Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rowing The Doldrums

Life has it's fair share of unfortunate set backs: people get fired from their jobs, athletes get injured, people fall out of love and with every triumph there is a failure. The victories are often met with a sigh of relief while the losses bring upon a pondering of our possible misplacement in this world. Winning is glorious, losing sucks, but our greatest misfortune is to be ignorant of either.

I have the unfair self-inflicted lot in life of being incapable of accepting failure while being unable to give myself too much credit for my successes. Frustration, sleepless nights, and intense self-analysis are all bed fellows in the mind of a perfectionist... the lack of ease a vestal to continual progress.

It is too often that we put too much emphasis on the little things and fail to celebrate life's simple beauties. If your job was lost what would you do? If an injury ended your sports career what lessons from the field could you relay to other elements in your life? You can spend 20 years perfecting a craft and an unfortunate accident can take it away from you. Some times a little luck trumps years of preparation. With all this in mind there is only one thing left to do...


Some of our prayers are unanswered, certain goals are not met, and there are times when we feel we are out of options. More often than not the bad things do not happen. There are times to pray, times to cry, and some times you just have to pull up your boot straps and move on.

Joy is a Strategy
I enjoyed reading INC's listing of the 10 greatest sales people of all time. Most of them were not the obvious choice and the characteristics they shared were not slick talk or negotiation tactics. The people who are best at what they do are so because they love what they do.

Great Chefs can make me care about the culinary arts, amazing designers can make me look at fashion in a different light, if you believe in a cause with unflappable commitment... I will join you.

Bounce Out!
Lack of certainty makes our failures harder to accept, relationships harder to mend, and grows greater distance to our goals. Far better than tossing and turning in your bed is to get up and find the solution.

Most people who are unhappy are so because they failed to try. The fear of risk can marginalize us all into a life of compromise. There is no joy in compromise and no glory in settling for second best. If you are not pursuing your every activity with your fullest effort you are wasting your time. Our time here is fleeting and too precious to be a vestal to tears and complaints.

Opportunity Doesn't Knock
There are two types of people in this world: those who seek progress and those who are content with being just OK. There are people who devote 10,000 hours to building a skill that never get promoted. There are others who have had countless opportunities that they squandered because they were unable to get up when they first fell.

Nothing will be handed to you, you have to find it. Challenges will come upon you and if you are not totally dedicated to your craft, you will fail. If you cannot accept failure your misfortunes will overwhelm you. Then you stop trying... and life sucks!

Every day should be accepted as a gift. We should take on every challenge knowing we have as much a chance of failure as we do victory. We should have a system to plug into that will ensure our chances for success exceed those of failure. We should be willing to try hard enough to win and then we should try even harder.

Put yourself out there! With every victory comes the confidence to know you can. If you win over and over the habit becomes a skill.

"everybody's gotta learn some time" - Beck 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, October 20, 2014

A Scarf For The Winter

There is no silver bullet for performance management: not an app, platform or systematic flow chart. It turns our that managing performance is as much about knowing your people as it is knowing the metrics of their performance. So, how can we engage a variety of personalities in one scaled process? Let's review the SCARF formula for employee motivation:


... it's pretty simple, if you understand which of the above mentioned characteristics are of the greatest (and least) priority to each of your employees, your line of vision into their motivation will be greatly enhanced. Have your employees stack rank what matters most to them and manage accordingly.

Some employees are seeking a promotion (status). Be proud enough to help your best performers get to the next level in the organization and they will stay forever. Some people just need to know that their job is important (certainty). Great mangers help their employees understand that their achievements benefit the organizational mission. Some people just want to be left alone (autonomy). If you've given them the tools to succeed you can leave them to their own devices and they will perform....over and over again. There are people for whom work is an extension of their social network (relatedness). Loving the people with whom you serve make the hard times a little easier and the victories that much sweeter. There are those who want to know that the playing field is level (fairness). You can dispel water cooler banter by proving that each person has the same opportunity to accelerate to greatness.

What Are You Fighting For....?
Managers get a lot of shit! Certain vendors think starting an employee revolution is the key to employee engagement... the SCARF method rivals that formula for disaster with strategic certainty.

So then, it is time for employees to make some decisions:
What Can You Do At Your Organization That You Cannot Do Anywhere Else?

