HOW TO REMAIN ENCOURAGED DURING DIFFICULT TIMES

You remember the saying, “Let the good times roll.” Well, sometimes the good times turn bad. We enjoy the benefit of things going well and t’s easy to encourage others when they’re down. But sooner or later, we will enter into difficult times. It’s inevitable. As I said in my last post, “How to Remain Motivated and Influential During Difficult Times,” I stated that, “no one will escape difficulty in life.” The reality is, there will be times of discouragement. But discouragement doesn’t mean we have to fall apart or quit.

I look to the scriptures for my daily encouragement. When difficult times hit, I find it even more important to study and mediatiate. Here are five bible verses to encourage you during difficult times.

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READY, FIRE, AIM, The Initiative Concept for Leadership Abundance and Success

Ready Fire AimIf you know what to do, then just do it!  I could probably stop right there and have the shortest blog I’ve ever written.  But that would be boring.

As a leader, one of the most frustrating things is to have someone on my team not take the initiative to make things happen.  Instead they sit back and wait for direction, or constantly need my approval that their path or ideas are right.

I want people that are willing to take risks, learn from their mistakes and accomplish what they never thought could be done.  I encourage and expect my staff to embrace the idea of READY, FIRE, AIM!  A concept I learned years ago and I have refined recently.

Let me break the term down:

  • READY – Identify what needs to be accomplished and evaluate what it takes to fully and completely accomplish the task or idea.
  • FIRE – Go do it!  Don’t wait.  Be the swoosh in NIKE and “Just Do It.”  For my inner circle, there are very few times where this concept wouldn’t apply.
  • AIM – Once you “Do It”, then tweek as needed.  If you did your due diligence in the READY phase, there should be very little need to correct things.

These three simple words can create extreme success in your leadership and success in the workplace.

Here are three examples of people who embraced the concept of READY, FIRE, AIM:

  1. Elon Musk – When you make millions off of an internet company like PayPal, the world generally expects you to, well, create and make more millions off of another internet company. But Elon Musk’s dreams lay elsewhere: Rather than follow a more conventional career path, Musk took the money he had made at PayPal and invested it in two of his own highly innovative startups, SpaceX and Tesla. Though his attempt at operating these two ventures at once nearly sent both companies into bankruptcy, it seems to have ultimately paid off—today, both SpaceX and Tesla thrive.
  2. Sylvester Stallone – With a baby on the way and too little money to pay the rent on his Hollywood apartment, Sylvester Stallone sat down and wrote the screenplay for Rocky in less than four days. Producers loved it and offered him big bucks to bring the story to life—but Stallone, as down-and-out as he was, refused to take any offer if he wasn’t allowed to play the lead role in the film.  Rocky ultimately ended up pulling in millions of dollars and skyrocketing Sly into fame.
  3. Travis Kalanick: Uber – Travis is a great example of Ready, Fire, Aim.  If he become discouraged with failure, Uber wouldn’t exist.  Founded the company Scour Inc., a multimedia search engine, and Scour Exchange, a peer-to-peer file sharing service. Two years later, the company would come under fire from several big name music and film agencies for copyright infringement, forcing Scour to eventually succumb to bankruptcy.  In 2007, Kalanick and Garrett Camp founded Uber. After facing some early competition and funding concerns, the ridesharing app is now the most widely used app of its kind. Kalanick created three companies; one failed, but that did not stop him from taking the risk.

Taking initiative is an important part of most any job and is critical to increasing your influence and ultimately your leadership.  However, the reality is that not many of us will not end up as successful as Elton, Sylvester or Travis.  But I can say people who take initiative, are people I want in my inner circle.  And I bet that is the way many leaders feel.

I agree with Conrad Hilton said, “Success seems to be connected with action.  Successful people keep moving,.  They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” 

Don’t keep talking about it, just “DO IT.”

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AUTHENTIC INTEGRITY

I was talking with a group of people the other day when one of them began talking about how much integrity they had and how they strive to do the right thing always. That statement caught me by surprise, because I know this person and have had many discussions concerning their lack of integrity.  It made me realize two things.

  1. If you have to have tell someone you have integrity, you probably don’t.
  2. Authentic integrity is built within a person’s character through their actions.

Authentic integrity is the foundation of a person’s credibility.  Credibility creates confidence and that confidence allows influence.

“Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do” – Don Gater.

Someone once said,

“You are already of consequence in the world if you are known as a man of strict integrity”.

That’s how essential integrity is in your personal life. In fact, if you have nothing else, authentic integrity will catapult you past everyone else.

Dwight Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible.

I agree with Eisenhower. I cannot emphasize enough about the importance of having authentic integrity if you want true leadership in your life.

Integrity gives you so much as a leader; credibility, trust, confidence, influence and much more.

Be a person of integrity and be a person who people want to follow.

Integrity Seal

EXCEED EXPECTATIONS, Your Break From Average

I recently spoke to a group of leaders with the American Society of Safety Engineers at their annual leadership Conference on this very topic.  This conference was a chance for Chapter Officers from around the world to come together and learn how to better serve their memberHand writing Expectations with marker, concept backgrounds.  This was especially significant as I currently serve as President of the Oklahoma City Chapter.  My goal was to encourage and motivate to do more than simply meet member expectations.

Expectations are a part of everything we do in our our personal and professional life.  We all grew up with certain expectations; complete your chores, do your homework, take a bath, brush your teeth, etc.  Parents, teachers, coaches and employers all have certain expectations.  If we meet those expectations, then people are happy.  If we don’t they are unhappy and there is usually an uncomfortable conversation that follows.

Look, expectations are a part of life.  There are just certain things people expect from us and we expect from others. Meeting expectations is what everyone strives for.  But, why be like everyone else?  If you can exceed expectations, you can separate yourself from others and standout from the crowd.

Let me share a story with you.

It was a Friday afternoon and I hadn’t been home in almost two weeks. I was at the airport waiting on a flight to Dallas. It was stormy throughout the western United States, but I was flying from Boston so I didn’t think anything of it.  As I checked the monitor, I noticed my flight had been delayed 45 minutes.  I was annoyed, but that is how it goes sometimes, right?   Well those 45 minutes turned into another 45 minutes, then 3 hrs. NOW, I wasn’t only annoyed but mad! And SO WAS EVERYONE ELSE AT THE GATE!

However, after a few minutes of complaining and multiple very loud sighs, something starting to happen at the gate.  Airline workers started handing out drinks and snacks.   I noticed a slight shift in the mood, including myself.  I could actually hear some laughs and positive comments.

Well, after what seemed like a fairly short time, it was finally time to get on the plane and head south. The mood turned even better when the Flight Attendant announced that we would be receiving free drinks due to the delay. SWEET!!!!!

The plane was buzzing a little louder (I felt like I was on a flight to Las Vegas with a bachelorette party or something) and the mood seemed a lot more cheerful. People seemed happy and the flight went very quickly. Before I knew it we were landing in Dallas.

So let me ask you a question.  Do you think the airline met or exceeded my expectations?

Well of course they EXCEEDED my expectations!  We arrived at our destination safely. And we were given special treatment for the inconvenience.

By the airline becoming situationally aware with the passenger’s disappointment and recognizing the importance of home and family, they wanted to do something to exceed passenger expectations.  Sure they didn’t meet the initial on time expectation, but rather than sitting around dealing with the multiple complaints, they recognized the situation and quickly did what they could to accommodate in whatever way made sense.

As I grow in my personal and professional leadership, I realize everyone wants to meet expectations.  People work very hard to meet expectations and simply getting by.  However, that creates a bottleneck to performance and ultimately slows a person’s promotional and career advancement.

To excel in one’s personal and professional efforts, there must be something which separates them from others.  They must stand out.  Their work and effort must be above others.  It is easy to blend into the crowd and be average.   However, for those who want to advance and achieve something more than average, they must exceed expectations.  Average doesn’t get you into the MLB, NFL or NBA.  It doesn’t get you a job as CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  In fact, average will not get your resume past most employers initial screening and it certainly won’t get you past the initial interview.

So how does someone exceed expectations?  I’m glad you asked that question.  I have some tips and insights that create a mindset to exceed expectations.  These are activities, expectations and insights I personally use when evaluating the expectations others have for me and I have for myself.

Read and reflect on these and put them in context to your specific needs, desires and situation.  I think you will find these useful and effective.

9 Personal Insights about expectations:

  1. I realize disappointment is simply the gap between expectations and reality-Learn to recognize this and take action early to prevent any gaps.
  2. I consistently strive to exceed expectations and impress every time, through everything I do – Regardless of what I gain.
  3. I realize the only person that can raise my standard of expectations is………….ME! Always strive to exceed expectations.
  4. I expect more from myself than others expect from me – I am never satisfied with yesterday!
  5. I realize it is impossible to offer excuses and still exceed expectation – Excuses deteriorate respect and stop you in your tracks!
  6. I realize focusing is the single-most important skill in exceeding expectations.  Learn to focus and learn what it takes to stay focused even when their are distractions.
  7. Did you know only 2% of people consistently exceed expectations–  80% don’t meet expectations.
  8. Meeting expectations is average – If you want to be average, do something else and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
  9. You are never going to be excellent in your weaknesses – No matter how hard you work. Exceed expectations where you know you are good.

10 Thoughts, Tips and Actions that will help you EXCEEED EXPECTATIONS:

  1. Expect more from yourself than anyone else – Integrity begins with you.
  2. Refuse to live off the past – Yesterday ended last night, Get Over It!  However, never be satisfied with yesterday.
  3. Don’t use your relationships to cover your failures or shortcomings “We’re Friends” is abused!
  4. RESPECT must be earned DAILY!!! – Earn respect by doing the difficult right things
  5. Ask for feedback , all the time and after every activity- If you are good, feedback will improve you, if you are bad, feedback will make you better.
  6. I only travel the high road with others – IN BUSINESS IT MIGHT NOT MAKE SENSE, BUT IN LIFE IT MEANS EVERYTHING
  7. I give 100% at key times everyday – What are the events, people that require my best?
  8. I value people too much to not give them my best- Character, People, Perspective, Attitude and Passion Matter
  9. I exceed expectations because I bring people around me who exceed expectations My performance increases as I surround myself with those who exceed expectations.

I heard John Maxwell tell a story about his grandson, Troy. Troy had recently graduated from college and quickly got his first job.   As they were having lunch one day, John asked Troy if he knew how to set himself apart from the rest of the employees. Troy simply shrugged his shoulders.  John said;

“you have to do something quickly to set your self apart from the rest of the employees, otherwise you will just be another employee.”

Here is what John told Troy to do:

  1. You must work harder than everyone else – come in early and stay late. Eat in for lunch most times.
  2. Do something for somebody that is not your job.  Make a point to do something for someone everyday that is not your job.
  3. Make an appointment with your leader (boss) and thank him/her for your job. Express gratitude and humility.

I’d say these three things will exceed everyone’s expectations.Exceeding expectations will set you apart from everyone else. That opens the door for a bright and successful future.

DON’T BE AVERAGE………AVERAGE IS BORING!!!  STRIVE TO EXCEED EXPECTATIONS IN EVERYTHING YOU DO!

Exceed to Succeed Extra Credit Above and Beyond Ruler

REALLY, YOU LEAD PEOPLE?

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I read an article the other day that touched on leadership behavior.  It sparked an abundance of memories, thoughts and questions that have rolled around in my head for many years.  Quite frankly it made me look deep inside of my soul and check my heart to ensure my actions and motives line up with my moral convictions.

Look, leaders are people.  In fact, many are good people.  There is a very small percentage of leaders that act and behave poorly.  I feel I’ve probably worked for more than most.  My career has been full of poor leaders.  Heck, there are a lot of my past and present employees that might say the same about me.

The whole reason I began my leadership journey was to do everything I could NOT to make the same mistakes or do the same things I have witnessed or gone through.

Through my experience, I have identified 9 things that define poor leaders.  Here they are;

