Friday, September 26, 2014

Greatness Defined

Derek Jeter has had a majestic conclusion to his storied career. This is not an act of fate or the consequence of luck but the result of a lot of hard work. Mr. Jeter has never been the fastest or strongest, he just showed up first and left last... and in-between he tried his ass off!

Those who have earned a spot on the De La Salle football team create commitment cards. In simple context: you define your goals and pass your card to another to ensure you are accountable.

We want to imagine that those who have achieved more than others were blessed with a special talent or that they found more luck than others. In reality, they just tried harder.

All of us have achieved great things. Turning great achievements into a legacy of greatness takes preparation, perception and perseverance. Where (or to whom) you were born makes little difference. Bar stools are warmed by former Friday Night Quarterbacks every evening.

In my professional life I can define one certainty to success:
Be the first to show up and the last to leave. 

It's hard enough to do this for a week straight... try to do it for 30 years, this is the difference between achieving great things and establishing a legacy of greatness.

If you are still standing at the end of practice, you haven't practiced hard enough
The opportunity lost and found is filled with broken dreams, moments of submission, and a whole lot of spilled milk.

Your perception and attitude determine your fate....each and every day. Most people who are great at what they do have more challenges than victories. If development is at the heart of each and every interaction, victory in inevitable.

Reminder: if you think today will suck, it will!

Be humble in victory and accountable in defeat. Recognize in public and discipline in private.

Training is one thing... application is something completely different. Anyone can read a book, take a test, and assume a skill. When your audience is not just a scantron, you are called upon to interact. A tutor can teach you to play violin but if you are too shy to perform in front of others have you really applied a skill? You can be taught to juggle a soccer ball but if you cannot charge the goal you are a jester more than a champion.

For as long as I can remember Derek Jeter has been playing baseball. I remember how hard he hit the ball and how hard he tried to catch it.

That's a pretty damn good way to be remembered. 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, September 22, 2014

It Takes A Village

Social Media - you wear me out... everyone has ideas, theories, and personal experiences. The best of us have strong opinions and those with opinions can be easily characterized as bullies. It is a conundrum: those strong enough to participate challenge one another to create compelling content while those we wish to intrigue often roll their eyes at our sarcasm.

The Heart Matters More!
I left the surgery room at 1 am having seen my son endure the most painful day of his life to find 2 nurses having a moment of personal enjoyment. Children were hurting all around them and they had the nerve to laugh... damn right they did!

The young men and women who save lives every day do so not because they know they will get a gift card but because they cherish the little wins.

The Losses Hurt More!

"I hate losing more than I love winning" - Billy Beane

We grit our teeth and pretend our jobs are important but we will instantly forget who we work for when our child is in the hospital. Those nurses have earned the right to laugh for a moment. It's hard to quantify what genuinely matters until we are faced with the fact that our life leading up to a certain moment has been insignificant. An emphasis on the mundane has no place outside of a wood paneled room where ideas go to die.

If you think it is OK to be just OK, it will catch up with you! You don't have to be an asshole to instill in people that the spirit of winning is important... it makes everyone better...

You Should Stop Stopping Yourself
Only you spend the day with you every day. Your first reaction to failure is usually to find someone who will confirm that you are great in-spite of your lack of results.

Don't kid yourself... it is not the fault of your boss or your company that you have failed. You failed because you chose to believe that you didn't have to try hard to win... and then those who you underestimated kicked your ass!

Probably better to overcome adversity than to pretend you are better than anyone else. It's an even better idea to try, fail, and learn to forgive yourself!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Do You Need a Hug?

As the gainfully employed hustle to get from point a to point b they disregard an act of kindness, while those caught in limbo are surprised anyone would dare to be kind to them. I remember Ben Folds saying that if Jesus was reborn into the street of a metropolis he would be shunned and dismissed as a drugged-out hippie.

We are naturally cautious that trusting the wrong person could turn a spontaneous act into our ultimate demise.

Shoe On The Wrong Foot?
In the corporate world we want to split ourselves in half:
The Work Self
... and The Personal Self

The work self navigates what we have to do while the personal self creates what we want to do. The gap between the have to's and the want to's is closing.

Our lack of perception reveals that the work self needs to be guarded and neutral. Every Executive I have spoken to appreciates straight talk. The personal self believes that we can put our guard down and say what's really on our mind. Most post-work bar conversations are cries for validation mired in regret for lack of effort.

Who's really full of shit?

So we leave the office and walk down the street mistrusting of everyone... even a person who needs a hug.

I walked down the streets of San Francisco with the CEO of our company during the protest period know as the "Occupy" movement. An unshowered young man approached her and asked her for a hug. Admittedly, I would have punched him if he touched her. Not because I was mistrusting of him but because I was protective of her.

Our challenge in life is not just to protect those we love but to develop a sense of protection for the human race. Our elegance as people is threatened when we neglect to give people the benefit of the doubt.

The Key 
You can't just hug everyone! You have to develop a sense of trust and to know better when a hug is necessary.

We spend too much time practicing our acumen and far too little time developing our common sense.

Some times people under-perform and they need to be fired. Some times someone neglects your existence to such an extent that they need to be neglected.

... and some times people need a hug!

It's easy to do the safe thing and to live your life in fear. It is far more difficult to crawl out of your shell and take action where you see desperation.

You can fold hands and bow to royalty or you can choose to interact with people who probably haven't heard an honest word in a long time.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Easy If You Try

In the last week, several NFL athletes have been exposed for raising their hand to woman and children. That upsets me.

I'm fortunate to have been raised by remarkable people. It is not difficult to carry what has been taught to me to others. I'm fortunate... others have not had such luck!

