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Story about Winning, Persistence and Lessons Learned

Sitting and musing about the past, the current and the future today. As I was thinking about how the things we do influence our outcomes in life, I was first reminded of an experience back in the late 70’s when I was first learning to snow ski.

Seems our trip coordinators offered a race course for our tour group to race. Two racers at a time and you could race as many times as you wanted within a the allotted time period. The winner with the faster time would receive their very own case of Coor’s Beer at the party that night. (This was back when Coor’s beer was truly outstanding and only available in certain states.)

While I wasn’t driven by the Beer πŸ™‚ I was driven by the competition with my best friend. He was an Auburn guy and I was an LSU guy so we had to compete for the glory of our schools.

We went head to head at least five times during the time allotted for racing the course. And, we got faster and faster as we ran the course since neither of us wanted to come in second. And, due to the competitive nature of our racing – I scored the fastest time of the event.

And, while I enjoyed the win and actual celebrating with my buddy as we enjoyed the progress we had both made by focusing on the goal of winning, I didn’t realize at the moment the major life lesson being taught from this fun time on the ski mountain.

You Control Your Career – Yes, You Do!

Recently, I listened to a group of people who were are bemoaning their faith as employees in different companies – none of whom enjoyed their job, their boss or their career path. While I respectively listened as they complained and criticized almost everything about their jobs and careers, I really have difficult relating to their issues.

The reason is, I was fortunate enough to choose my career path and really enjoying what I do. It also helps that my natural strengths are being fully utilized in my selected profession. How great is that?

Well, after listening to this group of people, I will state that I’m happy to have made the choice I made. Wait a minute. Did I say, my choice of job? Yes, I did.

What Role does Accountability Have in Your Life?

What role does accountability have in your life? This is an important question to ponder and reflect upon. Accountability is has a major role in your success and personal self-esteem. Yet, it seems to be the most misunderstood term for most people.

So, what is accountability and particularly personal accountability?

Coaching Performance Improvement

One of the major challenges for leaders is how to develop their people. Development is all about improvement in someone’s performance. Unfortunately, most leaders don’t know how to do this core function of leadership. Fortunately, it is easy to learn – given a desire to coach and improve others.

Coaching is a key skill for leaders and the sooner they learn how to coach, the fastest their people will grow into high performers. In order to coach others you will need to do the following:

It’s Time for Decisiveness

After a weekend of reading books, blogs and newsletters, I realized it is now time for decisiveness and action. No more excuses! Too many people are just talking about doing things – change, opportunities, ideas are everywhere. Yet, action seems to take a back seat.

Clearly if we are to change our future – personally or business – action is the key to getting us to the goal. And, making a decision is the starting point. Once you make a decision to do something your energy level and emotional commitment increase. Yet, many people fail at this simple step.

Indecision is the killer of progress. Confusion and doubt lead the fight against progress. These emotions are based upon the fear of failure. If your fear of failure is higher than the drive to accomplish and achieve goals or solve your major problems – then life is a scary thing.

I believe that life was designed by the master designer to come with challenges and obstacles in our path. It is our responsibility to learn from these challenges, design our lives to deal with challenges and become accountable for our accomplishments in life. Again, the starting point is learning how to become decisive.

The ability to make decisions is the starting point – not the end point. In fact, just making any decision can have negative consequences if no thought is applied to the decision. So, let me clarify my starting position:

“The Best Decisions are based on thoughtfulness of action, which ultimately becomes the right decisions due to the outcomes and results gained.”

The only time to go slow is the thoughtfulness part of the equation. Think about the possible outcomes before you commit to a series of action steps. Identify a minimum of three alternative paths to get to the outcomes you target. Pick the best alternative relative to the effect or impact of the outcome. By the way, this process can be done in nanoseconds for the more experienced or a couple of hours if necessary for exploring alternatives. However, days, months and years of delay are not part of the options.

Delay is a nice word for procrastination – the great killer of initiative. Make a decision and take immediate action to launch. Your energy levels will increase, your ideas will flow and your probability of success increases with each step toward your goal.

