You Should Be Committed!

We live in a world that struggles mightily with commitment. We either fear commitment or we over commit ourselves.  The value of a commitment has depreciated greatly over the last century.

“Most people fail, not because of a lack of desire, but because of lack of commitment.”  Vince Lombardi

We live in a culture where:

  • On average less than 30% of employees continue beyond one year in the hospitality industry.
  • Our most recent retirees changed jobs an average of 11 times by the time they retired.

In light of social media, the quality of our relationships has taken a back seat to the quantity of our relationships. This is both personally and professionally. The lack of face to face interaction makes it much easier to disengage and look elsewhere to have our needs met.

We can always find another “friend” or job when things start to go sideways. Our unemployment rate is at its lowest in decades. It’s easier now to move sideways to avoid responsibility and start over than ever before. The average number of Facebook friends is 338!  Do we really have or need that many?  Is it possible to have so many friends that we experience loneliness? That seems to be what is happening.  It only takes a click to  friend, and a click to unfriend.  There is not a lot of trust required, and virtually no commitment apart from the effort of a click.

The Lateral Loop

Another trend that I see is that the number of employees that bounce to lateral positions has increased.  It’s like musical chairs for a large portion of the work force. They are searching for significance, wanderers in the universe trying to find that just right place to land. Unfortunately what we are looking for cannot be found in a job alone, nor can it be found without a level of commitment. I would estimate that around a third of the workforce in the service industry moves around from place to place without any significant growth or advancement. Are they are moving to find something, or to get away from something?

Stepping Stones

There are many very responsible reasons why people move on to other opportunities.  Starting a new career, or advancement in compensation, and opportunity for personal growth are a number of excellent reasons to terminate employment for another opportunity.  We love when people come to us with a bigger plan and use us as a stepping stone to get reach their dream destiny. Unfortunately in the hospitality industry, these are the exceptions rather than the norm.  Most turnover in the service industry has less to do with opportunity and more to do with a lack of commitment to push through current obstacles to reach another level. It’s amaizing how many people fail at the easiest jobs.

So many people are blind to the potential that is just down the road if they just stick it out, and be willing to stretch their capacity and develop their long-term credibility.  People who keep starting over never see the top of the mountain, but they work just as hard without ceasing because they have to.  They don’t get to experience the fruits of success that only comes through commitment, dedication and resolve.

No one who has accomplished anything worthwhile ever did so without first fully committing to it.

There is a greater opportunity for a person without a college or high school education to become a millionaire in the hospitality industry than any other industry in our country. I personally know many. For those who choose an alternate route than college, this should be music to your ears.  This industry is screaming out for responsible people willing to commit to learning and serving.  Opportunity isn’t the problem.

We have entered an era where lack of commitment leads to a lack of trust, and a lack of trust leads to a lack of commitment. It’s a downward spiral that will only reverse if we choose to break the cycle.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Paul J. Meyer

Stick it out!… Decide, Commit, Push Hard!…. Get there!

Are you truly committed? 

The Commitment Test;  (Be honest with yourself)

  1. Do you do as much as you can, or as little as you have to at work?
  2. Are you committed to personal growth?, or are you just living out who you already are?
  3. Are you fully committed unconditionally to your significant other, or is there a point that will justify a disconnect?
  4. Do you have 2-3 people in your life that you trust and can be 100% transparent with?
  5. Are you easily distracted by entertainment that keeps you from progressing?
  6. Do you go out of your way to find comfort and security?
  7. Do you struggle to finish what you start?
  8. Do you have several wasted days each month that you simply exist without cause?
  9. Do you have trouble saying “No” to good opportunities or people?
  10. Do you have trouble saying “Yes” to good opportunities or people?

If you have answered yes to more than a couple of these, you likely struggle with commitment.

If you wish to change that, here is a good start.

  • Decide what you want. Remove all other options and excuses from your brain.
  • Make one decision TODAY to commit 100% to something that what will move you closer. Write it down.
  • Tell someone about it and give them permission to hold you accountable to it.  Hint, don’t ask someone that is not committed to you.
  • Repeat tomorrow, and the next day until you feel satisfied that you have fully committed to what you want.
  • Keep an ongoing list of the commitments you need to focus on for growth, and a list of what you need to uncommit to, to make room for your new commitments. Hint, you cannot commit to one thing without uncommitting to another.
  • Now, stand by your commitments, and teach others…

I would love to hear your feedback.

