Category Archives: Leadership Development
“Swing for the Fences.”
BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).
These phrases are great ways to help gain a mindset of the bigger picture, the far horizon which is the ultimate goal.
Yet they can convey the thinking that you have to “go big or go home” in every action and transaction in order to succeed in those lofty goals.
We need to remember that sometime the road to success comes from those smaller, incremental actions and wins that steer us ever closer to our definitive goals.
Just like a snail slowly glides across the pavement, seemingly not moving, our daily actions – as long as they align with our vision – may not seem to get us anywhere fast. But eventually we’ll end up there. We look back on the snail and it’s suddenly gone to it’s destination, in the same way we will soon look back and find that we’re so much closer to our goal, if not already there.
Big actions are great, but it’s each small step that give us lasting satisfaction and keep us on track to the vast horizon.
Nobody gets a millions dollars in their bank account in one transaction. It is usually a buildup of saving here and there over time.
Inch by inch. Step by step. Failure then victory. Frustration before achievement.
Each Small Step Leads To Success
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was Amazon, Samsung or Daimler.
Don’t discount the smaller steps. Savor the incremental growth, and those small wins to the path of victory.
We live in a time-starved world. New challenges and duties that must be met with urgency (whether yours or someone else’s). Shifting focuses that change daily, disrupting our efforts. Outside influences that pick us off from our targeted objectives.
We have many of the same challenges when we examine our personal lives as well. When our careers and home lives converge, it can become quite overwhelming.
There is as much a time crisis as there is a leadership crisis these days. Yet in order for great leaders to be effective and instigate change, they need to attain some harmony of a work-life balance as well.
Work-life management is like a buffet – there are a variety of options, you just need to choose the ones that work for you and put them into action.
For instance, Tal Schnall wrote in his Leadership Cafe blog about some strategies that leaders can use to achieve this elusive work-life balance. Talent Culture regularly posts strategies on how this balance can be sustained. These are just some examples of how leaders are reaching out to help stabilize the noise in today’s hectic world. Motivation To Move recently had a podcast that shows a rolling 7-day week to keep goals progressing.
Today I present a quick sampling of a technique I call “The 7-Day Way” to help achieve some balance in our professional and personal lives.
- Take a piece of paper, your Moleskine, Franklin Planner, Planner Pad, smartphone, tablet, etc and jot down 7 life areas or roles that comprise your life. For instance, one can use: Faith, Family, Development, Work, Recreational, Health, Social. Another can use Parent, Coach, Administrator, Creator and other roles. Make them yours and relevant to your goals. These are areas that you want to focus and spend some elusive time on.
- Look at the week ahead. Take each life area and write down what day you will focus on that. Think of it as dragging the task from your to-do list and dropping it on your calendar. (For me, I have Faith on Sunday, Thursdays are time spent on extra work activities, Saturday mornings are Home projects). You can keep the same areas on the same days (see my example below on #7), or you can change them week to week.
- Look at your to-do list (or your “to-be” list). Find the most important task to be done in each category and make a time on that day for it. It’s doesn’t matter how long it takes – 2 hours, 30 minutes, or even 5 minutes to change a doorknob or write a book outline. Morning, lunch break, evening after dinner, late at night before retiring, however your schedule permits. What matters is that you have the time to focus on that goal.
- Look at this list daily, morning and night (3-5 minutes). Do it while you have your morning coffee or evening tea. What happens is that you know on Saturday afternoon is a time to talk with your neighbor or read or get the materials for that research paper. When you can see the next few days ahead, you start to plan to achieve those tasks and your mind will be in gear formulating the ways to accomplish it.
- Be forgiving and flexible. If a day gets so busy that you were not able to work in that life area, don’t fret. Just plan it for another time that week, or schedule it in the next week. You may find there are days you can accomplish more than 1 life area task in the same day.
- Reschedule, and build on the past week. As mentioned, if a task simply cannot be done, reschedule. As the weeks go on, you may find that your Mondays become more open for you to read, and you will start to look forward to that time for relaxing and growing.
- Have fun. While the discipline this creates is wonderful, you must also be flexible and have fun with this. Don’t sweat the missed days. Use a white board w/ color coded markers, or a calendar with magnets or stickers. Be unique and make it yours. I included a sample infographic below for you as a guide.
While this method is only one of many methods out there for you to be more productive, I believe the flexibility and ease of this method will give it effectiveness and longevity in your life’s pursuits.
Work hard. Play hard. Rest easy!!
(infographic: Paul LaRue © 2019)
Over the weekend I came across a series of content by a leadership author who heavily discounted what they would proclaim as so-called leadership experts.
As I mulled over their claims, I realized how many people in higher levels of leadership discredit others because their credentials don’t seem to be to their standards.
Let’s calibrate our understanding of what experts are:
- a person having a high level of knowledge or skill in a particular subject (Cambridge Dictionary)
- having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
We should also review the definition of a leader:
- a person who manages or controls other people, esp. because of his or her ability or position (Cambridge)
- a person who leads (Merriam-Webster)
It is essential here to point out that in none of these definitions (or others) is there a criteria for PhD’s, MBA’s, being on a board of directors, authoring books, teaching at universities or needing any other qualifying experience or education.
Unfortunately people who look down on others in this fashion tend to do so from an aura of superiority, resting on their own laurels. Experientially these people tend to be the least teachable and most difficult to create an engaged team that will trust and rally around them. They place themselves in a position of higher criticism and use their sole judgement to assess who is worthy of credibility.
And what these folks do is exhibit the same poor leadership behaviors that they denounce in their content. They place roadblocks into building another person up or giving them a platform for voice and value in what they know.
Here are some real-life situations in which someone has discounted another’s opinion because it didn’t meet the person’s prejudices:
- Engineering experts who told Henry Ford his V8 engine idea was impossible
- A restaurant executive who discounts others input because no one who is not a chef can talk about food at their knowledge level
- Critics of Gary Vaynerchuck simply because he struggled in school and just rants about social media
- Tenured university professors who discount the education and real-life experience of adjunct faculty
- Football leaders and experts discounting Tom Brady in their scouting report
- Leaders of all kinds of levels and organizations who devalue the input of front line managers
Leaders and experts don’t need to have letters behind their name or have high-level positions.
As I have mentioned before, teenagers and the person you meet in everyday life can be effective leaders. All someone needs to be an expert is experience and the application through study and practice of their daily sphere.
The greatest experts in the field of leadership will tell you lifting others up, giving them value and a voice, and offering them a platform to showcase their talents is what true leadership is about.
Being an expert and leader is more than just letters after a name. It’s about the application of real-life principles to teach, lead and positively influence your sphere.