Five Ways to Raise Your Value in the Workplace

Five Ways to Raise Your Value in the Workplace

  1. Know what is expected of you – Find out what is required to be great at what you do, know what your benchmark of excellence is according to your employer or clients, then study it and adopt it as your own. Own it!
    • Have an uncompromising target – Don’t redefine excellence according to you or others if it gets too hard.
    • Don’t compare yourself with others. Keep your eye on the target.
    • Have an accurate target – If you don’t know exactly what is expected of you, find out.
    • Have a worthy target – Find out what the best in the industry do, and then do what they do. Be the best at what you do.
  1. Personal Growth – Grow yourself daily. People are willing to pay you more now, if they know you will be worth more down the road.
    • Be teachable and ask lots of questions. Learn from the experts and allow others to add value to you.
    • Accept and ask for constructive criticism. Don’t be easily offended and proud. Pride subtracts from your value.
    • Make yourself great, don’t just reach the goal. Become a person who naturally does the goal.
    • Learn how things work – Seek first to understand then to be understood. Listen more and speak less.
    • Take responsibility – Make no excuses and blame no one else for your difficulties.
    • Fail often – Own your failure, learn from them, and grow faster.
  1. Alignment – If you wish to be more valuable, make sure that your values line up with the values of the organization. If they don’t, find somewhere that does.
    • Represent the organization with integrity and class at all times.
    • Protect the brand and reputation of the organization.
    • Take pride in your organization and be part of something bigger than you.
    • Work toward interdependance and synergy. Not independance and individualism.
    • Don’t out think your superiors, trust the system and commit to the them. If it’s a bad system, you are in the wrong place.
  1. Results – Finish the job, reach the finish line and excel past expectations.
    • If you proclaim what you are capable of, then do it. Show that you are what you say.
    • Commit yourself to the desired outcomes. No one completes a task without a commitment.
    • Don’t try harder – Reject the “Try Harder” approach. It implies that effort is more important than outcomes.
    • Less is not more – Don’t show you can do what you are getting paid to do. Show you can do more than what you are getting paid to do. By doing so you may get even more to do and paid even more to do it.
  1. Leadership – Leading your self is most important. But if you have the ability to influence others, you will multiply your value by infusing your abilities into others.
    • Leadership raises the value of everyone around them, thus raising your value.
    • Leadership is influence and has exponential growth. It multiplies your efforts rather than just adding to them.
    • Leadership is much harder to find, thus putting you in higher demand to others.
    • Leadership brings solutions to a world of problems, and order to a world of chaos.
    • Leadership raises the lid of your potential, and gives you financial leverage.

How Rockstar Restaurant Leaders Build a Rockstar Staff

 

If you have spent more than 20 minutes in the service industry, you realize how important it is to have quality people on your staff.  People are the building block of all businesses.  Nothing is more important.

  • Every food order gets made by a person,
  • Every customer has their order brought to them by a person.
  • Every business decision is made by a person.
  • All problems are caused by people and solved by people.
  • Nothing happens in a restaurant that isn’t affected positively or negatively by efforts of people.

Of all the responsibilities Restaurant Leader have placed on our shoulders, none are more important than the ability to recruit, hire and retain quality people. So why do so few restaurant leaders do it well?

I am a firm believer in the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 principle. This principle basically says:

  • 20% of our efforts lead to 80% of our results.
  • 20% of your people are responsible for 80% of your production.
  • 20% of the people make 80% of the decisions.
  • 80% of the money is owned by 20% of the people.
  • 80% of our problems are caused by 20% of our habits.

I have seen this principle played in the service industry over and over again.  The top 20% of restaurant leaders employ the top 80% of the most qualified employees.  The bottom 80% of restaurant leaders are left with what is left over (the bottom 20%).

If you take all of the restaurant leaders in your city or metro area and you could somehow objectively measure their effectiveness as leaders, you could distinguish the top 20% and the bottom 80%. The 80/20 principle would suggest there would be a significant different between how the average top 20% leader, operates verses the average of the bottom 80%.

I will call the top 20% Rockstar Restaurant Leaders (because that is what they are).  The bottom 80% I will call Mediocre Managers (because that is what they are willing to settle for).

The problem? 

Mediocre Managers generally have one thing in common.  They manage according to what feels natural.  It really is that simple. Mediocre Managers typically do as little as they have to, instead of doing as much as they can. It is the popular mindset of our current culture of managers in the service industry. And this is exactly what provides the top 20% of the leaders a distinct advantage.

