family to move to the concrete jungle.

There, dad finished degree work and pursued a career as an educator.

A recent visit to my sister and brother-in-law’s cattle farm brought back a flood of childhood memories.

The old adage is true.

You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.- Somebody

Having that rich rural upbringing in my background helped shape my pragmatic, optimistic worldview.

(a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll)

Farming is a firm belief in the future. A belief that things will happen according to plan. That growth and change will come in due time.

As I followed my sometimes perplexing early adult career path, the profound common sense lessons from my rural upbringing stood me in good stead.

It helped bring things into sharper focus.

It wouldn’t hurt to think more like a farmer to be a better leader.

Yup, farmer. Just think about it for a bit.

They are faithful stewards of the land, working hard to produce everything that feeds us daily.

Here are five ways to approach your Leadership as a farmer would:

  1. Prepare the field (Master the context)

Farmers would never try to grow crops or herds in a barren place.

They do whatever is necessary to prepare nutrient-rich soil for growth.

Similarly, you can’t grow your career—or the careers of those you lead—if you’re in an uninspiring, stagnant or hostile work environment.

As leaders, we need to consciously create a safe place for others to flourish. We’ll foster trust and collaboration by modelling vulnerability, leading with empathy, actively listening, and encouraging open communication. To nourish our own careers, we need to adopt a growth mindset, allowing our curiosity to fuel lifelong learning.

  1. Begin with the end in mind. (Have a vision, strategy and plan)

A farmer would only plant a crop or start a herd with a plan that includes a clear understanding of their desired outcomes.

In growing your career, having clarity on what you want is critical to achieving it. Maintaining focus will help you do the things necessary to expand your experience and skill set.

When you can articulate your goals, you’ll have an easier time aligning your attention and intention to plant the seeds for continued growth.

The same approach works for helping your team grow, too. When you ask what each member wants to achieve, you’ll better understand their goals and create a plan to accomplish them.

  1. Having started – Let things grow

Micromanaging doesn’t work with plants, herds, or people. If you hover or over-control, you’ll impede progress.

Work teams respond in much the same way. Once you’ve helped plant the seeds and ideas for growth, certainly monitor, but avoid getting into the minutiae of every task. Empower your people to make their own decisions—even if they differ from those you might make.

 As a leader who steps back yet offers support and resources, you send a message of trust—and allows others to thrive.

Just as a farmer must be patient and allow their crops to mature before they can be harvested, a leader must be patient and allow their team members to develop and grow before expecting them to produce results. Remember that leadership growth happens steadily over time.

  1. Removing weeds.

Farmers know they must keep their fields free from weeds that threaten to invade and choke out their valuable crops or harm the animals.

When managing a team, one toxic employee can quickly destroy the morale of the most productive team. If you’re a solopreneur, unreliable partners or even over-demanding, taxing clients can take their toll if left unchecked.

Sometimes, the “weeds” you face aren’t people but outdated processes, services, or activities that drain your precious resources and prevent you from focusing on what truly matters.

When you say no to the people and things that don’t support your goals, you make room for those that do. It’s up to you to proactively assess the fields of your career and take action, pulling the pesky weeds early and quickly.

  1. Work real hard and learn from previous harvests.

Farmers know that forecasts can sometimes be wrong and that some form of setback will strike sooner or later. But when it does, they don’t give up. They use this knowledge to be better prepared.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work!” Thomas Edison

Every leader makes mistakes, but the ones who view their failures as learning opportunities thrive. The next time something doesn’t go as planned, set aside time to review where you went astray, what you learned, and what you can do differently in the future.

By thinking like a farmer, you’ll sow the seeds of Leadership and reap a bountiful career harvest.

Until next time- Lorne

Credit Acknowledgement: Adapted from a Forbes Article with a similar theme by Amy Blaschka 

 

 

 

 

We’ve all been there—

standing on the precipice of expectation, heart filled with hope and eyes fixed on a vision.

 

The exhilaration of a new project, the buzz of a fresh idea, or the thrill of an ambitious goal. Yet, the wind doesn’t always blow in our favour.

The ground beneath sometimes shifts, leaving us grappling with confusion, frustration, and even self-doubt. These moments, when our expectations hang in the balance, teetering between realization and disappointment, are the crucibles of leadership.

Navigating the intricate corridors of leadership, we often find ourselves charting courses led by aspirational visions. After all, isn’t it an important part of our job to encourage and challenge others to pull together toward a common purpose?

While this inspires us and others, it can sometimes be clouded by unmet expectations and unforeseen challenges.

When such disappointments arise, how we respond reflects our leadership acumen.

Having a grip on our own expectations is foundational.

Before setting out on any leadership venture, it’s vital to ascertain foreseeable challenges that may lie ahead. Sometimes, our ambition and enthusiasm might be racing towards an overly ambitious deadline. The key lies in recognizing these moments and recalibrating our approach, mainly if others are involved.

It helps to have well-defined personal goals and challenging yet attainable goals for our team. Beyond that, how we interact with others is pivotal in outcomes. Reflecting on the roles, goals, processes and people around us often offers clues and insights into how we function as a team as we strive toward

our preferred future. I usually have to remind myself that colleagues and co-workers can only give you what they’ve got, and sometimes there’s a shortfall.

Adaptability is a hallmark of strong leadership when the inevitable occurs and disappointments happen. Like a ship navigating turbulent waters, the key isn’t to avoid the waves but to adjust our sails and find a path through. However, during these storms, we must not become our own harshest critics. Instead, recognizing each setback as an opportunity for growth provides us invaluable wisdom.