 

 

It’s Not My Stinking Fault!

The Problem With Blame

Over the years I have made a few observations how leaders and managers tend to handle situations that have gone south or are going south. When problems arise, for most of us we prefer the problem be someone else’s mistake so it doesn’t reflect on us.  Some people go their entire life trying to avoid blame.

It seems to be important to clarify our innocence to avoid any negative perceptions about us. Once the blame has conveniently been assigned to someone else, we breathe a sigh of relief.

Man Wearing A Suit Jacket And Stripe Necktie

Sometimes we get so caught up in blame-shifting, we lose sight of perhaps the most important factor, the solution. Somehow blamelessness becomes our highest priority, or at least one of them.

“Some people’s blameless lives are to blame for a good deal.” – Dorothy L. Sayers

We will go to great lengths to make sure blame doesn’t stick to us. Inevitably we can’t avoid blame forever. We often truly are at fault. Our employees always see our faults, even when we re-assign them. When we admit our faults, we are usually the last to know.

Sometimes the question goes from “Why can’t people do anything right?” to “Why can’t I do anything right?” We associate fault with our identity. Sometimes we internalize blame and beat ourselves up.  We believe the more blame becomes attached to our name, the less others will think of us, and the lower our self-image will be. We can become paralyzed by the fear of what others think of us. The lower our self-image is, the more it hurts to receive blame or criticism. It’s a vicious cycle that spirals downhill unless interrupted. This is not a healthy way to think and will lead every leader down a black hole of dispair.

“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”Wayne W. Dyer

If you are a person in charge, and have authority to produce results through other people, you may have learned that if something goes wrong under your care, it’s your fault. There may be some truth to this, but there is a difference between fault and responsibility. It may be entirely, or partially your fault. Either way it is your responsibility as the leader to determine the reasons the problem happened, so we can determine the solution and how to prevent it from happening next time. This is far more important that assigning blame.

I have seen people in the middle of a crisis, become fixated on proclaiming “It’s not my fault!” We see this with customer service. Instead of solving the customers issue that would require a simple apology (regardless of who is right), they make it personal and take up their need for innocence or justice. The solution gets ignored, and the problem grows.

Blame is one sided and typically leads to feelings of judgement. Blame drives people further away from taking responsibility for their actions, not closer. When blame is quickly heaped upon a person already struggling with their self-image, they move further away from taking ownership and initiative to fix the problem. Their fight or flight instincts kick in and self preservation safeguards go up. Their confidence takes a hit and they lose hope that they are capable of being part of the solution. This leads to a feeling stuck and helpless.

Ironically, some struggling managers are quick to deflect blame onto their employees thinking that somehow, they will respond differently. We pass on the disfunction because we don’t feel strong enough to stop it.

The Solution

When blame is big, responsibility is small. Responsibility is the missing ingredient that gets pushed aside for blamelessness. Responsibility takes ownership of the problem, but more importantly it takes ownership for the solution. It is positive outcome focused, rather than avoidance driven.

Great Leaders have the ability of taking the focus off the problem and redirecting it towards resolutions. They encourage ownership of solutions both corporately and individually. When people begin to take ownership of their own solutions, they begin to grow personally and the organization grows.

There is a fork in the road that all in leadeship have to face. This choice we make will determine if we take flight, or if we remain grounded by blame and doubt. Leaders in most any field inevitably must go through this doorway to get to your personal launch pad.

When you make the conscious decision to commit to being 100% responsible for your life, and let go of the need for blamelessness, you will be free from the control of blame. Those people in your past that helped form your self-perception by using blame or control, will have no authority or power over you any longer. You will be free.

Glasses Reading Glasses Spectacles Eye Wea

Once a person makes this choice, the light comes on and the blinders come off and a new refreshing outlook on their career and life begins. Those of you that have crossed this bridge understand what I am describing. Everyone has a different story for how they got to this place, but we must all get through this to find clarity.

“Once a person makes this choice, the light comes on and the blinders come off and a new refreshing outlook on their career and life begins”

This World Sucks!

We want so badly to believe that all of our problems are because of our environment.  It’s the people in our lives that let us down.  It’s my parents fault,  It’s the political environment.  It’s the younger generation. Or my favorite, “it’s McDonalds fault that I am unhealthy”.   The truth is that we are all 100% responsible for our  own view of the world.  When we stop trying to bend our worldview (or religion) around our personal justification and begin yeilding our lives around others, we will learn to appreciate what we have, and the people around us.  When you see the world as a jungle, survival at others expense becomes our goal.  When we see the world as a mission field, helping people at our expense becomes our joy.

No one else is responsible for your crappy worldview! It is 100% your responsiblity, so get over it and start doing something for others and your worldview will improve.

The day you take 100% responsibility for your life is the day you will conquer the ugly blame monster and learn to give yourself and others a little grace and learn to pass it on. It’s the Law of Exchange. Like a trapeze artist, you grab ahold of responsibility with one hand and let go of blamelessness with the other. You go from bondage to freedom with one swing.

“If you want to create the life of your dreams, then you are going to have to take 100% responsibility for your life as well. That means giving up all your excuses, all your victim stories, all the reason why you can’t and why you haven’t up until now, and all your blaming of outside circumstances. You have to give them all up forever“– Jack Canfield – Taking 100% Responsibility for Your life. (great article).

John Maxwell says “You have to give up, to go up”. When you lead by example by being 100% responsible, people take notice and navigate toward you. When you give up blame, and embrace solutions, you become a magnet for future leaders. You become a vehicle to influence and prepare your employees for the time they come to their own fork in the road.

You can’t give away what you don’t have. So go get it!

I would love to hear your story of how you got over this obstacle.

Are You Struggling at Work?

Emotional Distress in the Workplace

Have you ever found yourself stuck in your job feeling like you have come to the end of a dead-end street, or stuck on a long winding road? Have you wondered if there really is something greater around the bend that is worth striving for?  One of the most common reasons that we find ourselves feeling this way is due to emotional distress.

On an upcoming Wise Work Radio program Tom Noteboom and I will be exploring the question What Keeps People from Advancing in the Workplace?

Can you relate to any of the following symptoms of emotional distress?  If so, there is hope for you.

Symptoms of Emotional Distress

  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Depression, feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Anger, bitterness, irritability or frustration
  • Guilt, or feelings of worthlessness or failure
  • Feeling overwhelmed or lost
  • Loss of interest or energy
  • Loneliness and isolation.

When we experience physical pain in the body we naturally tend to think that something is happening to us that is un-necessary and wrong.  We don’t always see value in the experience or see what may be coming next. It is easy to become distressed about our pain, but not so easy to learn from it or appreciate its value.

Guardrails

Emotional pain is much like physical pain. It points out that something is not as it should be.  Emotional pain is like a guardrail that says, if you keep going this direction you are going to experience even greater pain.

Andy Stanley says “Guardrails protect us from what lurks on the other side. The danger zone… Personal guardrails are boundaries you establish on the safe side of damaging decisions that protect you from the danger ahead. They’re meant to set off warning bells over seemingly little things…little things that can lead to big, messy consequences.”

Bumping up against a guardrail is painful, but not as destructive as pushing beyond them.  It should be a sign that your current path needs to change to avoid greater harm. We need to establish emotional guardrails to keep our distress from leading us into more difficult situations down the road.

Distress Affects Others

If you are struggling with emotional distress in your place of work, others around you likely notice your struggles.  It can be very difficult to meet the challenges required to grow and advance in your career when you have internal obstacles that are working against you, and sometimes unknowingly against others.  It’s even harder if you don’t want to believe your struggles are indeed internal (your own doing) and not due to your circumstances, or other people holding you back.

Emotional distress increases when responsibility is avoided.   It’s your responsibility to find the solution to your distress, not your right to embrace it, or for others to be responsible for it.  Face it, Embrace it, Replace it!

So, Where is the Hope?

Mat 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Come To Me…

If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, anger or guilt you know what it means to be weary and burdened.  You may feel like there is no rest for your soul, like something is missing, buy you cannot quite put your finger on it.