Here are 3 Ways Rockstar Restaurant Leaders build their kingdom with Rockstar Employees.

  1. Rockstar Restaurant Leaders have a Winning Mind-set.

Mediocre Managers will adopt a scarcity mindset when it comes to staffing their store.  They believe that all of the available prospects are poor candidates and that all the good people are spoken for.  In their case, they may be right.  They may have created this environment.  They are discouraged by people failing to show up for interviews or show up on their second day of work.  They believe that the results they are getting with recruiting people are not worth the time they are required to put in.  Many of these people because of this mindset, find it very difficult to let go of underperforming employees because there is no one to replace them with.  So, they think.

Rockstar Restaurant Leaders have an abundance mindset. They fully understand that the quality of their staff is 100% up to them.  They believe there are plenty of great candidates out there, they just need to go get them. They are intentional about creating a margin of time and resources to maximize their recruiting efforts. They fully understand that nothing is more important.

Mediocre Mangers will blame the job market and lose hope. They will wait with skepticism for quality employees to walk through their door leaving the future of their staff up to chance.  They are a victim of their circumstances and play that role well.  Being short staffed is their default expectation sealing their destiny.

“Once there were 3 bricklayers. Each one of them was asked what they were doing. The first man answered gruffly, ‘I’m laying bricks.’ The second man replied, ‘I’m putting up a wall.’ But the third man said enthusiastically and with pride, ‘I’m building a cathedral.'” –Author Unknown

In her mind a Rockstar Restaurant Leader is building a cathedral!  Don’t settle for being a bricklayer.

  1. Rockstar Restaurant Leaders are Magnets.

They are the glue that holds everything together.  People love to work for them because they are honest, hardworking people who care about their team, and care about getting results.  They are visionaries that understand how to cast a vision that motivates their people to become the best they can be.  They are not dependent on anyone, yet they don’t work independent of the organization, rather they understand the importance of inter-dependence.

RRL’s are people of character.  People want to work for them because they operate by a set of principles that everyone values but few can communicate.  They understand that the only way for them to be successful is by helping everyone on the team be successful.

“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Zigler

If you want to have the best staff, you have to be the best leader. We are competing for the best people. Sometimes you don’t even have to be the greatest leader to have an excellent staff, you just need to be a step above all the underperforming managers out there. There lies our opportunity. The Mediocre Managers have set the bar pretty low.  We just need to decide to rise above the level of mediocrity.

Most people believe that our current job market is the hardest environment for staffing in decades. That’s only because they want to reap what they have not sown.  I believe we have the best opportunity to create a Rockstar staff than ever before.  We just need to be a better leader, provide a better place for the better people to go.

I have mentioned the following to several people over the years, and sometimes it has not been received well.  I suspect that believing it makes it difficult to blame external circumstances.

There are people out there that are great at staffing a team. Wherever they go they always attract the better people and tend to retain better people.   No matter the local job trends, unemployment rate or demographics, these leaders will get their staff established in a relatively short amount of time. Wherever they go they leave a wake of superior teams.  They are Rockstar Restaurant Leaders and they create their own opportunities.

  1. Rockstar Restaurant Leaders find the RIGHT people and remove the WRONG people.

The wrong employees take up space that otherwise should be occupied by the right employees.  Mediocre Managers goal is to find enough employees to fill the schedule and try not to lose them.  They don’t like to recruit so they put off recruiting until they fall behind.

The eagles get tired of working with turkeys and fly the coop. The result is they are always running behind playing catch up surrounded by turkeys they can’t fire.  In our company we call this backwards leverage.

There is a lie out there in the service industry that suggests that turnover is BAD!  I say turning over eagles is BAD! however turning over turkeys is GOOD!   Learn to embrace the eagles by intentionally turning over the bottom 25% of your crew (the turkeys).  Those that master this will create the space required to build a Rockstar Staff. Eagles will flock to an environment like this.

The RRL does not compromise on finding quality people.  The eagles appreciate the high standards and the turkeys don’t fit in.  One by one the RRL begins to build their team one eagle at a time, building a core group that stands out above the crowd.

If you need help becoming a Rockstar Restaurant Leader or developing them, please contact me.

 

Six Things Rockstar Restaurant Leaders DON’T Do

RockstarRockstar Restaurant Leaders are the men and women that make the restaurant industry go around.  These are the leaders that people run through walls for.  They have a certain ability to get things done when others fall behind.  When a Rockstar Restaurant Leader is in the house, everyone knows their Captain is running the ship, and everything is all good.