It’s Time for 100% Integrity

During the weekend, I took time to reflect back over 2008 and look at all the events that are shaping our current economy ills. During this reflection time I noticed something that was missing in the actions of those that contributed to the negative situation – Integrity! Or actually, the Lack of Integrity.

We need and You need to use 100% integrity as we meet the new critical issues of 2009. If you only use 90%, then what constitutes no integrity? Again, we are back to the choices that people make. And the heat of battle does not make it okay to be anything but 100% with our personal integrity.

Leaders must embrace this concept and beware of the selective ethics used by some of our non integrity based individuals. Some of the major causes of lack of integrity include: personal greed – decisions made for personal gain rather than the good of everyone; no purpose or vision – decisions are made on the fly with little or no thought about the consequences or effects on others; and bowing to external pressure – decisions based upon what external powers want rather than what you know is the right thing to do.

These are the top three reasons for poor integrity decisions made by leaders. Review the list again and make certain that you do not fall for these traps. Rather than embracing greed – embrace helping and sharing with others. Think about how you can help others as your number one mission in life.

Take time to understand your purpose in life – again helping others comes to mind as a key focal point. Plus, create a vision of what you want as a legacy. Remember that leaders who lose their integrity are remembered as losers or dishonest or some other combination of negative phrases – not the legacy another wants to leave behind in my opinion!

Finally, the third issue – bowing to external pressure. Leaders that made poor decisions have stated that they had no other choice. Bull! You always have a choices including “I quit!” There are many occasions where leaders have chosen to leave a position rather than bow to external pressures to do the wrong thing. While I hope that you don’t ever have to make that kind of choice – here is the quote I want you to remember:

if you are prepared to walk away – you are prepared to make the right choices!

Always take the high road and you will be more successful and leave the best legacy. People will remember you and keep your legacy alive due to the quality of your decisions and the high level of integrity you maintained during your tenure.

What is a Personal Strength?

In the landmark book by Buckingham entitled “First Break All the Rules” statements were made about how the best managers utilized the natural strengths of their direct reports. There were two additional points contained in the book and verified through experience. People are hard wired with certain traits that are impossible to change in the long term. And, you must know what the natural strengths of each individual on a team.

Personal Strengths are the things that an individual does with passion and shows up everyday wanting to use them in everyday life. They are the traits that make each individual unique and like others at the same time. Now if that seems a little confusing, image how difficult it is for managers with no people managing skills. The interesting thing about this scenario is that some of these traits are “hardwired” in the person’s brain and is a preferred method of operating. Other traits are learned and will be more subjective or changeable with training or knowledge.

Managers need to understand all the possible combination of hardwired traits so they can assign tasks and projects based upon the natural abilities or traits of each individual. Too often, a person is asked to do daily tasks that are the opposite of their natural strengths which leads to major issues in the long run.

First, the manager may have expectations that a task should be done a certain way based upon “certain hard wired traits.” When the job is not done using the preferred methods, then the direct report is considered to be at fault and gets a low job performance review.

Second, the individual that is mismatched regarding their natural strengths and a task or job will become frustrated and usually loses their personal motivation. Then their confidence goes down and they become more demotivated. The reason for this downward cycle is the lack of accomplishment or high performance possibilities. The individual wants to perform well and therefore feel good about themselves – yet the job mismatch with their personal strengths creates more issues.

Finally, human nature being present in all situations, the individual begins to look around for a new job or assignment. The higher the self-confidence the more they will actively engage in seeking new situations or employment. The lower self-confident individuals will hang in until the manager gets so frustrated that the manager takes action dehiring the individual.

Learn what your natural strengths are using assessments. InnerActive Consulting Group offers a complete personal assessment that uncovers your natural strengths and weaknesses. You can be debriefed on the best practices for your strengths – learning how to manage others, select qualified high performers for open positions and how to motivate each individual within your team for high performance. Contact us at 901-757-4434 for more information or a demonstration of how this process will work for you.