  1. IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUNo it isn’t!  In fact, we probably don’t About.me_iconcare what you did or where you went.  It is about those you lead.  When every conversation and situation is about you, it limits the interaction and contribution of others.  I’ve had many leaders more concerned about how situations affect them, than the one(s) involved or affected.
  2. HEY BUDDY -Considering those you lead as friends.  Not good. Leadership is about relationships, not friendships.  When friends and buddies don’t perform we tend to “sweep” it under the rug or make excuses, rather than hold them accountable.  This creates descension and frustration with other employees.  Build relationships, not friendships.  I’ve seen many leaders lose credibility over the hiring or advancement of friends or relatives many times.  I am not saying you can’t hire employees from the past or those who supported and assisted you at other jobs.  I was the best man at my Director of EHS’ wedding 29 years ago.  However, I bet he will tell you that he is held to the same accountability level as anyone else.  In fact, I expect more out of him, than most.
  3. HORRIBLE LISTENER blah, blah, blah…….  This leader doesn’t care what you have to say.  They are only concerned with what’s coming out of his mouth.  Their EGO gets in the way.  Hey man, you were given 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.  You need to listen twice as much as you talk.  Give people a chance to say something.  Who knows, what they have to say might solve the problem.
  4. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? -Poor communicators can reduce and harm aculture and frustrate employees quickly. Many employees complain about the lack of communication from leadership.  What are my expectations, Fotosearch_k10378786How is the company performing?, Will there be raises or bonuses this year?  As I coach leaders, I encourage them to have weekly or monthly communication meetings.  This is a time where all they do is communicate key information and allow employees an opportunity to ask questions.
  5. DON’T TEXT ME -Technology is great, but technology has created a diminishing environment of face to face communication.  How many times have you received a text or email and interrupted it as negative?  Texting and emails are very difficult to communicate a tone.  A face to face visit is the best way to properly communicate.  I can see your facial expressions and body language and I can react or change my tone or words to ensure effective communication.  If you can’t meet face to face, call them, and don’t leave a voice mail to cover your items.
  6. REALLY?Hear’s a thought……Get both sides of the story before you make a decision.  One of the most frustrating things for employees is when a leader makes decisions based on a one sided conversation.  One of the traits of a leader is to be open and accessible.
    However, that doesn’t mean you base your decisions on the conversations of one individual.  I found many times, my accessibility and openness has allowed individuals to voice their displeasure with a supervisor, rule or practice only to find out in my follow-up conversation the individual was disciplined or held accountable for failure to comply with or follow directions, etc.
  7. THAT WILL NEVER WORKBeing cynical is not a trait of a leader.  In fact, it is totally opposite.  I think cynical leaders feel threatened. They must discount or even put down a person’s ideas because they feel as if they are not a leader if they don’t have Fotosearch_k5253244the answer.  Cynical leaders say; “No, that’s not going to work” or, “I don’t know why we are doing this; this is stupid.”  Look, if something is stupid, then the leader needs to fix it.  If something is not worth doing or is going to create major problems, it’s your responsibility to facilitate other ideas.  Regardless, you must thank and encourage those who offer ideas and opinions, not BELITTLE them!
  8. THAT’S DISGUSTING! Just because you can say it, doesn’t make it right.  Foul language is wrong and unprofessional.   For some reason, leaders feel they have the right to use foul language and tell questionable stories in front of their staff or employees.  I recently had a leader use very disgusting language in reference to a football game. It stunned the group.  No one knew how to react.  I have had several occasions where leaders would use foul language in an email or text.  Regardless of the communication, it is WRONG!  Some have told me, “you have to talk in the language of the industry”. What?  Come on man!!  If that is the case, then we need to clean up the industry!  It doesn’t matter if you are playing, it is your normal language or if you are angry, foul language is wrong, no matter what!  Whether it’s anger, disgust or this is how you talk to your friends, you can’t bring it to the office.
    I can tell if a person has leadership qualities by the way they talk to others.
  9. YOU CROSSED THE LINE!Leaders who compromise their integrity for business or profits are FOOLS!   A lack of integrity from leaders doesn’t just annoy employees, it appalls them. In fact, when a leader shows a lack of integrity, employees become de-motivated.  When a boss breaks or fudges the rules, cheats, lies or indulges in behaviors that reveal a lack of moral principles, he loses respect. images7-220x147 respect, you can’t influence.  If you can’t influence, you can’t lead.  In addition, when a leader lacks integrity, he gives employees permission to do the same.  I’ve seen leaders compromise their integrity and moral values to be validated by others.  I have personally seen this take place and the destruction it causes.  A true leader will never comprise their moral integrity for validations.

Being a leader is about doing the right thing and leading by example. You simply cannot have one standard for yourself and one for everyone else. Treat people the way you would want to be treated.

If some of these sound familiar, then do something to correct them immediately.  The longer you continue the easier it is to continue.