It's easy to look at people who "have it all" and to judge their behavior. It is much harder to put people (not under a microscope) but on a couch. I've made my fair share of mistakes in life, I also know better. Are there people who don't know better, regardless of their fortune?

In life there are a few certainties:
- Actions Speak Louder Than Words
- People Will Mess Things Up
- It's Best to Forgive!

Words Are Meaningless
One of my heroes in life is my son. He is an incredibly thoughtful person. He is also prideful and some times his emotions get the best of him. He always apologizes for his actions.. which is nice but it means nothing to me... there are people in my life who are infallible to me. I should probably give everyone such benefit.

Apologies mean nothing to me because I forgive everyone the minute after they fuck up. I always have. We all suffer through the apologies for our actions but apologies mean nothing unless you take action to make things better.

There is a moment in the film Wish I Was Here in which a girl sees her man acting honorably and rewards him with an unexpected hug. It is not the words we say but the actions we take that earn the love of the people most important to us. These are usually unconscious actions that are driven by the pride we have in being ourselves. You should be proud of yourself...!

I am lucky to be surrounded by people who know I will take action to make things better... I know better!

It's Gonna Be OK!
I remember a friend telling me being a father is easy, being a father is not easy, but he knew I needed to be assured as much before I welcomed my first child into the world. I played a song for a good friend once and when I was done I apologized to him for it's imperfection. He immediately told me that the song was remarkable, it was not, but I appreciated him ignoring my vulnerability. My best friend once saw the pain in my heart and stopped his entire life until I got better. It took 10 minutes to get over my misery because my friend dared not leave me alone with my misery.

How to Win
I have the privilege of teaching, coaching and sitting next to my friends on a bar stool. All of these things are endlessly important. I cherish it all.

I had an adult conversation with a six year old yesterday. I've also held the hand of more than one person when they spoke their last words. What a pleasure we are afforded to live this life!

I don't disrespect people who have made bad decisions. We all do. But words don't solve anything.

Figure it out and make it better. It's easy if you try!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, September 12, 2014

Iron Sharpens Iron

I wrote a few weeks back about the Behavioral Economics concept of Game Theory. I have since had the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite films and to teach a class on how games inspire motivation. I also spend my weekends teaching 6 year old girls how to play soccer. I believe in the art of competition and the power of game mechanics

If my team develops a big lead in a competition, I rest easy knowing we have accomplished a goal. At this point, we are forced to play down to the level of our competition. While the aforementioned victories are far less straining on the heart, they are also less rewarding. We do not look back on 10-0 victories as our life's great achievements nor do we learn anything from getting beaten 10-0. 

It is our mission to be courageous. This means we have to accept difficult challenges...and conquer them....because we can!!!

Skills Elevated by Discomfort
Every establishment in the world is making a concerted effort to eliminate bullying. The only good thing about a bully is watching them cry when you beat the shit out of them. My friends, our greatest victories are preceded by that feeling we get when we see an opponent that is bigger, faster and stronger.  

The feeling you get in fearing a competitor is healthy; it ignites your need to prepare and execute. When you underestimate an opponent your odds of victory decrease.

Those who have easy jobs have satisfactory lives... but what good really comes of that? 

I have seen people live an entire life unfulfilled by any victory. If you are competing just to beat others your time is wasted. If you are coaching a team to prove your worth in this world, you need a psychologist not a whistle and a clipboard.

"without love in a dream it will never come true" - Jerry Garcia

If you unconditionally love what you do, you will elevate everyone around you. If you compete to the best of your ability, others will respect you. It is better to lose a game with your dignity intact than to act out of character simply to win.

There is no greater privilege than the opportunity to influence others. Every day is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on someone.

If we are able to give to people the skills we have and they carry them on to others....

We Can Be Immortal!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, September 5, 2014

The North Star

What is it that engages people in their work? It certainly isn't something that can be packaged or sold.

Some people see their job for what it is worth and are driven to make as much money as possible. Some people want to use their profession as a social network. There are people who live to create extraordinary products and those for whom a pay check will validate a higher personal purpose.

The SCRAF model identifies 5 motivation types:
Status - I want to get promoted.
Certainty - I want reassurance that my job is important.
Autonomy - Leave me alone.
Relatedness - Seeking opportunities to socialize.
Fairness - I want a level playing field.

The thing I enjoy about the aforementioned motivational nodes is the lack of transaction in their definition. We can formulate a performance management strategy around Holacracy but packaging and selling these employee motivational mindsets is difficult to say the least.

So let's cut the crap: What Really Motivates YOU?

Do what you gotta do...
Every organization has objectives that are time-consuming and irrelevant. We spend more time complaining about said objectives than it takes to complete them.

You can develop and implement a strategy to complete meaningless tasks in short time. As a result, you will stay off the Boss' shit list and move on to what matters.

It's easy if you try!

Grow Thick Skin....
It amazes me to see Baby Boomer Executives with an entitled sense of pride that has caused them to bicker with teenagers. We have stereotyped the behaviors of Millennials to puke-able level; Baby Boomers are far more programmed. The exercise of changing a 30 year old strategy creates a fear of change which spotlights a lack of flexibility. If you are offended by what you don't know, you should be open to learn as much as possible. To become receptive to learning requires the ability to admit you don't know everything.

We all have metrics that define our success. If you do your job well, no one can fuck with you!

Our emotions creep in when things don't go our way. To every point that we make to excuse our lack of results there is a counterpoint.

Emotion is not a strategy.

You are not motivated by a reward or some neat technology. It is not your Manager or the CEO's responsibility to write your path to engagement.

Work should be fun and there is nothing more fun than winning!

1. Accept the responsibility for your own success.
2. Spend your time accordingly.
3. Make no excuses. 
4. Don't rest on your past successes.

Don't Forget to Remember!