Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rowing The Doldrums



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

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

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

Celebrate

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

"everybody's gotta learn some time" - Beck 

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave     

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Scarf For The Winter


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

Status
Certainty
Autonomy
Relatedness
Fairness

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's Go To Work!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Art of Growing Old

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Friday, October 10, 2014

Folded Pictures

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

I care, I'll help anyone.

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


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

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

Well, you can savor every moment....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave    

Monday, October 6, 2014

Built To Spill Milk


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Friday, September 26, 2014

Greatness Defined


Derek Jeter has had a majestic conclusion to his storied career. This is not an act of fate or the consequence of luck but the result of a lot of hard work. Mr. Jeter has never been the fastest or strongest, he just showed up first and left last... and in-between he tried his ass off!

Those who have earned a spot on the De La Salle football team create commitment cards. In simple context: you define your goals and pass your card to another to ensure you are accountable.

We want to imagine that those who have achieved more than others were blessed with a special talent or that they found more luck than others. In reality, they just tried harder.

All of us have achieved great things. Turning great achievements into a legacy of greatness takes preparation, perception and perseverance. Where (or to whom) you were born makes little difference. Bar stools are warmed by former Friday Night Quarterbacks every evening.

Preparation
In my professional life I can define one certainty to success:
Be the first to show up and the last to leave. 

It's hard enough to do this for a week straight... try to do it for 30 years, this is the difference between achieving great things and establishing a legacy of greatness.

If you are still standing at the end of practice, you haven't practiced hard enough
Perception
The opportunity lost and found is filled with broken dreams, moments of submission, and a whole lot of spilled milk.

Your perception and attitude determine your fate....each and every day. Most people who are great at what they do have more challenges than victories. If development is at the heart of each and every interaction, victory in inevitable.

Reminder: if you think today will suck, it will!

Perseverance
Be humble in victory and accountable in defeat. Recognize in public and discipline in private.

Training is one thing... application is something completely different. Anyone can read a book, take a test, and assume a skill. When your audience is not just a scantron, you are called upon to interact. A tutor can teach you to play violin but if you are too shy to perform in front of others have you really applied a skill? You can be taught to juggle a soccer ball but if you cannot charge the goal you are a jester more than a champion.

For as long as I can remember Derek Jeter has been playing baseball. I remember how hard he hit the ball and how hard he tried to catch it.

That's a pretty damn good way to be remembered. 

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave  
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

It Takes A Village


Social Media - you wear me out... everyone has ideas, theories, and personal experiences. The best of us have strong opinions and those with opinions can be easily characterized as bullies. It is a conundrum: those strong enough to participate challenge one another to create compelling content while those we wish to intrigue often roll their eyes at our sarcasm.

The Heart Matters More!
I left the surgery room at 1 am having seen my son endure the most painful day of his life to find 2 nurses having a moment of personal enjoyment. Children were hurting all around them and they had the nerve to laugh... damn right they did!

The young men and women who save lives every day do so not because they know they will get a gift card but because they cherish the little wins.

The Losses Hurt More!

"I hate losing more than I love winning" - Billy Beane

We grit our teeth and pretend our jobs are important but we will instantly forget who we work for when our child is in the hospital. Those nurses have earned the right to laugh for a moment. It's hard to quantify what genuinely matters until we are faced with the fact that our life leading up to a certain moment has been insignificant. An emphasis on the mundane has no place outside of a wood paneled room where ideas go to die.

If you think it is OK to be just OK, it will catch up with you! You don't have to be an asshole to instill in people that the spirit of winning is important... it makes everyone better...


You Should Stop Stopping Yourself
Only you spend the day with you every day. Your first reaction to failure is usually to find someone who will confirm that you are great in-spite of your lack of results.

Don't kid yourself... it is not the fault of your boss or your company that you have failed. You failed because you chose to believe that you didn't have to try hard to win... and then those who you underestimated kicked your ass!

Probably better to overcome adversity than to pretend you are better than anyone else. It's an even better idea to try, fail, and learn to forgive yourself!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Do You Need a Hug?



As the gainfully employed hustle to get from point a to point b they disregard an act of kindness, while those caught in limbo are surprised anyone would dare to be kind to them. I remember Ben Folds saying that if Jesus was reborn into the street of a metropolis he would be shunned and dismissed as a drugged-out hippie.

We are naturally cautious that trusting the wrong person could turn a spontaneous act into our ultimate demise.

Shoe On The Wrong Foot?
In the corporate world we want to split ourselves in half:
The Work Self
... and The Personal Self

The work self navigates what we have to do while the personal self creates what we want to do. The gap between the have to's and the want to's is closing.

Our lack of perception reveals that the work self needs to be guarded and neutral. Every Executive I have spoken to appreciates straight talk. The personal self believes that we can put our guard down and say what's really on our mind. Most post-work bar conversations are cries for validation mired in regret for lack of effort.

Who's really full of shit?

Perception 
So we leave the office and walk down the street mistrusting of everyone... even a person who needs a hug.