Jesus challenges us to a call to action by telling us to “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…”.  He is not as interested in removing all your discomfort, as he is addressing the heart issue.  He wants to give you what is missing so you can find a lighter burden in your work.

Take My Yoke

The second challenge that Jesus calls us to in to “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…”.  Jesus isn’t saying that if you acknowledge him he will simply take away all your burdens.  He is saying if you join him on his journey, you will take on a different burden with him that will lead to restfulness.

Everyone Loves a Three-step Process…

So, what does it look like to come to Jesus and take his yoke?

Luke 9:23-24 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

Jesus address’s the solution to our emotional distress.

  1. Deny yourself – Let go of any unrealistic, self-focused plans you have for yourself.
  2. Take up your cross daily – Stop fighting the wrong battle, and join Him in the good fight.
  3. Follow Jesus – Learn from the greatest person who ever walked this earth. The one who died for you!

Emotional distress is the natural consequence when someone walks through life with intention to “save their life”.  What are you willing to lose to find it?

Get Out From Under That Bowl!

We have a problem in our country, in our world.  People don’t seem to value themselves much.  Suicide rates are up, people aren’t taking care of themselves physically, intellectually or emotionally. More and more people lack confidence and motivation to work towards significance.  So many in our culture seem to be defeated, they don’t seem to see any light or reason to even try to move forward.  They are stuck and feel helpless and hopeless with nothing real to believe in.

Is it any wonder people feel this way when they look around and see the philosophy of this world?  We live primarily in a country that the majority of people believe that there is no real lasting purpose in life.  Even people who claim to follow a belief system that includes a purpose tend to live as if there isn’t.  I meet so many people who don’t have anyone telling them otherwise. There doesn’t seem to be any light coming in the window to shine on them.

Jesus has an entirely different perspective on our value.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  Mat 5:14-16

If you are in a position of influence but failing to influence, I challenge you to Get Out From Under That Bowl!

John Maxwell says that we cannot add value to others until we add value to ourselves.  The way we treat and value others is less of how we view them and more about how we view ourselves.  If we don’t believe we have significant value, we won’t think others have significant value.  This is the Mirror Principle.

  • Honest people give others the benifit of the doubt,
  • Thieves believe everyone steals,
  • Trusting people see others as trustworthy,
  • Selfish people are always assuming the worst in others, 
  • Caring people see others as compassionate,
  • People with little confidence don’t have much confidence in others,

Cultural Influence

The truth is that our culture is lying to you.  You do have value, your potential is unlimited and open and available for you to discover.  You do have a purpose and it’s your responsibility to find out what it is.  No one can hold you back without your permission. Choice of thought is the most powerful tool you have.

If you are one who believes you hold little value… Get over yourself and do something about it!  Break your chains of bondage. People are counting on you even if you don’t realize it.  Imagine a line of people waiting to receive something of value from you that they desperately need… and you don’t show up.  From the looks of our world, it appears most are not showing up.

“A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.”

You were created in the image of God for a specific purpose.  When you find your purpose it will bring meaning and value to your heart.  When you discover your gift to the world, you will begin to love yourself and value yourself as God values you, not the way the world values you. 

“For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”  Mat 7:8

Contact me, lets chat.

So What Makes YOU so Valuable?

dollarAre you valuable to your employer?  When I ask this question, most people  would say “Yes, I am valuable to my employer”, and many would be right. Some may tend to believe they are more valuable to others than they really are, while others may not realize their true value. We all want to think we add value. But what is value?  What does that mean? All employees’ matter of course, but the question I am asking is about value, and not importance.

Over the past few decades I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of people.  I have worked with some amazing people.  They bring a great deal of value to the workplace and are major contributors to the success of the business. I am grateful for the staff and owe a debt of gratitude for all their hard work and commitment to helping us succeed.  Every business relies on these champions, and my company is no different.

Reflecting back, I have also worked with many that brought little or no value to the success of the business.  Unfortunately in today they seem to outnumber the champions.  And then there are those who take from the business … they would have a negative value. Grrrrr, don’t get me started.

There is a difference between “quality of a person” and “value of an employee”.  I have met many terrific people who contribute to the world and are wonderful people. But they brought little value to our workplace.  Some were good people just in the wrong industry. Some were trying to take on responsibilities they were not qualified to do, and others just simply were not willing to put forth the effort to add value.

Entitlement

Unfortunately there is another group of people in the world that are a bit more challenging than the groups listed above.  There are those who are emotionally broken and find it very difficult to see the world through any other lens but their own distorted pair.

When a person becomes desperate or stressed sometimes something gets triggered that can send them into a state of self-preservation.  They begin to go into survival mode and become blind to others needs and how others see them in this state.  A sense of entitlement takes over as they focus on how much they have done for others and how little they have received in return.. They may believe they are much more valuable to their employer than what the employer or teammates know to be true.  They may express their feelings of being under appreciated or take a more passive agressive approach. They tend to justify doing less or helping themselves to “added benefits” because they feel underpaid anyway so they are just “evening the score”.  Sometimes even when their work is suffering thay can have a puffed up distorted perspective of their value to the company. Usually by this time the writing is on the wall.  You have likely worked with a person like this.

I am defining “value” in this article as the level a person contributes toward the success of a company, relative to their cost to the company.

People find reward by what we do in many different ways. Satisfaction of adding value to others is one of the most valuable rewards you can experience.  It can go a long way toward feeling fulfilled, but it doesn’t tend to replace the need for meaningful financial gain.  We all have responsibilities and needs that require making the most of our efforts.

Let’s Make a Deal

Most of us have had an experience with some kind of negotiation.  In some cultures people haggle over the value of a peach or banana.  We haggle over the value of a car or a house. We comparison shop all the time. The value message is everywhere.  It’s the backbone of capitalism. We do this because the whole idea is to get as much value as you can for the lowest possible cost to you. It would be poor stewardship to pay more than we need for an item.  Indeed, that is true.

In the job market, more experience, talent, education and a polished curb appeal leads to higher compensation. You are trying to make what you have already accomplished count for as much as possible. You want to get as much compensation for your future efforts as you can as long as you can deliver the goods. This is how it is, and should be.

The Change of Allegiance

Once you have chosen your position in the workplace and begun working, your allegiance changes. Or at least it should.  If it doesn’t you are certain to remain at odds.

If you continue to put your needs above the company making sure you are paid more than what you are worth, there is a simple way to cut to the chase.  Just do less.  Unless you work on commission, your rewards are sure to outweigh your efforts if you just do less.  As shortsighted as this seems, it really is the domanat approach in our country, unfortunately.

Bad work ethic

Do as little as you have to instead of as much as you can.  This is the simplest way to make sure you are compensated more than what you are worth. If you really want to get creative, do less, threaten to leave, and ask for more money.  The bottom of the workforce lives by the mantra “Do just enough, make what you can and take what you need.”   Unfortunately our government has created an environment where sometimes people are incentivized to work less to receive more.

That sounds crazy but I’ll bet it struck a chord with you.  Either you have been there and done that or have been affected by people like that.  There are people that make deposits in this world and there are people who make withdrawals. You can figure out who adds more value to their own lives, career and their community.

In our company we call this the 60/90 effect.  If you allow someone to work at 60%, they most likely will.  They’ll do “as little as they have to”.  If you expect them to work at 90% they may.  Only if inspired, will people do “as much as they can”.  I have yet to find an exception to this including myself.

Value Defined

costIf we define employee value as “the level a person contributes toward the success of a company, relative to their cost to the company.” then we also need to flush that out and address a major misconception.

If you wish to experience success you need to be worth more to your employer than what you are paid.  What? That doesn’t sound right!  You want me to make less than I am worth?  Hang with me here pilgrim.

Someone who outperforms their compensation will raise their leverage and keep their services in high demand.  When your compensation catches up to your value through competitive demand, it’s vital that you continue to strive to increase your worth to show that you are a worthy investment to your employer. If your employer believes their return on investment with you has become too costly, you may be asked to renegotiate your current agreement, or worse, you may become expendable.

“You need to be worth more to your employer than what you are paid”

The Golden Rule of Adding Value

If you wish to expect someone to contribute to the value of your company, you first need to contribute to the value of their life. People who feel more valued have more value.  It’s funny how we as humans will run through walls for someone who runs through a wall for us.  To the degree that a person adds value to you is the degree that you will go above and beyond your compensation and enjoy doing so.

The flipside to this is also true.  If you are an employee and you wish for your employer to recognize you and increase your compensation.  There is really only one way to do so.  Raise your value in the eyes of everyone around you.  Become more valuable to your employer. Don’t try to appear more valuable, be more valuable.  Contribute more to the bottom line and make his/her job easier.  Be exactly what they need for you to be in order for them to reach their goals and levels of success that is expected of them.  Sometimes that means doing more, sometimes it means doing less of the meaningless things, and more of the important things. Sometimes it’s adjusting your values or learning a new skill or perfecting an existing skill.  It always requires effort; it always comes at a price.

“If you are an employee and you wish for your employer to recognize you and increase your compensation.  There is really only one way to do so.  Raise your value… “

As an employer, I can say without a doubt that the people who embrace this perspective create their own opportunities.  They flourished in their development and value to the company and in their value in the job market. If they increase their value and become a greater influence, compensation and opportunity will naturally increase. This is true.  It’s the law of supply and demand.   If it doesn’t happen, you have not really added value as you believe you have, or you are working for the wrong company and need to explore your options.

What are you worth?

Your market value is not what you believe you are worth. If I could determine what my efforts are worth, I would set it at a thousand dollars per hour, or $500 per pizza.  Unfortunately for me it doesn’t work like that.  It’s the people that are paying for what you bring to the table that need to decide what they are willing to pay you. The more you actually bring to the table the more valuable you are to others. It’s not how much time you put in or how well you know your job or how good you can convince others you are, it’s how much value you actually bring to the organization above and beyond your potential replacement in light of your current compensation. That’s your market value, nothing more, nothing less.

Good News!

You may not realize this, but employers are willing to pay more money than you currently make, to people with more value than you currently have.  That is great news!  That means all you have to do is increase your value to make more money.

You are completely in control of your income potential.  You can choose to stay the same and continue with a similar wage, if that is what you value.  Or if you desire a higher standard of living you can choose to invest in personal growth, adjust your allegiance to excellence, raise your value and be compensated for your efforts.  You are the captain of your ship, not your environment, not the person signing your check.  No one is holding you back, but you.

“…employers are willing to pay more money than you currently make, to people with more value than you currently have…That means all you have to do is increase your value to make more money.”

Your potential for raising your income is 100% up to you and not limited to external factors.  It’s not up to your boss, it’s not up to the government, and it’s not due to bad luck, the economy or your upbringing.  It’s up to YOU to change you.

The Pareto Principle (80/20) says that the top 20% of the people share 80% of the rewards.  This means that the bottom 80% is left dividing up the remaining 20% of the rewards.  You can guess which group is committed to raising their value by doing “as much as they can”, and which group is okay with doing “as little as they have to”.

So how do you raise your value in the workplace?

The five steps to raising 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 world of problems, and order to a world of chaos.
    • Leadership raises the lid of your potential, and gives you financial leverage.

Appreciation for Suffering

Brown and White Bear Plush ToyLately I have been studying the topic of “suffering”. It sure has become more clear to me that we as Americans spend quite a bit of time and effort trying to shield ourselves from difficulty. We go to great lengths sometimes to keep ourselves and our loved ones from hardship.

Unfortunately there are so many people suffering in the world. Some suffer for reasons brought on by their own decisions, some by evil and others simply because we are born into imperfect parishable flesh or at the hands of evil. This makes it challenging to see any redeeming value in our suffering, especially unnecessary suffering. This article is not meant to make light of those people out there going through truly difficult trials. I suspect many of those would appreciate this message.

But what about necessary suffering? Is there such a thing?

I believe that through our lifetime there are different stages of development that suffering is not only beneficial, but necessary for growth that gets you to the next stage.  Anyone bent on avoiding suffering will undoubtedly avoid growth and will cease to move through the stages of development.  The two go together and are unseparable.

A few benefits to suffering.

