A “Warrior” Mentality


Since I’m an unabashed sports fan, I’ve decided to bore you today with some sports talk :-).  Let me just start by saying that I’m not a huge Golden State Warriors fan; my loyalties lie with the perennially disappointing Utah Jazz.  With that being said, what the Warriors have accomplished this past week is truly remarkable.

The defending champs were down 3-1 in their recent series with the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Only nine out of the previous 120+ teams in this situation, in the history of the NBA, had ever come back to win their series.  But behind the stellar play of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson the Warriors were able to win three straight (including an improbably game 6 win on the road) to clinch the series 4-3 and earn a spot in the NBA finals.

There are two lessons that stand out to me from this basketball series.  First, Klay Thompson set an NBA record for most three pointers made in a single playoff game (11), and he did so when the stakes were at their highest.  He didn’t accomplish this feat in a blowout win while up 3-0 in a series; he did this facing elimination, on the road, when his team needed him most.  Just like in sports, it’s important for us as employees, managers, bosses, etc. to be able to perform well under pressure.  It’s one thing to be able to close the deal on small/inconsequential sale, but it’s another to be close on a game changing deal.

The other lesson that stood out to me is that when facing severe adversity, not all hope is lost!  One of the things that separates successful people/teams is the ability to have faith, confidence, and determination to be able to accomplish the improbable.  When everyone else may be counting you out, as was the case with the Warriors, your ability to put your head down and dig a little deeper, and not “throw in the towel,” will give you your greatest chance of success.  And even if you come up a little short, you can have peace of mind knowing that you gave the effort to become the best of which you are capable.

My challenge to you is to not give up, no matter the challenges or adversity you may be facing.  Confidence and faith to be able to overcome are both key parts to the pyramid of success.  Do not become discouraged by the obstacles you may be facing, but rather stay the course and double down on your efforts.  Doing so will provide an outcome that you can both live with and be proud of.


Becoming Better at Time Management

Have you ever finished a work day then asked yourself, “What did I do today?”  Sometimes work can be so busy and so chaotic that at the end of it you feel like you just got off of a roller coaster, hair sticking up, a look of confusion in your eyes, wondering “What just happened?”  I know that I’ve felt this way a time or two…or thousand.  Between meetings, countless emails, phone calls, and fires to put out (not literal ones, thank goodness); sometimes the work day goes nothing like you had planned or expected, and it can almost seem like a blur.

So how it is that our well intentioned plans for work can so easily get derailed, and we can end up doing numerous things that may not be the best use of our time?  Don’t get me wrong, I think we need to have a certain level of flexibility so that we can attend to important matters as they arise, but I also think we can easily get sidetracked down a rabbit hole of less productive tasks if we’re not careful.

I came across this great YouTube video by Chris Hogan where he talks about a few simple things we can do to manage, or “own” our time more effectively, so that we can reclaim our workdays and focus on what matters most.  My challenge to you is to pick one or two of these techniques that he describes in this video and to give it a try.  Good luck!  And hopefully you reading this blog post wasn’t one of those sidetracked actions down a rabbit hole to nowhere 🙂

Be a Giver


Photo via: www.redcross.org

Today I came across this YouTube video that I think really illustrates the value of being a giver:

As the video explains, both the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee are fed by the same water source, the River Jordan.  So why is it that the Dead Sea is, well…dead, while the Sea of Galilee is full of variety and life?  In addition to the Sea of Galilee receiving water from the River Jordan, it also gives water out on the other end.  The Dead Sea conversely only receives water, but has no outlet.

Financial guru, Dave Ramsey, discusses the power of willingly giving by sharing an example of a closed fist versus an open hand.  With an open hand money can easily go in, and it can easy go out (or be given).  With a closed first, you’re not in a position to give; you keep you first clenched because you don’t want to give.  But, by keeping your fist closed, you make it more difficult to receive as well.  Less passes through your hands, and as a result, others (including yourself) benefit less from this mentality.

My challenge to you to look for ways to intentionally give this week; and this doesn’t necessarily need to be in the form of money.  Look for ways to give of your time, service, or talents.  If you’re in a management/leadership position looks for ways to give/reward your team for the great work that they do.  Look for way to serve a friend or family member.  And if you feel so inclined, look for ways to make a financial donation or contribution to a good cause.  By doing this, you will be helping in the development and betterment of other people and/or organizations.

Becoming Better Under Pressure

When I think of performing under pressure I immediately think of Michael Jordan; and I grew up a die-hard Utah Jazz fan, so that’s not an easy thing for me to say.  But it seemed like whenever a critical play needed to be made, Jordan delivered (which was an unfortunate reality during my childhood).  Above I included a YouTube video of Jordan’s top 10 game winning shots, which is still somewhat painful for me to watch all these years later, especially number one (even though we all know that Jordan pushed off).

