Be a Giver


Photo via:

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:

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.

Mistreatment in the Workplace

Regardless of the field you work in, or your position, chances are that somewhere along the line during your career you’ve felt mistreated (and if you haven’t, odds are that you will at some point).  This mistreatment may have come from a boss, a co-worker, a customer, a partner, etc.  While it’s normal and common to have people disagree with you, there is a difference between disagreement and mistreatment or bullying.

If you’ve ever been mistreated or bullied in the workplace, it can be an uncomfortable thing because you don’t know quite how to respond.  Should you confront the person mistreating you?  Should you just “take it” and hope that the mistreatment is few and far between?  Should you report it?  Should you not?  In many cases you may feel like sticking up for yourself, but also don’t want to ruffle any feathers, or do anything that could jeopardize your job.  You may also be fearful that confronting the situation may result in some form of retaliation or retribution.  So what should you do?

So far this kind of thing has been very rare throughout my own career.  But I have encountered it, and I have a few thoughts on the subject.  First, you should always try and conduct yourself with professionalism and treat others respectfully.  Just because someone else may have forgotten to do so, doesn’t give you a free pass.  Second, you should never permit someone to mistreat/bully you, drag your name through the mud unjustly, or unfairly tarnish your reputation without addressing the situation or the person.  Stand up for yourself!  Don’t allow others to misbehave at your expense.  Have some self-respect and try to tactfully set the record straight.  This doesn’t have to result in you losing your cool.  This can be done in a professional and respectful way.

My challenge to you is that if you’re currently in a similar situation, make the decision to stick up for yourself.  If you won’t, who will?  And always remember to do so in a professional and respectful way, both with the words that you use, and the tone with which you use them.

Raising Cane’s

A few days ago I met my wife and kids for lunch at a great chicken fingers place here in Reno called “Raising Cane’s.”  And despite the fact that my three year old wanted nothing to do with the chicken, and everything to do with the french fries, the chicken there is AMAZING.  What really separates this place though from other chicken joints is their sauce, which they make daily in their stores from a “top secret” recipe.

Towards the end of our meal I looked down at my drink and read what was written on the side.  Here’s a picture of what I read:

Raising Cane's

What I find so cool about this is the Founder’s signature at the bottom: Todd Graves, Founder, CEO, Fry Cook and Cashier.  This sends a message, not only to his customers, but also to his employees.  And that message is simply that he still views himself as being part of the team, and not above the team.  It would have been very normal and acceptable for him to label himself as Todd Graves, Founder and CEO, but he intentionally added those other two roles that he’s held within the organization.

I don’t know Todd Graves personally, but I suspect he’s the type of guy that you want to work with and for.  Not only has he founded a successful business, he apparently has never lost sight of all the various roles and positions that makes Raising Cane’s great.  I would bet that when he visits a restaurant he’s the type of CEO who spends time talking with and getting to know the cashier and the fry cook, and he probably even takes his turn manning the register.

If you are in any type of leadership/management role, my challenge to you is to never lose sight of all of the other critically important roles/jobs within your own organization, and to think of ways you can connect with others who have different roles than you do.