Assumptions, often made with the best intentions, can lead us astray.

By promoting open communication, we ensure a mutual understanding that keeps everyone aligned. Furthermore, in today’s connected age, we must remember that platforms like social media showcase highlights rather than whole stories.

Constant comparisons to others can distort our perceptions, so grounding ourselves in reality is essential.

Some leaders strive to minimize setbacks. This usually backfires, and team members begin to lose trust. Preparing for setbacks and dealing with them as they happen builds our resilience. Keeping in mind that our leadership journey is as much about responding to others as it is about steering the way helps foster mutual respect and understanding.

In conclusion, disappointments, while challenging, are an inherent aspect of our leadership journey. Rather than viewing them as insurmountable obstacles, we can see them as gateways to new perspectives. Every disappointment can lead to newfound insights, attitudes, and realities, like a traveller discovering an uncharted path. We often stumble upon richer landscapes and deeper understandings through these very challenges.

The art of managing expectations isn’t about avoiding disappointments but about leveraging them as stepping stones to a brighter, more informed future.

To our continued growth, resilience, and fresh horizons,

Lorne

Note: This is not the actual bridge in my story, but a very close facsimile.

 It happened some years ago but it was an adventure I’ll never forget. I was exploring a rugged and remote part of my province. My trusty truck was pulling hard in the steep terrain, and my fuel supply was dwindling.

My map showed me an alternate route that would get me back to civilization (and fuel) much sooner than going back the way I came. It meant crossing a fairly large river, but the map showed a bridge – so no problem, right?

It was almost nightfall when I got to the river. Guess what – the road led right onto a timber railway bridge!

I felt that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. My heart rate went up a notch.

This required some “thinking about it.”

Pulling aside, I made myself a cup of tea. Somehow that helped.

Looking more closely, the rails had 2×6 planks installed on either side to accommodate vehicle traffic should anyone be nutty enough to attempt a crossing.

 I started “walking the plank” on either side of the rail to check if it was sturdy enough. It seemed to be.

There’s no turning around or backing up with the truck, camper and loaded trailer on that narrow plank. Not an option.

There were no guardrails. The slightest deviance from the plank could tip the whole rig into the swift flowing waters.

My next thought was, “What if an oncoming train happens?”

Somewhere in a Western movie, some guy would always put their ear on the track to determine an oncoming train.

It worked in the movies, so I decided to try it. Nothing to be heard.

Taking a deep breath, I started the engine, aligned with the track, and started slowly and carefully inching across.

It was the longest twelve minutes of my life, my heart thumping every moment of the way.

In retrospect, as sketchy as it was, I had to trust that the bridge would get me from here to there.

I had to trust my driving skills to not go off the rails.

 I had to accept a reasonable risk of no oncoming train.

Trust is the cornerstone for building relationships and running our businesses.

It’s like a bridge, connecting us to others, facilitating communication and collaboration, and strengthening our bond.

It allows us to traverse the otherwise vast chasm of unfamiliarity, misunderstanding, and insecurity.

Just like many types of physical bridges get us from here to there, types of Trust can be viewed on a continuum.

At the one end there’s a tightrope which only allows fragile, one-way traffic. This might represent a relationship or business venture just beginning to build Trust. Next would be suspension bridge, or a hastily erected Bailey bridge over a washout and so on.

At the far end, a substantial, four-lane bridge accommodates high-speed, multi-directional traffic.

This could symbolize a well-established relationship or a successful business partnership where Trust is deeply ingrained and mutual.

Here are a few examples.

The Fragile Tightrope: Picture a trust bridge resembling a tightrope, swaying precariously with each step. This delicate construction permits only one-way traffic, making it essential to tread carefully. In relationships where Trust is fragile, any misstep or breach can easily send the participant tumbling down. It’s like walking on eggshells, constantly second-guessing intentions and actions. This kind of trust bridge limits openness and can create an atmosphere of suspicion.

The Swinging Suspension Bridge: Moving along the trust bridge continuum, we encounter a swinging suspension bridge. This structure allows for limited two-way traffic, enabling communication and interaction. Although the bridge may sway with the winds of doubt or uncertainty, Trust remains intact, albeit with some wobbles. It requires continuous efforts to maintain balance and address concerns promptly.  

The Substantial Highway:  This is the trust bridge at its strongest—a steel and concrete four-lane highway built to withstand the tests of time and traffic. This bridge enables fast and reliable connections, fostering openness, collaboration, and mutual respect. Trust on this scale allows for smooth two-way traffic, ensuring effective communication and meaningful relationships.

When the Trust Bridge Becomes Blocked, Compromised, or Broken: Just as real bridges can encounter roadblocks, detours, or even collapse, trust bridges also face challenges. When Trust becomes blocked, it obstructs the flow of communication and understanding. Misunderstandings, unfulfilled promises, and hidden agendas can lead to a traffic jam of emotions.

When a Bridge Collapses: The immediate feeling is denial and disbelief. You’re caught off-guard, especially if the bridge had appeared solid and sturdy. You may stand incredulous on one side of the chasm, wondering how such a sturdy structure could fall so unexpectedly.

Anger soon follows, kindled by the hurt of betrayal and fanned by resentment towards the person who let you down and perhaps even towards yourself for not seeing the signs.

The broken bridge also leads to anxiety, as you’re stranded, unable to reach the other side, unsure how to rebuild or find another way. Thoughts of lashing out might bubble up, but they only lead to more destruction and less resolution.

Financial damage might occur, especially if the trust bridge was between business partners or in a marital relationship where finances were intertwined.

Moreover, the stress caused by a betrayal of Trust can manifest as physiological symptoms such as loss of sleep or appetite. In some cases, individuals may even resort to thoughts of self-harm or harming others, showing the severity of the psychological impact of broken Trust.

In its aftermath, a bridge that once stood firm may be left in ruins. Moreover, the relationship might be terminated, as rebuilding a fallen bridge takes more energy and resources than building a new one.

The effects of this broken Trust may spill over into other relationships, contaminating them.

As a result, you might start questioning other bridges, even those that are well-built and sturdy, casting doubts on their stability.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen R. Covey

To mitigate these adverse effects, it is crucial to diligently maintain our bridges of Trust. Frequent checks and balances, open communication, and mutual respect are the pillars that uphold these bridges.

 Friedrich Nietzsche once said:

 “I’m not upset that you lied to me; I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

Therefore, let’s work to keep our bridges strong because they are not quickly rebuilt once broken.

However, even when a trust bridge breaks, it’s essential to remember that it’s not the end of the road.

It’s a lesson, a warning sign that helps us build stronger, more resilient bridges in the future.

 “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” Isaac Newton

So, let’s focus on building bridges of Trust, nurturing and maintaining them because, ultimately, these bridges connect us.

Without them, we are but islands in a vast sea.

Until Next Time.

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Just the other day, I caught myself reminiscing about the good old days of floppy disks and dial-up internet.

Ah, that ding-ding sound of “You’ve Got Mail!”

But, as much as I love a good jog down memory lane, I’m grateful for the progress we’ve made.

Thanks to our rapidly evolving digital landscape, we now have access to an abundance of knowledge at our fingertips.

So, what better way to “carpe’ the diem” than by becoming a lifelong learner?

The Lifelong Learner:

I recently came across a fascinating PDF (which I will refer to as the “The Lifelong Learner”)

The article eloquently and succinctly highlighted the important benefits of embracing learning throughout our lives.

The document reveals that lifelong learning not only enhances our personal and professional lives but also contributes to our overall well-being.

I already know what you’re thinking:

“Great, another thing to add to my never-ending to-do list.”

But fear not, my fellow knowledge-seekers!

The beauty of lifelong learning is that it can be pursued in a variety of ways – from attending workshops to reading books to listening to podcasts.

It doesn’t have to be a chore; it can be an enjoyable journey of growth and self-discovery.
As the renowned Albert Einstein once said,

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”

This sentiment perfectly encapsulates the essence of lifelong learning.

The Zone of Proximal Development:

Coined by psychologist Lev Vygotsky, the ZPD is the sweet spot between what we can do independently and what we can achieve with guidance.

In other words, it’s where the magic happens!

Initially the Zone of Proximal Development referred to early childhood learning where it provided  a framework for teaching tailored to each child’s individual needs.

By identifying a child’s Zone of Proximal Development, teachers and parents could provide appropriate challenges and support to help the child learn and develop new skills.

The concept of  ZPD is equally applicable to leadership development in adults!

In this context, the Zone of Proximal Development is the range of skills and abilities that a leader can develop with the help of a mentor or coach.

Just like in early childhood learning, learning in the Zone of Proximal Development in leadership development requires a balance between challenge and support.

The ZPD  concept perfectly aligns with the idea of lifelong learning, as it encourages us to continually push our boundaries and seek new challenges.

As an Executive Leadership Coach, I often witness the power of the ZPD firsthand.

Picture this: A seasoned executive, initially reluctant to embrace new technologies, suddenly finds herself leading a team of digital natives.

With a little guidance and support, she flourishes in her newfound ZPD and becomes an innovative force within her company.

Voilà – a lifelong learner in action!

From Experience:

Now, if you’re still not sold on the idea of lifelong learning, let me share a personal experience.

A few years back, at what some might consider a “more distinguished” age, I wanted to up my game skills in the area of videography and independent film-making.

I enrolled in some part-time courses at a well-known international film school.

Here I found myself surrounded by a group of enthusiastic twenty-something creatives.

They came with all the add-ons like tats, piercings, and unusual coloured hair.`
(Disclaimer- just reporting, No judgement here)

There I was, the proverbial “old dog” learning new tricks. My much younger counterparts acted as both my guides and fellow students.

This personal adventure taught me a lot about cross-generational laughing and learning.

My younger colleagues and I bonded over our shared passion for life, good coffee, and storytelling.

Our differences in age, experience, and perspective only enriched the process.

Today, I’m glad to say that I’m still in touch with friends from that learning cohort.

We continue to support and inspire each other in our creative pursuits.

As the celebrated author and motivational speaker, Brian Tracy, put it,

“Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.”

My Call to Action:

So, my fellow aspiring lifelong learners, let’s embrace the journey and dive headfirst into the Zone of Proximal Development.

Whether it’s picking up a new language, exploring a new hobby, or mastering the latest technology, remember that the pursuit of knowledge knows no age or bounds.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a short screenplay to write.

Lights, Camera, …Action!  (I always get kick out of saying that )

Until next time.

 

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” – B.B. King

There’s an old Project Management joke that describes the six phases on any large project

Unbridled enthusiasm,

Total disillusionment,

Panic, hysteria and overtime,

Frantic search for the guilty,

Punishment of the innocent and

Praise and honours for the uninvolved.

As with any good humour, there are some elements of truth and exaggeration in there somewhere.

 Perhaps you’ve even experienced some of those six phases.

 If you’re  like me  you want to be productive in both your  personal and professional life.

That often can seem like a daunting task.

How can we stay motivated and get things done in the face of adversity?

In his recent  book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”, author David Allen offers practical advice on how to achieve greater levels of productivity and efficiency while still enjoying life.

His approach, which emphasizes setting manageable goals, breaking tasks down into smaller parts, and staying organized, is one that can help anyone in their quest for success.

At its core, Allen suggests that becoming more productive starts with understanding our goals and deciding what it is that we want to accomplish.

Begin With The End In Mind.

 “You need clarity about what your outcomes are supposed to be before you do anything else.”  This allows us to focus on the steps that will lead us towards achieving these goals, rather than getting lost in the details.

Once we have our goal defined, Allen suggests breaking it down into smaller, achievable tasks. This makes each step of the goal more manageable and allows us to feel a sense of progress as we complete them.

The actual steps are as follows:

Capture – Collect all the tasks, thoughts and ideas that are buzzing around your head into a centralized system.

 Clarify – Take each item in the system and determine what action steps need to be taken in order to move forward with it.

Organize – Sort and prioritize these tasks based on urgency and importance.

Reflect – Regularly take stock of your progress, and see what processes can be improved or streamlined.

Engage – Finally, start taking action! Tackle the highest priority items on your list first.

Stay Organized

Staying organized is also key to staying productive. Often times, lack of organization can lead to wasted time and effort that could be better spent getting things done.

Having a cluttered desk or overstuffed file cabinets full of loose papers can really slow you down.

To combat this, Allen recommends creating a system of filing away important documents and notes that simplifies searching tasks quickly and efficiently.

Keep emails and messages handy and organized into folders on your computer.

Stay Motivated

Finally, remaining productive requires finding ways to stay motivated. This can come from simple practices such as taking breaks throughout the day, rewarding yourself when you reach milestones, and talking positively to yourself when faced with difficult tasks.

As Allen puts it,

“Productivity isn’t just about doing more; it’s about accomplishing meaningful work in less time.”

All in all, becoming a successful and productive person both personally and professionally does not have to be an impossible task.

By following the advice outlined by David Allen in his book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity”, we can learn to organize our minds and set achievable goals that will ultimately lead to success.

To quote Allen “Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.” So take some time away from your work to relax and regroup – it might just be the most productive thing you do all day! And remember –

“Nothing is impossible… except for maybe trying to do two projects at once!”

Productivity. It’s a tricky skill to master, but  once you master it, that can be a game-changer!

And if there is one person who knows how to get it done effectively and efficiently, it’s David Allen.

It’s essential to remember that any productivity system is only as effective as you make it. Just going through the motions won’t make you productive—you have to be consistent and put in the hard work in order to see real results.

Another gem from David Allen:

“You can do anything, but not everything.”

Until next time….

 

Photo by Johan Godinez on Unsplash

Saying “yes” to something significant in life or business can be downright daunting.

It requires a leap of faith, a willingness to face the unknown, and an inner conviction that it is the right thing to do. It can be scary, especially when we are accustomed to saying “no” to opportunities that push us outside our comfort zones. However, when we muster the courage to say “yes,” we open the door to a range of possibilities that can transform our lives in ways we never imagined.

Here are five transformative  things that happen when you’re inspired to say “yes” to something significant in life or business:

Overcoming the Predominant Human Tendency to Say No

The first and perhaps the most significant thing that happens when you say “yes” to something important is that you overcome the predominant human tendency to say “no.”

We are predisposed to seek comfort, security, and familiarity. We avoid risks and stick with what we know. Communicating “yes” requires stepping out of our comfort zones and facing the unknown. It is a powerful act of courage that can be transformative in itself.

Overcoming Misgivings and Fear of the Unknown

Saying “yes” can also help you overcome misgivings and fear of the unknown.

Of course, it is natural to have doubts and reservations when facing something new and unfamiliar.

However, saying “yes” means acknowledging and facing those doubts and fears head-on. It requires a willingness to take risks and push through the discomfort. By doing so, you can develop resilience, self-confidence, and a sense of empowerment that can carry you through other challenges in life.

Overcoming Self-Doubt

Saying “yes” can also help you overcome self-doubt. Self-doubt is a common human experience and can be a significant barrier to personal growth and success. It can cause us to question our abilities, worth, and capacity for change.

Saying “yes” to something highly important requires believing in yourself and your potential. It means recognizing your strengths and your ability to learn and grow. You can develop a greater sense of self-confidence and self-esteem by taking action despite self-doubt.

Aligning with Your Values

Saying “yes” to something significant also requires aligning with your values. Values are the guiding principles that shape our decisions and actions in life. We feel a sense of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment when we align with our values.

Saying “yes” to something that aligns with your values can give you a sense of direction and purpose that can be transformative in and of itself. It can help you stay focused and motivated even when faced with challenges and setbacks.

You Create Opportunities for Success

Saying yes to something new and important creates opportunities for success. By taking on new challenges and expanding our skills and knowledge, we increase our chances of achieving our goals. We create new networks and connections that can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations.

Opportunities for personal growth and betterment can have a ripple effect on all areas of our lives. We become more engaged and fulfilled in our personal and professional relationships. We are more likely to take on leadership roles and make a positive impact in our communities. We become more empathetic and understanding of others, and we develop a greater sense of compassion and gratitude.

Success is not always guaranteed when we say yes to something new, but by taking on new challenges, we increase our chances of success. We learn to be more resilient in the face of failure and setbacks, and we become more persistent in the pursuit of our goals.

Figuring it Out

Of course, saying “yes” is just the first step. Then comes the fun part of “figuring it out”.

Once you have committed to something significant, you will likely face various challenges and obstacles. You may have to figure out how to navigate unfamiliar terrain, learn new skills, or overcome unexpected setbacks.

My wife loves the challenges of living off the grid for several months of the year.- particularly the figuring it out part.

 She’s found that problem solving in this setting can be an enriching and gratifying experience. It requires creativity and a willingness to adapt and change course when necessary.

In Conclusion

It’s a principle I strive to live by: say “yes”, then figure it out.

Life and leadership lessons can be found in the most unexpected places, even in a lighthearted family movie like “Yes Day.”

While saying “yes” to everything in real life could lead to disastrous consequences, the film highlights the importance of flexibility, compromise, and the power of saying “yes” to new experiences.

As a leader, it’s crucial to be open to new ideas and be willing to try different approaches. However, it’s also important to set boundaries and communicate effectively to avoid chaos.

 Also, opportunities in real life don’t come gift-wrapped in safe, comfortable, packages. They usually require  that you commit first, then do whatever is necessary to ensure that your effort is successful.

Ultimately, “Yes Day” teaches us to find a balance between saying “yes” to opportunities and knowing when to say “no” to protect ourselves and those around us.

How about you? What opportunity is in front of you right now that feels a little intimidating? Is there any place where you need to say yes, then figure it out?

Until next time ….

PS – If you wind up saying “yes” too much, you may want to read The Too Busy Trap

 

 

 

 

In a recent conversation with a mentoring friend, he reminded me to stick to the basics of what I was doing. His phrase that stuck with me was, “the basics won’t ever let you down!” 

One of my dog-eared, coffee-stained books that is a part of my permanent library is Josh Kaufman’s Personal MBA: Master The Art of Business. 

With elegant simplicity, Josh explains the basics –  five interdependent processes that are the core of every enterprise.

  1. Value creation- discovering what people need or want, then creating it.
  2. Marketing – attracting attention and building demand for what you’ve created.
  3. Sales – turning prospective customers into paying customers.
  4. Value Delivery- giving your customers what you’ve promised and ensuring they’re satisfied.
  5. Finance – bringing in enough money to keep going and make your effort worthwhile

These five parts of every business are the basis of every good business idea and business plan.

Note that two of these five basics center on creating and delivering value. Therefore, any skill or knowledge that helps create value is crucial to your economic success!

This concept prompted this month’s leadership question;

How Valuable Is Your Leadership?  

(Five Ways that Good Leaders Deliver Value)

I think we can agree that leadership is a crucial aspect of any organization. Effective leadership can significantly impact a company’s success.

Here are five ways that effective leadership can add value to an organization:

Vision and direction: A great leader can set a clear vision and direction for the organization and then inspire and motivate their team to work towards that vision. The famous management consultant Peter Drucker once said:

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”

An effective leader can read between the lines and understand the needs and concerns of their team, and then use that understanding to set a clear direction for the organization.

Decision-making: Effective leaders can make tough decisions, even in facing uncertainty. They can weigh the pros and cons of different options and then choose the course of action that best serves the organization. Warren Buffett once said:

“The best thing a leader can do is to listen, to hear what is and isn’t being said. Never assume that you know it all.”

Communication: Effective leaders can communicate effectively with their team and have a knack for clearly conveying their vision and direction. They also ensure that everyone on the team knows what they’re supposed to do and how they can contribute to the organization’s success.

Empowerment: Effective leaders understand that their team members are their most valuable asset, and they make sure to empower them to take ownership of their work. They give them the freedom to make decisions and take risks, providing them with the support and resources they need to succeed.

Adaptability: Effective leaders can adapt to changing circumstances and have the skill and will to lead their teams through difficult times. They have the capacity to make quick decisions and take decisive action when the situation calls for it.

Great leaders have added value to organizations in many ways.

Some examples include:

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, is widely recognized as one of the most influential leaders in recent history. Jobs was able to set a clear vision and direction for Apple, inspiring and motivating his team to work towards that vision. Under his leadership, Apple created some of the most innovative and popular products of the last several decades.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, is another example of a great leader who added value to his organization. Welch was known for his ability to make tough decisions and his willingness to take risks. Under his leadership, GE grew from a $13 billion company to a $410 billion company. Welch was also known for communicating effectively with his team and empowering them to take ownership of their work.

As a leader, measuring your performance and ensuring that you are adding value to your organization is essential.

Three key performance indicators that can help you determine whether your leadership is making a valuable impact:

Employee satisfaction: If your team members are happy and engaged, it’s a good sign that you are providing them with the support and resources they need to be successful.

Productivity: If your team is productive and can meet or exceed their goals, it’s a good sign that you are providing them with clear direction

Financial performance: If your organization is financially stable and growth-oriented, it’s a good sign that you’re on the right track.

Spoiler alert. There are many more ways that leaders add value. Perhaps another time.

For now, it’s food for thought.

“Champions are brilliant at the basics”

– Quote by John Wooden , Reknowned basketball coach

Until next time.

 

 

 

 

                                           YOUR THREE WORDS – GOT ‘EM YET?

I was recently invited to speak to a group of Real Estate professionals about “What Success Looks Like For You.” The organizers asked me to share based on my decades of business and leadership experience.

This presentation was a part of their annual planning and strategy for their business. 

Having begun my year-end review, this request was an excellent opportunity to reflect on the ups and downs of my own leadership adventure.

The funny thing is that after my seventy-plus trips around the sun, I don’t have any particular strong  feelings about being successful. 

I know the alternative really sucks, so it’s more about having a “success journey” than having arrived.

Examples of “success” in any field if examined, come after a ton of hard work, sacrifices made and obstacles overcome over extended periods of time.

I wrote more about that here  if you’re interested.

Admittedly, there are some very cool things I was privileged to be a part of. Even got some recognition along the way.

However, what jazzes me the most is navigating the here and now while looking ahead with a strategic intent to whatever is next. (hence the Blogpost title- Hey, What’s Next!)

All the people I regard as successful have found the fulfillment of a calling,  – something deeply personal and meaningful that energizes them and keeps them going.

My “more vintage” perspective is that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning, winning/losing and sense of calling never stops. 

Much of life and leadership success is keeping going with what you love and capitalizing on second chances.

As long as we are still topside, till the very end, there is always another chance. 

That’s why I love each New Year. 

It allows me to see things from a fresh perspective, set the tone and make room for change.

Back To The Presentation:

After some personal introductions, it was obvious that I was with a group of bright, motivated business practitioners who were highly committed to their craft. 

They had already achieved what most would consider a fair measure of success. 

When I asked the question about their “why,” they all had a remarkably similar response.

Foremost was a genuine love for service to others with their particular skill set.

 Beyond that, a deep appreciation for their co-workers and a vibrant workplace culture that drew them in and kept them there. 

A third aspect was the personal freedom that this line of work afforded. 

Their responses aligned closely with the Japanese concept of “Ikigai” (pronounced ee-kee-guy), which roughly translates to “the thing you live for” or “purpose, meaning, or calling.”

It’s much more nuanced and robust than the North American concept of pursuing your dream or following your passion. 

It answers four basic questions 1. What do you love doing? 2. What are you really good at? 3. What does the world around you need? 4. What can the world pay you for? 

Finding Success In My Calling 

I re-assess my calling every year. It’s a part of my “three-word” exercise.

Some folks stress about “finding their calling. “

In my instance, it was my calling that found me. 

I’m a builder at heart. As a kid, I had a fascination with building things.

Whether it was building a tree fort, an airplane from an apple crate, or a box kite so big it would lift me off the ground. That one really freaked my parents out.

The point is I loved building things. 

After some vocational detours into teaching and marketing, I settled into a career in building things. Houses, stores and restaurants, apartments, you name it. I loved the whole process of providing people with a home.

Then a career-ending injury forced a change of plans.

For quite some time, I felt devastated and at times, quite despondent.

Gradually, with the help of influential friends and mentors, I discovered that the basics of being a good builder were readily transferable to building other things. 

Opportunities and second chances came knocking. I had the privilege of working with others to build entire organizations, systems, and communities. 

Fast forward to the present.

While circumstances and venues might change, the calling hasn’t changed.

As an Executive Coach and Consultant, I can co-create, scale up, and build things together with others.

Make Room for Change 

That’s what the annual Three Words are about.

My challenge every January is to come up with three words representing the year’s strategic directions. It may sound simple, but it can be challenging. Two isn’t enough, and four’s too many, so three words are about right.

There’s nothing magic or weird here. Instead, it’s a way to incorporate a small success habit by bringing consistent intent, focus, and clarity to my decisions and actions in the coming year.

That’s why I’ve thoughtfully selected three words that will serve as keys to my year. If you’re still getting familiar with this exercise, business writer and consultant Chris Brogan started this in 2006.

A lot of other folks are doing this. Just plug in #my3words and see what others are doing.

My Process

I spend time reflecting on the past year, what’s worked, and what has not. Also, what needed to be clarified and what needed to be added. But more importantly, I try to understand what I want the coming year to look like.

Sometimes, the words come out of my goals, so I’ll jot down words that capture my attention and accurately reflect my intention.

I usually discuss my goals and three words with my wife and several close friends.

That’s always helpful.

It shaped my ideas into something more tangible. It also reaffirmed that we’re in this together, and no matter what goals I have or the words I choose, they are meaningless without mutual support.

My Approach

I interact with my three words each day. For example, I’ll jot them at the top of my planner page or workout calendar. Doing this keeps them front and center, pointing me toward my goals and grounding me in the interim work needed to achieve them.

Here Goes

My words are keys to positive change in the coming year.

I’ve settled on:

1. BUILD

2. RECONNECT

3. BREAKTHROUGH

Build: It’s a noun and a verb that packs some intention into what I do. Builder fits my role as a coach and consultant. My job is to come alongside my colleagues and clients, survey the landscape, lay a sure foundation, assess risks, recommend paths of action, and start following the blueprint. It fits my calling, and that makes sense.

It’s in my DNA. Sometimes it’s people or a team that needs building. Sometimes it’s a physical structure. But, of course, that’s always fun too.

Reconnect: This is self-explanatory. The circumstances of the past several years have meant I’ve lost touch with way too many folks. I’ve always relied on the benefits of networking. It’s so much more than developing valuable contacts. Networking gives me access to something bigger—the insights and knowledge of others. These insights, in turn, can spark creative thinking, leading to new ideas, products, and solutions. Who can say no to that?

Breakthrough: There are some long-term situations that I’ve been working on where things haven’t materialized the way I hoped. This one’s the hardest for me to explain because it’s personal. Achieving a personal breakthrough can be a challenging process, but it is also very gratifying. We’re all unique, so the steps to a personal breakthrough will look different for everyone, including me. Timing is also different for everyone, so it may need patience. Meanwhile, I’ll maintain a positive mindset, surround myself with a supportive network and hang in there.

This one is the most complicated of all 3, but it’ll make for an exciting year if it happens.

Review Them Daily

The more you review your 3 words, the better. They help me decide stuff. For example, “Should I say yes to this project?” or “Well, how does this align with my intent?”

What Are your Words for 2023?

It’s your turn:

1. Please send me a note or share it wherever you like.

2. Use the hashtag #my3words to find other people’s shared experiences, and if you’re a last-minute person, don’t worry.

3. Start when you’re ready.

I look forward to seeing what this next year has in store!

Astoundingly Simple. Boringly Consistent. Still Magic, Nonetheless! (Part 11)

Winding down one year and starting the next is always an ideal time for reflection and thinking forward.

As a leader, having a robust goal-setting mechanism and consistent follow-through is critical to your overall personal and professional success.


My last article examined the rationale for having written goals.

 This month’s article will provide tools and tips to implement the goal-setting process.

There are many sound systems out there, but I’ll stick to the three I’m most familiar with simply because I know they work.

SMART(ER) SYSTEM

The first is the SMART system. It’s an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It first emerged in the early ’80s when the CEO of GE, Jack Welch, used it to enhance employee performance and time management while boosting job satisfaction.

In a nutshell, this technique advises creating a specific goal rather than using vague language (for example, swimming three times a week versus simply exercising more). You also want to be sure that your goal is achievable and relevant to your situation. So, make the goal big enough to challenge yourself but not so big that it will likely be out of reach.

In more recent times there’s been the been the addition of an E and an R representing Evaluate and Re- Adjust.

OKR SYSTEM

Another system being used successfully by organizations I’m familiar with is the OKR system.

OKR stands for Objectives and Key results. Introduced by investor and stakeholder John Doerr, Google began using OKRs in 1999 when they had just 40 employees. With more than 132,000 employees today, Google still uses the OKR approach to setting goals.

But why does such an innovative company as Google still use the same old approach from more than 20 years ago?

Why didn’t they switch their strategy to setting goals with something more innovative and fancy-sounding?

The answer is simple. When you foster a culture that cares about reaching ambitious goals and gives them a simple approach to achieving them, such as OKRs, they lead to success.

Adding needless complexity to such a smooth and easy-to-follow process may have killed Google’s success.

The beauty of this system is that Objectives define what you’re trying to accomplish, and Key Results measure if you’re succeeding. Objectives are best when they’re qualitative. Key Results are best when they’re quantitative. Moreover, Objectives and key results are applicable at the personal, team,  and corporate levels to synthesize and unify efforts toward a common goal.

Placing a reasonable time frame on all of the above makes it easy to see if you’re making progress.

THREE WORD SYSTEM

A third goal-setting system that is a personal favourite is the three-word system.

Simple, but never easy!

It’s a challenge each year to come up with three words representing the year’s strategic directions. But, of course, two isn’t enough, and four’s too many, so three is about right.

There’s nothing weird here. It’s just a way to incorporate a small success habit by bringing consistent intent, focus, and clarity to my decisions and actions in the year to come

That’s why I’ve been taking the time to thoughtfully select three words that will serve as keys to my year. If you’re unfamiliar with this exercise, business writer and consultant Chris Brogan started this in 2006.

A lot of other folks are doing this. Just check out #my3words.

My Process

I spend time reflecting on the past year, what’s worked or not, And what was unclear or perhaps missing. But, more importantly, I understand how I want my next year to unfold.

Sometimes the words come out of the goals I have set. Other times I will jot down words that capture my attention and accurately reflect my intention.

I usually discuss my goals and three words with my wife and close friends. That’s always helpful.

It shaped my ideas into something more tangible. It also reaffirmed that we’re in this together, and no matter what goals I have or the words I choose, they are meaningless without mutual support.

My Approach

I interact with my three words each day. For example, I’ll jot them at the top of my planner page or workout calendar. Doing this keeps them front and centre, pointing me toward my goals and grounding me in the interim work needed to achieve them.

Other Systems

Beyond the ones I mentioned, there are several other goal-setting systems and processes worth exploring, including HARD (Heartfelt, Animated, Required, and Difficult), WOOP (Wish, Obstacle Outcome, Plan) and others that may or may not have a cool acronym.

The point here is to have a system that works for you and your organization.

Six Tips For Getting Started

Reflect on where you’ve been.

As you consider where you want to go next, think about where you’ve been. How have you grown? What have you learned? On the other hand, do you need to let go of any behaviours or relationships to move forward? Keep in mind that we all make mistakes in our lives, but these “mistakes” enable you to grow. They aren’t mistakes as much as platforms for advanced learning.

Where do you want to go next?

Now that you’ve reflected a bit on how you got to where you are, it’s time to think about what comes next. And “next” can mean different things. It may mean simply the next area of your life you want to grow. Or it may be time-based, as in by “next month” or “next year.” So take a moment to add a timeline to your written goal. When do you plan to start implementing it, and for how long?

Write it down. Be specific.

Writing down your goals helps to make them more “real” and allows you to commit to them. Plus, it’s easier to keep track of your goals this way. It’s also important to be specific. For example, saying you want to eat better doesn’t give you a way to measure your results. But, if you say you want to start eating a plant-based diet and then specify steps to take, such as doing “meatless Mondays” each week for a month, you have made your goal specific and measurable. Keep a journal or perhaps a whiteboard at your desk. Simply seeing your goals in writing each day can help to keep you on track.

Divide your goals into categories.

Thinking in terms of categories can help you to examine your life in 360 degrees. First, you can decide on the categories you want to use. For example, consider goals for your life’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects. Or, you could be more specific and use categories like health, family, relationships, personal interests and hobbies, spiritual, work, and finance. Next, think about the areas you want to address in your life, and then write one to two goals in each category.

Personally, each year, I reevaluate the areas of my life and hone in on my overall goals— personal, professional, and financial. Then, I make a specific goal for each to be accomplished by the end of that year. Then, every year, I try to advance my goals further, which results in growth over time.

Push yourself a little beyond your comfort zone.

When you set a goal, think big. By placing your goals a little further than your current ability, you will set yourself up to stretch. This may cause a feeling of anxiety. Instead, channel that energy to help propel you forward. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone will provide enough challenge to keep you motivated while also being realistic. And if you don’t quite hit your goal, that’s OK. Chances are you still will have grown more than you would have if your goal were less challenging. Surprise yourself!

Get Started and Set Milestones

Once you have all of your goals and tasks and their start and end dates mapped out, you can get started on working toward them. Follow each step you plan for yourself and try your best to stay on track.

The more you do in one direction, the more momentum you gain.

On days when you feel bombarded with work or personal events, push and motivate yourself to follow through with hitting your goals.

It can be helpful to picture how fulfilled and accomplished you’ll feel in the long run once you’ve successfully hit all the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Until next time.

 The Magic of Written Goals

Roald Amundsen was a superhero of his day. He was a scientist, adventurer, and explorer.

In 1911 he led the group that first reached the South Pole.

As a researcher, he made observations and took scientific measurements.

He was one of the “big thinkers” of his era.

He was also an inveterate “journal-er” and note-taker of daily happenings and activities, large and small.

Consistency and the 20-MILE MARCH

 In his book “Great By Choice,” business writer Jim Collins tells the Amundsen/South Pole story this way: In 1911, two explorers, Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott would, lead separate teams on an expedition race to the South Pole.

The final push was on foot. There and back was roughly 1400 miles, representing a round trip from New York to Chicago in some of the world’s harshest climate conditions.

While both teams had the same goal. They would travel the same distance in near-impossible conditions. However, each had entirely different strategies for their journey.

Scott’s strategy was to walk as far as possible on good weather days and then rest up on bad days to conserve energy.

Conversely, Amundsen and his team kept up a strict regimen of hiking only 20 miles a day, no matter what. Of course, on good days, his team could do more than 20 miles; however, Amundsen was adamant that they pace themselves at 20 miles to conserve energy.

Which team won?

 It was Amundsen’s, simply because they took consistent action toward a measurable goal.

Scott’s team arrived nearly a month later.

Numerous books and movies have been dedicated to his compelling story.

Here’s a grainy 10 minute YouTube Clip.

There’s a simple elegance in mundanity, especially when it moves you in the direction you want.

That same leadership principle holds true for you and me with our “here and now” goals.

As a leader, having a robust goal-setting mechanism and consistent follow-through is critical to your success and that of your organization.

Jotting things down in real time has become second nature for me. I rarely think about it. I just instinctively do it. Sometimes it’s as simple as a one-word goal for that day or that year.

See My Three Words

It’s resulted in a growing archive of notebooks and daily planners that I often refer back to. Particularly when it comes to tracking progress toward my personal goals.

Why is this important?

It boils down to three immediate benefits.

For starters, it fast-tracks my thinking toward clarity. It helps me distill facts from those annoying emotions. As a “dyed in the wool” INFJ, I seem to have an overabundance of those.

Secondly, writing things down creates a measure of accountability. I’m a progress and productivity nerd, so having goals and interim reference points to measure progress are vitally important to me.

Thirdly, it provides a platform for meaningful interaction when others become aware of my goals.

They have a chance to metabolize information, respond, and maybe even join me in an adventure.

 

Unwritten goals are like unplanted seeds. Not much happens until you plant and care for them.

 

The benefits of written goals are numerous. Here are but a few

Goals Show You Where To Go

Okay, so there are some things you want to get done in life. But to what extent? Setting a goal shows you where and how to get there. While you may be headed in the right direction, you could wander off the path without a plan and get lost. You could also end up somewhere other than where you wanted to go.

Goals Measure Your Progress

You may be already pursuing something you are passionate about in life. How far have you come? Do you know? If you don’t, you don’t have a goal guiding you.

Besides just showing you where to go, goals also help you see how far you have come, giving you a good measure of what you still have to do.

Goals Keep You Motivated

Do you struggle with staying motivated? This is why you need goals. As you see your progress toward your objective, this will help keep you motivated, even when the going gets tough.

The physical act of writing down a goal has been shown in one Harvard study to increase the likelihood of you achieving it. Simply writing it down can be a huge motivator to help you change your everyday life to make your goal a reality.

Goals Inform Your Purpose

Knowing where you should go or the career you should pursue can take time and effort. Goals help us make choices. A seemingly insignificant and simple goal might even help you make better choices.

In Conclusion 

There are umpteen reasons why written goals are essential. But overall, to achieve success, you need to start by making a written list of your aspirational goals. Then start crafting a plan about how to get started.

This will help show you where to go, keep you on track, and keep you motivated as you go.

Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to achievement.

Until next time,