These extraordinary people come in all different sizes and shapes. They very in personality types and skillsets.  They have many different styles and temperaments, and sometimes seem to have little in common apart from their effectiveness.

I have discovered that Rockstar Restaurant Leaders have several things in common that they DON’T do.

1. The don’t waste their time indulging in self-pity.  They have far too many more important things to do to waste any time feeling sorry for themselves.  They are focused on a bigger picture than simply their felt needs.

Self-pity is the ultimate time waster.  People who are easily offended or need others to affirm them, have a hard time directing their focus away from themselves.  When you are always looking inward, you can’t see the big picture or the goal at the end of the road.

2. They don’t make excuses for their mistakes or shortcomings. You may have heard the saying “If you want to keep your excuses from making you useless, stop making useless excuses.”

Blamelessness is a value that too many people feel emotionally driven to uphold.  They believe people will look down on them and “Judge” them if, God forbid, they have to admit a mistake in front of people.

Unfortunately many people believe that their identity is tied to their mistakes or failures.  When people fail, they believe they ARE a failure.  Rockstars.. well, they seek out opportunities to fail.  That’s how they learn to tackle problems, seek out solutions and make people better.

Failure is their building block to problem solving.  Rock Star Restaurant Leaders are great problem solvers.

3. They don’t go into their adventures any less than fully committed.  You will never accomplish anything to a greater level than you are committed to.  Our commitments define and raise our ceiling.  When we are working on moving up the chain of command, we don’t necessarily need to commit long term to our position or even the company we work for.  But we do need to be fully committed to the position we have and the responsibilities placed before us.  We need to be fully committed to give your best efforts and attention to adding value to the people around you.

Too many people fail to commit to anything.  Afterall, why should we do more than we are getting paid to do?  SO PEOPLE WILL SEE US AS VALUABLE.  Our value comes from the amount of value we add to our employer, to our customers and to our team that we work with.  That is our one job.  Make things better for everyone around you.  We need to get to the other side!  You can’t do that with one ore in the water.

4. They don’t stay the same. Rockstar Restaurant Leaders are hungry.  They are driven to constantly be working on improving their skills, their attitude and their ability to influence their team.

RRL’s are not really motivated by incentive plans and bonuses.  They appreciate them, but they are more driven by a dream of becoming great at what they do. Not just a Rock Star, but a Super Hero Rockstar. They have a vision of what they will become and they visit that image in their head every day.  It is what makes them lose sleep at night thinking about it.  They have the ability to look past the everyday obstacles and keep their focus on the road ahead.

If you want to have something you don’t have, you have to do something you have never done.  Your future depends 100% on what you do to make yourself a greater person.

5. They don’t take shortcuts or take the easy way out when others aren’t looking.  They understand what it means to be exceptional.  Exceptional people don’t blend in.  The go to great lengths to stand out from the crowd.  They understand that the crowd is just fine with mediocre and that creates a clear path to getting ahead.  Sometimes it’s not how great we are, it’s about what we refuse to settle for.

RRL’s do not operate independently.  They are not attracted to chaos or rebelliousness that come with a free spirit.  They have long graduated from their dependent, and independent phase of life and embrace the need for interdependence.  They are fully accountable for all of their actions and enjoy the freedom that accompanies transparency.  They draw near to other people seeking excellence.  As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

6. They don’t feel that anyone owes them anything. They do not have a sense of entitlement.  Our current situation in life is the sum total of all of the decisions we have made to this point. We are not limited by our circumstances. Whatever we accomplish, we have to earn.  No one is going to give it to us.

Many people are more focused on what they have coming to them, affirmation, a raise, promotion or to be recognized for the greatness they are.  Being labeled and rewarded as a Rockstar is more important to some people than becoming a Rockstar.

A True Rockstar finds comfort knowing that they are worth more than they are being paid at the present time.  They don’t mind because they fully understand that their future wage is 100% dependent on them, not their circumstances.  They enjoy having the job security of knowing how valuable they are to the team and their employer.  An overpaid employee, as good as they may be is still OVER paid.  They have negative value.  This means the company would be better off if they didn’t have them, hence the term over paid.

As a RRL continues to stretch the margin of their value. They create space for potential financial gain by polishing themselves as a coveted gem. A person who over achieves will always have people knocking on their door to offer them more responsibility that leads to more money.  Creating a margin of value creates options for your future. Go get yourself some options!

What is it that you need to NOT do?

What Are You Projecting To Your Team?

Diane Cooper says “You do not know how anyone feels or is. Everything you see in another is a projection of an aspect of yourself”.

This is a great description of The Law of Projection.

The Law of Projections says that our external world-view is an extension or a projection of the beliefs you have internally about yourself and your experiences.

Simply put, honest people believe that most others are honest as well.  This doesn’t mean that they believe that absolutely all people are honest, rather they believe it until it is proven otherwise.  They may need to adjust for a dishonest individual, then they will move forward giving others the benefit of the doubt.

“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Mat 12:34

Likewise, if you are generally dishonest with yourself and don’t trust your own judgment, you will believe you can’t trust others or trust their judgment. Untrustworthy people don’t trust others. It may take quite a bit to learn to trust another person, and when you do, the chances are you will continue distrusting most others and treat the honest person as the exception.

Thieves tend to believe that most everyone steals. People that lie believe everyone lies. People who aren’t responsible for themselves believe everyone else is irresponsible. This is how we can know how someone see’s themselves.

“…every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”  Mat 7:17

I have learned over the years how this plays out in the workplace.  People can’t help but to project their internal perspective onto peers, subordinates, and customers. Good or bad.  A person with a low self-image and doesn’t like who they are, will find it challenging to refrain from being critical of others. Low confidence in yourself will lead to having little confidence in others.  A person with a healthy self-image will find it natural to believe the best in others and treat them as such.

Much of the time we don’t even know that how we perceive others is how we perceive  ourselves.  We judge the motives of another and it makes us angry.  Well, how could we feel angry unless we have a similar personal experience to relate to?

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”  Mat 7:3

When we are distrusting and skeptical of others, we believe we are that way for a good reason.  We believe we are justified for such view because of our experience of being let down by others.  We react to our own personal experience.  We may believe our cautious ways are a product of wise thinking, however it may be something more cynical going on in our minds.

“If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all” – Every Mother ever

Do you have anything good to say?

So how do we know if our thoughts are accurate interpretations of our circumstance, or just a faulty projection from our own sinful mind?  How do we know that our fears we project aren’t just a product of self-preservation?  How do we know when our thoughts are separate from reality(poor self-awareness)?

These are tough questions, however here are a few questions to consider;

  • Does it line up with reality as you normally see it?
  • Does it line up with not only in your own experiences, but also with everyone else’s experiences?
  • Does this thought truly serve your long term wellbeing?
  • Does it line up with your values, and vision for the future?
  • Does it serve others? Is it giving you a sense of significance?

Of course, we cannot know what everyone else has experienced, but we can open up our own mind to seek out a broader base of input that expands beyond our own realm of consciousness awareness.

If you want to know what message you are projecting, just ask others. Ask then to help you see what others see when they look at you. Give them permission so you will receive it well. Open yourself up to a new perspective on life that takes you out of your skull and into a more introspective view on the world and other people.

When preparing to write this blog, I sat down and wrote out the different things that set me off about other people.  Then I asked myself if these attributes I dislike in others I find in myself.  The answer was an eye opening experience for me.  I was aware of this to some degree, but had not realized that these were entirely applicable in one way or another to how I view myself.

The best leaders I have ever met are people who have first addressed the mess in their own head so they can have an honest and inspiring message to project to others.  It all starts with the content on the movie projector and not with the image on the silver screen.

People need a reason to believe better about themselves.  Sometimes they have some pretty dark blinders on and a thick wall established to protect them. People become very comfortable with others being to blame for where they are in life.  It is easier than taking responsibility.  People with a dim perspective naturally project a dim perspective on others, not really knowing the diminishing effect it has on the culture.

black-and-white-building-dark-722664Great leaders shine their light brightly onto others bringing a hopeful spirit to an environment in desperate need of good news, encouragement and direction.  The power of a person with a great message is inspirational and transforms the people around them.  People will follow a person with a better message than the one they own.  It may not come automatically.  They may have some obstacles to overcome, but they are paying attention.  I promise!

Don’t be the reason your team members stay stuck.  Be the light that pulls them out of darkness!

Chaos Addiction in the Workplace

I know this may come as a surprise, but believe it or not, some people just don’t like to be told what to do. Some find comfort in following the rules. Others, for whatever reason, find it a challenge. This is the mystery that every manager (and parent) has been trying to unlock since the dawn of mankind.

As a young manager years ago I had a misguided opinion of why people would discard systems and processes in the workplace.  It can be frustrating when others don’t share your same desires when you are trying to accomplish something as a team.  The systems and processes that are important to you don’t seem to be a top priority to your some team members.  It is easy for an unseasoned leader to take this personally and point the finger at a person’s character.  Why don’t they value what you value?  Why are they so stinkin’ stubborn? Do they realize their success depends on doing things “right”?  It is easy to assume that this careless rulebreaker is taking a personal stand against me and what I value. Maybe that’s not all together true.

Approaching people from this cynical perspective can have minimal or an adverse effect. Directly calling out the perpetrator on their non-conformity can cause them to hide these behaviors from the authority.  Rule breakers learn when it’s worth following the rules and when they can get away with out.  “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.”

Another Perspective

Over the years, my understanding to why some people struggle with systems and processes has grown. My thoughts in this blog come more from leading people who struggle in this area over the last 25 years, and less from any medical or psychological expertise.  Reading and learning from experts help me gain a clearer understanding of why people behave the way they do in the workplace.

It is easy to label a person as rebellious, stubborn or even careless.  I have discovered that there may be other reasons for their lack of compliance.  I believe that “Chaos Addiction” is a real thing.  A related but slightly different version of this I call “Order Averse Tendencies”.  Here is what I have experienced.

Chaos Addiction

Chaos Addiction is when a person is more comfortable when they can rely on experiencing the predictability of the unpredictable. They have adjusted their worldview to survive in a constantly changing, unpredictable environment.

Chaos Addiction can happen when a person develops their mindset amidst a chaotic environment. When order is not present, the child or adult can feel like they have limited control. When boundaries are absent from a culture or family environment, a young person learns to adjust to survive. Sometimes in the form of disorders, hence the name “Dis-order”, or the absence of order.  There is actually a physical change in development in a young brain that causes it to form differently to adjust to the chaos.

Order Averse Tendencies

When a person struggles with “Order Averse Tendencies”, they may have come from the opposite environment.  When a child or young person grows up under strict rules or a controlled environment they may not have the opportunity to learn to be responsible for their own actions. When they have little choice or control, it is difficult to develop self-imposed boundaries or a strong sense of self-control.

When kids grows up and graduate to a place of needing to make important choices on their own, under developed discernment skills lead them to indulge in their new freedom.  To them, the rules they grew up with kept them in bondage. They enjoy their new found freedom and for the first time in their lives they don’t have to do anything they don’t want.  Think of the average freshman dorm room.

Another and possibly more common cause for “Order Averse Tendencies” is ADHD.  A person who struggles with staying focused can also find it difficult to keep their attention on following a prescribed protocol.  Focus issues and Control issues can have a similar appearance in the workplace to the untrained eye.

It Hits Home

My wife and I have been foster parents for several years and we have had interactions with therapists that have helped us to understand this better.  When children have experienced trauma in the home, then move to an environment of peace and order, they often react the only way they know. They try to recreate what they have become comfortable with.  When they cause disruption and rebel against instruction they often are merely behaving the way they have been trained.  This was a surprise to us.  This understanding helped us form a more knowledgeable and responsible approach towards chaotic behavior.  This was especially difficult for me, having a bent toward kids needing to learn personal responsibility.

Grown-ups too

I have discovered that when adults find it hard to follow systems and rebel against authority, they too may be reacting the only way they know how.  It may not be that they won’t follow directions, rather that they can’t.

Imagine a person who has an extreme fear of heights.  You place a $100 bill at the top of a 12 foot ladder, they get three steps up and completely freeze up.  They are motivated to keep going, but they simply can’t.  Something in their subconscious kicks in and convinces them of something that is not true, and they freeze. Their perceived threat of altitude is blown out of proportion in their mind causing an emotional reaction of fear.

I believe that the same thing can happen to people who have never seen or experienced the freedom and fruits of following a system or operating within the rules.  Many people believe that rules and systems are in place to take your freedoms away.  They are there to control you and take control away from you.

The truth is, only within the confines of following the rules and doing things the prescribed way, can you truly experience freedom and personal control. You have to use the right tools to get the right results. This is a paradox that can be difficult for some people to come to understand.

Example: When you don’t drive over the speed limit, you don’t get a ticket.  When you exercise your freedom to drive as fast as you want, your freedom is removed by a judge.