So what is it that helps people be able to perform well under pressure?  Why do some seem to thrive under pressure, while others seems to shrink?  While I don’t claim to know the full answer to that question, below is a clip from Simon Sinek with on interesting theory:

I think what Sinek is saying can be directly applied to the pressures we may face in the work place, whether it’s trying to close a big deal, give an important presentation, etc.  According to Sinek, changing our mindset from “feeling nervous” when we start to feel our heart race and palms get sweaty, to “feeling excited” instead can make a subtle but important difference in how we ultimately perform in those situations.  My challenge to you is to try and consciously make that switch in your mindset the next time you’re in a pressure situation and may start to default to “I’m feeling nervous.”  Thanks for taking the time to read!

Becoming Better at Training

Anyone in a management or leadership role of any kind is involved in or concerned about training to some degree.  If you’re like me you’ve often thought, “How come this person isn’t performing to expectation?  I’ve told them what to do and how to do it but it’s still not happening…why not?”  And if you’re like me, perhaps you’ve come to the realization that your training probably wasn’t the best.

It’s not enough to simple lay out expectations in written and oral form.  A few months back I was part of a conference where effective and thorough training was discussed.  There was some really interesting literature presented that suggested the most effective training includes these six steps:

  1. Describe the target skill
  2. Provide a succinct written description of the skill
  3. Demonstrate the target skill
  4. Require trainee practice of the target skill
  5. Provide feedback during practice
  6. Repeat steps four and five to mastery

Many of us are really good about steps one and two, and some of us even take it to steps three and four, but we often forget the latter part of these steps.  However, the research has shown that if we describe the target skill or provide written instruction on the skill, we will only see that skill performed with 24% – 60% accuracy.  But if we take it to the next level and demonstrate the skill, then have the trainee demonstrate the skill, and provide feedback until mastery, we will see that skill performed with over 90% accuracy!

That kind of huge improvement in performance is well worth the time and energy required up front to properly train someone and avoid the time and effort that will surely be required on the back end to “clean up” or do “damage control” because someone wasn’t properly trained.  My challenge to you is to implement these six steps the next time you’re tasked with training someone in their new role.  I think you will find that it is well worth the upfront investment of your time.

10 Things That Require Zero Talent

There are a lot of different skills and attributes that make us marketable in the workplace, and that can help us add value to organizations.  Often times these different skills can take years to develop or ongoing education in order to learn.  In addition to these skills that need to be developed and honed over time, there are simple things that anyone can immediately start doing to make themselves more marketable and add value.

I recently came across the below infographic which lists 10 things that require zero talent:

10 things

Photo via: www.reddit.com

This list provides some simple and concrete things that any of us can immediately start doing, regardless of our skillset, experience, or knowledge.  And the great thing is that each of these qualities immediately add value and helps us to become indispensable.  While all ten qualities are great, and what we should be striving for, the two that stand out to me are “effort,” and “attitude.”

I believe that if someone will always give their full effort, and do so with a positive attitude, they will be (or eventually become) successful.  I would take that person on my team all day long over someone who perhaps has more education or experience, but also has a negative vibe or doesn’t fully apply themselves.

My challenge to you is to pick a handful of these 10 qualities to immediately start focusing on.  It may even be worthwhile to write down a goal or two specific to these qualities and to see what difference it makes over the next several weeks/months.

Balancing Hard Work and Burnout

It’s no secret that hard work is one of the keys to success.  John Wooden, one of my leadership exemplars, has industriousness (or hard work) as one of the cornerstones for his pyramid of success.  Without hard work nothing great can be accomplished.  You’ve probably heard people say that your luck seems to increase in proportion to how hard you work…or… something like that.  I think that’s definitely the case.  The harder you work, the more opportunities seem to come your way.  But is it possible to work too hard?

I believe that there comes a point when your work almost becomes counter-productive.  This isn’t because you all of the sudden start doing really poor or unsatisfactory work, but mainly because of the heavy burden and load that you carry as you pile on the work, and the effects that it can have on you.  There needs to be a balance between hard work and time for self/family.  There’s a great quote that says something to this effect: “A bow that is always tightly wound will eventually lose its spring.”

Are there moments or periods of time when you can, and should, take on more of a load?  Absolutely.  It’s not uncommon for there to be busy periods at work, school, etc.  There might be projects that you need to tackle, people that you’re covering for, busy times of the year, etc.  But it’s important to not let your work consume your life, and for the overly busy/chaotic to become the norm.  Doing so will eventually lead to burn out and/or dissatisfaction with other areas of your life.

My challenge to you is that if you’re feeling over worked and burnt out; take a moment to intentionally plan something relaxing for you and/or your family.  Whether that’s going out to a ball game, taking a Slurpee to the park, or even just popping some popcorn and watching a movie at home, carve out that time.  We’re generally really good about being intentional and planning out our “work time,” but sometimes we forget to do that with our much needed “down time” as well.