If you cannot answer the question above, you should quit your job! If you don't believe that the company you are currently working for can help you do more than anywhere else... you are wasting your life!

Are pats on the back important to you? Do you really value trophies? Do you want to stand in front of a bunch of people to be praised for your excellence?

If you know you are performing to the peak of your ability you do not need a trophy, public praise, or validation. Get a pair! Own your actions and fear not failure!

You should be driven by the knowledge that you are capable of achieving what no other person ever has. If you are concerned with what the past has deemed possible, you are probably not all that capable. Those who suck at their job are those who need to be validated at every turn in the road. It's a job, diffuse the emotion and get to work!

Managers cannot manage if their employees refuse to believe that everyone is working for a common cause. We are all in equal parts responsible for our engagement at work. Some times we need a hug and some times we need to bite our tongue and get to work.

Let's Go To Work!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Art of Growing Old

There has been so much debate about the generational divide in today's workforce. Fingers are being pointed at who is entitled and who is irrelevant.

I work with 70 Year Old HR Professionals, College Men and Six Year Old Female Soccer Stars; each holds their brilliance...when they were born has nothing to do with it. We tend to think that getting old sucks but I am here to assure you that it is not necessarily true. With each day we get a little smarter, a little more aware of ourselves, and a little more appreciative of the time we have left. Its all pretty wonderful!

Get Smart
The worst advice I have been given in my career is not to get too close to those whom I manage. The reality is that being an effective leader is based firmly in the viewpoint that opposes the aforementioned advice. If you do not have the courage to trust your people, you should not be a manager.

Experiences matter most! Not years on the job but the places you have traveled, the people you have met, and the stories they help you create. Passion is fueled by experience and everyone is inspired to follow those who are impassioned in their mission. If you stop experiencing all that life has to offer, you slam your life into neutral. If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward.

Be Aware
The world is full of (excuse the term) socially retarded people. I know so many people who are incredibly smart but cannot get out of their own way. To have an opinion is a virtue, to be too opinionated is a burden. Are you aware of yourself? Do you say things you shouldn't? Does your non-verbal communication reveal your lack of life experience?

In interacting with others it is wise to consider their point of view before submitting your own. Never mention religion or politics and leave your phone in your pocket. It is vitally important to be a good listener. Your advice is better delivered if it is concise, well founded, and spoken as if you possess the unconscious voice of Johnny Cash.

Cherish Everything
I just heard the Great Neil Young say that life at this point is driven by his ability to cherish the weather. He defines the weather as the state of things and the channel toward wonderment. When you get older you cherish the moments-in-between far more than the well publicized events.

Your friends will let you down, your co-workers will fuck up, and your kids will drive you bonkers. Hug them all and love them all equally.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Folded Pictures

"you should know compared to people on a Global scale our kind has had it relatively easy" 
- Jason Isbell

What are the complaints of the day? If we really concentrate on the things that have derailed our progress are they genuinely significant? Are you impatient with those who seek to learn? Are you unwilling to adapt for fear of revealing that you don't know everything?

I heard musing on a time when a whole lot of workers lost their jobs. It was everything they had known: their skill set, their friends, their culture.... and then it was taken away. The only skill they had was to serve a purpose that no longer had a purpose. It was unfair.... but what were they going to do about it?

What's Your Back Up Plan?
My father worked for the same company for 37 years. He was loyal to his company and his company was loyal to him. As far as I knew that was the way the work world worked. You showed up first, left last, and were celebrated accordingly. Man was I wrong.

When I discovered the landscape of how companies honor their employees had changed it was too late. I had worked nearly a decade for a company I loved and after being passed up for yet another promotion I knew the balloon had hit the ceiling. The worst mistake I have made in my career is giving the current state of my career too much credit. Things change quickly. I thought my leaving the aforementioned company would put a dent in their universe, they hardly noticed I had ever worked there at all.

If your company went out of business, if your job was off-shored, if your husband got sick... what would your next move be?

It is not disloyal to have a back up plan. All you need is the ability to tap into people who care and to impress upon them your greatness.

I care, I'll help anyone.