Addressing the Problem

So as leaders, how do we approach people with Order Averse Tendencies or Chaos Addiction?

  • We could continue pleading our case with them hoping they will change.
  • We could get tough with them and put the hammer down and make them do it our way.
  • We could give them heavy incentives to bribe them into following the rules.
  • We could simply move them out of the company.

Unfortunately the last option sometimes ends up being the only method that will protect your customers, your company and co-workers from the erosion that comes from having a cog in the wheel.

Another Approach

I believe that people matter, and as leaders we have a responsibility to try to help people move past their obstacles within our capacity.  We also need to understand our own personal limitations. It is important to recognize when it is time to recommend them getting assistance from a person more appropriately trained.

Moving people past a Chaos Addiction doesn’t necessarily have a high success rate for a complete turn around, but a person can develop better self-awareness and self-management techniques to stay ahead of it the best they can. Here are some suggestions on how to coach a person struggling in this area:

  • Trust – The first step is to make a connection with them. Any leader will have little to no effect if they do not gain trust and respect of the employee.  You absolutely need to earn the right to be heard. If you don’t care, they will know.  If this is the case, the problem is with you more than with them.  Get yourself fixed first.
  • Self-awareness – Many people who struggle with Chaos Addiction don’t even realize it. Many just believe they are broken and can’t be fixed.  Others believe that everyone else is broken. By asking them pointed questions, you may be able to help them see a more clear and objective perspective.  You need to help them to remove their blind spots with gentleness and respect.

Asking the following line of questioning can be a non-threatening way to help someone see the relationship between their thoughts and results.

– “When you are asked to comply to a set of instructions, how does that make you feel?” Why?

– Ask them to describe to you how their approach toward systems and rules have affected them in previous jobs/life. This is the “How’s that going for ya’?” question. Are there any patterns that you can help point out to them?  Do they keep repeating a cycle?

– Ask about tasks that they have accomplished that required following specific instructions. How did that effect the results? Are they able to repeat those results in other areas? Why/Why not?

– Ask them how you can best help them. Sometimes they know best and a great question can draw it out of them.

  • Vision – Help paint a picture of the one common factor in all highly successful people and organizations. They find out how things work, then they adjust themselves to those unchangeable principles.  Staying within the boundaries of how things really work is the only way to make things work. Any other way ends in chasing the wind.
  • Guardrails – Help them determine for themselves what guardrails they need to put in place for themselves in order to be able to self-manage their way through this maze. These are boundaries they have to own and be responsible for.  The idea is that when a person owns their own boundary, they aren’t being controlled by others, rather they are self-directed.
  • Commitment – All self-directed activity is anchored through commitment. Any notion of successful self-guidance without being fully committed is a fantasy. If you leave a way out, you will take it when things get hard.
  • Accountability – Talk through the need for accountability to help them with their guardrails. Create written SMART goals, and make sure they line up with their vision. Follow-up is one of the most crucial factors in helping someone change a lifelong habit. If they cannot come to a place of committing to accountability, they may never get past it.

As the leader of people we need to fully commit to helping individuals become their best self.  Trying to balance between the needs of the individual and the health of the organization is very tricky and can be stressful.  As a steward of a business we need to maintain a healthy approach to keeping the health of the organization and the needs of the many, a priority over any individual.

A rule of thumb; When you allow a struggling person to continue being a part of a team, you have a limited time before the problem begins to overflow onto the rest of the team.  You have to navigate with assertiveness and within the confines of a time limit.  If you are not able to make the appropriate progress within the prescribed time, you need to have the discipline to make a move for the health of the organization.  This is one of the hardest responsibilities of a leader.

I would love to walk with you through your journey!

The Dangers of Following the Crowd

Most of us have heard our parents say “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, does that mean that you would too?” My answer was, “Well if the bridge is narrow and there was a speeding car coming at us, then yes!”.

The truth is that there are times when following the crowd can be safe, secure and justified. Following the crowd can also give us a false sense of security. It can make us numb to the dangers that may be down the road. We have this delusion that the masses can’t be all wrong, and even if they are, at least I will be in the company of others like me.

Billy Joel wrote “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun. You know that only the good die young.”

As we look back over the history of life on this planet, we see many patterns of individuals following the crowd. We see this in every war, every election and every cultural trend. It happens in the media, in the supermarkets and in every religion in the world. Sometimes crowds don’t even need a leader to take them there. In unison we take the route of least resistance, whatever feels good at the time or meets an immediate need. Billy Joel gave us a classic example of the blind leading the blind.