  • Suffering makes us tougher. Professional athletes didn’t get tough from childhood pillow fights. They beat their bodys and make them stronger and more resiliant. They make suffering part of their daily regimin.
  • Suffering helps us appreciate those who suffered before us.  It is easy to take for granted that which has been handed to us by previous generations.  We owe it to the next generation to leave this place as well as we received it.
  • Suffering points out that something is not right and needs to change. When we feel physical pain, anxiety or guilt we experience a certain level of suffering. If we didn’t have this we would continue pushing on toward the source of whatever is causing the problem.
  • Suffering produces perserverance and developes a sense of commitment and a vision for victory. When we fail to fully commit to something we will always fall short. If we give ourselves a way out to avoid difficulty we end up paying the full price with a penalty.
  • Suffering makes us smarter and wiser. The most successful leaders in history learned from their painful experiences. They got back up, tweeked a couple things and tried again. Each time they learn something not to do.
  • Suffering purges the lazy out of you. Sometimes we need a jumpstart to realize how our avoidance of suffering keeps us from getting things done. I don’t like to shovel snow, but when I get out there and start working, it feels pretty good, then I am inspired to something else constructive.
  • Suffering is necessary to overcome sin. At least the sin associated with a particular growth stage. Sin often comes from avoiding personal suffering, sometimes at the expense of others. We are more okay with others suffering.
  • Suffering helps us relate to the suffering that Christ experienced. We can relate to our savior and know Him in his suffering. We take for granted the price that was paid on our behalf. When we suffer we gain understanding of how necessary it is for a price to be paid in full.

Everything that makes us stronger, smarter, wiser, more powerful and more commited will never happen without a measure of suffering. Suffering needs to be something to seek daily and not to avoid.

A little bit of suffering now prevents a whole lotta suffering later!

Any thoughts?

…Then Ask Someone Who Knows

In May I posted a blog titled …Then Don’t Do That – A Glance at the Art of Sowing and Reaping. It explores why we do things we know we ought not do, even when we understand the consequences. We talked about how knowing the right thing, or best thing to do isn’t always enough. We need to strip ourselves of all the obstacles that cause us to make excuses and wrong decisions and get to a place of self-transparency (oh, I like that term, I should have used that in the other blog).

But what about those times when the best option isn’t clear? Maybe it’s not enough to know that you need to lose a few lbs, or confront someone about something, or get to some things you’ve been putting off. Maybe you have some understanding of the situation, but you have come to the end of your expertise and just don’t know what the next steps should look like. What do you do? Do you do nothing, or run away? Do you guess and hope? Do you fake it so no one else can see you are clueless?

If you are stuck in a complicated situation and don’t know what to do or how to proceed …Then Ask Someone Who Knows. There is a good chance that someone in your life or even someone not yet in your life has experienced something similar to what you going through and could shed some light on the situation for you.

“If you are stuck in a complicated situation and don’t know what to do or how to proceed …Then Ask Someone Who Knows”

So why, when we find ourselves in difficult situation, do we try to solve many of our own problems ourselves? Why are we so hesitant to seek out advice? These are the questions we will try to tackle in this blog.

Other peoples Blind-spots

Ever notice how clearly we can see other people problems? We spend some time with friends or relatives and after we think “They should really hire a financial adviser” or “see someone” about this or that. You listen to people give you reasons and excuses for doing the things they do and in your head you can’t understand how they could be so dense or what they could possibly be thinking. To you and many others around them the solution is so clear. You wonder why they can’t see what everyone else can see. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many people tell them something, they just can’t see it because it is a blind-spot, like the back of your head or the place you can’t see from the drivers seat because the mirror is limited and the windows are not 360 degrees.

Your Blind-spot

Well, that person with the big blind-spot is you! It’s also me, and everyone else. We all take our turn being that person, some of us more than others. You see we are all born with a huge blind-spot. Our eyes were created pointing away from us and not toward us. We need something outside of ourselves like a mirror to see what we cannot naturally see in ourselves. We can never completely get rid of our blind-spot, but over time, through many failures and accomplishments and careful instruction we can gain a much clearer perspective on just how much we need other peoples input in our lives.

It is true that generally other people can see your situation from clearer more objective position when provided the facts. Their eyes are pointed toward you. Unlike you they are more able to take personal feelings, prejudices, historical bias’s out of your equation, just because they are not you.

We need others input but we do need to be careful to who we trust with advice. Some people seek out advice, but the problem is that they may be asking the wrong person. When you hang out with fools, the advice you get is going to be foolish.

The Fool

A fool is a person who makes decisions without thinking through the consequences. They typically live their life from one moment to another gratifying their desires with instant solutions doing whatever feels natural to them in the moment. They usually have a wake of broken relationships and lost opportunities following them that they have failed to learn from. It’s one thing to have a history of failed experiences and relational strife, but to continue the same foolish patterns over and over is indeed what defines us as a fool.

“When you hang out with fools the advice you get is going to be foolish.”

When you put a bunch of foolish people in the same environment or community, like crabs in a bucket they pull each other down and keep each other from succeeding feeding the foolish behavior. Most of us grew up with fools all around us. We bought into so many of these foolish ideas without even knowing. Until something from outside comes in to shed some light we will continue to move through life at the bottom of the bucket being held down by people just like us. It doesn’t have to be that way.

The Wise

To be wise means to give careful thought to your ways, to base your thought on knowledge and good judgement. Wisdom doesn’t come by simply thinking right. It comes from experience. There has never been a wise person who did not fail many times over. Wisdom comes from understanding adversity and adversity can only be understood from experiencing failure and learning from it rather than repeating it.
Wisdom is all around us if we just look. Sometimes we get so caught up in dwelling on the problems in life we fail to see the answers staring right at us.

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Building Blocks

For every skyscraper or bridge, how many had to fall down before they got it right? The complexity of a modern airplane or automobile is incredible. The engineers didn’t start from scratch, they stood on the shoulders of the great engineers that came before them. They learned what they knew, then took it one step farther. Modern medicine is learning more and more every day about how the body works. They do it by sharing information in Medical Journals and shared research. They learn from the ones that came before them.

I think sometimes we try to reinvent the wheel in our own lives. We get into difficult situations and don’t know what to do so like a pioneer we start trying to figure it out on our own. Sometimes when we can’t figure it out we lose motivation, quit and nothing gets any better. We move forward clinging to a fixed mindset that keeps us in the bottom of the barrel. We need to tap into other resources to maximize our success.

Stuck in your own head

I remember particularly when I was young when I was faced with a stressful situation or a dilemma I didn’t know how to handle I would begin to internalize the problem. I would be at school or work and a stressful problem would monopolize my thoughts and I would find myself zoning out when I was suppose to be focusing. I would sometimes be oblivious to what was going on outside of my head and be fixed on the problem. If someone had offended me my mind began racing trying to put it all together in my brain in such a way that I somehow would escape blame or responsibility. I would have entire conversations in my head about how I was getting the short end of the stick or what I was going to say to my offender or accuser. Sometimes I would just think about how bad the situation is or imaging how bad it will get and how helpless I felt. I think I would get a little obsessed with the moment and allow it to consume me. I was stuck in my own head.

Escape your head!

Here is what I realized about those times. My thoughts were all focused on the problem and not the solution. They were limited to the worries and negative thoughts inside my skull and failed to address the solution which was outside my skull. Over time I learned that in order to be solution minded I needed to get out of my head and into other peoples head. By other peoples head I mean find out what they know, what they have experienced and how they overcame obstacles.  Sometimes just getting a fresh perspective was energizing and helpful.

“Over time I learned that in order to be solution minded I needed to get out of my head and into other peoples head”

When I was the center of my own world I could not escape this self-serving perspective that was going on inside my head. It was all I knew or could know. When I was removed from the center my universe and was rightly replaced by God as the center of my universe a whole new world of knowledge and perspective opened up to me.  I found truth was outside of my own head and much bigger than I ever imagined. I no longer had to figure out or decide or determine how the world worked on my own. My skull no longer provided the boundaries to my problem solving arena.  An age of discovery opened up to me.

The beginning of wisdom is realizing what you do not know. It is coming to the end of your own head and learning how to see the world through the eyes of others and God. Wisdom grows when you see the world and your life through the lenses of scripture and other people and how they see you. When this happens, your knowledge base and experiences to draw from are greatly multiplied and begin to build on each other on a much greater level than the old self-reliant model of thinking.

Be a receiver

If you want to expand your capacity for knowledge and wisdom, tap into other peoples brains and gather from their experiences. Ask someone who knows. Get connected to wise people. This, I believe is the secret to personal growth.

“For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”   1 Cor 4:7 NIV