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A Leadership ‘Tip’ From … Servers

Waiter  walking with beverage on tray Royalty Free Stock Photos

You watch these people, and have a quiet awe of how they can do it. Steady hands yet moving briskly along the restaurant with a tray of water, iced tea, or other beverage. Servers – these hard-working men & women who have to juggle so many different demands in their shift – gliding along the floor without spilling anything.

How do they do it? How is it possible to have drinks filled almost to the brim, balanced, and gracefully move around obstacles, both stationary and moving, to their destination without an accident?

It’s the same principle that allows leaders to achieve results. They keep their eyes on the goal.

Servers are instructed never to look at the glass, but straight ahead. Once your eyes notice what your doing, you overcompensate and the balance shifts. That’s how spills happen, which then takes the server off their other responsibilities. They’re told to just grab the tray and their hands will naturally balance and self-correct. Yes, other patrons may beckon for their attention. People may dart in their way in a split second. Yet they just keep their focus and successfully march towards their next destination.

As leaders we can ill afford to take our eyes off the ball, to get distracted with the details of what we’re doing. We must fix our eyes on the goal, no matter what distractions and disruption occurs along the way. Other tables of relative urgency may tug at us, but we must stay the course to deliver the goods we’ve been charged to make happen.

Stay focused on your goals, and the other disruptions won’t spill over on you.

Goals for 2014? Just One…


Here we sit, poised to take what we’ve learned in 2013 and start to tear up the New Year with our plans and goals. Our expectations are high, our dreams are big, and our optimism is at it’s peak. From the the first day 2014 is our oyster containing the precious pearl of achievement.

But what will differentiate this year from the ghosts of New Years past? Are there missed opportunities we didn’t pick up on? Goals that fell by the wayside as we chased a rabbit trail of urgency or other short-term dreams? Character traits we are no further along on than at this time last year?

Great leaders start every year with a grand array of goals and strategies to accomplish through the next 12 months. Any given leader will have many goals for all areas of their life whether business, personal, protege, or self-development. And what makes this tough is getting them all going and moving forward and balancing them each day and each week.

So let’s take all of our goals this coming year, and pick the biggest ONE that we can find. The one that we can tie in most if not all other ones to. If we can focus on just one thing, and give it everything we’ve got, we will be able to create a vortex along the way and bring all of our other dreams along with us.

Picture the “Road Runner” of the Looney Tunes cartoons. You will recall as he races by the scene his phenomenal speed sucks everything – paper, debris, cactus, and even the road itself – right along with it. His speed is so incredible, nothing near him can resist the force that it’s exposed to.

Now imagine picking just one goal, your biggest, most audacious goal for 2014. Make it the one thing that has an overarching impact on many or most of your other dreams and plans. One that you can link and tie other goals into. Maybe it’s a character trait that will permeate all aspects of your life. Or a dream of starting your own company that will develop yourself and your network, your leadership skills, and your innovation. Perhaps it’s pursuing further training that will enable yourself to get promoted, work with different teams of discipline, increase your salary, and have a better work/life balance.

This is not to say that we don’t have multiple goals, or to focus on “The One” to the exclusion of all others. But to find the one goals that gets you fired up, that really motivates you, that touches the other areas of your professional/personal life and give it everything you’ve got, that one goal will truly make a difference in your life this next year.

The goal itself may even be a minor one, but will become the backbone to your success for the next 12 months. Take for instance Jim Kaat, the retired major league pitcher for the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox. A noted fastball pitcher, he was working hard during spring training one year on his other pitches in order to become a more effective pitcher. He would spend most of his time working on his curveball, slider, and changeup and very little time on his main pitch. After watching him for some time, the coach went up to Jim and asked him what his best pitch was. “My fastball,” was Jim’s reply. His coach told him to work 90 percent on his fastball, and spend the other time on his other pitches.

By focusing on the one goal of developing his fastball even more, Jim Kaat had a sensational season and won over 20 games that year, a major milestone in a pitcher’s career. He got the hitters believing that his fastball has unhittable, and because he worked on it so much, Jim believed it as well. Then he could get them fooled with his other pitches at the right time, and became a more complete pitcher that year, which resulted in an unusually long and successful career that still garners respect in baseball circles to this very day.

One goal. Make it magnetic enough to attract your passion and your other goals to. It will be easier, more efficient, and you’ll be a more complete leader as a result.

Best of the New Year to you!!



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