There is a branch of social psychology that studies crowd behavior. They look at the behavior of both individual members of the crowd, as well as the crowd as a whole. They have discovered a correlation between crowd behavior and responsibility of the individuals.

Individuals that take full responsibility are much more likely to move away from the crowd. They choose their own results independent of popular opinion. Those who avoid responsibility find comfort and stimulation from groups of likeminded people. Social acceptance makes it easier to justify their thoughts or behavior. Confirmation bias fuels the illusion and perpetuates the feelings that encourage their position. It’s is not hard to influence someone to do what their nature already wants to do.

The emotions of a crowd headed down a path that aligns with their desires can be appealing. These feelings can grow as the group grows, leading to a movement. This is where the danger of following the crowd begins

Every destructive influence has a touch of appeal that tantalizes our senses. It is just enough to get us interested. Every world religion, political view or philosophy of life can tempt our allegiance. It can be difficult to identify where we fail to line up with reality. It’s amazing how individuals can feel so strongly about popular ideas they know little about.

There is a basic human need to align ourselves with the crowd. We all have the need for acceptance and to find significance in what we do. We have a desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. The problem is we can tend to be short sighted and seek to have these needs met at the cost of a much bigger picture. We all do this to some extent. Some people are people pleasers seeking affirmation. Some are black and white thinkers in need of certainty. Others are running away from responsibility looking for relief. Either way we find comfort in numbers.

There is a great quote from my favorite book.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Mat 7:13-14

Travelling the “broad road” is quite easy to do. It is by far the most popular route. It assures you of your freedom to be in control of your own destination and requires no commitment. It give the appearance of a much easier route than the option of the narrow gate. There is no sign at the beginning of the road that says “Road to Destruction”. If there were, it would lose some of its appeal. “Broad Road” is much more soothing to the eye and non-offensive.

On the “broad road”, there is no disclaimer, only the promise of not being alone or accountable. There is no promise of any specific destination, nor is there even a map to how you may get there.

Lewis Carroll summed this up well in Alice in Wonderland:

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice: I don’t much care where.

The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.

Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.

The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

So why do only a few find their way through the narrow gate? …I would say it is because so few are even looking for it. The majority of people are not looking, or willing to take the road less traveled that leads to a full life. Some believe they are taking the narrow gate, only to find out they have been on the same broad path as everyone else. Taking the narrow gate has an immediate admission price that most are not willing to pay.

If you want to know where your path is taking you, just take an honest look at where you have been, and where you are now. If the trajectory doesn’t seem to be travelling in a favorable direction, you may be on the “broad road”.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu

If you want to know what path you are on, just look around you. Are you surrounded by people that lift you up and contribute to your well-being? Do you find significance in your hard work and feel great about your impact on others around you? If so, you are likely on the narrow path or at least headed that direction.

You are the sum total of the people that you are closest to. If your assessment of your inner circle doesn’t pass the sniff test. You may need to change to a new path that includes others who are experiencing life to its fullest. The good news is that there are many, you only need to join their path.

If you think your current life is a result of exterior circumstances out of your control or bad luck, you are on the “broad path”. This is the signature belief of the broad-pathalogians. If you don’t know how you ended up on this path, don’t blame the path or crowd. You went along with them. Even if you stayed on your default path, you could have chosen a different one. Others can choose a different path for you, but they can’t make you take it.

You always have a choice, and that choice is 100% your responsibility to make. No one will ever grab you, kicking and screaming, and force you to enter through the narrow gate. We all get to freely choose our own path. Choose wisely.

If you are struggling with your direction personally or professionally, please contact me. I would love to have a cup of coffee with you.

How Are You Branding Yourself?

You are branded, whether you know it or not.  We all are.  Every, company, team and every individual.

When you think of branding, you probably think of marketing or advertising.  Branding is all around us. TV, radio, websites, social media, signs and billboards and even on our clothing.  The idea behind commercial branding is to make an impression on you that will be remembered. It will prompt you to take action to enter into a positive transaction. We try to distinguish our service or product, as having a greater benefit than other options.

Branding increases our opportunities. The reason branding is so effective is because it allows the consumer to take a peek behind the mask.  It helps them see what we are all about.  Consumers want to know what we stand for and what our mission is. Why should they trust us, and most of all, what you are going to do for them.
Branding can be used in many ways.  Branding is used as an agent of influence.  It helps the world see our “best” side, hoping to keep our “work in progress” side non-visible.  It can also be used to connect with people through transparency and authenticity.  Regardless of the branding motives, the consumers will always determine effectiveness.  They will always have the last say.

Think about successful companies like McDonalds, Chick filA, Apple, Disney and Toyota.  They generally have great credibility in the eyes of consumers.  People are fanatics because of how these brands make them feel. How they make their world just a little better.  It is an experience, not just a product.
Not all branding ends up as initially planned.   When you hear the name Enron, you remember the scandal that took the whole company down along with many associated business’s. How about “New Coke”?  Back in 1985 they thought they were on to something great only to find out their consumers wanted the “Old Coke” back.  They had some damage control to do.  I am sure Pepsi got a chuckle.

In one way branding is sharing “who you are”, or at least who you wish for them to think you are.  Who you are will largely determine whether they wish to continue with you.  This is true with companies, products, services and even individuals.  We like to think that what we brand is exactly what others will perceive.  What ever people perceive defines your brand.

Over the past year or so I have been hearing more and more about “personal branding”.  This is not a new concept, but it has been popping up more and more lately.  There must be something more to it.  Personal branding is much like any other branding. It is intentionally building credibility in the eyes of others. Personal branding can increase your opportunities if done effectively.

Those who are not on the front line of marketing or sales, you too are branding yourself, whether you know it or not.  Someone may ask “But I am a restaurant manager, how am I branding myself?”  Your customers, employees, and your supervisors are continually evaluating “who you are”.  They determine what you represent by what they see in you. This is how we as humans determine level of trust.  We do it subconsciously, without even knowing we are doing it.  It’s not only what you say about yourself, but your actions and behaviors.  You won’t always behave according to what you say, but you will always behave according to who you truly are.

This brings me to the heart of personal branding.  Some would say that your actions will determine “who you are”.  I say “who you are” will determine your actions.  When you do things or behave in ways that are generally not in line with who you really are, you may find yourself running out of mojo, and reverting back to who you really are.  This is the reason you don’t generally see the real person is on the first date.  In most every case, given time, who they really are comes out. This hold true with new employees and new leaders on the scene.  There is such an emphasis on first impressions (and they are important), but not enough emphasis on continued impressions.

We can’t fake it for long. An honest person doesn’t need to remember what they told people.  A caring person doesn’t need to pretend to care. And a person with emotional intelligence doesn’t need to hold their anger in.  When “who you are” stands out above others as excellence, others will go out of their way to be part of what you are doing. When “who you are”, regardless of what you say stands out negatively, others will go out of their way to avoid you.  Who I am will determine my brand.
The effectiveness of any leader is determined by their personal brand. This isn’t always realized by the leader.  When a leader justifies himself by his own assessment of his work, or by his intentions or desires, he misses out on one of the most important resources he has. The truth as seen by others. We love to hear others tell us how much they like our brand, but when it comes to a hard honest evaluation, most of us too often turn a blind eye.  We don’t want to know about the bad stuff.

Protect your personal brand like it is the key to all future opportunities, BECAUSE IT IS!

Your future opportunities will depends on the impression you leave on everyone who crosses paths with you.  This is your wake that you leave behind.  You will either be a magnet that attracts others to your personal brand, or something less.  If you  don’t offer the world anything remarkable, don’t be surprised if others don’t seek out your un-remarkableness.

In your workplace, if you show stress and fail to keep your emotions in check, you are branding yourself.  If you believe you are always right, and are condescending to people, you are branding yourself.  If you show up late and take short-cuts, you are branding yourself.  If you are more concerned over results than you are people, you are branding yourself.  If you fail to take full responsibility for your actions, make excuses and blame others, you are branding yourself,  Likewise if your actions line up with values such as integrity, commitment, personal growth, transparency and kindness, you are branding yourself.

If you are struggling with your personal brand, or if others are struggling with YOUR personal brand, don’t give up.  There is hope.  You can learn to improve your brand by first beginning to change what you believe about yourself.  You can’t change what others see in you (your brand), until YOU change what you see in you.

You have the ability to brand yourself to make an impact in your workplace, your family, in your community.

If you want to make sure you are displaying a positive impression that will lead to opportunities, you’ll need to be willing to change your perspective. You may benefit from finding a person that has the skills and desire to coach you to become the brand you know you can be, and wish to display to others.

I would be glad to discuss with you the opportunity to help you change your personal brand.  You can change “Who you are”.