"the worst part of a good day is hearing yourself say goodbye to one more possibility day" 
- Adam Duritz

We have 29,200 days on this earth. I'm on the back nine of that scale. I remember sitting with my sweetheart at dinner on my birthday and realizing that it was possible that I had lived more days than I had left. I admitted that I loved this sad and beautiful place far too much to leave it.

So when it is your time to go. How do you know you'll be ready to go?

Well, you can savor every moment....

Stop listening to people who complain. Recognize that the people who love you know when you are not fully utilizing your greatness and that they feel it their duty to hold you accountable to that. You should hold your child's foot in your hand as long as it fits... and then you should let them run. You should hug people. You should be totally unwilling to accept people who try too little and ask too much... and you should not feel bad for calling out their ignorance.

We are far too caught up in the now and far too unwilling to live in the moment. There is a difference. Stress is build upon pressure that is often a landfill of hatred. There are a lot of people in positions of power who have forgot that love is at the center of everything. There is also a time to use your brain and let your heart rest.

People will let you down. The person who you live with most is yourself. If you let yourself down more than you let anyone else down that simply means that you have high standards and a good heart.

People need help and that requires giving them the benefit of the doubt. Be patient, learn to forgive and know that people will always be more accountable to themselves than they will to you.... and that letting oneself down is the hardest task any of us can face.

Call your mom, write your wife a note, and tell your kids that they are greater than anyone; this will fill your heart. Then enter the workplace with your heart full.... and every day will be a victory.

Don't forget about the pictures in your back pocket... they are what brought you here... and what will bring you home.

I promise you... we can do this!!!!!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Built To Spill Milk

I was amused by a post created by Bruce Kasanoff on LinkedIn this week. I believe his intent was to be critical of Good Ol' Boys Executive speak. There was, however, an undertow that seemed to dismiss the motivational relevance of competition. It seemed to read that anyone who had ever competed in sports is a meat head, my daughter was offended.

I am an advocate of employee engagement and an opponent of marginalized middle management. I absolutely agree that results should drive promotion and bravado should be eliminated. It is no secret that some Baby Boomers are protecting their post. It should be admitted that happiness is not a strategy. Culture may eat strategy for breakfast but if we tune in, turn on, and drop out at every corporate campus in America; our children will work on chain gangs.

I see people who's drive is determined by their insecurity... that is no way to live. I also see people who were picked last... so they quit trying and sequestered themselves to their self pity. Knowledge is power. Courage is driven by one's ability to see a challenge, accept it, and seek to conquer the seemingly impossible. To run from adversity only to frame yourself as intellectually superior does not prove your enlightenment... it proves you fear your potential!

We want to allow happiness to drive our benefits strategy, we want to socialize work, we want free beer... 3 hour work days.... and quarterly meetings in Bora Bora. That will work....

Playing for Draft Picks...?
I am an Oakland Raiders fan. The Raiders have sucked the big one for more than 12 seasons. Each year, the ignorantly optimistic make the inference that there is no need to win any more games so the Raiders can secure the top draft pick. The unfortunate thing is that the Raiders also suck at identifying talent through the draft.

Two lessons here:
Never Give Up
Sucking is An Organizational Disease

I never agreed with teams resting their best players for the last month of the season to prepare for the playoffs. It is ridiculous to think that allowing your players not to try would inspire them to do better... later.

Organizational culture is created by the sum of its parts and the vision of its leaders. If your leaders give the aforementioned Executive speak without igniting a personal conviction... a lack of authenticity is certain. If you inspire people to do more, they will. If you regulate ingenuity and seek to control motivation; the culture will eat itself.

Fantasy Football is Stupid!  
I recently watched a young man cheer for both teams on the field during the same play because he had players from both squads on his fantasy team. That contradicts the essence of sports.

I believe fans of sports should be loyal to their team and unwilling to break bread with the opponent. You can express sportsmanship and win gracefully without ignoring the fact that your competitor is intent upon stealing your children's food.

Why is it OK to give up trying and pat our opponent on the back? Why would you cheer for individuals instead of the team? What gives one the right to write about sports if he has never had the will to compete?

The grandstands are full of naysayers. Those who have had the ability and fortitude to play the game are few and far between. It will remain this way because those who have tried and failed have a thousand venues to dismiss competition in an effort to excuse their inability.

Don't Forget to Remember!