I walked down the streets of San Francisco with the CEO of our company during the protest period know as the "Occupy" movement. An unshowered young man approached her and asked her for a hug. Admittedly, I would have punched him if he touched her. Not because I was mistrusting of him but because I was protective of her.

Our challenge in life is not just to protect those we love but to develop a sense of protection for the human race. Our elegance as people is threatened when we neglect to give people the benefit of the doubt.

The Key 
You can't just hug everyone! You have to develop a sense of trust and to know better when a hug is necessary.

We spend too much time practicing our acumen and far too little time developing our common sense.

Some times people under-perform and they need to be fired. Some times someone neglects your existence to such an extent that they need to be neglected.

... and some times people need a hug!

It's easy to do the safe thing and to live your life in fear. It is far more difficult to crawl out of your shell and take action where you see desperation.

You can fold hands and bow to royalty or you can choose to interact with people who probably haven't heard an honest word in a long time.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave    

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Easy If You Try


In the last week, several NFL athletes have been exposed for raising their hand to woman and children. That upsets me.

I'm fortunate to have been raised by remarkable people. It is not difficult to carry what has been taught to me to others. I'm fortunate... others have not had such luck!

It's easy to look at people who "have it all" and to judge their behavior. It is much harder to put people (not under a microscope) but on a couch. I've made my fair share of mistakes in life, I also know better. Are there people who don't know better, regardless of their fortune?

In life there are a few certainties:
- Actions Speak Louder Than Words
- People Will Mess Things Up
- It's Best to Forgive!

Words Are Meaningless
One of my heroes in life is my son. He is an incredibly thoughtful person. He is also prideful and some times his emotions get the best of him. He always apologizes for his actions.. which is nice but it means nothing to me... there are people in my life who are infallible to me. I should probably give everyone such benefit.

Apologies mean nothing to me because I forgive everyone the minute after they fuck up. I always have. We all suffer through the apologies for our actions but apologies mean nothing unless you take action to make things better.

There is a moment in the film Wish I Was Here in which a girl sees her man acting honorably and rewards him with an unexpected hug. It is not the words we say but the actions we take that earn the love of the people most important to us. These are usually unconscious actions that are driven by the pride we have in being ourselves. You should be proud of yourself...!

I am lucky to be surrounded by people who know I will take action to make things better... I know better!



It's Gonna Be OK!
I remember a friend telling me being a father is easy, being a father is not easy, but he knew I needed to be assured as much before I welcomed my first child into the world. I played a song for a good friend once and when I was done I apologized to him for it's imperfection. He immediately told me that the song was remarkable, it was not, but I appreciated him ignoring my vulnerability. My best friend once saw the pain in my heart and stopped his entire life until I got better. It took 10 minutes to get over my misery because my friend dared not leave me alone with my misery.

How to Win
I have the privilege of teaching, coaching and sitting next to my friends on a bar stool. All of these things are endlessly important. I cherish it all.

I had an adult conversation with a six year old yesterday. I've also held the hand of more than one person when they spoke their last words. What a pleasure we are afforded to live this life!

I don't disrespect people who have made bad decisions. We all do. But words don't solve anything.

Figure it out and make it better. It's easy if you try!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Friday, September 12, 2014

Iron Sharpens Iron


I wrote a few weeks back about the Behavioral Economics concept of Game Theory. I have since had the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite films and to teach a class on how games inspire motivation. I also spend my weekends teaching 6 year old girls how to play soccer. I believe in the art of competition and the power of game mechanics

If my team develops a big lead in a competition, I rest easy knowing we have accomplished a goal. At this point, we are forced to play down to the level of our competition. While the aforementioned victories are far less straining on the heart, they are also less rewarding. We do not look back on 10-0 victories as our life's great achievements nor do we learn anything from getting beaten 10-0. 

It is our mission to be courageous. This means we have to accept difficult challenges...and conquer them....because we can!!!

Skills Elevated by Discomfort
Every establishment in the world is making a concerted effort to eliminate bullying. The only good thing about a bully is watching them cry when you beat the shit out of them. My friends, our greatest victories are preceded by that feeling we get when we see an opponent that is bigger, faster and stronger.  

The feeling you get in fearing a competitor is healthy; it ignites your need to prepare and execute. When you underestimate an opponent your odds of victory decrease.

Those who have easy jobs have satisfactory lives... but what good really comes of that? 

I have seen people live an entire life unfulfilled by any victory. If you are competing just to beat others your time is wasted. If you are coaching a team to prove your worth in this world, you need a psychologist not a whistle and a clipboard.

LOVE
"without love in a dream it will never come true" - Jerry Garcia

If you unconditionally love what you do, you will elevate everyone around you. If you compete to the best of your ability, others will respect you. It is better to lose a game with your dignity intact than to act out of character simply to win.

There is no greater privilege than the opportunity to influence others. Every day is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on someone.

If we are able to give to people the skills we have and they carry them on to others....

We Can Be Immortal!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave